By Wes Annac
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
You probably don’t need me to tell you that spirituality isn’t all about feeling positive or uplifted. The enlightenment path requires us to sacrifice things that hold us back and keep us from making spiritual progress, and maybe this is where the literal notion of religious sacrifice first originated; from the external and even internal sacrifices we have to make on the enlightenment path.
Why do we have to make sacrifices on the spiritual path? Because there are a lot of things here on Earth that stop us from making genuine progress toward enlightenment, so we are best to release or avoid these things if we want to elevate our consciousness and contribute to the awakening of others.
The purpose of self-sacrifice isn’t to boss ourselves around or give up things we cherish, unless they cause serious damage – it’s to detach from things that are destructive or which hold us back, so we can make room for more wholesome elements in our life, that accelerate our evolution.
Here, I’ll discuss five things you’ll want to consider releasing from your life, if your goal is to walk a spiritual path without falling back into limiting habits and mindsets. Taking steps to rid ourselves of these attachments right now will allow us to forge ahead with strength and clarity. Over time, they will fade away and eventually stop influencing our lives.
5 Attachments to Release on the Path of Enlightenment
1. Negative or Toxic People
I’m sure we all know someone who seems overly negative or constantly upset with life. Energetically speaking, we’ll want to keep our distance from them for the sake of our spiritual growth.
We’re all subconsciously connected, and the words and actions of people we’re close with can affect us in a deeper way than we realize. When we’re around other people, we tend to be influenced (subconsciously or otherwise) by their expressions and, sometimes, their outbursts. If we aren’t careful, we can end up repeating or reflecting their behavior and energy, find ourselves frustrated with life or with the people around us, without even realizing we were influenced by someone else’s negativity.
With all of this said, we should remember that the issue isn’t always black and white. We might have a loved one who means a lot to us but who tends to dwell in negativity, or who has random or not so random outbursts (or their opinion on any issue may just be too pessimistic to take). We don’t want to abandon our family or people we’re close with just because of their (relative) negativity, so we’ll have to find some kind of middle ground. We don’t want to spend so much time with them that they start to influence us, but we don’t want to avoid them just because we don’t like how they feel, or express themselves.
Walking a true path of enlightenment, we’ll want to stay balanced and listen to our intuition when we’re met with any difficult relationships and circumstances. Our intuition will help us to make the best and most helpful decisions to our spiritual wellbeing. It is also possible to spend time with a pessimistic or angry loved one while finding ways to stay impervious to their negativity.
[For more information, please see the article: Tired of Being a Negativity Sponge? 12 Ways to Prevent Energy Infiltration and Reclaim Your Energy.]
2. Sugary, Artificial, Processed and GMO Foods
It’s no secret that our modern society is filled with cheap, fake foods that make big food corporations money while slowly poisoning us and ensuring that we’ll be sick (ie. good medical/pharmaceutical customers) when we’re older. Not to mention the health dangers associated with genetically modified foods.
These foods don’t just hurt our physical health, they’re a detriment to our spiritual health as well — because mind, body and spirit are one. What we put into our bodies affects us deeply on a mental, emotional and spiritual level, and if we want to be clearheaded as we go throughout our day or we want our meditations to be more potent, then clean, healthy and preferably organic food is our best bet.
We’ll also want to avoid unhealthy eating habits, like eating too much, too fast, too late at night, and without mindfulness and gratitude. We don’t often realize how these factors affect us while we’re eating, but the effects make themselves known at a later time when we don’t feel our best (and can’t understand why.)
I’m not trying to be one of those food snobs who tells you how to live your life, and while I try to be healthy. I have eaten as much fake, sugary food as anyone else. I’ve felt firsthand the difference between healthy and unhealthy food — the first choice gives us energy, clarity, vitality and an enhanced sense of passion while the latter pleases our taste buds before dulling our sense, making us feel lazy and tired.
3. Television and Excessive Technological Stimulation
Watching television is one of the most destructive things a spiritual seeker can do. Again, I don’t want to tell you how to live, but a lot of things in this world seem intentionally designed to keep people unhealthy, disempowered and unthinking. Television in particular dumbs us down while keeping us fixed on the artificial reality we’re presented with — a reality that’s usually violent, over-dramatized, fear-inducing, hypersexual or just plain juvenile.
[For more information, please see the article: Digital Deception – Can You Trust What You See?]
Undoubtedly, spiritual seekers would benefit from avoiding TV and immersion in other kind of technological stimulation, but realistically, there will always be times when we have to use technology. Like most writers, most of my work is done on a computer, but when I’m done working for the day, I can always get outside, go to a spot in nature, ride my bicycle and generally detach from artificial technologies. It’s important to reconnect with nature, which technology can prevent, because it is our true home; it provides everything we’ll ever need for survival or leisure. That is nature’s way.
We can’t reconnect with nature if we’re too busy staring into the TV, our smartphones or any other gadget that distracts us from life, so we’ll want to put these things down sometimes and rediscover reality.
[For tips on reconnecting with the Earth, check out the article Conscious Connection – A Practical Guide To Grounding Your Energy.]
I know that fatigue is sometimes unavoidable, and we never want to feel it when it comes along. However, there are driving factors that we’ll want to be on the lookout for if we don’t want laziness to bring us down and impede our journey of enlightenment.
While the advice we’ve been given from various spiritual teachers to ‘become nothing’ is helpful on the path, I believe we should be active in the midst of all of our experiences and spiritual practices that reconnect us with nothingness. Exercising a little each day is highly beneficial to our physical and spiritual wellbeing, and is known to help reduce fatigue, which in turn helps to boost our meditations and make those higher vibes easier to feel. Eating well is also crucial to your maintaining your personal energy.
Being active can also help us find a sense of purpose, and once we find what we want to do in life, we can enthusiastically pursue it with an active, awake perspective instead of sitting down on the couch to be entertained by whatever reality TV show is on.
[For more on this, please see the article: Transpersonal Purpose and the Impulse for Spiritual Development.]
Being active is an important part of our spiritual evolution, and laziness or fatigue won’t go away until we take steps to actively release ourselves from the patterns that keep us feeling that way. It might require us to step outside of our comfort zone, but we’ll see that it was worth it when we begin to feel better and the good vibes can flow in without being impeded by our choices.
5. Suppressing Negativity or Avoiding the ‘Shadow Self’
We all have a ‘shadow self’, which is the aspect of our personality that’s constantly negative, hurtful, narcissistic, etc. Contrary to what you might assume, I’m not encouraging us to give it up; I’m encouraging us to give up trying to suppress it. The ‘shadow’ is a crucial part of our selves that we must learn to embrace, heal and release.
How we handle this is our choice entirely, and we can do it with grace, patience, and most importantly, centeredness. When we deal with these kinds of situations, leaving our center can cause us to lose ourselves in the emotional fray. In embracing the shadow self, we’ll also want to stop avoiding the negative, difficult or confronting situations we have to deal with in our lives. No matter how hard we try to stay ‘happy’ or aligned with our higher consciousness, we’re going to have to deal with negative situations that we’d rather sweep under the rug, sooner or later. It’s up to us.
Our destructive tendency to suppress negative situations or even the negativity we carry within ourselves will stifle our spiritual growth in the long run. So let’s give it up and willingly confront any negativity that comes our way – from the world or from within.
[For a deeper exploration of the Shadow Self, please see the article: Into the Deep – Learning from the Shadow Within.]
The Final Word
We’re all unique. As we continue along the enlightenment path, we’ll each find plenty more attachments that we have to release into the ethers if we want to keep thriving. It might be a difficult or uncomfortable process for a lot of spiritual seekers, but it’s an inevitable part of the process of seeking enlightenment. Although we may not always see the benefits, the positive changes we make today becomes evident when we stop and look back tomorrow.
To move forward, we have to be willing to give up things that no longer serve us, and this gets easier when we can call on our higher consciousness and allow our spiritual/creative essence to work through us. Opening up to the ‘higher self’ will make our disciplines and sacrifices easier, and whether we know it or not, we have an infinite source of love, guidance, potential and creativity within us that we can access at any time. Our connection with this part of ourselves will become clearer and more refined as we willingly sacrifice and release the things that stop us from actively maintaining it, and the guidance we receive from our higher consciousness in return will make any future sacrifices easier.
With this in mind, we see that our sacrifices really don’t have to be hard. They will only be hard as long as we build them up to be that way in our minds. By opening the mind and connecting with our intuition, we come to understand that sacrifice and discipline boils down to a moment-by-moment choice ~ a choice that comes with infinite rewards.