What is the Definition of Enlightenment and How Do I Find It?

Finding EnlightenmentWhat is the definition of enlightenment?  This is an important concept for me.  After all, this website is all about finding More Inner Peace.  Enlightenment is a concept that is so connected with inner peace.

There have been many spiritual teachers throughout the ages that have discussed and attempted to define enlightenment.  And, there are many facets of enlightenment and ways of describing it.  Part of the issue we have when we want to define enlightement or the essential nature of our being is that we are really trying to assign words to something that can’t really be defined by language.  A spiritual teacher can only use language as a signpost to point towards enlightenment.  The reality is that spiritual enlightenment cannot be fully described, or just believed on an intellectual level.  It has to be experienced.  Having said that, I am going to provide some quotes and definitions of enlightenment from Eckhart Tolle below.  He has helped point me in the right direction in the simpliest and most practical ways.  I will then conclude with some of my thoughts on enlightenment, in humility, based on my experiences in walking this path for a while. (Not that I am claiming to be enlightened or to have found enlightenment!)

Eckhart Tolle Quotes on Enlightenment


“The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply your natural state of felt oneness with Being.”

“Enlightenment consciously chosen means to relinquish your attachment to past and future and to make the Now the main focus of your life.”Finding Enlightenment

“So the single most vital step on your journey toward enlightenment is this: learn to disidentify from your mind. Every time you create a gap in the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger. One day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head, as you would smile at the antics of a child. This means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it.”

“On a deeper level you are already complete, and when you realize that, there is a playful, joyous energy behind what you do.”

“As far as inner transformation is concerned, there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot transform yourself, and you certainly cannot transform your partner or anybody else. All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.”

“Ego is the unobserved mind that runs your life when you are not present as the witnessing consciousness, the Watcher.”

“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to die before you die and find that there is no death.”

Enlightenment“Being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to do with your state of consciousness.”

“The outer purpose of the world is to create form and experience the interaction of forms … The inner purpose is to awaken to its formless essence”

“Just as the sun is infinitely brighter than a candle flame, there is infinitely more intelligence in Being than in your mind.”

“True change happens within, not without. Find the Now within. Everybody you come in contact with will be touched by your presence and affected by the peace that you emanate, whether they are conscious of it or not.”

My Thoughts and Experience on Enlightenment

My awakening began and continued to develop for years prior to me understanding what was actually happening to me.  It started with self awareness.  As I began to journal daily, I started to become aware of how distorted my persception of reality really was.  I began to work through the false narratives in my mind and started to get relief from my lifelong depression.  You can read more on the work I did to gain victory over depression and find more inner peace here.  Videos, books and workshops from a variety of teachers, including Wayne Dyer, Kyle Cease, Matt Kahn, and Paul Selig started to point me more in the right direction.  Regularly meditating and listening to brainwave entrainment audios was also helpful in quieting my mind.  You can read more about that here:

Brainwave Entrainment

Quieting Your Mind - Enlightenment

More recently, reading The Power of Now, by Eckhard Tolle really put it all together for me.  He helped me understand why meditating and quieting my mind was important.  I also began to understand that each moment can be a meditation.  Meditating is not just sitting in the lotus position with your eyes closed and focusing on your breathing.  It is more about learning how to be in the present moment, free of incessant thoughts that pull you to the past or future.

First, realize that your thoughts are not you.  When you are experiencing negative thoughts and emotions, try to observe them.  Be the watcher.  Do not judge them or yourself.  We tend to get our identity from the past and our interpretation of it.  But, your true self is much deeper than that!  Most people’s minds run them instead of the other way around.  By observing your thoughts and realizing that you are not them, you bring the awareness of your deeper being to them.  You then have the power to make a choice.  This includes not being ruled by those thoughts!  This is not resisting them.  You accept them, realize they are not you, and that you have a choice in how to respond to them.

How do we exercise that choice?  By focusing on being in the present moment.  This takes lots of practice, but over time, you can be present more and more often.  When you are focused on the present moment, your mind quiets.  You are focused on accepting and being present in the here and the now.  Quiet the mind.  Let go of regrets from the past or imagining the future.  Don’t try to escape to present, saying “When I have this or that, then I will be happy.” or, “If only I had done this or that, I would be happy.”  Pay attention to the sights and sound around you, your breathing, feelings in your body.  Notice the silence in your mind between thoughts and try to expand that silence.  You may only be able to do it for a couple of seconds at first, but stick with it.

As I have made a habit of focusing on the present, I can tell you that everything about my life has changed for the better: so much more inner peace and joy that is not dependent on outside circumstances.

Conclusion

This article was an introduction to the definition of enlightenment, including quotes from Eckhart Tolle and some of my own thoughts and experiences.  If you would like to learn more, I would suggest reading The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle.  You may also be able to find the complete audiobook on YouTube.

How to Find Inner Peace and Happiness – Practical Steps You Can Take Now!

Inner Peace and HappinessWriting an article on how to find inner peace and happiness is quite a challenge to take on! But, that really is what this website is about. As someone who suffered with major depression and low self-esteem for over 40 years, I want to help others find victory and live their best lives! My mission is to help people find inner peace and happiness!

Obviously, I won’t be able to exhaustively cover the topics of inner peace and happiness in one article. But, I can discuss several key changes that I made in my life that have helped me move from a generally sad, discouraged and depressive state to a state of well being, positivity and happiness most of the time. As I suggested in the article title, I will focus on actionable and practical steps you can start taking right now!

I will touch on a number of topics in this article, including understanding and getting control over your inner thought life, self-love and compassion, mirror work, reflective movement, meditation, gratitude, breathing exercises, and the process of taking charge of your mind and getting well.

The Typical Way We Approach our Inner World is Not Conducive to Inner Peace and Happiness

First, we will take a brief look at how most people approach their inner thought life, and how that approach makes it very difficult for most people to find inner happiness and peace. As you have probably heard before, the external circumstances that we experience in life do not make us happy or sad. No, it’s our reactions to them. Happiness or lack thereof comes from within – from our thoughts and mindset. Most people go through life somewhat on autopilot. We react to circumstances with our conditioned responses. This is based on our childhood programming and interpretations of our life experiences up to this point. This usually happens in the background of our minds without much conscious thought. So, at the most fundamental level, by default, we go through life having this unconscious inner dialogue with literally thousands of thoughts a day. And sadly for most people, this unconscious inner dialogue does not serve us well.

Frustrating ApproachSo, the problem is an inner thought life that does not serve us well. And, we are largely unaware of this inner world. Even if we are aware of some recurring negative thoughts, we don’t really know why they are there or how to change them. What is the first step towards finding inner peace and happiness? Self awareness – discover how and why you think the way you do. This does not come naturally and will take effort and discipline.

Understanding What and How You Think (Self Awareness) is the First Step in the Journey to Inner Peace and Happiness

Keeping a Journal Improves Self Awareness

I will tell you what has worked for me to increase my level of self awareness dramatically. First, I developed the habit of journalling every day. I set a simple rule for myself that I would journal at least one sentence every day so that I would not get overwhelmed with feeling like I had to write pages every day. My journal is a digital journal that is in the cloud. So, I can add to it on my phone or any computer. I have found that convenience is important! I also like to start every morning with a journal entry. If I wake up feeling anxious, I write out what is bothering me in detail. This helps me see more deeply into my thinking and it also acts as a therapy session to work through issues. I wrote more extensively about journalling in my Emotional Freedom Techniques article. So, check that out for more.

Observing Thoughts Without Judgment

The other habit I have developed for self awareness is the habit of observing my thoughts without judgment. This means that rather than getting upset with the way I am thinking, I approach it with an attitude of curiosity, almost like a third party observer. Of course, when you combine this with the journal, you get great insights into your thinking and tendencies. If you then study your journal over time, you really get to know yourself and are able to start making conscious changes to how you think in a variety of situations. You start to make more empowering choices.

A Personal Example on the Value of Self Awareness

Self AwarenessI would like to share an example of how increased self awareness has helped me reduce anxiety and find more inner peace. As I continued to write about what was bothering me or making me anxious in a given moment, I realized that there are many times that I conflate three or four different things that are causing me stress into one huge and unmanageable ball of stress. For example, if I am stressed about one part of my marriage, a part of my career, and this other part of my finances all at the same time, it is overwhelming. But, if I take the time to break the anxiety down into the three individual parts and figure out the best approach to each of them, including mindset and action, I have now made the situation manageable!

How You Talk To Yourself is EVERYTHING on the Journey to Inner Peace and Happiness

Self-Love and Compassion is SO Important

Next, lets talk about the broad topic of self-love and compassion toward yourself. I have a number of suggestions to help you make progress in this. But first, I want to emphasize how important this is. Love is a continuum. When you love yourself more, you will love others more. When you are compassionate toward yourself, you are compassionate toward others. When you learn to love yourself, you will more naturally start to think positive and supportive thoughts toward yourself and the various areas of your life. It’s really hard to over-estimate the importance of loving yourself! I wrote more about self-love and compassion in my Emotional Freedom Techniques article.

Affirmations and Mirror Work

How do we love ourselves better? As I became really attentive to my inner thoughts, I realized how unkind I was being to myself. Really, I was my own worst enemy. This was incredibly destructive in my life. One of the things I started doing consistently every morning is to look in the mirror and tell myself over and over again how much I love myself and that I am worthy of all good things. It was definitely awkward at first. But over time, it became a habit and I started to believe it.

Affirmations and positive thinkingOne of the things that I realized about myself as I started to move from hating myself to genuinely loving myself is that I had spent most of my life trying to please other people. Because I had no self-esteem, I sought validation from others. All of us have things we long to hear from others. Our heart yearns for love and acceptance. What I discovered is that I could speak the words that my heart longed to hear to myself! It’s incredible how powerful it is when you realize that you can be your own best friend and validate yourself! This changed my life dramatically for the better.

So, try the mirror work. Try noticing supportive or self-loathing thoughts and consciously replace them with loving and empowering thoughts. Stick with it. Push through the awkwardness and doubt. It will become a habit and it will change everything! I list some great affirmations in my Dr. Wayne Dyer Quotes article.

Affirmation Index Cards

Another thing that has really helped with motivation, focus and self-esteem is creating a stack of index cards with affirmations and goals on them. So, I focus on self-worth, who I want to become, and goals I want to accomplish. Then, I pull them out as needed for motivation and encouragement.

The Dark Side – Embracing Negativity and Using it For Your Good

This one may come as a surprise to you, but hear me out. One of the traps I see “positive thinking” people fall into is the internal pressure they put on themselves to be positive all the time. This leads to denying their true feelings in an effort to be this perfectly positive person. However, I have found that true self-love can only exist when you are completely honest with yourself. I have learned the importance of being compassionate with myself and loving myself in the weakness and negativity that is part of being human. Allow yourself to be human and imperfect! Love yourself even in the midst of facing the things about yourself that you hope no one ever finds out about!

What are You Doing RIGHT?

It’s so easy to see what your are doing wrong and focus on that. Try asking yourself “What am I doing right?” Be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for progress. I guarantee you are doing something right! I ask myself that question from time to time and journal my response.

Gratitude is Key to Inner Peace and Happiness!

gratitudeThe next habit I want to touch on that will help you find more inner peace and happiness is gratitude. I know this one is talked about a lot, but it is critical. I practice gratitude when I am feeling down or when I am upset with someone I love or upset with a situation that didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. One great general gratitude habit is to make a list of ten or so things that you are grateful for in your life and review it often – whenever you find yourself looking at the negative side of life instead of the positive. If you are upset with someone you love, think of some things that you really love and appreciate about them.

As the old saying goes, what you appreciate appreciates. I have also noticed that gratitude really improves your relationships. If you focus on what you appreciate about someone, they tend to respond positively. When we are critical of others, they tend to get discouraged and live down to your expectations.

Meditation and Breathing Exercises for Inner Peace and Happiness

Obviously, a lot has been written about meditation. It’s a very popular topic. The big thing I want to emphasize here is that using meditation to quiet your mind is very beneficial. We are not going straight to a deep spiritual practice here (Although this is a worthwhile goal!). Start out slow and build a habit of giving your mind some time for peace and quiet. Keep it simple. Try taking slow, deep breaths and focusing on your breath for five or ten minutes once or twice a day. Also, you don’t have to try to get into a spiritual position. Just find a comfortable position, sitting or laying down.

meditationI have found that taking slow, deep breaths as needed throughout out the day is a great breathing exercise for stress. So, if I am anxious or upset, I start breathing slowly and deeply for a couple of minutes. Meditation and breathing exercises help me manage stress, anxiety or sadness throughout the day.

You can check out a meditation and breathing exercise demonstration by Lady Gaga in my Celebrities with Depression – Lady Gaga article. There are two great videos in that article.

I also want to point out an article I did on Brainwave Entrainment technologies. In brief, you can use brainwave entrainment audio technologies to help get your mind into various meditative and relaxing states. I have used this technology for years and still use it every day as a part of my meditation time.

Reflective Movement Helps Bring Peace and Clarity

What is reflective movement? Reflective movement is combining physical exercise, breathing exercises and contemplation into one practice. The way I do it is I take a brisk walk around my neighborhood or wherever is convenient. I breathe deeply and slowly. Depending on the purpose I have in mind, I either contemplate an issue or issues in my life, or I just quiet my mind and enjoy the walk with gratitude. This promotes creativity, peace and happiness. Obviously, exercise really helps with your mood. Walking can also help bring clarity to whatever you are thinking about. And, the deep, slow breathing with the walking promotes emotional peace. I do this all the time and consider it an important part of my routine for inner peace and happiness.

Conclusion

In this article, I discussed a number of topics, including understanding and getting control over your inner thought life, self-love and compassion, mirror work, reflective movement, meditation, gratitude, and breathing exercises. In conclusion, I want to talk a little about the process of taking charge of your mind and getting well. I want you to understand that at first, when you try to make major changes to your way of thinking, you will face significant resistance. I want you to understand what’s going on so that you can expect it and work through it.

subconscious mindYou’ve been thinking a certain way for probably decades and you want to change. Your subconscious mind is thinking “I don’t understand this completely foreign way of thinking. I don’t want to change. Are you sure you want to do this?” So, at first, you are fighting the momentum of your subconscious mind. There is a period of time where you have to persevere and show your subconscious that you are serious. Gradually, over time, your mind sees that you are serious and that things are going to be different. Eventually, you get to the point where your subconscious mind is fully recruited as your ally. Then, was a cycle of perseverance and frustration becomes a virtuous cycle. It gets easier. So keep at it.

If you have any thoughts or questions on how to find inner peace and happiness, please leave a comment or question below. I would love to interact with you and help however I can. Also, you may have a point that I missed, in which case, I will edit the article to reflect new information.

All the best!

Mark

 

 

 

Celebrities with Depression Series – Lady Gaga

DepressionI think it’s really important to highlight stories of celebrities with depression, because it opens up the discussion for the rest of us. Depression can affect anyone, regardless of how famous or successful they are in their career or finances. I am so impressed with Lady Gaga and her openness with sharing her issues with depression and mental health. She is making a big difference in helping to remove the stigma of mental health. And, she is a great example of someone who takes proactive steps on a regular basis to overcome her depression and anxiety.

In this article, I will be highlighting two videos of Lady Gaga discussing her mental health, including depression and anxiety.

The first one, “Celebrities with Depression – (Short Video) Lady Gaga Shares from the Heart”, is brief but powerful. The second one is “Celebrities with Depression – Lady Gaga Talks Mental Health, Meditation” and it’s a bit longer. But is includes breathing exercises and guided meditation.

Celebrities with Depression – (Short Video) Lady Gaga Shares from the Heart

In the video above, “Celebrities with Depression – (Short Video) Lady Gaga Shares from the Heart, she opens up about a range of mental health topics, including the importance of accepting yourself and some strategies she has used to cope with and overcome depression.

The Importance of Accepting Yourself

love and accept yourselfIn the beginning of this video, Lady Gaga talks about how she created this character of someone who was stronger than her to overcome depression. However, as she grew more famous and successful, that was not enough. As she says, it wasn’t enough to fix how she was genetically made. So, depression can affect anyone, regardless of their level of “success”.

She opens up about her mental illness and the need for therapy and medication, which is so wonderful and encouraging to hear. Mental illness is nothing to hide or to be ashamed about.

This is my favorite quote from the video: “No matter how many people accept you to your face, the person that really needs to accept you is you.” Perfect. My life changed so dramatically once I realized that I needed to accept myself, and the accepting myself was enough. We won’t need the acceptance and validation of others in an excessive and unhealthy way if we have a healthy acceptance and love for ourselves!

Some Strategies Lady Gaga Has Used to Overcome and Cope With Depression and Anxiety

She briefly mentions some things she tried to cope with mental illness. She asks “why do I have to dig into all of these different areas just to figure out how to function?” She explored ayurvedic medicine, mindfulness, meditation and mantras, acupuncture, cupping, prayer, and creative expression. However, she says that learning how to say no to the things she doesn’t want to do was the most helpful for her. We don’t have to do or be what we don’t want to do or be. Be yourself and organize your life accordingly. I will discuss some of these in more detail as we explore the next video.

Celebrities with Depression – Lady Gaga Talks Mental Health, Meditation

In the video above, “Celebrities with Depression – Lady Gaga Talks Mental Health, Meditation”, she makes a lot of excellent points that I want to highlight. First, she talks about the importance of how you talk to yourself. Next, she discusses the idea of making sure you are not too dependent on anything for your happiness. This can include a host of things, such as drugs, sex, too much food, too little food, alcohol, unhealthy people, risky choices, etc. Also, she discusses her need to talk to a therapist and be comforted by others when she is struggling. She also discusses breathing exercises to help with stress and panic, and she actually does a 20-minute group meditation.

Mirror Work – The Importance of Positive Self-Talk

Lady Gaga mentions how important it was for her to watch how she talks to herself. I call this self-love. It’s really important to be your own best friend and your own advocate and chief encourager. This has been critical in my own journey of healing, as I talk about in my Emotional Freedom Techniques post. She recommends a specific book, called Mirror Work: 21 Days to Heal Your Life, that has helped her in her journey to emotional freedom.

Don’t Rely too Much on Outside Things for Your Happiness

Lady Gaga mentions that it is very important to monitor ourselves to make sure we are not relying too much on anything outside of ourselves for our happiness. Of course, this is where addictions can come into play.

Get Help When You are Struggling

Get HelpLady Gaga expresses her need to talk with a therapist or a friend when she is struggling. I am so glad she said this. There is no shame whatsoever in finding a good therapist and/or a friend to help you when you are depressed or struggling. This does not mean that you are weak or less than. Take care of yourself first.

Breathing Exercises for Panic or Stress Relief

At 8:43, Lady Gaga demonstrates some breathing exercises that can be helpful. The idea is to breathe in deeply through one nostril at a time by using your thumb and index finger to alternate nostrils. Inhale for a count of six seconds through one nostril. Then, cover both nostrils and hold your breathe for six seconds. Then, breathe out for six seconds through the other nostril. Repeat are many times as you like.

Lady Gaga’s 20 Minute Group Meditation

At 10:21, she begins the discussion of the group meditation. She uses various mantras. For this meditation she uses “I am safe. I am calm.” She does mention other mantras that she uses, including “I am in my body.” But really, you can develop and use whatever mantras or silence you want. Try the format she demonstrates here and customize it as your own. If you have a hard time being still or want to use technology to help you take your meditation further, I would recommend either: reading my article on Comparing the Best Brainwave Entrainment Programs or you can get a sample meditation for free to see how technology can help with meditation.

MeditationShe likes to lay down and think about how we can calm the whole world down by calming ourselves as she gets started. But, I suggest finding whatever position you find most comfortable for your meditation. She also talks about taking deep breaths as she gets started. This is a great way to start a meditation. Breathe slowly and deeply.

Conclusion

As you can see, Lady Gaga is a very caring and open person who has decided to openly share her struggles, as well as solutions, for her depression and other mental health concerns. I also share the same vision to be able to help others and be open with my struggles and solutions.

 

 

 

 

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