TOOL: SEVEN STEPS TO CULTIVATE SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS – A MEDITATIVE PRACTICE WITH HEALING IN ITS WINGS
This is an invitation to quietly and thoughtfully consider the following Seven Steps to Cultivate Spiritual Consciousness, in order to increase one’s appreciation of hospitality and to promote hospitable actions. These steps are written in a natural sequence, so as to clarify the process and to ignite your own passion.
Immerse yourself in these Seven Steps as often as needed, until they resonate within you as an inward melody. Use them throughout your daily practice of hospitable behavior. Allow fresh inspiration to continually lead you on, as you embark on this great quest to understand your individual nature through hospitality. If you will allow this meditative practice to empower you, it will bring you into greater awareness of present moments, and help you awaken to your own unique style of inner warmth that will radiate into consistently new and welcome expressions of hospitality.
If you are new to this form of quieting the chattering mind, there are four preliminary steps to help you prepare:
- Set aside a minimum of ten minutes at the start of your day.
- Move into a quiet space and restful bodily posture.
- Take a few deep breaths to assist in quieting the mind filled with its to-do lists and judgments – this will help to disengage from distractions.
- And now, with an open heart, begin to realize the fullness of your:
- Desire. Be willing to leave behind all preconceived notions of what you think hospitality is. With the innocence of a child, remain open and receptive, listening for the inner guidance of inspiration. Allow new ideas to flow in and lead thought into a more conscious and expanded awareness of hospitality. To further open your heart with gratitude is to put a powerful two-edged sword into your hand – it receives the new information while simultaneously cutting through resistance and impositions that may appear and put intuition at risk through a conditioned or programmed mindset.
If you stay true to this creative process, it will become second nature and overcome distractions. Avoid negative input, for it is chaotic, incoherent, and meant to confuse every heartfelt desire. Instead, ask yourself, “What am I giving my attention to?” And, if it is not to the original desire or intent, then change the channel.
- Purity. Keep your heartfelt desire pure and focused, in order to know and recognize the true spirit of hospitality. You can silence the chatter of the ego by separating yourself from conflicting desires, the influence of others, or political agendas. Detach from the chaos of assumptions, emotional reactions, and opposing thoughts. Detach from the defenses of fear that would mentally creep in to defraud, destroy, corrupt, or manipulate your pure focus. Allow no mingling of negative concepts that would hinder the unfolding of hospitality.
In other words, do not allow fear to make your decisions. As your new sense of hospitality expands, it will continually clarify and evolve with new inspiration and vision. But don't stop there!
- Identification. Through purity of heart, consider the core spiritual values identified with this newfound clarity. Their innate stability, as defined through qualities found within authentic hospitality, is reflected in a soulful love for humanity, as exemplified in lines from Shakespeare's Sonnet 116:
Love is not love
Which alters when its alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no, it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken
These lines wonderfully illustrate how the absolute changelessness and constancy of Love – that from which hospitality is born – is able to restore one's soul. This has been the primary purpose of hospitality throughout the ages, even though diluted by financial concerns in today's markets. As spiritual consciousness is cultivated, intuition is strengthened and humility attained, its voice heard over the din of ego, selfishness, and emotional reactions to worldly events – the tempests of our times.
To maintain the harmonious stability that this tone represents, the remaining elements that create hospitality may be considered sub-tones of Love itself. These are the building blocks that can be investigated in more depth to intellectually grasp, intuitively hear, and emotionally feel the heart of hospitality while never forgetting its overarching nature. They are:
- Spiritual-mindedness, filled with gratitude and kindness
- Compassion and empathy
- Collateral comfort of safety and security
- Interdependence of all living beings
- Interpretation. As we begin to understand this seven-fold concept of hospitality, it will begin to operate effortlessly as consciousness for each unique circumstance we are involved in. Spiritual consciousness is an operating system that interprets and reinterprets the nature of hospitality, overturning false material concepts and their physical symbols until wholly governed in the beauty and sanctity of purity and freedom. It may take time before this final stage is realized; but that will depend solely upon the persistence of misinformation, misinterpretation, and missed opportunities to reconnect, revitalize, and renew the web of life within individuals, communities, and our world.
So, an imperative question to self resounds: “Why wait?” Why continue to play unwitting host to misinterpretations, false information, willful deprivations, and theories based on superstition – all designed to keep humanity in fragmentation, separated by and trapped in fear? Instead, why not make each moment count toward that all-important state of consciousness, leading us out of hostile territory into communities of hospitality? Would we not willingly trade misinterpretations and false information for the unburdened joy that awaits and sets free imprisoned thought, if we only understood the system of goodness that already operates within, through, and around each one of us?
- Method. The Seven Steps to Cultivate Spiritual Consciousness are a way of grace, and a method for understanding how spirituality operates, even beyond hospitality. It is alive and well and living within each individual. Actually, we are magnificently encoded with its message. As the door of conscious awareness continues to open, as some level of acknowledging the spiritual nature that makes up our authentic identity and reality is reached, we become awake to the connection between spiritual growth and service within the community. We become the spiritual activists we were meant to be, with hospitality written on the tablet of our hearts.
- Form. At this juncture, a new spiritual question arises from the depths. What form will this idea of hospitality take? How will it appear? What will it look like? Spiritual consciousness is fundamental, as are the ideas springing from it. Their form is as unique and adaptable as required to meet every human need. It is important not to get attached to a limited, conceptual form nor to anticipate how an idea's form should be modeled, unless you are wholly inspired – then trust it.
Too often, humanity wants to stay in a pattern of, “But, it has always been done like this, or looked like that, and worked in the past.” This attitude stifles spiritual growth. Temporary forms are just that, temporary. They can become uninspired and unable to touch the soul of mankind – and therefore obsolete. Hospitality requires the integrity of being heartfelt, alive with fresh ideas that trans-form every opportunity.
It is important to note that not every opportunity will appear transformed at the outset. But again, trust the fact that every act of hospitable kindness is radical and dynamic. It does ripple throughout the whole fabric of consciousness, uncovering and overcoming errors and terrors, animus and hostility, seen or unseen.
- Design of Love. We are woven into the very fabric of existence. This beautiful tapestry is all-inclusive and unites not only all individuals, but all periods and dimensions. It is patient and kind as it carries those along who think they are outside its frame of reference – but no one is or could be. Relish in the good of other's experiences rather than to allow or host the false stimulus of envy or hate.
We should celebrate goodness wherever found, for the spirit of hospitality is most ardently felt when human relationships, familiar customs, and the belief systems of old are undergoing dramatic changes. Embrace these changes with gratitude and appreciation, since this is the path that Abraham walked and is a measure of our spiritual evolution – from mad ambition to intuition, from terrorism to tourism, from hostility to hospitality.
To cultivate spiritual consciousness in the art of hospitality, continued practice of the Seven Steps is the key. A cursory perusal of this teaching and learning tool will accomplish little. The Seven Steps are a meditative practice that requires the journey of persistence, of cherishing, of nurturing the idea of hospitality, in order to bring forward its gifts. Listening to your soul in fulfillment with newfound spiritual understanding will open all doors to the profound enhancement of our lives and of the communities where we live, work, and play.
“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.” ~ Lao Tzu