For Newbie Seekers…
I do get a fair amount of people in my practice that are newbie seekers. And it's cool to check things out. A lot of the time, though, they’re expecting me to say something earth-shattering to them or give an extremely detailed "this is how you get to enlightenment" kind of roadmap. Much of the time their guides are pretty close-mouthed. I can’t spoil all their fun, right?! This stuff takes lifetimes and it can be a really winding path; and the journey is the whole point!
This is what I suggest for Newbie Spiritual Seekers
Spirituality is all about connecting with something both inside and outside yourself. I know, it sounds paradoxical because it is.
Develop a grounding and embodiment practice. This means your spiritual essence/energy is in your body and your body energy is grounded into the Earth herself. This step is huge. If this is all you accomplish in your life is being grounded into the Earth and having your spirit in your body you will be well ahead of about 75% of people in the U.S. Being grounded helps you know who you are and what you stand for. It also helps you manage your energy body (see #3 below) and allows better access to your intuition, etc. Need some help getting grounded and embodied? Check out this Grounding Video meditation I made. The password is GroundingMeditation
Part of being spiritual is understanding that you do, indeed, have such an energy body and its management matters. How you manage your emotions and energy really matters in both spiritual stuff and mundane stuff. Boundaries, energy management, emotional management all matters. And emotions are a huge part of spirituality and things like intuition, psychic knowing, etc. The point is not to have no emotions but rather to experience them without dwelling on them, getting carried away by them, being super reactive to them, etc.
Spend a lot of time outside to get connected to Nature. We get that desire to seek out “spiritual” experience because we’re not connected to Nature or the Divine. I always suggest people get connected to Nature first via being out in Nature. We are part of the web of Nature and we need to feel it in our bodies. This is really important. See #1.
Meditate to get to know yourself, your inner worlds and how you feel. I like walking meditations, praying and mantras for this. This is not the same as using your breath just to get centered. Real spiritual work gets into your inner workings and you get into deconstruction work.
Intellectual knowledge is not equal to spiritual experience. You can read about things all you want but if you don’t have the experience of it, it’s just words in your head. And, truly, your experience may never match up to anything written in a book.
Keep in mind that spiritual experiences can be completely life-changing, mind-blowing and, at the same time, absolutely fleeting and ephemeral. You can have an incredible experience, a huge realization but then you have to go home and do your laundry still. It’s weird. The point is not to get jettisoned out of life but be really present in everything you do, even the drudgery. It doesn’t mean you have to be super happy about it, either, but it may reframe why you’re doing it, your attitude about it, etc.
Spiritual materialism is a thing – and not a cool thing, either. Crystals, sage, books, this specific thing, that specific thing. Some things can be really useful but, being in hyper-capitalist America, people always want to buy things to solve their problems. This does not work within the framework of true spirituality. It’s destroying the planet and often emptying people’s wallets for ridiculously expensive things (goop, I am looking at you!). So, yeah, that’s not so cool. What do you really need? Total bare bones – a chair and quiet.
I could go into intermediate land but I think that’s enough for a beginner. You could work on that stuff for years. And we didn’t even talk about working with the shadow!
Books and Authors I Like
First thing here I have to say is that a lot of people right now are equating things like self-help and life coaching with spirituality. These are not the same thing. A lot of people do good life coaching work but that’s not spirituality, that’s life coaching. And life coaching (and other types of coaching) and self-help can be really helpful to a lot of people. Still, it's not spirituality.
Back to authors and books I like.
Pema Chodron is pretty easily accessible for most people and I do like her books.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a great way to go through life.
Deeper work (intermediate stuff)The Four-Fold Path by Angeles Arrien is an older book and very good. It contains a lot of exercises.
Even deeper (advanced stuff) Sri Ramana Maharshi's Word of Grace. I use the self-enquiry technique myself as a meditative process for things that I need to work on. The link is the the full, free online manuscript.