Have you ever wondered how to take a spiritual journey? It isn’t easy. It just requires an open mind. Here’s my story of how I started my own spiritual journey…
In 2004 when I was training to be an actor at Oxford, one of my drama teachers happened to say one very simple line to me. He said “Imagine there’s a closed curtain around your mind. Now imagine that curtain opening”.
That was all he said. But those few precious words were the beginning of my spiritual journey.
How to take a spiritual journey: Step 1: Hear The Call
If you want to know how to take a spiritual journey, you have to begin by hearing the call.
Up until the moment I heard my teacher telling me to “open the curtains of my mind”, my mind had been closed. It was the result of having lived in a rather volatile and turbulent home. My father was an alcoholic. Great man. Terrible problem. The problem caused my family a hell of a lot of pain. And for me it made me shrink into my mental shell, closing myself off to the world as a security measure to prevent myself from being hurt.
I’d been closing myself off for as long as I could remember. Since my very early childhood I’d learnt to sever myself from external reality, in order to prevent myself from being hurt.
But somehow I never realised I was doing it. I never realised that the curtains were drawn on my own mind.
Then, when my drama teacher happened to say that line, about their being a closed curtain in my mind that needed to open, I suddenly realised everything. I realised that to live I needed to open my mind to life, for good and bad, for better or worse.
I dedicated myself to living consciously, to being fully awake to the world.
Little did I know back then that this process, this mental attitude, is called Mindfulness.
Mindfulness: The art of focusing the mind on the present moment, without judgment and without thoughts.
How to take a spiritual journey: Step 2: Commitmens
I felt that mindfulness was the right thing forme. So my own personal journey became a journey towards mindfulness.
Even before I knew anything about it, mindfulness became my priority. My primary goal in life became to live every moment of my life consciously and with clarity.
Within a few days of practicing mindfulness it felt as though someone had turned the brightness and contrast levels up on my life, that they’d taken my old CRT TV and replaced it with a 1080p 3D monitor.
It was such a joy just to be truly alive, to notice what I hadn’t noticed before, to notice things like the way my skin tingles when I hear a thunderstorm, or how the tree leaves dance at the slightest touch of the wind. The world came to life in a million colours, in an orchestra of sound. And I felt a level of joy I’d never felt before.
How to take a spiritual journey: Step 3: Bring others with you
I had dedicated myself to mindfulness and began my own spiritual journey. But then it suddenly dawned on me: What if other people weren’t experiencing the same state of consciousness and mindfulness that I was?
I’d always considered myself to be a freak, to be the odd one out. It always seemed to me that it was I and I alone who was living closed-off from the world.
Then, one day when I was walking with an old friend through the local park, we happened to pass by the most beautiful swan that was gliding so gracefully on the lake.
Swans are one of the most beautiful animals, aren’t they? This swan was an important part of my own spiritual journey
This swan was majestic; bathed under a red sun the whole scene seemed more like a romantic oil painting than real life. Completely captivated I stopped to take in the breathtaking sight. But my friend just kept right on walking. Then, noticing that I’d stopped, she said “Come on, we’re in a rush”—as though the TV show that we’d planned to watch was somehow more important than this stunning scene.
That was when it hit me.
I was horrified.
I suddenly realised that it wasn’t just me, that it was most people. They were all barely conscious of the brilliance and beauty of the world around them. They were stuck in their thoughts, they were worrying about their work, they were thinking about tomorrow, always, always tomorrow, never now.
And the disturbing reality was and still is this: Our beautiful world is passing most of us by unnoticed. I might have learnt how to take a spiritual journey for myself, but suddenly I was aware of the need to bring others with me on that journey.
How to take a spiritual journey: Step 4: Do what it takes
If you want to take a spiritual journey you have to be willing to let go and to trust life.
That moment when I realised that people were living closed off from the world? That moment changed me forever.
It was when I realise that most people live their lives unconsciously that I decided to embark on the journey I embarked on: The journey to spread consciousness, or mindfulness, throughout the world.
I immediately took to learning everything I could about mindfulness and meditation, and I was fortunate enough to learn from the very best in the field, like Jon Kabat Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh, and the Dalai Lama. I studied tirelessly, learning the art and science of meditation and mindfulness. Finally I began to teach. I’ve been blessed to be able to teach meditation to people all around the world from every walk of life. And teaching is the best blessing; to share your joy of something with other people; that’s the richest of riches.
My own love of meditation and mindfulness has been a love of discovery. As important as meditation and mindfulness have been to me, equally important is the spiritual journey I’m on. It’s that sense of discovery and of journey that has been the most beautiful thing.
When you begin your spiritual journey you’re often searching for answers to problems, problems like anxiety, depression, stress, and fatigue. But while you’re searching for answers you’re missing the journey.
The wise travellers travels with no sense of destiation. They live in the present moment. When embarking on your spiritual voyage, remember that it’s not where you end up that matters; it’s the journey you take.