By Devon Battaglia
Anything we hope to achieve in this life requires the right set of circumstances, both externally and internally.
External circumstances are things beyond ourselves, like having the right material support, food and shelter, for example. The fact that I was born in a country that is prosperous where I am not forced to flee from war or contend with famine is an example of an external circumstance that is conducive to the attainment of my goals, my success.
We can do things to improve our external circumstances, however, for the most part they are beyond our individual control. Internal circumstances are totally different. Internal circumstances are the ones that we have the most control over and they are absolutely essential if we are to get what we want out of life, whatever that is for you.
You can be surrounded with the best external supports, yet the most effective area of change has to be inside yourself. The sapta-bodhyanga sutta, a teaching from ancient India’s Samyutta Nikaya, lists these seven factors of enlightenment. As with all good teachings, these can be applied not only to the pursuit of lofty spiritual goals, but also to our everyday lives.
You’ve probably heard of it. 3000 years ago authors were calling it an ancient practice and just because it has become trendy in the wellness community lately shouldn’t be a reason to ignore its value. It’s trendy because it’s so universally applicable. Everyone can dig it.
Mindfulness is the ability to keep your attention in the present, without wandering into thoughts of the past or future. This doesn’t mean that you stop making plans for next week, it means that if you are making plans then you are presently, actively, and intentionally planning something as opposed to just kind of making a plan while talking to somebody else and eating lunch all at the same time. Whatever other elements you’ve gathered for your success, whatever factors of enlightenment, they’ll do you no good if you’re not using them presently (a.k.a. mindfully).
This can be thought of as healthy curiosity put into action. The day we stop learning is the day we stop growing and start dying. It can be beneficial to make a habit of reading new books, attending regular talks from qualified teachers, or even just having a conversation with someone who is a positive influence, but don’t think that investigation just means that you’re searching for far off truths. The truest investigation is into one’s own experience, asking ourselves why we feel the ways we feel and why do we do the things that we do. Investigation that brings insight into one’s own states is a powerful thing.
There are so many products out there promising to give us more energy, but the truth is we can have a lot more energy in our daily lives if we just stay focused and disciplined. We spend hours daydreaming, wishing for things we don’t have and complaining about things that we do have, and then wonder why we don’t have the energy for what really matters. Get pumped! Make the choice to go mindfully and intentionally into your day and you’ll feel your energy multiplied as your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies come into alignment for the task at hand.
If the thing you’re striving towards doesn’t turn you on then you may have some hard questions to answer. For example, if you achieve something that you don’t really want would you still call it a success? Think about it. If your goal doesn’t light you up, then you probably need a new goal. If you really are passionate about your work, then keep the passion alive by celebrating small victories and the accomplishment of steps along the way.
Your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies each have their own needs, but many of those needs overlap and can be met in the same instance. For example, a meal lovingly prepared with simple ingredients devoid of processed foods can be supportive of each of our four bodies. Support yourself with daily practices like eating well, having good posture, not fidgeting, and by including people in your life who share these values.
The benefits of meditation are too lengthy to be listed here, but as an element of success it can’t be ignored. To keep this short I’ll just say that it’s important to check in with yourself throughout the day to acknowledge the various sensations in your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. It’s also a good idea to take some time, maybe an hour or maybe just five minutes, to take a real deep dive to see what’s present. When you’ve put away all your anxieties and stories about past and future and just experience union with the present, you’ll find all the other steps to be much clearer and easier.
This can also be thought of in terms of grace and poise. Equanimity is the ability to have an experience and not be swept up by it. This is so important for those of us who have a tendency to overreact to things. This practice starts when we remove the labels of “good” and “bad” from the sensory inputs that we encounter. That labeling causes us to run away from “bad” things and run towards “good” things, and all that running is neither sane, sustainable, nor satisfying.
Whatever your goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, lofty or mundane, simple or complex, I pray that you find success in that which makes you truly happy and serves your highest calling.
What’s next for you? What sacred visions are longing to be created through you? What do you wish to receive from life? Being a happier and healthier person improves the world we all live in, and it starts with getting the right factors in place for karmic fruit to ripen. Try practicing these seven factors of enlightenment and see where it takes you.
Devon Battaglia, MS, NC, RYT is a Holistic Life, Relationship, & Wellness Mentor + Earth Medicine Intuitive + Alchemist + owner of InnerSpark. Her unique blend of science, intuition, spirituality, Nature-based healing, energy work, Personal Alchemy, and more, empowers others to find the deeper cause of their “3D,” surface challenges through integrating and healing their emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies. Follow her on Instagram, receive her guide to Personal Alchemy and chakra healing, read more of her musings here, and join her online family.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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