The word “bliss” is such a soothing word.
It feels both soothing and joyful, like a soak in a warm tub.
I think it's an onomatopoeia — the sound of the word echos its meaning.
The dictionary defines it as “supreme happiness; utter joy and contentment.” There is also a spiritual meaning to the word. To reach spiritual bliss would be dwelling in paradise or attaining nirvana — a place free from pain, worry, and suffering.
Is it possible to attain spiritual bliss right now?
Can you live a life of supreme contentment, free from suffering?
Perhaps it's not possible to experience that in every moment of every day. But I think it is quite possible to configure your life in such a way that you can be on the path to spiritual bliss. And while you are on the path, you can encounter ever-expanding pools of bliss as you learn what constitutes a life of joy and contentment, free from worry and suffering.
One of my coaching textbooks, Essential Coaching Tools, defines spiritual bliss quite eloquently:
Spiritual bliss comes from being totally connected with yourself, your soul, your body, and a higher power (meaning everyone). It is a high experience of life, rich with the subtleties and details that open one up to a quality of life unmatched by the trappings of the material or linear world.
You certainly can tell when you are living in a state outside of spiritual bliss. In fact, many people live their entire lives this way. It is a life characterized by:
- Problems, crises, and disruptions;
- An inability to relax and fully enjoy life;
- A sense of preoccupation and busy-ness;
- A disconnection from healthy energy, nature, and love;
- Fearfulness and worry about the future;
- Feeling alone, unloved, and disconnected from others;
- A need to satisfy the ego through power, material wealth, or control;
- Being out-of-touch with one's real self and creating false personae.
Nearly everyone experiences these disconnects from spiritual bliss. It is nearly impossible to escape bumping into them given society's focus on wealth, power, and materialism. But how deeply and how long you become entrenched is within your control. It is possible to live in this world but not totally of it.
Sometimes it takes living an ego-focused life (meaning a life filled with “the trappings of the material or linear world”) before we fully embrace our longing for spiritual bliss — and before we discover we can't achieve it through the ego.
I'm not speaking as an expert here.
My life is as full of the trappings of the ego as the next person's. And I must admit that I haven't reached nirvana nor do I enjoy blissful contentment every moment of the day.
But I have put my foot on the path. I have discovered cool pools of bliss along the way, and I continue to find peaceful glades that exist outside of my ego-life when I choose to step out of it.
For me,and perhaps for you,living in spiritual bliss is characterized by:
- A connection to healthy, light energy;
- Living effortlessly, in the flow, without resistance;
- A sense of connection to something larger, to nature, to the world;
- Feelings of love and gratitude for myself and those around me;
- Being fully engaged in the present without fear or worry for the future or past;
- An ease in relationships.
Finding your way to spiritual bliss sometimes begins with an “ah-ha” moment. Or it could be a slow awareness that the life you are living isn't working anymore. It could be triggered by a sudden life event (a death, divorce, job loss), or it could evolve through periods of inner reflection and study.
But once you reach a stage of awareness, once you see that spiritual bliss is attainable (even if just briefly), you have set foot on the path and begun the journey.
Here are 22 steps that I have found helpful in keeping on the path:
1. Distinguish between the self and the ego. So often we define ourselves through our egos (our job, our status, our achievements). But that's not who we really are. Begin the work of find your real self, the person stripped of all of the trappings.
2. Begin to simplify your life. The complications and time/energy drains that define the ego life can pull us farther and farther off the path. Pick the most energy debilitating area of your life and begin to simplify it.
3. Take the path of least resistance. Rather than struggling against a person or situation, go with the flow. Allow things to unfold rather than forcing or manipulating them.
4. Put relationships before results or things. Put more energy into your personal and professional relationships. Treat people, even difficult people, with love and kindness. Relationships can offer far more joy than things or achievements.
5. Respond rather than react. So many of our life disturbances involve our knee-jerk reactions. Step back and allow yourself the time and space to respond from your soul rather than react from your ego.
6. Fully embrace the truth. Don't lie to yourself or to others. See things as they are, not as you wish they were. Discover the liberating freedom of embracing reality and knowing things are as they should be right now.
7. Cure your adrenaline addiction. Don't rush through life. Slow down. Savor and experience everything. Adrenaline provides a brief high, but no long-term joy.
8. Examine your triggers. What sets you off? Who rattles your chains? Before blaming, look inside and ask yourself “why” until you learn the source of your pain and frustration. It's usually unrelated to the situation at hand.
9. Take care of your body. If you are tired, overweight, depressed, sick, or eat poorly, you can't enjoy the fullness of spiritual bliss. Poor self-care is another distraction from the path to a contented life.
10. Live within your integrity. Define what integrity means to you, and then do your best to live it. Stepping outside of that will be a prickly thorn in your side until you restore yourself. It will not allow you to experience bliss.
11. Tune in to intuition. Pay attention to the voice within. Listen to your gut. Your inner-knowing adds wisdom and history to your logical thinking. The two together create powerful discernment.
12. Listen deeply. Be fully present for others when listening — not distracted by your thoughts. But also listen deeply to the sounds around you. Intent listening focuses you on the present moment. Pay attention to sounds even in the quiet.
13. Spend extended time in nature. Walking to your car or taking a walk around the block isn't enough to connect you with nature. Get away for a weekend at least with no access to TV or computer, and spend real time in a natural setting.
14. Listen to your body and observe patterns. We all have times of feeling physically off. Sometimes ailments can reflect our emotional state, hormonal changes, or life stress. Watch for recurring patterns so you can address the cause. Just awareness of the cause can help you feel better.
15. Stay free of toxins in your body. You can't experience spiritual bliss if you are ingesting poisonous or additive substances.
16. Surround yourself with authentic, supportive people. Minimize your interactions with energy-draining, toxic people. Enhance and develop relationships with those who add to your contentment and joy.
17. Release the need to be right. We put so much energy into proving our point, explaining our opinion, trying to win people to our way of thinking. Let that go and just accept circumstances and people as they are. Let go of judgements and recognize the value of everyone's perspective.
18. Forgive. Yourself and others. Right any wrongs. Apologize if necessary. Holding a grudge will poison bliss. Guilt and self-loathing will kill it.
19. Seek moderation and balance. Arrange your life so that you are not overly focused on one or more areas. Have moderation in areas where over-indulgence could harm you, warp your perspective, or dull your engagement in life.
20. Spend on experiences over things. Material things make bring temporary happiness, but experiences can be life-altering and soul enhancing. When you spend on things, buy mindfully — not simply to build your ego or fill a void.
21. Practice mindfulness daily. Find a way to bring calm, peace, and mindfulness into your life every day. This can be done through meditation, prayer, breathing, or other spiritual practices that are meaningful to you.
22. Connect with something larger than yourself. Whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs might be, begin to view yourself and the world as part of something far greater. We are part of an expanding universe, perhaps more than one universe. Acknowledge and dwell in the profound and beautiful mystery of that.
If you achieved some small bit of bliss in reading this post, please share it with a tweet.