In case you’re from a country or culture that isn’t familiar with the phrase “Throwing the kitchen sink” at something, this is what it means: To throw every available resource at something.
So if you were going to throw the kitchen sink at trying to get better at golf, you’d buy an expensive set of clubs, hire the best golf teacher you can find and commit to practicing two hours a day, seven days a week.
What does that mean for our purposes of growing spiritually? Before tackling that, let’s get specific on what the objective of spiritual work is.
There are many ways to approach that question. We could say the objective is to quiet down inside. To become more present. To let go of our baggage. And many more.
Calming the mind
Another commonly held objective laid down over multiple traditions over thousands of years is this: Spiritual work is about calming the mind. That’s what I’m writing about today.
Hinduism is but one of those traditions. The Bhagavad Gita, arguably the most sacred text in Hinduism, was written approximately 2,200 years ago and contains several passages about the mind. Here are two:
“Strive to still your thoughts. Make your mind one-pointed in meditation. The mind is restless and difficult to restrain, but it is subdued by practice.”
“The mind acts like an enemy for those who do not control it.”
Do those 2,200-year-old words resonate with any of you? They sure do with this writer.
Fine, so spiritual work is about working with our minds. How do we go about doing that? Should we just focus on exercises and techniques that calm the mind, like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness?
Don’t confine yourself to traditional techniques
We should definitely do those things. But the point of this article is that we should “throw the kitchen sink” at working with our minds. Use everything at our disposal. And don’t be precious about what we throw at our minds.
Like what? How about good, old-fashioned positive thinking?
If you think that’s too Dale Carnegie American for you, consider that one of the highest and most revered Indian saints of the 20th century, Yogananda, was an ardent proponent of positive thinking. He taught us that when we had a negative thought, we should replace it with a positive one. My favorite teacher, Mickey Singer, is a devotee of Yogananda and also believes in positive thinking.
Exercise as a spiritual technique
What else can we throw at our minds? How about physical exercise? I work out six days a week, largely because it helps my mental health. Exercise relieves tension. And our thought-hungry minds love nothing more than a tense, anxious, inner body.
Here’s one I just thought of: Reading. You read that right. When we read, our minds are focused on what we’re reading and not swirling with unwanted thoughts that do us no good.
Bottom line is that anything that keeps us from getting stuck in our minds thinking involuntary thoughts could be considered spiritual work.
Make your own list
I’m sure there are many other things you can think of that fit this bill. And I encourage you to come up with your own list.
The point of all this is that we shouldn’t confine our work to meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and other traditional spiritual practices. Throw everything you have in your mind!
But also remember not to fight with your mind. Or try to directly control it. Our minds are strong and they will win that battle.
The objective of all these practices is to strengthen our consciousness, awareness, presence…whatever you want to call it. Doing that leads to our unconscious, thought-factory minds having less influence over our lives.
And that, it could be said, is the whole kit and kaboodle of spirituality.