Sir Godfrey Gregg ROMC, OHPM
Spiritual growth is the process of evolving our consciousness. What exactly does this mean? We can define spiritual growth in a number of ways:
1) As we grow spiritually, the way that we perceive the world should be changing for the better. For example, in the early stages of our spiritual development, we might take a relatively bad experience that we have and simply chalk it up to being bad luck, and possibly play a victim role in how events unfold. We react to the experience in a negative way and make little or no growth from it.
As we make spiritual growth, we can choose better actions to deal with such negative experiences, turning them into positive ones. Instead of playing a victim role when something bad happens, we can reflect and look for the deeper meaning, and try to see our part in how we might have brought such an event on.
2) As we grow spiritually, our attitude shifts for the better, in a number of ways. Spiritual growth isn’t so much about changing our world or our lives, but about changing ourselves and how we perceive the world. It is like waking up and seeing the world through “a new pair of glasses,” as it says in the AA big book.
One way that our attitude changes is in terms of pride and humility. As we make spiritual progress, pride starts to melt away as we realize that we really don’t know it all, and that every experience can become a learning opportunity for us if we approach it with genuine humility. People that we might have dismissed in the past come to have new meaning for us, because we know that each person might have a potential lesson to teach us. Pessimism doesn’t play well with this idea. Instead, we start looking for the silver lining in things in terms of our experiences and what we might possibly learn from them.
3) Our connections with others change as we grow spiritually. One way that this happens is mentioned above, in that we come to see others as potential teachers. Another way that our relationships change is that we tend to place more value on them as we grow, and there is also a tendency towards reaching out and helping others. These ideas replace what is normally selfish and self-seeking behavior that used to dominate our lives.
4) A holistic approach to our life and our overall health comes into being, as we start to realize that everything relates to our spiritual growth. For example, we might start eating better, quit smoking, start exercising, and so on. We see the connectedness of these holistic ideas and realize that we can’t make further growth until we address certain problem areas. A balanced lifestyle becomes the goal, as we see how this further helps us to grow spiritually.
In addition to these ideas, spiritual growth is also characterized by a growing connection with a higher power, which some might experience through prayer and meditation. We come to learn that our greatest teacher can be either the stranger we meet on the corner, but also the quiet and still mind that we achieve in solitude while meditating.