Spiritual growth is a funny thing. It asks a great deal of us, there's considerable work involved - and yet, it can be extremely frustrating to measure. It's not like getting physically taller or achieving a course certificate. Are you with me?
The truth is, spiritual growth isn't something that we can have validated by anything outside ourselves because it's not necessarily something that others will notice or recognize unless you specifically ask them (or, like me, you have the gift of intuitive friends and co-workers who regularly cheer you on through your growth periods - I highly recommend seeking out a few of those!).
I thought it might be helpful to articulate a few things that are reliable signposts of spiritual growth. This isn't an exhaustive list, your growth may include many other things. These are simply things that seem to occur with enough consistency that spelling them out might be the encouragement you need.
If you find yourself nodding along, bravo - keep going! If you aren't quite sure what I'm talking about, bravo - keep going! It's not a race, no one's keeping score...simply consider this moment of validation from your friendly neighborhood clairvoyant yours if you need it.
In no particular order:
1. Old pictures/ideas feel restricting in some way rather than comforting. This one happens over and over, it's the one thing that you can always rely upon as a signifier of a spiritual growth period. As you deepen your connection to Spirit (by whatever name you call it) you will find that old thought patterns will no longer fit. When programming or limiting beliefs pop up, you know it. You're often able to see them, name them, and clear them (or you know how to ask for help in doing so). That release creates space for new thought patterns and behaviors to grow...until perhaps they, in turn, become restrictive and the cycle continues.
B. You find yourself naturally being more inclusive and generous. You're no longer competitive because you see that the universe is fundamentally abundant and there's enough for all. There's enough time, enough love, enough resources (truly, there are - we have distribution problems, not scarcity problems), enough chocolate, enough of whatever it is you used to ration and save for a rainy day. More often than not, scarcity thinking feels foreign to you. When you do slip into scarcity, you recognize it relatively quickly and are able to step out of it with greater agility than you used to.
III. You look at situations in terms of "yes, and..." rather than "either/or" (no more dualistic thinking for you!). The lens through which you view the world changes as you become closer to your truth. This one usually happens gradually and takes a bit of practice - although there certainly are people for whom this happens in a single definitive, transformative moment! For most of us, it starts with glimpses, a moment here or there where we see things filtered through love rather than fear. Once you've tasted it, you devote much of your practice time to reinforcing those neural pathways and finding your way back to that space. You're gradually able to stretch your glimpses into longer moments, and become rather adept and consciously choosing that open-mindedness to the point where it becomes the rule rather than the exception.
Now, here's the thing about all of these signs: none are the end goal in and of themselves. They're markers, little love letters from a Universe that's designed to meet and support you at every turn - if you're willing to see it that way.
I recently read Richard Rohr's Falling Upward, wherein he discusses first half of life spirituality vs second half of life spirituality (cool book, by the way, lots of relevance to current political antics). I was with him right up to the point where he said we can't expect to grow into our full spiritual selves until at least our mid-fifties, and/or unless and until we've had some major struggles. HA, sir! I say again, HA!
Spend any time at all with someone who's rockin' their own spiritual path, and you're sure to see that the age of our body and the circumstances of our physical lives have virtually no reliable bearing on our capacity for spiritual growth. So, my fellow daring ones, I raise my glass to you and validate that you're seeing and growing and positively crushing it, simply by opening up to and engaging with Spirit.
Keep going. And, as always, notice what happens.