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Six Things To Enhance Your Spirit – What I’ve Learned on my 36-year Spiritual Quest

I woke up in the middle of the night and said a quick prayer, otherwise I thought I would be damned to a lifetime of eternal fire.

That was me in my bedroom at 11 years old. I heard something in the middle of the night.

“Is someone breaking in?” I thought. Traumatized by the several break-ins that had happened during the year.

I had heard it over and over again in church up until that point. “It will be swift. The return of Christ will be like a thief in the night”

Those fiery lines were pounded down my infant ears, growing up in Lagos, where real (human) thieves were showing up in the middle of the night.

Is that Jesus or armed robbers?

I also learned earlier that “as long as you ask for forgiveness before the second coming, you will be saved”

“Oh that’s it” I thought.

My pre-teenage self thought I had it all figured it out. It’s all about timing then. “All I have to do is figure out when this rapture thing is happening and I’ll say a quick prayer right before, and I’ll be good to go”

That’s why I woke up that night, seeking forgiveness. All I thought about was making it to heaven and avoiding hell (one of the greatest incentive structures known to the human race).

I’ve slept through nights swamped in heat without electricity, I couldn’t  imagine what eternal heat was like.

Over the next 25 years, I went through my personal journey of spirituality. Not one dictated by parental preferences, societal doctrines, and cultural affiliation but by personal understanding, inquiry, and choice.

Just checking in

How is your spiritual life? Are you comfortable with where it is? Did you choose it or was it imposed on you?

Without religion, spirituality, or purpose, you can feel lost. Maybe even lonely. A big fear of ours is the fear of separateness – death of friends, family, and self.

The next question is where do you go after this life? What lies on the other side? Even more, where did you come from and why?

These questions are not absurd.

We crave certainty and in search of it, we might accept one doctrine as the absolute truth, coming into conflict with anyone that has a divergent viewpoint.

This is the cause of everything from family feuds to world wars and genocide.

At the individual level, it can be demotivating not having a clear sense of your reason for existence.

I’ve been there. 

Through years of searching and purposefully trying to enrich my spiritual life. I don’t know if I can tell you exactly what it is but here are six things that have resonated with me on my journey to develop my spiritual self.

1. Bring awareness to the present (and your thoughts)

Your full spiritual self is waiting to be sparked by a simple breath of air.

“For many, the beginning of spiritual awakening is to realize there is the continuous commentary in their minds”

~ Eckhart Tolle

The beginning of spiritual awakening is when you become aware of the unconscious chatter that’s happening in your mind. 

The unconscious mind craves control and continues to reinforce itself through perspectives, identities, and definitions that focus on past events or future predictions but never the present.

The real self is the one that can be aware of the thought itself.

The first time I came across the work of Eckhart Tolle from am older engineer. He was always eager to talk about Tolle’s teachings found in the book THE POWER OF NOW. 

Our conversations would range from discussions about fluctuating temperatures on distillation columns to dealing with pain bodies and focusing on the present.

I read the book and it had a profound impact on me.

I find the idea of awakening as a continuous process that can always be initiated at any time by simply focusing on the present. You can achieve this by focusing and bring your attention to your breath. 

The awakening is in you.

I bring awareness to my thoughts (chattering most of the time) by meditating. With this practice, I’m able to understand what’s going on in my mind. It has allowed me to focus and develop a longer attention span. It has also enriched my life.

I started off with meditating 4 minutes a day and increased it over the years. You can start too.

Your full spiritual self is waiting to be sparked by a simple breath of air. Pay attention to it.

2. You are special (but not really)

The fundamental elements in the universe that make up the stars and solar system are the same elements found in our bodies – (Hydrogen, Oxygen, Carbon, Nitrogen). 

When you look up at the stars at night, millions of miles and lightyears away, the composition of the stars is the same as what we’re made of.  

Although we are a tiny speck in the vast universe. The universe is also in us.

On my path to becoming a chemical engineer, I thought the elements on the periodic table we’re just numbers and symbols I had to memorize to pass chemistry class. I had no clue it had any connection to my spirituality.

Knowing that we are connected with everything around us is a very humbling idea. 

As you breathe, you are participating in the activities of the universe that started billions of years ago.

Sticking with the scientific path, even more humbling:

When we compare ourselves to our closest evolutionary relatives (Chimpanzee), we have close to 99% similarities. 

The 1 % difference is what has allowed us to launch satellites into space, create symphonies, launch products, do art, while a chimp at best can be trained to do some basic sign language (I’m not throwing any shade).

So if we are all made of the same stuff, but the 1% makes us do that much more, imagine another intelligent being that’s 1% different from us as we are to chimps. 

Our greatest piece of art or engineering will be a scribble done by their toddlers.

In the words of Kendrick Lamar “Be humble”

You are not that special and your awareness of that is what makes you unique.

“The notion that we’re going to find intelligent life and have a conversation with it? when last did you stop to have a conversation with a worm”

~ Neil Degrasse Tyson

3. Is free will free?

Are you here by coincidence or by intelligent design?

A lot of spirituality is based on the premise that there is something out there bigger than ourselves. It could be one supreme being (god), multiple gods, or some people just refer to it as the universe. 

Centuries after colonizers demonized our African religions, I found my way back to it. 

In Yoruba philosophy, everyone has an Orí. This literally means ‘head’ but it’s more of a “inner mind”, a life path, or destiny.

Your Orí is selected when you are created and as you live through life you walk the path of your Orí but only with the right guidance, prayer, and meditation.

The Orí, just like a lot of other questions in philosophy and spirituality, is it pre-programmed or random?

Do you have free will or have you already been programmed by some intelligent designer?

In the bible, Adam and Eve chose a path of free choice, when they ate that apple.

Ever since, humans have been given the gift of free choice but that comes with the cost of personal responsibility.

You can make a choice and you have to develop accountability for the consequences of those choices. 

Claiming your role as an active participant in shaping your life will help you move away from feeling a sense of helplessness. 

Empowering you to take control to actively transform your reality that you’re co-creating with others.

4. We are all together in this

“We’re making a mistake if we’re relegating the spiritual conversation to me. The spiritual conversation is about us. It’s about we.”

~ Marianne Williamson

Our goal and purpose as humans is to be right here in relationship with one another and the universe. 

Spiritual enlightenment happens when we move away from self identification to collective collaboration.

Similar to biological cells that actualize in their function, then collaborate with other cells, to be in service to the well being of the entire organism. We are here to do the exact same three things, self actualize, then collaborate, to be in service of the full expression (through us) of the universe.

As a music head, I really believe that everything can be expressed in frequencies and vibrations. Every object vibrates at a certain frequency, communicating its properties in an information field that’s connected to everything else.

When I make a beat, the function of each instrument is to complement the whole. The drums should sat nicely with the baseline. The saxophone sample should glide with the piano melodies. 

Every instrument is there communicating with the other, in symphony, in service of what is being expressed through me.

You are here to communicate with and help others shine. Sharpening our mutual vessels to allow the whole express itself through each one of us. 

5. Follow the golden rule (live in reciprocity)

The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one wants to be treated.

Although I remember this from my early Christian teachings recited passionately from pulpits about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

This rule of reciprocity dates at least to the early Confucian times (551–479 BCE). It’s a concept that appears  prominently in a lot of the world religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism.

It seems to be a universal operating system that humans across the globe function on. It can be found as the main doctrine in different beliefs or even just proverbs and words of wisdom passed on from generation to generation.

“One who is going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.”

— Yoruba Proverb

Declared as the common principle for many religions, signed by 143 leaders from all of the world’s major faiths, the Golden rule (“We must treat others as we wish others to treat us”) was proclaimed the “Declaration Toward a Global Ethic.”

You are here to help other people. If you struggle with that, stick with the golden rule to “do no harm.”

6. Knowledge is infinite (Wisdom comes with experience)

There was a time I consumed so much content in the form of books, my brother and sister started calling me the ghetto scholar because in my one bedroom apartment, I didn’t even have a bookshelf but I had a stack of books lined up against the wall.

What was I in search of? Some type of “perfect truth.”  A simplified and indisputable explanation of life.

The more I read, I realized that knowledge was infinite.

I eventually learned that the answer I was searching for did not exist in some book. It was out there in life – I just had to go live it and find myself.

I don’t know if there’s a unified theory, a perfect truth, or perhaps I should just go out on faith. I do know that there’s a natural mystic flowing through the air and you may not be able to tap into it through books, classic scripts, or this newsletter.

You have to listen, feel, and bring some presence and awareness to it.

Go out there and live your life. Experience things. Bring awareness to the constant narrative in your mind.

Remember you are more connected to the people and things in the universe than you might think. We are here to help one another, and if all else fails, follow the golden rule (do no harm).

Peace & Love

Who is Nifemi?

Hey I’m Nifemi of NapoRepublic

I help busy people fit in a creative practice to bring to bring order to their reality and help them live a more meaningful life through writing and reflection.

Sculpt your story

Know thyself, build a second brain, and unleash your creativity with writing. All in one journaling, note-taking, and dots-connection method that fits into your busy life.