I have been very fortunate and blessed to sit at the feet of highly evolved and elevated souls and one of them His Holiness Swamiji Yogavedantananada ji Maharaj, who attained Samadhi this year and was a direct disciple of Gurudev Shri Swami Sivananada ji Maharaja. He used to say “first throw all the garbage out of your mind”. Then sit at the feet of a genuine teacher and learn the Bhagavada Gita (for Hindus).
I have since learnt that the source of knowledge or who teaches you becomes very important. It needs to be authentic and there after keep good company or satsang in your personal time is needed. Then spiritual and mental growth will follow for – this is for us who are part of the world; as not everybody can live a monastic life.
I have also realized that being morally and ethically correct is also very critical for spiritual and mental growth, as is telling the truth at all costs and consequences.
A good measure would be that what you think; what you say and what you do; should be in synchronicity, if you are able to do this subconsciously or without an effort then you have risen a lot spiritually and it is also a meditative state.
This as you are leading your true life, You are not deceiving yourself and when you are not deceiving yourself you are not deceiving God.
This becomes important because you will meet 90% of people who are living very stressful lives; because they are thinking one thing; saying another thing and doing a 3rd thing and they get so confused they are unable to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. They do this for their survival in this world, they do this to earn money, they do this so that they can put up a daily show of normalcy – whereas the truth is that all our lives are tough and this daily show of normalcy is creating havoc in our lives; it is creating so much stress in our lives that we are unable to perform and function, so much of the society all over the world is taking medications to sleep.
So initially you have to make an effort; that if somebody asks you a question; then whatever you are thinking; say that from your mouth and what you have said from your mouth you do that. Gradually it will become a habit and once this becomes a habit for a majority of the people; the society improves and the happiness index improves.
Also fear is one of the major obstacles in spiritual growth is fear; you fear because you don’t trust God. You don’t think about God in good times. The moment you trust God and surrender to the will of God and let go of your ego; the fear will go.