Most people measure their intellectual progress by the degree one obtains when finishing their school or college career. When a person grows fat or skinny they can tell how much by weighing themselves. In growing stronger or weaker physically, you can test your muscles by lifting weights; however it is not that easy to measure you intellectual progress by day, week or year. But unlike intellectual accomplishments, spiritual progress is so subtle that it is extremely difficult to ascertain its exact measurements or developments in human beings.
The definition of Self-realization is the conscious knowing in all portions of your mind, body and soul that you now posses God’s omnipresence; that it is not necessary to pray it comes to you in the future and you are not simply close to it. His omnipresence is your omnipresence. God is as much a part of you this moment as He will ever be. All you have to do is increase you’re knowing. All successes in the real world are known by their actual, though frequently short-lived results. But in the path of spirituality results being intangible are principally psychological, real, long-lasting and eternally valuable. How can spiritual progress be measured in the material world; by measuring their peace-giving qualities according to the subtle transformations in our inner consciousness.
What is the real criteria for spiritual consciousness? True spiritual consciousness lies in the total conquest over individual consciousness. To be spiritual does not only mean to just meditate; it includes a wide range of controls over your existence. But the best foundation is meditation. But to lead a desultory life or to be angry in one way and meditate in another way is the same thing as putting one foot on a vessel in one direction and the other foot on an another vessel going the opposite way. In other words an immoral life and the great science of yoga are incompatible. The ordinary man is only in touch with his sense consciousness; therefore you must live differently from ordinary people.
Those new to meditation may be discouraged by only infrequent joyful perceptions, only to be constantly interrupted by an uncontrollable assault of restless thoughts. But when a restless person persistently executes systematic meditation without any preconditions whatsoever for results, he will not be distracted or disturbed by any unfulfilled cravings for benefits and will meditate better.
There are certain signs of progress in meditation. The following are some of the true signs of advancement. An experience of inner calmness that transforms itself into joy. A steady increase of peace during meditation. Finding answers to your questions from a deepening of one’s understanding through a tranquil intuitive state of inner awareness. An increase in physical and mental efficiency in everyday life. An expansion of love to all beings and a preference to meditation and its effects over anything else. From the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda.