Lots of stuff happens to lots of people, and it doesn't change the course of their lives. Plenty of people meditate for years or read tons of spiritual books, and still their lives and their internal set-up remains unaffected. I've run across a lot of really frustrated spiritual type people--usually older--who can't figure out why something hasn't happened. I can't say why or why not a lot of people don't move into awakening, but I do know that it takes a lot of force.
What do I mean by force? I mean energy. I mean perseverance. I mean tenacity, courage, love, the grace of the universe, and a bunch of other elements that all combine to give you this driving force. Without it, you never break through your initial barriers.
Shouldn't an awakening just happen? Yes, absolutely. There is a flow that you have to surrender to in this process, but most of us have sixteen types of barriers to the flow. And if you're a go-with-the-flow type person, your barrier may be an aversion to hard work and discipline. We all have something (at least at this point in the human evolution; maybe some people don't). So we need the force to move through whatever the block is, and then we need to have the faith that the awakening will do what it needs to do and that we'll be all right.
My Spiritual Tipping Point
Some people have heard me tell this story a number of times, but it always morphs as I re-tell it partially because of the perspective I'm gaining as I get further away and have more awareness around what was happening. Here are several key elements:
- Following my heart. I was actively applying to creative writing master's of fine arts programs in the fall of 2006. Any time I align with my heart, good things can happen.
- Unhappy at work and in my love life. I didn't feel like I was achieving what I wanted at work, and I certainly wasn't connecting with women the way I wanted to. It meant I had much less investment and attachment in the way that my life was. I was willing to let it change.
- My Upbringing. I grew up in a spiritual family, and lately, I've realized just how many tools I already had walking into this awakening. I had read spiritual books, trusted my intuition, knew about meditation, and other stuff.
- The Teacher and Teaching appears. A friend had given me Eckhart Tolle cds several years beforehand, and for whatever reason, I started to listen to them in October of 2006. And for whatever reason, they began to resonate with me, and I began to find my words.
- The start of sangha (community). I remember a tall dark-haired girl recognizing me from a myspace profile when I was at a local bar in Reno. I know, creepy right? But she and her boyfriend quickly became friends of mine, and another night, I remember talking to her about spirituality. I remember the look in her eyes--that moment of connecting. From then on, her and her boyfriend became the first sounding boards for me as I started to talk about spirituality and open my throat chakra.
- My Saturn Return. Astrologists say that this is when you enter adulthood and have all the current structures and relationships in your life challenged. My experience reflects that. It typically happens late 20s to early 30s. I also call it entering your spiritual adulthood.
- The emerging consciousness on the planet. You can't not acknowledge this shift in consciousness. It's affecting everyone, and I have no doubt that it helped me generate the force I needed to shift.
This was what it took to start to break me open. I wasn't having intense moments of presence. I wasn't very aware of other people's energy. My healing abilities were still extremely nascent, and my ability to just know things was still very young. It was hardly a bells and whistles time for me. The big realization that started me on the path to spiritual work came when I was sitting in my cube. One day I was pissed at one of my colleagues about something, and I realized that "I" was making myself miserable. I realized this as I'd had no actually contact with that person all day. I realized just how good my job was and that I was making it a bad situation. That was the start of me trying to make amends for how I was being with people at work.
I honestly can barely remember exactly what I did. I think it started with listening and being more present with people, especially the people who were the most difficult for me to work with. This went on for about three and a half months until some time in February of 2007.
If you're looking for the spiritual path, just start at work. There's always plenty of ego and attachment for all of us to work on in that space, and there's usually someone there lighting us up. I remember taking a walk into a park, absolutely fuming about something. At some point sitting on a picnic table staring across the field and at Mount Rose, I let go. At the time, it was probably more like, "Fuck it." But sometimes close is good enough for spirit.
The Power of Letting Go
This was probably my first real experience with letting go and with a deeper level of completion. In college and high school, we're told we're done after a set criteria is met. That's powerful, but the completions in our lives that are most meaningful just happen. We can't control them and can predict them only rarely. When I let go of my job duties and took on the new set, I felt in my body and soul that I was done with that job. Even though I'd still do it for another 8 months as I worked to figure out the right transition, I had nothing left to prove.
Shortly thereafter, my friend invited me to her dad's meditation group. That group became my next set of spiritual connections and my next sangha. Her dad would eventually become my teacher when my heart opened to him a year and a half later. And so much more would happen and move and shape me leading up to August 2007, which would be a major turning point (a turning point is something that you can't go back from; a tipping point is just the start, the opening). After the turning point, I would learn about loss, spiritual responsibility, and so much more as I would expand and contract, grow and be intensely humbled.
But this is how I started. It will be different for you, I'm sure, but in the end, we're all heading for the same place.
Next blog: Defining Spirituality and Religion