Monday, May 16, 2011

Facing Discomfort on the Spiritual Path

It's only appropriate after blogging about The Path of Pain and Suffering and where feeling bad is unnecessary that I'll talk about where the spiritual path is uncomfortable. The earlier blog is meant to encourage you to let go of ideas about how difficult spirituality is and about earning something through trials and ordeals. That's not what spirituality is about. That said, you can find yourself feeling really uncomfortable at times as you move outside your ego's comfort zone. I'm sure that I've blogged about this stuff before, but it bears repeating that you're going to have to learn to delineate between necessary discomfort and unnecessary pain.

Stretching Yourself Past Your Limits
Yoga is such a great example to use about moving past old barriers and stretching yourself into new forms and shapes that you never thought you could do. In yoga, there's definitely a difference between a sharp stabbing pain in your knee from a badly shaped pose and the intense muscle burning sensation of a pose pushing you past your conceived of boundaries. The former needs you to stop. You're going to injure yourself. The latter challenges you to stick with it and to breathe into it. Like most things in life, breathing into the moment is key to transmuting the fire and difficulty in life and integrating it into yourself as strength. That's part of why yoga is such a powerful practice to build a foundation and a better physical house for your spirit. It truly does help you to align heart, body, mind, and soul, and it's why I typically suggest it as one form of conscious movement for many people who want to deepen their spiritual awareness and for those people working through the integration part of awakening.


Your Comfort Zone Is Your Prison
There's nothing about the spiritual path that is "safe" to the conventionally-minded ego. The ego knows what it knows, and it doesn't want to step outside that safe space. That's the main function of the ego--to keep us safe. But it truly is the safety of the prison. Sure, you know where the walls are and the bars are, but you have no idea just how far you can go outside of that cell. Many people are comfortable there, but I'm not writing for you. I'm writing for those of you wanting to break out. I'm writing to those of you who have broken out and are wondering if you should go back. I'm writing for those of you who have tossed aside this cell and are trying to find out just how far you can go. And you can go far, but you never know how far until you stop thinking in such limited terms.


The Limited Ego Gives Way to the Immense Expansiveness of the Soul
The amount of expansiveness that we all can tap into is amazing and intense. It will show you every place you still have a wall, every place where you're still in your old cell. Pushing through these walls can be uncomfortable. Let's say you've never been to a basketball game and are afraid to be around lots of people at a sporting event (Don't laugh; seriously, lots of people have these types of feelings, and in many respects, I'm drawing on an earlier version of myself). Going through that wall can bring up all kinds of fear. Just the drive to the parking lot or buying a ticket can be intense for someone, but the reward and the sense of empowerment that washes in after having done something like that is incredible. It's part of what hooks a lot of us into the self improvement racket.

I'm a huge fan of self improvement, but I call it a racket because it can get you into the mind-set that you always have to improve yourself or be better. That's not spirituality. In writing what I've said above, there's not necessarily a need to break through those walls if you are happy there and completely content. Although few people I've run across are so completely of themselves in such small spaces; it's extremely rarely a fully conscious choice to be that way (I'd almost say never, but never is an absolute term--and few things are absolutes). And if they were in that space of deep acceptance, well, then, they're not really in a cell at all, are they?

Opening Up Deeper Levels of Yourself
As I blogged about before, the ultimate spiritual tool to awakening is to let go. Let go of everything. Resist nothing. But most of us don't seem to do that on our spiritual path--or at least not for very long. So some of what I write is intended to bridge that gap. It's a deeper compassion that while some great teachers like Eckhart Tolle just drop it all at once, most everyone else seems to be caught in between. We have a huge awakening, and then we have absolutely no idea what to do with it. We're out. We're out of the cell, but the world is now huge. We literally can go anywhere, but we have no idea what to do with so much freedom and expansiveness.

So many of these spiritual tools help us face the discomfort and ego fear in meaningful ways to help us let go--to let go of the prison cell where everything with dictated to us. These tools like journaling, spiritual sexual techniques, conscious dance, yoga, chanting, and many more help us to understand ourselves and what's going on so that we can let go. "Oh, I do that all the time because I learned it from my mother." Aha, now you know what it is, now you can let go. Now, you can make a conscious decision about how to act in the same decision, and it will be yours and not based on conditioning or karma. This is how we come to own our lives.

The Embodied Spiritual Awakening: Letting Go of Pain
The path to understanding those things that are blocking you from fully embodying yourself can be uncomfortable. They'll push your limits because you ultimately don't have any limits. What being limitless means for you is up to you to discover. I won't say what you can or can't do. It's like going back to your childhood when you were told that you could be anything. Such is the way with spiritual awakening: you are going back to the times of your childhood when you could be anything or do anything. Only now, you are bringing the wisdom of adulthood and conscious-awareness to that space, and that's an incredible mixture to make.
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