Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spiritual Self-Work Turns to Spiritual Self-Care

This blog is going out to the people in or post-awakening. One of the interesting things about the spiritual path is that after the awakening, you know your truth. You just do. No one can tell it to you, and the deeper part of you that has been pulled to the forefront knows this. Yet it gets sooooo easy to become forgetful. That's why self-care becomes so important. Self-care is the process of using your spiritual tools to stay clear and connected because no matter who you are, most of us get disconnected from time-to-time.

Spiritual Tools All the Same: The Purpose Shifts
Initially, we start using spiritual tools like meditation, conscious dance, chanting, prayer, and others to figure out who the heck we are. So many people have no idea. So many more people have no idea that they have no idea who they are. It's a real mess. Talking to a friend on the phone just before writing this, she mentioned just how "upside-down" this whole country is, and it's absolutely true. So few people know what's really important, and they're caught up chasing experiences, mortgages, cars, fame, and money to their own detriment and the detriment of others. If you don't believe me, just figure out how many places, people, and natural resources have been exploited just to put a diamond ring on a woman's finger--this can play on many levels from the relationship between a man and a woman to the actual materials of the ring.

Subsequently, the spiritual tools are initially about getting right-side up again, and in many ways, spiritual awakening is the sudden righting of the ship that pulls our head out of the ocean and into the clear air and broad daylight of our life.

But we're so used to having our heads under the ocean with our ships upside down drifting without clear direction, that we can fall back into that pattern. So where meditation was used to help us figure out what is true and who we are, spiritual self-care becomes the process of staying clear as well as expanding into the reality that we can now be in.

Expansions and Contractions: Spiritual Self-Care Helps to Mind the Bumps
For those of you who are awakened, you know that life is not perfect--not in the way the mind thinks of a beautiful Utopia with chocolate fountains and endless sex (hmmm, well, you know what ever your Utopia is). It has it's ups and downs. Life expands out, and you get to do all sorts of amazing things. Then it contracts, and you have to deal with some difficult parts of your life and yourself. It ebbs and flows, and that's perfectly normal. The spiritual self-care helps you to continue to be in that still-point that you now are connected to. Meditation is no longer about any kind of quest for enlightenment; it never should have been anyway. Meditation simply feels good. If it doesn't feel good, then try something else that does feel good and meets your needs (BTW, this isn't the do-it-if-it-feels-good spiritual path blog, please read my blog about the importance of facing discomfort if you haven't already).

Because when you wake up, you're pretty clear about what should feel good and what feelings aren't helpful. You don't have to make your knees and hips suffer through 10 hours of meditation. You just need enough to remember that still point so that you can take that with you into your everyday life and out into the world.


Spiritual Tools Fall Away, Others Come Back
You'll also find that some tools start to have no use at all. Maybe you found this before awakening, or you've discovered that meditation only takes you so far. I really like to pick on meditation because it's just one tool, and some people try to use it for everything. The same thing happens for prayer. Praying to the divine is an immensely important practice in developing faith, but it's not the only practice. The divine expects you to do your part in your healing and in walking your life path. God doesn't intend to always be carrying you around, but from time to time when we really need it, God will be there for us. So there may be a time when prayer or meditation are really helpful, and then there may come a time, when that no longer helps you find that centering that you need.

Journaling comes and goes for me. There are times when I'm cleaning out all kinds of issues and energies through my journal and am writing each day, and then there are other times when I won't pick up a pen for a week or more. To me, this is the ebb and flow of my needs, and I've tuned in to myself to trust what I need and to use it when I need it.

Clearing Blockages and Opening Further on Your Spiritual Path
For clearing out old issues that are still clinging to you, self-care can be seen as a more gentle approach to your healing after awakening. In awakening, you know that you're absolutely perfect as you are. Ironically, that space also makes it absolutely clear what isn't you and what isn't true to you. It may make you impatient to heal faster. That's okay, but there's no rush. There never is with spirit. I think that's one of the stereotypes of gurus that's at least partially true--they're almost never in a rush. I think that there are times when urgency is needed, but for the most part, it's not. That's just another ego thing trying to do stuff fast and trying to achieve a goal. Most goals that you try to achieve fast don't last very long, I've noticed, and typically in the striving and desire to get there, it's a not a lot of fun to do. The more I teach and grow into this space, the slower I seem to go with my students and with myself. Because truly, where is there to go?

So please be gentle with yourself. In the post awakening world, you're very open and delicate, yet also incredibly strong and powerful. You don't need much to heal or shift away pain, but it is important to continue to have time dedicated to self-care to keep yourself healthy and in love with yourself and the world.

Thanks to Arran Edmonstone for today's picture. You can see more of his photography on this Flickr link.
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