Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Spiritual Caretakers During an Awakening

I was talking with someone last night, and I was impressed by the good fortune she'd had in finding "spiritual caretakers." This is my latest definition (I know, I should be making a glossary for all the terms I make up), and it's a very different role than a spiritual guide or teacher. The spiritual caretaker is a person who creates space for someone to have their awakening. It's a sacred role, and it's one that probably isn't much talked about. So, now, I'm talking about it and why it's important to find a spiritual caretaker. I'm also talking about it because it's also a beautiful role to fulfill if you happen to be one.

Spiritual Caretaking: Making a Safe Space for a Transition
The initial explosion of light, energy, and general juju is a deafening roar that blows out everything in your life. You watch a lot of your life crash and burn. Things in some aspects of your life come to a grinding halt. The ego part of you is wondering what has gone terribly wrong. Nothing. You were probably going in the wrong direction, and now, you're course-correcting. You are also returning to the center of you, and the outside world will need to be let go of. The butterfly in the chrysalis metaphor is great (yes, they go into a chrysalis. Moths go into a cocoon...I totally did pay attention in science class, thank you very much). You have to go within and go through enormous changes. Eating habits, social patterns, mental constructs, emotional states, and so many things shifts dramatically. It's different for each person, but depending on what you're here to do and how much pain you're carrying, you can be almost completed debilitated.


Nervous Breakdowns Versus Spiritual Awakenings
I'm sure some spiritual teachers would say that there's no difference, but from what I've seen so far, there are some important distinctions between a nervous breakdown and a spiritual awakening. A spiritual awakening brings so much energy with it that there's a very different feel to it. A nervous breakdown can be the crumpling of an ego that just goes into another ego-state--self-pity, victimhood, and others. Nervous breakdowns may also be a chemical imbalance in the body, and just because life is crappy doesn't mean you're have a spiritual awakening. Not how I'm discussing it today anyway.

Ultimately, any situation can be an excuse to let go into an awakened state, but for this blog post, you have to understand that awakening brings with it a tremendous love of life. The breakdown that follows for people is much more about the dismay of what you're carrying inside or how difficult it appears for you to live in this state of love and bliss in such a dysfunctional world. It may look like depression, but it's much more dynamic on the inside. Only someone moving through an awakening can really know what's going on inside, although those of us who have moved through it can sense what's happening almost immediately.

Getting Support on Your Spiritual Path
This is one of those points where the latter half of the following statement comes in to play, "Only you can walk the spiritual path, but you can't walk it alone." You need support. Plain and simple. Spiritual teachers and communities are great. But you also need a place to live that feels safe, supportive, and nourishing. Your ability to work and earn income the way you did before is probably gone. It really depends on your living situation if you're going to need to find a spiritual caretaker to look after you. Because you probably won't be able to do much for money for a time period, although you never know.

I've seen situations where families become that caretaking lifeline. Close friends will fill that role. And you have to understand that they're not providing guidance. They may not know what to do with you, but they love you and are supporting you in the only way that they can. Others may have been through a process like this or have an appreciation of spirituality. They may simply feel called to support you, but they will otherwise not have much advice. That's not the role of the caretaker. The spiritual caretaker is here so that you have somewhere safe to be to go into the fullness of your spiritual evolution.

Spiritual Evolution: What Is Happening to Me?
Before I get going too far, let's step back for a moment. What did you think this spiritual path was about anyway? Go back to that. It's easy to get lost in the process. You may be hanging on to some spiritual illusions and fallacies. It's important to appreciate all states of awareness. Enlightenment isn't about clinging to a new state of bliss all the time. Bliss comes and goes. That's how all states of awareness are. Enlightenment means that you know what's real. You know that the way your life was doesn't work for you. Now you're re-creating it. The more you consciously re-create your life and assist the energy within you, the smoother it'll go. The more you fight it or cling to ego ideas like "independence," the more beat down you'll feel. It gets pretty miserable along that path.

And sometimes we have to go back down it, which is frustrating when you suddenly know so much. The ego runs in to try and take over the awakening from time to time. It says, "This is how I should feel" or "This is the experience I really want." Good luck with that. That was the same thought pattern that got you into such misery before in life, right? It's best to let it go.


Becoming a Spiritual Caretaker Yourself
Moving to the other side of the fence, if you find yourself called on to become a spiritual caretaker, that's a very beautiful role. Thank you. Thank you for giving someone space to have this beautiful, yet oftentimes messy awakening. The biggest thing to understand is to not take anything personally. What's coming out of someone in awakening is all kinds of energy as well as karmic and emotional gunk. Having your own meditation to simply let go of things can be important when you get ignited by someone in awakening. And trust me, you'll get upset by them from time to time no matter how much you love them. They're in moments of deep change and shift, and they're shifting everything around them. If you've already had an awakening, then this energy will just accelerate you further along your path and towards what you're already working on--that's typically my experience in working with people in awakening. My energy just kinda absorbs what's happening. Sure, I can't really sleep very deeply at night because I'm so amped up, but otherwise it feels good to me.

For those of you who haven't, you may be unconsciously preparing yourself for your own awakening. Being around that kind of energy is a way that your soul can absorb that change energy and start to remember itself. So, someday the person that you're caring for may very well be caring for you. The important part is to not get upset by what's going on or the strangeness of requests from the person you're caring for. Sometimes they'll have bizarre eating requests or be up all night. Give them the space they need to be an emotional wreck, but be there for them when they need a hug. Usually, someone in awakening is very attuned to energy, so they'll be very sensitive to you. That can be unsettling, so don't try to hide or mask your feelings. Otherwise, that will upset someone in awakening even more because they'll either feel confused or lied to. That'll start to shut down your ability to be a caretaker on certain levels.


Sacred Roles Re-Emerging in Society
The role of the spiritual caretaker is very beautiful. We all need help on our paths, and during the initial awakening when our lives are being burnt to the ground, it's so nice to have a small oasis to sit by and rejuvenate before we start carting out the ashes and rubble. I've definitely gone through my own burn down. I somehow managed to intuitively stockpile resources that helped me move through those difficult times, and I can't say enough how hard it is to work a 9 to 5 job during it. You essentially end up putting your process on hold, prolonging the transition. So don't. Don't put it off or wait it out. That will just make the whole thing more painful, and it doesn't need to be. As we all bring forth more of these sacred roles like the spiritual caretaker, there will be less of the need to do so. And the depth and profundity of awakening will have more space to unfold for all of us.
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