Thursday, August 4, 2011

Spirituality and Discipline: Dedicating Yourself to the Spiritual Path

For some of you--those of you in awakening--this blog topic is not optional. If you don't discipline yourself to cultivate space and guidance for the immense flow moving through you, you're going to be a mess for a very long time. For those of you still learning about the path, I have to emphasize just how important it is to develop a dedicated practice. The complaints about not having enough time don't work, and especially if you do have a spiritual awakening, then things really get crazy. It's our practice that helps to hold us and guide us through that big shift as well as the turbulence that besets us throughout our lives regardless of awakening or not.

Sit Down, Shut Up, and Meditate...Then Repeat
I think I've implied "discipline" in many of my blogs, but I haven't come right out and said it. The reason is because I already had a lot of discipline and structure internally. A lot of my personal path was to break it down--to break out of my own suffocating control. In so doing, I could let the light of God, the light in me come out, merge, and explode. It was breath-taking. It is still breath-taking. I still have to remember to breathe at times. But that's my path, and it's not yours. No. Most people have the opposite problem. You have so little discipline on the spiritual path that you aren't ready to handle the rigors of awakening. You aren't ready to have lots of intense connection, love, and energy pour through you. You're a river with no banks. The water would run everywhere and muck of everything. Then it would dissipate, and you'd be in the midst of a swamp.

This is what awakening is like for a lot of people.


Cultivating Discipline, But Gently
Discipline, however, doesn't mean that it's time to brutalize your mind-body-spirit or some such nonsense on a quest for awakening. For those of you who now understand what enlightenment is, you understand how ridiculous that mentality is. Because that mentality is trying to "win" at the game of spirituality. But you can't "win" in this game. You can't be made safer by it. You can't be made more likely to get laid by it or get lots of money. No. The wealth of awakening comes from within. It has always been from within. So you may find yourself dirt poor but in so much joy you can't imagine any other way to live. Or perhaps not. Everyone's awakening takes us to slightly different places, but having the discipline in our regular spiritual practices prepares us to go to those places. It prepares us to be able to hold space in those places and not get washed away. It helps us to heal, and it helps us to re-condition a whole lot of mental babble and social conditioning that has cut us off from ourselves.

Spiritual Discipline: Many Practices & Many Ways to Rediscover You
Spiritual awakening is a rediscovery process, not a discovery process. You are rediscovering you. Many of us already had it when we were little kids provided that we had an okay home life. Then social conditioning kicked in, and we developed really strong egos. In so many ways, awakening takes us back to being little kids again only this time we bring the wisdom of embodied truth, awareness, and mindfulness. We don't get stupid and ignorant. Instead, we understand how to play again, and we know what is real, important, and sacred. Stock options are not important. Helping a grieving widow to heal is important. You see the difference? Some of you do, I'm sure. Others are already trying to defend the stock options. But that's fine. See how much money ever really makes you happy and secure. You can go down that path like so many others have, but you'll find nothing ultimately. No one will stop you, however.

With that said, healthy practices are things like meditation, journaling, prayer, chanting, doing something you love every day, yoga, and any way that you embody your truth and stop to give yourself a chance to connect deeply with yourself. There are so many tools to use. I usually break them down by how they work on different chakras. Journaling is great for self expression, clearing the mind, and even connecting to the divine if you really get into the flow (all kinds of amazing information can flow through your fingertips--I know. It's kinda what I'm doing as I write this right now). In essence, journaling is an opening/clearing for the 5th, 6th, and 7th chakras. Lower chakras like things that you do with your body. Physical activities like vinyasa yoga are great for the body to come into deeper awareness. Mindful hugs to loved ones can combine heart chakra awareness with other lower chakras. There's just so many ways to do this path, and none are greater or less than any others. All that matters is that they work for you.

Dedication, Patience, and Tenacity
When awakening hits, I've noticed that the people who really are able to hold it, transmute it, and embody it are the ones with tenacity. It feeds into the dedication, although it may not bring about any more patience. I think meditation is great for cultivating patience and mindfulness. The mind usually screams for 30 minutes solid (at least at first) about how it should be doing 19 other things other than meditating. Over time (or whenever you're ready to let it go), it softens and grows quieter. It doesn't have to though for you to have a good meditation. Sometimes, you start to learn how to be the watcher--to watch the mind scream for those 30 minutes. You start to laugh at it a little too. What is it so concerned about anyway? Because most of the things we worry about don't exist, and discipline helps us to stop running from worry to worry and see what is real. It helps us to not get lost into experiences and sensations, which happens to a lot of people on the spiritual path who consider a high spiritual state to be what it is all about (it's not). Above all else, discipline helps us to create space for something amazing to happen.

After the Amazing Has Happened
But after the amazing has happened and you've woken up, the spiritual discipline you have can be the rock to which you strap yourself to move through the shifts and seas of awakening energy. It becomes so essential to your process of clearing old issues and absorbing even more light--even more of you. Some of you wonder how in the world can all this energy be yours. But it is. It truly is, and then your mind will say, how in the world could I have ever lived so small? But we did, and now we need to keep cultivating the channel for this energy to expand us.

That channel will be broken, and we will have to build a bigger channel. That's how expansions work. We have to be dedicated to our spiritual path or else we can lose ourselves in this process, lost to the eddies and tides of old emotions that are desperately trying to get our attention and our energy back. Fear will float by and try to grab onto you saying that you'll drown without it--you won't be able to pay your bills, you'll lose your husband, all your friends will leave you. It will tell you all these things, and the more that you let it hold on to you, the more you'll start to drown. The very things it tells you it'll protect you from are the very things fear and the other old pains will take you towards.

So keep meditating. Keeping journaling. Keep talking to spiritual people who understand this, or keep searching to find more people to connect with. Stay in touch with your spiritual teacher--the teacher is a field of energy to help support you through this shift and modulate the ups and downs. You can't do it alone, and you're going to have to do it alone. But the discipline of the path you've cultivated will help you to make it through. Between that and God's grace, we are all taken care of.
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