Thus, often the first things that people gravitate towards in a shift are aimed at helping them learn their life lessons and heal old wounds. One example that is fairly common is quitting the "evil" corporate job to become a yoga teacher. Since teaching yoga also offers a clear path in terms of doing and achieving something and it is culturally accepted, it can feel like a safe choice. But many times, that initial falling in love with something like yoga is simply about falling in love with you. You may have been out of tune with your body, so yoga can offer a lot of wonderful ways to access yourself and to heal your body in a variety of ways. It doesn't mean that it should be your life work. It may only be one brief stop on your spiritual ride.
Well, I do.
Because no matter how easy or untraumatic a person's life has been, there is almost always some level of healing that is arising on the spiritual path. When I wrote my ebook, "Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening," I dedicated a full third of the book to healing because it's that important. Fear, anger, self-hatred, shame, sadness, despair, and many other pains are issues that need to be met and healed. In that healing, we re-align with the truth of ourselves and process out issues that we have not fully addressed. That naturally leads to our continued growth. Without that healing, we do not grow properly. We have our energy stuck in those places, and those issues tend to create whole networks of denial and avoidance that require more of our energy to maintain. If you are afraid of driving, then you have to put a whole lot of energy into creating other ways to get around in your life to avoid facing that fear. But in this life, you are in the metaphorical driver's seat, and the shortest distance to where you really want to go will be apparent when you take the wheel.
The Initial Intoxication of HealingSo why does anyone initially think that yoga, massage therapy, spiritual teaching, or something else should be their life work? It's usually because it feels freeing, and for many, it feels good. Especially after having worked dissatisfying to terrible jobs, aligning your actions with love feels really good. So many people are used to "work" being miserable that the first time they do something that feels good, they almost don't believe it. In the example of learning to do yoga, the natural sinewy, open, relaxed feelings in the body after a great yoga class are incredible. They may feel very different than the endorphin high from working out at the gym. Thus, when people don't have any perspective that "doing" other things can be just as fulfilling or more fulling, an individual may come to the conclusion that this is the work they should offer others.
Getting Stuck in a DecisionIn all of this, I can only re-emphasize that you have to follow your inner knowing. Going into a yoga teacher training may actually be part of your healing process, and after graduating, you may suddenly find that you have no interest in teaching at all. You may find you no longer have any interest in yoga. This can be a sign that your healing within that modality is complete. Perhaps you get six months to several years into teaching yoga, but it has been going badly. You may eventually have to realize that you've gotten yourself stuck in a decision. This isn't a bad thing, but it can be quite confusing for people at first. They may think they're not doing it right. They may think that they just need to persevere more. They probably are wondering how they could have loved something so much and then just simply lost all interest in it. A lot of things can come up, which is why listening to your inner knowing is essential. This isn't something I can tell you. I have no idea what your spiritual path is supposed to look like, and for many of you, creating a business around being a yoga teacher will have many, many challenges. Building a business is just challenging in general, and getting enough clients to be a successful yoga teacher is not necessarily a cake wake. But if your heart and soul are in it, teaching your students every day is a joy, and the other challenges aren't quite so bad.
Even if this path is easy, it doesn't mean that you going with your truest inner flow. Sometimes, success is one of the worst ways we get stuck in a decision. In this scenario, people compliment you about your classes, and they are always filling up. But you are increasingly despondent or feel like a fraud. These are other indicators that you may not be following your heart towards your true life's work (and keep in mind that everyone's life work is different and you can do many things in the grand scheme of life).
Returning to Healing and the Next PhaseThis next step only takes you more deeply into your inner knowing. I like to emphasize intuition because it is the place of your cleanest and clearest guidance. This is that space where you and the divine meet. Listening to this space can feel very empowering when you are open to it. When you are resisting it, you may be terrified by it. That fear is another clue to the next step in your healing, however. Wherever there is fear, consider it to be a thread for you to follow or a doorway hiding more of your natural energy and deeper flow in life. Go towards that fear, not away from it. Very rarely is our fear telling us not to do something, but this does happen from time to time as we use unhealthy inner habits to get our attention. We really do set up some really messed up internal wiring to run our lives and to trick ourselves into doing things to help ourselves from time to time. That's why your spiritual practice and staying in tune with your healing is so important. It helps to uncross the wires and to stay agile with the ever-changing demands of life.
With all that said, if you feel like you got stuck, rewind the tape in your mind. See where you got stuck, and meditate on it. Right about it in your journal. Take some time to ask compassionate questions of yourself concerning your assumptions. Our assumptions arise from fears and core beliefs about life. They are more often than not inaccurate, blind, or wholly wrong. It's important to see what assumptions are at work inside you to continue your healing and bring greater clarity to your life's path.
The Breaking Down of New Issues and Taking New ChancesSometimes, people think that making one big leap of faith is enough.
It's usually not. It's usually the first of many leaps until faith is simply the water you live in. And then, you continue on in that water until faith is unnecessary since there is no longer any fear. This is the part of the spiritual path that I think doesn't get fully understood. Much of the initial healing endeavors and spiritual practices we cultivate are, in themselves, temporary. What difference does meditation make if we are always staying within? Very little. After awhile, we do it because we enjoy it, and that's all. Why do we need faith if we already naturally trust life? We don't. So initially we cultivate faith until we've broken down all the fear within us.
Thus, the spiritual path keeps taking us into the next set of issues inside of us for so long as we keep re-creating them. And we have to re-create them. Each day, we have to get up and remember all these issues (even at a very subconscious level) and then remember all the defense mechanisms, core beliefs, and identity traits. We do this so instinctively that most people don't know that this is going on. On the spiritual path, we keep turning the spotlight onto more and more of these issues. Initially, we tend to seek external guidance to help illuminate things, but as we go, that inner light naturally grows in intensity. More and more is shown, and we naturally seek new opportunities to know ourselves until the arising of stillness is all that we know.
Simply put, as you look to see where you perhaps got stuck in your healing work or got caught up doing some other work to validate yourself in a different way, you will have to keep bringing your awareness back to you. Work is often used as a distraction, a way to avoid scarcity issues, and a way to make us feel good (especially if we are doing something for a social cause). When the work we do arises naturally because it's simply what we want to share, that is something else.
This lovely picture is a gift from my student, Jackie.