“When one approaches any effort with the energy of reluctance or half-heartedness, the result will not be satisfying. When you choose a spiritual path because your mind tells you that you should, you can expect to be disappointed. When you practice a spiritual discipline begrudgingly, enduring the repetitions, rather than savoring them, the method will prove fruitless. For the vibrancy of any approach is based not on the mechanics of the practice but upon one’s total surrender to the direction in which the practice leads you.” Oneness
How do you deal with your frustration when your meditation or other spiritual practice does not give you the peace you seek? What expectations do you have about the spiritual path you follow?
Has your spiritual practice always led you in the direction you expected? Mine hasn’t. In fact, I would describe my spiritual journey as a spiral dance, often changing direction and going where I least expected. At times, my life has felt stuck in an uncomfortable and unpleasant place, and it has taken me many years to understand that, in most instances, my resistance was keeping me stuck because I wanted the experience to be what I wanted it to be, not what it actually was.
Living With Traditional “Shoulds” and Should Nots”
Growing up, my family attended a traditional Protestant church and I learned many “shoulds” and “should nots.” That, along with my perfectionist tendencies, made me a person who was comfortable with a situation only when it was the way I thought it should be. But as time went by, it seemed that too many things happened that shouldn’t have. My brother shouldn’t have had polio. I shouldn’t have had rheumatic fever. We were good kids and our parents were good people. Why was this happening?
Eventually, as a young adult, I realized this spiritual path wasn’t working for me. I knew I was supposed to be religious, but I gave up and allowed myself to find the inspiration I sought in the fine arts where each creation I experienced was a glimpse into the artist’s soul.
Perfectionism Limits Freedom
I was so conditioned with “shoulds” that they continued to haunt me. Early in my modern dance training, I was so focused on not falling and doing every movement perfectly that I was always tense. As I became more confident and skilled, I finally surrendered and let myself become one with the movement, choosing the exhilaration over the perfection. I felt free for the first time. That’s when I really began to dance and dance began to feed me spiritually.
Learning to Savor the Moment
When I learned to meditate, I tried so hard to do it correctly. I judged myself for not being able to be calmer more quickly until my teacher finally said, “You don’t have to do it perfectly, you just need to sit there. Just notice your thoughts and let them go.” Eventually, I learned to “savor” the stillness and quiet of sitting. I saw it as a vacation from my busy life. Like lying on the beach listening to the ocean waves brush the shore, I let my thoughts flow through my mind without judging them.
Surrender Opens Us To A Spiritual Connection
As Oneness points out, the only way we can move forward with our spiritual practice is to “surrender to the direction in which the practice leads you.” As we practice, a feeling of peace may come over us with guidance that helps us take a step forward in our life process. It may seem strange, but we have to learn not to pay attention in order to notice what really matters.
Having Courage To Follow The Path
When the direction the practice leads us is one we like, we look forward to practicing because we envision a positive and refreshing experience. But if we truly practice, we do not control what appears and it may be darker rather than light. It is human to want to avoid the unpleasant; yet we cannot grow and expand without acknowledging the negative aspects of our thoughts. These are often the moments when our fears appear, flooding us with despair or anger, and we have to acknowledge them and then let them go.
Often, in being able to see and feel the fear, we are able to understand what to do about the problem that created it. It’s not unusual for so much clutter to be cleared out during mediation or other practices that we can finally see a solution that comes from our spiritual self rather than the ego that is so busy trying to be right. The solutions that include the deeper aspects of a problem are the most satisfying ones, for they don’t just gloss over the problem, they expose it so it can be solved.
Savoring each repetition and moment of silence in our practice centers us and raises our vibration, allowing Spirit to guide us to what we most need to experience.
What is your most meaningful spiritual practice?
© 2013 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5