Lately, I have been questioning my approach to growth and self-actualization. Although the idea of life being a swamp of pain we have to wade to reach the shore of enlightenment (or heaven) does not make any sense, I have lived as such! I have invested more than half a century in questing for spiritual growth.
Expansion, Expression, Connection, Belonging, and Freedom are my top core longings, why then does my life’s current picture feel far from reflecting these no matter how much time and effort I put in?
Like many, I was the weird kid who did not fit in and enrolled herself in a precocious exploration of her horror and wounded stories. Therapy, retreats, courses, workshops, reading an unbelievable number of self-help books…I tried it all.
After learning about, experiencing, suffering, and working diligently on myself, how can it be that I cannot break the grade retention loop?
Being smart, resourceful, and diligent ranks high on my list of identities, thus this incongruence not only distresses me but makes me feel like an impostor. The identity conflict preys on my fears, sense of inadequacy, and hopelessness, and feeds the “I am incapable, not good enough and unredeemable” beliefs.
Today, I got it
It struck me that I have not failed to graduate. I have been graduating on Suffering and Struggle with honors and getting awards for best research on accumulating proofs of victimization for years!
My solution has run on the same track as my “problem,” and under the umbrella of spiritual growth and awareness, I have been feeding the shadow instead of the light in me.
Thinking that I must “rise above” my beliefs, stories, and emotions I spent a ridiculous amount of time every day “cleansing” myself, getting rid of the baggage so one day -in the future- I shall be able to “replace” the wretched me or mini “Me’s” with a better and updated, optimized version.
It’s a never-ending task! When I think I’m done with the peeling of my narrative onion, the smell replies with a snort: You’re not!
Approaching our Soul through the rational mind pushes it further away
Selfies and photos are not on my list of favorite things. I always shied away from them. The presence of awe and wonder moves me to impressing those states of being in my heart. I want to become one with them.
Sometimes I feel the impulse to convey or share this “feeling” with another, yet a photo or a text message takes me away from the moment, the immersion, it becomes a secondhand “telling” for me that doesn’t carry the original energy.
Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with loving, documenting, and conveying your experiences through selfies and photos, there are means of self-expression and appreciation that generate impact and reach many. Some of us are turned away from wonder by the ‘click,’ or don’t feel the need to capture the scene beyond our hearts. Others are brought in by the same ‘click’ and relive the experience when sharing their captures on social media.
What I am looking to convey here is how the language of the soul needs to bypass the mind to be able to reach us untouched by assumptions, beliefs, and perceptions that work as intermediaries to divine love and the power within us.
Like the photo is not the landscape, the wisdom of the soul is not a mental construct. The authentic landscape and its reflection are different dimensions of experience. The impact of wonder is ephemeral, the imprint in our soul is eternal. A static copy can spark memories and make us recreate that feeling again, nevertheless, is not the real thing. The moment I want to ‘click” on a detail I’ve noticed and unconsciously try to ‘explain it,” it becomes something different, it becomes an idea, a rationalization filtered by conditioning and the past.
As an artist, I understand the enormous value of recreating and co-creating beauty to nurture the soul and expand our spiritual landscape. However, the openness to be touched and the ability to embrace the intimacy and power of an invisible and timeless language that communicates without words requires stillness. We are listening to something beyond description. This is as unfathomable for the mind as the concept of eternity.
In my quest to become my true self, I have allowed my metaphorical inner landscapes to be consumed by weeds, some sprouting from old seeds anchored in the past and others infected with the bugs of perfect pollination for a better future. These weeds have been obstructing the the beauty and wholeness that already exists there.
A trap sabotaging my spiritual growth
I struggled with the subtle difference between deep exploration and attachment to ideas or methods. Learning and appreciating a tool can help me grow. However, if I am unwilling to let go of the fundamental belief that I am broken and need to find the right tool to wield the power of my inner guidance, I end up stagnating my growth, or worse, ratifying the “same old”, under a cloak of wisdom that is taking me farther away from the truth.
Not trusting the voice of intuition and its guidance
Many great teachers have said it before, the qualities of the soul –love, freedom, inner peace, joy- cannot be experienced through the mind, they need to be embraced, owned. We need to become love, peace, joy… These are states of being, not destinations. Learning to stand on those qualities allows us to be liberated from attachment to our identification with thoughts, feelings, and a separate sense of self.
Reading books, attending workshops and seminars, going to retreats (you name it), can support us in our spiritual paths. However, becoming dependent on external answers for fulfillment, freedom, and happiness takes us away from experiencing them.
Sometimes spiritual seekers turn appreciation of their gurus into obsession and glorification by which they end up disowning their own divinity and projecting it onto another. I disowned my divinity, by making the “spiritual quest” an unconscious approach to keeping the old and familiar story of brokenness alive. This sent me on a never-ending path to frustration and self-victimization.
Giving preeminence to the Dark Night of the soul
Becoming obsessed with our story of victimization and the need for self-improvement, struggling to overcome faults and fears, judging our failed attempts harshly, persevering against all odds, falling and standing up once and again to liberate us from the past and heal our wounds can trap us in an inescapable loop of doom. We all experience Dark Night of The Soul, I have come to realize they are more nudges to bring the inner light forward, than tests to be passed.
I tried it all. I even ‘fired” my soul!. I looked outside myself for answers hoping to be enlighten and prove my worthiness. By doing so, I was denying what I wanted the most; empowerment, claiming a life in fulfillment. “Hiring” back my soul and learning to live from that space taught me that the ultimate source of guidance and wisdom comes from within, not the outside world.
Reflecting on my overall spiritual journey, I noticed these patterns:
1. Seeking out second-hand experiences and making them more important than mine.
2. Recreating over and over the belief of “not being good enough” by investing an incredible amount of time trying to “fix and heal” all the wrongs in me so I could “apply” for happiness, love, and ultimately for existence in the future.
3. Invalidating my experience by considering it small because it did not have the grandiosity of Near-Death Experiences, Angel Visitations, and the like.
4. Trying to bring magic into my life by clearing, uprooting “something”- perhaps an identity- that could be responsible for blocking the more deserving me, instead of noticing the wonder and beauty in everyday miracles, exercising my inner power and enjoying the effortless emergence of creativity and the love already in me.
You are not your shortcomings! Stop fixing!
My spiritual and self-growth work was so intense that almost the whole morning went out “cleansing” or “understanding!”
This indeed was another way to reinforce the belief that there was something very wrong with me and it had to be difficult to deal with. A lot of time, tons of effort, and struggle went into “washing the unforgivable sin” of not being perfect.
Accumulating knowledge, experience, and tools, is something we do naturally as multipotentialites (*). However, I would be wise to understand the difference between intrinsic curiosity and passion for exploration and the compulsive need to be “fixed and perfected” before I attempt to “BE ME.”
As much as it scares me, I am giving myself no more than an hour a day to explore whatever “getting to know the true me” means. I choose to own that being light, powerful and lovable is not something I need to “work for” but embrace (already got the jitters). Something I am already by the nature of my true origin.
Allowing myself to explore my ideas and contributions from a place of “I can, I am worthy, what I have to give matters” shall be the new trend (jitters again).
Passions and Spiritual Gifts
A mundane existence, one in which there is no expansion, no creation, is the kiss of death for me. Yet, I found it hard to align with joy and realize my innate abilities, because I believed they would never support the quality of life I desired.
Now, understanding seems to have kicked in. Abundance follows joy, flow, and trust, and those are inherent qualities of trust and love, not of settling, efforting, and for sure not of suffering.
Spiritual people are meant to live out their dreams and desires too, spiritual growth requires we follow our passion and gifts and have them work for us, have our natural abilities come alive.
An unhealthy relationship
It seems completely illogical to me to see life as an eternal hell served in bits until we accumulate enough brownie points to see the Heavens. The soul feeds on aliveness and zest for life. We learn from our challenges, they provide the contrast to understand our longings, but when we get stuck or turn them into an identity we become spiritually stagnate.
Divine guidance nudges us to move on, to dare. To deny its impulse is an act of self-sabotage that slowly eats our insides.
It begins with us!
Dismissing our authentic nature to comply with what society expects from us has become an emotional cancer in our times. We don’t know our worth and find it difficult to distinguish how and what we feel, what we truly want, never mind how to ask for it.
We live inside the prison of self-doubt because who we are as spiritual beings doesn’t have a place in our daily tasks or in our dreams.
We have become our memories, some of which are not even ours! When you least expect it, a word, a behavior, or a random event activates a script of pain, abuse, and disbelief that overwhelm us. We cannot get past the torture. We surrender. Forgiveness is like a dagger to our hearts, and we continue to carry the weight of experience as penance for not being good enough or worthy of a better fate.
To be Alchemized
- Being liked, being wanted, being a keeper instead of disposable, is a choice I make. When I accept myself and don’t give my power away by trying to please others or allowing their opinions to determine my identity, I am loving myself and embracing my divine spark.
- My need to be special comes from trying to fix myself so as to give no excuses for others to discard, attack, or hurt me. My inner light has been dimmed to an impossible flicker to avoid being “too much” as I used to believe it was dangerous to disturb the standards imposed from the outside. No more! From now on, let it shine baby!
- Belonging and socializing are two different things. I love connecting, and I am also a deep thinker, an introvert who needs tons of time with her world and imaginations, or in silence and in nature. Who accepts me, accepts my escapades to an inner world that enriches my life and my contributions. Who befriends, loves me, or interacts with me, embraces the whole of me, the entire light and dark sides of my humanness and the eternal in me. It is from there that I can connect genuinely and compassionately. Is there where I recharge and find inspiration to create and express myself. Is there where Source, a Higher Intelligence, and my soul become one. Is from there that I too can embrace and rejoice in the wholeness and beauty of another soul.
When is time to hold on to something truly miraculous. Tastes like purpose…
My life has taken a turn into unexpected waters. As I commented above, I am not new to spiritual paths. Being an artist has given me many ways to tackle, recreate, and refine those states of being expressed in music, poetry, literature, and the fine arts; the exploration of the timeless in us, the mysteries of life, the metaphysical laws governing the invisible threads of the Universe.
Through time and experience, tangible expressions of creative pursuits have become more abstract, more poetic. My voice has moved into envisioning things that cannot be explained or described easily. I feel pushed into sketching mystical, metaphorical maps of existence. And it frightens me.
Extravagant claims of easy enlightenment, the excessive commercialism that betrays the deeper spiritual message, and the blind adherence to “gurus” have made me wary of joining the circle of spiritual mentors that proliferate nowadays. Thus, what seems to be a calling at the moment is met with great resistance.
We are indeed on the verge of a big change in the collective consciousness, and it is “normal,” even expected, to see such an eclectic offering pulling the world in different directions. However, deceitful, double standards and marketing attempts to monetize the emerging movement have tarnished spiritual mentorship and made the image of a wiser and experienced guide to be mistrusted. Those who have been strong names in the field for ages, are masters and models. High above, they seem unreachable.
The imposter syndrome attacks! Who are you to embark on such pursuits? How can you serve as a catalyst and navigate the muddy waters without losing sight of the North? Who are you to initiate others in the path of the soul? How trends and social media could affect your choices and intentions?
These questions are coming from the part of me who is used to hiding her light, to keep a low profile, to feel small. The part of me afraid to fulfill a purpose that nobody chose for her, but comes from a inner space, signs, intuitions…
A calling is a calling no matter how strange or out of place it might seem. If I look back, I can probably follow a path of breadcrumbs with signs pointing towards this.
It is my choice to say yes, or no. I am choosing to trust the “feeling”. To follow the breadcrumbs moving forward, those I did not leave behind, but have been scattered by another hand, an invisible one.
Moving slowly, but steadily, my confidence strengthens and the passion and joy I touched as a kid, when innocence and aspirations were not destroyed by assumptions and prejudices, is blooming. My role models also began somewhere!
One step at the time, with heart and soul and an intention as pure as the beauty I see and seek to bring about.
May the Spring of the Soul take us far and beyond into the unlimited potential longing to be freed and shape the world of dreams we all deserve.