Mindfulness, Meditation, Yoga and Neuroscience have become incredibly popular buzzwords in the self-help/spirituality movement these days. And that is a very good thing, because there was a time when there was no room for anything other than traditional, conservative Christianity or secular therapy. And while those paths also have their value, one size does not fit all.
The capitalistic corporate culture has increasingly marketed these hot new trends with the promise to make you FEEL GOOD.
Have you noticed how spiritual practices are frequently marketed? Benefits touted range from stress reduction, improved relationships, better health, and more money. They are basically implying that if you engage in these practices, your ego will feel better and like itself more, all while maintaining control of its illusory nature which is the origin of suffering in the first place. They are telling you that if you buy their product you can cheat life, which is impossible.
Now, not all teachers of meditation and mindfulness, or of yoga and neuroscience take this approach. And all of these promises are desirable to strive for and attain – there is nothing wrong with wanting these things or wanting to feel good. Compassionate self-care, healing trauma, and stress reduction lay the foundation for the possibility of authentic transformation and spiritual growth. But in and of themselves, they are not the goal of spirituality, and when pursued for egocentric reasons they do not produce an evolution of consciousness.
I can learn to set appropriate boundaries, practice exquisitely compassionate self-care, and increase my communication skills, and the relationships I have in my circle of comfort will improve. But they will not necessarily change who I think I am or how I view my place in the web of Life.
It’s like rearranging furniture on the deck of the Titanic. It looks good and can make me more comfortable in the short term, but ultimately it’s all going to sink to the bottom of the ocean. At some point I might want to think about jumping ship and finding a good life raft to take me to solid ground.
Jumping ship is a risk though – it has no guarantees, it doesn’t feel good in the moment. Neither is it free of stress. And jumping ship requires that I leave behind all the wonderful things I’ve accumulated over the years. I have to put on my life vest and leap into the unknown with only my humility, vulnerability, and my sincere willingness to do whatever it takes to find a life not destroyed by the crises of the limited world I have known up until now.
The true purpose and goal of Spiritual growth is to facilitate the evolution of consciousness towards a state of self-realization or awakening to our essential nature. If we are looking just to feel good or be comfortable, we will never get there, because the way there is a path of reclaiming all parts of ourselves, including the uncomfortable, unflattering, scary parts of ourselves in service of truth and love.
Achieving this state carries the inevitable byproducts of increased happiness, fulfillment, and peace, but only if we are willing to meet unhappiness, hopelessness, and unresolved pain along the way.
We have to be willing to not feel good if we want to feel good.
And then, let go of even that as some kind of negative identification of who we are.
So mindfulness and meditation are invaluable tools not to be cast aside because someone hoping to seduce you with promises of the feel good, quick fix has distorted their true value. Yoga and other forms of body therapy and movement are critical to grounding you along the journey. Neuroscience offers fascinating and helpful tools to understand the physiological level of transformation.
Let’s not throw any of these and other valuable practices out. And, let us not be seduced into thinking that our still small inner voice is urging us on simply so that we can feel better.
It is so much bigger than that.
We don’t learn to crawl because it’s the final and most efficient mode of transportation. We learn to crawl as the first step of a process of learning to walk, then run and then we evolve to the point where we can ride a bicycle, learn to drive a car, fly a plane and even become an astronaut and go into space – transcending all limitations we once thought kept us gravity bound.
Along the way we stumble and fall, skin our knees, crash and burn. But we get up and keep going because the real goal is to know our essential nature and our true potential beyond all small and limited ideas we have been taught that imprison us.
And that feels really good!
So if you are ready for an adventure, a challenge, a reliable and amazing but not always feel good path to evolving your consciousness, you will find the Pathwork to be an inspiring source of guidance.
If I can be of service to you along the way, feel free to reach out. Endeavoring to release self-centered goals in service of Spirit is my path, my passion and my challenge, and I’d love to share it with you.
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TREASURE IN THE DEPTHS: Identifying Hidden Obstacles to Fulfillment.