I recently taught in the Pathwork Transformation Program at Sevenoaks Retreat Center, and we concluded the year with a Community Commitment Ceremony. This is a tradition based on the Guide’s descriptions of four stages of commitment in the Pathwork. I find it to be a beautiful, moving ceremony, and yet I am aware that just the word “commitment” can bring up a lot of reactions.
What is it about the word commitment that spooks us? Here are some of the reactions this word can trigger in me:
- What if I change my mind?
- What if I fail to live up to my Idealized Self Image’s version of this commitment?
- Will I end up acting from a “should” instead of from my heart?
- No one tells me what to do!
- Will I be required to do something I don’t want to do?
- What will I have to give up?
If I am honest, I know these questions originate from my Lower Self, convincing me that it is not safe or desirable to commit to anything or anyone. Always leave a backdoor open for escape.
So what does commitment really mean?
In Pathwork Lecure 196, the Guide says commitment “means, above all, a one-pointedness of attention; giving the self in a wholehearted way to whatever the commitment may be. If you are committed to give your best to whatever you do, you will focus on all aspects of the subject. You will not shy away from investing all your energies, all your attention. You will use your faculties of thinking, of intuition, of meditation. In other words, you will use your physical energies, your mental capacities, your feelings, and your will to activate the as yet dormant spiritual powers to make the venture constructive.”
So we commit not as a statement of self will or in anticipation of perfection, but so that out of our clear intention any unconscious negative intent, any place where we don’t want to give ourselves fully, will arise in our awareness for healing. To publicly state a commitment is a Higher Self act of wanting to see whatever stands in the way of living from Love.
Early in my study of Pathwork, I remember making a prayer. “Teach me to Love.” Simple, but it has become a mantra of mine. I have certainly not arrived at perfect love all the time by any means, but those words have guided me, strengthened me, and reminded me when I strayed from offering my best to life. In the commitment ceremony this past weekend, my commitment was similar: “I commit to exploring and feeling all the ways I refuse to open to love.”
If I were to summarize and paraphrase the Pathwork stages of commitment as they speak to me, this is what I would say:
- Stage One: I commit to give my best to my personal process. Teach me to love myself and show me where I refuse to do so.
- Stage Two: I commit to give my best to those I am in relationship with. Teach me to love others and show me where I refuse to do so.
- Stage Three: I commit to give my best to all beings, to open to a sense of planetary responsibility. Teach me to love all beings, and show me where I refuse to do so.
- Stage Four: I commit to serve as an instrument of Peace through Helpership and/or any other position of leadership; to give back what I have been given. Teach me to be a living example of Love, and show me where I refuse to do so.
The stages of commitment are not a ladder we have to climb to prove our worth. For me they have become more of a circular prayer, and I may be focusing on different places on the circle at different times. But God is always at the center. I state my commitment in order to align with my positive intention, even while some negative intention may still be whispering to me to choose separation.
It is an honor and a privilege to claim my commitment in your presence. Even when I know I will fall short.
And, there are some things I am not yet ready to commit to. I will remain authentic and honest about that, and I will not try to be more than I am in the moment. I will be compassionate with all the places in me that believe that making a commitment sentences me to prison. But I will not allow myself to believe these lower self warnings of danger are in fact reality.
How about you? Have you made a commitment recently that you’d like to share? Do you have strong reactions against making a commitment? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below.
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