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The Thrill Is Gone

Posted January 26, 2014

bored little girl

I've been noticing a certain boredom in spiritual circles the past few years, a blasé kind of attitude, a world-weary ennui. Nothing is impressive, nothing inspiring, nothing seems really new.

Many of the people I encounter – and sometimes try to teach -- have been there, read that, taken that workshop, heard that speaker, tried that practice and bought the T-shirt.

Meditation? Done that every day for hours.

Silent retreat, vision quest? Years ago.

Sweat lodge? Who hasn't?

And basic spiritual principles? Puh-leeze.

Not only do they seem unwilling to learn anything new, they seem to think there's nothing more for them to learn.

I noticed this first when a woman walked out of a prayer workshop saying, “Don't tell me how to pray.”

An older man gave me his highest compliment when he said, “I agreed with everything you said.” I took him to mean that he already knew everything, and I was smart enough to get it right.

As time went by, more audiences seemed to greet me with folded arms and faces that said, “Show me whatcha got.” Even those who already knew and loved me seemed just to be humoring me when I stood up to teach. They were already fine, thank you.

I was working myself into a snit when (I hate when this happens!) I discovered the same arrogance in myself.

At times, I have put down spiritual books, saying, “I already know this!” I have skipped celebrity speakers because I've heard them so many times before. I've stayed home complaining of workshop fatigue. I've responded to spiritual suggestions by saying, “I know! I teach this stuff.”

Those of us who have been on a spiritual path for years are bound to lose the initial thrill, I suppose. I love to meet people who are still in the Sponge Stage, soaking up every new idea, reading every book, ever-more-exalted by what they are learning. They see life with new eyes, and it shines.

I envy them. I remember that excitement.

But I have opened up and shared and gone deep and left my comfort zone until I'm blue in the face. I have danced with scarves, counted my breaths and gazed into strangers' eyes until, well, I blinked.

What's going on here? Does spiritual exploration have a shelf life? Does there come a point when we've learned all there is to learn for this lifetime? The sponge is saturated?

I suspect we may be experiencing an epidemic of spiritual pride.

Spiritual pride is defined this way by Mariana Caplan, a psychotherapist and author in the fields of psychology and spirituality:

“Spiritual pride arises when the practitioner, through years of labored effort, has actually attained a certain level of wisdom and uses that attainment to justify shutting down to further experience. A feeling of spiritual superiority is another symptom of this spiritually transmitted disease. It manifests as a subtle feeling that I am better, more wise and above others because I am spiritual.”

Oh dear, that makes me squirm.

Ultimately, of course, we will put down the books because the true answers are to be found within us. I didn't believe that for a long time, and I still think books, speakers and workshops can be life-altering when they ping our matching vibration, strum an inner chord that resonates with the truth.

Knowledge may come from outside, but wisdom is within. Inspiration may be external, but joy is at our core. Touching those depths is the very reason for our spiritual pursuits.

I'm exaggerating a little about the burnout. I do, of course, continue to learn, sometimes in spite of myself. There are teachers and there are Teachers – the ones I didn't ask for and wouldn't pay – steering me through life's curriculum.

But the spiritual pride is real, I fear. I think this year I will consciously and deliberately seek out one or two learning opportunities – a retreat, a workshop, a new practice – to move me forward another step or two on the path.

And I think I've hit on the key question to determine whether you have any more to spiritual learning to do. Ready for it?

“How's your life working?”

Do you think there's such a thing as advanced spirituality? Or do we just keep applying the basics to each new situation? I'd love to read your thoughts in the comment section.


Getting Over the Blahs

Posted January 18, 2014

Got a question for you:

Have you found a way to overcome the inevitable dry spells in life? I'm asking because I need to know, and I hope you'll share with everyone else, too.

Here's how it came up: I was on the phone with a friend not long ago and told her I'd been going through a dry spell. Just the blahs.

Nothing bad had happened, and nothing was wrong per se. Not depressed, just kinda flat. Not feeling spiritually connected and certainly not creative. In fact, completely out of ideas.

I tried to end on a lighter note. “Oh well, I've been through these wilderness periods before. I know it's temporary.”

I expected her to say, Yeah, I know what you mean. Ain't it awful?

Instead she said, What do you do when you're in those periods? How do you get out?

Uhhhhhmm. I had no answer. I just wait until it ends. Eventually I'll be busy enough that I don't notice it so much, and one day I'll realize I'm in the flow again.

But I don't know HOW it happens. What did she mean, DO something?

She pressed me. What would you tell someone else if they were going through this?

I would reassure them it's temporary and usually leads to better-than-imagined breakthroughs.

But while I'm experiencing it, all I know to do is slog through and whine a little. Or a lot. I beat myself up for not being a fountain of ideas, a master of spiritual practice, a paragon of compassion or, for that matter, a scintillating party guest.

That's a familiar syndrome, too. Feel bad, then beat yourself up for feeling bad!

Just when I was ready to write it all off as a bout of self-pity, I read a blog from Lissa Rankin, the doctor who wrote Mind Over Medicine, who diagnosed it as something more serious.

“Our entire culture suffers from what the shamans call ‘soul loss,' a loss of meaning, direction, vitality, mission, purpose, identity, and genuine connection; a deep unhappiness that most of us have come to consider as simply ordinary.”

Hm, are you living with deep unhappiness? Or just the periodic dry spell?

Either way, what do you do? Have you found a way to jump-start creativity? To spark a spiritual revival within? To reconnect with your innate joy?

I hope you'll leave your ideas and suggestions in the comment section below. Together, we might solve this problem for all of humanity!


How to Design the Perfect Year

Posted January 11, 2014

Go with the Flow

Have you been inundated with advice lately about setting goals? I have been. Every teacher, blog, webinar or article I've seen during the past couple of weeks has encouraged me to set goals for the new year.

Part of me says, Bah Humbug. I don't wanna set goals. I wanna go with the flow. Just drift through the year and see what happens.

But the other part of me knows laws are at work in the universe. They operate all the time, so I might as well make an effort to CO-operate with them.

I'm haunted by the words of inspirational speaker Terry McBride, who says, “The only thing that goes with the flow is a dead fish.”

So I keep coming back to the universal spiritual laws that have been understood and taught for thousands of years:

  • We are divine, expressing God on the earth.
  • We have the same power Jesus had and can learn to use it.
  • We are creating our experience with our thoughts and beliefs, although not always consciously.

Scientist and author Bruce Lipton says only 5 percent of our thoughts are conscious. That means a lot is happening below our awareness.

Or maybe it's above our awareness. In addition to the subconscious, there's something called the superconscious, which might be considered a soul or higher self. It's where we connect with the divine.

Even if subconscious beliefs sometimes sabotage our creative efforts, the superconscious smooths the way, attracting exactly what we need for our life purposes.

Which doesn't mean it will be fun.

I visited over the holidays with a friend whose husband has Parkinson's disease, and she's not having fun. She doesn't feel like a sweet, spiritual caregiver all the time.

In coping with his illness, she is playing the hand life dealt her. But at the same time, she told me, she believes she is exactly where she needs to be, learning what she asked to learn. Her soul's intentions are being met perfectly.

Did she cause her husband's illness in order to learn from it? No, but something in her consciousness drew her to him years ago, and both of them are carrying out their souls' purposes for this lifetime.

Did they create this circumstance? At the conscious human level, having a degenerative disease appears to be sad, unfair and grueling. Why on earth would they have created it?

But at the superconscious level, it beautifully meets their desires for spiritual development.

The universe fulfills our deepest desires. It finds a way to give us the circumstances we need in order to get what we want. What we truly want, at the highest levels, for our souls' growth.

Can you trust that whatever is happening in your life is perfect for you at this time? Can you trust that it might be the answer to something you wanted? Can you trust your superconscious – the divine in you – is designing the perfect lifetime for your soul's expression?

I don't think I'll ever entirely understand my soul's purposes or what it needs, so I'm trusting divine process to work it out. In that sense, I'll go with the flow.

Meanwhile, I – and you – can use visualization, affirmations, intentions or prayer for those activities we carry out at the conscious, human level. I still wouldn't call it setting goals. Call it designing life.

If you don't have a clue what you want, much less need, then decide how you want to feel. Let the universe come up with some brilliant and unexpected ways to reflect it to you. We can't out-create the Creator.

Let me know how it goes, okay?


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