In the spirit of honesty, or the honesty of spirit, my “OMs” lately have been interrupted more by “Oh My Gods.” In other words, at this moment on “the path” I’ve become seriously spiritually challenged! Spiritually annoyed! And quite possibly just all out suck at spirituality these days, or so it seems!
Is this possible? Especially for a self described “spiritual” person, who gobbles up every new book on enlightenment on the shelves and prides herself in knowing what’s important and what’s not. I counsel friends for god’s sake!
It’s so true, you preach what you both know and what you most need to learn at the same time!
It’s not like I’m in my 20’s asking the first rounds of “WHY?” I’m wise and been around the block. How is it, I can find myself feeling so spiritually unspiritual? Not just confused but un-fused– untogether, undone?
Maybe its true, “we are spiritual beings here to have human experiences” and I’m just braving through a very mortal moment – diving for enlightenment when I feel I’m drowning and hit my head in the pool? Huh?
Whatever it is, I’m in a moment of true disconnection! It’s like driving in the canyons and your cell drops at just the crucial second. No signal. God come back!
Why is it after all the work I’ve done on myself, are there still these moments when you lose faith, connection and confidence?
I know love is the answer, forgiveness, the key! That it’s just ego that wants to be right? I know, I know, I KNOW ALREADY! So why I am so flippin’ angry and out for justice to right the wrongs I’ve been recently hurt by? Why am I not rising above it thinking about love, light, forgiveness and om ni ma shivaya?
There is no need to go into details. The details are never important in the end. It’s just a story. We all suffer life’s assaults, one way or the other ,and will again with all kinds of stories. It’s the way of life. Details dissolve with the players from your memory. It’s the lessons that imprint.
My highest self knows there are no victims, just lessons that turn into blessings we call in for reasons our soul knows best. @gisellefer (Click to Tweet!)
On one level I really believe we call our challenges to us for growth. On another level, much more base and cynical, the whole sentence above makes me want to hurl my breakfast. I am not Mother Theresa. But I am aware how Mother Theresa WOULD behave and that at least is a form of higher consciousness, right? That’s at least something to celebrate. I am consciously aware of my very human low frequency reaction to recent events. At the same time, I am also aware of the more evolved way I would hope to respond with a bit of maturity and dare I say it, spirituality.
How the heck do you reconcile the two? Your higher self and your human self? How do you fuse them as one so you live your life on course, in the zone, connected and elevated at all times, especially when it’s hardest? Is it ever possible or are we always presented with contradiction and tension? Is being a spiritual human really like trying to mix oil and water? Just turn the other cheek. I get it, believe in it, promote it. But I still get triggered to punch back, seek justice, be right, show them! Even when I know better.
You know in your core, what’s at play — how you should rise above it — yet you still roll around in the mud, slinging your very human self all over the place as your higher self gazes at you knowingly from within.
As I ‘ve struggled, I can’t help but wonder where the heck does faith go when she takes off and leaves you in the dark? Is she always really there like the sun when dark clouds roll in? Does faith leave you to test you or to teach you? Is she like God who doesn’t require you to know or believe because regardless, she’s there any way? It’s true, if we knew these answers, we wouldn’t need “faith,” so she’s quite right to be elusive. But despite the prose, I still get pissed she takes off and leaves me with these rhetorical questions.
So much for my spiritual path right? Damn right!
In fact this is where my PATH is more visible to me than ever. Uncomfortable, unflattering and dark, but very real and revealing. This was a total mirror put up to my being that starkly reflected back to me all I have learned or haven’t on my so called “spiritual journey!” What I saw in that mirror was a deeply conflicted soul wanting terribly to behave in a connected way no matter what and having difficulty staying connected when outside forces trigger old injuries.
What happens to all that awareness? Does any of it stick when life sticks it to you? It’s easy to be conscious, loving and kind when the world smiles at you but the moment it snickers, frowns, scowls, my base nature gets wounded and evokes unconscious reactions and human frailties again.
It makes you feel so ashamed of your humanness and not being able to live up to this higher version of yourself all the time.
It’s this duality I’ve taken great interest in because it’s truly the apex of opportunity where our higher self is challenged continuously to rise above all. Every chance we have to play this out gives us one more shot at operating at our most elevated true authentic state. It mirrors in our own little individual worlds, the galactic and ever present battle that’s played out between light and darkness since the beginning of time. When the light wins, it’s a cosmic shift within and without and like a drop in the sea, has expanding reverberations across the universe. I really believe this. Oh just that! And when you lose or buckle or don’t rise to the occasion? Same reverberations? Of course. Ugh.
If you peered inside my head and heart during these turbulent times, you would hear this torturous dialogue going on. “Let it go! All is as it should be.”, “Fight back. You’re right. They’re wrong. Think love, NO! Forgiveness, NEVER! It’s ego, who cares!” “You know better. I Don’t.” “I need a Xanax. Juice instead, go vegan, breathe, screw off!” Ying/yang.
I hope you’re laughing and that I am not alone in my neurotic soul searching and incongruity. This was all so very annoying; it also heaped on a weird guilt. On top of feeling angry and depressed, I felt doubly plowed by not handling it all more “spiritually” when I supposedly knew better! Ahh don’t you love what you are supposed to “know.”
I needed to hibernate. I closed in. I closed the curtains for a bit. Told faith to take a hike. I was committed to being miserable. A very spiritual exercise. Wanting to think you’re alone when you know you’re not. It’s so easy to beat yourself up. How you should have known better, seen the signs, listened to your voice. I’m a big believer in taking responsibility where needed, but all out self slaughter has never served me and yet I have become proficient at it again and again, despite all my new age sensibilities. It’s a pattern that has to be broken.
I finally really zeroed in on the words of a great teacher of mine who always urges students when the going gets tough, to stick to the practice. The practice of being kind to yourself, forgiving, nurturing, loving. Above all to silence that harsh and critical voice within. That voice is so keen on reminding you of how big a bone-head you’ve been. Funny how it’s so much harder to “be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, console yourself than it is to beat yourself up. It’s actually not so funny. It’s very damaging.
Turning back to the practice is what saved me.
The conversation in my head had to change. You never intend to go off track. The ideal is to take responsibility, understand why you veered off course and concentrate on the lessons that strengthen you moving forward. But not to berate yourself for each misstep. It takes real self forgiveness, self nurturing and acceptance that we are and never will be whatever “perfect” is supposed to mean.
When we are not our best selves, the hope is to be aware enough to realign our course. These were my musings while in my self-imposed captivity. I finally emerged from my cocoon as one does when ready, being a lot more compassionate with my inner self.
The most powerful realization; same as it always is — to listen more closely to my inner voice. Don’t silence, drown, mute or ignore her when she whispers a knowing that may not be what you hope to hear or perceive as convenient. She is rarely wrong. Looking back, all the signs were there that trouble lay ahead and was not congruent with who I am. I ignored them, rationalized them, denied them for reasons I’m well aware.
I doubt very seriously I will have to experience this lesson again.
Living a “spiritual life,” is a lot like learning to fly. It’s not something you ever truly master, it’s in the continual practice you hone the art of flying just as every experience affords us the opportunity to hone the art of living in a spiritually connected way.
At first when you learn to fly, it all seems so easy, so much easier than you thought, until something goes wrong. That’s why experienced flyers tell you its the hours of practice through all kinds of take offs and landings, all kinds of weather, that makes a seasoned pilot able to stay steady and enjoy the ride no matter the outside forces. It’s the hours of practice that allow you to maneuver through even wind sheer as an adventure and challenge to respect, but not to fear.
It’s the same with living spiritually. It is so much easier to believe and practice love, patience, forgiveness when all is well. It’s when you’re assaulted by life and its inevitable lessons, we are the most challenged with the opportunity to always come from a place of love. It’s a tall order. It is not easy. But each time we rise to the occasion and act with love no matter the darkness, it’s seismic. That’s what it means to be the change we hope to see in the world. This I know innately is how we expand most within and how we fuel the greater fire of goodness.
It’s really hard to handle all life throws at us and not feel overcome and succumb sometimes. It’s so very human. It’s in the searching for the light in ourselves we find our way back. I did.
Earlier I said clearly I was not Mother Theresa — that I was far from achieving that level of grace and goodness — but I recently read a book of her private writings, where she revealed her most intimate inner turmoil, where she too grappled with feeling connected at times to god — that she too suffered through anger, depression and also questioned deeply the duality of human suffering with her spiritual beliefs. I was so astounded to read this as Mother Theresa is always portrayed as an elevated perfect being unlike the rest of us. Learning of her humanness and how she too struggled with faith, elevated her even more to me than before. Despite the darkness, despite her questions and times she felt disconnected to god, she stayed on her path — was always a light bearer any way. For me this was such an opening.
It helped me in my own situation. I finally got to that place in me where I made that choice to behave in a way not in denial of my feelings but despite them. I got to a place where my deeply held convictions about how we should treat others even when we are not treated fairly, took precedence over all. I am very proud of that. It’s true, we may not always be in control of what happens to us, but we are in control of how we respond. We’ve seen how powerfully transcendent this can be in the life of the great Nelson Mandela.
In countless tributes to him I heard many pundits saluting his legacy and almost elevating him to sainthood. But It was PBS journalist Gwen EIiffel who offered, the most insightful synopsis, that cut above all for me. She said in so many words, to paint Mandela as a man who was not angry, bitter or regretful is to deny his real contribution and greatness. He of course, experienced the intensity of very real and human emotions expected from his captivity. What elevated Mandela was not that he did not have these base feelings, but that he overcame them with elevated conviction and connection to his core soul and mission. It was his decision to live his ideals and transcend hatred to realize greater visions of humanity, that made him an icon of inspiration for all times. He showed us what we are all capable of.
Even when we think we are not on “the path”, it seems the path is always in us and the opportunity to practice what we know and who we really are, presents itself in every encounter. It may not be comfortable but “it’s in discomfort we experience the greatest growth.”
I can breathe again. Even laugh at my ordeal and shrug lovingly at the humanity of my spirituality. I’m a work in progress, God’s not done with me yet. And neither is Faith.
To readers: Can you recall an experience where you had to overcome and rise above real hurt and injustice to operate from your highest most spiritual self? Please share the difference it made in your life and the lives of others.
* Featured image is of a painting which hangs in my home entitled “Suenos” or “Dreams”. It was pained by renowned Los Angeles artist Yolanda Gonzalez. This part of the painting depicted best my inner turmoil -I see in it myself -the twin states of being and opposing energies that vibrate within the earthly and spiritual woman who longs to fuse forces as one. She is always connected to source but suffers the illusion of separation but at all times is held together by the invisible bridge of faith – The divided self embodies the chasm of heaven and earth – the twin forces ever connected but separated at birth who long to walk as one.