Sometimes during our spiritual growth we can feel as if we are going backwards, rest assured you are not.
There are times when we feel that we are spinning our wheels in the mud in terms of our spiritual progress. This can be especially true following a period of major growth in which we feel as if we’ve gained a lot of ground. In fact, this is the way growth goes—periods of intense forward movement give way to periods of what seems like stagnation. In those moments when we feel discouraged, it’s helpful to remember that we don’t ever really go backward. It may be that we are at a standstill because there is a new obstacle in our paths, or a new layer to get through, but the hard work we have done cannot be undone.
Every step on the path is meaningful, and even one that seems to take us backward is a forward step in the sense that it is what we must do to move to the next level. In addition, an intense growth spurt requires that we rest for a time in order to fully integrate the new energies that have been liberated by our hard work. When we feel we are not making progress, we can encourage ourselves to take a moment to rest. We can meditate more, feed ourselves well, and get extra sleep. Before we know it, we will be spurred on to work toward the next level of our development, and this rest will make sense then as something we needed in order to continue.
Once the sun rises, it doesn’t go backward but instead follows its path in one direction. It may appear to stand still for a moment in time, or to move more slowly at some point or another, but really it is steadily moving forward on its path. We are the same way, and once we have moved through something we can never really go back. We may be resting or revisiting issues that seem old, and it’s natural to feel stuck, but in truth we are always taking the next important step forward on our path.
Many of us find ourselves laboring under a label that has a negative connotation, but this can be reversed.
We live in a culture that uses labels as a means of understanding the world and the people living in it. As a result, many of us find ourselves laboring under a label that has a negative connotation. Unless we can find a way to see the good in such a label, we may feel burdened by an idea of ourselves that is not accurate. It is important to remember that almost nothing in this world is all good or all bad, and most everything is a complex mixture of gifts and challenges. In addition, different cultures revere certain qualities over others, but this does not mean that these qualities are inherently good or bad. For example, a culture that elevates outgoing behavior will label an introvert in a negative way, calling them antisocial. In truth, the ability to spend time alone is one that most great artists, mystics, and visionaries share. Owning the positive side of this label can lead us deeper into our gifted visions and fertile imaginations.
When we look into the lives of any of the great people in history, we always find that they had quirks and eccentricities that earned them less than ideal labels from the societies in which they lived. Many famous artists and musicians were considered to be isolated loners or disruptive troublemakers, or sometimes both, yet these people altered history and contributed to the world an original vision or advances in our understanding of the universe. If we can remember this as we examine our own selves and the labels people use to describe us, we find that there is a bright side to any characterization.
If you have been labeled, remember that all you have to do to see the positive side is to turn the label around. For example, you may be considered to be overly emotional, and the fact that you are perceived this way may make you feel out of control. But notice, too, the gifts of being able to feel and express your emotions, even in a world that doesn’t always encourage that. You might begin to see yourself as brave and open-hearted enough to stay alive to your feelings. You may also see that there are certain paths and professions in which this is a necessary ability. As you turn your label around, the light of your true nature shines to guide you on your way.
Incorporating human touch in to our everyday lives is vital to the healing of our emotional and physical selves.
Sometimes we might concentrate so much on our spiritual lives that we overlook the wonders of being present in our physical form. When we are more aware of the fact that our bodies are also important in terms of our personal growth, we may find it easier to nurture them. One of the most powerful ways to do this is through human touch, for a loving, comforting touch allows us to access the part of ourselves that yearns for a sense of oneness with the world around us. Even simple forms of touch connect us not just to our bodies but also to the energetic presence of other people.
There are so many ways to incorporate touch in our daily lives, one of the easiest being a heartfelt embrace. Just making a point to hug someone on a daily basis and really feel our energy pass between each other can strengthen the bonds that keep us together. Hugs help us heal any hurt or upset we may have recently experienced by letting us release into the moment of the embrace and realize that no matter what happens to us, we have someone in our lives who supports and cares for us.
Another nourishing form of touch is massage. While we may think of massage as a luxury, it is actually an ancient form of healing that enables us to open up our energetic pathways in order to receive unlimited energy from the universe. It doesn’t matter whether a simple massage comes from a loved one or a massage therapist, but by giving ourselves the gift of massage every once in a while, we are doing something healthy and beneficial for our bodies. Massage helps our bodies activate their own restorative powers, creating a wonderful way to engage fully in our own healing.
Letting ourselves take advantage of the healing nature of touch creates space where we can truly live in and experience the world through our bodies, allowing us to completely immerse ourselves in the loving sense of joy and wonder that is our life.
An Incomplete Understanding
When we are feeling lonely, we have lost the idea that we are all one and none of us are separate from the whole.
We all have days when we feel lonely, but the very idea of loneliness comes from the false notion that we are separate and isolated parts in a world filled with other separate, isolated parts. In truth, we can no more be separate from our world than a fish can be separate from the water in which it swims. When we really begin to look at the boundaries we see as so solid, they prove to be, in fact, quite porous. For example, it is not clear exactly where our skin ends and the air begins when we consider how our skin is affected by changes in the quality of the air. When it is dry, our skin becomes dry, and when it is humid, our skin becomes moist and supple.
By the same token, it is difficult sometimes to distinguish the boundary between one person and another, especially when our actions tie us together so inextricably. Every move we make has an effect that touches all the people around us. On an even more subtle level, when we share space with another person, we often pick up on their energy, feeling how they feel and attuning to them, whether we mean to or not. This is what we mean when we say a mood or a feeling is contagious. We cannot help but be part of the realities of the people around us because we take form from the same energetic force, and this force unifies all life. This force is the light that all the great mystics and gurus encourage us to move toward, and it is the light we will dissolve into when we move beyond our individual egos.
If loneliness is a temporary condition based on an incomplete understanding of what we are made of, we can think of its presence as a catalyst for exploring our ideas about reality. We can respond by testing the boundaries we believe separate us from the life within and all around us. If we test them, we will discover that they are not so solid after all and that we can never really be alone.
Entering into Partnership
In partnership and relationship we harness the power of union.
The purpose of partnership is to create something greater than we can create alone. Not because of any deficiency or incompleteness in us, but because each of us is unique, with our own talents and abilities, and in partnership we increase the efforts and talents available for creating something meaningful together. All partnerships, whether romantic, creative, or professionally-based, can be powerful relationships for personal growth. In partnership we harness the power of union.
It is important to choose our partnerships consciously. Sometimes forged quickly during times of need, we may find ourselves rushing into unions with perhaps not the clearest intentions. Partnerships created from those starting point might serve our immediate needs, but the repercussions of a union so quickly fostered without much thought can be difficult to recover from. Granted, there is something to learn from every relationship, but looking to another to fix or complete us can turn a partnership into a dependent bond. If we can stay clear about what we want and what we need in a partnership, while staying grounded and remembering that we are our own source of happiness and fulfillment, we can create partnerships that support and enhance the best of who we are.
Everyone in our lives is a mirror reflecting back the parts we love and dislike about ourselves. If we have the courage to recognize our reflections in each other, we can grow through our partnerships. A partnership that offers both acceptance of who we are and an opportunity for personal transformation can be fertile ground for growing a healthy, lasting union. When we find this kind of partnership, we are more likely to want to keep it, invest in it, and nurture it.
Life is a collaborative effort. Much of what we do can be enhanced through partnership. Together we are stronger because our personal power is multiplied by two. Through partnership we experience the joys of working, living, and loving together.
Running your life and your household is a bit like running a business for which some things can easily be delegated.
Sometimes we have so many varying responsibilities in our lives, ranging from work obligations to caring for children to running a household, we feel we cannot possibly make it all work. We may feel overwhelmed in the face of it all, ending each day feeling hopelessly behind schedule. However, regardless of how frustrating this can be, these are the parameters that make up our lives, and we owe it to ourselves to find a way to make it work. Rather than buckling under the pressure of an impossible to-do list, we might take a moment to view the larger perspective.
Like the president of a large organization, we must first realize that we cannot do every job ourselves. The first step to sanity is learning how to delegate some of the responsibility to other people, whether by paying someone to clean our house or trading childcare duties with another parent. In addition, we might find places where we can shift our expectations in ways that make our lives easier. For example, expecting ourselves to create a healthy home-cooked meal every night after a full day of work, errands, or caring for an infant or toddler may be a bit excessive. We might allow ourselves to order in food once in a while without any guilt. Accepting the adjustments needed to make our lives work is an essential ingredient to being at peace with our situation.
At the end of the day, we must come to terms with changing what we can and accepting what we cannot change. Sometimes the laundry piles up, a sick child demands more of our attention than usual, and we temporarily get behind with our schedule. Accepting this momentary state of affairs and trusting in our ability to get back on track when the time is right, we gracefully accept our life as it is, letting go of perfectionism and embracing life as it stands.
We can choose to start over in this very moment, there is no need to wait for a new year or a new month or a new week.
There are times in our lives that lend themselves to starting something new. The beginning of a new year, finishing school, leaving a job, or changing homes—these all are times that turn our minds to fresh starts. Their advantage is that they bring with them the energy of that event, creating a tide of change around them that we can ride to our next shoreline. But we can choose to start anew anytime. In any moment we can decide that a bad day or a relationship that’s gotten off on the wrong foot can be started again. It is a mental shift that allows us to clean the slate and approach anything with fresh eyes, and we can make that choice at any time.
Starting new is most powerful when we focus our attention to what we are choosing to create. Giving all of our attention to the unwanted aspects of our lives allows what we resist to persist. We need to remember to leave enough room in the process of new beginnings to be kind to ourselves, because it takes time to become accustomed to anything new, no matter how much we like it. There is no need to get down on ourselves if we don’t reach our new goals instantly. Instead, we acknowledge the forward motion and choose to reset and start again, knowing that with each choice we learn, grow, and move forward.
Making the choice to start anew has its own energy—it’s a promise made to you. The forward momentum creates a sort of vacuum behind it, pulling toward you all you need to help you continue moving in your chosen direction. Once the journey has begun, it may take unexpected turns, but it never really ends. Like cycles in nature, there are periods of obvious growth and periods of dormancy that signal a time of waiting for the right moment to burst forth. Each time we choose to start anew we dedicate ourselves to becoming the best we are able to be.