May 14, 2014

Why Your Spiritual Practice Isn’t Enough.

balloons road life color

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
~ Mary Oliver

You’ve chanted, juiced, meditated, and śavāsana-ed your path toward happiness and oneness with the universe. It’s a good start, but something still isn’t working. You still feel drained. You still get pissed at your mom (sister, partner, the idiot who cut you off in traffic). You know you’re not doing all you can do with your “one wild and precious life.”

You’re not alone. This journey toward wholeness is a rocky one, with a lot of pitfalls and strange scary, paths that lead off into murky darkness. There are ways to stay focused, however. Consider these common mistakes on the well-meaning path to living a better life as flares your soul sends up to keep you safe from pitfalls.

Staying safe:

Chances are you’ve found a way to make your life work for you in a functional way. You have your self-improvement rituals. Your health is okay. Life is chugging along. Maybe it’s not fantastic—it’s not where you wanted to be—but you’re getting by in a meh sort of way.

Placing the blame elsewhere:

This could be buying into the fact that it’s the wrong time for you to take your life to the next level of psychospiritual evolution. It could be placing blame on another situation such as your dead-end job, or even on another person. For example, “My parents were very harsh on me, so I learned to be harsh on myself.” It’s not your fault, so you stay in a sort of helpless limbo.

Playing the hero:

In this age of self-empowerment, many of us feel we should be the champions of our lives. If we can’t manage to do it ourselves then it’s probably not worth doing. Well, I hate say this, but that’s your ego talking. And ego is the thing that’s going to keep you from doing the in-depth work that you need to do on yourself. Ego’s going to tell you everything’s fine; you’re in control. Go deep, but not too deep. But what ends up happening is that you burn out because you can’t do it by yourself. But I’m not saying you can’t help yourself.

Know when to ask for additional assistance.

Realize that asking for assistance is not the death knell of your independence. A good helper (coach, counselor, mentor, therapist) will honor your intelligence and intuition about yourself. I have four coaches and trusted teachers in my corner right now.

What I find is that my clients have the most difficulty changing when they cannot see the person that they want to be clearly. We need someone we can bounce off. Someone who will reflect the lines that you keep telling yourself over and over again, the belief system that you have that is no longer serving you.

So, we cannot play hero. We get to be the hero once we’ve done the real work of looking past the self-awareness to the bigger picture, existentially speaking, and how we’re contributing to the greater pool.

“I shouldn’t spend money on my well-being.”

Whatever is most important to us in life is what we’re going to spend our money on. We spend money on homes, on our education, on entertainment—these are all important things. I’ve heard people make the argument that buying organic food is too expensive, so there’s no point. If you’re going to invest in anything doesn’t it makes sense to invest in something that’s going to create a healthier life for you, like non-toxic food?

The same goes with feeding the soul.

I moved from having a deep-seated fear about money—“Love of money is the root of all evil” and all that—so I never trusted it. My goal in life was to do without it as much as possible. Not surprisingly, that is exactly what happened. And it kept a lot of doors shut. So I began to invest in things that I believed would serve me. I’ve invested in my spiritual well-being, for example. I can see the return on that investment every time I help another human being in my coaching practice.

That’s the way I budget: I invest in my self.

It’s as important as eating non-GMO spinach or hormone-free eggs. That extra bit of money ends up working for your benefit in the long run.


Dipping a toe in the water is not the way to do deep work. And, believe me, if you want to be an authentically vibrant human being, you have to get messy. Bopping about from one healing modality to another will make you feel fulfilled in the short term, just like the giddiness of having a crush on someone who thinks you’re pretty awesome yourself. But soon, when the work gets hard, you’ll need to chase that dragon of fresh new promise and potential once again, never really going to the core and cleaning house of all the obstacles that keep you from being your highest self.

Chances are you have a well-established life right now, but perhaps it’s not serving you the way you want it to. There’s more you can offer the world, and you feel that truth flowing through you like a wild electric current, lighting up every chakra along its path. (Heck, even I can feel it from here.)

That’s going to mean some radical changes need to happen. A deep commitment has to be made to those changes. There’s no halfway here! There has to be a point where you say enough is enough: Today’s the day I change the way I present my Self to the world, and I change big.

When will that “today” be for you?


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Ramnath Bhat/Flickr

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