While I have certainly had my fair share of “big-shebang” spiritual experiences, more often I find it is the seemingly mundane moments that harbour some of the more subtle yet profound insights concerning life and our journey through this grand universe.
Yesterday evening I was preparing dinner for an intimate circle of friends and family. I was alone in the kitchen, singing mantras into the cooking (yes, that’s what yoga teachers do sometimes), and stirring a little pot of béchamel sauce on the stove.
Anyone who has made béchamel knows the process well—you add some flour and milk (organic of course), then stir and stir for what seems like forever, until all of a sudden something magical occurs—the sauce begins to rapidly thicken into a glorious, creamy concoction, suitable for accentuating all manner of warming winter dishes, with the addition of some good quality melted cheese and seasoning (I like nutmeg, Himalayan salt and pepper).
The interesting thing about making a béchamel is that the effort you apply is consistent throughout—a constant, brisk whisking motion—and yet the results are emphatically not. As you go about stirring your little pot, for a very long time absolutely nothing happens.
The mixture remains runny, your efforts seem in vain. At a certain point, the arms begin to tire, one begins to get impatient, and yet still, no result emerges. At around the five minute mark, however, the continuous application of the exact same effort which had previously yielded nothing, results in a rapid alchemical transformation. Suddenly, there occurs a gelling, a conglomeration, a bringing together of previously disparate ingredients into a unique harmony – finally, it all comes together. And then one can enjoy the rich (and cheesy) spoils of ones efforts!
Attending to this last night, I was struck by how wonderfully analogous this process is to the spiritual journey. For my own part, although I’ve been diligently and persistently engaged in conscious living and spiritual pursuits since around the age of 16, it has only been in recent years that significant objective transformation has occurred for me.
I can’t tell you how often people now comment to me, “You look great! Have you been doing something new?” or, “Wow! You’ve transformed” and so on and so forth. All very flattering, but the truth is I am doing the same thing I have always done. Which is to be true to myself and to Spirit, persistently and consistently.
I am not applying any new formula, although it might seem that way on the surface. Just like my experience of béchamel-sauce whisking, the subjective application of effort to my personal spiritual evolution has remained constant, yet the external results of my efforts have not.
For so many years I juice-cleansed, I dream-journaled, I reiki-healed, I ashrammed, and on the face of it nothing much changed. The béchamel sauce of my soul remained rather thin and nebulous (don’t you just love cheesy metaphors?) and I yearned for something more substantial.
As a law and philosophy student at university, I reached the pinnacle of my existential cheese-meltdown. I was tired—of life, of love, of it all—béchamel-weary at the tender age of 22. Yet, I made the decision to keep myself “on the burner,” so to speak, and I continued to stir my inner pot, adding a dash of yoga teacher training, and more than a sprinkling of tantric and shamanic journeying, amongst many other spices and seasonings.
And something interesting happened. A critical mass was reached, and all of a sudden, within a very short space of time, everything started to come together. The disparate elements of my being began to cohere, to solidify, a cosmic, alchemical transformation occurred, and my consciousness emerged from this process as something qualitatively different from (and arguably more delicious than) what it had been before.
The texture of my life is now vastly different to what it used to be; it is more harmonious, more whole, and I am certainly more ‘together’ than I was in my early twenties. It’s not that I was doing anything wrong back then, I was simply at a stage in the process.
So if you are languishing in a spiritual no man’s (or woman’s) land, where your efforts seem in vain, where your kale-munching and mantra-chanting and gratitude-jar-keeping are yielding what seems like very little in the way of solid outcomes, keep your pot on the stove and take heart. You may well be closer than you think to touching the Source…or is that Sauce? Either way, it will taste divine when you get there.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/ ustreet girl