I’m holding my phone to my ear with a weak and slightly shaky grip.
Despite the fact that the weather is stunningly beautiful, that I have several hours of nothing but freedom ahead of me, and that I have the power to create anything I want in my life, I am suffering.
In a tone of utter defeat, I mutter obligatory words of goodbye, hang up the phone and set it on my coffee table. I take a deep breath in, and as I release it, the exhale shakes in what is building up to be an uncontrollable sob. I close my eyes and try to settle myself, center myself, take stock of myself.
Despite my best efforts, tears begin to stream from my eyes uncontrollably, and I hold my face in my hands and weep.
My heart hurts. My whole body feels sick. Negative emotion prevails.
I’d just gotten in a fight with someone I was dearly in love with. Things were said that couldn’t be unsaid. I had hurt them severely, and I knew it. They had also hurt me. In a matter of less than 15 minutes of unpredicted, explosive anger, we had seemingly undone months of kind words and actions, and destroyed a fortress of regard, respect and security that we had been building together. It hurt. Bad.
I keenly felt the negative physical effects of the anger and hurt I had experienced; the acidity of my body, the twisted knots in my stomach, the negative energy that I had both been dished, and brought upon myself as it boomeranged back at me from my own unkind words and thoughts. I recalled some of the things I’d said, and rehashed the illogical jumps in reason that had come about from my negative emotional state.
How did I end up here?
I hadn’t been in a fight like this in several months. I had been practicing my yoga, my meditation, my intentional, conscious, management of my own thoughts and feelings. I had been impeccable
I’m a pretty spiritual guy! I’ve cultivated attitudes, thoughts and feelings of peace and compassion for others and myself over the course of years, fueled by intense dedication and discipline. I’ve completed the Course in Miracles from start to finish. I practice advanced yogic techniques on a daily basis. I’ve meditated regularly both traditionally and with brainwave entrainment for over 10 years. I’ve got this thing down so solid that I teach others how to do it.
She’s a pretty advanced soul too! She is a master healer and there is no doubt she came to this earth to heal as many souls as possible through her boundless compassion. She practices meditation and her religious practices daily with discipline. She’s bright enough to light up a pitch dark room, and just being around her makes a person more conscious and aware.
And yet there’s one thing I can’t escape, no matter how much work I’ve done and will continue to do: I’m human. I’m not done yet. I’m still walking my path.
I can look back at myself five or six years ago, and chuckle. At that time I was still bought in to the lie. I hadn’t even realized how fallacious this lie was, nor had I even come close to realizing how much the belief in this lie was holding me back, sabotaging me, making me feel terrible about myself, and pinning me into a corner where I hardly had any choice but to fester in denial, or feverishly project my own darkness onto other people.
This lie prevails in the self help and newage spirituality movement. It can be and is perpetuated by over the top advertising for products, as well as by brilliant yet highly arrogant and confused people.
I’m sure that if you have made a serious commitment in your life to be the best that you can be and really go for your full potential that you have either once been a believer of this lie, or have already overcome it. You may even still believe it.
The lie goes something like this:
“As soon as I find that magical golden ticket of a self-help or spiritual practice, I will never have to suffer again. I will always be happy. I will get everything I want, and all my problems will disappear forever.”
And then the real clincher:
“If these issues still happen to me after I’ve found this, I’ve either not found the right one, or I’m not doing it right, or I’m not trying hard enough.”
And all this really boils down to this: not good enough, not dedicated enough, not spiritual enough, not blessed enough or not supported enough.
Can you relate to this? Have you felt yourself trapped in this before? In that time where your well-earned peace of mind and success slips on you do you start to question the legitimacy of your practice, of your progress, of the person you have become?
It used to be so easy for me to beat myself up. For years I thought, “Am I not dedicated enough?”
“Am I not _______ing (breathing, meditating, thinking positively) enough?”
Here’s the truth, and the ultimate resolution of the lie.
As long as we are human, we will suffer. We will experience negative emotion, health concerns, disagreements and tension. We will hurt sometimes, slip up and do something stupid, lose control and do or say something unkind.
There is absolutely no reason to superglue that overtly spiritual or self-helpy fake smile over our real faces!
We are human and we can own it and accept it. There is absolutely no way to gauge ourselves on this incredibly mysterious and eternal journey. Sometimes even the most advanced souls on this planet are the ones who are suffering more. They’re the ones who bravely came here to face the brunt of their karma, issue after issue, in a nonstop blitz that you or I could never face up to in one lifetime.
So if you’re one to beat yourself up, or to judge someone else (we know the two go hand in hand), this is all worth considering. I do believe that there is a state that we will all make it to one day, where suffering does not exist anymore, and everything becomes one. Joy, peace, and love prevail eternally. But until we make it to that state (and I’m sure we’ll know it when we do) we have work to do, human experiences to have, pain to process and learn from.
The nature of this experience is one of triggering our unconscious blocks, of pressing our buttons.
If we didn’t have buttons to be pressed, or issues to become more aware of, we probably wouldn’t be here. So when life gives us the blessing of seeing that there is (sigh) yes, another thing for us to work on, to learn from and overcome, we don’t have to throw in the towel and tell ourselves that we haven’t made the progress that we’ve made. The next obstacle has arisen because we’ve made the progress we’ve made.
There are a few things we can all rely on in our lifetime. People we love are going to die. People we love are going to do things that trigger us and make us feel hurt. People we dislike are not going to change themselves. Work will stress us out. Our bodies will fail us at some point in time. The nature of society will limit us and restrict our freedoms. Sometimes, we will lose, hard.
If there’s anything that I’ve learned from finding myself in this predicament and resolving the dissonance of the spiritual lie it’s this:
We do not practice and walk our paths to sit in our own little comfort zones and think we’re amazing and advanced.
We walk this path to push against our comfort zones, to literally grow through sometimes chaotic, overwhelming or even painful experiences.
So the next time this happens, take stock of yourself. Let the darkness, the suffering be as it is.
Feel the emotion, without identifying with story, the tendency to cut oneself down. We can learn to tell ourselves a new story, the one where this dissonance is exactly what we have asked for, and the perfect gift that we have been given to grow, a stepping stone to the next level we have been yearning to make it to.
It is not by avoiding these growing pains that we grow. It is by stepping into them, with our conscious self and our mental stillness, to fearlessly use the light of our awareness to transmute them, as we do the same simultaneously within ourselves.
Indeed this is why we walk our paths.
Author: Ashton Aiden
Editor: Catherine Monkman