4 Pitfalls to Spiritual Practice Keeping Us from Change.

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Greg 8-7-14-17

Sādhanā (Sanskrit: साधना;) is understood as a means of attaining a spiritual goal. Through practice we develop dispassion and non-attachment.

What brings us to practice can often become an obstacle on our path. Chronic pain, depression, scoliosis and trauma are what first brought me to reiki, meditation, and yoga.

As my spine began to unravel, and my depression and pain dissipated, the transformative power of my sādhanā got me hooked into trying to fix, change and heal myself. This actually got in the way of the healing power of my practice and I learned that not attaching to outcome was tricky business.

The less we fixate on change the more we can relax into and welcome it. Here’s how to avoid the most common pitfalls to practice that keep you from change.

1. Forgetting change is your nature.

We arrive at our practice seeking change. We are change. We can’t do change.

The severe curve in my spine had always felt so fixed and rigid. Such a dense holding pattern always seemed unchangeable and I was completely identified with my pain and depression. It was who I thought I was, I was my injury. I didn’t will, force, or create the change. Rather, my practice created the climate for me to flow with the inherent wave of change within me. In the process, energy that was stagnant and fixed began to surface. Shame and limiting beliefs and regressive behaviors all came to awareness.

Ride the wave of change.

2. Thinking you are in control.

It pains me to see yogis forcing themselves into a rigid meditation posture—creating more tension instead of liberating from it. Trying to obtain some lofty ideal, concept or goal.

Reiki, meditation and yoga are practices to help us sync with the wave of change and attune to the natural intelligence within us. We can’t control this process. It’s a natural unfolding we tend to through, the awareness we cultivate in our practice. Awareness becomes the ultimate practice.

When I forget this, I can lead from a place of manipulation and control to try and achieve an outward goal, like opening up my heart and unraveling my spine in a deep back bend. There is subtle violence I impose against myself which actually results in shutting down instead of opening up and unfolding naturally.

We are both the wave and the ocean.

3. Rejecting what is.

What do you have aversion to? Pain? Conflict? The unknown? It’s far too easy to arrive at our practice in an attempt to fix our pain or get outside of our discomfort. As much as we can take refuge within the sanctuary of our practice we must not avoid what is in front of us. Otherwise the practice might be a detour taking us further away from ourselves.

Our practice is an opportunity to meet ourselves where we are, as we are. Instead of negating our experience of ourselves, we may open our arms wide open and embrace what is—the totality of our experience. This is where transformation arises.

When I first started to experience more freedom from pain and depression, I started to arrive at my practice hungry for more of that new found space. This hunger caused a resistance into feeling the reality of the pain that still remained and the shame that began to surface. I started to create more constriction and holding in my attempt to liberate from the pain.

When I embrace the curve in my spine as it is, and show up to my beliefs and behaviors with a sense of wonder, I create an invitation for a new opening to arise naturally. This way I don’t need to be anything other than who and what I am.

Lean into the wave.

4. Being attached to the practice itself. 

Could you imagine still riding your bike with training wheels? The tools that first helped you find your way can quickly become a hindrance. In practice, it is the same.

What first serves us on our path may one day no longer be relevant or needed. We often develop such gratitude and love for the practice that has served us that we sometimes hold on when it’s no longer useful. One practice may just be a stepping-stone for another. Be open to your practice changing to meet your ever-changing needs.

How I arrive at my reiki and meditation practice today is very different than when I first began practice. There is a deeper sensitivity and receptivity to my needs. The quality of my awareness has shifted, which informs a new orientation to the practice. It’s been helpful to not hold on too tight to outer form to free up inner space. This is where the miracle of our awareness can circulate and inform the flow of our lives.

In the same way, my yoga practice has shifted. Less asana and more pranayama, mantra and meditation. Some days my asana practice is more invigorating, heating and dynamic and other days the flow is more grounded and peaceful—all to meet my precise needs in the moment.

Let go of the form of one wave to ride another.

I still have to catch myself when I practice. There’s days I arrive with agendas to fix my spine or to get out of pain or discomfort. There’s a subtle shaming in this. Sometimes I arrive at practice from a mechanical and habitual place out of safety and control. Then I feel how I’m short circuiting the free flow of energy that wants to assert itself all on its own.

Each time we forget is an opportunity to remember!

The gift of our sādhanā is to simply come into contact with what is and to allow presence and connection to be enough. In doing so we invite a new level of organizational intelligence to nourish us. Our practice is simply an opportunity to be. After all, how we practice is how we live.

 

Relephant: 

25 Spiritual Quotes to Write on your Wall.

 

Author: Greg Wieting

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Used with permission from Cameron O’Steen/Yogatography

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anonymous Oct 19, 2015 10:23pm

"We are both the wave and the ocean". Whoa.

anonymous Oct 12, 2015 2:30pm

Always a good reminder to recognize pain or obstacles as catalysts for transformation. Thank you for this.

    anonymous Oct 15, 2015 2:31pm

    You are so welcome! Some of my greatest life challenges have proven to serve the flow of my life by demanding a new level of creativity through a heightened awareness and a deeper sensitivity to life.

anonymous Oct 9, 2015 1:34pm

"We are both the wave and the ocean." I think I will carry on with that concept. Thank you

    anonymous Oct 9, 2015 4:11pm

    Sweet! This helps me remember I'm not separate. The more connected I feel the more I feel supported by and trust in the flow of life.

    anonymous Oct 15, 2015 4:47pm

    : )

anonymous Oct 8, 2015 4:19pm

It's funny how the world works-I SO needed to read this right now, tonight-where I am with my practice, my personal roadblocks that I've built up-you amaze me. Thank you for sharing this. I think so many of us go thru phases in our lives and in our practice that put us in different spaces with ourselves spiritually, physically, mentally… I loved this "Our practice is an opportunity to meet ourselves where we are, as we are. Instead of negating our experience of ourselves, we may open our arms wide open and embrace what is—the totality of our experience. This is where transformation arises." such truth & beauty. Thanks Greg

    anonymous Oct 9, 2015 2:47pm

    Thanks for sharing. Practice helps us see our roadblocks and obstacles as the path itself! I love that this (sometimes not so simple) shift in perspective can open up the floodgates of change. Practice helps us show up with both a fierce and tender honesty to make more contact with ourselves and life itself.

anonymous Oct 7, 2015 3:25pm

The part that stands out for me in this article is the affirmation that practice is evolutionary. The way I utilize the tools I've acquired along the path NOW is much different than the way I engaged with them initially. I love the training wheels analogy… riding a bike with the training wheels really doesn't make sense when I've developed an ease and comfort riding in a much more efficient way. Thanks!

    anonymous Oct 8, 2015 10:22am

    Yes! Ultimately the practice is our awareness … if we can only let go of our grip to the outer form. Then we can circle back to form so it can serve the inner flow of consciousness. This makes our practice more useful and relevant to the fulfillment of our lives.

anonymous Oct 7, 2015 10:48am

'Each time we forget is an opportunity to remember'…..I had forgotten! Also,'how we practice is how we live.' So,change you thoughts change you experience,change your practice transform your life? Nice to be self supportive in navigating life. I've read this article several times. Each time something different surfaces. As always,thank you dear Greg….

    anonymous Oct 8, 2015 10:45am

    You remembered! Self study serves our life when we show up from a place of love, curiosity and wonder. Then we can let go of over gripping and navigate life with more ease and awareness. Yes. Practice informs life and life informs practice. They are one in the same and not separate.

anonymous Oct 7, 2015 10:37am

Interestingly, I just had a beautiful Reiki/BodyTalk session with Greg where profound shifts occurred and continue to occur when I listen to my body and simply follow my breath without any preconceived notions or anticipated outcomes. I carry this beyond sessions through my daily life, moment to moment, and when I have a misstep, I pause and mindfully breathe again. The beauty is the innate wisdom and sweet simplicity which are uniquely mine.
Thank you, Greg , for this meditation.

    anonymous Oct 7, 2015 11:14am

    Yes! Breath as a source of connection and receptivity! Thank you friend!

anonymous Oct 7, 2015 8:42am

Thank you for the reminder to show up without agendas to my practices. It is a balance for me that I’m learning between goal orienting and making choices from that place and allowing.

    anonymous Oct 7, 2015 10:18am

    Yes! I love this! I feel the more we allow the more we flow with and not against our life force. This way our practices and our choices are in alignment with a deeper current within us. This has helped me clear up incongruent behavior, thought and belief so I can live in the pillar of my truth and clear up distraction.

anonymous Oct 7, 2015 8:01am

Thank you for sharing with such beautiful vulnerability!

    anonymous Oct 7, 2015 10:19am

    Each time I share more of myself I find myself feeling more connected to myself and others.

anonymous Oct 7, 2015 7:18am

Thank you for the beautiful reminder. Funny I have just been working with the concept of “comfortable meditation”. Why do we force ourselves into uncomfortable positions to try and let go of sensation? Don’t we creat more sensation by not being in comfort? Meditation with a quite body helps creat space for a quite mind. A quite mind leads to a quite body. And both when quite lead to the subtle sense of self. Thank you Greg for this beautiful reminder.

    anonymous Oct 7, 2015 10:32am

    You're so welcome! As I find more comfort within the sanctuary of my practice it helps me show up with more love and compassion to those parts of myself that are not so comfortable. Practice helps us navigate the ebb and flow of it all without force or effort so much as a relaxed and alert awareness. The less we expect anything from our practice the more we can open to its power.

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Greg Wieting

Greg Wieting draws upon 15 years experience as a visionary teacher, healer and mentor working with individuals, large groups and organizations. Greg is passionate about helping you tap into the inner reservoirs of intelligence so you can cultivate strength and resilience in your health, business and life. He shares precisely what has been at the heart of cultivating his own resilience, teaching from direct experience and a whole lot of love. He is the founder of The Resilience Project, an integrated training program to support healing, emotional intelligence, mindfulness and creativity through Reiki, Meditation, BodyTalk and Yoga. Learn more at his website.