“Life is actually really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” ~ Confucius
Do you often feel overwhelmed by being a spiritual person?
Sure, sometimes it feels heavenly to walk the path of unbecoming my old, flawed, messy self.
But, there are other times when choosing to be present to every detail of my emotions can just be overwhelming. I often wonder if it would be easier to be the person sitting across from me, happily scrolling through Instagram for what seems like the 100th minute instead of focusing on my mindful, meditative breathing exercise.
The core reason I believe we feel overwhelmed with our awakening process is that we are essentially filling out a spiritual to-do list every day, in hopes of gaining a proverbial gold star. Unfortunately, the sticker rewards never come, and we’re left feeling like we didn’t do enough at the end of the day to become our best selves.
After much consideration on this topic, I’ve realized that we can all make our spiritual existences easier on ourselves. Just like the metaphysical teachers Abraham-Hicks say, “If the end goal is to be happy, why not just take the short cut and be happy?”
That’s why I created loopholes to some of the silly rules that keep us searching for the “gold stars” of spirtuality:
Rule #1: You must meditate cross-legged on the floor, for 20 minutes, twice a day.
Meditation is an immensely important tool. However, you can meditate in a way that feels good to you. Let’s say you wake up late, but you must get your gold star, so you decide to meditate anyway. Now, you’re late to work—your outfit is wrinkly and you’re in the car, listening to mantra or the radio…and somehow, you feel worse.
How could this be? You did the “right” thing by meditating!
I would suggest if you’re running late, that you get up, get ready (without your phone), and drive to work without music on in the car. No sound to distract you, with the windows down, can be a really peaceful way to be present and listen to your mind as your thoughts begin unfolding. There are ways to sneak in mindful, meditative moments throughout your day, even on days when sitting still seems impossible. I’ve even been known to EFT tap at a stoplight!
Choose a meditative path that feels right for you, whether it’s a five-minute breathing break, a guided meditation at lunch, or a mindful exercise class or a walk.
Rule #2: Yoga is the only acceptable form of exercise.
I love a Downward Dog and a really deep Reverse Warrior more than the average bear. Yet, I also love to get sweaty at a barre class, flip upside down in an aerial swing, or hop on a Pilates reformer.
When I took other classes, like barre or Pilates, or even took a day off from my yoga practice, I used to feel that I was abandoning my path. I would ask myself questions like, “What will my yoga teacher think?” or, “Is anyone at the studio going to notice I’m not there?”
Then, I found out that Sri Aurobindo, known as the “Mother of Yoga,” played tennis! She practiced the other seven limbs of yoga proudly, but didn’t feel the asana, or physical postures, were necessary on a consistent basis.
If you have a hidden passion, whether it’s dance, running, or even a HIIT class, you are following your own path, which will lead you to the ultimate goal of joy much quicker than doing a hot yoga class because you feel you should.
Rule #3: You must be serious about facing your shadows.
Of course, we need to do the work to find out the hidden motivators behind our self-sabotage, defeating behaviors, and negative thoughts.
But, there comes a point when levity is the next step. If we continuously repeat the same story about how our dad left and our mom was angry and that’s why we yell loudly when we drop a plate (talking about myself here), we aren’t going to get anywhere quickly.
Next time you feel tempted to bring up the past or ruminate over a difficult moment, instead, look forward, look up and look down, and ask yourself, “Is this memory or thought a current problem or a threat at this moment?”
If the answer is no, proceed to have a fun, peaceful day.
Rule #4: Your partner needs to have a man bun (or the female equivalent).
It seems that if you’re on a spiritual path, your partner should also be wearing Lululemon and drinking kale juice, right?
I have found the opposite to be true. My partner is a serious professional, or a “suit,” you might say. And, honestly, he’s more evolved than I am! That’s a hard truth for someone like me to swallow, as I read self-help books like it’s my job.
He’s said wise things to me like, “I don’t wish to talk about mistakes; you are so much more than that moment. You are the combination of every mundane day, every great moment shared on the other 364 days of the year. That moment does not define you.”
It’s incredible once we peel back the layers how much deepness and equality we can find with the people we love. It doesn’t always come in the package we expected.
Rule #5: Salvation is only found in an ashram.
Lastly, you can find your lasting peace right where you are.
You can turn off your phone, your TV, and even your laptop and just sit. As the saying goes, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
Finding peace in your current environment might even be more of a challenge that will lead you to lasting peace.
In your day-to-day life, you can ground your feet when your mother-in-law looks at you strangely for bringing your own zucchini to the barbecue. You can choose to sip water instead of wine when you feel anxious. You can even send a forgiveness letter to someone in your past, all from the comfort of your own city.
You can be a shining example for those around you, without losing yourself and coming back home. There is no Eat, Pray, Love course required for you to move to the next level of your incredible life.
Now, go make your own rules—and have fun! Your joy will help everyone around you.
I might even mail you a gold star.