Finding your spiritual path
Many people are searching for direction, their purpose in life, their spiritual path. In their search, the experiences of others are considered as examples of quests fulfilled or abandoned. My clients have asked me how I found my path and what it took to get there. By sharing my experiences, my hope is to demonstrate that the journey is lifelong and rarely easy. No one has all the answers. And if they did, you'd still have to find the answers for yourself. Anything worthwhile requires much work and, many times, includes pain and anxiety. An important prerequisite to finding your path is the willingness to be open and honest with yourself. Be willing to release that which you find is not longer appropriate to your path. Understand that you will go through periodic shifts that can create a sense of disruption and upheaval necessary to your growth. Each of us chooses how we are to go through this life. Fear creates stagnation; openness creates expansion. It is up to you to exercise free will in conjunction with the Forces of Destiny to manifest your core self and your true purpose. Here is the first leg of my journey, with much more to learn and experience...
I began my spiritual path at a very early age. I believe that we know ourselves best in childhood and are the most truly who we are at a core level. I've always felt a link to nature and to the "God" energy. I could see a connection between all living things and knew innately that whatever actions are taken, they impact all things. At that age, it was a given, a normal way of understanding the world, to see and feel the connection I had with the Source of All That Is. My comfort came in nature, in the woods, and I felt a joy unmatched by any other environment.
As I grew older, my curiosity lead me to study world religions, Eastern philosophy, psychology, chemistry, and physics. I questioned the beliefs of others, then questioned my own beliefs. I sought proof of that which I had so openly accepted in childhood. I looked at the world and could not understand why people were so cruel to each other. There was a time of darkness in my late teens, when I believed in nothing. I had questioned myself into a void, leaning toward science and logic and throwing away the faith that was effortless in early childhood. In that dark questioning and the search for my identity and my purpose, I saw that others continually sought my help with issues that they were facing. Many times I would know the answers intuitively and came to realize that part of my purpose was to help people. My challenge was to discover the ways in which I was meant to help. Enter the medical profession? Be a psychologist? A social worker? The possibilities multiplied. I went in many different directions, experimenting, yet none resonated as being a part of my true nature. I finally realized that the way I could best help comes through my readings. They tend to focus on blocks to progress and what it is in the person's nature that prevents them from moving forward.
It was not until I came back to my original faith and connection from childhood that I got back on track. Even then, through various relationships, good and bad, through my experiences in life, I continued to test my beliefs to see if they would hold true in a variety of situations. What it came down to was perception: of people and my relationships with them, and the way in which I perceived myself. To allow others to dictate what I should or should not be or what was appropriate to feel or to study was giving away my power. I decided to take it back. I began to realize that who I was at the core of my spirit was the child that loved to be in the woods. Once I accepted myself for who I was, I noticed others accepting it as well. At the same time, relationships that were no longer appropriate to my path began to gently fall away, their time and purpose having come to an end. To say that I began the journey when I rediscovered my faith would be untrue. I've always been on a spiritual path, even during the times I find myself floundering in the weeds along the side of the road! I continue to study, to learn through experience, and to practice my craft, for that is what brings me closer to the Source.
If we are to continually learn and grow, there are two necessary conditions: gratitude and detachment. The gratitude is being thankful for whatever is in your life, good and bad, for it is there as a teacher. Some situations feel like a punishment and make you question why they're happening to you. What did you do to deserve this in your life? It's not so much about deserving it, but rather to recognize patterns that are continually repeated. Once you learn the lesson inherent in the situations, these patterns will cease to exist. The detachment is there to remove the emotional attachment you feel for the person or situation and to be able to more objectively view the situation. This does not mean you no longer care for the person, just look at your relationship almost as an outsider. In this way, you are more likely to see the lesson than if you are reacting emotionally. These are not easy lessons to learn, and they require much practice. It may take years. But the effort is extremely worthwhile.
Different aspects and experiences converge to create an overall picture of who you are and what your place is in the world. Once you find yourself in the proper context, life no longer feels like a struggle. Not to say that no more struggles will occur. Conflict is inevitable, both internally and externally. It is our reactions to these struggles that define us as a person. By understanding ourselves, we can increase trust in the decisions we make and the paths we choose to follow. Each of us must find her own way of connecting to the Universe. I encourage you to read about a variety of spiritual paths and journeys and see what feels right to you. It may be that the combination of several will create what you seek.
By virtue of the fact that you are seeking an answer to this type of question indicates that you have already begun your spiritual journey and, in fact, have always been on a spiritual quest. Setbacks will occur periodically, no matter how far down the path you may find yourself. They are put in your way to teach lessons and gain knowledge about yourself and to test your strength and resolve. You may choose to view setbacks as unnerving scenarios that are depressing and anxiety provoking, or as exciting opportunities to overcome adversity and be a much stronger person as a result. It is up to you which path you follow.
Take time to self-reflect. Consider your personality, your likes and dislikes, your friends and your enemies, and ask yourself how your experiences have propelled you to the place you are right now. Align your goals with your spiritual beliefs and with the lessons you've learned over time. Here are some questions to help you along...
- Ask yourself what you want your life to look like. Think of ways to promote your goals.
- Ask yourself what you are afraid of. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen? Have a plan for the worst case scenario and watch the fear dissipate.
- Make a list of where your energy goes on a daily basis (anxiety over ______, arguing with _________, worrying about ________, working on ________). Figure out how to minimize or eliminate the energy wasters.
- Find a job or work that aligns with your personal needs. Ask what is important to you to feel successful, a sense of accomplishment, or just at peace or contented in general. For example, if you need acknowledgment, find a work environment that will be supportive in this way. If you need regular hours, then look at that. If you don't care what hours you work, but you need it to have a creative outlet, then focus on that.
- Remember what you liked to do as a child. Rediscover who you are by remembering what you loved to do when you were a child.
- Remove all expectations of yourself and what should be in your life. Wipe the slate clean and start over with the above in mind.
I hope these suggestions help. As you get clear on what you want, the actions that you must take will become clear. The doing will be effortless, because all actions will move you closer to your goal.
Blessings for your perpetual growth,
(c) Diane Lee Wing.