“Spiritual experiences are robust states that may have profound impacts on people’s lives,” – Marc Potenza, PhD, MD
We are living in an age of increased collective consciousness. This is evident from the increase in the number of articles, books and personal stories on spiritual transformation. Also important to note is the increasing interest of neuro scientists on brain activity during spirituality.
Such research initiatives validate to some extent, spiritual awakening as a valid phenomenon. Take for example the study conducted by Yale Scientists who identified a consistent neural pattern and brain-home for ‘spiritual experiences’. I digress….
Having been on a transformative journey that has kicked my ass (painful but rewarding, like a good workout), I wanted to share some ideas on why transformation is tough.
Before I dive into the good stuff, lets clarify what I am calling a spiritual transformation so that we do not get into a shouting match over semantics. For this article, we are talking about a journey that urges you to pause, honestly identify your truest values and slowly start aligning your life to those values.
It is a journey of courage, confusion and often aloneness, but the small joys lie in being true to the one person who is always with you – yourself.
Yes, I attract lots of raised eyebrows in conference rooms ?
If you have been on this incredibly rewarding but annoyingly confusing journey, know that you are not alone. Here is why this journey is tough:
There is no cookbook
We study, get a job, get married, have kids, live happily ever after – or so they say. For most things in life, you can expect a cook book of sorts which provides you the ingredients to an increased probability of stable life. Spiritual transformation however does not come with a cook book. You have access to personal stories from respected spiritual teachers, however, no one can detail the list of steps you need to carry out to live your truth.
The answer to living more authentically lies only with one person – and that is you, hence we are doomed. Just kidding! When you find yourself in this predicament, consider getting some help through more books, videos or a life coach aligned with your values.
No solution will give you a blueprint on what your journey will look like, but some solutions can hold you accountable and pull you back up when you fall down. The process will require faith and a blissful state of giving up control and ideas of what life ‘should’ be like. As Caroline Myss suggests
“Just let go. Let go of how you thought your life should be, and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into your consciousness.”
Your current life might not fit
If you are among the brave and courageous who decide to continue your journey – welcome and read on. Hate to break it to you, but the more you invest in yourself and your journey, the less your current life and its constructs might fit.
Caroline Myss talks about breaking away from tribal knowledge and beliefs. For your current life, the tribal beliefs are formed collectively by your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, neighbor’s cat. You might catch yourself not fully grasping at the life motivations of those closest to you and this feeling can sometimes be alienating. Know that you are not alone in this feeling and that it is okay to shed old skins and relationships – essential by-product of growth.
You do not have the right words to express yet
The journey to spiritual awakening and growth is very intuitive and personal. Even while reading texts or talking to people, you might feel you are able to intuitively grasp at the meaning of concepts. With an increased understanding and affinity for these concepts arises the need to share and discuss with those closest to you.
However, attempts at regurgitating the information back to friends and family can easily make you sound like an unprepared baboon. You know it….you do….you might not be an expert….but words are not always handy tools in expressing such experiential concepts. With a strong intention, you will attract people in life who are able to speak and communicate in your language because they are on a similar journey.
You will want to say NO and often
With an openness to new life comes the closing of the old life patterns. The closer you move to your authentic self, the faster you will realize the clutter that was your life. The desire for minimalism, not only in physical objects, but mental patterns, friendships, social activities is natural.
If you decide to stay committed to the journey, you will find yourself saying no to many activities that usually filled your time. You might also catch yourself saying a reluctant yes or feigning excitement for activities organized by loved ones, who still only see the old you. No this does not make you a liar, it makes you a hopelessly sensitive and kind person.
Old habits will be unfulfilling but luring
Not all is forward motion in the journey of transformation. Old habits have been entrenched in your DNA for years and years – maybe even generations. Each habit is associated with a trigger and even with commitment of steel, you can find the trigger leading you into your old habit.
Sometimes you will find yourself 2 steps forward and 1 step backward. Just know that it is okay and be kind to yourself. The biggest tenet of this journey is to not expect the land of utopia at the end, but to enjoy the journey itself.