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Spirituality- I appreciate YOU and me..

January 18, 2011

WEIGHTY CONUNDRUM AFFECTING MY TIRED BRAIN: Do we use spirituality to justify our emotions, or to simply avoid them?


Spirituality refers to an ultimate or immaterial reality, an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of their being; or the deepest values and meanings by which people live (Wikipedia).

Based on this definition, one could actually argue that an alcoholic’s relationship with a few drinks is part of a spiritual practice. Anything can become a spiritual journey, once we get settled into it and dependant upon the effects it has on body and mind. Am I being spiritual even when I spend a week hiding in the dark in bed, because I’m just allowing myself to feel what I feel?

Clearly, Wikipedia is missing a simple little prologue: a spiritual practice brings calm and feels pretty good.

As is the nature of a consumptive society, we get caught up in self-help and self-discovery and we may actually use spirituality to “avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds and developmental needs.” (Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects us from What Really Matters, Roberst Augusts Masters).  Masters believes that humans do not have much tolerance to face and work through our pain. Thus, it has become common to use spirituality (and the need for control and a strong exterior) as an extreme measure of “bypassing” feelings. People who have an easygoing and calm demeanor may be victim to their own tactics of avoidance and are numb to their own emotions.

So, I get it and I’m sure you do too. Being a human with a beating heart guarantees we will most likely face both ends of this spiritual spectrum, even unknowingly.

And where, oh where, is that perfect middle ground? How can we find a balanced fulfilling spiritual practice – especially when all around us are many who have not realized it’s okay to feel good?

Working through ourselves is a scary, lonely process. Whether or not you have support.

“Yoga systematically teaches a man to search for the divinity within himself with thoroughness and efficiency. He unravels himself from the external body to the self within. He proceeds from the body to the nerves, and from the nerves to the senses. From the senses he enters into the mind, which controls the emotions. From the mind he penetrates into the intellect, which guides reason. From the intellect, his path leads to the will and thence to consciousness (chitta). The last stage is from consciousness to his Self, his very being (Atma).” (Light on Pranayama, Iyengar).


We strip away layers. It’s awful. A state of confusion is totally normal – unsure about whether or not to indulge in our hurting hearts or repress it all.

And once we start to remove the barriers that contain our pain, we cannot turn back. Change builds on its own momentum and it’s impossible to turn back once the process has begun.

Here we now are at “consciousness, the true Self” (or some stage of self-worth and acceptance about our life’s path). It is suddenly less about what I NEED or WHO I AM.  Now spirituality involves the effort of going out into the world and making personal connections with others. We are continuously put to the test by our own emotions and communication skills living and engaging in the world with others.

“The next time you communicate with anyone, you can put aside your own autobiography and genuinely seek to understand… Don’t push; be patient; be respectful. People don’t have to open up verbally before you can empathize. You can empathize all the time with your behaviour. You can be discerning, sensitive, and aware, and you can live outside your autobiography” (Stephen R. Covery).

Well that’s it then. We embrace the entirety of a moment-the whole rush of LIFE that it brings. And we accept the moment’s passing.

When we practice this in the presence of another, stranger or loved one, the yoga comes. Yoga requires patience, forgiveness and a coming back again and again. Call it spirituality, call it self-help, call it meditation, whatever the label, it’s in every single heartbeat. Trust that it’s in yours.

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