The Cook Awakening

The Fruit of Practice

September 12, 2017
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

A powerful, ongoing process was taken to a deeper level when I went on my annual retreat last September with my teacher, Adyashanti. This has been important for my personal and professional development, which is why I haven’t been posting very often. These inner movements need to be honored.

Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, statue by Janet Lee Seaforth, photo by Michael Floyd

Spiritual practice is not always easy. There’s often a honeymoon period that you experience when you begin to truly attend to your spiritual life – whether that’s by taking on a committed meditation or prayer practice, or listening to or reading about particular teachings, drinking them in with strong intention to learn and grow.

Honeymoon is a good term for this time. It’s very much as though you are making a commitment to yourself. You are honoring a relationship, truly – you decide to turn toward yourself in a consistent fashion, with curiosity, compassion, and dedication. As with new relationships there’s a very early time of chaos, a period where all you notice is how active your mind is, it’s difficult to sit still, or all you feel is sleepy – but usually after that initial wave of your nervous system saying, “What the hell are we doing!? This feels totally unfamiliar and I don’t recognize the terrain!” there can be a deeper ease and feeling of connection than you have ever felt before. Spaciousness. Clarity of vision. A feeling of flow in life that feels very different from your everyday experience.

As with every long-term relationship, though, you can expect some bumps along the road if you stick with your practice. Spirituality is about connection with Spirit, Soul, God, the Universe, the All-That-Is, Awareness, Love, Awakening, That – whatever words make sense to you. (Please, choose an expression with the least baggage possible for your psyche.) So, while spirituality is about connecting with something bigger than your limited, human self — that connection happens THROUGH your body-mind system. This is the tool you use to access that larger experience, whatever you want to call It. And, the tool itself, this body-mind system you call “me” is changed by the connection. You are changed by the effort you put into your practice. You are clarified, purified, and polished, by your meditation.

All long-term relationships go through changes, and some parts of that process can painful. You don’t remain in the honeymoon stage forever – unless you abandon every relationship as soon as the going gets rough and find a new partner. There’s not much growth available in that approach to connection, though.

Certain growth work can only be done in relationship with another. And, certain growth work can only be done by firmly establishing a relationship with one’s true self. By making a strong, consistent effort to sit still regularly, or take solitary walks in nature, or take on a practice of focused prayer — which could be an internal practice or a shared practice such as community dance or joining a meditation or prayer group, your send a strong message to your inner self that you are HERE. You are listening. You want to understand.

There is no single path to Awakening, but we cannot find our own way if we choose to remain where we are, status quo. Leading a life without questioning the messages that run through your mind, that you usually learned from the society you live in, will not lead to deeper understanding.

This last year has NOT been a honeymoon for me, but it HAS been one of the richest, most rewarding periods of my life personally and spiritually, perhaps second only to bearing my children and witnessing their development.

I’ve heard this challenging part of spiritual life described as nature abhorring a vacuum. Your spiritual efforts open up space in your psyche, and your psyche says, “Hey, there’s space to move this subconscious material into! Woohoo! Fill the space!”

Usually that subconscious stuff is subconscious for a reason. It’s probably uncomfortable, or perhaps outright painful. You experienced something traumatic, it affected you, but it was too much for you to handle in the moment. So, you protected yourself by allowing it to sink into subterranean realms of the psyche.

The good news is that spiritual practice also helps us find strength to work with this unconscious material skillfully. Your practice, and the deeper connection to That, whatever you call That, IS the strength you need to actually address and heal the wounding you weren’t strong enough to face when it first occurred. Not only is there space for the unconscious pain, there’s also space for the pain to be held in Love, and space for healing to happen.

This last year I’ve learned a humbling number of lessons about holding my wounded heart in love.

Life wounds us all. No one is exempt. Those wounds need and deserve your most tender, awakened attention.

This is healing.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 at 11:54 pm and is filed under Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “The Fruit of Practice”

  1. Kristine Says:

    Durga, I love this and love your writing. 2017 goes down as my most challenging and painful year maybe ever, so I am with you. So glad you got to sit with Adya; I’m even more grateful we got to hang out this year. Love!

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