There comes a time when those of us on a spiritual path have, to be honest about the nature of our commitment to this path.
A couple of years ago I was at a conference and the phrase spiritual entertainment came up in reference to the many ways that we distract ourselves with spiritual books, conferences, podcasts, movies, crystals, cards etc.
As a spiritual entertainment junkie, I’ve had countless stimulating conversations with other spiritual junkies who are very well read and informed about spirituality and yet feel stuck in their lives.
What this really comes down to is being able to talk the spiritual talk, but not walk the spiritual walk.
We may be walking spiritual dictionaries but the lessons aren’t sinking in and we’re not shifting our lives and consciousness.
I was reading the book Soul Shifts by Dr. Barbara De’Angelis, where she described how this transformation is analogous to baking a cake.
She explained how we might have collected all the ingredients to make a cake but having the ingredients doesn’t make the cake. “It takes the heat, in this case, the kind of inner spiritual heat that illuminates and melts away our emotional debris, and then forges all of our enlightened ingredients into a new, permanent form”.
How do we create this new permanent form?
I decided to experiment with a recent experience that I had. It gave me an opportunity to use my spiritual ingredients in a way that created the perfect cake; which in this case was growth and the ability to climb out from under a rock.
I found myself in a situation that I felt I was being bullied, demeaned and shamed because of a decision that I needed to make to be true to myself. As I was reading the email response to my decision, I had a huge emotional reaction; my heart was racing, I felt flushed, I couldn’t think clearly and all I wanted to do was hide under a rock.
Wow, did that email knock the wind out of my sails? It was one of those moments that Brené Brown describes in her book Rising Strong, that you’re face down in the arena.
How was I going to respond to this?
In the past, I didn’t have the “ingredients” to skillfully respond to these situations. So, I would distract myself from the discomfort by going shopping, stress eating, having a glass or two of wine and keeping myself so busy that I wouldn’t have to face the issue and the underlying feelings. This would inevitably result in headaches, anxiety, and feeling like a victim because of all those “bad” people out there.
This time, I knew I had the ingredients and was meant to use the spiritual tools in a way that helped me to make the cake and ultimately a transformation within myself.
So what were the ingredients? A large scoop of self-compassion to comfort myself, a huge helping of mindfulness to accept my feelings without judgment, a dose of venting with trusted friends, a sprinkle of journaling to get stuff out of my head and onto paper, a dash or two of prayer; asking for insights and wisdom and an unlimited amount of radical forgiveness for both myself and the other person.
I took all the ingredients, mixed them together with a spoon and then added the heat to create my cake.
The heat in this scenario that enabled me to melt away the debris was the deep emotional response that I had. The transformation I experienced was huge and that was because there was a lot of heat.
It was the perfect, albeit painful and uncomfortable experience that enabled me to fully know what it felt like to not just use spiritual entertainment as another distraction in my life. I was able to apply it in my life in a way that made a huge difference and transformation in me.
I used my spiritual tools to help me heal a part of me that needed to heal.
I was able to allow myself to feel what I felt, stay open to the discomfort and then grow from the experience.
I was able to let go of patterns I learned in childhood; being a people pleaser who feels guilty for having needs and who avoids conflict at all costs. I was able to accept responsibility and feel gratitude for the gift this person gave me to heal the little girl in me that wanted to stay under the rock.
I was able to experience fully what radical forgiveness means as I came to know that nothing wrong happened and that I wasn’t a victim.
This is the same process that the clients that I mentor need to experience. When they reach out to me it’s usually because they are feeling the emotional heat and yet don’t have the ingredients or know how to bake the cake that they want.
If you have the ingredients, the heat and the willingness to do the work you will end up with a delicious, rich and deeply fulfilling cake.