I fell hard and fast into the world of spiritual development. At the time, I didn’t even know what happened. I didn’t know where I was going.
I just knew I was lost.
I was wandering around a barren wasteland.
I hit rock bottom with all the spiritual track marks to prove it.
If I was going to find my way out of the vast emptiness of space, if I was going to become the person I wanted to be — the person I was meant to be — I had to embrace the emptiness.
It was early 2018, and I found myself sitting on the beach in Del Ray Beach, Florida, staring out at the perfect turquoise water.
I felt peaceful.
For the first time in years the screams from deep inside my soul were on mute.
The anguish, the turmoil, the chaos, had been silenced.
And in those moments of quietude I realised two important truths:
- I wanted to feel like that every minute of every day.
- If I continued as I was, I would end up losing my husband.
I understand as I say this that it sounds like keeping my husband was my lone motivation for going on this quest; it wasn’t. I knew then like I know now that if we are meant to be together forever, we will be.
But our separation was the catalyst.
I was standing on a precipice.
I could go back the way I came. I could turn back towards a life of anguish, or I could take a plunge towards the unknown.
I had no idea what was going to happen; no idea where I was going to go. I had no idea at all who I was going to be on the other side.
I still don’t.
I am a work in progress, just like you.
I feel like in that moment, when I chose to plunge, I jumped from one reality to another. I feel like I made a quantum leap.
My recreational physicist husband is rolling his eyes at me right now, but that’s what it feels like.
It feels like I chose a new reality.
A reality where I had no option but to get my spiritual house in order because the bell had been rung; because I couldn’t undo what I started.
There would be no going back.
It has been three years since I took the plunge; since I jumped head first into the rabbit hole. But this has been years in the making.
I have been tiptoeing around the top of the rabbit hole for decades.
I was raised in a multi-religious household. My Mom is a Quaker. My father is Catholic, and his best friends are a Jew and a Muslim. I have been exposed to many different world views and philosophies since I was very small.
I remember one time, sitting on my Dad’s lap, I told him I didn’t know if I believed in God. I don’t know exactly how old I was, but I was young enough to still sit on Dad’s lap. I asked Dad what it’s called when you don’t know, and he told me “agnostic.”
When I was 12 my Mom gave me a copy of “The World’s Religions” by Huston Smith, and I began exploring even more.
When I was a teenager my Mom was the director of a spiritual retreat center. It was there I learned about the enneagram, energy working, grounding into nature, and embracing the in between.
I used to hang out at Collected Works in Santa Fe (and later East West Bookstore in Mountain View), and soak up all the wisdom I could find in these fantastic books.
After moving to California, I used to attend the local Buddhist center.
I will never forget my first group meditation there.
We sat cross-legged on wooden benches in a large room facing an alter with candles and a large statue of the Buddha.
Your body temperature drops when you meditate, so we were all draped with orange meditation shawls. The monk encouraged us to close our eyes and go within.
I did, even though I was convinced that I would hate the experience and never go near meditation again.
How could I — the goddess of the monkey mind — possibly stay quiet, still, and calm, for an entire hour?
A few moments after I began meditating, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. The monk was going around the room bringing us out of our trance.
To my surprise, an entire hour had passed.
Later, at the communal meal, the monk came over to me, and asked me how long I had been meditating.
I told him it was my first time.
He said he never met anybody who could become so still so quickly, let alone a first time practitioner. He encouraged me to take classes deepen my spiritual practice.
I did, but all the shiny distractions that come with modern living took over, and I fell away from the path.
I came back to the path once I began a yoga practice, but then I fell away from the path once more.
In times of chaos and turmoil, it is our natural inclination to sacrifice our commitment to spiritual development, but it’s our spiritual practice that grounds us and calms the chaos.
And I’ve been reminded of that over and over again throughout the years.
My particular flavour of a spiritual practice is a blend of teachings and ancient wisdom I have been studying throughout my life including Buddhism, Hinduism, Greek philosophy, Libertarianism, and Qigong.
I value peace, enlightenment, equanimity, freedom, breath, and energy.
And this practice, these values, have changed me. I have woken up.
I am more balanced internally. My anxiety has abated (not entirely, but it’s a dramatic improvement over what it used to be). My mind is calmer. And I, generally, am happier than I used to be.
My practice, my unique flavour of spirituality and wisdom, may not resonate with you. And that’s ok. Take from it what serves you, and leave the rest.
If even just a sentence or two help flip a light switch for you, I feel like I’ve done my job as a conduit.