I have a story to share with you. It’s about my addiction. It’s about my addiction to chasing spiritual highs. I chase spiritual highs the way a dog chases a squirrel. Seriously. It’s a thing. Ironically, as I sit down to write this, I am actually in the thick of “it”. And I think you spiritual folks know what I mean, when I say “it”. “It” is the pressure cooker, the spiritual gristmill, the trough, the desert, whatever we choose to call it, we’ve all been in “it” at one time or another. Being in “it” definitely does not feel as rapturous as soaring like an eagle high above the mountaintops, which is where most of us, given the choice, prefer to be.
Before I begin to share my story, the following are brief descriptions of different types of spiritual awakenings, or spiritual highs, that people commonly experience:
- Physical awakenings occur when the meridians, or energy lines of the body, receive a powerful surge of energy from performing physical practices like yoga, martial arts, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, tantric practices, or healing modalities such as acupuncture or Thai Yoga massage.
- Mental awakenings arise from dramatic (or subtle) shifts in perspectives, which can be stimulated by Teachings from a spiritual Master, receiving spontaneous insights about the world or our understanding of reality, or any moment when we choose to disengage from cultural conditioning and connect with what brings us into a state of mindfulness, awareness, and the aliveness of the present moment.
- Emotional or personality awakenings, where we realize that we are not who we thought we were; letting go of past conditioning, or breakthrough moments where we connect with our authenticity, reclaiming previously unintegrated parts of ourselves.
- Expansions in Consciousness allow us to experience our connection with all that is greater than ourselves, whether it be the Cosmos, a Deity, or our own Soul. Our light body systems receive an energetic “upgrade”, which can strike like a lightning bolt or unfold like a flower, and our level of awareness or fundamental presence is permanently transformed.
- A combination of smaller awakenings, or a completely unique profound experience, lead us towards the Ultimate Truth or Ultimate Reality, where we shed or drop away all illusions of separation.
Many years ago, I was a very committed and very, very, proud new yoga practitioner (did I mention that I was proud?). Before I ever had my first flying high spiritual experience, I listened to other people talk about their meditation highs, their spontaneous kundalini rising, or other ecstatic experiences, and couldn’t relate to what they were saying. I felt like I was totally in the dark. Once I attended my first big spiritual event and felt that surge of energy (often referred to as Shakti) that elevated me into a spiritual high, that was it. I was hooked. The focus of my life became solely about developing my spiritual practices and attending workshops, chasing that elusive spiritual high. It was all I thought about, read about, talked about, and dreamed about. I practiced asana (yoga postures), pranayama (yoga breathwork), and meditation about three hours every day. These practices were intense, deeply healing, transformative, and to be honest, my intention was goal-oriented. I was on the fast train to enlightenment, baby! Every morning I would wake up with little thought balloons floating above my head, “Am I enlightened yet?”, “What do I need to do to get enlightened?”, “When is it ever going to happen?!?”
Meanwhile, my subconscious/unconscious patterns were rumbling deep inside, ready to surface like a behemoth. Whenever one of those tender places would get triggered, I would resist it with all my strength, fight it, deny it, or try to push it away entirely. There were times when I couldn’t bear to face myself. “No!”, “That’s not me!”, “Where did THAT come from?”, or, “That must have been my Mother’s!” What I didn’t realize was the opportunity, the profound “juiciness”, that these moments presented. Instead of acknowledging my humanity, I began judging myself and rejecting the unsavory pieces that I felt didn’t belong to me. I became fixated on getting rid of every habit in my psyche, so that I could reach the next spiritual high. This proved to be an unbalanced approach. Over time, I had denied or cut off so much of my personality that I no longer knew myself and had very little stability within my own being. I made some radical decisions, leaving behind my home, my business, and my community. Living in a relatively groundless state wasn’t beautiful, peaceful, or blissful, like I expected it would be. It was scary as hell. Fortunately, I was blessed with many wonderful people in my life who held space with me and supported me during this transitional period.
The real game-changer for me came in the form of a potent Teaching from Brook Still. Brook said that the heart has the ability to transform any energy, and she taught a simple, yet powerful process to heal and create wholeness within. Really? Could it be this easy and guilt-free? Instead of rejecting the pieces that I felt to be unworthy, which ultimately created more duality within myself, I now had the ability to look at them with a raw kind of honesty and embrace them. Accepting the totality of my nature (whether my personality perceived it to be positive or negative) started a process of weaving together the disowned parts of myself, creating unity and wholeness, instead of conflict and separation. As I leaned into acceptance and love, I found it easier to deal with the unpleasant, the unappealing, the disagreeable, or the downright repugnant, whether I encountered these attributes within myself or “out there” in the world. The more I opened up and communed with the things that disturbed me, the more I felt vulnerable, exquisitely fragile, and yet more alive, at the same time. This process allowed me to find my center and discover beautiful qualities that I had kept hidden deep within. I consciously chose to shelf the epic quest for enlightenment and focus my energy on being a more compassionate and loving human being. Maturity and authenticity are my new “goals”. Spiritual practices are a foundational aspect of my life, as a living expression of devotion, instead of a carefully calculated path.
The ripeness of spiritual highs are present and waiting to capture our attention in everyday moments: while cooking for loved ones, listening to music, walking barefoot on the beach, smelling a fragrant flower, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, watching an uplifting movie, the possibilities are endless - a particularly amusing moment was a profound expansion in consciousness that spontaneously occurred while I was standing in the kitchen eating a sweet potato. No kidding! If we tune in and connect with our essential Awareness at the core of our being, we can experience an awakening or a spiritual high at any given moment, even in the midst of our suffering. Some days I find myself sobbing behind the wheel of my parked car and some days I find myself flying high after a really juicy meditation. And the reality is, there is very little distinction between these types of experiences, what has shifted is my perception.
Walk in Beauty,
Are you ready to discover the authentic you? Clearing the Core takes you along the transformative journey of self-discovery to get to the absolute depths of who you are. This class creates the space to finally bring clarity and light, and to shine conscious awareness on the aspects within you that are truly in need of healing. You will be fully supported as Brook gently and skillfully walks you through every level of your own process to reclaim your life, your light, your joy and your natural state of inner peace. These four days of intensive inner work and awakening are an extraordinary invitation for you to make permanent change, allowing for new freedom, awareness and joy to emerge. Join us February 1-4, 2018