When I first began dabbling in spirituality, little did I know I was converging onto what would become a lifelong inner journey.
Actually, I thought: “This will be fun to do for a while; then I’ll be enlightened and life will be magical. All. The. Time!”
Convinced that, like attending college, I’d read a bunch of higher consciousness books, memorize the information, get The Answers to all my Big Life Questions, then go out in the world sprinkling enlightening juju dust wherever I roamed.
Had I known I’d be spiritual journeying most of my adult life, I wouldn’t have believed it. Undoubtedly, I’d have run for the hills. Or the mall, as the case may be.
It took years of stumbling to figure what it meant to be on a spiritual journey, seeking that elusive thing mystics refer to as "enlightenment" (a word that seriously needs to be changed!)
First, I began noticing the journey went in cycles.
There’s the initial “Oh Wow, I Got It” realization high that can last a few days, weeks or months. Remembering how that felt would become a dangling carrot, compelling me to stay when the going got more challenging. Which it invariably did.
That led me into what often followed closely behind: The unavoidable crash. “Oh Crap, Life Sucks Again.” As any addict will attest, the search to reproduce that original high becomes their endless pursuit.
Granted, there might be many more “Peak Experience Moments” along the way, but mostly, inner journeys are like trudging a perpetual mountainous trail: Curves, ups, downs and often no idea where any of this will end up cause, apparently, there's no end! Or not one you can see.
If I’ve learned nothing else on this long strange trip it’s this: No stage is permanent.
Picture an EKG graph bleeping random levels of ups and downs displaying heart beat rhythms. The only difference is, the spiritual journey chart is on a constant upward tilt with the downs getting less dramatic at each drop.
Here are some other common traps I’ve encountered wandering blindly on this uncharted path. (It’s me yelling down from a few curves up the mountain):
1. Instant Enlightenment: In a culture craving immediate gratification, drive through food and quick fixes, we demand instantaneous spiritual transformation. We attend a weekend seminar, read a few personal growth books and say affirmations religiously. Yet inner development is anything but overnight. Any work we do generates pokes and tugs, but to be fully awakened takes time and willing dedication.
2. Faking it Doesn’t Make it: Talking, dressing and acting as we think a spiritual person would does not a genuine article make. The good news is, life is our BFF kicking us in the butt, presenting perfectly timed challenges that help us toward authenticity. If we get the message.
3. Attention Intention: Often in the beginning, the desire to evolve comes from a mixed bag of pure and impure motives. Maybe we think being spiritual is cool; perhaps we crave belonging, attention, approval. Perhaps we're trying to fill a void (or to avoid). Lately, many jump on the spiritual bandwagon from the promise of all their desires manifesting. Even just wanting to feel blissfully at one with the Universe, if selfishly motivated, will backfire if from an impure motive.
4. Craving the “Woo Woo”: Exploring the realm of the unseen often brings astonishing experiences. Astral traveling, visitations from spirits or walking on water-- these paranormal events can be “E-Tickets.” However, needing the thrill of such occurrences can cause them to stop. Or keeps us stuck in spiritual Dizzy-land when we should be quietly practicing unconditional love.
5. Spiritual Superiority: Believing that “My way (or my group’s way) is more evolved and the only way,” closes our minds to learning other concepts or becoming resistant to constructive feedback. This Holier Than Thou attitude can stunt growth, simultaneously causing longtime friends to go by the wayside. There are important distinctions between recognizing that we found our right path (or teacher), versus having found The One.
6. Mass-Produced Teachings: Since there’s no diploma given for Spiritual Teacher, the last several years have seen so-called masters multiply like rabbits. Information once available to only a chosen few, from years of deep study, meditation and personal experience can now be found in most decent spiritual books. Mystical traditions have become cute phrases on T-shirts; teachers claim wisdom by clocking hours watching Oprah. Don a white robe, stop shaving and poof, you’re ready to edify the world. Even if the information delivered is valuable, many represent themselves as issue-free gurus. Until life exposes the person who’s behind the curtain.
7. Letting Go: The stereotypic notion that being spiritual means letting go of possessions is a common fallacy. Ultimately, we all need to address our attachment to physical form -- to know that a car is just a way to go places, a bank account is just a number, and the biggest one: A body is not who we are. However, we can let go of attachments without selling that car, giving away our money or ignoring our bodytemple. It’s just about our attitude.
8. Rules Schmules: Nearly every spiritual discipline promotes that life is about karma, contracts and lessons. Why? Maybe because humans need to believe that suffering has a purpose and things that happen can be explained. Even though there’s lots of truth to those notions, we can rise above being the slave of our lower consciousness and limited thinking. Really, life is about playfully having experiences, creating adventures through form and remembering how powerful we truly are. All the rest are stories saying we can’t. True spirituality is feeling free, being love, and laughing at the Cosmic Joke of it all.
9. WOOHOO, Spirituality is Fun: Many spiritual disciplines claim that, once we’re in touch with who we really are, step onto our purposeful path, and live from truth, we’re guaranteed constant, glazed-eyed joy. Actually, it can be plenty painful to uproot those deeply held, false beliefs, clean up our past and see others as reflections of denied parts of ourselves. Turning on the light always exposes darkness and it’s generally not blissful discovering what’s lurking.
10. Inner Work is Boring: Being spiritual brings archetype images of orange-robed people sitting on a mountain top, meditating in full lotus position, chanting ommmm while espousing wisdom to those huddled at their feet. Attaining a Higher Level may have us wondering: Will there be fun anymore, or will we be above that silly human need? Guess what: There’s nothing more exciting than the self-discovery journey! Old notions of fun may not fit anymore, yet simple pleasures may shift into profound joy. It’s called Inner Peace, with no need for that mountain top!
11. Made It: A spiritual journey doesn’t have goal posts, measures of progress or karma report cards at graduation. In fact, it could be a life(s)long journey, new doors constantly opening, especially when we think there’s nothing more to possibly learn. Our friend, the Universe, has been known to slap us down when we think we’ve reached some self-defined finish line. Why? To coerce the next leg of our journey. Each proudly claimed “I got it!” may instigate a curveball, awakening us to deeper denial, or surprising us with things we ran from in our past.
Humans are multifaceted, so needless to say, there are lots of other traps encountered along our evolutionary path. But remember: Obstacles can trip us to fall flat on our face and wallow, or allow us to stumble into mature, wise, authentic, more loving beings. Our choice.
Royce Morales is the Founder of Perfect Life Awakening, and the developer of Spiritual Cognition Integration. Her breakthrough, transformational self-discovery work is designed to help people reconnect with who they really are, live meaningful, empowered, deserving lives, doing what they are meant to do. PLA offers practical inner tools to discover answers, access intuition and navigate life Purposefully.
Royce is available for private spiritual work via skype or phone, e-courses as well as group classes. She is the author of three books: “Want: True love, past lives and other complications”; “Know: A spiritual wake-up call,” and "Back: Rebirth After Stroke" all available on www.amazon.com
To experience a free introductory e-class, click here https://draftsend.com/roycemorales/week-1-pla-powerpoint/embed/