Happy New Year! When I first sat down to write this blog, I intended to title it “Spirituality Can Go a Long Way” and proceed to list all the pros of starting a spiritual practice. I quickly got stuck as I began to consider the myriad of ways in which one can do this. Proselytizing is not my goal (though if religion helps, then by all means stick with it). I also had to consider the idea of “spiritual bypassing” where the endeavor for bliss is used as just another form of avoidance – something I would rather discourage. What I finally came to realize is that it’s not so much that I want anyone to develop a spiritual practice as I would like for people to consider the possible benefits of connecting with a spiritual sense in their healing process. This could happen during meditation or when talking to your therapist or just when practicing some cognitive therapy on your own.
For some this may sound like a no brainer, but for others not so much. I have to acknowledge that some people have been led down some damaging paths, religion-wise, where a part of recovery entails healing the part of themselves where spirituality seemed to go wrong. But still, if we take spirituality out of the process, then all we are left with is what we “know.” And ultimately it seems that there is so little that we ever actually know for sure. Death and taxes, as they say – right? That’s it. So I think a spiritual connection can still be helpful in a very selfish, self-serving sense – and I mean that in the best possible way.
What I’m talking about, is the concept of being open to the idea that information may come from somewhere other than our minds – the idea of letting answers come to us as opposed to feeling like we have to somehow contrive them. I’d like to explore the benefits of this aspect of letting go, of not knowing, of giving things up to something that may feel greater than yourself. It’s a place where you may feel connected with god or the universe or ____(fill in the blank)____ by going within – looking for answers as they travel through you as means to stay connected to your body. Going within is the key here as I believe it is often the place where the most wisdom resides and also the place where the greatest healing will take place. For me, the creative process itself exists within the spiritual realm. I want you to try this in a way that keeps you grounded and in your Self – body, mind and all, as opposed to something that takes you away from where you are. The spiritual sense comes in when you can suspend what you “know” about a situation – and I’m not trying to say that what you know is either right or wrong, because it’s not that simple – but to suspend this information and create space somewhere within you where you can become curious and open about what else might be there or what else might begin to arise. This approach may not exactly seem natural at first, and definitely doesn’t always make sense – but I can tell you that it’s often the place where the most wisdom resides. It’s a place where you allow answers to present themselves. And still you engage your mind by being discerning – is this information harmful in some way? Is it helpful? How? You engage your body to see what resonates and holds true. And to hold this new information that comes to you, also without making a quick judgement, but to remain curious about it and see how it might play out. This new information too, does not immediately have to be right or wrong, black or white. But maybe it has something valuable to offer, to teach you. And the more you practice this, the more information you gain, the deeper your understanding unfolds. And when you think about it, this is also where you create some flexibility – to try things in ways other than what’s been keeping you stuck. It’s the place where you can see what’s on the other side of your defenses, what it is that a part of you may have been trying to protect for so long. Maybe it’s the place where you can learn about why it is that you’ve been doing what you do and at last you might begin to see an opportunity to create positive change.
Another reason to invite spirituality into your practice is that you can intentionally begin to connect with a sense of compassion, kindness and unconditional love in a way that feels nurturing and supportive. And I really believe this does go a long way. One of my favorite meditations is the Loving Kindness Meditation where you bring to mind an image of someone that offers unconditional love, experience what that feels like in or on your body, and then practice offering that same unconditional love and kindness to yourself and others. If you’d like to check it out, you can listen to my version of this meditation here:
I do think that this type of openness and curiosity and going within can bring some wisdom and relief in ways that you never imaged. In the end, you may even be able to trust that the experiences you’ve been through may have a greater purpose than you currently know.
Loving Kindness Meditation:
May you be Peaceful and Happy
May you be Safe from harm
May you be Healthy and Strong as you can be
May you have Ease and Well Being
Copyright 2019 © Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.
Rachel Braun, ATR-BC Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA
Specializing in anxiety, depression and eating disorders.