In our blossoming Western spiritual movement, it has become very ´´in Vogue´´ to look for the good in every situation. We have been taught that the antidote to suffering is to be almost perpetually positive.
I would like to invite you to drop this exhausting and unrelenting positivity, and explain why incessant and obsessive positive thinking is harming not helping us.
This, and the environment it creates, is counterproductive. It has birthed a spiritual community where we have become nervous to voice dissatisfaction, sadness, depression or fear… for fear, of being judged by our fellow seekers. Too often when expressing any such feeling we will be met with speedy solution and spiritual rhetoric telling us to ´´find the good´´ and ´think positive´. We have invited shame - the feeling that something is wrong with us - in to our healing. And shame is the original wound we are seeking to heal. I cannot tell you how many times a week I sit in a consultation with someone in in tears expressing shame - embarrassment - about what a hard time they are having. I cannot tell you how many times I hear them say ''I know I should be or im trying so hard to be ... more grateful/understanding/positive/forgiving. I'm bringing it on myself /creating it myself...'' or something of the like. I relate. I can do the same. It is all too easy to feel that on the spiritual path, that we ''should'' be able to move through our pain quickly and be back in the bliss in no time! Spiritual shame seems to be epidemic. I for one am over it. It is time for real, raw, spiritual healing. It's time to get muddy. The mud is where the magick happens.
These spiritual tools have emerged in to our western consciousness through law of attraction type teachings, delivering us the awareness that what we think we create. Our hunger for healing seems to have caused us to take this on so fully, that at times we become paralysed by positivity and terrified to permit a full spectrum of feeling.
Now let me qualify that I do not disagree with the law of attraction principles. These are fundamental laws of nature and it is essential that we begin to come to an understanding of what we draw in to our lives through our thoughts, beliefs, feelings and general energy.
However, to ´think positive´ is not really doing this. This is too often an unconscious act, a denial of how and what we really feel, and an attempt to trick ourselves in to feeling better. It is just another method of avoidance, a spiritual bypass; yet another way to ignore and surpress the pain and fear. Oh yes, the ego is cunning. It will come in the back door and over take even our spiritual practice, twisting it to serve itself and meaning that we never really left the prison, the shackles just changed shape.
More so, to attempt to think positive over and above our feeling is to fight 95% of the mind with 5% of the mind. The 95% subconscious or cellular mind (body mind) is infinitely more powerful than the conscious mind. Our emotions and the past experiences that created them are imprinted deeply on our being. The subconscious needs to be cleared, not fought. To heal the feelings we have to feel the feelings, not deny or resist them. The internal script cannot be rewritten with positive thoughts and affirmations until, the old embedded feelings have been recognised, honoured, processed and expressed. As spiritual teacher and neurobiologist Dr Joe Dispeza explains so aptly, ''thoughts are electric, feelings are magnetic. We cannot move in to a new future with the feelings of our past''. It is our old unprocessed (and often entirely unrecognised) emotion that truly attracts and repels, not the superficial thoughts that we think. Of course our thinking can shape us and our reality. But only if and when it becomes a deeply embodied experience. If we want to create a new, we have to clear the old. There's no room for both.
If we bury our fear and feeling, no matter with what method, nothing actually changes, we don’t evolve. Life and our internal condition does not truly transform in to a more restful space and the spiritual life remains no more than an illusion. We are not in a place of self love or self acceptance, but in a space of deep self denial. What we resist persists. Our emotions just bubble and brew below the surface, waiting to erupt at any time – usually sideways in a seemingly unrelated space causing untold damage and further suffering.
So what is the alternative?
To look for the God rather than the good. (I use this word in a spiritual, not religious context, as there are simply few words better to describe the indescribable)
This is a profoundly different approach. Why? Because ´good´ is something that we can only perceive through a filter in accustom with our belief systems. We experience life with limited vision; this is good, this is bad, these things are sad, these things are happy, and so on.
So, to perpetually search for the good in things means trying to force a square peg in to a round hole, and denying ourselves a healthy range of emotion. It is a desperate attempt to force ourselves in to the submission of our new found spiritual principle. Clinging and grasping to positivity is just another attachment; now to the high of the spiritual life. Our spiritual path has become conditional; our unwitting and unconscious trade off being that if we live this way then we should always feel good. This type of happiness is tiring and more akin to a subtle mania. It is not true blissfulness, Ananda, that arises from within when an awakened state is authentically realised. Let´s not pretend that we are enlightened before we are, because this is of course the very thing that will ensure true freedom remains elusive.
Not everything is ´good´. Not everything feels good. Life is tough. We will be served many a hard hand courtesy of the tough love nature of Our Cosmic Mother.
So if instead we can ask, ´´can I see or sense any way in which this situation grows me or offers me opportunity to know myself better?´´ then we can begin to see the God in it, the cosmic flow, the karmic unfolding. Karma is not the universe punishing and rewarding us. Karma is the universe serving us, in each and every moment without exception. Karma is the universe attempting to show us ourselves and journey us home to our own ultimate Truth, the highest experience of who and what we really are. We are meant to grow through life not go through life.
We console ourselves so often with phrases like ´it must be meant´, ´something good will come from it´ or ´every cloud has a silver lining´. All these statements are true, but only if we use the karmic opportunity at hand to unfold our reaction and discover what fears, false beliefs, attachments and limitations are at play. Each moment of struggle, grief, fear, confusion, anger, pain, is an opportunity to be explored, not an obstacle to be overcome.
The personal revelations and freedom that will be born of this thorough self-reflection are the silver lining. The universe only hands us the necessary ingredients, but we have to make the metaphorical cake to taste the sweetness of life. The tough stuff is the sand paper that sculpts us and thins the walls that stand between us and an experience of Spirit, of our own Soul Self… if we let it. The true experience of this is not light and fluffy. Unbecoming is deeply painful. It is like having your skin peeled off. You will feel vulnerable in ways you could not have imagined. And you will also find yourself filled with a light you have not yet known.
So please, let us not confuse the two and plaster life over with pseudo spiritual positivity. Let´s stop pepping ourselves up, brushing of the prickly bits and slapping a smile on our faces. Let´s feel it and feel in. Let´s dive deep in to the shadow, beyond the first or second layers, to find out what is really going on for us. Then and only then, can we truly experience that everything is happening for us, not to us.
That still doesn’t mean that every moment will be met with a spring in our step. Pain in life is inevitable, but pain and suffering are not the same. Pain is part of our beautiful human experience, part of what makes up the whole (holy) adventure. Understand your pain as sacred. No less beautiful than a stormy lightening struck sky. Suffering is the resistance of what is; the non-acceptance of and refusal to feel, that which we deem as negative. The soul has seasons. We must learn to honour them. Stop pushing through pain. Learn to listen to it, to be with it, to breathe with it.
So please, let us not sell ourselves short and wear ourselves down by desperately trying to always be positive. This is a mind centered idea, a pursuit of the ego alone. Let us not allow pride to keep us bound in perpetual positivity for fear of others judging us. We only judge another because we are in fear ourselves. We all hold on to our belief systems with both hands hard, because they make us feel safe, like we are 'getting it right'. But I urge you to let go of yours, not be held hostage by some else´s, and release yourself from the prison of positivity. Only then can we hold ourselves in wholeness, and come to an authentic experience of the good and God in all. The mud is where the magick happens. Get messy.
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