Monday, November 6, 2017

The uniqueness of inner work for each person

In order to engage certain therapeutic and meditative practices, a certain degree of ego strength seems to be required, otherwise the practice can unconsciously be used in service of a more dissociative function. Where it may seem we are dissolving everything into open awareness, we must carefully discern whether we are actually engaging in splitting and repression.

We must use a lot of discernment and be careful not to confuse development of the self with “being lost in the ego” and all of the attending shame and attack that comes through that confusion. Doing so can generate a tremendous amount of additional suffering and struggle, as we become lost in disembodied spiritual jargon and half-baked ideas that developmental needs, emotional maturity, and the reality of relational trauma are “all in the mind,” “only a function of the ego” and all the rest of it.

Ironically, especially with methodologies that emphasize “no-self” or ego transcendence, it is easy to believe we are engaging these practices consciously while behind the scenes they are being used to unconsciously sidestep important developmental deficiencies and longings.

There seems to be a one-sized-fits-all mentality in the contemporary spiritual and self-help scene, but inner work is unique to the individual and may not always conform to collective norms. If a certain teaching or practice is not working for you, before you are led to conclude it is because you do not have enough “faith,” “discipline,” or “commitment,” or you are “stuck in a low vibration” or should be able to “just get over it,” you could pause in an act of kindness to consider deeply whether this practice or teacher or teaching is truly in service of your unique situation. Perhaps you are not “lost in your ego” but in touch with your heart, with your body, and with your innate intuition. Just perhaps.

In my experience, forcing a methodology or practice upon someone because we think it is the “best” or “most spiritual” one (and then subtly or not so subtly shaming them when they cannot “follow” it) - when they do not possess the actual developmental capacity (or individual resonance) to engage that practice - is tremendously unkind, needlessly aggressive, and even violent in certain situations.

It is one thing to honor the other’s innate higher capacities in our relationship with them - and to never forget the brilliance of their true nature - especially in the face of profound suffering. But it is another to force this realization upon a person in a way that does not in fact honor their inner intelligence, relative functioning, and current situation.

Let us truly love the others that we speak with and counsel, and push them a bit, if this is our agreement with them, but always remain aware of the tendency to send them spiraling outside their window of tolerance, into overwhelm, re-traumatization, and dissociation as a result of our own unresolved relationship with these energies.

My new book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is now available 

My next event will be a five-day retreat, The Place the Light Enters, with Jeff Foster, April 4-9 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO.