I'm starting to strip away some of the language so often associated with the spiritual path-walk. Much of what I see and hear and read about spirit is often mixed up with language that can sound both confusing and elitist; if you don't get the language, you might not get the principles, thus this might not be for you.
That's how I felt for years. Sometimes I still do.
Which is why I've decided to do something about it.
I'm starting to engage with the idea of Everyday Transcendence, which means this:
Many of us are having spiritual, holy moments all the time. They're all around us. They are us. It's the way we notice the sunlight on the river. Or how the smell of our spouse shifts time for one swift moment while we're hovering over the stove. It's putting the phone away to kiss a knee or pulling the phone out to take an everlasting image. It's listening to the rocks settle after a wave comes in or giving an all-the-way smile to the old woman happily dining alone at your favorite restaurant.
We often forget to honor these moments because they don't look how we think they're supposed to -- they don't look spiritual enough.
That time you cried while looking at your kid for no reason other than "holy shit that's my kid and I've never seen anything more profoundly perfect." The day you were talking about that passion project you thought was a little bit out there and the person you were talking to flipped out about its awesomeness and your throat tightened and your eyes stung because "whoa, this person sees me and I think I might really be onto something." The first time I listened to "I Will Wait" and kept hitting the back button and kept turning the volume up and kept covering my goose bumps with more holy goose bumps and then started weeping because There is nothing more than this song and this feeling right now? That's what I'm fucking talking about. That's Everyday Transcendence.
These are holy moments. It's time we started honoring them.
1). Our bodies hold our emotions. Example: last October, I realized some things about someone I love. They were really, really hard things. They'd finally been unmasked, and I was feeling the feelings of the real for the first time in my life. Like, really feeling. Not I'm-so-mad-and-hurt-and-I'M-SO-MAD. Not like that. More like, "Oh my God, help me...no, this can't be," and then sobs that soared and wails that trailed their way into my phone and out into my friend's ear, my sweet and dear friend who was helping me survive the moment. The feelings I felt took my breath away and replaced them with gasps for a solid hour. I couldn't believe I'd ever recover.
I thought I did, but a week later I was in the emergency room with pain in my ears, pain I'd never, ever experienced. Both ears, me writhing and nearly catatonic, in undeniable agony, begging the doctors to come and help me. I was finally diagnosed with a double inner ear infection, "strange for an adult," that resulted a week later in a mild case of Bell's Palsy and another trip to the ER. I realized immediately that the emotional pain I'd experienced the week before had needed more space to escape, and had chosen my ears as its route. For days I was in bed, unable to fully hear, largely alone with my thoughts and those dark, lingering feelings. I felt them. Sparks of knowing began to ignite.
We need release.
The body knows.
2). We can not get transcendent by thinking thinking thinking. This is not a cognitive process. It's a feeling process and the only way up is through; we need to go fully through the feeling process to get to the good stuff on the other side. This is where much of the modern spiritual culture starts to rub me in a way that feels slightly less delicious than I'd like; there's talk of embracing this and sending your energy toward that -- the language is golden -- without real and in-depth acknowledgement of the realities of our current -- and sometimes gray -- emotional landscape. Thus, we tend to read the inspired memes (and I'm a full on sucker for inspired memes, just look at my Facebook feed if you don't believe me) or books or essays and think, "Okay. I just need to think about focusing my energy. Think positively. Believe in good things." And yes, we do need to do those things. But we can't start there.
3). We must start with truth. And our truths are often, initially, less-than-golden. But the only way to achieve the inner landscape we want is to get really fucking real. Telling ourselves that we're just fine when we're decidedly and obviously not is a dead end road toward spiritual fulfillment. The only way to get on the path toward connected living -- which I'll define here as living that connects our mind, body, and spirit -- is to look at the shit, cry about how gross it is for as long as you need to cry about it, and then be still. Feel your body. Listen to what it's saying. Really listen. Is there action you need to take? Do you maybe need a nap after all those tears? Maybe the shitiness really feels over and you're ready to welcome the golden. Or maybe it feels like it's all just beginning. You will know what to do next when you listen. You will.
Intuitive knowing will reveal itself once we've gotten all the way down to the real, deep, gritty truth. It's a spiritual guarantee.
I used to think that I needed to have it all figured out to be allowed to talk about these things. I used to think that I needed a "way," a curriculum, a system I could fall back on as The Thing That Made Me Legitimate. I used to think that I needed to hide the process, that I needed to make this stuff look just so easy and natural if I was to be trusted. But the getting from here to there -- sharing the routes with the most majestic scenery and the best pit stops -- is something that's genuinely lacking on our current spiritual map.
And that's the void I'm here to fill.
There is no one way to get transcendent -- there are so, so many ways. The way I experience spirit now looks different than it will when my kids are in high school. I'm at the very beginning and have so much to learn about the roots of my ways of being, my inner shadow, and the tools that help me achieve sustainable moments of spiritual opening. And I'm starting by beginning to notice, embrace, and shout about my moments of Everyday Transcendence.
I want to go somewhere together. I don't know where we'll end up, but I promise you this: it'll be raucous. It'll be true. It'll be clear and murky and shaky and sure.
I promise you: it'll be beautiful.