I define spiritual development as: the process through which we uncover the answer to the following questions:
- Who am I?
- Whose am I? (Where do I find peace and belonging?)
- What are my gifts and how am I called to use them for the sake of my own fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world?
At the moment of our spiritual awakening, we are given the choice to pursue the path of our spiritual development. Some choose this path. Many do not. For those who choose the path of spiritual development….with self-actualization being the ultimate outcome, they soon discover that the journey of spiritual development is as much about letting go as it is about discovery. In order to become our most authentic selves, we have to let go of that which is not authentically ours. As such, the journey toward self-actualization includes many tiny (and sometimes HUGE) deaths.
I have recently been met with another one of those deaths. In my own journey of self-development and self-discovery, I have grown accustomed to these many deaths, but familiarity doesn’t always make it any more tolerable. In fact, in many ways, knowing that death is upon us is more frightening than death taking us by surprise. The current death (which in truth is just another in a long line of current dyings) I am facing is the end of what I have known as my local professional life. On Tuesday I taught my last local class. While this has not been a financially lucrative endeavor for quite some time, and I knew this death was coming, the reality hit me like a storm. With nothing yet to take its place, I have nothing to look forward to, nothing to plan or plan for, nothing to DO but stare into the empty void of a new life that has not yet been revealed. Two weeks ago I felt like I was staring into the abyss. Having faced the end, I find I am no longer staring, I am in full-on FREE FALL. In a free fall, there is literally NOTHING to hang on to, nothing to cling to and nowhere to find a hand or foot hold. Instead, we are only falling….or floating….or FLYING!
Having done nothing but support spiritual development for the past 25 years, my own and that of others, I know what to do and how to survive a free fall.
There is literally nothing else to do. We cannot fight it. When falling through the abyss we cannot turn around and go back from whence we came. Without a new world in sight, there is nothing to work toward or work for. We cannot MAKE ourselves crawl up through the gaping void to some safe place above us. All we can do is FALL. But, there are ways in which we can support ourselves in the falling:
During the freefall, we grieve.
We mourn the life that we are being asked to leave behind. We deny. We bargain. We become depressed and paralyzed (THANK YOU Netflix for 13 seasons of Supernatural to keep me entertained when I am otherwise immobile). We grow angry. We gnash our teeth. We scream and shout and wail. We weep. We allow our bodies to grieve what has been so that we can be healed and freed of that life and made ready for something new.
During the freefall we pray.
(or whatever your language is for that). For me, it is asking and begging for support, to know that I am not alone. My prayer includes gratitude for all the past life has given me and the support in knowing that a letting go so enormous means something equally huge is coming to take its place. I pray for peace. I pray for hope. I pray for any tiny glimpses that might help me continue on. In addition to prayer, I double up on my daily spiritual practice. I meditate. I read and reflect on scripture. I journal. I chant (or listen to mantra).
During the freefall we sleep.
When a dying occurs, our bodies, minds, and spirits are being rewired. It requires an enormous amount of psychic energy to let go of something that has been (especially when it is somehow related to our identity….which mine is) and to be made ready for the new. Sleep supports the release of what has been and the energetic preparation for what has not yet come to be.
During the freefall we remember.
This is the place for our life review. We reflect on what has been. Any unresolved fears/compulsion/demons from that life make an appearance so that we have one more opportunity to bring them healing and transformation ensuring we are ready to enter into the new life when it comes.
During the freefall we do nothing.
This may be the most difficult part of the freefall. There is literally NOTHING we can do to hasten the departure from what has been and the entry into something new. All we can “do” is BE. And in our culture, being is really hard to do (not to mention all the twisted stares we get from people when we tell them all we “did” today was watch Netflix). Doing, however, during this stage in the freefall produces NOTHING. It simply reminds us of how NOT life-giving our old life had become and how ready we are for something new.
How have you supported yourself during the many dyings that have happened along your path of spiritual development?
Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS provides spiritual direction and counseling for those on their spiritual journey. To schedule a private session with Lauri email email@example.com.
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