Even as a child I was a worrier, a stress-head, and an over-thinker. In fact, I’ve been trying to fix myself for as long as I can remember. But that’s nothing new – lots of us are used to treating ourselves like a project.
When I found spirituality and personal growth about five years ago, it did help me to let go of a lot of stress. But it also added a new dimension to this quest for ‘perfection’. Now, I didn’t just have my body and my mind to contend with, but my soul, my life purpose, my enlightenment, and my past lives! My new journey brought on a mix of amazement, joy, letting go, fear…and total overwhelm.
Although I benefited so much from the new ways of perceiving the world I was learning about, it also felt like a LOT of work. I read a library’s worth of books, did all the online conferences, listened to podcasts constantly, journaled, learned healing techniques, spent a ton of money on energy healing sessions, dug into my sub-conscious, meditated. All the while wondering: “when do I start feeling better?”
And the underlying feeling all along? That the reason I had to do all of this work was because there was something wrong with me. If only I could just figure out what that was and fix it, then I could relax and be happy.
A turning point came last fall, when I participated in a 10-day Vipassana – a silent retreat in which you meditate for 10+ hours per day. It was hard, and painful, and uncomfortable, and I again kept wondering: “do I really need to put myself through this is order to find peace and happiness?” Something wasn’t adding up.
During one particular meditation, we were instructed to not move for an hour. I have minor scoliosis, and my back was already really sore by this point. As I sat there, trying not too move, the pain swiftly escalated, but I kept telling myself that if I could just get through that one hour, I’d be “rewarded” – my subconscious crap or whatever would be released, and I would be free. But finally the pain became unbearable, and I involuntarily curled over my legs, tears pouring down my face.
It was after this I realized it was time to stop treating myself like a problem, and start simply enjoying my life.
As much as these kind of realizations are amazing, they are often only the beginning of anything like lasting change, and in the following months I vacillated between obsessively trying to fix myself and relaxing into myself exactly as I am.
As an occasional practitioner of Kundalini yoga, I came across the White Tantric, which is a day-long event filled with kriyas and meditations designed to clear the subconscious mind of blocks. It’s often said that one day of White Tantric is equal to seven years of daily practice.
Obviously (you know me by now, right?) my radar went off when I heard this. Just one day to peace and harmony? Sounds amazing. As much as I knew the day itself would be challenging, both mentally and physically, it seemed so worth the pay-off that was being promised.
I found the city in which the next event was being held and booked my ticket, getting more and more excited. All I could think was how good I would feel afterwards, and how much “baggage” I would undoubtedly relieve myself of.
Then about a month before the event, I found myself talking to my Mom about my Vipassana experience. I told her I didn’t think I’d ever do it again, because I wanted to just enjoy life, not sit in silence in the hopes of fixing something I was no longer sure was even broken.
It only hit me then that I was doing the exact same thing with the White Tantric.
On the surface, I was excited. But my underlying feeling about the event was: “I know it’ll be hard, but just get through it so you can feel better.”
Having been well-coached in ego-talk by now, my immediate response to this was: “oh this is just resistance. It’s just my ego – which means I definitely need to do it.” But then another, much more loving, voice came through. “This can end now,” it said. “You don’t ever need to make yourself do something you don’t want to.” I felt like I was standing at a crossroads.
Then and there, I cancelled my ticket and booked a one-week trip to NYC instead. Why? Not because I thought it would advance my soul or my spiritual practice, but because I’d always wanted to go, and just the thought of it made me happy!
These days, I’m done playing spiritual mind games with myself and convincing myself that doing what scares me is more important than doing what feels fun and freeing.
I’m tired of treating my life like an uphill battle in the name of spiritual advancement and playing what had begun to feel like a constant scavenger hunt, searching for what was “wrong.”
I was operating under the assumption that if I could just fix myself and all my problems, then I’d be happy and free. But what my quest actually taught me, is that’s not how it works. That it’s by focusing on the good and having fun right now that I can find and experience true joy.
I don’t say this to bash the White Tantric, the Vipassana, or any type of spiritual practice. I’m actually pretty sure I will do a White Tantric at some point. It doesn’t really matter to me what I do, so much as why I do it. When and if the idea of the White Tantric truly excites me, I won’t hesitate to book my ticket.
Do more of what makes you happy – it’s cliché for a reason. We’re here on Earth to enjoy ourselves, to love, and revel in our physical experience. I used to think I was here to evolve my soul and heal past karma and blocks, but I just don’t feel that way anymore. Enjoying myself and my life feels like the most spiritual thing I’ve ever done.
Kate Horodyski is an EFT practitioner, spiritual coach and blogger. Read more from her at MySpiritualRoadtrip.com