NAV TIP: As a reminder, the Prep section of the e>v guide takes you through fun exercises on how to rate your current "Level of Aliveness" across seven different Life Areas: Purpose, Spirit, Health, Play, Relationships, Expression, and Stuff. Then, the guide asks questions about what "baggage" you may be holding on to in that area and, of course, what that it all might look like baggage-free. I'll dig into a few of these concepts to give you a glimpse into how it all works. Hopefully you'll find some inspiration to explore on your next adventure! Let's go!
Next Life Area to explore? Spirit. Because ... well ... what the heck is Spirit anyway?
Could be your religion, could be a construct that calms or centers you, could be something that makes you feel connected to a higher power.
For me, on a recent trip to Yogyakarta, Indonesia – specifically to two, incredibly amazing and, in my opinion, very spiritual places, Borobodur and Prambanan – I found that Spirit, to me, is a feeling of being centered in one's self in the midst of a greater whole. Something that connects us all through our similarities and not our differences. A peace within one's self. A simple smile on the street or a shared laugh with a stranger. The feeling of a loved one's hand in yours. Or a human connection with someone you may never, ever see again in your life.
This kind of Spirit, the connectivity of a global, unilateral Spirit, is returning to me again.
Oh: why do I say "returning to me?" Because, yes, Spirit is something from which I've felt a bit disconnected from as of late...
Here's what happened:
The Prep section of the e>v guide asks questions about Spirit like: "Where do you seek insights on life's big questions – about your place in the universe, your relation to a higher being, your connection with everything else?"
For me, I answered: In my life, I've definitely believed in a collective "something" – other than me – guiding the world ... my belief in goodness, the core thought that everything will always work out, a trust in a "bigger plan."
But lately, I realized, I've also been saying things like: I'm too busy to quiet my mind and connect with Spirit. I have too many meetings to make time for my spiritual self. I can't fit Spirit into my schedule with all my deadlines and pressures and stress and, and, and...
Even more, as I journaled I realized that I've also gotten into a habit of attaching a judgment scale to Spirit: I'm either doing "good" or "bad."
Example: If I do yoga ... or meditate ... or look at the world through loving, caring, patient eyes, I'm "good." I'm a spiritual, connected, kind being. On the flip side? If I'm angry or frustrated or lose my temper? I'm "bad" or "selfish" or "out of touch" with my spirituality.
As I dug even deeper, I realized that I also subconsciously (consciously?) expect my daily outcome to match.
Example: If I'm "good," I'll have a good day ... the universe or collective whole or the-Gods-of-Elissa's-Happiness will grant me with blessings and everything will be easy and, if even it's not perfect, every challenge will be a gift, placed before me to guide me on the right path. (Insert birds chirping and a collective "OM" here...)
But, if I'm "bad?" Oof. Well, clearly the universe is against me and nothing goes my way and I'm obviously being punished because I'm not living in line with Spirit – I'm not doing enough, or being calm enough, or centered enough. And then I feel guilty ... and then fear creeps in because none of this is getting easier ... and so on and so on.
This, I realize, is not the mind, soul or practice of a spiritual being. This is the crazy-making-calculation of:
I'm Not Good Enough + I Didn't Do Enough = The Universe is Against Me
Fear + Guilt = Spiritual Superstition
Writing this down, tying this new thought to my reexamination of Spirit is suddenly very eye-opening.
I realize that, growing up in a Midwestern/mostly-Christian society, "fear" and "guilt" are what I've always equated with traditional "religion" – that God (whichever God it may be) judges us. And you better be "good" or else (enter scary devil guy with horns and flames and stuff). This is something I've been aware of and trying to reframe and free myself from.
But, to see that I've also attached this same level of "fear" and "guilt" to the thought of Spirituality too?
This is a place to explore.
Or: What if I look to "Peace and Acceptance" instead of "Fear and Guilt?" What if I put a stop to the endless cycle of judgment? What if I stop categorizing my feelings into columns of good or bad? What if I viewed all of my emotions as a part of my spiritual being? What if I accepted myself – ALL of myself – just as I am?
Even better, I ponder these thoughts as – perfectly in e>v fashion – the call to prayer floats in through my window from the mosque down the hill.
I ponder these thoughts as I hear the sound and take a deep breath and connect myself with the other people who hear that call ... And with the people who hear a different call ... And even with those who don't hear a call at all.
I ponder these thoughts as I connect with all these spiritual beings.
And, most of all, I ponder these thoughts as I connect with my spiritual being – my innate, inherent, intrinsic, instinctive, intuitive, organic, fundamental, deep-rooted, unconscious BEING that's just waiting for me, patiently, inside.
I ponder these thoughts and I finally let go. I allow. I surrender. To whomever or whatever is out there, I feel your love and acceptance, just as I am.
Now, I think it's time for me to do the same within myself.
Sounds like a great plan.