This post is actually a repost of an article I wrote for The Numinous a few months ago. I was so happy to have a piece published with them because I absolutely love their site, but I decided the other day that it felt wrong not to have this on my site as well. This piece so accurately describes the first few years of my journey into spirituality and personal growth, and it covers a topic that I talk about a lot, both on my blog and social media accounts.
What this article really says, in a nut shell, is that I spent the first five years of my spiritual “roadtrip” feeling like there was something deeply wrong with me that needed to be fixed. About a year ago, something happened that changed this. If you can relate to this feeling that you need to be “fixed” (as so so many of us can), I hope this article finds you, and I hope it can help you in some way, big or small, to shift towards recognizing that you are right and whole just as you are.
I’ve been trying to fix myself for as long as I can remember. That’s nothing new- most 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 just added a new dimension of ways and reasons to fix myself. 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. Learning about spirituality brought on a total mix of amazement, joy, letting go, fear, and total overwhelm.
Although I benefited so much from the new ways of perceiving the world that 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, and all the while wondered “when is this going to start feeling better?”
Even as a child, I was a worrier, a stresser, and an overthinker. Discovering these new personal growth tools did help in a lot of ways, but it also felt like I constantly had homework to do, and my underlying feeling was that I had to do all of this work because there was something wrong with me, and if I could just figure that out and fix it, then I could relax and be happy.
In the Fall , I participated in a 10 day Vipassana (i.e. a silent retreat in which you meditate for 10+ hours per day). It was hard, and painful, and uncomfortable, and I kept wondering “do we really need to put ourselves through this is order to find peace and happiness?” Something wasn’t adding up.
Around the same time, I’d become really interested in Tantra, which uses pleasure and the physical body as a path to enlightenment. Throughout the silent retreat, I wondered if maybe a path of pleasure and joy made more sense.
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, I was in so much pain, but I kept telling myself that if I could just get through that hour, I’d be “rewarded,” like my sub conscious crap or whatever would be released and I would be free.
Finally, the pain was too bad, and I involuntarily curled over my legs, and tears just started pouring down my face.
I thought, “What the hell am I doing? Putting myself through all of this pain because I think that there’s something so wrong with me that I need to do this in order to be better?”
That was a huge turning point for me, and I realized that it was time to stop treating myself like a problem and start simply enjoying my life.
These kind of realizations are amazing, but they are often the beginning of change rather than an immediate transformation. 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 my radar went off when I heard this. One day to peace and harmony? Sounds amazing. I knew the day would be challenging, both mentally and physically, but it seemed so worth the pay offs that were promised.
I found a city in which the event was being held and booked my ticket and was pretty excited for the event. I thought about how good I would feel after and how much I would probably let go of.
Then one day, about a month before the event, I was 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 myself. All of a sudden I realized that I was doing the same thing with the White Tantric. On the surface, I was excited, but my underlying feeling towards the event was “I know it’ll be hard, but just get through it so you can feel better.”
Being the “spiritually-minded” person that I am, my immediate thought was “oh this is just resistance. It’s just my ego talking, so this means I definitely need to do it.”
But then another, much more loving, thought came to me: “This can end now. You don’t ever need to make yourself do something you don’t want to.” I felt like I was standing at a crossroads.
Right then and there, I cancelled my ticket and booked a one week trip to NYC. 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 so happy.
I’m just 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 this constant scavenger hunt, looking for what’s “wrong.” I was operating under the assumption that if I can just find and fix all of my problems, I’d be happy and free. But that’s not how it works. It’s by focusing on the good and having fun right now that I’m finding true joy.
I don’t say this to bash the White Tantric, Vipassana, or any type of spiritual practice. I like Kundalini Yoga, and I might even do a White Tantric at some point.
It doesn’t really matter to me what I do so much as why I do it. I was going to the event to fix myself, and that wasn’t working for me anymore. When and if the idea of the event truly excites me and feels like a good time, I won’t hesitate to book my ticket.
It’s taken me a long time to let go of what I refer to as “my metaphysical security blanket.” The reading and meditating, and journaling, and energy healing felt endless and exhausting, but I was too scared that I’d never find happiness if I didn’t persevere with it. I’m so grateful to not feel this way anymore. I see myself falling back into these patterns sometimes, but it’s so much easier to let it go than it used to be.
Do what makes you happy. It’s cliché, but 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.
This is the unedited version of the article that was originally published on The Numinous in June, 2015.
p.s. My trip to NYC in May was one of the best weeks of my life. You can read more about that here.
p.p.s. I went back to New York this September, and had an amazing time again. You can watch my videos from my trip beginning here with Week 1.
p.p.p.s. I wrote this post back in April, and it continues to be one of the truest things I’ve ever written. Having fun, being happy, and enjoying life, trumps everything else for me. For my most recent video in which i talk about “Spiritual Perfectionism,” you can click here.
p.p.p.p.s. (last one I promise) You are whole and amazing and worthy of everything. You don’t need to struggle or fix yourself or prove yourself. Enjoy your life, have so much fun, and shine your light.