Spirituality, Healing And Growth
Category: February 2018
GROWTH THERE WILL
As you sit and play your magic flute
the mighty forest trees resonate
The creek runs, trickling past your feet,
What is happening?
A seed awaits in the soil;
Now the plant grows onward
A flower emerges;
In the flower's heart
in this rich, warm soil. BE
~ Christine Convery
In the journey from seed to flower, as with our own human journey, there are some radical transitions that present both as challenges and opportunities for growth.
These transitions are essential but can be scary business nonetheless - they require a process of opening up to the unknown, the new and unfamiliar; and letting go of the known, the familiar and the habitual. As I write this article, outside my office window autumn leaves are fluttering down in the breeze ... these trees know how to let go! We can learn a lot from nature. A plants journey is from seed to bud to flower ... the seed may rot, the bud may wither, and the flower may never appear. The human journey is from child to adult to elder, with the flowering being associated with the awakening of our innate spirituality. In a similar way to nature, resisting these transitions can create suffering, and be a causitive factor in illness.
So, what is spirituality? What is the spiritual longing and search all about? What is the relationship between spirituality and healing illness?
In the broadest sense, spirituality is the dawning sense of connectedness with self, others, the natural world, and a higher power. This connectedness brings a sense of belonging, compassion and deeper meaning to life. Spirituality is generally understood to be related to but distinct from religiosity. What awakens this sense of connectedness is the growing from separate consciousness (self-centred isolation) to a state of union with all forms of life itself. This is the most essential step in the growth of a human being ... like it or not, we are relational beings!
Spirituality is recognised as an integral part of the human journey and, as such, it is inter-connected with health and wellbeing. This transition into the spiritual phase of life is a healing step away from isolation, defensiveness, reactivity and a preoccupation with materialistic happiness. In ancient societies, the connection between spirituality and healing was so close that the roles of priest, shaman, elder and healer were one and the same.
As human beings we have physical, psychological and spiritual needs. Our physical needs are for food, clothing and shelter. Our psychological and spiritual needs are for:
The needs for certainty, uncertainty and significance are ego-formative, whereas the needs for connection, growth and contribution are ego-transcendent (or spiritual) needs. Our ego-formative needs are not inferior, wrong and "selfish", rather, they are the bud that opens into the flower of spirituality. Our contemporary societies have specialized in satisfying the physical needs and the ego-formative needs, but have resisted the ego-transcendent needs of our spiritual nature. We have created a preoccupation with materialism and individuality. We have generally prioritized comfort, control and certainty, and resisted the transition to spirituality. Fierce individuality feeds competitiveness, struggle and scarcity consciousness (hoarding). This creates winners and losers, haves and have-nots, successes and failures .... domination and greed. Co-operation, compassion and kindness become scarce commodities! This resistance to growth also manifests as social isolation, depression, anxiety, and a range of addictions and distractions; it also becomes a causitive factor in chronic illness.
So where are our wise elders who have weathered the seasons of life, made the transitions and flowered into their spirituality? We need these wise elders to point the way, and to assure us that it is possible to change, to open up, and to let go. There have always been wise elders (perhaps a little thin on the ground), wisdom teachings and spiritual practices for making the transition from:
But, in an individualistic and materialistic culture, people rarely reach out for spiritual resources unless there is a crisis in life and their usual coping strategies aren't coping.
The tight bud begins to crack open to reveal the flower! Spiritual practices like mindfulness meditation, contemplation and prayer - done well and consistently - help us to make this healing transition. These practices make the space for it, develop the trust in it and enable the letting go, in order to be in-flow with it. With a committment to spiritual practices you begin to develop the inner resources to embrace the transition: courage, resilience, patience, trust, humility, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, insight, inner integrity and joy ... this is the flowering!
When you first glimpse this new way of being you may experience liberation from the confining wall of isolating self-centeredness. You may also begin to feel that whatever you are experiencing at the moment is also felt by millions of other people. Recognizing your commonality with all others will widen your perspective and increase the resources that you have for healing. Of course there is likely to be plenty of resistance to making this spiritual transition: resistance in our conditioned values and priorities, resistance from our lifestyle habits, resistance from our old self-image and resistance from others. But the impetus for the spiritual flowering has always been there: in the seed, in the soil, in the sun, in the rain, and in the tight bud ... all stages playing a role in the journey. It is the natural process of growth, healing and maturation, requiring support and guidance from inner and outer resources. (~ based on an article written by Paul Bedson BA, BCuns, BAcup, President of the Meditation Association of Australia).
INSIGHT MEDITATION - CONTEMPLATION IMMERSION WEEKEND RETREAT
Dates: June 2 to 4, 2017
On this very special retreat, as well as taking time out to deepen our experience of the stillness of meditation, we will practice together simple yet profound methods of contemplation - the direct path to a calm and clear mind that provides the real prospect of major insights.
There will be plenty of time for relaxation as well as activities like bush walking and walking meditation.
Fees cover all accommodation, meals, teachings and practice sessions.
Blessings and be well.