Ah, the journey of a spiritual warrior. Choosing love over fear. Choosing the truth over the illusions. Choosing to reclaim your true nature over spending your whole life “stressed”.
In our pursuit to be who we really are in this life, we spiritual warriors are desperately trying to stay “awake”. “Awake” as in paying attention to what happens in our minds. We try to live our lives with a high awareness of how we’re viewing the world and responding to the world. The effort of warriors can also be called mindfulness or consciousness. Whatever you want to call it, it’s this awakened state that has most likely saved you from flatulating in the middle of a yoga class. Can I get an Amen?
From time to time along our journey, we warriors “fall asleep” and all spiritual thoughts and behaviours go right out the window. We worry. We feel alone. We feel separate. We gossip. We interfere. We grasp. We close our hearts and protect our sense of self. We resist. We take something way too damn seriously.
We are so not in the present moment.
There are those occasions when we warriors notice that we have “fallen asleep” and we judge ourselves harshly. With a heavy sigh, we think to ourselves, “With everything I have read and learned (and all the inspirational quotes I have “liked” and “shared” on Facebook) I should know better by now!” And then comes the story in our minds telling us that we’re going backwards. “I’m such a failure. How could things go so very wrong?”
Maybe you’ve had this kind of moment when you’re meditating. You catch yourself making a grocery list or rehearsing a future conversation you’re going to have with someone rather than focusing on your breath. “Damn it. I did it again. I suck at meditating! Bad meditator! Bad meditator!”
Whether it’s the practice of mindfulness or the practice of meditating, doing the opposite of our intentions can leave us wondering how it could happen, what we have missed, or what we have yet to learn to get out of this space. This feeling of “screwing up” keeps us in constant search for more information. You spiritual drop-out, you.
This idea of being a spiritual drop-out is a fallout of the self-help movement. Contrary to popular opinion (or is that collective belief?), the journey of a spiritual warrior is not about being a better person. It’s actually the exact opposite. Being a spiritual warrior is about being a person who realizes they don’t need to be anything more or different than they are. The spiritual journey is remembering what you once already knew – that you are perfect just the way you are.
How does one endure the journey of the spiritual warrior?
Give up all judgements and give up all hope that you’ll do better next time.
If judging yourself sounds all too familiar, it’s important to remember that this human experience is no easy task. Bless you and your soul’s white cotton socks for coming down here and even giving it a try. Show compassion to yourself for feeling the way you are feeling. Embrace yourself and who you are and where you are at…right now.
As I have learned from my meditation teacher, when we notice that we have drifted away from breath, that isn’t a time to beat up on oneself – it’s merely an opportunity to begin again.
Your highest purpose is to express unconditional love toward everyone - including yourself. Go easy on yourself.
As I have learned from buddhist monk and author, Pema Chödrön, we humans are addicted to hope. Hope that there’s someone better to be and somewhere better to be. Hope isn’t born out of acceptance. Hope leads us to arguing with our reality and therefore, suffering. We don’t have to be better, but we do want to reduce our suffering, yes?
Let us spiritual warriors (and anyone else out there) relax with where and who we are. If we catch ourselves fast asleep, let that just merely be seen as an opportunity to begin again. Nothing more than that.
Ah, that’s much better.
Soldier on, dear warrior. Soldier on…