Our human experience shows us the demands and difficulties of life are real on the level of day-to-day experience and most (though not all) require some form of response (action) on our part. We all know the solution to relieving this pressure will be found in our more high-minded or “spiritual” nature, above all dealing with our personal psychological and emotional responses to what is happening around us, and (usually, luckily) this is also where we find the greatest impulse and power to transform what isn’t working.
It’s not that spiritual responses should be a replacement for action; on the contrary, our spiritual response (ideally!) infuses action with wisdom and integrity. So our spiritual practice continues in parallel to the day-to-day work and activity that is necessary for things to advance in the best direction possible in our lives.
Better questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned~ Richard Feynman
The anima (in the original Latin sense of soul or breath, not Jung’s notion of female energy) represents precisely this: as life flows through us and guides us, it animates our every choice and movement. Call it the consciousness of Krishna, Christ, Buddha, the Tao… it’s all the same. It is not a separate aspect of ourselves as we too often see it. It is our very causality!
“I know all this,” I hear you say below your breath. And of course we know these things. Yet still we suffer.
And you know what’s coming next, don’t you? We suffer because we don’t integrate our deepest spiritual understanding of life with our daily grind. It’s all very well to merge with the universe from the safety of your cushion, but where is that idea when something challenges your comfort zone? When the toast lands on the buttered side?
Very often our response to discomfort is to escape in one way or another. We are running from our own fears and anxieties, but we’re taking our unreconstructed selves – the very source of that fear and anxiety – along with us. We are our own unwelcome guest!
As long as we are not seeing our own pain and worry, we are inflicting it upon others to some degree.
Fear and anxiety not only make us retreat from one another – and sometimes life itself – they also paralyse and make us feel powerless. Paradoxically, people who feel disconnected and disempowered will lash out either verbally or physically. This is all the more reason to remain consciously connected to each other and to our most profound source of strength, the flow of life itself.
In the moment of action we are all doing the best we can, always. Regardless of the behaviour, in the moment we unconsciously hope that what we are about to do is going to satisfy a need, stop the pain, somehow make us feel better. Violent people genuinely think that violence will relieve their anger and make their own pain go away. Regardless of the addiction, the addict clings to the hope that this next hit – of wine, cigarettes, drugs, clothes, sex, games – will fill the void of disconnection.
It’s only later that we see the unsatisfactory and even harmful results of our unconscious behaviour. Stopping to breathe and consider this (vicious) cycle allows for a more constructive response to conflict and adversity. The acting out is the clue: more compassion is needed to understand and heal the pain. Understanding brings connection, and allows us to see the insanity of forgetting our interconnection with all of life.
This is the homework, for the rest of our lives.
With much love and light,
If you or someone you know would like to feel supported through change or are looking to feel more at peace with life, schedule an appointment with me or go to the Consultations tab above to learn more about what I do.