Who could have imagined it? After what had amounted to decades of spiritual training, teaching, service, rigorous meditation practice, being a vegetarian, running for free one of the largest spirituality ecology, personal growth, alternative healing sites on the Internet, reading well over a thousand books (mostly on spirituality, self-help, and psychology), being trained by some incredible teachers, going through a number of intense mystical experiences (some even lasted non-stop for weeks), and earning a number of spiritual, transpersonal, psychological degrees, I of all people would want to take a break and go on what I called my “spiritual sabbatical.” Why?
Spiritual burn-out! Yes, I am a recovering spiritual addict.
Yep. It was time for me to acknowledge something similar to the title of a person’s book I really admire, Jack Kornfield. The name of the book? After the Ecstasy, The Laundry.
Or, maybe we could put it this way… After the Ecstasy.. I was…
* needing to focus more on finances.
* discovering what it was like to be a mother.
* learning the real nitty gritty lessons of relationships.
* finding out that sometimes “gurls (guru and girl combined) just want to have fun!”
* cleaning up in that washing machine the especially crusty stuff still sticking to me from my childhood.
* deciding at times it was better to sleep and zone out instead of meditate (and easier too!)
* learning as I went “beyond ananda” (like Swami Beyondananda — the comic alter ego of a friend of mine Steve Bhaerman), that sometimes you just have to say no matter how many realizations you have…”Heck if I know!”
* and so many more valuable lessons of being a human being, and not just a spiritual one.
So, why am I sharing this with you? Because there is something really incredible and different having gone through all of this in my new approach to spiritual work. And, it is based on the recognition that there is never really anything that exists outside of spiritual practice. It is all “grist for the mill.” Relaxing into this has brought a softness, humor, and ease into the whole process that too often did not exist in my life before. Plus, it is bringing a peaceful compassionate awareness regarding who I am (ultimately as the I AM, or One with all that is), and who I am (as the flawed but fantastic little speck of consciousness incarnate in a person named Lisa Love).
What then, was my spiritual sabbatical about and why do I feel it is over now? I think it was about taking a break from the intensity of a process and a practice that may at times have made me a bit too much. And, why do I now feel that sabbatical is over? Because as I ease back into a more rigorous practice I do so with a greater lightness in my approach. I don’t take it so seriously any more, though my intentions to practice again at a deeper and fuller level are still in place.
My hope for you then, is to be gentle as well as stern with yourself, and in balancing the two you find your own middle way. Then, you can even find ecstasy in the laundry, because you will enjoy learning about what is being sifted away, and what is emerging clean and fresh. Living more in the flow, instead of addicted to control, your spiritual practice will embrace more of everythng around you and within you with compassion and love.
Dr. Lisa Love
Copyright © 2009 by Lisa Love. All Rights Reserved.
About Dr. Lisa Love
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