Attend the May Day breakfast, serve lil’ smokies and you’re good with God for the year. That’s my childhood interpretation. Sundays were something to be endured and church time and real life were very separate.
Now as an adult spiritualist, I see a continuum: Life is spirituality and spirituality is life. With this mature understanding, I gravitate toward empowered practice that supports skilful contribution to our world.
Through authentic practice, we remember–and an adept spiritual teacher readily acknowledges–that the teacher is here to serve wholeness: It’s their job. As we would expect outstanding counsel from a good financial consultant, in similar fashion, we turn to the best spiritual teachers to inspire and help reveal greater insights into our spiritual nature. Here are seven ways to maintain perspective and be empowered in your spiritual practice:
#1. YOU ARE DISCERNING
You audition your teachers knowing that your instructor may, or may not, be expertly trained. Today, many yoga schools produce graduates with whom they have little history and follow-up. Is your yoga teacher also a spiritual teacher? You also remember that a teacher is installing a methodology: Does it work well for your body and mind? Do you feel more empowered and is your spirit uplifted? Don’t allow the warm-fuzzies of the heart to seduce the discerning power of the mind.
#2. YOU SEEK DIVERSITY of OPINION and EXPERIENCE
Exclusivity and singularity seem bland: You enjoy diversity of opinion and allow it to feed your personal awareness, knowledge and growth. You are curious and open to learning more, yet clear with your personal centre and desire to develop inner voice.
#3. THERE’S NO NEED TO CONVERT ANYONE
You realize what’s meaningful to you may hold a very different experience for a friend. You lead by experience. Arm-twisting and cajoling not necessary.
#4. YOU APOLOGIZE–and LEAVE IT AT THAT
You know when it’s time for an apology and you do so. From there, you realize that it’s up to the person to choose to forgive or not. Everyone forgives at their own pace. You’ve apologized and you need not push for acceptance of apology.
#5. YOU are INSPIRED BY, RATHER than ENAMOURED OF, YOUR TEACHERS
When enamoured, we give power away. When inspired, we are encouraged and affirmed. I’ve sat through retreats star-struck by a teacher and so blissed-out that I conveniently sidelined my own abilities, talents and clarity. In the process, I also short-circuited my challenges, only to find that my challenges were still very much present once I re-entered the atmosphere.
At its most heightened, star-struck can become a dangerous concoction of cult; in more mild form it feels softly seductive as we relinquish power to someone else. Pay attention and stay empowered through inspiration and affirmation.
#6. YOUR TEACHER is MENTOR and FRIEND, RATHER THAN DEIFIED FIGURE
We have a tendency to deify and divinize spiritual teachers, especially once a teacher has passed. Yet, as example, the earliest texts of the Buddha portray him as a very human figure. A quality of human-ness is authentic, relatable and real, and it keeps us moving toward authentic self as well.
#7. LIFE is YOUR PRACTICE. EVERY ACTION has EFFECT
Life offers the opportunity to practice: the practice of patience in a long queue; the ability to support a friend by being with them, rather than there for them; a practice of managing thoughts in a way similar to managing projects at the office. Yoga need not be just in class at a certain time.
And, spirituality need not be only on a Sunday morning. That is, unless, it’s a May Day breakfast and God arrives via chariot with a stash of lil’ smokies. In that case, take a seat in the pew and listen up.
For more dogma-free spirituality in the here and now, visit my YouTube channel.