Yoga studios in every corner, and more and more people going on energy healing sessions and trying meditation: Spirituality is booming, which is great!
Being more socially accepted and mainstream has been a fast transition for spirituality. In my teenage years (that’s over two decades ago) I didn’t feel I could share my spiritual experiences with anyone without them thinking I was nuts.
It is a gift to live in a time when it is easy to be introduced to so many beautiful and profound teachings that can greatly support us to live more joyful and meaningful lives.
Now, that doesn’t mean that everything that is spiritual is directly supportive of us.
Wait, what? What do I mean by that? Let’s unpack.
Everything is Spiritual
That means everything. Everything goes beyond its material appearance. The chair you are sitting on, your house, everything is energy, everything. You might not see it yet, or you might not be into spirituality so you don’t agree with me. Fair enough.
Still, energy is all there is. Everything is energy — and that doesn’t mean everything you do leads you to grow.
There’s a meme that I love: it is a man hitting on a woman, and he hits on her by saying “You know, I am spiritual.” She looks at him and answers “So are demons.”
That’s it. Everything is spiritual. That doesn’t mean everything is light and loving.
It doesn’t take much time on this planet to realize there are many things that are not exactly great. On the most basic aspects of life, we can see it: some foods are super healthy, others not quite so. Yet, when we get into spirituality, we don’t see that so easily.
As above, so below — as below, so above.
Expand — or Contract
We live in a universe that is always expanding, bringing us two possibilities: expansion and contraction.
We can make two main inferences from this.
1 There is no such thing as stagnation
Energy doesn’t stop moving. Impermanence is the only constant. You might think you are stuck, but if you stop you actually regress. Especially since the universe is expanding and if you don’t expand with it you are regressing, relatively speaking.
Also, everything on this planet requires energy. To merely stay where you are in your life right now requires you to use energy to sustain it. Stop doing the dishes, dirty dishes pile up. Creation/growth requires loads of energy, but even just keeping what is takes its toll.
Some things can be outsourced, and better systems can be created for maintaining things, but that doesn’t change the fact that sustaining without growing still requires energy to be deployed in some way. If we stop energy from flowing, we contract. Keep moving — or contract.
Energy needs to flow at all times. When we are stuck, we don’t allow energy to flow and it starts imploding. Stuckness is contraction because it goes against the order of life which is expansion. Life never seizes.
2 Not everything you do necessarily leads to growth
It can lead to contraction. We can always do things that harm us or others, that create karma, that take us to walk backward. We can always make choices that take us out of our path, of our purpose and fulfillment.
Many people never get to live their purpose or be themselves — and that includes people who might look so nice and spiritual at first.
It is not because you are doing something spiritual that it is necessarily supportive of your spiritual growth. It might be, it might not be. It might help you, it might delay you.
Now, we could argue that things that harm us at first are also good for us. Suffering is such a great teacher, isn’t it?
Some choices can cause us much suffering, and hopefully, once we experience suffering we realize you need to change our choices to more supportive coherent, and loving choices.
For instance, say you are a control freak. Being a control freak might have its rewards (otherwise you wouldn’t do it) but as your beloved partner leaves you because of your ways you might consider taking a look within and changing. Your suffering showed your issue, and you acted to heal it and grow.
That’s the best of the scenarios, indeed. It might take you a long time to get there though — multiple relationships, even.
Sometimes we become imprisoned by our suffering, repeating painful patterns for the rest of our lives without liberating ourselves from them. Hopefully, we all get to a point where we say no to the suffering and change. Some of us are highly adaptable and learn from our actions fast. Others don’t.
It is amazing we humans have the capability of learning from everything, and suffering is in fact a great teacher — but it is not the only one.
That means we might not need to suffer that much to learn, understand other possibilities of being, and grasp our power to change our lives. Love and self-love are terrific teachers as well. And sure, we need the contrast.
We could also say we all will expand at some point besides the bumpy roads. Our souls are on a eternal journey of expansion and it is only a matter of time.
We can, however, make it much longer and more painful than it could be.
That’s one of the main points of spiritual growth: free ourselves from what is causing us pain, so we can embody our authentic divine selves, and live our purpose in joy. Now in a future emanation, but in this lifetime.
The Greatest Trap: The Ego Is Smart
Not all contracting choices get us to suffer directly. Some can look fun at first; tempting. The ego knows how to make them look delicious — otherwise, the ego would suck at its job, which, trust me, it doesn’t.
What these choices do is that, despite being fun, they get us stuck.
That’s the whole point of illusions: if it was easy to discern between our choices we wouldn’t have any growth to do in the first place.
The ego is great at seducing us.
Remember how I wrote in the beginning that spirituality is so easily available everywhere?
It is great so many get to start on this path easily. That also means we have many shiny objects, distracting us from going deep enough. Spirituality has become a hobby, with lots of different events and experiences for us to have. We get dazzled. It is fun. It becomes a show, entertaining.
The result of that is: we have fun, and try a lot of stuff but don’t go deep into anything. We have no practices and don’t surrender to anything. It is exchanging a night out at the bar for a new type of hobby. A healthier one, absolutely — but also with its traps.
We also disregard lineages and guides but have little understanding of how Spirit and ego operate — meaning we need to keep reinventing the wheel. Spiritual growth requires depth, consistency, and surrendering so that energetic shifts can happen in us. So we can free ourselves and release ourselves from illusions.
Even though it is easier for us to have contact with spirituality, to grasp there’s more to life (which is amazing), it can also be tricker to stay in our path, and easier to get out of it due to the shiny objects, and get dazzled by the possibilities — and never do anything that will actually change anything.
Going to one class of one thing once doesn’t do anything energetically, but gives us a taste of something. It is entertaining, eye-opening maybe. But the shift and sustaining come from committing to it.
When we start on this path, it is great to be able to join different activities and lineages, so we can find what resonates with us. Once we find it, the work requires commitment. Now that doesn’t mean we need to stick around forever. Sometimes we do need to change paths. Yet, as long as we are there, surrender to it.
This is why you see many people doing a lot of spiritual activities and going to all sorts of events and retreats but still confused and stuck, controlled by their emotions and fears. It might help us feel good for a while, but its effects are short, for it is a coping mechanism that doesn’t bring everlasting change and catalyzation of our divine potency. It might bring much knowledge, but it doesn’t get embodied (which is another thing that the ego absolutely loves).
The Key: Discernment
Developing discernment is key: differentiating between what is supportive and what is not supportive of us. Discernment to understand our choices, and when we are escaping ourselves.
Discernment to stay in your path, to not get sidetracked by shiny objects, be it new events, new lineages, or new practices.
It is no different than for creatives to understand they can’t start 10 projects at the same time (guilty as charged). We choose what we focus on, so we can go deeper, surrender to what we truly want, and be ourselves fully.
Spirituality is beautiful, but just like everything else in life, it invites us to have discernment, to be honest with ourselves about what we want and what is not for us. To cut through illusions.
Discernment is difficult but essential in life. It requires self-awareness and conscious learning from what our thoughts and actions manifest in our lives.
I know it is not always easy to discern and stay on our path. Life is full of distractions. That is one of the reasons why it can be good to work with a spiritual guide: someone who can help you see your path and help you to stay on it — catalyze it, even. It has been an honor for me as a guide to support my students and clients and witness their growth.
Why so serious?
Don’t get me wrong, I like fun. I am not part of the work hard force. We all need to have fun, life is to be lived, with joy! Yet, if we keep running from our commitments and responsibilities, chasing short-term fun, we can’t grow.
There’s a reason why the only constant is permanence and this planet is not stable: permanence is not fertile ground for change and growth, and we are to heal and grow. The only perfection is our ongoing walk, the journey of the eternal soul in an expansive universe.
Spiritual development requires us to commit to ourselves, to devote ourselves to our growth and fulfillment at a soul level — and sometimes that entails hard choices, and saying no to things that look fun. No different than when we want our new project to flourish and for that we have to be able to set priorities (and say no to distractions).
Many of us have issues setting priorities, mainly because that entails saying no to things we wish we could say yes to. If all we had was to say no to what we don’t want, life would be easy.
Now, not everyone interested in spirituality wants to grow spiritually, and that’s ok. We all will, sooner or later. We can only have fun if we want. We are all in different places on our journey. Again, we just don’t have to make it so long and painful: we can get to our authentic divine selves, live in oneness, and live our purpose in joy in this lifetime.
To learn more about what spiritual growth is, get my free guide “What Is Spiritual Growth?”
What Is Spiritual Growth?
Explore the meaning of spiritual growth In practical terms, and its connection to soul fulfillment.
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