by Adam Foley
Somewhere along the line I started believing spirituality was something I could succeed at. Like ascending a mountain, I would sweat, I would ache, I would persevere; and one day I would reach the summit. The truth is I have reached the spiritual summit, many times, and nothing was there but empty sky. This is because when I set out on my journey I missed one piece of vital information; there is no mountain.
It is easy in our goal-oriented society to accidently turn spiritual work into a self-improvement project. If stuck in a mindset of self-driven achievement we can miss the point of many spiritual teachings. “Become your best self,” “be better”, “pass your spiritual tests “ seem like admirable challenges. But don’t go climbing a mountain just yet. In our eagerness to improve we may miss where the initial drive to work on ourselves comes from; that we need fixing in the first place.
When I speak to people on Soul Sessions I start with a question; “Why did you want a session?” The questions is simple, the answer complex. I often see the same belief system reoccurring. The belief we need to change ourselves to be fulfilled. But Soul’s message is always loud and clear; we are not innately broken. Brokenness is learned through years of conditioning, and can be repetitively reinforced by the need to better our selves. Spiritual work is not to change who you are; it is to discover where you are already whole.
During our retreats we sometimes hand out small mirrors to the group. I will never forget the day Elisa and I feverishly filled two shopping carts with near to one hundred mirrors. At check out, the shopping clerk gave us a quizzical look. I said something along the lines of “We use the mirrors to see directly into Soul.” The rest of the check out was in silence.
I could have worded my response more appropriately because we use the mirrors for an eye gazing exercise. First we ask participants to notice their exterior appearance. The most common experience is an immediate shaming checklist; Oh, my teeth are yellow! I should get new toothpaste. Do I really have wrinkles there? I don’t like this angle of my neck. If I diet will my face be thinner? Then we ask for everyone to look into and behind their eyes. Find, the who, that is looking outward. The part of ourselves that is untouched from our need to change. It is not always easy to shut down the mind chatter but after a few minuets you can feel a shift in the room. When asked to describe what they are seeing participants often use words like innocence, beauty, awe, brilliance, and Soul.
Spiritual work is not about moving forward, it’s about stopping altogether. We can become our best selves and we can pass all our spiritual tests, but not by adding more self-critique into our lives. We become Soul when we shed everything that keeps us running from our true selves. The journey is not to climb up a mountain and achieve greater spiritual heights but to set up base camp where you are. Learn to live with yourself, relax into your true self, and trust the deepest core of self. Divinity is waiting there.