You feel as though you’re making progress on your spiritual journey because you feel more balanced, happy, and expansive, but then one day you wake up feeling really sad, hopeless, and guilty. Imagine the game of snakes and ladders – you’re nearly at the end of the game after climbing all the ladders, but then you land on a large snake and slip right back to the beginning. You feel deflated and want to toss the board in the air, but then you remember you nearly made it to the top and can do so again. Wounded pride is not a fun feeling but love always prevails.
It’s much the same on the spiritual path, there’s a loving voice and an unloving voice in the mind. Only the loving voice is real, but you’re so used to listening to the unloving one that it’s hard to switch off. When you try not to concentrate on something it ends up being all you can think of. The ego says look at you, you’re trying so hard but getting nowhere. Everyone is laughing at you, knowing that you don’t have the power to change.
The spiritual journey is about progressing from dualistic thinking to unified knowing. From fear to love, from disunity to unity. We have so much fear of the light that when we move forward what tends to happen is we feel guilty or fearful of being more loving and fall back again. Each time it feels as though we have gone back to the beginning and lost all of our insight, but over time we regain equilibrium much faster. We get wise to the process and can see that accepting the ebb and flow of the journey is less painful than resisting. The ego will tell you that you are constantly failing if you feel bad but the Spirit knows you are progressing well if darkness is constantly being exposed. You must take the journey at a pace you can handle though because the disorientation and emotional overwhelm is intense. This is why many seekers take hermitage periods to face their darkness alone. Our cultures are not very tolerant of emotionality in public and the last thing you need when facing your own stuff is others telling you you’re losing your mind. Losing your mind is an integral part of the process.
In simplified terms, we are spiraling up and every time we reach the same side of the spiral we hit the same mental block or distortion. However, each time we meet the block with a little more awareness, confidence, humility, and self-love. The term ‘it’s darkest before dawn’ means the process of release and healing will become progressively harder as you get stronger and more able to transmute the pain and confusion. Eventually what was once a trigger no longer has any emotional charge or at least a manageable amount of charge. With some of the issues I have healed, it hasn’t been until about a year later that I’ve realised – oh that issue hasn’t raised its head for a while. When something eventually does occur that would have triggered me in the past I just look at it and smile, because I’m looking at it from a more healed place.
The process of annihilation is very challenging. If we don’t want to be separate we have to let go of all thought and action that separates us from the whole. Things we think are right-direction moves are actually wrong-direction moves and we eventually realise we have no idea what is right, what is wrong, or how to achieve our aim. This is why an established spiritual pathway is helpful. Someone who has gone before you who can explain the pitfalls and stages of the journey. Someone who can explain how to apply abstract teachings in a concrete world. Someone who can answer the many questions that are flushed up.
Challenges will repeat until they are fully healed, then they will fall away. This process can feel cruel and insurmountable but is just nature’s way of providing opportunities for healing. Healing is the Divine goal on planet earth and the only way we can know if something is healed is if the seeming issue resurfaces and we notice it no longer affects us. This is how we realise that issues are only ever subjective misperceptions. If we can heal enough to see no issues then issues must result only from limited thinking.
I have noticed with the hatred of Meghan Markle that people act with disgust at some of her facial expressions and actions in isolated clips. When I watch the clips I can’t see anything sinister at all, they just look like normal mannerisms or disappointments. At one time I would have been delighted that my intuition could sense malintent in others but now I’m happier when it doesn’t pick anything up. The aim is to see only innocence in everyone. The ego is very clever at masquerading as intuition, but true intuition doesn’t have any doubt or mistrust, because it comes from Spirit.
In A Course in Miracles, Jesus states ‘you can’t judge your advances from your retreats’. What the Spirit sees as progress, the ego calls resistance, what Spirit calls humility the ego calls humiliation. The Spirit wants the mind to move back towards re-unification, whereas the ego is always pushing for the little separate self to progressively compete. Bigger, better, faster more is its MO, but it’s simply a distraction from our spiritual heritage.
The spiritual journey is about ebb and flow. You feel good then you fall backward, integrate and come back stronger. Initially, it feels futile when you fall back and you can stay stuck in the lower state for hours, days, weeks or even months. As you progress you can lift yourself out of a backlash within minutes. First you have to recognise what’s happening and not let the ego belief and thoughts really take hold. Getting stuck in an ego loop or spiral is pretty disturbing, but we’ve all been there. You lose the insight you’ve gained and regress to a more chaotic and powerless state of being. You can’t remember anything you’ve learned in that state and it’s pretty unpleasant. Thankfully God did place a limit on our ability to tolerate the pain of moving away from our natural state of unconditional love.
When we are triggered it’s helpful to notice which erroneous belief we are taking as truth. The ego is a bully but only has power over us if we entertain its insane teachings. It wants us to stay small and safe but doesn’t grasp that being small is the very thing that makes us feel unsafe.
Transmuting painful emotions is a fine art because many of us were taught to zip inappropriate emotions. This unfortunately just leads to intense rage, resentment, powerlessness, and bodily sickness. Meeting painful emotions with love and understanding takes practice and I now treat my emotions the same way I would an injured animal or small child. A few years ago I would have inadvertently guilted and shamed myself for experiencing strong emotions, but now I recognise them as a powerful release and necessary part of the healing process.
What we think of as love differs as we shift in consciousness. At a lower level preserving the self feels loving and often is the most loving thing we can do in a particular moment. In truth, self-preservation isn’t truly loving because it assumes there is something we need to protect ourselves from. What we need to protect ourselves from is really our own unloving interpretations which are acted out by others and situations for us to see. Progressing from Victim state to God state takes time and requires a strong will and lots of humility. In truth, nothing is against us until we decide it is, and because the mind is so powerful we can create the appearance of being oppressed, rejected, excluded, humiliated, and all manner of undesirable emotions and experiences. God didn’t create any of these unpleasant states, they are all self-inflicted because of unconscious guilt. There is no opposing force.
Learning to strengthen the Will is a bit like training a muscle. You have to stick to it even when it feels impossible. You can’t really push through resistance, because the pushing creates resistance. Surrender is required but surrender requires trust, so working towards surrender is more realistic. Often in the earlier days of a conscious spiritual path, you feel as though everything you try isn’t working and is in fact making you feel worse. Discomfort is a wonderful teacher and we all get the message eventually.
God wants us to heal the erroneous belief in separation as quickly and gently as possible, and two steps forward and one step back is completely normal. We are not personally responsible for the seeming separation from God, but we are responsible for correcting the error, under the guidance of Spirit.