lotus3There are many reasons to start on a spiritual path. For some it’s a natural inclination. For some it’s how they were raised. For others it’s a curiosity that deepens. For others it’s a synchronicity. For many it’s the way to peace, an answer to suffering. Usually, several reasons are behind why someone begins a spiritual journey.

A spiritual path offers many gifts and blessings. It answers questions of meaning and purpose. Truths found on a spiritual path reveal the universe. The deep-well resources of wisdom, compassion, universal power and intelligence become available in all their richness and support.

True spiritual teachings are never instant (although awakening can be). The path not only evolves one step at a time, but teachings are given in building block fashion as each previous block is integrated. There are some very good reasons for this, not the least of which is that higher teachings and spiritual practices will rock a person’s world and psychology in possibly detrimental ways, if adequate preparation is not made.

A majority of people come to spiritual practice from a place of personal neurosis. Whatever remains unresolved in the psyche is brought right into spiritual practice, mostly without the foresight that it still needs resolution.

Spiritual teachings provide ways in which to address these issues. Many have psychologies built into them. These might be within the practices of a spiritual teaching, or standalone teachings and practices. However, working out knots in the psyche is a question of recognition. Both the practitioner and the guides from a particular teaching must recognize that an individual may need solid psychological help and healing before the more powerful spiritual practices can be effective and healthy.

Almost everyone who undertakes a true spiritual path will discover that a profound personal healing is a necessary part of his or her spiritual process. When this need is acknowledged, spiritual practice can be directed to bring such healing to body, heart, and mind.

— Jack Kornfield

This can be thought about in terms of healing up and healing down. These are not directions but merely ways to understand the process. “Up” is the quest to know the true self, beyond personality and the circumscribed physical body and material reality. “Down” is the process in which humanness is embraced and existence fully habituated with all component parts being opened to healing.

The conscious quest to know your true nature is a healing up. Healing mentally, emotionally and physically is healing down to where you are on the planet at any given moment.

— Pamir Kiciman, from Healing Up and Healing Down

Spiritual teachings and the states of being available through their practices can be overly seductive. Accessing new levels of peace, joy, bliss, power and love undoubtedly feels so very good. These states are readily available to make life better. They serve as the promise and proverbial carrot of spirituality. These experiences are able to seep in and sometimes take hold, even while the psyche remains troubled.

This is a blessing and a curse. Profound relief is very much needed and welcomed. At the same time, being in bliss is such a perfect way to avoid inner work that needs to be done, that’s begging for conscious attention.

Not doing this work means wholeness remains elusive. And while some measure of peace or joy may still be available, spiritual life suffers at the hands of mental and emotional hang-ups.

What’s the best way to heal the emotional self? Can it be transcended with spiritual practices like meditation? Does meditation facilitate healing? Can there be enlightenment without healing?

There’s no avoiding broken aspects of the self in time and space. Doing so may seem to be working but worse conditions are waiting in the wings with this approach. Meditation of course leads to healing simply by expanding awareness and allowing spontaneous insight. For many people it may not be enough by itself.

This whole question is a two-way street. For instance, meditation may prove too difficult if there are underlying emotional issues. Similarly, healing may remain limited unless there’s a larger container for it, one that includes a timeless view of self. (Read: Healing, Meditation and Spirituality are Linked and Work Together.)

After all, ignorance of the true self is the origin of the need to heal. It may or may not be the reason a spiritual journey begins. Healing needed as part of human existence can lead to a greater opening. Healing, practiced truly, takes one beyond. Beyond space-time, beyond the physical. It fuels vision and possibilities. It’s quite common that through the need for everyday healing, one will embark on a spiritual path.

Perhaps the healing isn’t so everyday. Healing that requires a person to forgive, show compassion to self or other, expand into the universe or partner with the unseen can certainly open doors of perception.

Similarly, a spiritual path may be embarked on more directly. Depending on the teachings, access to healing elements may or may not be available. Even if the teaching offers these, it still requires recognition and willingness on the part of the practitioner that they need healing.

Spiritual teachings and their practices will bring various neuroses to the surface. Many of these can’t be meditated through. Meditation is a staple, it’s there reliably everyday. Often it needs something else. That something else is healing.

To heal you must remember who you really are. Then no matter what happens to you, you can rely on this innate courage, you can trust your own wise heart because nothing and no one can take them from you.

— Jack Kornfield

Related

A detailed look at how Reiki is both a spiritual teaching and profound healing:

How the Dual Practices of Reiki Lead to Oneness


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