‘Spirituality’ is such a delicious word – it rolls off the tongue with mystery, intrigue and seductive promise. And it certainly seduced me. From the moment I discovered yoga, I was utterly smitten, immediately sucked into the charm and charisma of the spiritual scene. Literally overnight, I established a daily yoga and meditation practice, and plunged headfirst into the exciting realms of mysticism.
And so began the adventure.
It was exquisitely captivating – I learned that I could manifest anything I wanted, reunite with my twin flame, explore my past lives, understand myself through astrology and numerology, and communicate with angels and spirit guides. I wanted to achieve all these things, and more. After all, who wouldn’t want a perfect life of daily abundance and bliss?
So I lived and breathed everything spiritual, devouring books and experimenting with different practises. There was so much information out there, and I wanted to know it all. And I didn’t stop to question any of it. I gobbled it all up, blindly believing every word, not stopping to pause, breathe, reflect, or find my own inner truth.
My life situation at that time was very stressful, with a lot of uncertainty and change, so I sought answers from psychics, visited energy healers, attended retreats, and tried to purify my aura, energy field and pineal gland. But these things only brought me temporary relief. After a few days I was back where I started – feeling stressed and miserable, frantically scratching around for my next spiritual ‘hit’.
When nothing really worked, I spent hours meditating and chanting mantras, trying to open my chakras, activate my third eye, upgrade my DNA, and enhance the tingles and energy surges I felt in my body. Meditation felt really good, but only whilst I was meditating. Once I left the mat and dragged myself back into my life, the harsh contrast slapped me in the face, again and again.
Despite this, I kept on exploring the spiritual playground, always looking for answers, determined to find that spiritual promise – a life without suffering, misery, fears or unfulfilment – a life in stark polarity to my own.
But the more I explored… the more I focused on ‘love’, positivity and raising my vibrations… the more spiritual ‘highs’ I experienced – the more disillusioned I felt when life kicked me yet again. I yearned and grasped for those blissful moments, those divine experiences where I felt love, peace and connection. I kept asking myself, ‘Why can’t I hold onto those moments? What am I doing wrong?’
These questions stayed with me, savagely devouring my mind for weeks, slowly eroding my belief in myself and spirituality, until one evening, I sat down to meditate, and I started to cry. Bitter tears of exhaustion and disillusionment soaked into my cheeks, as I sobbed to myself, ‘I just want to escape.’
And then, in a moment of absolute clarity, I saw the word ‘escape’ from a new place of awareness. I saw around it, through it, inside it and behind it. I saw everything that I had been unable to see before.
I saw that I had worn the identity of a helpless girl, looking to spirituality for all the answers, guidance and wisdom. I had given spirituality the responsibility of being the master and saviour of my life.
In giving away my power, I had been completely rejecting and avoiding myself and my own inner truth. And by focusing only on ‘love’ and raising my vibrations, I was completely rejecting those parts of me which needed healing.
I saw the word ‘escape’ and the multitude of ways in which I had embodied that word. For me, spirituality had become the ultimate form of escape – escape into a world where there is only love, so I could never get hurt… where people have mystical powers beyond the ordinary… where people can live in daily bliss and abundance… where relationships transcend the norm and become deeply profound and harmonious. I had been hypnotised by this perfect world of earth angels, with all its beautiful promises. I had become a true spiritual junky, escaping from reality, craving my next ‘hit’, swimming in the mystic realms of delusion, never once questioning myself or diving deeper.
After that moment of clarity, I had a choice – to continue deluding myself, or to begin some proper spiritual work. So I abandoned the mystical playground, and visited the vault of reality inside myself, and there, I found the true meaning of spiritualty.
As I committed to awareness, deep self-enquiry and truth, I realised that spiritual awakening has nothing to do with any of the spiritual ideas that I had escaped into. They had all been fun, intriguing and insightful, but only to my mind. And they had been powerful distractions, enabling me to run away from myself, giving me an artificial sense of connectedness, love and wholeness to escape into. They had seduced and fed my ego, letting me hide from myself in my new ‘better’ spiritual ego. But now, from this new point of awareness, there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide… no escape.
And so began the work.
Through meditation and mindfulness, I began to observe and witness my emotions, ego, patterns, conditioning and core limiting beliefs in action. Every day, I quietly and compassionately watched my ‘self’ as I interacted with life.
And I saw that my ‘self’ – my ego – was a toxic mask of resistance, illusions and self-hatred.
My ego had been operating from a place of resistance and fear, resistance and fear, over and over again, expressed in a thousand subtle ways. I saw all the illusions I had created – all the ways I had labelled myself as bad, unworthy, lacking… illusion after illusion, expressed as a deceptive dance of opinions, beliefs, ideas and behaviours.
Very slowly, after many months of observing my ego ‘self’, I started to embrace reality, by letting go of my stories, my beliefs, my ideas, and my fears, by no longer believing in my thoughts, and by embracing everything that I had once resisted… everything I had once tried to escape. It wasn’t easy – at times I would lie in bed, crying and screaming, as I processed raw unhealed emotions from past traumas. Other times it felt like I was going insane, as my identity illusions collapsed, and my ego scrambled around, violently torturing me as it desperately tried to cling onto itself.
But as I continuously unpeeled the layers of ego and conditioning, I found it easier to connect with the stillness inside me – that space of expansive awareness above and beyond thought. And as my ‘self’ dissolved and I connected to this awareness, I realised that there was nothing at all to escape from. Before, I had been rejecting myself, and seeking love, wholeness and abundance ‘out there’. But it had always been ‘in here’, concealed under the mask of my ‘self’. It was all here, right now, right in the heart of this beautiful and perfect moment. When I finally let go and fully embraced each present moment with unconditional acceptance and surrender – when I fully engaged with the intimate reality of life in this ever unfolding now – I realised that I am this deep awareness ‘in here’.
I had been trying to escape from my ‘self’, but in doing so, I had also run away from my true self – a vast and beautiful awareness, fabricated from love, which is formless but takes form, timeless but exists in time, encompasses everything and yet is nothing… an awareness that is the witness to all of life, whilst expressing itself as life itself – no separation.
In that realisation, I found true freedom. Not the freedom I had sought by trying to escape, but the freedom that comes from the full recognition, acceptance and surrender to what is.
Published on Elephant Journal: LEARN MORE