Finding your Inner Badass and Becoming a Spiritual Rule-breaker

Showing his "lighter" side!I’m going to tell you a very embarrassing story. It was Halloween and I was 24, and in my first year of my Master’s program to become a therapist. I had decided to throw a party and had invited a dozen or so people from my M.A. program over to my house for some drinks before heading out to some parties in town. I remember I had dressed up in some random clothes I had in the back of my closet and I looked like a Saloon girl from the Wild West. I remember feeling embarrassed that I was dressed in a sexy low-cut shirt and bustier.

As my friends started coming over, I opened some bottles of wine. In part to mask my own feelings of shame about my attire, I had a couple glasses of wine. Before I knew it, I was tipsy. Very tipsy. And instead of feeling better about my sexy Halloween costume, I felt worse. To add more fuel to the fire of my inner shame storm, I began to feel embarrassed about the fact that I was now also a bit drunk.

In my intoxicated state, I began loudly telling anyone who would listen “Please don’t judge me, I know I’m a bit drunk and dressed like this. Don’t judge me because I’m a therapist. I know I’m supposed to be spiritual. I’m a therapist, I shouldn’t be doing this. Don’t judge me.” My sweet young 24-year-old self was terrified of looking anything less than perfect. I thought that if I was studying to be a therapist, I had to be a beacon of morality and prudence at all times. I thought that I should always be wise, compassionate, serious, and able to show up for others in need at all times. I thought I should basically emulate Jesus (seriously, I really did). At the age of 24, I had a very strict code of conduct for myself that prohibited me from dressing sexy, drinking too much, acting silly, being too loud, saying what was on my mind, or being rambunctious in any way. This code of conduct put a damper on the part of me that was young, wild, and wanted to explore the world and my emerging self.

I was stuck in my identity as a “spiritual person.” With this identity came rules in my head about what it meant to be spiritual. Some of these rules were: “Spiritual people do not drink. Spiritual people do not act sexy. Spiritual people do not have fun. Spiritual people do not flirt. Spiritual people should not want sex. Spiritual people should not care about dating. Spiritual people should not eat meat. Spiritual people should be modest and humble at all times. Spiritual people should dress conservatively. Spiritual people should meditate an hour every single day. Spiritual people should be meek and mild. Spiritual people should wear purple.” The list goes on and on.

Which is why, on Halloween night when I was 24, I spent the majority of the night walking around in my bar maid’s outfit, telling people how sorry I was that I was a therapist who was a bit drunk and asking them not to judge me.

I still feel a bit embarrassed sharing this story, but I do it because looking back, I can see how clearly my rules of what it means to be spiritual kept me in a prison. I have since broken out of that prison and can see that I had rules that kept me in a dualistic mindset. I thought that certain behaviors were designated spiritual, and certain behaviors were not. I know now that God can be in every moment of any action. You cannot take spirituality out of life.

Many of us have taken vows of poverty and chastity in past lives. Most of us at some point lived lifetimes where we were in religious groups that had very strict rules about what and wasn’t ok to be spiritual. We have all at some point denied ourselves money, sex, food, alcohol, and physical comfort in an effort to find enlightenment and get to God.

However, it is time for an update. We now live in a time of evolution where we are realizing we don’t have to give up life to be spiritual. Life is spiritual. The two cannot be separated. You can have a drink, make love, eat a steak, and still be as worthy as the monk meditating on the mountain top. There is nothing you have to do to get to God. God lives inside of you. What all of our spiritual studies across lifetimes have taught us is that God lives in you, as you. You cannot be separated.

So enjoy your life. If you have a drink, enjoy every little sip of it. If you wear an outfit that you feel sexy and attractive in, enjoy the feeling of being in your own body and skin. If you flirt with a stranger, feel the pulse of God running through the moment. If you have sex, feel the loving of God in your heart pouring out through your body. Enjoy every little morsel of Earth’s goodness.

Break your own spiritual rules. You’ll find that all God ever wanted for you was to know complete and total freedom.

Do you have any of the following beliefs that need to be cleared up? Repeat the belief and take a deep breath. (Quick note: I use the word “God” because it resonates with me. If you prefer a different word such as “Universe, Higher Self, All that Is, Soul,” please use that instead).

I forgive myself for judging myself for believing that I have to be perfect to get to God.

I forgive myself for judging myself for believing that if I make a mistake, God won’t welcome me back.

I forgive myself for judging myself for believing that having fun is a waste of time and not spiritual.

I forgive myself for judging myself for believing I have to be strict with myself to get to God.

I forgive myself for judging myself for believing that sex is bad, shameful, or impure.

 

Grumpy Human

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One of the few moments I wasn’t grumpy. Riding around Costco on a Rascal.

 

 

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I get really really grumpy. And irritable. And angry. I know that some of my clients tend to assume that I spend most my time beaming beatifically as I walk down the streets, smiling at everyone and extending blessings to everyone who passes by me. And truthfully, some days I do. Other days, I most certainly do not.

For the past two weeks, I have been laid up at home with a neon pink cast on my right leg. As you may recall, I had surgery on my left ankle this time last year. Well, the right ankle got jealous and demanded the same treatment. So here I am again, in a cast and on crutches during the hottest month in New Mexico. At this moment, I am a very grumpy human.

I used to believe that to be a spiritual being, I had to be peaceful, content, radiant, and emanating pastel shades of purple from my aura at all times. I judged myself for being grumpy or getting irritated with loved ones. I couldn’t believe that I got impatient in traffic or murderous when faced with long plane delays and bad airport food. I thought that because I am spiritual, I should be peaceful and maintain total composure at all times.

And then I started to realize something. A very good friend of mine reminded me that in the Bible, there were times when Jesus got very angry. I’m by no means a religion expert but I do know that somewhere down the line, we got passed down an image of what it means to be spiritual and that image denies some of the more challenging aspects of being human. To be spiritual seems to mean that we should “transcend” our anger, pain, disappointment, frustration, and rage. Indeed, some religious paths suggest that we aim to do just that.

However, in doing so, we deny part of what makes us human. Being human is sometimes really hard. It just is. And there is nothing wrong with that. We are down here in dense physical matter surrounded by war, power games, poverty, hunger, physical pain, heartbreak, violence, etc. If we try and deny the pain and anger of what it is to be human, we send that pain and anger down deep inside our bodies and unconscious where it hides. When this happens, you can guarantee that one day, that pain and anger will rise up with a vengeance into a cataclysmic explosion.

What if instead of repressing our so-called “negative” emotions, we learned to accept them as part of what makes us human? What if instead of trying to get rid of our negative states, we just added kindness and compassion? What if we loved ourselves for courageously choosing to come down to this messy earth knowing it wouldn’t be easy?

For me, this looks like just accepting where I am without trying to sugarcoat it. Lately I’ve been telling my family, friends, and partner, “I’m grumpy. I just am.” And when I allow the truth of this to just come through, the grumpiness often organically subsides and I’m able to find my laughter again. Previously, I would have tried to appear cheerful and happy while stewing about the fact that I was grumpy and hated the hot New Mexico sun and the dog that kept getting in the way of my knee scooter. Now, when I take a deep breath and calmly admit what I am feeling to those around me, it feels like fresh air comes into my being and my energy begins to move.

Truth is, we are human. We will get depressed, feel anxiety, get annoyed, hate our loved ones, and frown when faced with long airport security lines. And all of this is ok. I believe that the great spiritual avatars all experienced similar emotions. I have even seen some of my most respected spiritual teachers lose their cool once or twice. And it’s ok. The more acceptance and loving we can bring to our unpleasant emotions, the quicker those emotions can move. To be spiritual is to be fully human, grumpiness and all.

 

 

 

Loving the Ego

I want to take a minute and write a quick word about the ego which is the subject of Tolle’s new book. The ego is akin to the “young self.” It is considered the limited, impetuous, compulsive, approval-seeking and competitive part of us that drives much of our behavior. When we begin to spiritually awaken, we start to see the difference between ego and Soul. We see that we are not just our personalities and that we are not just our minds and that much of what we have experienced in life has been nothing more than ego-gratification. Most people spend their lives being run by ego. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing!

Many people are starting to wake up to the ego. This young and needy part of us that is the ego is just one part that forms the whole of who we are. The ego is very much maligned in the psychological and spiritual world. However, the ego is a very sweet and loving part of us that needs acceptance more than anything else. As we move into new consciousness, it becomes time to not kill the ego, but to befriend it and integrate it.

The ego is in service to us. It has made sure that we get our basic needs met and it tells us when something does not feel right. It has made sure we’ve tasted delicious food and experienced the wonders of sex. For too long, the ego has been burdened with running the show. It has been in charge of governing our entire lives.

I have news – the ego does not want to run your life! What it really wants is to sit in the passenger seat, enjoy the ride, and assist the driver once in awhile. The real driver is your Soul. The ego wants to be taken into consideration, respected, and honored. If it gets these basic needs met, it can begin to trust the Soul and the Soul’s decisions.

Believe it or not, ego and Soul can work side by side. They are not at odds with each other and the more we try and fight one or the other, the more schizophrenic we become. Your ego and your mind are not the enemy. They are just a part of you that have been overburdened and overtaxed for much too long. It’s time to come back into balance and bring all of your parts back home.

Bring your ego home. Talk to it. Tell it you’re sorry for making it run the show by yourself and you never meant to cause it so much stress. Offer it your love and acceptance more than anything else. Tell it you aren’t going to abandon it or do away with it. Give it some high quality chocolate and a bath. Give it a vacation. Love it and it will begin to integrate. No longer will it control you, but will serve as a rather entertaining passenger on the ride.

Instead of fighting the parts of you that you don’t like, love them. That is the only way for true change. We are coming into a time for integration, not separation.