By Andrew Shykofsky
A Conscious Life Means Everything Matters (and that’s not easy)
Upon finding a real spiritual path, it is tempting to assume that life will certainly improve and fairly quickly. The concept is that everything should click into place now that you have found a teacher and are inviting God to be at the center of your life. In reality, it doesn’t happen quite like that.
You can think of building a conscious life in terms of house in which you grew up. It is quite likely that the set up was suitable for when your parents ran the house and you were one of several children growing up with them. This was not a structure that you had any choice over. We might say you are still living in this house on an internal level but since you don’t need to house your family anymore, you are free to fix it up and restructure as you so desire.
At the same time, that old house is filled with energies in the form of memories and patterns of your family dynamics. This includes a lot of unconsciousness, a lot of negativity, and some good virtues but most of which are to be left behind as you take charge of your spiritual life. So how is all this renovation accomplished?
This is a major renovation project. Can you imagine living in that house as the contractors come in and begin demolishing walls, moving fixtures and ripping up old flooring? Plumbing and heating may be interrupted when least convenient. The noise and dust are irritating…It’s hard to get consistent rest living in a ‘construction project’ and having all the regular routines disrupted by these changes.
This is a good metaphor for what happens to your whole being as you really commit to the inner work. Becoming a spiritual student and working with a real Teacher that has spiritual sight begins an intense process whereby God and His angles clearly heard you say you want to be reunited with Him. Now comes the task of preparing a space in yourself where He can dwell. While it’s true, God is already inside you, He now begins to take you up on your offer of wanting to be in relationship with Him and initiates lots of changes.
The walls of the house that came down in our metaphor are the internal blocks you have within you to hearing God and trusting God. The old flooring gets ripped out because it’s out dated, ugly and worn out. We could say this represents the grounds you walk on or what you think is possible for yourself. Now God wants that freshened up to include His Glorious Abundance.
Old family photos hanging on the walls are mostly to be discarded and replaced with images of your spiritual family which include Jesus and Mary and possibly others who have walked the Path. The stale memories and nostalgia of the family should be aired out and seen with fresh eyes. Many other subtle nuances will need to be reviewed and discarded until the home is one where God can comfortably exist and communicate with you.
If you have declared in prayer and by your actions that you want to grow and evolve into your full soul nature, I want to welcome you to an amazing adventure. And I want you to know that I feel incredible compassion for you at the same time. This is because the journey is often a seesaw back and forth between really peaceful, joyful states of being and really hard emotional/mental periods where you are in the midst of learning how to truly love.
I say love because it is the essence of this work. You are certainly learning to love others but also learning to love yourself which doesn’t necessarily mean pamperings with mud baths and chocolate treats. It means learning how you process your experiences, tend to your feelings, make decisions and follow through to achieve the life you and God desire. This all sounds good on paper but most people are kind of shocked to discover that there are parts of themselves that aggressively rebel against loving themselves. This can be our ego wanting to show how crafty it is in ‘working someone else’ so they meet our needs, or it might be a wounded childish part of you that wants to moan and whine until someone shows up to rescue you.
This can take many forms as we are all so wonderfully creative, even in our negativity. But the signature of this attitude is neglecting one’s spiritual practices, not praying as much, looking for those quick fixes and getting really critical of oneself believing you should be past such and such behaviors. If any of these things sound familiar, you are getting a glimpse of how our human side feels deep down about all this interior renovation. You can almost hear those parts in you yelling at you…”Hey! What the heck are you thinking? This is way too much for us. Chill out and let’s really consider what you are doing here!”
But for the real student, it’s too late. You have begun to experience the abundant life that Jesus spoke of, seeing how powerful your prayers can be, beginning to be free from the shackles of your past and feeling a closeness to God that has eluded you until now. Is there really any turning back?
Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Dominion of God.” (Luke 9:62). The context of when He said these words is important because it applied to some people who wanted to follow Him but just needed to wrap up a few things at home first. Perhaps Jesus was making a strong point that trying to get all your affairs in order with your family and friends before you start this journey is not going to work. Most of them won’t bid you a hearty farewell. In other words, once you start digging up the soil to get the fertile field of your consciousness ready to plant, glancing longingly at your old friends and old ways of living is an indicator that you might not have what it takes to finish what you started.
But we of the Mystical Church believe in you and support you as you courageously defy the worldly ways of our society. We have walked this Way and declare the challenge to be absolutely worthwhile. No question… and we would do it all over in a heartbeat and probably will have to next life.
This lesson is written to help you shift your attitude so you can let go of unrealistic expectations and get ready for a lot of discomfort. The discomfort is prevalent because God and your Teacher are now holding you to the standard of your soul and not your lazy, overactive mind, wounded heart or desire-craving body. I know that makes it seem like there is a mountain of opposition within you and there kind of is. But praise God because in Him all things are possible.
So let’s get practical. Any day that you interact with other people, many things can go wrong. You are choosing to become conscious but anyone of them probably isn’t, which means you can’t always count on people speaking honestly, kindly, promptly, considerately, nor listen very well to you, give you what you want when you want it, care about your feelings or see what sort of changes you are going through. In fact, as you become more conscious, you suddenly begin to feel a lot more of the hard things going on inside yourself and can mysteriously sense when people are not being true. These are the stirrings of your spiritual senses and sight awakening.
You have control only over one thing, how you choose to deal with what happens to you both from the outside and from within. You generally can’t get others to wake up and take responsibility for their actions. You can’t often get people to act towards you in the ways you feel you deserve and you all of a sudden can’t stop all the tough feelings and emotions that rage about within you. Were these all here before and you just couldn’t see them? Is this what Jesus meant when he talked about ‘…having Life and having it more abundantly.’?
In a way, it is. In the early phases of the Path, we are stripping away some of the sludge that numbed you from your feelings and generally you are consciously curbing the more obvious indulgences like drugs and alcohol. With these very popular coping mechanisms gone, and your prayers asking for more Light to come into you, you are beginning to wake up to the power within a human soul to see, know and feel the life you have created for yourself.
The reason this is hard is because many of the people and patterns you have in your life have been serving to reinforce negative ideas that have lived in you. These negative ideas were simply adopted because you didn’t know any better, absorbed them from your family growing up or you just went along with things that felt comfortable because no one with true love and wisdom was around to guide you.
Think about a prisoner who has been captive for 20 years and has long been institutionalized not having to care for himself or make many decisions. He gets out and is lost amidst all that freedom. He doesn’t know anything about today’s technology, never worked a computer so he can’t apply for jobs online, never owned a cell phone and hasn’t bought his own groceries for decades. For some, it’s all just too much and they feel a strange desire to be locked up so the hard work of adjusting can go away. Is this why so many ex-offenders get back into crime? It’s possibly a sub conscious motive to be taken care of even if it means being locked up.
Now that we have established why this Path has hard periods, let’s turn our focus on how to take on the life we have waited so long to arrive. Remember, God is in process of becoming the center of your life so He is the one orchestrating all the challenges that are coming up. You can talk with Him through prayer and you can listen to Him through meditation. And when those tools aren’t cutting it fast enough, you can talk to your Teacher and get help.
Things will get better, I promise you. But each day you might see yourself dipping into the dumps and rising in the Heavens over any number of simple things. The key is to remember the tools you are learning and always try those avenues first. Always at least make an effort to use your spiritual tools when you can feel yourself slipping off balance. It can help to list what those tools are. Here is a short list;
Pray – Everything will go better if you make a prayer before you begin or even while something is happening. When I say everything, I’m not kidding around. You can pray if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t seem to fall back to sleep. Ask Mary to calm your mind. You can ask God that a tough phone call you need to make go well. You can pray for more money if you think you’ll be short this month. You can ask that a person who is mean to you might be given an opportunity to see how their behavior affects others so they might adjust. You can even pray that the traffic speed up if you are running late. Just don’t demand in an entitled way. Remain humble and know that God hears you.
Meditate: This is truly the meat of your spiritual life because it is the form by which you come to know yourself. I know sometimes we don’t feel like sitting quietly and going through the steps to still ourselves. But who else can do this for you? It’s the surefire way to see what’s happening inside you and once you know that, you can begin to make some productive decisions.
As you develop your practice, you will find you can hear God speak within you and know that it is real Guidance that He is giving from the spirit realm. How cool is that! You can settle in and nurture yourself when hard things happen. You can catch your anger before it lashes out at others. You can feel a deep joy when you experience God loving you through an answered prayer. And remember, you will get better at this practice but only by consistently doing the work even when you don’t completely feel like it.
Praying the Rosary: This is a great practice to get into because you can dedicate the rosary to a cause outside yourself. With a sincere heart, praying for others, you will inevitably attract Grace to yourself. Just be careful your motive is clean and that you are praying for others, not secretly just to get stuff for you.
Working with the Light: Doing exercises where you see Light come into your physical and spiritual body is a great way to change your energy. This is not just a mind game but a real spiritual phenomenon. Work it in to your weekly routine and learn to use your mind to visualize and create.
Use the Bible: This book is alive! Attend bible contemplation and come to the session with a burning desire to be changed by the Word. Take chances and ask bold questions. Speak without restraint and see how the Spirit comes through you. Get active in your transformation! Pull out the Bible on your own and meditate on passages that are drawing you. Make a prayer that the deeper meaning be revealed now!
Plan activities that you enjoy with people you like being with: If you don’t plan, you might find yourself with nothing to do and no one to be with. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, at certain times it is an active breeding ground for depression, despair or self pity. So take charge of your life and don’t wait for everyone else to plan your life for you.
Schedule time to process your day: Start expecting that each day, there’s a good chance you will have some emotional highs and lows that should be sorted out before you fall asleep. Think about building in a half hour for spiritual/devotional stuff before bed that includes a daily retrospection and some evening prayers.
Clean! When in doubt, start cleaning your house, your car, your computer, your office… Cleaning is often a quick fix to stir up some positive energy. You will feel more hopeful when things are neat, tidy and wiped clean and this may just be the spark needed to move the energy in a positive direction.
So you see, you can take a more active role to address the challenges coming up head on. Remember, God is watching and only gives you as much as you can handle. At the same time, He wants to stretch you so you’ll be able to handle more. He is watching to see when you can start giving back and that’s when the real fun begins. Pray, meditate, go out there and shine!
Teacher: Andrew Shykofsky