“You are one thing only. You are a Divine Being. An all-powerful Creator. You are a Deity in jeans and a t-shirt, and within you dwells the infinite wisdom of the ages and the sacred creative force of All that is, will be and ever was.”
~ Anthon St. Maarten, Divine Living: The Essential Guide To Your True Destiny
Perhaps you’re sitting quietly in a darkened room. Maybe you’re outside on a patio or deck. Possibly, you’re with other people. Or maybe you’re alone. You could be trying to meditate, pray, journal, or simply reflect. No matter where you are or why you’re there, you sit and wait…for a moment of enlightenment, insight, and truth.
There’s a chance that it is the beginning of a long day or the end of a long day. As you sit there, your mind spits up all the things that are on your to-do list. Or your mind is spinning over all the things that you failed to cross off that list.
Stop it! Concentrate!
You take a deep breath and begin again, trying to clear your monkey mind. But it swings wildly, throwing crazy disjointed thoughts through your awareness like the never ending news ticker at the bottom of a CNN news report. Red wine. Yes, full-bodied delicious red wine. You think about how nice it would be to have glass of wine and slip into a warm bath. Isn’t the new episode of “The Crown” on tonight?
Stop this! Cut this crap out! Get serious!
Another deep breath and another try. You have to get this right. Your soul, your spirit, your future happiness depends on you finally getting your shit together and doing this the way it needs to be done. You sit up even straighter. Your brow is furrowed in concentration. Now you are more agitated than present. You realize that your back is starting to ache. Then your nose itches. You also have to pee.
To hell with this!
You get up and stand there, frustrated, angry, and deflated. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I do this? Don’t I want this badly enough? Over time, the frustration and anger fade, leaving behind a sad and empty feeling, along with a resolve to get to your spiritual and personal goal, no matter what. I will do this! I will work harder! I will do what it takes, no matter what!
That resolve carries you through to the next time you’re sitting in that darkened room or on that deck or patio, steadfast and determined…until your nose starts to itch.
All Work and No Play…
Spiritual and personal growth is not a slog. It’s not a job. It may, at times, be painful, but it is not meant to be grounded in discomfort. You don’t have to be uncomfortable, in a bare, monastic cell, just you and your perceived deficiencies waiting for a life-changing moment. In fact, you don’t have to be anywhere in particular at all.
Growth is not about denial. It’s about abundance. It’s about increased joy. It’s about enhanced meaning. Growth needs laughter, light and love in order to occur.
Your life is actually transforming right now, if you only stop and recognize the signs.
Many people take personal growth, and themselves, far too seriously. They journal and discuss endlessly, past the point where they have nothing meaningful left to say. They meditate compulsively. They fill their weekends with workshops and online trainings. They obsessively (and egotistically) demand that the universe give them enlightenment on a schedule of their choosing. They then perceive their lack of meaningful words and the absence of instant enlightenment as another personal failing to be added to a pile of perceived personal failings that’s already too big to manage.
This combination of excessive solemnity and need for immediate change leaves them disillusioned, cynical, and ultimately, endlessly stuck in a vicious, negative cycle.
But take it from someone who calls herself “spiritual special needs.” It doesn’t have to be this way!
Balance is Everything
Growth and positive change are like plants. Sowing the seed is simply the start. You also have to give that seed water, light, and time in order to begin to flower. It takes balance and patience to grow a garden. It also takes balance and patience to achieve personal growth.
I’m the first to admit that life can sometimes be dark and serious. I’ve clocked enough time at the bottom of the valley to remember the sharp feelings of fear, loss, rejection, and isolation. During those times, you need a mother, a sister to lean on, to listen, and to give advice that can calm the internal rapids roiled by personal crisis.
But life isn’t all darkness and crisis. Very often, happiness lies in the little things, the things that happen between life’s big moments. There’s the laundry. Sunlight through trees. The holiday dinners. The trip you’ve been dreaming of taking. There are lighter moments when you simply need a friend to help you remember how long it takes to bake a 12 lb. turkey, how to get elderberry syrup out of a delicate white blouse, or for advice on what to pack for a long weekend away.
Living courageously and reclaiming your dreams is an act of balance. Yes, there are difficult issues to face and work through and perhaps some tough decisions to make. But, it is not all an uphill battle on a rough road. You craft a life of joy and meaning by understanding the meaning of joy.
A full life is a glass of wine with good friends. It is a loaf of freshly-baked bread. It’s Sunday brunch in the backyard. It’s traveling to a new location and rediscovering something about yourself that you’d forgotten. It’s a great book, a funny joke, and your favorite movie on a rainy afternoon.
Authentic living is all about balance.
My husband, Panache Desai, makes a living reminding people of their divinity and how to access the limitless love and grace that dwells within them. From the moment I met him, I desperately wanted to connect with that palpable peace and balance that seemed to come so easily to him. So I tried to master meditation. In fact, I am the woman at the beginning of this article, meditating endlessly trying to connect with something beyond myself that would deliver a reprieve from the inner demons I was battling. Then as I climbed into bed at night, I would clutch my rosary to my heart and beseech God, over and over, to connect me with peace and joy. And then in the morning, I would steamroll throughout the day to achieve perfection and success. And throughout it all, I was eternally unhappy. (If you’re ready to do a massive reset on how you start your day to bring you closer to your most authentic life, please take the time to read 8 Morning Rituals to Bring about Energy and Peace.) Always feeling as though wherever my attention was – it should have been somewhere else. I was completely out of balance, drowning, and my frantic actions weren’t getting me anywhere close to a lifeboat.
And then he shared one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned:
“A life of connection, peace, and balance is not dependent upon how long you meditate or how hard you pray. You’re too hard on yourself. Lighten up and be fully present with whatever is in front of you. Paying bills, peeling carrots, changing diapers, packing for a vacation, eating burgers at Five-Guys. No one is asking for penitence, austerity, or sacrifice. Find balance. Live fully. Laugh deeply. Love generously. And allow your only prayer to be thank you, and in time… peace will find you.”
This category is called Wanderlust for a reason. Here, you will find things that have nothing and everything to do with living authentically.
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It might be travel tips. It might be wines that you should check out. It could be delicious recipes, great book recommendations, or even my favorite gardening or cooking tips. Whatever it is, everything you find here will have one thing in common – it is all a reminder to stop taking this whole process so seriously, to lighten up the pressure you put on yourself, and to simply relax and have fun.
Almost eleven years down the road, I can tell you my husband was spot-on the money. When you find balance, peace does find you. To paraphrase the song in the title, if the dream you’re trying to reclaim makes you happy, then getting to that dream can’t be that bad.
I’m so excited to hear your thoughts! Will you share one thing that gives you absolute joy?