July 3, 2015
When I first restarted a spiritual practice, my greatest aims were to achieve a sense of connection and reverence. I had a deep desire to be able to tap into an altered state of consciousness at will; to experience bliss and union at every ritual.
For a long time, I didn’t think I was really making much improvement or achieving these goals. I became comfortable with the idea that usually, rituals don’t feel the way I wanted them to feel. At times I lost faith in achieving that feeling I so yearned for.
But last night I realised that change has wound itself into my spirituality so gradually I hardly noticed it. I realised that every time I sit before my altar these days, I feel something. And perhaps half of the time, when I sit to do my evening devotionals and meditation, if I can allow myself to relax and focus, I fall into that state of reverence and communion that five years ago I had only briefly glimpsed.
That’s the funny thing about emotional change, subjective change. Sometimes you don’t feel it sneaking up on you. If you get caught up in a particular belief about yourself, you will continue to buy into that belief for as long as there is any evidence to support it.
This has been the case with my general happiness, too. Developing my own spiritual practice was the first step I took, followed by many other changes, towards becoming a happier person. But because I am not completely happy, or happy all the time – because I still get tired, and sick, and feel hopelessness and despair – I often lose sight of just how much happier I am today than I was five or even two or three years ago. It’s often not until someone else in my life comments on it that I really see the changes.
So the next time you catch yourself thinking that what you’re doing is pointless, that you’re not getting anywhere, that you’re still x, y, or z – take a moment to ask yourself if this is really true. Take yourself back to an earlier time, really relive it and remember what it felt like. Find at least one way in which things have improved or strengthened for you. Acknowledge, it, be proud of it.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. But if you keep laying those bricks, something is going to grow. You might look at that wall day to day and think – it’s just a wall, just like it was four months or four years ago. But you know what? There was no wall before you started laying those bricks. And some day you’ll turn a corner and realise that it’s not just a wall, it’s a bloody beautiful house.