Integrated Transformation

Where do I start ?

by Cameron Tukapua

This great question was asked by a student at one of the You being You events…what follows are some guidelines.

One of the great challenges of living a spiritual life ( a life of purpose and meaning ) is that the spirit and the body are opposite by nature.

The body is dense and heavy…the spirit is expansive, light and free.

In a sense these parts are going in different directions – one wants to soar upwards and the other needs to land down.

Awakening to a larger sense of ourselves can happen suddenly, or slowly and gradually across time. Seeing ourselves as spiritual beings and experiencing the accompanying feelings of expansive openness can be both revelatory and unsettling. When our hearts open – it can feel most natural to want to give to others and serve. After an awakening it can be tempting to abandon our old lives in the pursuit of living a spiritual life “full-time” !

The reality is a spiritual life is lived here on earth and transcending our life circumstances is generally to be avoided. We need to learn to transform within the life we are living and take a lightness of being into everything we do in our lives.Taking care of all the levels of our being is necessary in order to live an integrated life.The different parts of ourselves have different needs which all need to be honoured for us to function in a balanced way.

Finding and sustaining balance is the essence of a spiritual life – this is a moment to moment, day by day practice. The starting point will be relative to your unique situation and you can check into the different levels of your life physical, emotional,mental to see what requires your attention the most at this point e.g. if you are unwell you may ned to focus on your healing, if you have no money you may need to find a way of earning an income. Be practical and know that not everybody can earn a living from their art alone.

Before enlightenment

Chop wood, carry water

After enlightenment

Chop wood , carry water   – Zen proverb

Being grounded in the practical things of life like washing your clothes, cooking food and keeping a tidy home space are an essential part of spiritual life. People who go to serve in spiritual centres such as ashrams and retreat places find these practices are always part of a daily schedule. Taking care and being responsible for our practical needs is one of the most direct ways of claiming our power to transform our lives. Order, cleanliness and organisation of the physical welcomes order and purity to other levels.

When our physical needs are met, when we have been fed, cleansed and feel at ease in our bodies we can more easily tune into our instinctive wisdom. Feeling into our body sensations can help us read what the energies of our body are communicating. Our feelings and emotions are the link between the world of the invisible spirit, and the physical body. Our feelings move us as and are an expression of our emotional states. All emotions are healthy when they are the appropriate response to a life situation. Learning to connect with what we feel gives us access to a hidden language of energy which we can use to guide and direct our lives.

Emotions by nature are light and flowing …they are “energy in motion” and should cycle freely as appropriate responses to our life experiences. Emotions that arise again and again, indicate we are stuck on something in our life, like a CD which repeats…this can indicate a block in the system. If there is a lot of intensity in the emotion generally it indicates some deep knowing is trying to breakthrough. During these times we may need facilitation to help access, embrace and transform the energy in which case Qigong, acupuncture, Yoga Nidra practice or some other method for freeing the energy will be helpful.

Our mental body is lighter than our emotions, our thoughts move quickly and need to be directed for best performance !

Thoughts that we hold about who we are, and how our lives are constructed, maintain the mindsets around our self identity. The stories that we tell ourselves and each other develop and create meaning about who we are, and what is important to us. Learning to understand and manage our minds is a critical step on the spiritual path.

Many of us construct a story about our early life which helps us explain how we behave today and give context to our journey and character development. Talking therapy such as psychology and counselling help us understand our stories. Going beyond our personal story is something which happens naturally as we begin unfolding our spiritual identity. Connecting with a larger sense of ourselves lifts us out of a smaller limited self identity and supports us to transform old outdated versions of ourselves. Then good news is we can choose to grow up and grow into whoever we want to be.  To grow we may need help to shift and transform the energies that keep us stuck in our old stories.

In the You Being You teachings we explore frameworks that support us to see ourselves in the context of larger life. Opening up to a more expanded view of who we are can be both enlightening and destabilising as the things which have given our lives meaning can be challenged. Ultimately the spiritual journey is one of unfolding Self-discovery and best taken step by step – with guidance if necessary – especially in the beginning. As you develop your trust in your own knowing you will find your way naturally. As you travel, you may shift perspectives which can open you to a world of unlimited delights and possibilities.

The truth is our spiritual nature is perfect, whole and complete. The original unity of heaven lives within each one of us and our inner divinity is shared by all beings. This is a BIG idea and can take a long time to learn how to live. To connect with this larger sense of ourselves we need to find practices that suit our nature, and train ourselves to listen to, and trust this part of ourselves – our ultimate guide in life. Until we are more sure of where we are going and how to travel it is useful to find a teacher who can guide you. Like every other training, with regular practice, we will in time develop the muscles that support us to feel strong in our deep knowing. In the beginning we may need a guide to help us access this part of ourselves as starting our as a beginner it is natural and common to feel a little lost and awkward.

People can sometimes think spiritual life is out of reach and yet  just being alive is being spiritual as our spirit lives within each of us a sense of lightness of being, happiness and joy. Spirit can speak through the body as instincts, through thoughts as pop-ups and insights, through our day dreams and night dreams as recurring thoughts and images, and through our lives as moments of synchronicity, magic and connections with people and things who nourish our soul. Awakening to our spirit self is supported by keeping good company and treating ourselves like we would treat our best friends.

Many of us wish we could cut out all our old negativities, self doubts, insecurities and feelings of impurity. All these states are just contractions of the mind which cover our access to our pure Hearts awareness – like dust on a mirror. At the Heart of who we are nothing is wrong and there is nowhere to go … all is well, right here and right now 🙂 As we come into closer relationship with this more divine sense of ourselves, that truth is infused into our sense of being. We feel a deep sense of ease, at peace with ourselves and the world surrounding us. In this place we know that we are perfect, pure and complete.

The poet saint Kabir says:

Wherever you are is the entry point.

The funny thing is there is no need to go anywhere or change the outer circumstances of your life. What you are seeking lives inside you. A state of pure bliss lives in your own heart and the more you attune to this part of you, the more you will sense its existence. LOVE which is our true nature, lives within each of us and is conveyed through the virtues such as kindness, tenderness, gratitude, acknowledgement and generosity.

Learning to live a life of love is about strengthening the container of your energy – your body and your mind – so you can live from this awareness. What you will always  need is a practice that can connect you with your inside Self – for some it is a body practice like Yoga, Qigong or gardening. For others dance, meditation, painting – anything that enables you to touch into sacred space and hold your attention is meditation. Even the greatest Yogis continue their practice once enlightened, as this is our ongoing link to the divine.

Gurumayi Chidvilasananda says:

“The greatest thing you offer others is your own state” 

Miraculously you will find that this is the truth. This is both the start and the end point 🙂

In summary

  1. Befriending your small self will support you to not get caught up on everything you are not ( self-doubt, insecurities, negative self-concepts etc) Be as kind to yourself as you would you be to your best friend. ..contemplate how YOU need to do this and make a daily practice of being kind to yourself.
  2. Honour your Self. Find a practice that helps you connect with your divine sense of self and dedicate a small amount of time to doing your practice every day. Think about what do you really love to do and what helps you feel GREAT ?  Do more of this…
  3. Live in the present … this is where the power resides. Love yourself, aim to see the divine in whoever you are with, and see life as a play – leading us to a place of deeper, closer, more loving connection to ourselves, others, and the divine.

Cameron Tukapua

+64 027 588-5886

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