by Tom Stine
Yes, I know, there are no mistakes on the spiritual journey. There can’t be, if you think about it. The spiritual journey is, to a certain extent, a process of learning. And don’t we almost always learn best from what we often see as our mistakes? But then, if we learn from them, if we grow from them, how could they really be mistakes?
As you venture down the spiritual path, you really start seeing your life as a long curriculum in a giant classroom called Life. No mistakes. Just your individual assignments. I have had my “lessons” to learn, my conditioning to undo.
That said, here are 6 things that I would have previously called mistakes. For me, they weren’t. But maybe you will see something in them that will help you as you journey down the path.
- You cannot choose love too often. So many times along the path, I’ve been given the opportunity to choose love or fear. Many, many times I chose fear. I pushed people and things away to avoid loving them. I suffered, to be sure, and Life graciously came back and offered the lesson again and again. I’m very glad it did. Choose love.
- You can’t sit too much. I loved meditating when I first started, but I loved reading about and talking about spirituality more. And reading and talking about spirituality, while they can be helpful, just doesn’t cut the mustard. Spirituality must be lived, it must be experienced. Sitting with yourself, finding out what you really are is so incredibly important and transformative.
- Not enough time spent in nature. For centuries, spiritual masters have made references to nature, to time spent in nature, as a part of their journey. There is something about the trees, the rocks, the plants, the sky, the sun that calls to us. Being in nature is a powerful aid to our spiritual growth. Taking a walk in the pines will do more for you than a library full of books.
- Being arrogant about my beliefs. I was a jerk in the early days of my journey. I was cocky, overly confident, and thought I knew it all. What a joke! The real truth of the matter is that I knew so little. By being so cocky, I rejected a lot of interesting and potentially helpful spiritual teachings along the way. I had to learn humility, almost by force. I’m truly grateful I did, because now I see so clearly how all the things I thought I knew were an obstacle of sorts to knowing the only thing that mattered: who I truly am.
- Believing that feelings are reliable guides to behavior and truth. I’ve made lots of choices in life based upon how I feel, which is not a great idea, I’ve come to see. Feelings are just feelings. They are simply sensations in our bodies in response to our thoughts. They have something to teach us, for certain, but they aren’t the truth. For instance, every time you’ve experienced anxiety, you are afraid of something that is only in your mind. But you aren’t in eminent danger, and you aren’t going to die. Thus, anxiety is a poor guide for action. The only thing to do with feelings is to experience them and then let them go. Feelings want to be felt. Let the energy flow. As Hale Dwoskin of the Sedona Method likes to say: “Feelings are not true, they are not you, and you can let them go.”
- Rejecting spiritual teachings before giving them a chance. This goes along with number 4 above. For instance, I hated The Secret when I first saw it. I was very agitated after watching it because I had a strong reaction to some of the “personalities” in it. They seemed so arrogant and, well, like used car salesmen. And so I rejected all the ideas in The Secret. Of course, I was being as arrogant as they seemed to be. There are good ideas in The Secret, and had I listened to some of them, I might have found a way to learn some lessons that I took over a year to learn the hard way.
I’ve found over the years that one of the best ways to learn and grow is from hearing other people’s stories, their successes and mistakes along the spiritual path. I would love to hear of your “mistakes” in the comments.