Last year, I returned from my annual Beltane Gathering spiritual retreat bearing the messages I received, the insights gained, the work I accomplished on your behalf, the dominant universal theme The Stories that No Longer Serve You. Hyper-conscious Unconsciousness This year, with an even larger audience to represent, I had even grander expectations. I fell into a Lightworker's Trap of trying, striving, working, growing -- an overly self-conscious consciousness that is its own form of unconsciousness. I was so busy with an awareness of presence that I was not truly present at all.
Only for the first day or so, and then I was forced to adjust.
My internal dialog -- hyperconscious, do-gooder-manic, spiritually self-conscious, with a Lightworker's To Do list, treating my soul's sense of purpose like a job:
- This is a rare religious community experience -- I need to make the most of every second
- I'm here representing thousands of members of my virtual community -- I must act accordingly
- I must listen for something important, so I can share it, teach it, write about it
- I should be participating as fully as possible
- I should be photographing something I can post
- I should be listening intently to the guides of all these hundreds of spiritually like-minded souls, whom I normally have no access to
- Shouldn't I be meditating or something?
- Should I be offering to do readings?
- Shouldn't I at least be taking notes?
The Little Ego that Should Should is the most impotent, dis-empowering word in your spiritual vocabulary. When you frame your questions to spirit with "Should I…" you're inviting something else to take over. That something else may be a low-brow, unhelpful or negative wanna-be spirit guide, but more often than any other, that something else is the most dangerous entity of all -- lying in wait, as close as your thinking mind, more familiar than your favorite pair of underwear, and knowing every secret way into your awareness… a Master of Disguise and General Mayhem, the Great Underminer of Your Authenticity.
Your Ego. [insert blood-curdling horror-film scream]
When you're hot on the trail of your life purpose, conscious of following your Shifting Path -- especially when you've had a taste of the life-changing benefits -- you actually give your Ego a potential Atlas full of Guilt Trips to plan to take you down...
In past years at Gatherings, I've contributed my creativity and my presence to the Ritual Committee. I've helped to hold the weight of grueling Heart Circles (intense group therapy sessions that can go on for hours and rotate among the voices of hundreds of broken spirits who have held years' worth of painful energy with no opportunity for safe community or access to professional counseling…).
I knew, I was intellectually conscious of, all that I could be, should be, would have been doing… But, honestly I didn't feel motivated to do one damn "useful," priestly, godly thing.
Shouldn't I be doing something? The question kept coming -- it was almost a panic after 48 hours -- but the answer, the response, the directive, the message kept coming too:
- Trying is not doing; is not being.
- Observing is not participating.
- Studying is not being fully present.
- Photographing something generally removes you from the picture.
- Striving and straining -- even up, even forward, even with the best intentions -- is contemplating lack.
Writing about an experience is one thing (and all my fellow bloggers will know this insidious background voice) but stepping out to full observer mode, in a self-conscious awareness of a future reflection, robs you of the present moment. You end up with nothing genuine to reflect upon because you weren't there.
Joy only happens in the present.
I kept asking Spirit, my guides, to give me something to do with my presence; they responded with a consistent Stop. Do nothing. BE present. Your life purpose is not something you can fail at. You're already doing it, with every breath you take.
I finally "got it" -- I threw all my expectations, my stories, my roles, my responsibilities to the near-tornado spring winds that seemed to want to turn the tents and tarps into magic carpets.
My best friend Seth and I have been attending these retreats for a decade now. We've had amazing insights, spiritual growth experiences; we've successfully manifested a lifetime of magical work. With all those notches on our belts, there was no need to ramp it up, turn up the volume, take it to the next level…
The Next-level Up was landing firmly on the ground.
We were given the opportunity to do the most "un-glamorous" yet important job at an event like this -- we did dishes for over 600 people. We had a blast contributing in this way -- it was actually extremely gratifying to do something so linear and practical and physical and grounded in the middle of all that collective creative, organic, astral madness.
We generally aspired to and succeeded at giggling for the remaining four days.
And, what do you know? I was given an article after all.
Where are you trying too hard to get it? Is your spiritual development expanding so fast that your guides are telling you what you need to do is stop and work with what you've got?
When your cup is full -- stop pouring. Sip on what you've got in there for a bit. If you get to the bottom and there's not another drop in sight... Well, go wash your cup.