Sometimes when we commit to a particular spiritual path, despite our best conscious intention, we can get off track. In fact, it can seem as if we’re being downright self-destructive and sabotaging our efforts. But just like mistakes are vital in scientific discovery, taking steps backwards, sideways, and zig-zagged, are part of the growth process.
When you go for a walk in the woods, and you’re lucky enough to find an already blazed trail, you let go of fear and have faith that those who have gone before you won’t lead you astray. We still, however, have to follow the path that feels right for us even if that means stepping off of the blazed trail to delve into our inner truth.
I remember one particular hike — one I’d done a thousand times — I started off on the ‘white’ trail, and over the course of the walk, I felt compelled to veer off in a different direction. The first time I did it, I got so off track I started to panic. Eventually, I found my way back to the white trail and made it back to the parking lot where all was right with the world. The second time, I actually got off track again subconsciously. I’d followed the wrong path again because it was familiar. That second ‘wrong turn’ was pivotal in my growth as a hiker, for the very next time I hiked the trail, I was very aware of which direction was not best for me. That mistake was a key milestone, and one I’ve never made again.
When we fully invest in the intention to move toward a spiritual life, it’s natural to find that we have slipped into old behaviors that aren’t good for us. Maybe we find ourselves caught up in an angry rant during a traffic jam and flying in the face of Ahimsa (non-violence.) Or, maybe we find that we’re not just indulging, but over-indulging — the antithesis of Bramacharya (moderation or celebacy.) And, we even may even find ourselves caught in the crossfire of self-judgement because of our indiscretions.
The beautiful, and inevitable benefit of this self-sabotage is that these old patterns or Samskaras, are resurfacing because we’ve dug deep into the well of inner truthfulness, inner wisdom. We start to flush out and clean the old wounds that have resulted in the acts that no longer serve us. We’re now consciously aware of these behaviors, and they gently nudge us back onto our path. Once we see these samskaras for what they are, it doesn’t take much effort to step right back onto the blazed trail and let faith take over.
“Gaining mastery over our destructive propensities, through the exercise of awareness and self-discipline with regard to our body, speech, and mind, frees us from the inner turmoil that naturally arises when our behaviour is at odds with our ideals. In place of this turmoil come confidence, integrity, and dignity – heroic qualities all human beings naturally aspire to.” - The Dalai Lama
Know that you are loved, know that you are on your path, and know that even self-sabotage can be the seat of growth. Thanks for humoring me on my journey of self-discovery.
- Your Charmed Yogi