Spirituality can be a loaded concept, depending on where you land, how you were brought up and what kind of images you have attached to. For instance, it can bring up notions of organized religion and belief systems, ideas of right and wrong, good or bad, or, at least in my world, ” enlightened or unenlightened”, awake or conscious, the question of who or what to follow (we all follow something, even if it’s an idea that speaks to us), and of course, whether to follow a leader or guru in any kind of spiritual school or personal-development method.
It’s all in your head
Last year, I attended an international event at the Venwoude retreat center in Holland with over a hundred others, many of them practitioners. The festival theme was “spirituality and sex”.
The people who lived and worked at the center were steeped in knowledge of how the body plays a pivotal role in any spiritual practice. Many of the attendees had some bodywork experience, and some had spirituality practices of their own. They were very willing to be taken through a powerful body-practice session that I had been invited to lead.
That experiential evening was very much about the “in-between” space where Spirit and Eros meet, which was the foundation of the teachings throughout the week. We went through an odyssey of experience, from fun movement and connection, into riding the edge of pain/pleasure, into deeper heart connection where they realized they needed each other and are “in it” together, and into a body-felt experience of bliss where the delicious lives, in the “in-between”. (For more on this, read my article on The “D spot”.)
What I observed, which was fascinating to me, was that even though they knew on some level that the body needs to be involved, for many people, the union of spirituality and sexuality was still a heady concept — too much of an idea and not enough of a visceral experience.
But do you feel it?
In other words, spiritual concepts — personal development, personal evolution, union, transcendence, even when related to concepts like sexuality — can at times be too easily cerebral. They become ideas that people use to gauge if they’re ok, on the right path, evolving, going somewhere — anywhere, except where they could be in the moment of actual experience. When you’re in the chase rather than in the moment, the depth of feeling that can reverberate through your body, of your personal truth in any evolutionary practice, goes out the window. Whatever practice or path you embark upon needs to come back into your body and connect to your own particular experience to have a lasting impact in your life. We need a felt sense-awareness to be able to track back to our truth when it goes missing, since life keeps coming towards us at an unbelievable pace; it’s just too difficult to stay grounded in an idea if it’s not embodied, which means one has to experience it physically, not just cerebrally.
The mystics had it right
Certain spiritual mystics understood this. Individuals like Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Hafez and Rumi communed directly with what they personally experienced as The Divine. They didn’t have “spirituality” as a brand or concept, as we do here in the West. They didn’t attend lectures, get certifications, go to endless workshops or trainings. From where I’m sitting, it seems they rarely looked outside of themselves for the ultimate truths and instead opened to where and how the deepest truths landed within their own bodily experiences of union and pleasure. I’m not sure how they got there.
Most people I know have something that they “do”, whether a daily, weekly or monthly practice. I believe you need to explore various avenues into your felt experience. What I am noticing is that when the quest becomes perpetual — always looking for some external validation or looking to answer a non-grounded sense of “self-in-spirituality” — it can be difficult to manifest a “larger you” in your life. It becomes too easy to achieve “spiritual by-pass”. When you tap into larger truths without their grounding you in your actual day-to-day life, your spirituality never fully manifests in you, your sexuality, your passion for living or your own individual spark.
Dance your own prayer
As we come to understand this — in our bodies as well as our minds — the chasing of spiritual experiences and validation for the short-term material gratification that we think will make us happy starts to lose its shine. Spiritual experiences and learning in themselves can be fantastic, but as long as we’re chasing after something external, a personal quest can be akin to jonesing for that “hit”. This is about a lived sense of something that moves from within, outward in your life. The mystics knew that this “something” is powerful and exquisitely delicious. It has a quiet depth and is a potent source of aliveness.
I invite you to tease this concept open and discover within your own awareness into the Truth of the Body. You just might find that your ceaseless quest becomes far less interesting than a deeper awareness of…..You.