One of my teachers, several years ago, said, “You know where the body is. You can experience the mind, the mental. You can improve your mind and your body. But where is spiritual?” (Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen) So many people are concerned with improving themselves spiritually. Back then, when he said these words (2008 maybe), I had less life experience. And I happened to be one of those people who was obsessed with trying to fix myself spiritually. It was probably a good thing that I dove in so deep for a few years. But now I think I have found more of a balance.
Today, I think I am a little closer to understanding what he was / is referring to. Someone recently came up to me, knowing that I have a background in process-oriented bodywork and meditation and astrology, and he said, “Kirby, can you help me spiritually? I need to become more stable somehow.” My first thought, even though I did not say this out loud, was, “No, you need to strengthen your psychological boundaries, you need to develop more self-respect. You need to assert yourself more around your family.” But what I said was, “Sure, I might be able to benefit you. I would recommend Somatic Experiencing to strengthen healthy resources and boundaries. I might be able to help you stabilize your mind. But you have to be willing to do the work.” I explained what Somatic Experiencing was and he said that sounded good. He did not set anything up and I have not heard from him about this yet (that was just a few days ago). But again, what is spiritual? How can we work on spiritual when we have such big gaps in our psyche and our boundaries and so much self-doubt?
If someone wants me to, I can assess them psychologically (I am not formally trained – so if / when appropriate I would obviously refer them to the proper professionals) and tell them what I think might benefit them. [Keep in mind if someone seems to have an obvious mental illness, I would swiftly change the subject or recommend they speak to their doctor or psychiatrist!] I can look at someone’s astrology chart and get a glimpse of possible weak spots in their psyche. I can put my hands on someone and feel whether or not they are grounded or embodied or calm or nervous, etc. I can tell if they have had recreational drugs within the past couple weeks (through my hands). I can tell if they are a heavy smoker. I can tell if their body resonates with what they are saying.
But have I mentioned anything about touching the spiritual realm yet? Maybe it is a combination of all of the above. Maybe I can be of benefit to someone spiritually, but I would never claim to be able to do that! Rather, stick with what is measurable – psychological benchmarks, anxiety scales, feeling grounded in our bodies or not, etc. Stick with stabilizing your mind. Work on improving your health and body through exercise and improving your diet and practicing better self care. Stop worrying so much about fixing yourself spiritually. If you work on what I mention above, the spiritual side will start to come into alignment on its own.
Of course work with a spiritual teacher. A legitimate leader in a legitimate spiritual tradition. A meditation teacher, or a well-respected and empirical and compassionate professor (these are tough to find). But do more than that. Work on what you know. Work on what you can touch, what you can experience. You don’t know how your karma is going to manifest – sure you can use a tool like astrology to see how certain influences affected your life in the past and attempt to project that onto the future – but you will never know the subtleties and intricacies of karma cause and effect (until you attain unsurpassed enlightenment).
So take small steps today. Do a little something nice for yourself today. Be more kind to yourself, today. Take a nap. Spend time watching the beautiful sun set. Go for a hike. Etc. And above all else, if someone or something causes you harm, then put some distance between yourself and them. We have to first alleviate the causes of suffering before we can stop suffering! Realize that desire is like drinking salt water – the more we get, the more we want, but we are never satisfied! We just keep needing more and more salty water (or money or beautiful women or handsome powerful men or cars, etc etc). Slow down. Pause. Take a deep breath. And know that all things eventually resolve in peace (long term).
Thanks for reading!
One thought on “What is spiritual?”
Thank you Kirby~Love Peace