Updated: May 18, 2021
Just like every other process of transformation, the spiritual process – the inner alchemy – undergoes a (general) sequence of Awareness, Application, Resistance, Purification, Breakthrough, and Realization.
· Awareness is when you learn something new about who you are or your reality
· Application is when you try out what you have newly learned, to put knowledge into practice
· Resistance is a naturally-occurring reaction trying to hold on to old ways or that ‘fight’ to stay in the comfort zone of what is familiar
· Purification is the stage of dissolving and letting go of prior resistance, which is often the toughest stage
· Breakthrough occurs when Purification is complete – the old way of functioning or the old perspective has died
· Realization fully takes hold in the form of new outcomes, new realities, or new ways of functioning and experiencing the self and the world
And as with all training and long-term practices, it is common to reach a state of ‘plateau’, where your progress seems to stop at an invisible ceiling, and can no longer yield a different outcome despite numerous attempts of Awareness and Application. Nothing happens.
Here are 5 tips I have gathered over the years from my own spiritual process, as well as from observing my students, which may help you work through that ‘spiritual plateau’.
#1 Just Relax & Have Fun
Sometimes we may be trying too hard. This is one that I am very familiar with. You do the kriyas, the homework, the rituals, the breath-counts, the diet switch, the overhaul…. Yet nothing seems to shift in your emotional landscape, or in your outer reality. You’ve done all that you know, practiced all that your teachers have taught you.
What’s left to do? RELAX!
Spiritual work, which we all know as ‘inner work’ – can be hard work indeed. Finding our hidden wounds and confronting our shadow fears is the proverbial ‘bringing in the light of awareness’…. But we do not have to be doing that 24/7 all day long!
Repeat this mantra: “It is absolutely okay to take a break.”
Followed by: “Spiritual work can be fun too.”
Put all that aside, go-out and have fun. Meet-up with your friends. Focus on something else (that is not ‘work’) for a while. Kick-back and relax. Enjoy the day, smell the roses. Detach from the notion of ‘inner work’. In fact, what might happen is that as you relax, you allow space for integration of all that you have learned!
One of the ways our ego can trick us is by whispering the words of fear: “you haven’t done enough. You can do better.” Yes, even spiritually. And when we go back to the foundation of it all, breathing in and enjoying the present moment…. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?
So, don’t forget to just chillax. And yes, sometimes it takes days or even weeks. Do you feel guilty for enjoying your time? That’s another food for thought.
#2 Go Deeper into Your Daily Practice
On the other hand, have you established a daily sadhana, which is dedicated time each day to connect with your inner space?
For some, it is a simple ritual, or meditation; for others it can be a daily yoga or kriya practice; the simplest form would be to journal how you feel about the day’s experience. There are many ways a daily practice can be established. However, the secret is to do it every day – not as and when it is convenient to you! Decide on a sadhana – and stick to it, at least for 3 to 6 months. (Unless it is a very intense and prescribed practice by your teacher or mentor, which could be shorter. Having said that, ancient sadhana’s are commonly meant to be practiced for years and years before yielding results)
The purpose of daily practices is to (a) keep you grounded and anchored in your truth and sense of self, and (b) gradually wear down the outer layers of the unconscious self… the parts of you that are perhaps, no longer you. Awareness is usually the outcome of daily practice.
Daily practices take time to generate results. Many newcomers often give-up journaling after a week when the excitement wears off. Not to mention that nowadays we live in an ‘instant gratification’ consciousness – if you want REAL results, you have to put in the hours. Journaling reveals the ‘hidden theme’ or ‘bigger picture’ of what we may be going through at this stage. But if you only have a few pages of the jigsaw puzzle…. How can you hope to see the bigger picture?
Take a short break, no problem, and then come back and persist in your sadhana with a renewed fire. Trust the process. There’s a reason why it has worked for thousands and thousands of years – and yet we think we know better?
Self-sabotaging ego says, “Oh I don’t resonate anymore with that” when you haven’t even broken through the preliminary layers! If I have a dime each time I heard someone said that…
#3 Seek Support!
Who do you go to to receive feedback, support, or guidance? Remember: we are often our own biggest blind spot. So, who are the individuals that can offer you clear reflection when you need it?
Oh, and yes, you WILL need it. Put your pride aside and allow spiritual support into your life. It may or may not be a consultant or practitioner. But personally I myself book a consultation at least once a year with one of my mentors – and last two years when it was particularly challenging, I opted for sessions every month to help me work through all the Purification that was arising.
Find a modality that you are comfortable with. Find a practitioner whom you trust.
The spiritual journey is a very personal path – but no one said you had to walk it alone.
#4 Face That Fear. Take That Leap of Faith
Over the last decade of my practice and working with so many students and clients, I observed one very interesting condition:
People know what they need to do, what fear they need to face – yet avoid doing or facing it! And still, they become perplexed when nothing shifts in their life or progress. How can you expect progress when the very thing that’s holding you back is not addressed?
Either you think your teacher was lying to you – or you secretly believe there is some other way to BYPASS doing what’s difficult. (Hence the rise of spiritual bypassing!)
Facing our inner demons is by no means an easy task. But you cannot expect new results by using the same old methods!
So, what’s that block you need to face right now? Focus your thoughts, anchor in your sadhana. Take that leap of faith into the unknown.
Slay that demon.
#5 Reconnect with Nature
If you live in the city like me, nothing replenishes your Spirit resources more than Nature. Go for a hike in the forest, meditate gently by a stream, bathe in the sounds of cicada amongst trees, touch the wet soil between tree roots… and let Nature do its magic and recalibrate your auric field. Spending time in Nature also helps us gradually synchronize with the powerful lunar and solar cycles – which are essential in our spiritual process.
What are some of the things that you do when you reach a ‘spiritual funk’? Share with us in the comments below. At the end of the day, don’t forget to have fun and be curious. Explore. Avoidance or suppression is never healthy, especially when the inner work is all about gently embracing all aspects of who we are – including your inner child, the wounded self, the parts of you that have not been fully reconciled into unconditional acceptance.
Last but not least, remember: Everyone is a work-in-progress. Nobody is perfect, and no one is expected to be.
Stay vigilant and self-aware. Yet don’t forget to enjoy the process along the way. The innermost spiritual experience is a very intimate and beautiful connection with All-That-Is, often symbolized metaphorically as butterflies, which we may accidentally crush with the ‘seriousness’ of ‘seeking the Divine’ too intently.
Trust the process. Enjoy this lifetime.