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Somewhere Between High Heels and My Higher Self

When it comes to reconciling my spiritual needs with my material ones, I find that they aren’t balanced so much as they are blended. At the same time, I’m also starting to realize that I shift in out of phases of being more spiritually focused some of the time and more materially focused at others.  On the spiritual front, I’ve dabbled in a variety of things from a variety of traditions that I believed were highly spiritual practices: looooong daily meditation sessions, yoga, studying spiritual texts, abstaining from sex, eating a purely vegan diet, turning a deaf ear to gossip, getting to a higher place where all drama simply rolls right off of me and only looking for the most amazing and positive qualities in all people.  I once tried doing all these things at once and, eventually, I got very bored.  More importantly, doing all those things all at once wasn’t me.  I mean, some aspects at certain times were very me, but to try and keep up that routine indefinitely was definitely not me. It occurred to me that, maybe, my spiritual quest was not so spiritual after all. If I am forcing myself to engage in practices that don’t feel completely consistent with what I’m all about, who am I kidding? God? Other people? The universe?  I’m thinking, not even me.

As the very spiritual Eckhart Tolle says (and I’m paraphrasing), I’m a human kind of being.  The being part of me thrives on things like meditation, yoga and deep connection with other people, but the human part of me enjoys yummy earthly things like lobster, making out, and cute shoes.   This may not make me a good candidate for one of those monastic retreats where cleaning the toilet is considered a spiritual practice, at least not in my current stage of spiritual evolution, but one thing I have learned is that, for me, the truly spiritual stuff cannot be fully experienced in a material vacuum. It’s actually imperative that I enjoy the earthly goodies–with extra gusto. The spiritual piece, I now realize, is having the ability to fully enjoy the material pleasures without being a slave to them.

Cute shoes, men and fine dining will come and go. Knowing that, I feel even more gung-ho about enjoying them when the opportunity presents itself and I feel far less disappointed about letting them go when that time presents itself.  It’s all fleeting: the inevitable pleasures and pains of the world, and that’s where the yoga, meditation, spiritual teachings and connection to others helps to keep me grounded and sane.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the spiritual practices I enjoy and gravitate toward are also practices I find materially satisfying and the material things I enjoy, I find spiritually rewarding.  In fact, when I’m really paying attention to what I truly want and doing what feels good, the lines are pleasantly blurred between the spiritual and the material.  Just to clarify, this should not to be confused with escaping into the material, obsessing or otherwise engaging in addictive behaviors–that doesn’t feel good in a sustained way and, ultimately, leaves people feeling worse once they come down off the initial high.  Obsessions and addictions are really just an alarm system letting you know that your being needs some attention asap. Addictions and obsessions suck because it’s the only way, sometimes, to get our attention and give us the opportunity to make things right.  So even there, the spiritual works through the material.  I think that’s pretty cool.

I firmly believe that life is meant to be fun, that we’re here to pursue and enjoy what truly turns us on–spiritually and materially–and do it in a big, big way. In the grand scheme of things, it’s challenging to make a meaningful contribution in the big wide world if we don’t make a meaningful contribution to ourselves first.   I’m at my best and most useful when I’m on fire about something. I bet you are, too.  If your current spiritual or material practices don’t light your fire, they don’t serve you or anyone else. I suspect it takes a lifetime to get this mix right, because it’s constantly changing just like you are constantly changing. You are not just human and you are not just being; you are a human being. I’m certain there’s a very good reason for this.  Go find out—be you out loud.

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  1. May 25, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Dear Emiko

    you write things about your feelings, understandings and believes that truly speak for me just the same
    i suppose that there are many of us like that
    it is good to know that you found the time to write it all down
    i am just to busy to do so for now
    but i hope now that i discovered your site that we can stay in touch and exchange ideas or finds as we progress

    nest of all to you

    JL

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