Efforting as Spiritual Practice

Efforting as Spiritual Practice - Awakened Life, Living with Passion and PurposeHow are efforting and spiritual practice related? How do we awaken to the relationship between the two?

I recently read “ The House of Shattering Light” by Joseph Rael, a Native American Mystic.  Joseph says that putting forth effort puts us in touch with inspiration. As we distance ourselves from our bodies and the earth through technology, we no longer apply effort to Being. Efforting  brings us joy and happiness.

Swimming was my gateway to efforting. I grew up by the sea and now live among the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.  Swimming has been confined to  one week a year at the ocean, where I spend hours body surfing. It no longer was enough for me. I found a local pool and began the practice of swimming an hour a day. The first week, when I left the pool, an inner voice reminded me “ I am a swimmer “.  Deeply moved , and somewhat frustrated with my progress, I determined that I wanted to bring a greater effort to this renewed passion.

One early morning during my swim, I noticed two fellow swimmers accompanying and passing me,  always to my left. But the thing was, no one else was in the pool. Who were these shadowy figures?

As part of my spiritual inquiry, I decided to explore this experience with a shaman, who invited me  to close my eyes and envision who these swimmers represented , how my perception of them was getting in the way  of efforting, and how I could begin to see them as gifts. Immediately I recognized them- my old friends Distraction and Overwhelm.

Distraction was always calling for my attention, a call to a friend, doing the laundry, taking the dogs out for a walk, checking my e-mails, saying yes to a lunch invitation. Distraction keeps me moving, but in an unfocused way.

My friend Overwhelm, on the other hand, paralyzes me. I have a to do list with more to dos than I care to admit, some of which have been there for years.   Holding on to everything, I become contracted, it all becomes too much and I lose focus.  I then become distracted. Ah, my two old friends.

As my shaman guided me to look for the gifts these two friends represented, they swiftly rose to the surface. The gift of distraction represents my ability to shift my perceptual state, to notice that the rain and the sun are both outside my window, that the stream of subconsciousness is flowing within me and that I can accept the invitation to join in. From this place, I can focus my efforting,  release that which does not serve me, and embrace emptiness.  It is no longer too much. Diving into the waters, literally, with effort, has liberated me and allowed me to swim within the embryonic waters of my Becoming.

Who is it that swims alongside you?  What gifts do they offer? Are you ready to accept?

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