Project Me – Being of Service to Myself
“Project Me – Being of Service to Myself”
Conscious Living – April 2016
By Kathy Ryndak
You might think that “Project Me” is a narcissistic title but attending to one’s self first is one of my most important life lessons. The creation of Transformational Arts 28 years ago has been no ‘cake walk’ demanding intense energy and creativity plus strong management skills to guide thousands of students who of have studied at the College. It was an archetypal calling for me brimming with passion and purpose. There was no stopping me and no one person or thing could have pulled me away from one of my most important life missions. Many spiritual people dream of starting their own centre but most don’t realize the blood, sweat and tears that are required for this idealized vision.
Being of Service
I have always championed the concept of being of service to others but many times I forgot to get my own needs met or in other words, being of service to myself. As the school matured, the nature of my position changed due to external, bureaucratic requirements. Within the past six years, I was so far off purpose from my original intentions leaving me to feel a lack of soulfulness in my administrative work.
I sometimes experienced repetition fatigue from having done the same thing for so long. Yet, specific tasks needed to be done to keep the College running so little choice existed for me. I felt trapped by the outer, mandatory and changing administrative needs of the school. I would ask myself where did the magic and creativity go? And for those who know me, it is a given that I am not a bureaucrat but flourish in the realms of inspiration, creativity and vision.
The changing nature of my work, many personal losses and much more led to my eventual burnout and becoming physically ill. It happens more often in this type of profession because of the constant giving and sensitivity that is required of us. We can forget to replenish ourselves. Medical and holistic practitioners can experience ‘compassion fatigue’ as we are consistently required to be empathetic and compassionate to foster healing.
I think the spiritual adage “We are spiritual beings having a human experience” by Teilhard de Chardin can be easily misunderstood. It may convey that we need to focus more on our spiritual nature versus our emotional and human needs. If we do not get our human needs met eventually we will not be able to effectively give to others as the well will run dry. We may become tolerant of others’ unhealthy behaviour as we over-empathize with them.
The term burnout, like mental illness, comes with great stigma and judgement. It is real and can lead to physical illness. You might have seen the current TV commercial which addresses this stigma. Some may tell you to: get a grip; get over it; just move forward; this is taking you too long; focus on joy; be positive, you are a drama queen and worse yet if you were spiritual and conscious this would not be happening to you. You might be told that ‘happiness is a choice’ but it is not when you are in burnout or the dark night of the soul.
Karen Salmansohn states that “nobody has the right to judge you because nobody has been through what you have been through. They might have heard your stories but they did not feel the pain in your heart.”
Burnout often creeps up on you without being aware of how deeply you have fallen and not being able to climb up the downward, slippery slope. Trying to push through your exhaustion will not help and only makes it worse. Anxiety, depression, disengagement, withdrawing and isolation are part of the experience. Again, these states are aspects of the human condition and should not be judged but rather met with compassion. In this state, you will definitely come to know who your real friends are as they will be there to support you.
Our duality of seeing life as spiritual versus human makes it hard to move through burnout or for that matter, depression. Many regard spirituality as only being positive. When we are authentic, conscious, real and aware we will embrace both positivity and negativity in our life without judgement. As Eugene Gendlin says “feelings are neither right nor wrong”. We need to explore them to transform and find a new perspective.
Eventually, I did take a leave of absence as I became aware of all the stressors, losses in my life and grieving that needed to be done. I grieved the loss of parents, family and my calling that I had been madly passionate about. In the throes of all of this, my physical health declined and by last Christmas I was hospitalized. I had the support of many holistic/medical professionals and great friends to help me through this trying journey.
As I write this article in early March, my physical and emotional well-being has greatly improved although progress still needs to be made. I was thrilled and grateful when I recently received healthy bloodwork results which lifted my spirits.
I have diligently reflected upon the soul lessons of this chapter of my life which actually extend to my entire life, thus far. I am contemplating on the next leg of my path and what that will look like. I look forward to continuing on in a modified form in this field and am getting excited about other possibilities to explore.
I thank all of those who prayed for me and I am happy to write that prayer works. I finally went to Facebook to ask for my friends and followers to pray for me and the next day I was discharged from the hospital!
I will end with another Salmansohn quote which I found very helpful. “Sometimes we’re taken into troubled waters…not to drown but to be cleansed.” For me, this means transformation, redefinition and new direction.
Kathy Ryndak is co-founder of the Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training. The College offers professional training programs in Spiritual Psychotherapy, Spiritual Director, Holistic Health, Coaching and Esoteric Spiritual Studies. It offers psychospiritual courses through a 10 part program “Discovering the Total Self”. For a calendar, call the College at 416-484-0454 or toll free 1-800-TAC-SELF or visit www.transformationalarts.com To receive our e-newsletters, email firstname.lastname@example.org