By Kathy Ryndak and Gord Riddell
Over the years it has become apparent that the entire field of spirituality has developed a number of myths that people are trying to actualize as truths. Individuals are struggling with ideas or concepts in their lives that they cannot bring into being simply because they are myths and therefore, unattainable. The danger here is individuals are left feeling inadequate or that they are doing something wrong because they cannot make the myth come true.
Over time the frustration of being unable to achieve certain things can turn people off and invariably we will walk away from anything we decide we are not getting or will move to more extreme measures to get it. This article will look at just a few of the most predominate myths that are floating around today.
Myth # 1- Spiritual People are always happy and content
Spirituality, when combined with emotional healing, is a series of practices, attitudes and beliefs that can and do make people experience their lives with greater energy and enjoyment but it also internally urges us to go deeper into ourselves for greater understanding. It does provide different skills and coping mechanisms that we may not of had to deal with our life. The most important thing is life can be difficult. It teaches us about ourself and each other through these difficulties. Painful things will happen, we will have losses, deaths will occur and change is always inevitable. Spirituality gives us tools on many levels not just to pilot our way through these things but also to learn from them. We will not always be happy and content every day, at every hour, it is not part of the human spiritual journey.
Myth #2- Spiritual people don't get sick.
Actually people on a spiritual path can get very ill and even die. We need to get past whatever idea there is that illness and death are somehow failures and wellness is the only option. Many spiritual people will in fact get very seriously ill as a way to learn and discover new things. Illness, disease and the death and dying process are all powerful learning tools. It teaches not only the individual going through it but also those in contact with that person. Many people with serious conditions like AIDS and cancer have said that if it were not for their illness they may never have discovered how wonderful life could be. We equate healing with being healthy; they are not the same thing. Profound levels of healing occur in the death and dying process. We need to understand that death is also an option in the healing process. Whether you are the healer or the person seeking healing, we need to know there are many options to learn on the spiritual journey.
Myth #3- Spiritual people must live in some form of poverty.
This myth is probably derived from the Christian parable that basically says, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into heaven. This concept, while altered somewhat, has become part of the spiritual ideas that hurt many people in their ability to be successful. Their beliefs about money severely limit their possibilities. Abundance and prosperity are key ideas in spirituality, when put in combination with this myth, can cause a lot of pain for many people. Money must be seen as nothing more than energy. It is a socially agreed to form of energy exchange. All energy from the spiritual to the physical is part of the human experience. It is our attitudes and how we use it that is important. Prosperity and abundance are there for the taking just like it is in all of nature. It is perhaps the behaviours of greed and hoarding that reinforce this myth and continue to fuel scarcity thinking. Being in the flow allows all energy including money to be part of your life.
Myth #4- To be spiritual, I have to be perfect
If there is any major stumbling block, this is it. Rooted in the Christian admonishment to be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect, this one short phrase is robbing people of many opportunities in their lives. Humans are not supposed to be perfect. Our souls have chosen to be here in the physical world because of the many challenges faced by and, therefore, the many possibilities provided for growth, by our humanness. Perfection is a state of stasis; in other words, there is no further growth occurring. Everything we know from spirituality or from science indicate that all things are in a state of flux and growth including the universe. Humans are a part of the natural world not set apart from it. Let nature be your guide as to what is possible and not possible. No one would stand in front of a tree or flower and proclaim it is not perfect, it just is and it is exactly how it is supposed to be. Let's apply that to ourselves. We are just as we are supposed to be, growing and changing.
Myth #5- Spiritual people never feel empty or lonely.
Sure they do. Humans are by nature very social beings. We need people around us at various times. Some people more so than others but the key here is we need each other. Our interactions are instrumental in our learning process. While some insight may be gained all alone in the woods, it's the challenges of our interpersonal relationships that provide the most learning about ourselves. We are designed to be with and learn from each other. This encompasses all forms of relationships not just intimate, sexual ones. While spirituality helps move us to embrace the divine within and to develop spiritual practices that consistently reinforce that connection, we still need to have others in the human form to connect with.
Myth#6- Spiritual people must be able to meet their own needs
This spills directly form Myth #5 that we have to meet all of our needs ourself. No, what we want to learn is how to have our needs met. There is a big difference. If we are trying to meet all our needs by ourself no wonder we may feel empty and lonely. We want to learn to have our needs met through any number of people. Any one person in our life cannot possibly meet every single need we may have, nor should they have to. We can have lots of different people from all walks of life to share with us our different needs and interests. By the way, we all have needs. They are what fuel our growth.
We could go on and on but maybe a good exercise for the reader is to find which myths you may have been holding as truths and find new ones not listed in the article. A way to possibly know if you are chasing a myth is to identify things in your own process that you just can't seem to 'get'. Things or ideas you keep struggling with over and over again and they are not clicking. We cannot 'get' a myth; we can only 'get' what is true. The pursuit of a myth is frustrating and harmful.
Spirituality is intended to simplify our lives through beliefs, attitudes and practices which enhance the human experience while embracing the divine connection. We make it much too difficult. We invest in the quantity of experience rather than the quality. It is not how long you lived but how you lived your time here on the planet. Keep it Simple!