Practical Spirituality: The Journey of Growing Your Consciousness

One of the most important things I do as a teacher and guide is to help people who are on a path of conscious seeking—whether they have been on that path for a week or for over 50 years like I have—to navigate the real, authentic, practical experience of waking up and living a fully conscious, awakened life. I call this “practical spirituality.” The actual experience of transformation contains a lot of things—passages, purifications, moments of revelation, moments of relinquishment—all of which have nothing to do with a projection or fantasy of what it’s like to grow in consciousness.

When most of us imagine what it should be like to be more enlightened, we assume that, every single day, we would feel happier and be flooded with more love, that things wouldn’t bother us anymore, that everything in our life would always go the way we wanted it to, and that we’d be able to manifest everything we want immediately. These are lovely thoughts—but they’re what I call a “kindergarten understanding" of spirituality, a stage we all go through.

The real journey of the growth of consciousness is much more nuanced. It has many peaks and valleys. It has intense passages, sometimes called “the narrow path,” about which scholars and mystics have written for thousands and thousands of years. There are times when we are flooded with more questions than answers, more doubt than certainty, and when it feels like we are going through so much inner change and turmoil that nothing seems solid any more.

These times of transition and shifting are usually very challenging, confusing, and can even be frightening, since they don’t seem to match our expectations of what we think should be happening. If we don’t properly understand the road of awakening, or have teachings that map it out for us, we can misinterpret these moments of great emotional and spiritual transformation and expansion to mean that something has gone wrong, or that we’re actually stuck and not growing at all, when the opposite is actually true: Something powerful is taking place at the very core of our being.

My own half-century journey as a serious practitioner and seeker has taken me on a pilgrimage through many of these intense stages and crucial passages, as I formally studied with several renowned spiritual teachers, and spent many months at a time on retreats in seclusion and meditation. I emerged out of these decades of deep practice and experience feeling called to help guide my fellow spiritual travelers on the road of awakening by providing real, grounded, practical, and powerful teachings that serve as a compass to keep you from drifting off into doubt or confusion and give you confidence that you are going in the right direction, you just don’t recognize the scenery yet.

I have a saying: “There is nothing worse than thinking you are lost when you are actually in the middle of finding yourself!” I want to reassure you that some of the difficult and uncomfortable things you’re experiencing, which you think mean something is wrong with you, actually mean something is very right. You’re not breaking down—you’re breaking through. You’re in the midst of a profound and magnificent spiritual rebirth.

Barbara De Angelis teaches the program Peace, Power, and Purpose at Kripalu.

© Barbara De Angelis Enterprises 2018. Reprinted with permission.

Barbara De Angelis, PhD, is one of the most influential teachers and best-selling authors of our time in the field of personal and spiritual transformation.

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