This is a last-minute decision to participate in The Pagan Experince 2016. I was very intrigued by the fact that the theme for the month of January is spiritual growth, as “growth” is one of my words for 2016.
– i should probably ask forgiveness for how long this is.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GROW SPIRITUALLY?
Everyone has it’s own definion of growing. We’re all different and usually with different experiences behind our backs, which determines what we are, how we do things and what we need (or want) to work on – religiously and spiritually speaking.
If I think about what does it mean to grow spiritually for me, my answer is either a “understand who I am” or “become who I am” – two things that don’t always overlap.
One of the things I focused when I became pagan was balance: I had this desperate need to find balance between my inner world and the outerworld, between who I was and the mask I wore when I went out, between my misanthopic feelings and the need to excercise more compassion towards others. I felt like there were two sides of me, one the opposite of the other, and that balance meant to find a compromise between those two sides. Except it turned out it wasn’t really how it worked way.
Those parts of my characters that came out because of various personal experiences during adolscence washed away during a long period of sufference and yes, self growth. It was long and painful, but what I’m able to see now is that those days gave me the opportunity to look into myself and understand better what I am and what I’m not. For now, at least.
Have I become a better person, in the popular sense? Maybe not – I still make mistakes. I still am deeply affected by what other’s think of me, I’m still prone to hate others because of how they look, or because they seem to be a certain kind of person. It’s still different for me to look at things from other’s point of view (although being an empath helps to understand how they emotionally react) and to be totally unbiased.
This doesn’t mean that I haven’t made steps forward and here’s another truth about spiritual growth: there’s no aboslutely right nor absolutely wrong, or a standardized correct way. There are tools (such as meditation, visualization, divination and so on) we can use and relationship we can seek, build and foster – i.e. with the Gods, Spirits, Ancestors, Guides and Teachers – so that we may gain deeper understanding of the world and of ourselves. However this stems from my personal view of religion – that is a mean to better understand the world and its forces in the entirety of their complexity. If I understand how the world work (and to me the Divine forces of the Gods are inherent part of how everything functions properly), I’ll also be able to better understand how do I, as human, fit in it and how should I approach nature, animals, life and so on.
What we have is a set of tools, coming from our religious paths and personal research, that can help us achieve the goal.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO GROW
When you plant a seed you need to let him rest for a while before the first sprout can arise from the soil. You need to give it space so that the roots can grow. It needs nourishment in the form of water, sun and air. It needs time so that it can become a full-grown plant. Trees requires years to fully grow, and so do humans.
Allow yourself to grow. Allow yourself to have a time when you won’t be disturbed and a place suitable for your needs. Allow yourself to make the first step and stumble. Allow yourself to fall down and scratch your knees. Allow yourself to understand what you need, and what isn’t necessary. Allow yourself to get rid of everything in your life that harms you – yes, people too.
Give yourself what you need, but most of all give yourself the right to do what’s good for you.
There can be no growth if you are constantly trying to please others, fulfilling expectations, doing things because people ask you to, refrain yourself because *put reason here*.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO FAIL
Here comes a special paragraph about fear and failure, anxiety and all that (sounds like a good title for a book!), because they’ve always been problems in my life and I understand how it is really hard to go past them.
One of my fears is the fear of failure: I feel so bad when I fail at something, that if I can’t get things right I usually end up procastinating or giving up.
And here’s a brief chart of what I do when I decide it’s time to grow in a specific area of my life:
1. I understand something isn’t right/that I want to implement something in my life
2. I actively choose to do (or not to do) something
3. I inevitably fail and repeat the wrong behaviour
4. fail&correct myself
5. fail&correct myself again
6. and again
7. and again
8. When I’m lucky, here’s the point when I do it right for the first time.
As you can see, no matter how much I fear failure – it still is a big, big thing in my life.
The idea that everything can (and should!) be achieved in no time is peculiar to our culture. Our very school system teaches that when it demands different kids with different learning abilities and different strengths and weaknesses to perform at an average level – or worse, on an average time. When you start to learn meditation you won’t earn a D if for the first three weeks you’ll barely able to relax.
All this just to say that failing is part of the process. And yes, trying is the first step toward failure, but failure will teach you how to do – or don’t do – stuff. Failing teaches you that Tarot isn’t good for you, but the pendulum is. Or failing may teach you that you’re not a great diviner, but you’re strength lies with the herbs and their uses. Failing may let you understand that that cool thing everybody seems to do isn’t what you’re good at – and that’s okay.
Failure is a tool, like the others: it can tell you many things and set you on the right path, if you’re not afraid to discover something of yourself.