Many weeks ago, I saw this on the Facebook feed of one of my favourite spiritual thinkers/teachers, Jeff Brown:
“I make no distinction between emotional and spiritual transformation.”
This struck me because even though I had never thought about it in those terms, it made perfect sense.
Sometimes I struggle with defining spirituality to others, as well as myself, because I live it through felt experiences, rather than rational ones. In fact, if you try to rationalise spirituality, or emotions, you might as well do something else.
I am someone who always remembers having a sense of “something else”, beyond what my senses could experience, and I can look back at my life and say that a search for that “something else” was there from a very young age. I had dreams, thoughts, and feelings that I couldn’t understand or explain, and I even experienced premonitions of future events, which I know better than to try and explain to any audience in any kind of rational way. What this all boils down to, however, is the fact that my intuition has always been powerful and beyond logic, and my heart space has always been open and receptive to every kind of human experience, no matter how extreme. I always found myself in situations where people would tell me their darkest secrets with ease, even as a child!
But as I began to experience extreme bullying from school peers, and feeling more and more misunderstood and isolated as a young person, I began to curtail my own emotional development. It’s no surprise that my intuition and heart space became barren and my relationship to religion changed. I don’t remember ever feeling like a devout Catholic, but I clearly remember the change to feeling completely against the Church in my teenage years. But it was also in my teenage years that the first seed of spirituality was planted. I was watching yet another music documentary on VH1, this time about Madonna, and in it she referenced her new found spiritual practice, Kabbalah. She said something along these lines: “Before this wisdom, I always thought life was random, and now I can see the connection.” Don’t ask me how, but somehow, that sentence stuck with me, even though I really didn’t understand what it meant. I was 13 years old.
Fast forward to being 17 years old and living in the USA with an American family. They had a ton of books on different spiritual practices, and one day as I spoke to my American mom, Cathy, she mentioned she had tried studying Kabbalah but didn’t like it. And even though I didn’t connect the dots straight away, there was something in me that remembered that Madonna interview all those years before, and the word Kabbalah began to resonate in what I would now call my soul, but which I experienced at the time as a simple “I must find out more about this thing”. I eventually bought a book – The Power of Kabbalah – and underlined almost every sentence, because everything resonated so deeply within me, almost as if I was coming back to some kind of spiritual home. I spent the following 5 years reading more about it on newsletters and books, but mainly not taking it so seriously. In fact, in my early 20s, I was much more preoccupied with booze and sex.
In 2010, at the age of 23, I decided to move to London and promptly lost all my savings through not being able to find work for 3 months. And then I realised that this was the first time I was living in a city with a Kabbalah Centre in it, and thought: what do I have to lose? I had no job, my mom had paid my last rent, and my self-esteem was non-existent.
I’m not writing this to promote Kabbalah in any way. I am here to say that it has worked for me. And it worked for me in the sense that it helped me to expand my awareness, elevate my consciousness, engage with my ego/shadow, open up my heart space, reignite my intuition, and ultimately transform several aspects of my life. Through its teachings and practices, I was able to begin to heal several aspects of my past: emotional neglect, bullying, Catholic oppression, family dynamics, shame, amongst others. I also learned about my soul and its journey and began to realise that whilst being awakened to a spiritual reality is amazing, it is also a tremendous responsibility. To be fully aware that your thoughts, actions, and words, all have an effect on your life, others’ lives, and the world? Honestly, sometimes I feel like that guy in the first Matrix movie who chooses to be plugged back in.
Spiritual transformation, just like emotional transformation, is hard work. It’s not about being positive all the time, it’s not about positive vibes or whatever. In order to be authentic in that positivity, you need to address, engage with, explore, and heal the parts of you that live in the dark. Light is only revealed from darkness. If you light a candle in a completely lit room, what difference does it make? But if you light a candle in a dark room? Well, you get the idea. And, this is the most difficult part of being aware and awakened: the work NEVER stops. In fact, the more you do, the more you need to do. The more expansive and elevated your consciousness becomes, the more difficult the challenges and lessons become. Why? Because, in order to reveal and manifest more Light in the world, the more darkness you need to overcome. Wouldn’t you want to be plugged back in to the Matrix, too?
But this is the thing. As the challenges have become larger, so has my capacity to deal with them. When my life changed on 5th May 2016 – more on that in the future – I actually had real strength and compassion to deal with it, because I had been doing spiritual and emotional transformation. I no longer blamed the world for my lows or mishaps, but instead I understood that even the direst of situations have a function. That doesn’t always become clear straight away, but I follow the motto of AA fellowships everywhere: one day at a time.
All of this to say: emotional transformation is spiritual transformation. Spiritual transformation is emotional transformation. Emotional transformation very much deals with the physical reality of our human existence, and spiritual transformation deals with the metaphysical reality of our souls in their relationship with each other, and other forces in the universe. Thus, the more we understand and accept that we are both body and soul, and that they are interconnected and interdependent, the more we come to realise that they are, and we are, interbeing. We are interconnected beings whose function is to be.
We are here, to be, in each moment, all that we are. No separation. No body AND mind AND heart AND soul, but BodyMindHeartSoul. We are all connected, whether we can see that or not. And all parts of us are connected. We are One, being One.
In this new focus of being, I have combined all that I have learned and experienced in the fields of spirituality, therapy, and performance, to create a more authentic practice of transformation and healing: healing by transforming our separation into integrated connection.