Steps of Transformation
“One of the essential requirements for true spiritual growth and deep personal transformation is coming to peace with pain. No expansion or evolution can take place without change, and periods of change are not always comfortable. Change involves challenging what is familiar to us and daring to question our traditional needs for safety, comfort, and control. This is often perceived as a painful experience.”
Michael A. Singer (The Untethered Soul)
As the Spirituality Group slowly makes its way through Michael Singer's book, The Untethered Soul, we've become more aware of just how transforming his ideas are. I don't agree with all of them—that you can just decide to let go and it happens, for example—but I do see how working with his ideas as a spiritual practice transforms one's perspective of the world. Over and over, he lays out scenarios of how we take a situation and, because of our perception of it, cause ourselves great pain. Over and over, he brings the cause of our discomfort right back to our perception of how things ought to be, rather than how they actually are. In some ways, learning to live at peace with oneself and the world, is a honing process. Like learning anything new, it takes practice—and we almost always fail at first.
For instance, I'm trying to teach myself how to make rugs by crocheting fabric strips. The first one I made looks like a 3rd grade art project—no, it actually looks worse than that. The second one looks a little better, but insists on curling up on the ends. I know I will make many attempts before I create a rug that I like, and am willing to display in my house. Learning anything new takes practice. Learning how to change one's perspective takes a lot of practice.
Another example from my world is learning to paint furniture. I'm in the process right now of painting a chest of drawers. I can paint canvases all day long, but the minute I try to put paint on anything else, I'm a total waste. Paint runs, it drips, it doesn't cover, I miss places—it's a mess. I get more paint on me than on the chest. I watch people who know what they're doing, and they make it look so easy—they have the right tools, they go through all the initial steps to make the piece ready to accept paint, and they take their time layering it on. You can't just slap-dash paint onto something if you want it to look good when you're finished. In other words, you can't rush the process.
So, too, with change on the inside—it takes practice. We have to address ourselves in a new way; we must question our own beliefs and practices instead of others' beliefs and practices. We must attempt to look at life through another person's eyes, and try to honestly understand his experience and history. It's hard work to actually transform. You have to really want it. Change is often painful. It requires gentleness and patience; we must tolerate failure, and persevere in the face of it. It won't be easy, it won't be fast, and having peace of mind is the only reward—but maybe, just maybe, it's enough.
In the Spirit,