“Many of the people who talk about spiritual growth, spirituality, or spiritual will often draw a blank when you try to pin them down for a definition of it. I was one of them. I used to think it had something to do with miraculous happenings, telepathy, synchronicity, a feeling of oneness with god/universe/spirit, etc. Then I heard the best definition of spiritual growth and intuitively realized it was correct. The definition is this: Spiritual growth is emotional growth, being spiritually advanced is being emotionally mature.” — Steve Gray, Tien Shan Chi Gung
What is “Spiritual Growth”? Why do we need it?
It’s true, there is no firm answer for this question. And yet, many people have an intrinsic knowing of the need for it. It’s as if they find an inner calling that says, “Hey! Get moving; we’ve got work to do!” I really appreciate Gray’s comment that spiritual growth is emotional growth, as this has been my experience as well. However, I would not limit it to this.
Most of my Reiki students find my classes because they either (1) recognize they are ready to grow spiritually (e.g. to pursue greater truth, release perceived limitations, or deepen connection to Spirit/God, etc) and have been searching for the right springboard, or (2) have found managing their boundaries and emotions (whether their own or those of others) challenging if not overwhelming and exhausting. These folks are the ones looking for an energy work practice that will help them feel safe and learn to manage healthy boundaries. You could say that I came to Reiki for the latter. So, while I didn’t intend to learn Reiki for spiritual growth at first; I can definitely say it was the inevitable outcome of this practice!
What does it mean to be “emotionally mature”?
The inescapable nature of emotions
Growing up I had recurring nightmares of drowning– for decades. It became so bad over the years I would start to notice in the dream what was about to happen. There I’d be approaching the beach, no matter which town I was in, and I’d know. “Oh boy, here we are again.” I’d turn around and I’d see the wall go up — 40 or 60 foot brick wall, inescapable. Suddenly there’d be no one else on the beach, and I’d see the waves starting to swell higher and higher. With no where to go, no escape, all I could do was wait to be consumed and drown. It was a helpless and hopeless feeling. Here were my fears coming at me: overwhelming, massive, drowning.
As you might imagine with that experience, I had learned nothing of how to deal with my emotions — how to *feel* emotions. It was simply either feel nothing, or be annihilated. This may seem hyperbolic or ‘dramatic’ for those who don’t have this experience. But, I can tell you from my practice, *many* people have this challenge — of learning how to feel their emotions, without feeling paralyzed at the (perceived) terror of what might happen if they do:
- What if I allow myself to really feel my anger, and I can’t control it?
- What if I allow myself to feel my grief, and the crying never stops?
- What if I allow my emotions to matter, and others get upset at what I have to say?
- What if I allow my emotions to matter, and I have to start making real change in my life?
For sensitive folk (like empaths, Indigos, Blue Rays, etc), the pain of these considerations is real, and the weight of the possible consequences, heavy. So how do we deal with it?
Learn to Surf
I can remember the first time I had a different experience in the water. In the dream, I was in the ocean, just off the shore. I was with a friend who said to me, “I’m going to teach you how to surf.” This was the start of a whole new way of relating to water (and to my fears). It was Spring 2004, and I had just become friends with the woman who would be my Usui Reiki Master, Shoshannah Beck. After two quarters of qi gong training, my extrasensory perception was opening up. I was becoming yet more sensitive to energy – and still had no real resource to feel safe with it. Working with Shoshannah, I learned many things that helped give me the confidence to be in and with my emotions.
How Reiki can help
For me, Reiki has helped my emotional maturity in what it has revealed to me about my truths, and about what can come out of the practice of presence, surrender and trust. I often describe Reiki as the great illluminator — shining light on the areas in our life ready to be transformed. The more I practice, the greater my ability to surrender to love and peace in my inner world, and see that reflected in my outer world. Each time I receive an attunement (this is a raising of your energetic vibration, much like resetting your body’s natural frequency) I find more is revealed to me about where I am not in alignment with love. As any good guide or teacher, Reiki doesn’t do the work for me — it says, “Here you go! Now run with it!” It’s always up to me how to respond: I own my growth at every step of the way. It’s a powerful thing when we experience ourselves as the agent of our change!
What’s your experience?
Have you had a Reiki attunement that’s powerfully impacted your life? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! If you haven’t had an attunement and are interested in learning more, I encourage you join us for the upcoming 7-week Reiki and Energy Work class, Reiki IA: Awakening (register by 10/11/16).