Why am I Still Struggling?
Do you find yourself continually struggling to integrate seemingly profound and powerful spiritual experiences and insights into your everyday life?
Do you ever wonder how you
can go from the peace, calm,
and serenity of this:
Right back to the chaos
and confusion of this:
It is is actually very common for people to struggle in bringing what they have experienced, either on retreat, in everyday meditation practice, or simply on an extended wilderness trip, into their relationships, their personalities, and their general day-to-day experience of living.
Experiencing your true potential for peace, wisdom, joy, and freedom and then continually falling back into old dysfunctional patters can be a very frustrating, and at times, a depressing and hopeless experience. Most likely you have put a good deal of yourself into your spiritual practices and have had what felt like extremely genuine and even ultra-real experiences and realizations of deep truths, only to reenter your life and see the walls go right back up and feel like nothing has changed. Experienced over and over again, this is enough to make anyone doubt the validity of their experiences and even want to give up on spiritual practice all together.
Additionally, because you most likely do not live in a monastery and don’t have the support of a spiritual community and teacher available to you 24/7, you are left to figure out the ongoing and difficult process of integration on your own. This is no easy task and not something that people are meant to do alone.
Don’t give up! There are often logical and simple reasons for why you might be struggling
Psychotherapy is an effective method to aid the process of spiritual integration because you are able to explore in a safe environment, whatever wounding and unconscious beliefs might be blocking the natural flow of integration that wants to take place. This is especially true if your therapist is a spiritual practitioner him or herself and is trained in various and effective integration methods.
I Still Don’t Understand Why It’s So Hard for My Spiritual Growth to Transform My Everyday Life?
The truth is that spirit wants to flow into your everyday life. Integration is a natural process. However, blocks can exist which divert this natural flow. These blocks are actually most often wounds that we experienced at different points during our lives, many of which occurred before we were teenagers, and some even before we were able to speak.
Many people attempt to avoid the pain of these wounds or heal them through spiritual practice. Though this is an honest and genuine attempt to solve a problem, it most often does not work so well and can lead to Spiritual Bypassing. Spiritual bypassing is essentially an often unconscious use of spiritual practices and beliefs as a means to avoid dealing with painful feelings and unresolved wounds. It has many subtle forms and is major stumbling block on the road of spiritual development and integration, though with support it need not stop you.
Often the wounds quickly form into negative beliefs about ourselves and the world such as, “I’m not good enough,” “I have no right to exist,” “The world is not a safe place,” or “I am not worthy of love.” Even though these beliefs are usually fairly unconscious, they still end up having a powerfully destructive effect on our lives. To spirit, such beliefs are utterly false and ridiculous, but because our energy clamps down around them and their originating wounds, they act as blocks to the natural flow of integration.
The process of integration can be seen as one of slowly and steadily creating more space within yourself for the free flowing movement of energy and emotion, so that spirit can enter you and your life and transform it. When you honor your humanness (relative reality) equally along with spirit (ultimate reality) you create a very conducive environment for balanced growth, and for the integration of your spiritual experiences. Above all else, this process requires great love, compassion, and humility.
Why is psychotherapy going to help me when a 10-day retreat didn’t?
Many people today believe that spiritual work will solve all their problems. While spiritual retreats and seminars can be incredibly helpful and even life changing, they are not a cure-all. This type of focused spiritual work is very good at helping you break through into the ultimate reality of timelessness, however it often does not address developmental or traumatic wounding adequately, and the instructors are not trained to guide you through this healing process. Most trauma and developmental wounding occurs in relationship, and so is best healed in relationship. The therapeutic relationship with the right counselor can be a powerful container for transformation.
Having ecstatic experiences or experiences of great peace and spaciousness are incredibly powerful and important. However, equally important is the care and compassion of your humanness. No amount of spiritual experience can wipe away the fact that we are also human beings with a body, both physical and emotional, a mind, and a soul; all of which needs care and attention.
What exactly will we be doing in therapy?
It is impossible to say what exactly your process of integration will look like. You are a unique being with a particular set of strengths as well as wounds. Because of this, your “prescription” or integration work, will be uniquely tailored to you. Therapy may involve work with harmful hidden beliefs, work with inner parts of yourself, trauma therapy, mindfulness training, etc, but it is essentially open and always responding to the needs that are arising in the moment.
How do I know when things are integrating successfully?
You will know when the blocks to integration begin to fall away through your shifting experience of everyday life. For example, when an argument with your spouse that used to trigger and hurt you deeply no longer has the same damaging effect over you, because you are able to stay with the essence of who you are that you have come to know through spiritual practice, you will know that integration is occurring.
I too Have Struggled with Integrating Spiritual Experience
I have personally encountered the great pain and disappointment of struggling with integration, as well as the sweetness and amazement of successes. Integrating growth through mind, body, and spirit has been a long standing passion of mine. I have, and am still, walking the path of integration, and I have helped many others walk it as well. I also understand that to be most effective, psychotherapy needs spirit just as the integration of spirit into mind and body sometimes needs the personal care of a therapist.
Start Integrating Now!
One of the first things I recommend to people working with the integration of their spiritual experiences is to begin to cultivate more self-compassion.
Without much self-compassion it becomes very difficult to see and embrace all of our own wounded parts. When we are unable to accept these parts we often end up either escaping into the timeless spiritual realm or avoiding spiritual practice all together. Many spiritual traditions have been aware of this phenomenon for centuries and have practices of self-compassion built in. However, for the average Westerner these practices are unfortunately often not taught early enough or with enough emphasis to keep your cultivation of awareness on par with self-compassion.
If you have not already tried the practices of self-compassion outlined in my free E-Report titled Beating the Inner Critic, I encourage you to pick a time this week that you can begin to explore this powerful practice. Simply click the report to the right to access.
To schedule your initial appointment with me please click on the CONTACT tab give me a few dates and times that would work for you. Your initial appointment is 100% risk free, meaning that you have the opportunity to meet me and see if you feel that psychotherapy is right for you and that we are a good fit. If you choose not to continue you will not be billed for the initial appointment.
Thank you for reading. I welcome any questions, feedback, or stories of your own process of integration. Also, if you would like more resources in the area of integrating spiritual experience please take a look through my ARTICLES and helpful mental healthcare LINKS.
I wish you all the best in your journey toward the fullness of your being,
Dan Entmacher MA, LPC