What is the Spiritual "Work" of a Spiritual Path?
Over coffee this morning Pat and I were discussing what makes a spiritual path work for a practitioner. How does a spiritual path transform us, awaken us, enliven us? It was clear to her that for her path, Awakening Into Presence, to “work” for her, she has to “work” it and do so consistently. This means a 45-minute practice in the morning upon arising and another 45-minute practice in the evening — seven days a week. It means reading. It means written work. It means group work. It means teaching (transmission) and counseling sessions. This is working the path.
While I meditate with Pat during her morning practice, I find my Pathwork practice is not nearly as routinized into a specific form or system as hers is. Of late this has concerned me. I read the Pathwork Lectures with vigor and passion, but what I see in them are many many practices I could adopt in some systematic way. Yes, of course, the Daily Review. That I do. But what about deliberate and consistent work on my images, vicious circles of spiraling negative behavior, or doing some of the many concentration exercises the Lectures suggest, or the visualizations, or the various forms of meditation or prayer?
The Lectures endlessly encourage the Pathworker to become self-aware of and integrate body (the physical body and layers of subtle bodies down to my core of spiritual essence), feelings and emotions, intellect, and Spirit. And integration of these requires doing practices, or doing the “work” of Pathwork.
But as I sit here I am at a loss as to how really to do this in any systematic way. And I seem too lazy to search out and organize this all for myself, and I have feelings of judgment about this laziness. In a way I feel my vicious circle of negative behavior at work here, sucking me down into the mire.
I asked Pat if “doing the work” of AIP is mostly the tough psychological work of finding patterns of behavior that block the growth of the soul. Her response helped. “Yes, a good part of the work is to find and work to dissolve negative patterns. But the practices take this effort to a level below the level of mind. And the revealing comes in two forms. First revealing one’s light and spiritual essence and second revealing the negative patterns that need to be dissolved. In the practices there is an intentional opening to Spirit to let Spirit work this process from within, from one’s Essence. I think the word is enspirit.” We looked up enspirit: to infuse spirit or life into; enliven. Yes, that says it well.
What I see is that while all of this is included in Pathwork, my practice of Pathwork has not yet gelled into a regular set of practices I do each day the way Pat and probably many other spiritual practitioners do their practices. Yet I am aware that much of what I do do supports all this, but in a kind of fragmented inconsistent way. Certainly my reading of the lectures bathes me in these ideas and concepts — and yes, the words sink into my heart and cells, not just my mind. And the Pathwork Lectures talk about translating feelings into concise thoughts, a form in which they can be evaluated and worked with. Certainly much of the writing I do, either in journal work, in this blog, and elsewhere, addresses this. Or Hakomi that gets me into my body where I can discover how my body informs me of what I feel. My regular helper sessions support me through many challenging areas. All good stuff. But I guess I’m looking for more order, more of a system. But still, laziness steps in. Well at least I have found my opponent! Now let me engage my opponent.