Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Soul Care from Within by Erina Patrick

Photo by Sarah McMurray, from Muse Camp 2013

 Soul Care is a subject that seems to be growing in importance and popularity. For far too long the spiritual aspect of existence has been absent from most people's lives, but there seems to be a growing awareness and concern for a balanced life that involves a deep spiritual dimension. A few of us are awakening to the sad fact that possessions (like shiny new electronic devices) don't bring us lasting happiness.  Instead of instilling a sense of peace or well being they only seem to further fracture the minds ability to focus. If the latest and greatest can't bring any sense of satisfaction, then all we are left with is that vague feeling that something is missing.  For some the spiritual quest begins as we search for a deeper meaning to our experiences and a larger frame to place global events and personal tragedies in perspective.

The more deeply one peers into the inner workings of their own heart and mind, the more clear it becomes that contentment comes from within and that our reaction to people, places and situations are simply a reflection or projection of our inner state of being. 

The point being that the external stimulus is secondary to contentment, so it follows that soul care is mostly a solo endeavor in the sense that it's "an inside job." That is not to say that you cannot have people in your life to provide a support network, or even a trusted guide who can share their experience, strength and hope.  Naturally these resources can be invaluable when it comes to healing core issues. Compassion and self-acceptance are really the key to unlocking your hidden potential and empowering the soul; by practicing unconditional love and acceptance with yourself first you are then able to do so for others. Since we project our inner state onto the world, how we feel about ourselves is how we feel about the world at large.  "Change your attitude and your whole world changes."

This axiom of the inner reality being reflected by the exterior also applies to the teachers who are only there to remind you of what you already know to be true within yourself.  This is why the Latin root of the word knowledge essentially means to remind, or remember. An astute teacher knows that they are simply a mirror reflecting your inner wisdom back at you, because the truth lies within you. That inner knowing is often obscured by erroneous assumptions, predispositions, predilections and ideologies.  This is why many of us need an outside source to help us sift through the illusions (Mya), the personal history and wreckage of the past (Karma), and the ego (Ahamkara) that obscure the clarity of the soul. Once you see yourself as an intimate and intricate part of the living universe that is the divine, caring for yourself, and in turn others, seems like the only sane option.  For any form of hatred or harm inflicted stems from unconsciousness or delusion.

      Real soul care involves rigorous honesty, humility and compassion, with regards to where we are on our spiritual journey at any given moment. You cannot rightly say you love someone (yourself included) unless you truly know them and accept them exactly as they are. Humility is the realization that we are no better, yet no worse than anybody else regardless of wealth, education, age, gender, ethnicity, or religion. And this is the very core foundation of all spiritual principles. For when we see ourselves as right sized (i.e. equal to our fellow human beings), all of that self-imposed sense of importance, disempowerment and competition vanishes into thin air.  All of this was never based anything real to begin with, since it’s the ego’s way to oscillate from one extreme to the other.

The hero/heroine's quest always boils down to self-discovery, and only when we learn to love ourselves first are we capable of giving or receiving love from another.   

By caring for your soul, you invariably come to truly care for others, as the other is just a part of the wholeness that includes you too. When we see ourselves as spiritual beings having a human experience, then it only follows that the same is true for all those around us. This is important because the world is no longer divided into friend/foe, even those we would choose to see as standing in our way are simply teachers presenting us with the opposite of what we seek, which in turn clarifies that which we are after.

I believe that the "great way has no gate and there are a thousand paths that lead to it." The spiritual journey is the path that leads you back to your authentic self; stripped of all illusions that separate and divide the self, the world, and the universe and obscure the wonder and miracle of all that is. I could create a list ad infinitum as to the various ways people seek spirituality, but I believe far brighter spirits have already written countless volumes on this subject.  So instead I decided to touch on the aim rather than the means and hint at the larger truth behind the individual varied quest for it. Acceptance, awareness and compassion is what soul care means to me.

I am a thirty two soon to be thirty three year old woman, born and raised in Bend, Oregon and current resident of Maui. I moved to Maui to pursue my yoga path and passion for teaching,  while helping people to practice self-care and guiding them on their personal journey towards wholeness. I love the way yoga engages my creative and spiritual nature, I am involved in other creative projects and interests as well, such as writing and creating hand crafted jewelry.

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