Allow yourself to change

Have you ever heard someone say “you’ve changed!” and usually with a bit of surprise in their tone of voice?

How do you feel when they say this?

Surprised? Pleased? Happy? And do you notice you feel brighter and your body lifts a little with positive energy?

Or do you feel something else?

Surprised? Disappointed? Hurt? And do you notice you feel sad or another negative emotion and your body shrinks a little into a smaller, lower energy?

There are two things happening here:

1. The words and energy the person used when they told you that they perceive you have changed.

2. How you feel about yourself right now and about how you view change in yourself, in others, and in your life.

If you were to pause when told “you’ve changed!” and take some time to explore what you are feeling you can learn some important things about change itself and your relationship to it. This is an internal exploration that is very worth doing because the world is changing, your life is changing, and you are constantly changing, whether you realize it or not…or want that change in yourself to happen.

Let’s dive into this with some thoughts you might find helpful to understand and reflect on

How someone tells you “you’ve changed” is important. You ‘read’ what they say as either positive or negative by their voice, body language, and energy.

If they are a generally positive family member, friend, or colleague who cares about you they may be acknowledging a positive change they perceive in you in a joyful, appreciative way. For example:

“You look great/happy/healthy! How’s life going? What’s new? Let’s grab a coffee so we can catch up!”

If they have witnessed a negative change they may still use a caring and gentle approach in sharing what they perceived and will follow with some of these questions:

“How are you doing? Is everything OK? How have you been? What’s going on in your life?…”

On the other hand, if they are someone who is unhappy in themselves and projects this outwards then you may be the recipient of their unhappiness when they witness you changing. For example, if your change is for the positive:

“What’s up with you? Why are you so happy all of a sudden? Win the lottery? Get a promotion? Dating the boss?”
(said with subtle or overt negative energy in their voice and evident in their body language.)

If they witnessed a negative change they will show subtle or overt scornful delight in their words and / in their behaviour towards you:

“About time you learned that you can’t do whatever you want! Always think you are better than everyone else don’t you? Good to see you taken down a peg. Maybe now you know how I feel….”

Insight: How others react to you when you change is about them – their self perceptions and their beliefs, traumas, wounds, and sensitivities. It is not about you.

Can you remember how people’s reactions to you affect how you feel when they tell you “you’ve changed”? If we were all super self-aware, strong, sovereign, and free in our minds and spirits we would appreciate the care of the positive people in our lives and ignore the negative people because their opinions don’t affect us.

But that is not always the case is it? It is a really desirable goal to reach this more enlightened state of being and our changing again and again is the journey to that place!

But what if your change for the positive is not well received by one or more family member or friend who cares about you?

This can be really confusing and can result in feelings of hurt and sadness.

Here you are, changing and growing into a new and stronger, clearer, and healthier person and some people who care about you and love you don’t like the new you. They react negatively to you.


Because the new you is different and it threatens them.

A number of things can be happening:

– The person was attached to you being the old way because you were predictable, someone they “knew”, someone who was “on their level”, and someone they were “comfortable with”. You changing threatens their attachment to you. They are afraid and this leads to anger towards you.

– The person had one or more unhealthy attachment to you: A sense of shared victim-hood, a co-dependency, an “us versus the world” attachment based on being different from the norm, etc. In this way they had subtle or overt control over you which made them feel safe and validated.

– Your positive change, growth, and evolution is a mirror to other people’s issues. You becoming a new and more positive version of yourself shines a light on their not changing, growing, and evolving. It triggers their unhealed traumas, emotional sensitivities, and challenges their beliefs about things.

Your growth scares people who don’t want to change.

So you have two possible paths forward when you come to a point when positive change and evolution is happening in your life and you get negative reactions to it, even from some people who care and love you.

Option 1: You choose to shrink back into at least a bit smaller version of yourself and consciously choose to stop changing, growing, and learning.

What this looks and feels like:

– You choose to focus on what other people want you to say, do, dress like, and agree to. You stick to familiar and “safe” topics even if they no longer resonate, dress and act the same as you are expected to, and agree publicly to the common narrative of family, friends, and off-line and on-line communities, even if that narrative is no longer your truth.

– You continue to associate with family, friends, and work communities even if doing so leaves you feeling empty, alone, and numb.

– You continue doing work that no longer fulfills you or worse, makes you feel like you are betraying yourself and your soul.

– You continue living a lifestyle that is now unhealthy, unfulfilling, and numbs you.

In summary: You get lost. And it begins to really hurt. Your soul, spirit, mind, and body all begin to feel increasingly unhealthy, weak, restricted, and distressed.

Option 2: You choose courage and push on with change and evolution and grow into a bigger, stronger, clearer version of yourself.

What this looks and feels like:

– You focus on what makes you feel good. New ways of seeing the world, new thoughts, new perspectives, new ways of acting and dressing, and you choose to keep your new personal narrative mostly to yourself for awhile so as to not come into conflict with others and allow yourself to keep learning and growing into your new truth.

– People leave your life. Casual acquaintances, some close friends, and yes, even some family members. This hurts. It really does. Not only might you feel lonely and alone but it raises the question of whether this is really the right path. But then something happens: Your courage combines with the choice to love and accept yourself more deeply even though you are alone. You decide you are good enough and worthy of love just as you are.

And when this happens a few new people suddenly come into your life. People who speak to your heart, mind, spirit, and soul in a new way – a way that is perfect for who you are now and who you are becoming. Like attracts like. And yes, a new life partner might be part of this, if it is the right time for you and what you want.

– You choose a new way of living that is healthy for you. This might mean eating lighter food, cutting back or eliminating intoxicants, spending more time in nature, exercising, changing what you do online and the tv/online entertainment you consume, and moving to a healthier home in the region. Or it might mean a bigger change such as going travelling for an extended period or maybe even moving to another part of the country…or to another country.

In summary: You choose to keep changing, growing, and evolving. You “find yourself” again. A new version of you. And in doing so you begin feeling really good. Your soul, spirit, mind, and body all begin to feel increasingly healthy, strong, free, and joyful.

And this leads to the final points for your consideration:

Do you believe change in yourself is normal, healthy, ongoing, never-ending, and desirable? Or the opposite?

Do you have the courage to look at what is holding you back from changing, growing, and evolving? We all have beliefs, traumas, emotional blocks, and fears that want to restrict us into staying the same or shrinking. Do you let that happen or do you seek the tools, practices, and people to help you let go, heal, re-program your mind and belief systems, and encourage you to keep going forward?

Are you willing to pay the price of changing, growing, and evolving? The price of having to let some known, familiar, and comfortable people, places, beliefs, narratives, and aspects of your lifestyle go so that you can step into a new community, new places, new understandings, new perspectives, and a new lifestyle that will bring you more joy, health, and fulfillment?

Do you choose to trust the unknown future you are facing and walking courageously into?

There is no judgment of either choice.

If your soul and spirit are ready and you find the courage, determination, and commitment to change, grow, and evolve you will create a new version of yourself and your life.

If you choose to try to stay the same there are short and medium-term comforts and lessons in that, too.

Ultimately it is safe to say you will feel better in the long run and will thank yourself at some point in the future if you do choose to find the courage, determination, and commitment to change, grow, and evolve into a new version of yourself.

Because you will change. Now or in the future.

Change is the nature of life itself.

Allowing change to happen now to who you are by letting go of resistance, joyfully embracing change, and with a positive attitude… or choosing to hold on the old you, struggling to stop change, and by choosing the negativity of resistance is your choice.

“Suffering = resistance to change + pain”

Suffering sucks. And it can stay with you for a long, long time if you become so entrenched in that resistance that suffering becomes familiar and comfortable to you. The challenge? Suffering begets more suffering. Deeper and worse the suffering gets. Mental, physical, and spiritual.

Suggestion: Choose the easier, more joyful, and positive path. It comes with the need for courage and can be a bit painful but that pain is transitory. It passes quickly if you let it. And with each big step forward you feel freer, healthier, and more joyful mentally, physically, and spiritually.

And if you continue to allow yourself to change into versions of you then throughout your life each new version of yourself will look back and thank the previous version for the lessons and courage you chose to change, grow, and evolve.

And life will keep feeling better and better and better…

Life is like surfing: It constantly changes. The best surfers? They learn to change, adapt, and evolve along with the waves. Just like the how the healthiest people choose to go through life…

Being one person

Many years ago a friend visited my class to see what one of my university classroom experiences was like. When it was over, I heard some surprising feedback:

“You are the same person as a professor as you are outside the classroom!”

I was startled by this. And for years afterwards I mulled over this statement as I learned about the different personas and affectations people choose to take on and are forced into.

As children we start by learning that our mother expects us to behave in a certain way and our father in a different manner. And then we learn our siblings want us to behave in another way. And then we learn our teacher at school has another expectation again.

With each expectation that is projected onto us we make a choice as to who we are.

And for most people something unconscious happens: In order to “survive” certain contexts and expectations we split ourselves into more than one persona.  A very typical one is becoming one persona for our parents and one for our friends. And another is the persona who appears every day in public school when we walk into the school. Another persona is constructed in order to become “liked” as a teenager by a peer group. And in order to be desired by someone in a romantic manner another persona is created.

And I learned how the taking on of various personas and affectations can be a real challenge to undo if they become so deeply ingrained and so habitual that the “real” person is now buried under that collection of personas and no longer knows who “it” is.

And this can be a significant barrier to finding peace inside oneself and to walking a more gentle spiritual path.

Ask yourself these questions:

“How many personas have I consciously and unconsciously created and taken on?”

“How does having all these different ways of being in the world making me feel?”

“Who is the ‘real me’ persona? Does it feel like there is one at all? Or am I now a fragmented collection of different personas that perhaps one might be the real one?”

Then go and sit quietly alone and in a peaceful place. Identify that one “real you” persona. You will likely find it in your very earliest childhood memories and in the quiet safety of being alone where you are sitting.

Gently hold that persona in your mind, heart, and body. 

You may cry. This is natural. It has likely been a very long time since you felt the real you.

You have just taken the first step on an important journey:  The journey of becoming one person again.

Ask yourself one final question:

“Would you like the ‘real you’ to be the single strong, clear, loving, joyful person in all aspects of your life from now on?

If the answer is “yes” then set a strong intention right now, with all your strength, love, and spirit:

“I love you, my real self. You are my one and only way of being in the world from now on. 

It may take some time for me to undo and let go of the many personas I have created over my lifetime.

And I may slip back into one or more of them for a few minutes. But I will quickly remember that you are my true self and come back home to you faster and faster each time.

I am only my one true self at all times, for everyone, and everywhere I find myself.

I am home.”


Anger is a special emotion

Anger is a special emotion. It can create a wall in your life or it can create a bridge. The choice is yours.

By letting anger create a wall that blocks out questions and new perspectives you imprison yourself. The darkness you are experiencing gets deeper and you sink into lower and lower emotions resulting in the wall getting higher, thicker, and more impenetrable.

By letting anger create a bridge you let go of the tight hold you have on strong beliefs and open yourself to new perspectives and new truths. As you cross the bridge you leave anger behind, taking steps deeply into courage. As you bravely let new truths enter your life your emotions acknowledge and reinforce your choice and you begin to feel stronger, clearer, and more free.

What do you let anger create in your life? A wall or a bridge?

What do you allow into your mind?

The information you allow into your mind, what you allow your mind to believe, and what you judge as a result of your mind’s beliefs becomes your view of the world. Eventually it becomes your reality because your mind has been trained to only see and hear what matches those beliefs.

And then you live an ever changing roller coaster of a life, being dragged up and down and sideways emotionally at the whim of the next bit of information you allow into your mind.

What information are you allowing into your mind?
What beliefs are you allowing to be created in your mind?
What judgements are being made in your mind because of those beliefs?

Is this the reality you wish to create for yourself?

Are you ready to get off the never-ending emotional roller coaster and create a different reality?

Question everything

Question everything. It is one sure path to the truth about the world and about yourself.


Try this: Assume what you read, see, and hear “out there” is the opposite of what is true. Watch how your mind rebels as its cherished beliefs about what is true, good, and right are challenged. You may experience strong feelings arising in you as well. This is your indication you are on a very useful path of inquiry. Don’t stop because your mind and emotions don’t like what you are asking of them!

Keep going.

You are heading towards your freedom, because the truth really does set you free.

We choose our reality in every moment

In every day and in every hour and in every moment we choose our reality. Again and again and again we choose.

At this very point in human history we have a powerful opportunity to choose anew in every moment.

And at the same time there are powerful influences calling us in two very different directions: to darkness and to light.

What reality are you choosing right now?

Will you let your fear die?

April 10, 2020: “Good Friday”

Today is a symbolic day of death.

Would you consider letting something die today?

Might you let your fear die?

If you take even just one minute to be really still and look inside yourself you could find something amazing: A part of yourself that is completely and absolutely OK. A spark. A light. A well of OK-ness. A knowingness that “of course I am OK!!”

And in that moment you will learn that your fear has lost. It will die.

“It is already dead!” you might even hear from a voice inside you.

The fear you have been holding is a wonderful gift. It is the stark and clear contrast to the truth inside you of who you are and that you are actually OK. Really, truly, OK.

Warning: The sudden discovery that you are actually OK often comes with a very loud shout of joy. Just letting you know you might wake up the neighbours with that shout. But don’t hold back:

Your shout of joy is exactly what your soul and the whole world needs to hear.

Letting go of the lies you believed

You swam in the river of lies and believed them.

We all have at one time.

Look inside yourself and discover the truth.

By doing so you realize your freedom and heal the world at the same time.

Or you can choose not to. This is simply a choice. You have free will.

To hold on and suffer or to let go and be free.

Practical Spirituality

What is the point of doing spiritual work?

Why make an effort to seek truth and free yourself from beliefs, habits, and ways of seeing the world?

Why break out of the mainstream of humanity to take the proverbial “road less traveled”?

For what gain?

Well, spiritual teachings would have us believe that the answer to these questions is the opposite of “gain”. It is the peace that comes from letting go of all that you have accumulated mentally, physically, and in your spirit and soul. And it is not just what you have learned and taken on in this lifetime, but the weight of your past lives, of what has been gifted to you transgenerationally, and even the share of the collective burden of humanity that is yours to shoulder.

Yup. True.

But between where you are now and the end result of true peace is a long, long journey for most. And if you are awake and conscious that you are meant to do spiritual work in this lifetime, the journey usually feels like climbing a mountain that has no top, with little respite along the climb up.

Also true. (mostly)

As I have taken a different spiritual journey than most, what I call “a gentle spiritual path”, my climb has been a different experience.

For sure the climb has been a challenge. There are steep bits that feel like they will never end. And there are bits where the clouds swirl around the mountain and you can’t even see the next step to take. And sometimes the path seems to disappear completely, where you come to a cliff face you can’t seem to be able to get around.

So my path certainly has some of the key elements most spiritual aspirants experience.

But my choice of a gentle spiritual path has also given me some wonderful tools to work with and, per the title of this article, some practical results along the way that truly delight me in this human experience.

First,  a few tools that I use as part of my journey. Think of them as tools a mountain climber might use to climb up the sheer face of a mountain. Sure, some climbers “free solo” their climbs but most are completely laden with gear. Both make it up the mountain, but with lots of effort. Instead, I take the winding walking path up the less steep backside of the mountain where I walk steadily and unwavering up. My climbing tools are like a walking stick and a good set of walking shoes, in comparison. And I  enjoy the view in the sunshine on the less steep side of the mountain when the clouds clear, too.

Tool 1:  The Third Option

Most people, when faced with big challenges see two options:  Left or right. Up or down. This or that. Duality. Most times in life these two options are trade-offs. You gain something and lose something with both.

I have learned a different way to face life’s challenges:  Look for the third option.  Invariably there is one. But you have to look for it. And 100% of the time this third option is “better” than the options of duality. When I find it, I am delighted, grateful, and deeply awed by the power that illuminates my path.

But it is not just looking for a third option, but also having….

Tool 2:  Patience

One thing in the little playbook of life you were not taught is that patience is a really powerful tool. Patience allows a third option to appear in what otherwise looks like a hopeless trade-off of dualistic options.

Patience allows a third option but it also allows for…

Tool 3:  Right Timing

“Right timing” is one of the most powerful tools I have ever learned. In our haste to get what we want in life, including progress up the proverbial mountain of spiritual growth, we push, push, push our way with impatience and forced timing: “I want it right now!!!”

Right timing has saved me from unnecessary pain and suffering so many times that I have learned not to make decisions at all unless it is the right time to do so. This sometimes frustrates some people close to me as I don’t synch with their more rush-based approach to life, but it works for me and the results are so delightful and peaceful that I will never go back to a push-based way of doing things.

Tool 4: Principles

There are certain principles in life that simply work. And on my gentle spiritual path they have meant I not only have a more peaceful experience but also a more joyful one.

To most people principles are a painful set of rules that they dislike and ignore as best they can because they seem hard to adhere to.

To me, principles are the unwavering guides that keep me grounded and safe through the ever-changing weather of life. I never treat them as rules or dogma. Or as prescriptions or scripture. I honour them as companions that never lead me astray…if I have the patience to allow a third option to appear and right timing to take that option.

The actual principles that I honour are the subject of a future article,  but suffice it to say that when I combine these four tools (and some others), I experience a more gentle and joyful spiritual path, far less pain and suffering than I witness in the journey of others, and per the topic of this article, some practical results, too.

Practical = things that make life easier and more joyful = a gentle spiritual path.

Practical results from spiritual work

I chose the above four tools to help explain the practical example I am going to share here that illustrates how spiritual work is very practical along life’s journey and not just useful for achieving the end goal.

The Example:

Every week I drive over 100km (62 miles) between two cities. Along the way are multiple towns, some 20 stop lights, a mountain pass, multiple micro-climates, and lots of highway traffic that changes all the time in density and flow patterns.  The drive takes between 90 and 120 minutes, depending on traffic.

My experience of the drive can be either stressful and tiring or it can be peaceful and enjoyable.

This is where my tools and spiritual practice generate practical results.

As I am driving, I practice patience and right timing. I typically find my own speed that feels just right for the flow of the highway. It is often just above the speed limit, in the traveling lane (right lane), and is never close to the vehicle in front of me.  Vehicles come up behind me, change lanes, and pass me in the passing lane (left lane) all the time. Often they speed by, clearly in a rush to get to where they are going. And they push others to get out of their way. And they themselves are pushed by others behind them.

All this pushing and speeding and changing lanes before they race up to a red light makes them frustrated, stressed, and even angry.

My experience is that I see these patterns because I am not locked into their mind frame. And by seeing these patterns I intuitively slow down or speed up to stay in my own peaceful zone away from their chaos.

I also let people merge into my lane and never cut off anyone by darting in front of them (a principle of respect).

I stay in a peaceful “observer” mode while driving, with calming music playing, alert presence to allow me to see patterns emerging on the highway, and a feeling of flow.

And from my patience and choice of principles come right timing and the third option.

I giggle because I get mostly green lights (right timing) by flowing up to lights rather than racing and then slamming on the brakes between them.

And when a traffic jam occurs because of an accident or construction? I can see the pattern building long before I get there and a third option appears: I can exit the highway and take a parallel service road around the stoppage, for example. This has happened so notably that I now know that it is not a random occurrence.

This is just one example of how spiritual work has very practical results.  As I climb the  proverbial mountain in my own steady but gentle way, more and more results appear.

Spiritual work does not have to only be about about reaching an end goal. It can also be about practical results that make you feel awe, joy, and deep gratitude all along the path.

Simplicity within complexity

Life is complex. It is complicated. It is messy.

This is truth. 

However, there is a common belief among spiritual aspirants that one must create a simple lifestyle in order to progress in one’s spiritual work in a pointed and determined manner. A simple lifestyle is one dedicated to disciplined religious practice in a monastery, for example, or a simple pastoral life, “far from the madding crowd” to quote Thomas Hardy.

If life itself is complex, complicated, and messy, does removing oneself to a lifestyle of simplicity then resolve the very nature of life – that it is not actually simple?


Creating a lifestyle of simplicity may be pleasing and more understandable, but it does not necessarily mean that it helps you make any more progress in your spiritual journey than having a lifestyle embedded in complexity!

“What?!?! You mean that simply donning the traditional cloak and practices of a spiritual aspirant won’t actually get me to where I want to go?!”



Some notable quotes on this:

“Be in the world, but not of it” (the bible)

“Why did we meditate in a monastery for 30 years and get nowhere when a farmer working his field became enlightened?” (paraphrased from something I read somewhere)

Larry Darrell to Monk: “It is one thing to be a monk on the top of a mountain and another to live spiritually in a city”.

Monk, in response:  “You are closer to enlightenment than you think.”
(From The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham: )

“Life is difficult” (The Road Less Travelled, by Scott M. Peck)

“Life in complex” (The follow-up book, called The Road Less Travelled and Beyond, written because people didn’t understand that life is not simple)

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” (Albert Einstein)

Oh, dear.  A conundrum seems to appear:

“How can I even pretend to be spiritual, much less actually be it, when life is complex, complicated, and messy?! And on top of this, now it seems that creating a lifestyle of simplicity is not the recipe for making spiritual progress?!”

And on the theme of “a gentle spiritual path”, which is the underlying them of my journey and my writing:

“How can one have a gentle spiritual path while living in a life that by nature is not simple?!”

Peace within the chaos of life

The way out of this conundrum is actually pretty straightforward, but as with many things in life, not always easy to achieve:

Learn to be peaceful inside yourself while life swirls its dance outside of yourself. 

Peace is by nature peaceful. It is the opposite of complexity, complication, and messiness. It is the opposite of chaos. And it is simple.

Simplicity, then, is the result of spiritual progress, not a prescription for making spiritual progress.

“How do I find inner peacefulness while living in the chaos?”

Ahhh…now this is great question!

And the answer is an easy one:

You create inner peacefulness!

Hurray! And this is the end of this article.

Ok, so it is not the end of this article.

Why not? Because like I mentioned in an earlier article, simple cryptic sayings may be truth, but they are of little value in helping one actually do anything.

So, what can you actually do to create inner peacefulness?

Some practical first steps:

  • Every single day take some time out from distractions. Even just 20 minutes, 30 minutes, but preferably 60 minutes or more.  Set down your smartphone. Turn off the computer screen, shut off the television, pull out the earbuds. turn off the music.  Put the book down. Remove yourself from other people. Be by yourself.

  • Be uncomfortable in your time out from distractions. Yes, you read this correctly: Be uncomfortable. Do you think that suddenly removing yourself from distractions would be instantly peaceful and relaxing? Heck no! It will most likely be sometimes frustrating, irritating, and even scary. You are spending time only with yourself. You are not used to doing so. Your mind will go crazy trying to fill in the silence gap that external stimuli constantly feeds it. You are literally removing a drug from your mind.

    You will be uncomfortable for awhile. Likely for days and on and off for weeks and months.

    But that’s ok, because on the other side of the discomfort you will find some very real evidence of what you are seeking. “How long will it take?” you might ask. Not to worry: You will get glimpses of the other side pretty quickly. Just glimpses at first, but tantalizing ones that will encourage  you to continue making the effort and keep going.

  • Find the separate observer inside yourself: The consciousness that is watching your mind chatter away and your body doing all kinds of things throughout every moment of every day.

    You are not your mind. You are not your body. You are consciousness observing and living out a mind and body experience.

    You need do little to find the conscious observer inside yourself and spend some time feeling it.  Being free of distractions helps you get started. And telling yourself you would like to be present and feel being an observer can be the trigger to actually experiencing it.

    Spend some time every day in conscious observer mode only. A few seconds at first is all most people can maintain. Then they get lost in thought again. After a few days you will be able to spend 10 or 20 seconds in this mode. In a few weeks you will find you switch in and out of being present as a conscious observer while at the same time going about living your normal life.

    And then…

…You will notice that time spent being a conscious observer feels different.  It often feels a lot more peaceful.

But emotions, tiredness, discombobulation, and distraction will continually knock you out of peacefulness. Just because you have discovered that you are a conscious observer, and being in that mode sometimes comes with a new feeling of peacefulness, does not mean you are “done” and have achieved what gurus, saints, and enlightened being have become.

But you have definitely taken a really powerful first step.

You are for some parts of your complex, complicated, and messy daily life an awake conscious participant. You are now a participant with the power to observe and intervene in response to what their mind and body are doing, rather than reacting unconsciously and instinctively.

You are taking responsibility for your life in the most powerful way possible.

You are becoming active rather than passive. Not active in running around out there in the world doing things, but active inside yourself.

This is real power.

Power that is yours to take back from those influences you have unknowingly given it to:  Distractions, emotions, non-stop thinking, instinctual reactions, beliefs, mental constructs, the story of your past, and your desires for the future.

And now the real work begins. The work of deciding what distractions you will end permanently in your life. Learning where your emotions are being triggered from and deciding if you want to experience the triggered emotions any longer. Consciously quieting your mind. Letting go of beliefs and mental constructs that no longer serve you well. Seeing where the story of your past is coloring your present in ways you not longer wish it to. And letting go of the myriad desires for the future in exchange for only a few important ones that you know will actually be worth having.

But that is what lies ahead.

Right now?

Right now it is worth acknowledging that you have already tasted the inner peace that is yours to have forever if you are willing to take on the real challenge of making it permanent.

Welcome to the biggest challenge of your life and ultimately the most satisfying goal you will ever achieve:

Inner peace and simplicity in the complex, complicated, and messy external experience that is your life.



Spiritual Principle: Walk your own path

I don’t like cryptic and hard-to-understand ideas.

I much prefer clearly expressed truth.

This is truth that I can instantly feel at the deepest level of myself and that illuminates my mind, so that I can embrace it right away and integrate it into my life immediately.

My draft title of this article was “You are your own path”. Though this title is essentially true, it is an often-repeated spiritual principle, one that implies looking inward because “all you need is inside yourself”.

Yes. This is factually true.

However, simply stated truths like this can feel cryptic and frustrating because they often raise the question of “OK, but what do I do to be on my own path?” And “This feels like truth, but leaves me feeling frustrated because it is so far from my day-to-day reality of life.”

Frustration = not being gentle on your path.

Instead, I changed the title of this article to its current version: “Spiritual Principle: Walk your own path”, which feels much more action-oriented, empowering, freeing, and at least to me: gentle toward oneself.

So, here is what this principle means to me and why it is a key principle of a gentle spiritual path for me:

Principle: Walk your own path

Most of us have been en-cultured by processes all our lives.  We line up at school and in stores. We do worksheets in school for letters or percentages, which then lead to steps forward called “grades”. After our years in school end, we apply for jobs through a process, we get a job and are trained in processes, we follow these process steps to accomplish things in our work and the employment process gives us money, which we use in a process to buy things that we need and want.

Is it any surprise that when we hear an inner calling from our spirit and soul that we naturally look for a process to follow to answer that inner call?

It is no surprise at all, which is why we have religions, yoga, meditation groups, new age teachings, retreat centres, and a hundred other spiritual processes we could follow. They are wrapped in soothing words like “journey”, which makes them seem to our minds to be the right thing to follow, and cost a certain amount of money for “x” number of sessions, days, weeks, or months.

All very much in alignment with the linear, step-by-step way our minds like to see the world and reassures us that this is the “right” way to go about answering an inner call.

But it is not the only way to answer the inner call. And as history can show us, a process-driven way is fraught with challenges that must be overcome at best or are succumbed to at worst.

So, now the tough part to write:  How do I express in words that the gentle path I chose does not follow a religion or process of any kind?

And how do I express that there are wonderful teachers and teachings you can learn from and useful tools, concepts, and principles that you can pick up and use? And that you can use these teachings and tools in your very own way rather than in the way a religion or process tells you to use them? And that by doing so you are inherently answering your inner call with yourself, which is the most powerful commitment you can make.

Maybe I just expressed what needed to be said.

One more piece that should finish off this principle:

Walking your own path means you are free to be gentle on yourself, which in turns results in a spiritual journey that is itself quite gentle.

“Gentle” feels just right for me!

But let’s take a bit of time to satisfy the mind, so that your mind and your inner knowingness can come into alignment. When they are in alignment, there is little or no internal resistance and discombobulation.

Alignment of mind and inner knowingness = trust and peace = gentleness.

Why no religious or spiritual process?

Without the processes that come with traditional religious and spiritual “pathways” there are no metrics to compare yourself to. No grades. No comparing yourself to someone else who is at a higher “step” in the process than you.

Let’s take a look at this one:

No grades, no steps, and no comparisons = less self-judgement = being gentle with yourself.

There is no right or wrong. Only what works for you and doesn’t work for you. Doing what works for you = less resistance = gentleness.

There is no-one outside of you to tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

Notice that I wrote “to tell you…”. That was a specific wording choice. Because if someone tells you how to walk your spiritual path, then you are setting yourself up for failure and self-judgement compared to an external metric or criteria. Or, alternatively, you will believe you are “successful” and judge yourself as “good” and “better” based on what someone told you you should do. This can result in “spiritual pride”, a really problematic challenge to overcome. In either case, judgement of your “progress” using an external metric is not gentle. For every “success” and “good” you think you “achieve” based on what someone tells you to do, you will find the opposite comes to pass…in due time.

Choosing to listen to yourself for what works and doesn’t work on your spiritual path is a huge gift of gentleness to yourself.

And about the idea and practice of “worship”:

There is nothing and no-one to worship.

Oh, this is a juicy one. The tendency of even the most serious and determined spiritual seekers to worship a person or religious idol with deeply felt and expressed emotion never ceases to surprise me.  Worshiping anyone – yes, even the most trusted teachers and spiritual guides – will eventually lead to a challenging blockage you will have to transcend. And it will set you up yet again for self-judgement when you realize over and over again that your efforts have not resulted in you becoming the same as the exalted one you have been worshiping.

Freedom from worship means you are free to be peaceful and let your natural kindness flow through you and out into the world as you walk your own path in your own time in your own way.  Peacefulness and kindness are by nature gentle.

The challenge with “Walk your own path”

OK, so there is a challenge that comes with this principle and with walking your own spiritual path. It may not be an easy challenge for some. It was a only a small challenge for me to deal with, but I respect it may not be for others. Here’s why:

You must take responsibility for your own journey. And you must do your own journey by yourself.


Are you feeling any emotion?  I suspect that reading this principle and letting yourself “feel it” may generate a sense of discomfort, uncertainty, confusion, and possibly even fear.


Because taking responsibility for your own spiritual journey and “owning it” is not easy. Processes, on the other hand, can feel trustworthy and safe to your mind and your mind runs your emotions. Taking responsibility for yourself can trigger emotions that give you evidence to your mind that walking your own path is neither trustworthy nor safe.

An analogy:  When you first learn to ride a bicycle, it may be scary, but when you get the hang of it, you realize that balancing and moving forward are connected and with care and focus, result in an experience that is fun and generally reliable.

No-one can teach you the exact a process for balancing while riding a bike. Techniques? Sure. Tips? Sure. Hold the bike in balance for you? Maybe for a few meters, but they have to let go or you won’t figure out balancing for yourself. Balancing while riding a bike is something you must learn on your own.

Learning to walk your own spiritual path is like learning to balance while you ride a bicycle.

At first you need to get a few things coordinated: How you use your spirit, mind, and body to learn, grow, and live peacefully and joyfully…while at the same time moving forward in life.

Continuing the analogy – and this is when the “gentleness” comes in – you can learn to ride a bicycle by going fast, crashing, getting up and taking more risks, all while trying to keep up with your friends or trying to “get to” somewhere.

Not a gentle way.

Or you can take your time learning to ride your bike by going slower, staying on quieter pathways at first, learning what works for you, and as you gain experience, emerging into the world with confidence and abilities that you can trust to lead you to ever more clarity, strength, and peace.

A more gentle way to learn.

An invitation:

Walk your own spiritual path.

Learn to walk it carefully, patiently, and gently. Be kind to yourself as you learn to take responsibility for your own journey and what works to help you grow and how to balance yourself inside and out.

Writing this posting has resulted in a deep sense of peaceful relaxation, gratitude, and joy in myself.  I watch as the tea pours into my mug.  I watch the bushes outside move in the breeze. I watch as my spirit rests gently and joyfully while the world around me swirls.

I let it swirl. My path is my own. It is a gentle one. I choose to walk  peacefully through the world and through my spiritual journey.  I don’t always succeed, but peace and gentleness are now the norm in my experience, not the exception.

May yours be a gentle path, too, if that is what you choose.

A Gentle Spiritual Path

Walk the walk

Ever heard the saying:

“She doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk”?

It is a compliment. And deservedly so, because people who actually do what they think, believe, and say they are going to do are not the norm.

Thinking or knowing something is not the same as understanding, doing, and becoming what you think and know.

I was a college and university professor for some 25 years. Over the years I found my students becoming less and less interested in “walking the walk” than in “talking the talk”.  It was not their fault: The higher education system puts thinking and knowing on a much higher pedestal than doing and becoming. And thinking and knowing something are much easier than doing it and actually becoming.

For example, which is easier: Learning to ride a bicycle by thinking about how it is ridden in theory or by getting on one and learning to be become a comfortable and natural rider of bicycles?

Of course it is vastly easier to think about the concept of pedaling so that you move forward and moving your handle bars to balance yourself, than it is to actually get on a bicycle and learn to balance while pedaling and moving forward and become natural and comfortable at staying balanced while riding.

Another example:  Is it easier to learn what a spiritual teacher did, and suggested we do, or to do it yourself? In other words, is it easier to think and know spiritual ideas, concepts, and principles or to practice them and “become” them?

Is it easier to think “Love thy neighbour as thyself” or to actually “love your neighbour as yourself”?

Well, duh! Of course it is harder to actually do it!

But which choice will result in your being unconditionally loving?

Thinking the words or practicing the idea?

My favourite bumper sticker of all time:

“What would Jesus do?”

It is quite humorous and profound for me at the same time because it prompts a simple and powerful question:  In everyday life, in all you do and with everyone you meet, are you doing what Jesus would do?

Or are you just thinking about what the “right” thing to do might be?

Not worshiping Jesus. Not knowing his words. But actually embracing his teachings, or those of any other teacher of the highest level of truth, and integrating them into how you live your life and into your thoughts and actions that you do all the time, every day, and in every moment?

Walking a gentle spiritual path is simply the choice to proverbially stand up and walk. To actually take one step after another. Every day, right now, in this instant. To take timeless truths and make them real in your life.

A wise teacher shared that it is just the choice of love in every moment.

Another wise person said it is the choice to always be kind to yourself and to everyone and everything.  All the time. Right now. This instant.

Same same.

Are you fed up with “thinking” and “knowing” because doing so for months, years, or lifetimes hasn’t gotten you very far along the path to the inner peace you seek? And that actually runs you around in circles where you find yourself right back at the beginning again and again, no further ahead for all your thinkingness?

Choose to do and become. Right now. Commit to yourself the simplest commitment:  To do and become that which your soul is pointing you towards.

Walk the walk.

Which is one of the foundation stones of a gentle spiritual path.