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  • Writer's pictureJill Brocklehurst

Real Conversations

Staying in Spiritual Practice… What Does That Actually Mean? 

Over the last 30 years, I have attended retreats, workshops, seminars and classes… all in an attempt to know myself better, and to find a balanced path upon which to walk. Sure, while I was at those retreats my life seemed effortless. Little by little, though, upon returning to daily living, my old default patterns filtered back in and what I had learned while I was away faded. Or did it?

Living consciously is a practice. While we may experience leaping changes on occasion, the trajectory of our growth more often unfolds subtly, over time. Those of us who are committed to learning from the lessons Life offers us, make a point of integrating change into our lives. It takes effort.

I remember experiencing a sore throat at the end of every day when I was a young parent. The sad part of that story, to me, is that the cause of that soreness was me yelling at my children. How horrifying! I was determined to make a positive change.

Then one summer, as the drummer on a dragon boat team, I was required to yell and beat a drum. By the end of practice my throat felt that old familiar pain. “Wow,” I thought, “I have not felt this in years.” I had made that positive change I was determined to make, and I hadn’t even noticed.

Lately, I recognize a discomfort I feel (even a frustration) when in conversation with certain people. That definitely isn’t the norm for me, but occasionally, I do find myself experiencing a strained exchange. When my path gets bumpy in that way, though, my spiritual practice and conscious living awareness invites me to ponder and decipher what the situation is revealing as wanting to shift within me.

This is what I have concluded so far:

I prefer candid exchanges that offer vulnerable opportunities to share with others regarding our strengths and shortfalls. I love learning from others and comparing life experiences, taking in something new, and offering my insights. I find such exchanges to be a beautiful dance of give-and-take, where both parties walk away having experienced something deep and meaningful. To me, this is rich and rewarding time well spent.

When an exchange feels ‘forced’ to me, an old pattern of response that I notice arising for me is to blame myself. (Ah, here lies the learning!) I have typically had the thought, “There is something I must be doing wrong.”

Now, however, I am coming to realize that the discomfort I feel simply comes from a recognition of an incongruence. (My partner in conversation may be guarding themselves from my openness, for instance, and I can feel that). In the past, I would want to ‘take care of’ the other person in such an experience, and I would subtly change my way of being to reach that aim.

What I know now, is that being my most authentic self is actually a light I have the opportunity to share in the world. The real me has 30 years of transformation away from ‘protection and pretence’, and toward ‘vulnerability and authenticity’. I thank my knee-jerk old responses for helping me to cope up until I knew better, and now, I breathe, I offer up some self-appreciation (in my mind) and I carry on.

Staying in spiritual awareness is a choice that is similar to that of a runner who needs to run regularly to maintain a particular level of fitness. The conscious thinker needs to work out regularly in order to stay aware mentally. ‘Real’ conversations challenge our belief systems and values; stopping us from repeating well worn patterns, and inviting us to ponder other ways. This enables us to share in the field of diversified lifestyles. Mutually shared authenticity illuminates the limitations of ‘right and wrong’  thinking, and gives us an opportunity to pause for new guidance as we navigate in a world of endless possibilities.

Just this morning, I experienced a delightful exchange while buying insurance, of all things. I am reminded by this that each interaction we have is an opportunity to recommit to living, and conversing, from a space of openness and truth.

If you are reading this article I bet you prefer ‘real’ conversations too.

So here we are. Let’s stay this course… toward ever greater experiences of profound moments of real connection.

When we show up fully as ourselves, we give others permission to do the same. One real conversation at a time, we water the seeds of consciousness in the world. Let’s grow a nutritious garden together.


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