You want to feel and be authentic and spiritual or enlightened. But do you sabotage yourself by attaching unrealistic and unfair expectations? Probably so, if you’re like the rest of us. And this is one reason the path can be so challenging.

Years back a friend and I had watched several minutes of a Wayne Dyer special on PBS, when my friend said, “Sure, he’s saying all this stuff, but if his assistant screwed something up, you can bet he’d get peeved” (only he didn’t say peeved). And therein hides in plain sight the formula for imposed self-sabotage and imposed sabotage on others, and them on us.

Frank Kinslow wrote in his book, The Secret of Quantum Living, “The Self-aware love to eat, make love, earn money, drive cars, play practical jokes, and watch television. In short, they’re just like the unaware with this simple and succinct difference: they’re totally accepting of life just as it is.” In other words, the aware are just like everyone else, have the same experiences as everyone else, except they suffer less because of their awareness that also allows their authenticity.

Kinslow went on to quote Tony Parson’s from his book, Invitation to Awaken: “We should drop any fixed ideas we have about enlightenment, such as the illusory belief that it brings total goodness, bliss, and purity. Life simply goes on. Occasionally, I may get angry, feel anxiety…. When the contraction passes, I quickly return to an all-encompassing acceptance in which the sense of separateness drops away.” Both men’s words are ones we do best to allow for ourselves and others because we humans have emotional contractions from time to time, when stuff happens; and, it would make life far more pleasant if we realized we’ve held illusory beliefs about being authentic and/or spiritual, for ourselves and for others.

Perhaps our general ego-based discontent and shared experience of not always feeling authentic in our life and our spirituality is what led us to place an expectation on ourselves and anyone seeking or living a more spirituality-based life, of having to be, as Kinslow also wrote, saint-like. The Bible says we will know each other by our “fruit”. But that’s not usually what we focus on foremost, in us or others. There’s the expectation that a spirituality-minded person should not only be saintly, but must match our ideal image of what that should look and be like… the same image of what’s ideal that we’ve convinced ourselves has to be true for us. There are 7 billion of us, though not all are concerned with such matters, but that still leaves a lot of interpretations of what that ideal is. Since we and others fall short of that unrealistic, demanding ideal, we wallow in judgment instead of being curious about others and primarily concerned with our own evolution and practices.

This sabotaging expectation insists that someone who travels the spiritual path should be transformed (and even as soon as they begin it), but according to whose parameters? If a spirituality-minded person used the “eff” word prior to awareness, s/he may still use it after awareness, though it may be with conscious deliberateness (and humor) rather than like an unconscious Pez dispenser of profanity. If the person drank coffee or smoked cigars, or had a quiet disposition or a rowdy one, they’ll likely do and be the same after they begin their spiritual practice or even after enlightenment. What’s more authentic: being who you are or putting on an act? We put on an act because we’re aware of the Great Expectations and are afraid to be really authentically who we are, which will likely not match up to such expectations – and won’t we be embarrassed! Well, only until we embrace being self-realized.

You’re probably aware of having imposed the expectation of saintly behavior or perfection on yourself or others. Any one of us will shift something about ourselves as soon as we decide to, awakened or spiritual or not. If we do a shift because of an expectation or to demonstrate we’re spiritual or enlightened, that’s allowing opinion to control us, not authenticity.

Sabotage wants to put someone (or us) on a “pedestal” instead of appreciating them just as they are and may become, and what they offer (their fruit vs. their leaves and flowers). The moment they (or we) do something that indicates they’re human – well, some of us breathe a sigh of relief (“They really are like us.”), while others, like my friend did, discount every good thing someone does because the person is still human, not superhuman.

Then there’s the sabotaging belief that a spiritual or awakened person should have no issues in their life, that they should be able to control absolutely everything (and everyone) around them. Life doesn’t work this way for anyone, because life happens and shifts spontaneously, for the most part. Awareness helps us be prepared; it is our armor. The complete elimination of all issues and challenges and emotional expression is not supposed to be the result of spirituality or awareness. The ability to maintain or more quickly return to inner peace is, and is a reward of awareness. It’s like that quote, “Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.” We sabotage ourselves with the belief that it’s life, not us, that is supposed to be transformed through our spiritual practices. Ego wants to put the cart before the horse; and the only way that’ll work is if the horse pushes the cart. It’s like using a push-mower instead of a riding-mower: We push when we could ride. Sound familiar? Sabotaging expectations cause us to push against life when we could ride.

Yes, through awareness we improve and life follows our example – or more precisely, our energy; but the primary improvement is more about how we release ourselves and others and life from expectations. What-is doesn’t cause as much suffering for us if we release expectations. I know that goes against the grain of some teachings that say we should expect, but consider this: There is a big difference between ego-based expectations and spiritual trust. Ego is only satisfied (temporarily) when its particular (and often limited) desire is fulfilled. Spirit that trusts appreciates the amazing and often surprising fulfillments that happen based on a general desired experience.

Then there’s the sabotage form of “Fake it till you make it;” and my question about that is How’s that worked out for you? Are you absolutely sure you know what it means? If you want prosperity like someone else has, what does “Fake it till you make it” mean to you? Does it mean you alter your appearance (not because you want to but because it’s part of your faking-it act)? Do you walk a certain way, spend more than you have? And, how authentic do you feel if you fake something about yourself you don’t actually believe is or know really isn’t you? You can reveal to yourself what is really you, and live it – like knowing whether you prefer your coffee with cream or black rather than what someone might expect you to like or you think will make them like you. Sure, you might benefit from tweaks here and there, but you’ll never be comfortable in your own skin if you wear a cloak of many aspects or expectations of others over you and your life. Dress a dog in a butterfly costume and the dog will still be itself, and be happy about it. The dog won’t get confused.

The way to touch authenticity and awareness is the same: Touch inner stillness. That stillness is where everything comes from, including you. Sleep is the great healer. It’s a time when you are at rest, are in a state of inner and outer stillness. But you want to practice stillness while awake so you experience those healing and restorative benefits then as well. And the more you do this, the more stillness will stay with you even as you move through your day. But, and this is important, you allow the stillness to stay with you by being aware of it, noticing it; you don’t demand that it stay or that you hang onto it. That’s ego-mind. Stillness and the awareness that arises from it is a relaxed inner state of being.

I don’t want to just discuss stillness and not give you a way to feel it. So I’m going to share Kinslow’s quick and easy method so you can have a nice taste of stillness and what he calls pure awareness. Read the rest of this paragraph then return to this point. Close your eyes and notice your thoughts without getting involved with them. Just notice them. Do this for about one minute. Then, like a cat watching a mouse hole, ask yourself this question: “Where will my next thought come from?” If you’re able to, stop reading and do this now, before you continue.

If you did this exercise, you likely felt something similar to the film screen of your mind - so active for the one minute - going blank. You likely felt a genuine pause in thought, meaning a genuine absence of thinking. Whether the pause lasted a few seconds or longer, that was stillness. And you can return to that place anytime now that you know how to.

The way to greater authenticity and awareness is to lighten up. By this I mean, instead of trying to increase these by adding more beliefs or rituals, aim to have fewer, and even fewer, until stillness bathed in awareness is what you experience. What’s left if you remove beliefs? Awareness. What’s left if you remove shoulds? Who you really are. What’s left if you remove compulsive thinking and doing? Stillness. Stillness is the pool of calm, infinite potential where ideas spring forth into experience. Stillness is serene. Stillness is where awareness lives. Awareness guides your actions better than thinking ever will.

The feeling, experience, and effect you get while in this stillness doesn’t stop when you stop the exercise, it’s carried forward into your day. The more often you practice stillness and feel the awareness you find there, the easier it is for you to BE there even while you’re active. The more you go there the easier it becomes to sustain this feeling, or to remember it when you need to. And if you’re transmitting this kind of vibration to the Universe, you get what?

Open to the stillness that gently places you like a feather on a soft breeze into awareness. The stillness, that awareness within, knows and loves you unconditionally - because it is you - the real you AND the Ultimate Awareness Consciousness which you are and is you. I’m not saying to ignore what you believe or know about you or your life that would benefit from a shift, but to give yourself this gift of doing less to experience and feel more. You don’t do a lot of things to get to stillness; you go there by releasing anything that isn’t stillness, which is why Kinslow’s question is so effective. Watch how this stillness-to-awareness practice transforms you first and then your life, how it allows you to be authentic with yourself and your spirituality. Stop sabotaging your very personal spirituality experience and authenticity, and enjoy it. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

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Author's Bio: 

Joyce Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru” and other books/ebooks, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles and free downloads. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at http://stateofappreciation.weebly.com/guest-articles.html