One of our newest and most popular spiritual terms is “alignment.” People are trying to find alignment with life, with relationships, with jobs, and other things. It sounds like a pretty difficult thing to do if you listen to some of the ways people are talking about it. But alignment isn’t a difficult thing. Finding alignment with any moment is a process that isn’t a process. It’s a letting go of ideas and beliefs about how some thing should be so that we can interact naturally with what is.
To be sure, people have buried their intuitive and natural responses under a huge pile of pain, suffering, and wounds. This is why feeling in alignment with life seems like a big undertaking. We are so lost, bemused, and confused amidst our suffering that being in a natural flow seems like a foreign reality. Sometimes when people first start to touch it and things get a little bit easier, they can’t believe it. Life is surreal. It may feel too good to be true.
And to be sure, being in alignment with life does not mean that things will always be easy. That’s not how this world works. Pain is not an inherent sign that we are out of alignment, although more than a few types of pain and suffering are signs that we are. With all that said, let me explain what alignment is (especially for those of you who are like, “what is he talking about?”) and what alignment means to us the deeper we drop into the awakened space.
Alignment is like when two pieces of a puzzle click together. They just work. In some ways, alignment can be a term for a kind of symbiotic relationship. Think of sharks and remoras. The remora fish eats parasites and other stuff off the shark. The shark gives the remora protection. The two creatures’ interests align beautifully. Would this work for the shark and jellyfish? Uh, probably not. Depending on the type of jellyfish and shark, the jellyfish would probably be stinging the shark, which the shark would probably not put up with. This is an example of a lack of alignment. It doesn’t happen in nature. Or if it does, it probably doesn’t last for long. In this way, you can see an example of how things find harmony.
I also want to point out that there are many kinds and level of alignments. Many of these are ruled by what we can call–governing forces. One governing force for the shark and remora is the ocean. Their lives and bodies are ruled by this force. If things change in the oceans, they are immediately and deeply impacted. If the governing force changes so much that parasites no longer exist on the shark for example, it might break that alignment so that the two no longer travel together.
While I shortly show how applies this to human life, I simply want to point to the fact that there are larger forces at work around us. We have little to no control over them (such as if our sun exploded–no more human alignments would be left after that). In appreciating that there are many governing forces at work, I think that offers us some humility in how alignments can quickly change.
Looking At Alignments in Your Life
I’m writing this spiritual awakening post today with the hope that you’ve done some inner work. If not, your perspective on what is going on in your life will be highly skewed by your social conditioning, wounding, and other elements of your ego. In truth, we all continue to grow and step back from issues over time, and there is generally a continued broadening of perspective the more we melt into awakened awareness. I’m saying this simply to point to that fact there is no perfectly clear human perspective. It is always a growing and evolving thing, so whatever clarity you have right now, I would encourage you to appreciate that it is a changing thing. And I would encourage you to work on expanding your vision.
But to begin, start with simply noticing who is in your life. Look at where you are, and look at what you are doing. In short, notice the life you have co-created with others (and it is always a co-creation; we are all interdependent with one another). Now, I am not asking if you like your life. Many people who are comfortable with life aren’t necessarily in alignment with it. What is happening is that they’ve found a kind of plateau and resting place. So long as life doesn’t ignite any of their issues or go a way that they don’t want it to go, the lack of alignment won’t be illuminated. In this way, many people are moderately content with jobs, relationships, homes, and so forth. If they are getting what they think they want, they don’t care about the cost. This is seen in a lot of consumerism. People buy clothes made in sweatshops, but they don’t care that others are suffering. They are happy to remain ignorant, and this lack of alignment with integrity perpetuates more suffering.
In truth, people can be deluded into all kinds of levels of superficial happiness and will hide out in ignorance, and that’s why a lot of people will think that they are in alignment with life when they are not.
The Places That Flow and Grow Naturally
The truest alignments are typically the ones that flow and grow naturally. Oftentimes–with the notable exception of breaking out of old unhealthy patterns–the harder we work to make something work, the more something is out of alignment. Now, I want to be clear that alignments aren’t always easy things. Going with the flow can be disastrous in the river of life because of different types of unconscious governing forces that will smash us against rocks and trees in said river (think about all the forces at work that created two world wars). Flowing along with where things were going in Nazi Germany had many men and women doing terrible things. Is this a true flow? No. But many people can’t discern the difference of a natural flow and a human created current. Once again, I am creating a separation between the idea that alignment and flowing are all about ease. They are, and they aren’t. It’s why we have to stay actively engaged with life with our eyes and hearts open to know what is truly at work.
But coming back around, you may notice that some relationships just work. They just do. In my work as a spiritual teacher, some relationships with some students just work. Things simply flow more easily and naturally. In those spaces, both parties do their part, and then something else takes that intention, work, and love and makes it so much more. There is still work being done in the relationship, but something is growing on its own. It is not always easy, but there is ease there. In that kind of natural ease, there is growth and revelation and redemption and renewal. These are some of the words that I can use to point to that suggest a natural alignment.
Learning to Cultivate Natural Alignments
Because people are so poorly trained to live in a natural alignment, many of you will find this re-learning quite challenging. In the world of romance, pretty much everyone is tuned in to find someone who looks and sounds like the key people from their childhoods. For many–but not everyone–this is mom and dad. If a potential romantic partnership doesn’t conform to certain elements of mom and dad, the potential partner is rejected. People will say, “I just wasn’t that into him/her.” But this is a person still totally ruled by their social conditioning.
As you grow, you will notice that the old social conditioning dissolves, and you start to spend more time not really knowing what you want in a romantic partnership or other type of relationship. This is actually a good sign. Some of the social conditioning around community and relationship building is sloughing off. You can start to discover what your actual needs in regards to friends and romance are as opposed to what you were taught. From this level of understanding, you may notice what feels good and nourishing. You may notice where you come alive with another and who comes alive with you. I’m not going to say that everything works out so perfectly like with the shark and remora (I’m assuming they get along regularly). Sometimes one person finds a stronger alignment with another. Things don’t balance themselves perfectly. After all, balance is just a human idea. But as you notice what situations, places, and people naturally seem to grow with you and support you, the encouragement is to cultivate these alignments is simply to trust them and engage with them. Water these places in your life with action, patience, love, and commitment. Just because you’re flowing doesn’t mean there isn’t hard work ahead, but that work tends to be rewarded. And things can come to life and shift you in surprising and meaningful ways.
The Aliveness of Alignments
In many regards, finding alignment with life is simply seeing aliveness and being alive. And fortunately, aliveness is all around us. There certainly are war-torn and traumatized regions of the world, but the aliveness is still there. It may be covered up by pain and atrocity, but it is still there if everyone can calm down enough to let it be seen.
Finding alignment simply asks you to slow down. Stop moving. See what is here. If things start falling apart in your life, that’s a good sign that you’re probably not in alignment. If you have to work super hard all the time to make everything work, you may want to step back and pause. Is this something you actually have to do? Is this where your heart truly wants to go?
Once again, I’m not saying that all of life will be easy. Many people are in alignments for this lifetime that will be very difficult emotionally, physically, and mentally. The more we are at peace with these alignments and the governing forces that have created them, the more we can find the aliveness of the moment. There may be war all around, but we can find the beauty of watching someone walk down a street. We can see the beautiful sunrise coming up in the morning. We can notice the amazing aliveness of our breath that works constantly all the time to keep us alive. The aliveness in our body is always a great way to come back to truth of this moment; that we are alive.
Giving Up the Perfect Life
The more you drop into the natural alignments that are already here in your life, the more you give up any idea of the perfect life. Your idea of a perfect life is pure fiction. Coming into alignment with your life has nothing to do with finding a perfect sense of purpose, a perfect soulmate, a perfect spiritual community, or any of that. It’s about being here now. When we are here and now, we can see the forces at play and find where we can flow. I could not do the work that I do in the way that I do it one hundred years ago. The governing forces that have created the Internet weren’t there. I’d have had to flow into spiritual teaching in a different way. Maybe I would have been working on a farm full-time and doing some sort of teaching at night. Maybe I would have ended up as a priest. But the deeper alignment with sharing the truth would move me in certain ways just as it has now.
With that thought, trust the deeper movements in you. Your soul knows where things flow best. It will take you through your inner walls, barriers, and wounds, and it will show you what works and flows for you. It may be easy at times and difficult at others. Coming into alignment, as I’ve already said, isn’t about having a perfect or easy life. It is simply about living the life that feels most enlivening and true to you. In this space, you flow and grow as you choose with whatever is possible in the part of the world you live in and the time period of your life.