A lot of this blog focuses on the inner work aspect of clearing away ego attachments. Despite some of the hyperbole of a lot of spiritual talk, a lot of things don’t fall away without some amount of attention to what is being held onto. Any time some thing just drops without some kind of inner work or intentional surrender (which is a kind of very, very light inner work), that’s grace. Be grateful if God throws a kind pitch your way like that.
However, with inner work, there must be time for rest. If someone is endlessly dredging up issues and illusions, they do not give themselves a chance to get used to their emerging natural equilibrium. A natural equilibrium is simply your truest form of inner balance. It’s the way you would be if no ego had confused the situation. Most people are in a habitual balanced state. What do I mean by balanced? I mean that the person is actively trying to stay in a kind of ego position that requires active balancing and holding on.
Think of an ego like trying to stand on one hand upside-down. You are balancing yourself, but it’s not a natural state. You naturally do not have the strength in one arm that you have two legs. It’s exhausting to hold this pose for a long-time, but we’re so good at numbing and distracting ourselves that we’re usually not aware of how tired and upset we are.
On the spiritual path, we learn to accept the reality of how we actually feel, and we learn how to fall down out of this inappropriate “balance” through inner work without bashing the crap out of ourselves. But before hurrying to find the next unnatural position that we’re holding on, we rest. We give ourselves time to be with this new experience to get used to it as we move back to a natural way of being.
The ego is not a natural state. By this I mean, that it has no stable way of being, and therefore it requires constant remembering and reinforcement to keep it around. The ego is a collection of ideas, behaviors, and traits that we presume are correct, and we often forget how flimsy those things actually are. We also generally presume that they are how we should always behave. An easy example is the idea that you should never cry. Whenever “never” or “forever” show up in your ideas, you know the ego is up to something.
But with crying, there are times when that emotion will come up. Avoiding it is unnatural. It forces you to hold on in certain ways, and as many of you know, this emotion and energy then get stuck inside of you. I spend a lot of time with people helping them get these stuck things back out.
Additionally, to keep something stuck requires additional actions to keep you from feelings the emotions that want to emerge. So the person will go to great lengths to avoid possible triggers that would ignite this pain, and that causes a person to act in more and more untrue ways. It’s like having a thorn in your foot and refusing to take it out. Maybe that’s one reason someone ends up in this inverted, one-armed ego handstand.
So the ego is imbalanced, and inner work asks that we break this artificial equilibrium. Doing so makes things muddy and unclear for awhile even after an issue releases.
Being Muddy and Feeling Strange
We really do get used to our pain. We get so used to it that when an issue releases that we feel odd. We aren’t sure how we feel for awhile. We may have a sense of feeling better, but because we’ve been sick for so long, we often don’t trust this new space. This makes the advice for how to handle this aspect of rest after processing very easy: do nothing. Just be with the strangeness. Get used to feeling yourself–your healthy self.
Too often, some of my spiritual-workaholic students will try to forge ahead before they have gotten their proverbial feet back under them. But there is a process to self-care and rest too. If you pay attention to it, you’ll get a sense for when you are ready to go digging for the next layer of attachments. When you have re-balanced and your energy has re-energized, you’re ready for the next layer. If you don’t allow time to rest, then you end up creating more de-stabilization that can cause more disturbance than you can process. This ends up making inner work upsetting or even traumatizing, creating more new issues instead of resolving them.
Types of Spiritual Self-care
Spiritual self-care will depend on the person and the issue. Truly, this isn’t just a sit in a bubble bath or get a massage type of care, although it could be. This kind of spiritual self-care will adjust to the kind and types of changes that someone is going through. If someone is doing a lot of physical work to help their bodies, then maybe something along the lines of a massage or bubble bath makes sense to soothe the body as it is strengthened and healed. But for other times, this is just a nice thing to do and doesn’t really have anything to do with spiritual self-care. In yet other instances, if someone has been going through a lot of powerful energetic shifts, having a massage therapist in their space may be a terrible idea and cause disturbances to the person’s still shifting and re-balancing energy field.
So you see, this is very personal. With just the idea of a massage, the impacts could be very different.
In general, I would break-up the different types of spiritual self-care into the usual four categories that I use:
- Self-care for the body
- Self-care for the heart
- Self-care for the mind
- Self-care for the subtle energy/spirit
Spiritual Self-care for the Body
Once again, before deciding that the self-care you need is for the body be sure that you know what you worked on. If you don’t know, find out from someone who understands these things. Also, doing little but resting and general body maintenance like eating well, light exercise, sleeping well, and so forth are often more than enough self-care for the whole being, not just the body. Our bodies, hearts, minds, and energies are extremely intelligent. Doing inner work unlocks this intelligence so that these systems maintain themselves/take care of you.
However, if you are clear that your body is what has been worked on, then healthy foods, sleep, and light exercise or stretching is usually pretty good self-care. For example, if you’ve done a lot of yoga or some other physical spiritual practice, these above things will work just fine for the most part.
If there is a build up of energy that makes you feel like you want to do more, it’s also typically important to let that energy build up instead of using it. Let the energy build-up stay and do what it wants. Having energy build up after a release can happen as one level of blockages are released and other ones are discovered. So it may feel physically intense even as you’re resting. Just be aware that that can happen. That intensity is not a problem, for the most part. Keep resting and let body-energy changes do themselves.
Spiritual Self-care for the Heart
Dealing with emotions is its own kind of workout. It can make people feel tired in a whole new way. Spiritual self-care for the heart may be a temporary limitation of how much interaction they have with people. In particular, limiting how much they deal with charged emotional situations. Giving yourself time to settle emotionally will help you to get more comfortable in new spaces of open-heartedness, which is where true inner work on the level of the heart goes. Nothing is getting closed down on the spiritual path, and if something is closed off after doing inner work, this is a temporary situation only.
For example, imagine that you went to a surgeon for open-heart surgery. You wouldn’t just let anybody into that room during the work. During the recovery, not everyone is running through your hospital room either. You just let a few people in during that time, and that’s a useful metaphor for whenever you are doing deeper heart work. And usually, you want people who genuinely are loving to be the ones to come in then. A little loving support can go a long way as someone re-balancing in the heart space.
Spiritual Self-care for the Mind
The mind can change in all kinds of ways. From letting go of old ideas to processing spiritual realizations, a lot of stuff can happen there. If a lot of stuff is going on for your mind, then you may be nearing, at, or over information overload. Because of this, self-care for the mind often means reducing the amount of information you’re absorbing. Even if you are working an intellectual job, there are ways to reduce information such as looking or listening to media less (computer, TV, phone, radio, etc.). That can preserve the few remaining brain cells that are functioning for what you have to do while the rest re-wire themselves.
Depending on the person, you may also limit nonsense information in particular. What is nonsense information? You already know this. It’s all the media and stuff we pay attention to that has no real value. It doesn’t help us. It just distracts us. Getting rid of distractions (music, movies, TV, gossip magazines, and more) is often helpful as people learn to tune in to what the truth is. Once you understand spiritual truth, you can listen to and watch anything. You know what it is actually about. But when people are still too confused about the nature of reality, getting rid of the nonsense while they process their spiritual discoveries can be vital self-care to help the mind become more clear about reality.
Spiritual Self-care for the Energy System/Spirit
Despite a lot of what people think, the energy system does not need a lot of help or self-care. It just needs to be allowed to be. It’ll re-align itself. It’s kind of like if you have a cut on your hand, do you really need to do much to help it? No. Not really. Wash it, and leave it alone. Your body will heal it. Much the same, your energy system will re-align itself after a big energetic clearing. It doesn’t need too much help if any.
Typically, the bigger problem is people doing too much with their energetic systems. So many “energy workers” have no idea about the profundity and depth of energy. Most really just work with the densest surfaces of energy. It’s kind of like an energy car wash that rinses away mud and grime on one particular energy field. If you’re doing work on the engine, having someone try to spray you down either does nothing or gets stuff stirred up in spaces that shouldn’t be stirred up that way. So for those who are in to energy work, things absolutely need space to settle before doing anything more with it. I also recommend sticking to one energy worker at a time so that you don’t have two different methodologies that potentially destabilize you.
There’s all sorts of nasty things that go on for people when their energy is too upset, so once again, trust your energy system. It’s smart. If you’re resting after a processing something, it’ll take care of you just fine.
As far as any other tips, a walk through nature can sometimes be the best thing to help care for your energy system.
Appreciating Rest in a “Doing” Culture
Above all else, appreciate that rest is part of the process of being a human being and dissolving attachments. You should not try to work out issues all day every day. Conversely, rest is never an excuse for not dealing with things. There’s a big difference between doing inner work and just having break downs. Hopefully this is clear for you.
In time, a lot of inner work becomes increasingly unnecessary. Our heart, mind, body, and energy systems naturally balance themselves when we no longer have ego attachments unbalancing us and attempting to get us to live, feel, and think in unnatural ways. As we let go of the ego further, our natural human state becomes more and more apparent, and the space of the witness–true oneness–is our ever-present access point in flowing through spiritual inner work and self-care.