Why Spirituality and the Journey of Self-Awareness Cannot be Forced

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Several months ago I had a conversation with someone about an article I wrote. It was about the first moment I realized I was beautiful. As we were talking, he asked me if I thought I could try to feel that again—if I could try to hold that knowing all the time. I immediately, instinctively said no, though I couldn’t clarify. I didn’t have the words to explain why. Of course, they came later. Minutes or hours or days after we’d finished our conversation.⠀

I couldn’t force myself to stay in that place, because the realization was spontaneous. Effortless. Gentle. Unexpected. It was an understanding that was suddenly just there.⠀

We have a tendency to want to achieve. We think we can make choices and take actions that will lead us to where we want to go, and what we want to know. Always. With everything.⠀

But the spiritual journey—or the journey of self-awareness or self-discovery—is soft. It’s as passive as it is active. It’s both a doing and a non-doing. It’s a dance. Between the active (watching our thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions) and the passive (allowing the space for insights and revelations to spontaneously flourish).⠀

We work, in a sense, to open ourselves. To become receptive. We focus, to release all sense of thought. We dismantle, deconstruct, and distance from the binds that limit and restrict us, in order to tear down the barriers that keep us from the truth.⠀

We don’t know what we don’t know, until we know it. We can’t see what’s unseen, until a lifted veil reveals it. We can’t force ourselves to “figure it out” and we can’t rush or manipulate the process.⠀

The willingness to learn and grow helps us to persevere, but that intention must be balanced with the soft, effortless surrendering of detachment. Of being okay with being with ourselves, right now, in this present moment.⠀

This journey requires us to step blindly through the unknown. A part of us—somewhere deep inside—knows the truth, and we allow that part to guide us, though we don’t know where we’re going, or how we’ll get there.⠀

And somehow, along the way, we realize we know what we didn’t know. And we let that awareness move us into worlds yet unseen.