By John Neic, RScP
We’re social creatures. We vibrate at frequencies that others read and feel. Very few humans live a solitary life. I (and probably you) don’t know any personally. The idea of “individual transformation,” on one hand, isn’t possible. As a state of existence, we can’t be transformed without it somehow, someway touching others.
People in recovery know this well. If they live in an environment which has supported their addiction, and they try to give up their addiction, the environment will pull them back into their old patterns of behavior. The partner, the friends, the bar, the job, all the triggers that set off the craving which leads to using, have to be altered if the addict is to break the cycle of addiction.
They are transforming their lives. To be successful, the environment must transform too. Until they are reliable in the new behavior, they have to avoid the old hang-outs, the old friends, the activities that pulled them into using. “Thirty meetings in thirty days,” means that in that first month of staying clean and sober, they need to surround themselves with like-minded people and gain support from the group to maintain their new behavior.
We become what we practice. The alcoholic becomes sober by practicing not drinking (one day at a time).
We are on a spiritual path, but what are we practicing and what are we becoming? Is it to have a greater understanding of God? Is it to become aware of our spiritual nature? Is it to heal ourselves and others? By even asking the question “What does it mean to be a spiritual person?” we bring ourselves into relationship with God and others.
Prayer and meditation are closely related practices that transcend religious dogma. By praying or meditating on a daily basis, we transform ourselves, but not just ourselves. Our environment begins to transform too. As we become more peaceful and less reactive to negative triggers, it touches those around us. They can feel it. Maybe they even match our vibration without even realizing they’re doing it.
Individual transformation is perhaps better thought as individual “practice.” What you do today makes a difference to the spiritually awakened being you are becoming and your environment. Centers for Spiritual Living is known as a teaching denomination, because classes are integral to our culture. Classes always include prayer or meditation as a component. We learn the new behavior together and then support each other in the new behavior.
Today is what you can be present to, and the practice you do today is all there is to do. If prayer or meditation isn’t part of your daily practice, then perhaps today is the day to start. Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.” Close your eyes just for a few minutes and say “thank you,” in your mind. Day 1.
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”