“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” ~Marcus Aurelius
I recently met a woman at a friend’s dinner party. She was tall and attractive, yet had a glowing, inviting energy about her. I liked her nearly immediately even though I had no concrete reason to. In my myopic mind, attractive and genuinely inviting energy do not combine, and I was naturally drawn to her for this combination.
Just as the Universe would have it, the woman and I were seated next to each other for the duration of the evening. With a warm smile, she introduced herself and we engaged in courteous, commonplace “what do you do for work?” and “where did you grow up?” dialogue.
Quickly, because we are the unique kind of soul-breed that we are (and perhaps due to many glasses of wine), we began divulging stories about our pasts, laughing together, and identifying with similarities. She manifested the three S’s I strive to embody; she was smart, sassy, and successful.
The conversation eventually made its way to spirituality, as they always seem to do in my case. I sensed we had a deep knowing that we were both cut from the same cloth in terms of our spiritual energy.
She began sharing with me about her spiritual healer and the work that they do together. Since I am a spiritual person and curious to learn from others’ experiences, I inquired more about it and came to find that she works with the same spiritual healer as Madonna.
As in Madonna Madonna. Eighties. Multi-Grammy Award winner. Sold over 300 million records worldwide.
Instantaneously, I was struck with great surprise upon hearing that this prolific performer, the most successful woman in the music industry to date, has a spiritual healer, which indicates that she must need spiritual healing.
Why in the world would the woman who has everything need that? What could she possibly be lacking?!
I looked at my new friend and said, “Pardon if this question comes across as uncouth, but why would a woman who has everything have a healer?”
“When you have everything you could possibly want, and have accomplished everything you’ve ever dreamed, and it’s not enough to fulfill you, you realize you need something else developed deeper inside of yourself.”
I was caught in my judgment. It makes sense in my mind once I focus on it, but my automatic assumption, my internal belief, is that people with money and celebrity don’t suffer or experience true hardship. I don’t have significant wealth or fame; therefore, I am an appropriate candidate for spiritual work. I am the one who needs it because I have nothing else to hold onto. Woe is me.
This is a scapegoat for my ego. As long as I try to find wholeness and happiness outside of myself, I am off of the hook and don’t have the responsibility of working for it.
How often I get caught in the belief that fulfillment is out there instead of within me.
As real as my spiritual practice is, perspective proves to be a real challenge. My humanity is often at war with my divinity.
I wish I could say I am evolved or enlightened enough not to worry. Worry about what other people think, worry about wearing the right fashion for the present season of the year, worry about my level of attraction, appearance of financial income, and career importance. But I am not.
As quickly as one click on a photo on social media, with one passing of the magazine section at the grocery store, with a few minutes of window-shopping, or with one drive through a wealthy neighborhood, I find myself riddled with fantasy and victimization.
I separate myself from what I perceive to be the Good, Rich, and Beautiful Life, putting things out there on a pedestal.
Despite my “successes” in over three decades of life—traveling the globe, teaching in developing countries, earning two Masters degrees, being published, praised for beauty and brains—I still have to work on my spiritual landscape.
I have to address that chasm deep in my chest that cannot be filled and that ebbs with fear; that part of me that says it’s never enough. Just like Madonna, the need is there for me, too.
Moments after my new friend at the dinner party responded to me so graciously, I thought to myself, “Oh, Sarah. You still believe that there is a difference between people, that some have spiritual need and some do not. We all are in need. We are all the same at our core.”
We are just people, spirits with bodies as our casing, and we are all in need of something more, even Madonna. After all, money and fame cannot buy personal healing, happiness, or wholeness.
What I get to observe about myself in this situation is that I still all too easily fall prey to idolization of others and grandiose ideas of perfectionism. If only ___________, then I would be fulfilled and life would be good all the time.
However, when I am engaged in my daily spiritual practice, I am not as concerned about external matters.
When I am meditating, praying, sharing with others, being true to myself, and responding to life from a perspective of gratitude, I don’t take things personally. I enjoy the present moment. I notice the various ways laughter dances, the color of my barista’s eyes, and the flowers poking up from cracks in the sidewalk.
Those practices provide perspective for me and allow me to appreciate the art of living. I do not experience lack when I am aware that each moment is a gift along with everything that moment offers—that is truly my spiritual practice. When I am tuned in to that spiritual frequency, which requires effort and discipline, I experience life with abundance.
Often times we compare other people’s outsides to our insides, and it’s simply not fair to us or to them. When we compare at all we are robbing ourselves of the present moment, the most spiritual moment to be in, and we miss out on the beauty that is ours to cherish.
No one is better or worse than another person yet we cling to labels, social status, and mainstream media to tell us who we should be and how we should appear.
When we are connected to ourselves and we are actively engaging our spiritual work, we care little about out there. We learn how to define our own fulfillment and exist in a state of contentedness. We find we are enough for ourselves just as we are.
In the words of Madonna herself, “Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another.”
Meditating man image via Shutterstock