Have you ever noticed certain spiritual “types” – ways in which people approach or navigate or experience their own personal development or philosophies or beliefs? I’ve been playing with this idea – not as another flipping way to create a label for ourselves – but as a tongue-in-cheek way to notice our own tendencies. Don’t take it too seriously, k? 😉
Type 1: The Spiritual Doer
The Spiritual Doers are easy to spot. They take their drive in business and in life and apply it to their spirit. Their energy never stops. They devour Life and all its experiences with an insatiable hunger for more. They aren’t easily daunted by what they perceive to be their own work. They delve in, swim in it, play in it. They do the same with all of Life. They are most often the adventurers and I think they may be the ones to take the most inspiration from many different cultural beliefs, creating their own understanding of the Universe. Their curiosity helps them to explore and thus see the Truth in anything. They go after Enlightenment with a Bring It On approach. They are energetic, find the joy in Life and every experience it offers, and are contagious in their desire to release the negativity. They don’t have time for the bullshit; the Universe is too good, too breathtaking, too inspiring to get caught up in their fears or struggles for too long.
I find that most Spiritual Doers are attracted to the Law of Attraction, wanting to create their abundance and awakening through sheer will. I also find that many Spiritual Doers are hiding an inner control freak inside, and LOA appeals to that control freak by being misinterpreted as “If I DO this, I can get what I want”. (Come on, admit it. It appeals. 😉 ) This probably means it can become very easy to miss the bigger picture: that all of it is impermanent. Spiritual Doers are often challenged by the idea that even joy and happiness are impermanent human states of perceptions, especially if we go after them as something we can create or do.
Surrender is the biggest challenge of all, though. It feels like giving up, defeat, becoming passive and allowing anything (anything meaning “the worst”, naturally) to happen. With surrender, comes Trust which goes against the genetic makeup of a doer – doers often do because of what they fear might happen if they don’t. (“If I don’t grasp the opportunity, it’ll never come again.”) Or dammit, they just like to be in control! 😉 Letting go is almost sacrilegious to those of us doers, until we’ve learned to confront that part of our self that moves unconsciously from our head, instead of our hearts, our core, our Truth. I find most Spiritual Doers are very, very, very challenged by the practice of meditation. Being still, “doing nothing”, makes us itchy to move. We think of a hundred things that need doing and so our meditation can quickly turn into a planning session with a To Do list on the floor beside us.
What Spiritual Doers Can “Do”
Cuz I know you’re asking. 😉
Stillness is probably the most important practice for you if you find yourself to be a Spiritual Doer. With it will inevitably come what Spiritual Thinkers are so good at – self-inquiry. DIG IN and examine what is truly compelling you to move and what surfaces within when you consider the idea of not moving. Essential oils (Lavender, White Fir) may help you find physical stillness, calming the autonomic nervous system. While practicing this quiet space each day, also practice what comes naturally to a Spiritual Feeler – tuning in to your heart (another essential oil, ylang ylang, is really good at helping with this). Don’t just spend time noticing the emotions that arise, though. Instead, notice the way the air moves across your face. Notice the sensations in your hands. See if you can feel your eyelashes. And do a lot of observing – observing when you move, why you move, how you move, and from where. This will allow you to slow down enough to tune in more deeply and your movements will then be attuned to the natural flow and grace of the Universe.
Type 2: The Spiritual Thinker
Spiritual thinkers are obviously deeply thoughtful. They approach spirituality rationally, because it just makes sense. They devour books and ideas, and like Spiritual Doers are often curious about other cultures and beliefs, although they make not feel as adventurous or action-oriented. They simply like to learn, and everything and everyone carries a lesson for them. Spiritual Thinkers also tend to be very articulate, and can often help others through their own spiritual process by saying what that person might not be able to articulate, or offering the same wisdom in a new way that allows another person to sink deeper into the understanding within themselves. I see Thinkers as most often being spiritual guides for this reason, and we often love it because it furthers their own spiritual growth in the process. They are also very self-aware and can identify their core beliefs and triggers easily once they know how. This can lead to a lot of freedom from within, very quickly.
However, and I hate to break it to you, but of all the spiritual types, if you’re a Spiritual Thinker you might have the hardest time maintaining that freedom. That love for helping others can easily turn into your own persona-creating and ego-stroking identification. You can get lost in your own ideas and most especially get lost in your own thoughts or daydreams (which quickly turn into worries and fears). Inner fears (you know, the ones that sound silly, irrational, or embarrassing when you say them out loud) are thicker for you, because you tend to live in your head more than most, which can unconsciously feed your primal thought processes (think: survival, fear). You can easily drive yourself to the brink, just as naturally as you can drive others back from it. (I often wonder if Spiritual Thinkers and really Spiritual Doers without all the physical energy. We just do it all in our heads.)
Something for Spiritual Thinkers to Think About
Your job is to get out of your head. When you do DIG IN, do so carefully and with intention, and don’t stay in there too long. Only self-examine to bring about a new awareness; never to turn the same damn thought over and over. Take on the motto, “It’s just a thought” and practice assigning less value to them. Spend more time in your body. Go for a walk, practice yoga (which will move your body in order to still your mind), cook a meal, watch a light-hearted movie, smile and really feel the sensations of it. Say things out loud that you’ve been dwelling on in your head to diminish some of the enchantment they seem to have when you keep them hidden. Plant a garden and make it a daily practice to hand-pick the bugs (talk about meditative). And every time your mind starts to spin into its bullshit, immediately stop it in its tracks and state the Truth as you know it (even if you’re not feeling it). Practice connecting to Love and Trust in meditation, using ylang ylang or marjoram to pull you out of your head and into your heart. And practice moving from your heart – volunteering time at a shelter, performing random acts of kindness, anything to get you into that presence of beauty all around you.
Type 3: The Spiritual Feeler
Spiritual Feelers tend to be the most deeply convicted in their values and beliefs. How can they be anything else when they sense and experience things on such a deep, instinctual, and emotional level? These are the people who deeply feel their Truth, down to the bone, to the cell. They don’t often argue or debate about it, because that would be as strange to them as arguing about the color of the sky. They just believe. They know. And they know what they know because they’ve experienced it in a way that surpasses the understanding and limitations of the mind or the eye. It simply IS.
Spiritual Feelers have the greatest capacity for empathy and compassion. They are the ones wrapping their arms around the wounded and show them their own value. They see, they understand, and they feel a deep draw to be present for others in order to show them what they need to see in themselves. They can connect most easily with their own Presence, with a residing sense of Love and peace, with Spirit. Meditation start to come easier because it feels so good.
But Spiritual Feelers have an easily tragic pitfall. They tend to feel everything deeply, including what they perceive as pain and suffering in the world. Feeling the violence around them, sensing the disconnection, touching the sorrows of the world, they can often fall into their emotions so deeply they don’t find their way out. Nonattachment feels like an insult to them, heartless and cold. And that inability to be unattached can lead to feeling overwhelmed, too small, hopeless, depressed, maybe even angry, and often eventually apathetic and shutdown. In fact, I often wonder if this currency of apathy and vacancy we see in our culture is the effect of Spiritual Feelers becoming so overwhelmed with the state of the world without the tools to navigate it safely that they are left with no other option but to shut it off completely. When they become too overwhelmed with the world, or too battered by the experience of it, they disconnect from their own heart, or they get so lost in their emotions that they can no longer feel that overriding Presence they used to in meditation, and that’s if they even find themselves in meditation or prayer at all anymore. They shutdown to Love, shut down to their own gifts, and at worst, the only thing they feel is a dull ache from what they’ve buried.
A Practice for Spiritual Feelers
Spiritual Feelers are probably feeling every word written here, and hopefully feel this wave of warmth and love I’m sending, too. If you’re a Spiritual Feeler, it might be your practice to create boundaries around yourself, and time in your day (yes, every day) in which to simply breathe. Don’t call it meditation, especially if that feels too big right now. Just take a walk, watch the birds hopping around for seeds, and let yourself find some stillness away from the world. You need some time to reconnect to something bigger than your own desire to help heal others, something that whispers to you that it’s okay to Trust the process of Life.
Movement and choices – like the Spiritual Doers – are going to give you a little more space from everything you feel so acutely. Try applying some essential oils to your solar plexus or heart, like Frankincense essential oil (to help you ground yourself – especially when everything is overwhelming and leaving you feeling scattered) or Wild Orange or Lime essential oil (to raise you up out of the depths when it all seems too heavy). And try breaking the heavier energies with water. Drink water, take a swim, take a shower, wash your face (maybe not take a bath if it just ends up feeling like you’re stewing in your own stuff).
I’d also recommend you try on the role of a Spiritual Thinker and DIG IN, examining some of the emotions you feel – especially things like obligation and hopelessness. Ask where it comes from and how you can best do what you’re called to do. Most importantly, spend time with the spiritual principle that the only way you can make an impact on the world is through nonattachment, by not seeing and judging something as “negative”. Stop watching the news. At least for awhile. Practice viewing the world through the eyes of deep awareness, and viewing the Light in others, instead of viewing only their hurt and darkness. Lastly view your own reactions with some distance as well. Step back and simply observe yourself. Create some space between You and your emotional perceptions so you can see the world and those in it from that love-centered, grounded place again.
Whichever type you are I can almost guarantee that reading all this brought up a myriad of conflicting responses – laughter as you recognized yourself hopefully, indignation or resistance as you recognized yourself perhaps, and quite possibly, self-judgment or even a sense of self-doubt, as though you think you’re stuck in this place.
The truth is our Spiritual Types change constantly. Each is an experience we move through to allow us to have the fullest understanding of Who We Are. But Who We Are is none of these things. You are not truly a doer, a thinker, or a feeler. Those are more like “habits” we can identify ourselves as having.
If you noticed, the practice is similar for each: self-inquiry, observation, stillness.
When you can allow yourself the practice of quiet observation of these traits, they will begin to fall away and the You that is true (not to sound like Dr. Suess or anything) will be all that’s left. And that’s where the freedom and joy is truly found. In Being and allowing your actions, thoughts, and emotions to organically move from that Being.