Ever since I was child I have questioned everything I have been taught about spirituality.
That’s not to say I haven’t devoured every piece of spiritual information I could get my hands on – my curiosity for the subject is nothing if not insatiable. But it has got me into trouble at times – and that’s why, over the years, I’ve had to learn the art of discernment.
I certainly didn’t buy half the stuff the Catholic Church tried to ram down my throat when I was at school – ‘But why do we have to have to go to church if God is everywhere?’ was a common question I’d ask my mother as the family piled into the car on Sunday mornings to go to mass. From an early age, I began to sift through the various teachings on offer and take from them the best bits, the bits that I felt suited me. And I would log in my mind the bits that felt right and good, and based in love.
In high school during Religious Education we began to learn about other world religions, and imagine my excitement when I discovered things like Buddhism and the law of Karma? A bit different to the ‘eye for an eye’ approach set out in the biblical Old Testament. Far from the idea of punishment for ‘bad behaviour’, here was a simple law of cause and effect. The idea that what you put out, comes back to you as part of the natural ebb and flow of universal order.
When I really got on the path around 2008, I became a total course junkie and attended every healing or psychic development workshop I could sign up to. Luckily for me, it then became part of my job – when I went to work on a holistic magazine – to review such workshops, but it did mean periods of ‘spiritual overload’. Much of what is out there – like the bible – can be quite contradictory. And every teacher I came across would try to convince me that their way was the right way. Some teachers were amazing and so inspiring, but there were others who were totally ego-driven, who actually ended up making me feel more deflated and disempowered than I had been before.
I soon began to notice that egos even exist in the world of spiritual so-called ‘love and light’. It was time to get real. I put a call out to universe and asked to see the truth and to be shown where people were being inauthentic in my life. I felt sometimes I was too compassionate and tried too hard to see the good in people, and it made me blind to situations where I was being ill-treated or my kindness exploited. I wanted more of a balance. I wanted to see the truth – however ugly it got. A word of warning: be careful what you wish for…
Because I got exactly that – and it was nothing short of a huge wake-up call.
In early 2013, the magazine I worked for suddenly ground to a halt. I not only found myself out of a job, but I was devastated that something I had worked so hard at, which was my career and my passion, was so quickly taken from me. I was never formally dismissed or paid any redundancy and the people I worked for (the owners and directors of the company) stopped returning my calls and emails, and just vanished into the ether. This left me (as the editor) to try to explain to our readers and contributors what had happened and why they weren’t going to get paid.
I ended up being horribly cyber-bullied and harassed by people (some of whom I had thought of as friends and all of whom called themselves ‘spiritual people’) who mistakenly accused me of being to blame for the publication’s demise. It was a very low point in my life. But it taught me a lot about having healthier personal boundaries and also how to be more discerning. I was always an open book and had a too-trusting nature before – and I realise now that made me an easy target.
I have now learnt that it doesn’t matter what other people think of you or say about you as long as you know the truth – and if it is your intention to act out of love, integrity and authenticity, then you can’t go wrong. Often when you shine brightly, people can become threatened and try to dim that light. For a while I felt I just had to go to ground and hide away.
The situation definitely shone a light on, not only on the inauthentic people in my life, but it had also allowed me to see how I actually had let myself be taken advantage of. I was so busy focusing on helping everyone else, and trying to make the magazine the light- and inspiration-filled publication that our readers wanted, that I didn’t see that I was being totally undermined by the people running it.
But, no matter what, I refused to act towards the people who were really to blame the way the people who were bullying me were acting.
An important lesson I learnt was I that my gentleness is really a huge strength. Being able to hold compassion and forgiveness for the people who have hurt you is a great gift. The situation catapulted me further into the work I am doing today, and now I help others to empower themselves and find their own path – striking the very delicate but important balance between having compassion and discernment. You can’t be all ‘love and light’ if it comes at a cost to your own personal Truth. But you can act out of kindness while having strong boundaries. Sometimes it is OK and necessary to say ‘no’.
So I wholeheartedly promote the benefits of this sifting and collecting approach to your spiritual path. Your way is the right way. Trust our own intuition first and foremost, and your path will be so much easier. This has coloured my whole life. But it wasn’t until very recently that I even realised I was doing it.
However, I am 100% convinced that you are the best expert for yourself and your life. The age of the ‘guru’ is over. I believe following your own intuition will always yield the right solution for you. I’m a huge believer in following your heart (intuition) over your head (logic / reasoning).
You have the answers! Look within before searching for explanation or encouragement outside of yourself.
There is no hierarchy and we are all as special and unique as each other – even though we may be at different points on our journey.
Do not let fear hold you back from your dreams.
In the words of Rumi: ‘Your essence is your wealth.’
Love Alexandra x