In his story, Jim draws upon the beauty and truth of multiple spiritual and religious traditions and helps people come into their embodied awakening. Through his story he shares with us all about his path and how to make all aspects of spirituality practical. Jim encourages us to embrace all of ourselves and shares his experiences, as well as guidance for each of us.
My journey of awakening and personal expansion
The reason that I embarked on the spiritual path is simple: It’s what I’ve always wanted. I’ve always had a strong pull towards spirituality, so when things started to change and manifest in my life, I ran out that door and really haven’t looked back much.
Initially, the combination of things to get me moving was a general lack of fulfillment in love and work. However, I downplay this stuff because I’d been looking to find the right spiritual connection for most of my life anyway. But the discontentment helped me to get moving. Usually for most people, discontentment and pain are the driving forces towards spirituality.
The changes I made were fairly simple, but they came at the right time in my life for a spark to ignite. I was following my heart to get into a graduate writing program, listening to Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” CDs, and talking with some new friends about spirituality. They became my first spiritual community outside of my family and helped me begin to find my voice.
My Inspirations and Influences
I’ve found inspiration in a lot of different spiritual traditions and religions. From Christianity to Buddhism to yogic practices to Eckhart Tolle and many, many other things, I’ve found different tools and practices to help me embody the spiritual awareness. At heart, I’m a person who can synthesize many different pieces and create something meaningful and practical.
That’s part of my gift as a teacher. I think a good spiritual teacher is like a good cook. Anyone can throw lots of ingredients in a bowl, but a good cook can make it all come together into something delightful. A spiritual teacher does that to some degree by co-creating things with the student. In all of this, ultimately, the student has to take ownership of figuring out the recipe for their spiritual practice. Sometimes things work, and sometimes they don’t. But the spiritual teacher gives some nudges to add this or that to help students with blind spots and blockages.
I’ve found a lot of use in journaling about experiences to uncover their meaning and understand why I did the things that I did. I’ve also found value in meditation, personal sexual practices, conscious dance, going to spiritual talks, and connecting with other spiritual people. I think this last can’t be undervalued. Connecting with others of like-mind on this path helps to support us as we move through big changes (and big changes certainly are coming to this world).
It’s also important to note that true awakening is embodied. That means that having an awakened mind is just the start. The heart and body must awaken also. In Western Society, this can be scary because the body and heart can’t be controlled. You can’t “think” your way to awakening with those aspects of yourself. They have completely different, but beautiful processes.
My Positive Life Changes
The change that resulted from the three key factors that I mentioned earlier along with other things radically shifted my life. It has brought amazing love and connection to me, and truly, I feel blessed every day by the amazing people that come into my life. But it’s not like I’ve reached a static point. It’s like the Buddhists say, everything is change. In embracing that truth, my life is very fluid. It has ups and downs, but the letting go of resistance to this change gives my world a quality of ease and grace that it never had before.
Happiness is a tricky word too. Unconditional love is what we move towards. In unconditional love, we accept everything as it is. It’s a space of profound non-resistance, and that makes your life so much easier to be in. But it may not mean that you’re happy. Happiness, to me, is more of a subjective thing, and subsequently, it comes and goes depending on the moment. If someone has just died and you’re at a funeral, you’ll mourn. That’s just natural. You can be in a space of unconditional love for the moment, the people you’re with, and the person who has passed on, but you’re probably not happy.
My Next Steps as an Evolving Being
Goals and steps are funny things because after you awaken, you really see them as mental constructs. Certainly, they can be helpful to point you in a direction and to bring focus to your projects and endeavors, but I’m careful in how I create a goal.
The old tendency that we as human beings make is to get stuck on achieving goals. But so much of life is so organic and fluid that that can be extremely troublesome. Take for instance my intention to get into a Master’s of Fine Arts Creative Writing program. That was the goal several years ago. I put lots of time and intention into studying for the GRE, finding and researching schools, and applying. But ultimately, I got rejected from every single school. By the end, I didn’t really care because so many other things had opened up along the way in the process. In particular, I’d found a spiritual group to connect with and my awareness was opening up as I moved towards awakening and eventually becoming a spiritual teacher.
With that said, my goal is to help humanity achieve liberation. That’s the big thing all of us spiritual teachers are doing. We’re here to help everyone move towards awakening and the deeper connection, love, and peace that comes with it. The big goal is to help all of humanity restructure their lives into an inner balance and an outer balance.
Other more basic goals include setting up my spiritual teaching practice as my primary work, creating a center for people to be able to go to during the initial phases of their awakening, and expanding the reach of my work through workshops, conferences, and webinars. My ebook Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening is available on Amazon and my site.
My Advice to Others
First and foremost, spirituality is a pervasive thing. It includes everything. You can’t avoid parts of yourself. If spiritual awakening ignites in you, everything has to be addressed, healed, and opened. This can be scary if you don’t know what’s coming, but you can’t fight it.
Secondly, you’re not alone.
As for specific advice, it really depends on where you are in your path as to what advice I’d give. I’m very conscious of the fact that different people need different advice. If you’ve never meditated, then I recommend trying meditation for 15 minutes once a day. But even saying that, I don’t assume that that’s the practice that will work for you. In all things, I’m concerned about bringing spirituality into practical everyday terms so that you can actively apply it within the confines of your life (confines meaning working a job, raising a family, etc.).
Spirituality isn’t about running off to a retreat center to “find yourself.” It’s about how you live every day and the choices you make to come from a space of love and truth. Because ultimately, everything you need lies within you.