The Spiraling Growth of the Nautilus
Thoughts from Lynn Sparrow Christy
The spiritual path holds so much promise when we first embark upon it. Our consciousness seems so expansive. We soak up new information and ideas like sponges, and at times it almost seems as if those new perspectives have direct power to transform us simply because we understand things so much better than we ever did before. The call of the authentic Self motivates us to grow and change in ways that we might never have imagined before we tasted the sweet subtleties that Spirit can infuse into even our ordinary daily life. Someone annoys us? That’s just an opportunity to show love! Some desired plan is thwarted? That’s just a providential nudge to take a different approach, or maybe it’s a lesson in patience, that Holy Grail of spiritual growth. Even when we stumble, enlightenment (whatever that is!) feels inevitable. A few more workshops, another couple of years of meditation, or maybe just the right teacher will come along and then we will attain the levels of consciousness that beckon to us so compellingly.
Yet for most of us whose time on the path measures not only in years but even decades, progress may feel disappointingly slow at times. Sure, we’ve grown beyond where we were at the outset, but some of our more stubborn patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior still have a disconcerting way of rearing their ugly heads just when we had thought we had overcome them. We may get glimpses of a frame of mind we hold that has captured us for years or maybe even lifetimes, but we’re not quite sure what it will take to really change it. Or maybe we have not yet found the level of personal wellbeing that we’d assumed to be one of the rewards of our spiritually oriented efforts. More common still is the nagging sense that we are not fulfilling our true spiritual purpose. Somewhere along the way “life happens,” and it turns out that it’s not always easy to remember who we really are. Those higher states of love and deep connection that we intuit to be the true measure of our growth may continue to elude us, and at times we may become weary on a spiritual path where we never really feel “done.” At these times we may even feel deeply broken somewhere inside and wonder what it is that we are missing.
The truth is that we are all “broken” in certain ways. Few of us get into adulthood without some degree of emotional wounding, and often we must face the ramifications of this repeatedly in our lives. The emotional wounding may be a pattern from a past life that is ingrained in our consciousness, waiting there for us to uncover and release it. We try to find the learning behind the situation, but sometimes come up blank. Even those with no particular consciousness of “wounding” may feel a bit broken by patterns of failure to live up to the spiritual ideal they have set. Whenever we feel stagnant or blocked in our agenda toward ongoing, expansive growth, it can seem like something that was once alive and quickening has become broken in some way.
How, then, do we keep our motivation up over the long haul, accept the fact that we must “keep on keeping on” and at the same time recognize and celebrate those ways in which we have, indeed, made noteworthy progress? Part of the answer to this question lies in examining the nature of growth itself.
The spiral is a more realistic model for our ongoing growth and healing than models suggesting straight linear ascent. This is because the spiral form conveys the way we continue to encounter the same pattern at ever-higher levels of manifestation and wider contexts of meaning. We often find ourselves confronting the same issues and patterns repeatedly in our lives and erroneously concluding that the repetition means we have not made progress. Yet, if we will look more carefully, we will usually see that we are meeting the pattern at a higher level or in a broader context than before. Take, for example, an emotional challenge like fear of speaking one’s truth. For the one dealing with such an issue, the way you met that fear as a child may have been quite different from the way you met it as a young adult, and the way you meet it as a mature adult may be different still. You may well be facing the same root pattern of fear of speaking your truth, but notice how you have to meet it at both higher levels of challenge and within the broader context that your ongoing experience provides. The child may fear and not even know why. The young adult may experience the same fear and understand more about where the perceived threat lies. With maturation, there may be growing insight about the responses one makes to the fear and the motives of others who may be involved in the fear-inducing situation. There may even be the introduction of spiritual understanding along the way. We may not be skyrocketing beyond fear for ever and always, but rather meeting it each time the spiral curves back around to that pattern. And so we spiral upward. In this way, we grow.
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Lynn Sparrow Christy, has been working in the field of spiritual growth and personal healing for her entire adult life. This work has been shaped by a deep connection to spirituality during childhood that led her through traditional Christian faith to the barrier-shattering work of Edgar Cayce and on to the leading edge thinking that characterizes the contemporary integral/evolutionary movement. Along the way, she has developed an eclectic career as a writer, conference speaker, hypnotherapist-life coach, minister, and trainer. She is trained as a master hypnotherapist, hypnosis trainer, life coach, and master N.L.P. practitioner. She has also done extensive personal study, training, and practice with energetic modalities such as qigong and energy medicine and often shares these practices with her clients.
She is a director for The Journey to Wholeness and Integrative Growth program, the initial program offered by the Tarsia Center (at the Association for Research and Enlightenment), which offers programs in emotional processing, healing, integration, and wholeness.