Spiritual exploration requires a measure of faith: Faith to show up at the group you found out on the Co-op noticeboard, or to go along with a friend to a channeling or open healing meditation. It’s this willingness to learn, to explore, and to grow which lead us to find the books, groups and teachers who nurture our spiritual development.
This phase can feel so tender and precious that we keep it secret, away from the skeptical questions of our family and friends. But there’s value to having a skeptical spouse, sibling or friend. When I was going through a period of trying out new meditation techniques, my best friend told me: “Keep your mind open, but don’t let your brain roll out.” This simple test brought me back to center. Did I have an open mind? Or was I letting go of my critical thinking faculties so much that I was giving away my power?
When I knew I would be going into practice as a spiritual and energy healer, I began to attend every healing workshop, every New Age seminar that I could fit into my schedule and budget in my town of Columbus, Ohio. People asked me why I did that. “Don’t you already know how to heal?” they would say. But I didn’t do it because I needed to learn more techniques. I wanted to observe my industry in action, to see how teachers presented themselves, what rang false, what rang true, and what connected all the healing modalities together.
I remember attending one presentation where the nationally-known speaker had attracted several hundred people to the room. After having us say a litany of positive affirmations, he told us that physics says the chair on the stage needs to be observed in order to stay physical. In other words, when we weren’t looking at it, the chair would disappear. At the end of the presentation, he offered a class for nearly ten thousand dollars on realizing abundance, and he had takers for it. But there were two red flags to be seen here: Magical thinking about the chair (sorry! It still existed even when I turned my back!), and magical thinking that his abundance workshop would make them rich.
Skeptical friends and relatives can be useful barometers who bring critical thinking to a person you’re drawn to, a spiritual group, or a piece of equipment you want to buy. Don’t cut off your skeptical spouse or best friend. Instead, share your growth. If it’s real, they will be able to see real benefits to your situation. If it’s not, they will (and tell them to do this gently!) let you know they think it’s an idea that’s not going to contribute to your well-being. I’ve noticed that I avoid sharing with family members or close friends when I worry I’m going to be ridiculed. It’s important to my spiritual growth to have the conversation anyway, to try out my new understandings and beliefs with a critical thinker. Conflict can be an opportunity to go deeper in a relationship and talk about re-drawing boundaries so that both of you feel safe.
When I wrote my novel The Light Catcher I wanted to show how tender our feelings are during spiritual exploration. So I created a protagonist, Chantal, who was going through a psychic opening while navigating the challenges of a marriage and raising two children. She keeps asking herself “am I going crazy?”, although the clock is ticking closer to disaster for the children next door. Chantal’s challenge is to trust herself, trust her marriage, and bring her skills out into the open.
The Light Catcher is out from Assent in October, 2014. You can read excerpts at www.thelightcatchernovel.com.