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Codependence to Interdependence: Part 1
Part 1: explores the context of Spiritual Practice as it relates to Codependency and Interdependency
Part 2: explores the topics of Codependency and Interdependency in more detail (to be continued).
Spiritual practice begins, for many of us, at our “cushion” or “mat”. At the cushion, one intentionally sets time aside for solitary inner-cultivation practice.
The aspirant recognizes that meditation practice brings a sense of relief from inner-turmoil. This seated-practice of meditation or awareness cultivation is a foundational practice, from which one may employ meditation techniques to break out of toxic patterns of relating or unhealthy social conditioning; to experience a relief from stress and anxiety, and to establish or stabilize in the liberated Self.
Retreat vs. Spiritual Retreat
Depending on the kinds of traumas or stresses one is metabolizing and processing, as well as the context of one’s current lifestyle, this practice may require an aspirant to retreat from their life, for a determined or undetermined period of time. This could look like a weekend retreat at a local center. This could look like shutting off communications with friends and family for some period of time. This could look like putting everything into storage or selling everything you own and embarking on a journey into the unknown.
Note I did not refer to this as “Spiritual Retreat”. Because for many, the intention of retreating may not be spiritual per sē. One might retreat to simply escape the demands and stresses of daily life, or to explore new external territories or landscapes and have adventures of many sorts. This is done perhaps to simply feel good, and to self-love, which in and of itself can offer incredible spiritually progressive benefits.
However, when one intentionally embarks on a retreat for self-realization, then retreat takes on new meaning. One enters into a path with conscious means and diligent efforts in pursuit of progressive, evolutionary self-development.
On this spiritual journey, there are pitfalls or traps that one can easily fall prey to. I list two of them below:
Escape + Hedonism
Retreating as an escape. Escaping perhaps from the unsustainable quality of life one was originally living. In this case, retreat might serve as a coping mechanism, where one can begin to explore feel-good practices that nourish experiences of self-love, i.e. nature immersions, ecstatic dance parties, conscious intimacy practices like neo-tantra, drumming and/or singing circles, heart-opening cacao ceremonies, or a relaxed beach life, etc.
A relevant experience of self-retreat, self-nourishment, and self-nurturing, getting stuck at this phase can devolve into a form of hedonism. Serving an essential role on an aspirants path, it’s unlikely to propel one beyond desires for self-gratification, self-soothing, and feel-good experiences, in an of itself. Thus, without other tools to support the aspirant, those coming in with habits of codependent relating are likely to see their spiritual practices as a means of escaping and feeling good versus a tool that may help them integrate into the larger social landscape beyond their bliss bubble.
Escape + Replay
Another is running to spiritual communities or spiritual centers, and replaying the same patterns of toxic relating that were dominating one’s life until that point. Oftentimes what happens here is the aspirant substitutes old addictions for new ones within a new community. Substituting parent with their teacher, family with their new spiritual family, and substance abuse or compulsions with compulsive rituals and practices.
Aspirants can live in spiritual community, and still run away from themselves by excessively indulging in relationships, instead of committing time to inner-cultivation. The quality of relationship style if the aspirant has not yet evolved out of codependent patterns of relating, will be a replay of codependency in their new community. Spiritual centers are not holistic centers of enlightenment in and of themselves, a holistic program would integrate work at a spiritual center with other practices and tools used in modern psychology and modern healing therapies, for example work with a licensed therapist.
Codependency to Interdependency
Spiritual practice should not remove us from the world, though of course, if one chooses to take the route of a monk, then they would formally renounce worldly duties with the intent of self-realization. As a monk, one is more likely to be committed to inner realization vs. falling prey to feverish desires – simply because the set and setting is being curated for this intent. However, this is not absolute, one can still be a monk and escape themself.
A householder does not formally renounce worldly duties. In this case, social relevance or social engagement becomes a pivotal part of spiritual practice. Below, I share a progressive model, tracing the journey from the Inner Stroke of self-realization to the Outer Stroke of supreme unity consciousness or social-engagement and integration in one’s social landscape.
I’ll cover the topics of codependence and interdependence in more detail in a separate post.
To be continued.
Here are the slides from today’s IT live:
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