I can’t wait to hear about the Sufi spiritual retreat you attended. I am curious about how much of the work you do at the retreat involves inviting in a higher force. The concept of self-help is pervasive in modern society. There are self-help diets, self-help exercise plans, self-help yoga, and self-help programs that can cure just about any addiction we can possible imagine. Now I believe that self-help is fine for getting over some hang-ups, adapting to the world, and healing relationships or illness to a limited extent. But self-help isn’t going to bring about the transformation that a genuinely spiritual process does. Seeing yourself as you really are is a great healing force in itself, if you can bear it. Some people need therapists to help them bear it. But in self-help and therapy you are chiefly working on the self you see.
Spiritual change takes place when the person, not what is seen, begins to change and deepen. When that part of you that sees begins to deepen, then you are opening to real change. But to do this kind of spiritual work you must invite into yourself God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or whatever your faith wants to call the force that redefines you. It is an entirely different engagement than self-help.
Your friend, Webb
Our spiritual retreat in Sedona was also a leadership training… Casey and I are on the leadership team for the Portland area of The Way of the Heart. But unlike most leadership training that I’ve been to over the years, this work really focuses on developing mastery in the personal skills which, in turn, are core to being an effective leader. And as you might guess (and in answer to your question), developing mastery in one’s spiritual connection is a big part of that.
The four days began and ended with spiritual practices. While Sufism is not a religion, at its core is belief in one universal God. Just as you said, spiritual growth can’t happen without connecting deeply with God, Allah, Christ, Buddha … however one envisions the Divine … making a loving, heart connection. Our spiritual practices help with that.
Most of the other elements of the retreat were about working to more deeply understand those parts of our lower self, ego, subconscious that hold us back from being fully the person we were created to be. For example, most of us “learned” in our early childhood that we “aren’t good enough” or “don’t fully belong” … and numerous other messages that our young minds perceived from interpretations we made. We continue to learn and practice skills at releasing those “default stories” to more fully embrace our higher selfs. To be more fully whole, coming from our higher, spiritual places, is where we can best be in service with love in the work we do.
There was much more in the work we did those four days, but this probably summarizes the essence. Suffice it to say, we came home more fully engaged and ignited.