(C) JAT

(c) JAT 2013

I think one of the great obstacles for people on the Spiral Path is the widespread lack of understanding of what it actually feels like to be a person who’s living “in the zone.”

Our culture is saturated in images of “superstars” and “superheroes” from films, books, illustrated serials (comic books), music videos, and reality TV shows. These images try to convince you that a few select human beings are somehow “bigger than life,” more talented than you, more successful than you, more tapped into the universal glory of perfection than you. These are the people at the top of the pyramid of humanity, according to the claims of writers and producers. They’re the best of the best, the cream of the crop. And you, poor slob that you are, can’t hope to experience one tenth of the deep satisfaction that comes from living one’s destiny as a superstar.

Do you believe in destiny?

I once did. By that I mean I once fell for the common New Age line that certain people are chosen for special tasks that will set them apart from other people and place them on a spiritual path that regular people could never comprehend.

Gnosticism relies on this idea. Gnosticism has the same kind of “superhero” vibe as a modern-day action-adventure film. Sure, you won’t see any guns or car chases in a Gnostic myth, but you’ll see the same themes of good versus evil, strong versus weak, chosen versus non-chosen, worthy versus unworthy. Gnosticism has been around for thousands of years because myths about superhuman people have been around for thousands of years. Early Christian Gnostics took the man named Jesus and turned him into a superhero character who’s surprisingly similar to the Green Lantern character in this summer’s big action flick. (In the film, one lone human being on Planet Earth — the Green Lantern — is chosen to learn how to use his will and his fearlessness to shape powerful universal energies through thought alone. Plato would be proud.)*

Early on in my journey of healing and redemption, I thought that if I followed the New Age teachings carefully, I would somehow earn new abilities and gifts that would elevate me beyond my ordinary, ho-hum, middle class Canadian life. Even Paul’s teachings in the New Testament backed me up on this one! (You can check out First Corinthians Chapter 14 if you’re remotely interested in seeing what Paul promises his gullible followers.)

If you’re really paying attention to what your guardian angels are saying to you about your spiritual journey, you’ll end up feeling a lot less like the Green Lantern and a lot more like Shrek.

It’s funny. You spend years devoted to intensive study and healing, new ideas, changes, transformation, and ever-deepening connection to God, and you know what? You still fart.

You still have to take a hot shower because you’ll stink if you don’t. You still have to put your pants on one leg at a time. You’re still entirely human. The difference is that you start to like being human. More and more you start to get the hang of it.

You start to figure, “Hey, maybe I should try to learn to use what I’ve got instead of asking for ‘paranormal gifts.'” You start to trust the idea that maybe God wasn’t so stupid after all when they designed your DNA.

So let me tell you some of the things that have gradually changed for me over years because I’ve stuck so stubbornly to my spiritual path.

First, and most importantly, I’ve become a much nicer person. When I was younger, I was impatient. Intellectually arrogant. Unable to admit my own mistakes. Critical of other people’s mistakes and all too quick to voice my criticism in a sharp tone. I didn’t have addiction issues with substances, but I had an unfortunate emotional habit of being a doormat and an enabler. I had little faith in God. I could be insufferably smug at times.

I also had health issues, as most people these days can relate to. Mostly chronic stuff related to stress. In my 20’s and early 30’s I had frequent stress headaches (though no migraines, fortunately). One year I had terrible eczema on my hands, eczema that kept me awake at nights with constant itching. For a few years I suffered all summer and early fall from ragweed allergies (acute itchiness in my eyes plus nasal congestion). I got pneumonia once “out of the blue” without having been sick with a cold or flu beforehand. My sleep and my mood were pretty good, but I had low energy all the time — probably related to stress plus my vulnerable G.I. system. My G.I. system has always been my “weak link.” My “canary in the coal mine.” If I’m stressed out about something, my G.I. system has always been the first part of my body to let me know I’m not a happy camper.

I’m now 53 years old, and I look and feel better than I did at age 43. (And no, I’m not about to launch into an infomercial for Cindy Crawford skin tonics.) Sure, I have grey hair (which I cover with L’Oreal Excellence B3) and I have lots of laugh lines on my face (which I don’t mind at all). My butt has sagged, and my eyes (which used to have better than 20/20 vision) now need a pair of reading glasses from time to time. But almost all of my senses — my hearing, my distance and colour vision, my sense of taste, my sense of smell, and most of all my sense of timing — are all sharper and clearer than they were when I was 43. (I’m not sure, but I think my sense of touch is the same as it’s always been.)

This sharpening and clearing of the senses isn’t an occasional thing. It’s a normal part of my ongoing daily reality. I’ve read reports over the years about individuals who’ve had a sudden sharpening of the senses as part of a brief mystical experience. For these people, the sharpening was breathtaking and wonderful, and it’s something they’ve longed (often fruitlessly) to experience again. Well, if you want to know what it feels like to be dazzled by the diamond clarity of sunlight pouring through new maple leaves each time you look up at a spring sky, I can only say that these changes take place in your biology spontaneously and permanently when you make major changes to your own internal “landscape.” You can’t force these changes to take place. They just seem to happen naturally when you make the decision to be the best person you’re capable of being.

Another exciting change that’s taken place over the past few years is the improved functioning of my immune system. I’m not saying I never get sick, and I’m not saying my body is invulnerable to the effects of excessive stress. What I’m saying is that when I try my hardest to respect my body and live a balanced life, my immune system rewards me by keeping me in good shape health-wise. I rarely get sick these days, and when I do it’s not for long. I do believe, though, that even the most spiritual person will get sick and die at some point. That’s just part of life.

Right now I don’t spend any money — not a single penny — on over-the-counter or prescription medications. It took me a long time to get to this stage, and I do NOT recommend you rush out and try it. I’m just pointing out the honest scientific reality that your own biological body can do some pretty amazing things to keep you healthy if you make the right emotional, intellectual, and spiritual choices.

The biggest bonus of deciding it’s okay to be “Shrek” instead of the “Green Lantern” is the sense of inner peace, calm, freedom, and trust that becomes your normal inner reality. Your eyes start to fill up with laughter. You sleep calmly and deeply. You’re totally free of addictions. You have so much more energy for the tasks of daily living, loving, and learning. You find yourself singing sometimes just . . . well, just because.

This is what it feels like to find healing, redemption, and forgiveness.

I wouldn’t trade any of these treasures for all the status in the world. It’s such a joy to be able to get a refreshing sleep at night. It’s such a relief not to be controlled by weird biological addictions. It’s such a humble pleasure to be able to stay calm and patient when others around you are screaming and yelling and behaving badly. It’s such a source of quiet pride to be able to stand up to abusers with dignity and respect and not be taken advantage of.

I’m just so incredibly grateful that my guardian angels stuck with me while I struggled to learn how to be the best self I’m capable of being. I’ll never get over the wonder of their courage, devotion, and patience. They’re truly awesome.

I encourage you to believe in yourself the way I believe in you. The way your own angels believe in you. The way God believes in you.

You’re so much more loving than you realize.

* P.S. My son took me to see the Green Lantern, and even though I don’t recommend the character as a role model for those on the Spiral Path, what’s not to like about a summer action movie starring Ryan Reynolds? I thought it was lots of fun, and I enjoyed it. Those on the Spiral Path can’t take themselves too seriously, or they’ll miss out on some of the best parts of being human. Like fun movies and popcorn!