Getting Outside The Box Of Cultural Conditioning

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Last week, about a half hour after I sent out my article on how my teen athlete’s back pain got completely relieved, I received an email from a reader telling me that he does not appreciate the religious content of my material.  The reader wrote,

“I do not appreciate the religious content of this material.  I am sure that others do, but it is not what I am interested in reading…I am not comfortable with your philosophy/approach.”

Because I’m sure he’s not alone in his view and in order to clarify where I’m coming from (because my view CAN be confusing and easily misunderstood at times, particularly because we all have preconceived ideas about what certain things mean), I am responding to his comment in this article. It is interesting anyway to receive a comment such as this, because I don’t view myself as religious at all. I do not practice a religion, don’t go to church or temple, and I don’t have an alter at home. I’m not even sure I’d consider myself “new age;” there were so many claims being made in the “new age” these last several years I did not resonate with. (Fortunately, almost a year after December 21, 2012, there seems to be less of them around.)

If I were to define my approach to spirituality (which is distinct from religion) I would say spirituality has to do with “cultivating a connection to a deeper part of yourself–your soul, the part of you that has been around forever–such that you gain a higher-level perspective that is outside the box of cultural conditioning and live your life according to this higher-level understanding, your truth. (By conditioning I include how you see yourself, how you perceive others, and how you perceive the world.) In this sense you could say that spirituality can unravel religious conditioning.

I can understand though, that he’s not comfortable with my philosophy/approach. There’s nothing comfortable about actively and deliberately questioning the status quo and seeking the truth, including what your inner being resonates with, and there’s nothing comfortable about putting yourself out there and taking an unpopular stand.

But then again if you look at the state of the world, it doesn’t look very comfortable out there in mainstream life, either. Let’s take for example the state of public health in this country. If you go to Costco on a Saturday and look around you’ll see that not too many people appear to lead comfortable lives when it comes to their health. Frankly things look disastrous.

There is a great shift in consciousness that is occurring at the moment and it does not appear to be comfortable by any means. We aren’t here to sit on the sidelines but to be active participants in the changes that are manifesting around the world. And when life becomes challenging we are to help ourselves and others find balance (which is a lot easier when you have cultivated a deeper relationship with your soul). We are here to seek solutions (for ourselves, for our family, for our communities) that go beyond just following the mainstream, the things that most everyone takes for granted. Haven’t you seen? The mainstream isn’t working all that well. Many arenas (economic, environmental, governmental, societal, public health) are on the verge of collapse. People everywhere are stressed.

Life for me was certainly not that comfortable, not even in the sixties and seventies when I grew up. Even back then I questioned a lot of what I was told. It took me quite some time to feel more comfortable in my own skin, to feel more at peace with the world the way it was. I remember when I regained a lot of inner peace, it was when I gained the understanding–not because someone somewhere said so but because of my own personal experiences–that the world is the way it is because it’s designed that way for maximum growth. Maximum personal and spiritual growth in the least amount of time is the organizing principle of this planet. Not emptiness, not senselessness, not randomness but maximum growth.

The following is an excerpt of a book I recently came across on another blog that makes this point clear. It also gives an example of what I mean when I say personal growth. The book is My Son and the Afterlife: Conversations from the Other Side, by the author Elisa Medhus. The excerpt discusses that there’s a difference between what the “ego” part of you (the part of you that’s been culturally conditioned) may want and what the soul part of you wants, and the tension between the two that exists when one isn’t “aligned” with one’s spirituality:

Erik: …You can turn into reality only that which dovetails with your destiny. If it doesn’t agree with your destiny, you can’t create it.
Me: I can’t imagine people would want to create something that is not part of their destiny.
Erik: Oh, a lot of people do!
Me: Well, why wouldn’t it work? Why can’t you create your reality regardless of your destiny?
Erik: When we come to the earthly plane, we have a spiritual blueprint. Our thoughts and our actions must work towards accomplishing what’s on that spiritual blueprint. If we finish that, we can accomplish more. Say, for example, a woman is married to a rich dude and she’s miserable and wants out, but she knows she has to work full time if she divorces him. She might think “I don’t want to. Can’t I just win the lottery?” That’s not going to happen, because no matter how much time, energy and passion she puts toward winning the lottery, she won’t; because it would derail her spiritual forward movement, which includes developing independence and empowerment by getting a full time job and letting go of Mr. Sugar Daddy.

We are here to grow and evolve, and personal and spiritual growth is not comfortable. However, in the longer run (and often even in the short term) it can be extremely rewarding.

Thanks for reading this article and for learning a little about my philosophy/approach. Know that I will continue to provide articles that support parents of teenage girls, articles that may be considered a bit outside the box of cultural conditioning. But that’s one of the things in life I am passionate about.

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