Spiritual Perfection

Spiritual Perfection

Perfection. Isn’t it something we all long for? Perfect lives, perfect body and perfect happiness.

I was shocked recently to hear that in a survey of 2000 teenage girls, 70% didn’t like their faces and 2/3rds thought they’d be happier of they lost weight. The source of much of this unhappiness? Celebrity magazines. They are filled with images of flawlessly made-up, perfectly styled, hair free, smooth skinned, wrinkle free, slim women whose images have been airbrushed beyond reality. They represent a fantasy that some will spend a lifetime chasing and never reaching, leading to a dissatisfied life.

This same perfectionism comes through in diet books too. They are full of tips such as, “If you give up all dairy, wheat and sugar….” Or, “if you eat only organic raw food,” you will lose weight and look beautiful. But how many of the authors of these books stick religiously to their own advice? What would be more helpful is if we knew that they too enjoyed the odd glass of wine, or half pint of ice cream when they are feeling stressed or down. Instead we break the diet and then feel guilty and lose motivation to continue. The reason….we feel we can never reach the high standards demanded by the diet book.

I now see the same trend, and accompanying stress, in the new age arena, via self help and spiritual books. These books offer us instructions on how we should live our lives, how we can become our ideal of spiritual perfection – never becoming angry, living a pure life, always being understanding, having endless compassion and always listening to and acting upon our intuition, without fear. Sounds great.

All of these are admirable aims and it is right that we have these goals.

However, what should be made clear is that becoming enlightened is a life long journey and not one that is concluded when we have finished the book. There is no rush to reach enlightenment, so take the pressure off yourself.

What is frequently neglected in many of these books is a way of integrating all of this spirituality into our everyday lives. It is easy to feel compassionate when we are in our healing space, but less easy to do so in the middle of a crowded supermarket on a Saturday afternoon when surrounded by screaming children. No books tell you how to deal with that situation, nor, more importantly, that you are not a bad person for feeling angry and frustrated. You are being human.

Spirituality only works and has value if you are able to ground it and to make it have meaning in everyday interactions. In that way we become complete people, interacting with life using all of our aspects – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. If we neglect one area of ourselves we lose balance and life becomes more of a chore than a pleasure. We need to realise that we are blessed with a physical body and the ability to enjoy ourselves. We should remember that even the most spiritual people have taken pleasure in the indulgences of the physical world - the Dalai Lama apparently enjoys a good steak tartare and a bottle of red wine and even Jesus drank wine. As important as spirituality is, laughter and self enjoyment are also vital parts of life and we should never neglect them.

One of the dangers of focusing on spirit, above all else, is that when we do indulge our emotions or our physical side, we can find guilt arising, as we feel nothing should detract from our spiritual quest. Our spiritual quest then becomes another means of self punishment, of confirmation, that we are a bad person.

Reiki too should be a combination of fun and spirituality. Reiki will become a chore and a burden if we cannot find the laughter behind the healing. Reiki needs to fit into our lives and our routines, otherwise we may tire very quickly of the perceived strict discipline required to be a Reiki healer. Discipline is required, it is true, but if there is no fun and joy at the heart of your Reiki healing, then the motivation to practice is harder to find. Above all Reiki is not about perfection. It is a forgiving energy. It has endless love and compassion and patience. It does not criticise us if we slip up, nor chastise us if we have fun. We should follow its lead and be more forgiving of, and more loving to ourselves. After all, we are all perfect.

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