Some of you may or may of not come across the concept of “hitting a Plateau” in a process of spiritual development. During my spiritual development in my path, I hit a time in my life where my peek experiences began to lessen and my connection to my guides and Gods and Goddesses began to feel fainter and fainter. It felt as though my spirituality was slowly fading away and I began to ask…why do I still do it? The immediate answer most fellow Pagans would tell me, meditate more or meditate in a different way. Or to just stick with it eventually once my new stage of spiritual evolution had time to settle and digest…a new shift and direction would come…The truth was the more I tried to force it, the more cynical I got. The more I focused on intellectual aspects of Paganism to keep me engaged and stave off boredom…the more it ultimately only made me more cynical of everything that I once was so inspired by. My primary spiritual teacher at the time told me I was hitting a Plateau and I needed to give it time to integrate.
What does that mean? Hitting a Plateau…essentially it means you’ve had so many peek experiences that seemed life changing at the time and miraculous that now they have reached the limit of how far they can take you and seem mundane and ordinary. It no longer leaves you in awe, and thus it no longer feels miraculous. I kept trying different things and would get a small glimmer of new information or new ideas that might feel gratifying or even entertaining…but my spirituality did not really make me feel “connected” like it once did. It fit the description of what some might call the “dark night of the soul.” Where after you’ve have a major life changing spiritual awakening…you lose the connection. The more I tried to stick with it though, the more disingenuous it felt. I was going through the motions mostly because it felt familiar and kept me connected to friendships and communities I valued…but I really didn’t believe in any of it anymore. The Gods and Goddesses and spirit guides had become hallow shells and psychological symbols my mind attempted to imaginatively play out, where once they were miraculous and mystical beings. Perhaps it was a Plateau, in that what I once thought was mystical and miraculous could no longer help me evolve and grow in the ways I was suppose to at the time.
The more my frustration at hitting walls of emptiness, void of meaning and inspiration, the more I felt like my identity was becoming distinctly less Pagan and more secular. After I finally finished my seminary training I felt exhausted with the world of Paganism…I still loved my friends I met from it…but I no longer really felt like the practice and worldview really gave me any meaning or anything particularly useful. So I slowly separated and distanced myself from it and focused on material and worldly pursuits. A serious relationship with my boyfriend (at the time), focusing on getting a new job and getting admitted into grad school. I spent my free time doing something worldly like playing video games or reading up on the news and learning more about political affairs and stopped meditating all together, stopped thinking about Gods and Goddesses or anything remotely spiritual at all. The alter room that I had filled with Pagan and new age paraphernalia began to collect dust and locked the door which almost never opened for an entire year except maybe once or twice.
To be honest this is exactly what I needed. I devoted so much of my life since childhood in spiritual pursuits, I almost never put much attention on to developing much of a worldly identity. I, ofcourse, played video games and things like most geeky kids my age…but I never missed a meditation, did yoga every day, and was always studying some form of spirituality rather eastern based or Neo-Pagan based. Spirituality was such a deep and strong core focus in my life and I never thought of myself being who I was without it. I began to realize how much I neglected the need to have a more mundane identity. Ever since I completed my shadow work initiation in my tradition my slow shift into cynicism lead me deeper and deeper into a moderate hedonism and greater materialism. The more spirituality began to become less inspiring, the more I turned to material pursuits to fill the void of my time and energy. It was what I needed, many people I talked to during this process did not grow up spiritual like I did. They left a religion they didn’t feel connected or a mundane life that was unfulfilling to find their path. I started my path early, and the spiritual feelings and awakening I had was genuine and authentic…but I begin to think the Gods wanted me to leave my focus on them behind for a little while. I needed to develop a more material mundane connection to the world. It is the fault of many who develop monk’s pride to feel their spiritual attainment puts them above those that live material lives and have mundane problems. I am grateful to be spared that vice by being forced to fall from the graces of spiritual loftiness and get a reality check in a world without Gods and spirits.
Now I am about to become a counselor as I go to Grad School to get my MS in clinical counseling. Had I not gone through the dull-drums of a secular and mundane break from my spirituality…I really don’t think the service I hope to one day soon give would be all the meaningful or deep. Insisting the answer to someone’s problems is always rooted in something spiritual has been the down fall of many around me growing up in an alternative spiritual world. Sometimes someone needs a more pragmatic and secular answer to their problems, a soul retrieval with integrated reiki is not going to help someone with diagnosed schizophrenia. Without proper medical treatment, some conditions will not stabilize no matter how much aromatherapy and shamanic healing you do. That alcoholism you’ve developed won’t resolve itself with some rose water and LBRPs…but choosing to admit you have a problem and seeking professional help might. By leaving my spirituality behind for a little while I was able to work out some melodramas and work through some of my own issues that my spirituality frankly was only an escapism from. I’ve known many that have used spirituality to do the same thing in many different ways.
Now that I’ve had some time off, I’ve been getting a small glimmer of a slowly reopening gateway welcoming me back to the spiritual connections I thought I had lost a long time ago. But with new perspectives, new understanding, and new priorities. No person really can tell another where they are spiritually or where they aren’t, if they are doing something correctly or if they aren’t, who they are spiritually or who they aren’t…there IS NOTHING objective about spirituality at all…I learned that a long time ago when I got cynical of it in college getting my Religious Studies degree. Spirituality is entirely subjective and never fits a common pattern fully. So just go with what feels right for you…even if that means leaving it entirely for a little while, if you are really meant to come back to it, you will. But if you force yourself to stay spiritual even though you’ve lost the motivation and inspiration to feel genuine about it…take a break. You’ve probably gotten all the spiritual peeks you’re going to get and no matter what people tell you to change, what you’re doing wrong, what you should do more or less of…there is no true rule book that’s going to guarantee your personal spiritual success. So give yourself permission to leave the Gods behind for a little while. Try being yourself without Gods, spirit guides, and power animals. Just be you, play some video games, enjoy some material pursuits and pleasures. Focus on work, human relationships, hobbies, whatever it is you need to. If spirituality is really meant to ever be a part of your life again…it’ll come back, in the right way…and it likely won’t even look like it used to and will take you to new places you never saw coming. If it’s not meant to come back, then its not…but that is far better to dogmatically forcing yourself to do something that isn’t working. If you’ve hit a Plateau that’s going nowhere…just take a break!