For every person on a spiritual path, the journey will be profoundly different. The lessons learnt, knowledge acquired and spiritual practices that are developed will all be entirely unique to your individual experience.
Yet for many spiritual seekers, the path can get caught in a maze whilst navigating the vast field of of spiritual teachers, intentional communities, yogic disciplines, meditation styles, energy healing modalities, psychic development and tantric exploration.
For the purpose of this article, I will use the term ‘Ascension’ to refer to these practices that involve the gradual elevation, transition and intention towards a heightened state of human consciousness.
Whilst it is perfectly healthy to explore one’s spirituality, it can become both an addictive and tantalising playground of different fruits and offerings. Indeed, without strong discernment and an ethical compass you can easily be lead astray from who you really are.
In this article I will outline the common traits of what I term ’Ascension Tapas’ which means ’The untamed desires, manifestations and impressions of the emerging spiritual psyche’.
These traits can take different forms in your mindset and will be subtle for some and stronger for others and can affect the development of your spiritual growth and maturity.
Here are my top 5 signs that you have been caught in the ascension tapas trap:
1. Your social life has become all about spirituality
Your free time has become dedicated to all things spiritual. The people you choose to hang out with are ‘spiritual’ and ‘conscious people’ and you avoid people who have not ‘woken up’ or who are ‘spiritually asleep’. You make less effort to stay connected to your non spiritual friends and yearn for meaningful conversations.
Your evenings are now strictly spiritual time. Whether that is going to that kundalini yoga class, a spiritual meetup event or to that new Kirtan chanting group down the road, you’re there.
2. Attending at least 3 new spiritual workshops, classes, meetups, retreats or courses every month
Although its often more. You are always on the lookout for a new spiritual healing therapy, spiritual development or kundalini course. You have developed a sometimes insatiable curiosity into the metaphysical, spiritual and mystical arts and a lively appetite for new information, self understanding and accelerated spiritual growth.
3. A habit of jumping from spiritual group to group or teacher to teacher looking for ‘something more’
It might start with studying shamanism, then move on to explore Tantra, dabble in learning energy healing, a bit of buddhism on the side and wait what was that about the mercury retrograde? You like to be in the know and have a grasping for more than what you already have
4. Your social media feed is full of spiritual pages, videos, photos, groups, posts and inspiring quotes
When you’re on Facebook, it’s straight to all those groups you’ve liked seeking new information, interesting videos and spiritual insights to then share with all your Facebook friends. It is not uncommon for this to take up hours of your day until you’ve satisfied your desire for ‘truth’.
You take regular photos of you in meditation and yoga poses to share your daily practice and to keep your profile picture looking suitably spiritual. You mark your interest in more than 5 events per week so that you don’t miss out on anything important.
5. Considering a career move to becoming a life coach, spiritual teacher, energy healer or yoga instructor
Your day job is becoming increasingly boring, unfulfilling and dull and you yearn for a more meaningful career in spirituality to help others and share your passion, insights and wisdom. This can be either a sudden or gradual transition but has become your new dream for what you want to do with your life.
If your reading this and can identify with some or all of the signs above, don’t stress!
My intention in writing this article is not to cast judgement, it is to raise your level of self awareness. It is not right or wrong. It does not make you less of a person. Its all part of the learning process.
Without realising these characteristics in yourself, they can be left unknown and can create rocks in the flow of your life.
Energetically, you are putting your eggs in too many baskets and rapidly dispersing your reservoir of inner energy. This can commonly be misdirected into cluttered thoughts, impaired judgement and false beliefs.
The good news is, It is easy to begin stepping out of the ascension tapas trap once you have awareness that you’re there.
Here are 3 practical steps you can take to set yourself free!
1. Pick no more than 2 daily practices and stick to them
One of the easiest mistakes to make is to take on too much. That is to set too many goals & expectations in what you want to achieve spiritually and going for it all at once. Relax. Breathe.
You have the whole of your life ahead of you to continue working on yourself. Pick the 2 daily practices that you benefit the most from and set a regular time to explore them more fully. This teaches you the valuable quality of self-discipline as way of focusing your mind and your energy. It helps you become more fulfilled and less dissatisfied with where you are currently at.
2. Focus your energy inwards
If you find yourself in the trap, the chances are that you are directing most of your energy outside of yourself. You are giving excessive emotional, mental and spiritual energy to the external world, other people and to the desires of your egoic mind.
If you stay in this pattern, it will likely lead to spiritual exhaustion, confusion and disassociation. Instead, try to direct the energy into spending more time in your own company, into your daily practices and self introspection.
3. Choose a teacher & tradition and stay put for a while
Find a teacher, tradition and practice that you resonate with and commit to learning with them. It doesn’t have to be forever, but for your peace of your mind, set a realistic time frame for your self study and development before you move on again. It maybe 6 months or it might be years.
This helps develop the quality of commitment in your relationship yourself and to others. Of course, it is important to continue learning & growing and staying put doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything the teacher says, often it will encourage you to ask better questions to find your own truth.
A final thought in concluding this article is to not try changing all of these signs at once or too quickly. If you do, you may just end up in the same mind trap all over again! Take your time in letting go and don’t be too hard on yourself. Spirituality should be enjoyable but not taken too seriously.