What moves you? Finding a spiritual practice that works.

The struggle

Over the years, I have struggled with the notion of what defines ‘discipline.’

Even the word harkens back to elementary school days of math homework, piano lessons and excruciating laps in gym class. Often accompanied by “suck it up” or “no pain, no gain,” the term discipline evoked negative, almost punitive feelings in me. Often I would start projects or activities only to find myself giving up and becoming resentful.

For example, I tried yoga classes because I thought (and was told by so many!) that it was spiritually ‘good for me.’

Many classes and five teachers later, I would cringe at the thought of doing one more downward dog. I would look at my other mat mates with envy. They seemed so focused, so flexible, so disciplined. And later I would lambast myself for being too flaky, unmotivated and just lacking ‘character’ to stick with it.

The shift

So it isn’t surprising that today I am not an accountant, no longer play the piano and the last place I want to be is in a gym.

And I’m not a yogi master. But I’m happy.

The reason is the dream. Quite by accident, it totally shifted this view of not only what it means to be disciplined but how to find my spiritual practice and calling.

For example, I have been keeping a dream journal for over twenty years, never realizing this could be a calling. I just literally followed my dreams.

Since then I have consulted individuals on dreams, been running dream groups, written hundreds of articles on dream research and the community, created dream inspired art, presented at international conferences and received not one but two dream certificates.

This sustained dream-focused work is clearly not because I have any ‘special’ insight or masochistic tendencies because, believe me, it has been a bumpy road at best.

It is because I am passionate about the process.

Discipline redefined

Physicist, psychotherapist and founder of Process Oriented Psychology, Arnold Mindell writes about this in his book Working on Yourself Alone: Inner Dreambody Work: “If your process fascinates you, you will become aware of the continuum of awareness, of the process which organizes existence. The process itself will fascinate you with its power, and this excitement creates discipline.”

This fascination, this excitement of the dream’s potential that Mindell writes of created discipline in me. And this is how a practice should be cultivated. Although it’s hard work and a challenge at times, this “belief and wonder” in the work is what motivates me to continue this warrior’s art and, even more importantly, move it into the world.

And because of my passion for the dream, it has (and will!) only grown over the years with its bold and subtle intricacies weaving in and out of my dreaming and waking life.

So what are some ways to find your practice or calling?

  • First of all, we are all individuals so what is good for one person is not necessarily good for all. So be gentle with yourself if you feel stuck.
  • Ask yourself, what moves me? What brings me joy? The beauty of this inquiry is that anything can be turned into a spiritual practice. If you love cooking or being in the garden, make it a daily practice to commune with your art and watch what enfolds. It is import be open to all possibilities.
  • If you are not sure, look to your childhood. Our younger selves were more open to the call and memories might emerge of your love for being in the water, animals or in my case, dreams.  Looking through photographs or have a conversation with a childhood friend or family member is another way to evoke those passions from the past.
  • My favorite way is through dream incubation . Simply ‘ask’ before bedtime and see what dreams manifest and inform you over time. The answers are already in there.

What do you think? Leave a comment and share your thoughts or questions.

About the Author:

Linda believes dreams can transform individuals & bring communities together. Her research, art & therapeutic work run the gamut from spiritual alchemy to ancestral knowledge to altered states of consciousness. SF Dream Research Examiner SF Examiner and Empact Institute

8 Comments

  1. Cynthia Greb September 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Linda. I, too, have struggled with that word “discipline.” It makes sense to me that we are more likely to be disciplined (or as someone suggested, “focused” – a much kinder word in my opinion) if we do what we love!

    Thank you, thank you, fellow dreamer!

    • Linda Mastrangelo September 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Cynthia. And yes, I agree the word “discipline’ should be replaced, certainly in this context. I also want to add that The Dream
      Tribe is becoming more mindful of using dreams to find one’s soul calling and sharing and making connections within a dreaming community. Look out for for some juicy changes in the near future!

  2. Alan Underwood (aka Openfoot) September 16, 2011 at 1:16 am - Reply

    Hi Linda. Many thanks for your article. I empathised deeply with it; as someone who has also heard the call of dreams across a lifetime. The first dream recorded in my journal was written in April 1972. Although there have been some significant breaks in that record, that’s forty years plus. I have found that recording dreams over such a long period has revealed some interesting progressions and perspectives! Dreams have been the foundation of my own spiritual practice and over the years their transformative powers have been a constant source of amazement. It has taken me some time to bring them fully in to the public arena but “selected highlights” are now available on my website http://www.openfoot.net. Thanks again. Alan

    • Linda Mastrangelo September 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm - Reply

      What an incredible archive of dreams, Alan! It’s wonderful to find kindred spirits who are also embodying the dream as a spiritual practice. I can only imagine how rich and complex your findings have been over the years and I look forward to reading more on your site. I also appreciate and resonate with the courage to post them in public. Thank you so much for the share and sharing your dreams with the community!

  3. Velva Heraty September 16, 2011 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Hi Linda, The therapeutic energy around your article was palpable. It reminded me that the three worst words in personal growth are Should, Ought, and Must :). I particularly like the concept of going in rather than out for guidance to what works for us.

    May I have you permission to quote part of this on my Dream Momma FB page? Please let me know.

    • Linda Mastrangelo September 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Velva! I am thrilled you resonated with the subject of going inward and challenging old belief systems. Particularly the nasty ‘shoulds, oughts and musts’. I would also be delighted for you to quote part of the article on your site. I look forward to other exchanges in the future!

  4. Erika Rae September 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your thoughts, Linda -
    I / we seem to need to hear them over and over and over! And they help each time. :)

  5. Linda Mastrangelo January 21, 2012 at 11:55 am - Reply

    Thnks for your comment, Erika! Glad it helped. :)

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