A Paqo’s Approach to Purpose

Lord, when I feel that what I’m doing is insignificant and unimportant, help me to remember that everything I do is significant and important in your eyes, because you love me and you put me here, and no one else can do what I am doing in exactly the way I do it.
― Brennan Manning, writer and speaker

I’ve written about your Inka Seed many times. Now, here I am writing about it again, only this time in terms of living your purpose. It’s worth remembering that within your Inka Seed is not only your life mission but the whole of you.

  • Your Inka Seed is your birth certificate. It’s your paqarina, your place of dawning. It encodes your origin in the Great Mystery. Your lineage goes straight back to God.
  • At the level of your human self, your Inka Seed encodes what you—and you alone from among the more than seven and a half billion people on Earth—are designed to do in this human life. Maybe that is still a secret you are keeping from yourself. But it is not a secret to God, from whom you received this assignment.
  • Your Inka Seed also is the treasure chest of gifts, skills, and capacities that you need to fulfill your life mission. You possess so many more qualities than you may yet know or use.

If you choose to ascribe to these beliefs, how do you feel? (Answer truthfully!) Intimidated or inspired? Fearful or blissful? Panicked or peaceful?

Like most of us when thinking about what we are really here to do, you probably feel ideas and creativity in businessa bit of both extremes. Being frightened or intimated can motivate you to change, discovering and then living your life purpose. Feeling inspired yet peaceful can foster trust in yourself and God that you are indeed on a journey of personal fulfillment. We humans tend to be motivated both by “fleeing from” and “being drawn toward.” Movement is still movement, even if it is one small step instead of a giant leap. And if you are not yet embracing and living your purpose, then move you must.

Two of the feelings that can prevent or block you from being who you really are and living the life God inspired within you are indifference and complacency. Indifference keeps you static and uninterested in self-engagement and self-realization. Complacency breeds low standards toward the self, causing you to settle for a “good enough” self and life instead of reaching toward grandeur. Both indifference and complacency dampen your imagination about what it means to be alive and to be you.

Also consider that your purpose might be outwardly modest but inwardly momentous. Maybe it’s being a fantastic parent. Really, is there anything more precious than guiding the growth of a child’s mind, heart, and spirit? Your purpose might not be about getting your name in lights, but about bringing light to others. Maybe it’s playing music—not in a concert hall but in a retirement home or at a winery. Your music might be the means for you to live a mission of bringing pleasure to others. If you know what your mission is, you can be living it no matter what the outer circumstances, as the following story illustrates.

I remember reading once that Marianne Williamson, writer and inspirational teacher of human potential, worried that she might be wasting her time serving drinks as a waitress instead of living her mission, which she envisioned to be helping people discover love for themselves and others, and embrace their inner greatness. But there she was—a cocktail waitress. Then she had her ah-ha moment, which totally shifted her perspective. She thought something along the lines of, “I get it! This bar is my church and serving the spirits of these patrons is my mission.” So she began to “serve her flock,” practicing kindness, fostering happiness, inspiring others—right where she was, right at that moment.

Maybe you, like so many of us, don’t know what your mission in life is. Usually that lack of clarity arises because you think your  mission is a way to “do” rather than a way to “be.” You can go back and read my November 29, 2018, post about calling your future to you and cleaning the energetic cords to your future. As I point out there, it’s the qualities of yourself that you want to express and that you want to manifest in your life mission that you call to you, not a specific profession, job, or career.

The process of discovering what you are here for is at least threefold. First, you start by appreciating where you are and what you are doing and how you are “being” right now, at this very moment in time. Part of this first step is realizing that (or at least allowing for the possibility that) there are no mistakes. Nothing in your life—the triumphs and the tragedies—is extraneous or wasted. Everything has served to make you who you are right now and to prepare you for realizing your life mission.

The second step is to decide to bring your best self to whatever you are doing, no matter what currently occupies your time. Bring your humor, your generosity, your understanding, your will, your focused intention, and your love to those around you and to yourself. Be the finest self you can be at every moment and seek to encourage others to be their finest selves. If you feel you have not yet realized your life mission, there is no better preparation for discovering it than acting as if you are living it right now.

Finally, make a choice to experiment. Boot yourself (even gently) out of your comfort zone. Explore the world, starting in your own community. Go new places, meet new people, learn new things, think different thoughts, cultivate different feelings, shift your beliefs. Sweep the dust of sameness from your mind, heart, and actions. Life is made up of life experiences (both inner and outer), and even within the scope of your own community there are no doubt amazing things happening and inspiring people to meet. One of my favorite quotations about remembering to drink with gusto from the fountain of life is from Henry de Montherland: “There is only one way to be prepared for death: to be sated. In the soul, in the heart, in the spirit, in the flesh. To the brim.” So don’t wait! Start savoring life now.

None of what I have suggested is specific to our work as paqos. It is universally human. But as a paqo, you have at the ready additional tools to help prepare you to live your grandest self and realize your life’s purpose. Your go-to tool is always saminchakuy. Bring in the life-force energy of sami and release any hucha that is reducing both your clarity and the impact of your intentions on the kawsay pacha. You also can undertake practices to pop your Inka Seed, fertilize it, and nutrure its growth. You can work energetically to connect to your future self, especially your sixth-level self.

But your future self can only emerge from one place—the ground of the self you are right now. Your mission in life is rooted in the present, in the spiritual realization expressed by Manning in the quotation at the start of this article: “no one else can do what I am doing in exactly the way I do it.” Your mission is found in the singular combination of skills, attitudes, feelings, and experiences that come together only in you. As writer Val Uchendu states so simply: “When you apply that gift you possess that comes so easily to you and can be used anywhere, anytime to help someone else; maybe your family, your community, your city, state, country or the world in general . . . that is your PURPOSE.”

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Inspiring Your Work as a Paqo

As we prepare for a new year, I have decided to focus this post on providing inspiration for you in your work as a paqo by using quotations to highlight universal truths about self-transformation and to align these truths with the Andean concept of the three human powers.

The ultimate goal of our work as paqos is to evolve our state of consciousness so that we can discover who we truly are and live as who we truly are. Our divinity is encoded in our Inka Seed, as is our life mission and all the capacities we need to carry out this mission. Our practices—especially the foundational practice of saminchakuy—are energetic techniques to achieve this goal, and they are aligned with one or more of the three primary human powers. By distilling the ambitious, and perhaps overwhelming, goal of self-realization down to working your three human powers, you will be better able to manage your inner work.

I wish you a magical holiday season and new year of glorious growth.

Yachay

Yachay is both intellectual knowledge and mystical perception. Your work starts here—with knowing (perhaps even discovering for the first time) the state of your being. As you learn to be ruthlessly realistic about who you are right now, you also hold an inner vision of the self that is encoded in your Inka Seed: your already perfected self. So yachay is a yanantin: a complement of the differences. At this very moment you are both an imperfect human being and a perfected divine spirit. As you take the necessary steps toward greater growth by doing a clear-eyed (qaway) self-inventory, allow yourself to be inspired by the advice and insight of these eloquent teachers.

Bruce Lee warns you that you must start with a deep dive into the self, mining the veins of both the coal and the gold of the current self. “To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.”

You can be ruthlessly clear-eyed without being judgmental about yourself. As Carl R. Rogers points out: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

The number-one challenge of “doing spiritual work” is that you start and then lose focus, until eventually other things take over your time and energy. Your practices and self-inquiries fall by the wayside. Confucius provides the crucial counsel that change takes time and requires perseverance: “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

While you keep your eyes of the prize of personal evolution, Publilius Syrus reminds you to honor the value of each step forward, no matter how small. “Do not despise the bottom rungs in the ascent to greatness.”

Hecato enlightens us with a definition of progress, especially at the beginning stages of transformation. “What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.”

As Josei Toda explains, and as our Andeans masters also tell us, our goal is not to rise above our humanness, but to fulfill it. “Enlightenment, or true happiness, is not a transcendental state. It is a condition of broad wisdom, boundless energy, and good fortune wherein we each shape our own destiny, find fulfillment in daily activities, and come to understand our ultimate purpose in life.”

Llank’ay

While we value “beingness,” we also know that here on the human plane, we also zippervalue “doingness.” Llanka’y is action, and khuyay is passionate engagement. The key to transformation is to realize that it is not only what you do, but also how you are “being” as you do whatever you are doing. You take responsibility for your thoughts, words and deeds; you seek to be cooperative instead of competitive; you give thanks for your bounty and share it; and on and on. You also learn not to stuff your days with mindless doing, but to take rest so that you can restore yourself. Sitting and admiring the flowers in the field is “doing” something. The counsel of the following wisdom-speakers may prompt you to consider all the ways that you can practice llank’ay.

William Arthur Ward reminds you about the importance of becoming conscious of how you overlay objective reality with your personal judgments and emotional tones, which then direct how you act in the world: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

Herbert Otto counsels that growth means change, and all change involves creativity. “Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.”

What does it mean to “experiment” with your life? It means having the courage and fortitude to leave the known and head out into the unknown. As Billy Cox advises, “Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than you are to your comfort zone.”

But dreaming, hoping, affirming—while necessary to fuel action—are not enough, because, as Arnold Glasow wisely points out, “An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied.”

According to Andean cosmovision, the kawsay pacha is overly abundant and you can manifest anything you want in proportion to your personal power and the clarity of your ayni/intention. If you are like most of us, you keep yourself—and your thoughts and actions—small. It’s time to enlarge your notion of yourself! As Thomas Edison proclaimed, “If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”

Munay

Of all the three human powers, munay is the most transformative. Munay is love heart- compressed Gerd Altmann Pixabay 1982316_1920under your will. Not the emotion of love, but the choice for love: To think lovingly, to act lovingly, to be love. That doesn’t mean you wear rose-colored glasses or cloak yourself in sentiment. It means you are conscious of your thoughts, words, and deeds and purposefully choose a response that produces the least amount of hucha. Munay is not about moving from your head to your heart, as some New Age philosophy advises. It means integrating them. Or, more accurately, it means integrating your three human powers, allowing each to flower within and to guide you through life. To put it another way, it means that your yachay (thoughts) and llank’ay (actions) are fully alive within you and fully expressed through you, but that they are always illuminated by your munay (love). Let these inspirational thoughts guide you toward that integration.

We start at the foundation of love. You can only love others in proportion to how you love yourself. As Rumi says, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

As you focus on cultivating munay, an early step is to begin retraining your thoughts and behaviors to see lightness instead of darkness or the upside instead of the downside. Queen Catherine 1 has identified a good starting place for shifting your perspective of others and what is happening in your relationships: “I praise loudly; I blame softly.”

Many people confuse munay (sacred love, which is given freely) with chall’ay (an agreement to make an exchange, as in a mercantile purchase). As Sri Sri Ravi Shankar reminds you, love is not an emotional bargain: “In love, you don’t expect anything. If you want something in return, don’t call it love.”

If you undertake the path toward love, be prepared for challenges. Gloria Karpinski offers these wise words: “Once we start paying attention to what’s happening in our own environment, we begin to see that the universe is giving us all sorts of clues about our path. If we believe in love and we are making a commitment to being love, there’s a good chance the universe will send us thirty people in a row whom we don’t love. Our assignment: Love those thirty people.”

Finally, as you learn to be a grander, more gracious and loving human being, don’t forget to take a reality check. Ram Dass has a surefire way to gauge your progress in your quest to “be love”: “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”

Clearing the Seqes to Your Future

As a paqo, you can think of your past and your future as pachas, as realms within Past Present And Future Signpost Showing Evolution Destiny Or Agingthe space-time continuum. They have their own bubbles. The Andeans position time differently in space than we do. They say the past is in front of you because it is known. You have six ñawis (mystical or energetic eyes) facing forward: the qosqo, sonqo, kunka, paña, lloq’e and qanchis ñawis. These are, respectively, the eyes of the belly, heart, and throat; the left and right physical eyes; and the seventh eye (what some traditions call the third eye) in the forehead. Therefore, you have full view of your past. It is known. That’s why following the seqes, or energetic cords, that stream out from you through your personal past is called following the Path of Knowledge. By following these seqes through your past, using qaway (mystical seeing, which means seeing reality as it really is, without projection or illusion), you can learn from your past, extracting its wisdom. You may not be able to change your past, but you can change your relationship to it, including healing past trauma.

The future is situated behind you. You have only one ñawi facing it, the eye of the root (siki ñawi) at the black belt (yana chunpi). So while it is possible, using qaway, to know something about what “the time to come” is streaming toward you, it is difficult because you have such limited vision of it. The future is not fixed, but is a pacha of potentiality. Thus, following the seqes of the energies flowing to you from your possible futures is called the Path of Potential.

You can think of each of the seqes streaming toward you from your future as encoding a different possibility for what your life will be: what aspects of yourself Self reflection compressed Pixabay-913575_1920you will express, which gifts and skills you will use, what you will do with your time, who you will interact with, and the like. Even though the future is the pacha of potential, the reality is that for most us, our future will look similar to our present. We are creatures of habit. We remain fairly fixed in our personalities, needs, desires, and so on. We wear the same types of clothes, eat the same limited variety of foods, follow the same paths to the places we frequent, socialize with the same people, maintain the same beliefs, cling to the same expectations, follow the same career path for decades, etc. Writer Steve Almond says, we “choose the stories by which we construct reality.”  Since our stories remain fairly fixed, so does the future we pull toward us from that creative flux of potentialities.

Our work as paqos, when it comes to manifesting a different future, is to become conscious of our stories, examine them, and then clear the energy that has us stuck in a story that may not be expressing our grandest self. Almond writes, “I’ve placed my faith in stories because I believe this to be the basic unit of human consciousness. The stories we tell, and the ones we absorb, are what allows us to pluck meaning from the rush of experience. Only through patient interrogation of these stories can we begin to understand where we are and how we got here.” And, I would add, understand where we are going.

I faced this dilemma in 2015. It was a deeply challenging year. The flesh of my life was stripped to the bone. Laid off from work and not finding anything in my field despite sending out more than a hundred résumés and making countless inquiries, I was blowing through my savings and at risk of losing my house. It was a time for both action and contemplation.

I decided early on in the challenge of figuring out “where do I go from here” that I dream-job-compressed Geralt Pixabay 2904780_1920was going to put all my knowledge into practice, especially my knowledge of and experience with the energetics of the Andean path. I was intent on manifesting the future of my dreams, at least as regards to how I earned a living. I wasn’t going to wear rose-colored glasses, but was going to be both practical and visionary in my approach. I sent out résumés, networked, and took on small freelance jobs. But I spent most of my time working the energetics.

To summarize some of how I worked the energetics: I did saminchakuy to keep my poq’po (energy body) as clear of hucha (heavy energy) as possible. Part of that work was psychological and emotional: I examined my stories, desires, beliefs, needs. I owned my heaviness in terms of doubt, worry, insecurity, and such, and then I worked my heaviness with saminchakuy. When I felt down, I did saiwachakuy to empower myself. While I had the support of family and friends, I wanted a closer sense of support from Spirit, so I called upon my sixth-level helper—Christ—to help me learn trust. (I didn’t fully trust that any of this would actually work.) Perhaps the most important task I undertook energetically was to clear or “clean” the chaupi point of a future potential.

A chaupi is a meeting point, a place of connection or integration. Imagine two rivers flowing parallel and then merging together to become one river. That point of intersection is the chaupi point. For me in this situation, there were many chaupi points: one for all the possible futures streaming toward me and connecting with my poq’po. I needed to be clear about what the future of my dreams looked like so that I could energetically work the single seqe that encoded that particular future.

I decided to keep my intentions manageable and focus on the immediate and pressing situation of how I would earn the currency of this third-dimensional life—close up of woman hand holding open bookmoney. Since I am primarily a writer, and have worked as an editor for publishing companies and done other types of professional creative work in the field, I at first imagined my future as a writer. (I told you! We are creatures of habit! That’s why our future looks so much like our present and past.) While mulling over the possibilities of what this future might look like, I realized—from past experience—that my most creative imagining would be far less glorious than what the creative mind of God could conjure up for me. So I changed my intention. Instead of identifying a concrete kind of job (writer), I focus on the qualities of the job I wanted. I’d let God figure out which job fulfilled all those qualities.

As I started to do that, however, I had to stop and revamp my energetics again. I threw “keeping my intentions manageable” completely out the window! I decided that if I was going to trust God and let something much larger than myself use the energy of my intention to return an amazing ayni result, I might as well go really big with that intention. So I gave up even thinking about a “job” and earning money working in a specific profession and declared to myself and the universe that I intended there be no distinction whatsoever between “my life” and “my work.” As far as I was concerned, for each of us, our lives are our work. I didn’t want to work to live. I just wanted to live—and be well-compensated for it! So that became my first quality: I wasn’t going to expend any energy intending how I would “make a living.” My life would be my living.

I then became clear about the foundational qualities I most wanted in making my life a living. I kept my list short. I wanted to spend my “living” time being creative, not answering to anyone other than myself, not having to be on any fixed time schedule, connecting with all kinds of people from all walks of life and from all over the globe, contributing to my own soul growth and to that of others, and having fun. I kept these intentions clear and active in my consciousness, even as I continued calling on my sixth-level helper to help me trust that this could become my reality. fractal-compressed ibot Pixabay 346127_1280And I kept perceiving a single seqe—just one from the infinite field of potentiality—streaming to me from the future that encoded all of the qualities I sought. I kept cleaning the chaupi point of this seqe where it entered my poq’po at the siki ñawi. (The future is behind you so the seqe could come in anywhere on your bubble, but I felt it coming into the mystical eye at the base of my spine, since this is the only ñawi we have in the back and it looks toward the future.) I tried to be as conscious as possible of all the ways I was stuck in self-defeating stories and so creating hucha and obscuring the energy of this seqe from flowing freely through me and empowering me. I dealt with doubt, fear, low self-esteem, worry, and many other hucha-inducing emotions and stories. I cleaned and cleaned this connection point to my poq’po using saminchakuy.

The results took some time. In fact, I was taken to the very edge of both financial solvency and emotional comfort.

And the answer was an indirect one, so much so that I did not even recognize it as an answer!

One day, while I was talking to my mentor and primary teacher Juan Nuñez del mesas-compressed-lisa-sims-photos-2016Prado (who didn’t know about the grand experiment I was engaged in) he said, out of the blue, “You know, after me and Ivan [his son], you know the Andean tradition better than anyone in the world. I would like you to open a US school.” My reactions, in a fraction of a second, were several, but my most powerful reaction was, “I couldn’t possibly!” I immediately thought of all the reasons this couldn’t be: I didn’t have a place to teach, no building or grounds, no organization, and so on. Opening a school immediately felt overwhelming.

I finally pulled it together and just told Juan I would think about it. And I did. I had taught a few workshops about the tradition many years before, and I had not found it satisfying (mostly because I never thought I knew enough). It had been more than ten years since I had taught, and I didn’t feel drawn to doing so again. Still, I realized that although I had never been “out there” as a teacher of the tradition, I had written about it in the past and I could start writing about it again. So I decided to do that. (Drum roll . . . creature of old habits. . . keeping myself in the writer box. . .sound familiar?)

A young tech-savvy friend of mine taught me how to create a WordPress blog. After the first few posts, I spent five days answering the slew of emails that came in. Most of those emails were requests to teach. Go figure!

So reluctantly I started teaching again. And this time it was a completely different experience. I had really dedicated myself to my Andean practice in the Joan beginning despacho Clemmons Mar 2016 COMPRESSED 20160320_151543previous six or seven years—I had been living it like never before—and it totally changed how I approached teaching. I felt a huge passion for sharing the tradition. The requests kept coming and I kept showing up to teach, accruing more than 94,000 air miles over the next two years. When that kind of travel became exhausting, I started teaching online. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I had no idea that “teaching” was how God would package the qualities I had intended, but it certainly satisfied them all: I am my own boss, I don’t watch the clock, I work from home but can travel to amazing places should I decide to go on the road, I meet fantastic like-minded people, I am growing and changing and helping others to as well, I am honoring this beautiful tradition and having fun doing so. . . . All the qualities I sought to pull from the field of the potentiality of the future have become my present—my life, not my job. And I couldn’t be happier.

There’s nothing special about me. What I did, you can do. The Andean mystical tradition teaches you to work the energies of manifestation of any kind. As Juan says, rephrasing what his teacher don Benito Qoriwaman said: The kawsay pacha is overly abundant. Everything is just energy. You can have whatever you want and as much as you want in proportion to your having the “personal power” to make interchanges with the living universe (your ayni). The only thing that can stop us is ourselves.

I don’t promise that if you use your paqo practices in this way the journey to fulfilling your intentions will be easy or the results quick. But I do promise you that by owning your stories (through qaway) and clearing your hucha (through saminchakuy)—and working the seqes of your future—you too can manifest your heart’s desire.

Mastering Intention

According to the Andean view of energy, we are always in ayni—interchange—with the kawsay pacha—the cosmos of living energy—because we are influencing energy through our intention. As thinking, action-oriented human beings, we are in continual relationship with the energy of the kawsay pacha; however, we can unconscious to these energy exchanges. One of our primary goals as paqos is to increase our consciousness, and to bring clarity and choice to our energy exchanges. This means we have to become observers of—and ultimately masters of—our intent.

What is intent? According to dictionaries, it is an aim or a goal, the purposeful mental movement that initiates an action, the way we direct mind toward an object or conceive of an idea directed toward an outcome. According to certain schools of psychology, intention is a mental state influenced by desires, needs, beliefs and the like, and the action taken to achieve the stated desire, fulfill the belief, or satisfy the need. On a more purely mental plane, it is the power to think and then to rethink, to direct and then to redirect. Because so much of the landscape of our desires, needs, and beliefs lies below the threshold our of conscious mind— in the realm of the subconscious or shadow self—we may be unclear or even blind to our “true” intentions. We may think we are acting on an intention for one reason, but the reality that drives us may be buried or screened, fueled from needs and beliefs from our subconscious.

Furthermore, we live by the stories we believe—and create. These arise from the combination of our unconscious beliefs and needs and our conscious choices about what to believe. As author Steve Almond writes: “I’ve placed my faith in stories because I believe this to be the basic unit of human consciousness. The stories we tell, and the ones we absorb, are what allows us to pluck meaning from the rush of experience. Only through patient interrogation of these stories can we begin to understand where we are and how we got here.” This “patient interrogation” is what can help us evolve our consciousness as paqos, because in addition to keeping our poq’pos (energy bodies) “clean” from hucha, we can prevent ourselves from creating hucha in the first place by paying attention to—and healing—aspects of ourselves driven purely by our psychology (emotions, triggers, projections, etc.).

So as paqos, our first course of study has to be the study of the self. Paqos tell us that we each are the center of the universe because we can only know the world and others through our own perceptions. Therefore, the landscape of our own perceptions must become the field of our study. There are many ways to begin this exploration: mindfulness, psychological therapy, shadow work, cultivating the observer self, and so on. The point is that to work energy out there (the world), you first have to start in here (the self). That’s why I call our work a path of conscious evolution, starting with the evolution of the self. To be true to the tradition, I should say that we don’t have to be self-analytical. Doing saminchakuy every day will release hucha (heaviness) and over time clarify your sense of self and enhance your personal power to be in more perfect ayni. I have found, however, that combining our Andean mystical energy work with some kind of self-work, especially shadow work, speeds up our personal evolution.

In my coaching work, I developed an acronym, CALM, as an easy reminder of how to begin this process of stepping outside habitual, unconscious thoughts and actions and stepping more fully into an awareness of who you really are and what is really driving your ayni. CALM outlines four steps, taken in order, for brining consciousness to your stories, impulses, desires, needs, intentions, communication, and actions—to your ayni. Here are the four steps:

C = Cease

To break the pattern of being in ayni through unconscious drives and impulses, you Surreal portraithave to stop and take a time out. In that fraction of a second between intention and actions or words, you have to remember to cease moving and just observe. Actually, you are initiating a new intention and action: to activate your observer self. This place of cessation, or stillness, of qaway (seeing energetically, understanding mystically) is the cradle of change and the energetic fount of awareness. It is the ground state of conscious creation. But you have to remember to disengage for a second or a minute from whatever is happening or whatever you are thinking. You have to stop habitual and unconscious processes in their tracks so that you can bring them to consciousness and evaluate and seek to understand. Only then can you make a new choice, if indeed a new choice is called for.

A = Attend

Once you have ceased the cacophony of mental chatter or the impulse to act robotically in the way you always have, then, in that moment of stillness, you make pay attention. You can attend to yourself. This means consciously observing yourself, granting yourself permission to drill down into your core mental and emotional spaces with the attention and compassion you deserve to give yourself. If you can be more clear-seeing (qaway) about what is going on inside, then you can determine what is motivating you and thus driving your intentions. Which brings you to the third step in the CALM process: listening.

L = Listen

By giving your attention to your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions, you can observe and listen to yourself: Listen to your impulses, listen to your justifications or rationalizations, listen to your story. You can bring consciousness to yourself and the situation. Listening is a kind of observing in that it allows what feels real (your thoughts, emotions, actions) to unfold without judging them. You simply listen to what your words, actions, thoughts, and emotions are saying. Are you being blinded by the fury or worry of the moment? Are you acting or thinking based on beliefs you haven’t examined for decades? Are you acting from the harmonization of your heart and your head, or only from your unexamined needs and impulsive desires? Listening doesn’t have to be a drawn-put analytical process. With practice, you will learn that your core self can speak truly, deeply, and succinctly to you in a flash of insight and understanding.

M = Moderate

As you listen, you can become the moderator of the conflict within or of your unconscious intentions. You can evaluate the situation from a calm, observationalideas and creativity in business stance. You can ask yourself a series of probing questions: Is this what I really feel? What feelings might be deeper, fueling the surface feeling? Why did I have this response to the situation? What other responses could I have had? If I had made a different response, how might I feel differently and how might the situation unfold in a different (more helpful) way? What is the story driving these feelings and this response? You can be the mediator between your knee-jerk habitual words, thoughts, feelings, and actions and new ones that might be more helpful and/or make you feel better—and fuel your ability to influence the kawsay pacha (your ayni) in more productive and efficient ways.

The Andean mystics tells us that the cosmos of living energy is overly abundant. That you can have anything you want, you can create the life you dream about, you can be the person you most want to be—but only in proportion to your personal power. Personal power is the effectiveness and efficiency of your ayni. Personal power and ayni are like an infinity symbol, inextricably intertwined, one leading to the other. Weak personal power = weak ayni. Strong personal power = strong ayni. By using the CALM process you can reduce your hucha and thus improve your personal power, and you can actually prevent yourself from creating that hucha in the first place!

When I teach the tradition, I talk to my students about time: past, present, and future. The reality is that for most of us, they are pretty similar landscapes. We are creatures of habit and thus of predictability. We eat the same 20 core foods, choose the same style clothing over and over, follow the same route to work, and so on. So although we can influence the world of living energy to produce whatever we want, Andean mystics insist that energy must follow intention—and our intentions are mostly unexamined and predicated on what we have always thought, done, felt, etc. So when we look to our future, it is not difficult to discern—it will pretty much look like our present. (And our present usually looks a lot like our past.) Unless, we have invested in our own evolution of consciousness, we are pretty stable creatures mentally and emotionally.

But you don’t have to settle. You are a grand being! You are flexible and intelligent and perceptive. And, most of all, you are a creator. At every moment of every day you have the power to create something new—including a new and grander you. Creation begins within, and then is translated from the self out into the world through your ayni.

As inspirational coach Tony Robbins has said, “Think of all your experiences as a yolisa-weaving-compressedhuge tapestry that can be laid out in whatever pattern you wish. Each day you add a new thread to the weaving. Do you craft a curtain to hide behind, or do you fashion a magic carpet that will carry you to unequaled heights.” What Robbins doesn’t tell you (at least not in this quotation) is how to fashion a magic carpet instead of a curtain. The CALM process is one that helps you not only be a great designer, but shows you how to turn that mental design into something concrete and real in the world. Something you intend with clarity and awareness, not from outdated and habitual—and often unconscious—impulses. If energy truly does follow intention, as the paqos tells us it does, then there is nothing more important than making a deep and careful study of your intentions and what is driving them. The CALM process is a place to start.

 

Seven Signposts Along the Spiritual Journey

In my trainings, the general topic of the “spiritual calling” sometimes comes up, as well as discussions of how all too often when we feel we are progressing along our spiritual path our lives seem to become chaotic and challenging for some time before they improve. In our discussions, I usually refer to the “stages” or “signposts” of the spiritual journey, and that’s the subject of this blog post.

There are many philosophers, mythologists, spiritual teachers, and others who have written about the stages spiritual seekers pass through or the signposts seekers commonly find along their path. The map of the journey that I draw below is my own view on this topic. I provide only an outline of the stages of the journey. There is a lot more to say, but this will suffice to alert you to where you are in your spiritual journey.

  1. The Disquiet

The first indication that you are on a spiritual quest or beginning a spiritual journey is what mythologist Joseph Campbell designates “The Call.” That is a beautiful and apt term to describe the first stirrings within yourself that life as you know it is not acceptable to you and that you desire something more: more connection, more peace, more joy, more engagement, more service, more meaning. . .whatever it is about your personal experience and state of being that feels unexplored, unlived, undeveloped. Simply put, there is either a calamity in your life that shouts to you “Enough!” and you are propelled toward change; or there is a niggling voice within, often quite subtle, that pesters you toward change. Either way, you come to the realization that you want more, can do more, can be more. Most of us at some point in our lives feel this inner disquiet. Unfortunately, many people tend to ignore it and instead just get back to the business of life, the pull of everyday responsibilities, and the safety of the known. Those who listen to this inner call, however, have stepped onto the path of their spiritual quest.

  1. The Search

Once you heed the call, your journey begins. Almost universally, it starts with a search for answers to sometimes existential questions about meaning, strategies for change, and people who can provide advice, information, and insight. The searchAlways Learning compressed Gerd Altmann Germany Pixabay can be the longest stage of the spiritual quest, as there are many paths to growth and they can create inner confusion because they may provide competing and even conflicting strategies for self-development. Sometimes the cacophony of voices you listen to can be so overwhelming that the spiritual journey ends here, with you throwing up your hands in despair and taking the easy path back to what you know and the life you have lived to this point. You squelch the call and retreat to the familiar or rationalize that the spiritual quest and self-development is just not worth the effort. For those who can withstand that task of sorting through the vast reams of information and handling the often conflicting advice, the search becomes an experience rich in the widening of your intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life. The search itself becomes a journey of growth.

The downside of this stage is twofold. First, you can become addicted to knowledge at the expense of practice, sucking in information but not really using it to transform yourself and your life. Or, alternatively, you can become so unsure of yourself that you never end the search. This is what I call the “workshop junkie” response, where you seek, and seek, and seek (always gaining knowledge) but you don’t trust yourself to end the search and begin the true work of transformation. The “best” answer always seems to be the next book, training or teacher, and the next, and the next. . . . Ultimately, however, you have to settle on an “answer” and a practice, which leads you to the next stage.

  1. The Answer

If you are to transform, you finally have to do the work of transformation. You have to settle into a sustained practice, committed to using it fully and over time to choice signs compressed Gerd Altmann Germany Pixabyreap the benefits. This doesn’t mean that you have to choose a single path forever—say a particular school of meditation, or the practices of a particular tradition such as the Celtic or the Andean or whatever—but you do have to commit to a single path or practice for long enough to use it well, perhaps even to master it, so that you incorporate its beneficial effects. You might then move on to another practice, but you then also give that practice sufficient time to help you do your inner work. The trap of this stage is also two-fold: you become dogmatic in believing you have found the single only “real” answer and become fanatical about it. Or, you don’t give sufficient time to that practice to reap its rewards.

I remember being in the Amazon working with the Mother of All Plants, ayahuasca, and her telling me during an inner journey: You can heal through anything: tai chi, meditation, psychotherapy, but you have to have the integrity to follow that path deeply and well and sufficiently. The bottom line is that at different stages of your growth, there will be different answers: different practices that can best help you grow to the next level of consciousness. Being committed and flexible is an useful approach.

  1. The Crisis

In the Andean tradition, we call the inner transformation and our conscious development a mast’ay. This is a restructuring, or better yet a reordering, of the self. That is sometimes not a comfortable or graceful process. A crisis can be what propels you onto the path of personal transformation in the first place, becoming your call to action. But crises also often occur as a consequence of your inner work.

For many spiritual seekers, there is a view that if they are successfully working their practices and path, their lives will change for the better and continually improve. That is often true. But it is also true that just as often improvement is interrupted by crisis. The crisis may actually be a good thing! It may be a sign that you are doing your work and are ready to up your game. Here’s why: You have to walk your talk. You will be asked by Spirit to take off your rose-colored glasses and see yourself as you really are—what you have mastered and what you still need to work on. And the universe will provide that opportunity. In my trainings, when I am talking about this, I often quote from wise woman Gloria Karpinski. She wrote in one of her books, as an example of this kind of “test,” that when you put out the intention to the universe that you want to “be love”—live from love, treat others with love, etc.—the universe probably won’t send you thirty people to love. It will send you thirty people you cannot stand and say, “Love them.” Those are wise words indeed. If you truly want to walk a spiritual path, you will have to—sometimes moment by agonizing moment—put your intention into action.

It can take discernment to figure out what is going on as a crisis or challenge develops. It could be that you have not done your work well, and you inner shadow is coming out and wreaking havoc. This the call for self-observation. You need to realize something about yourself and make an effort to own it, heal it or transform it, and grow. Or, it could be that you have done your inner work so well that the universe is going to provide you the perfect opportunity to live it out loud. To my mind, this is not the universe testing you. It is rewarding you! But only you can determine which of these possibilities is true in the crises that may come up in your life.

  1. The Renewal

As your personal mast’ay (inner and outer restructuring) continues—and, really, this is a lifelong process—you may well emerge from any crisis to a higher level of consciousness: what we would call the fourth level in the Andean tradition. This is a state of being in which you can transcend boundaries, seek cooperation instead of competition, remain clear in your own opinions and beliefs while allowing others to have their own, and find a bridge between the mundane world (which you live in more fully than ever) and the spiritual (which is an understanding that allows you to live in a different, healthier and more productive way in the world and to interact with your fellow human beings in a more harmonious way). The renewal stage can make you feel high! You can be the picture of contentment, happiness, and even joy. And you foster that in others, because you have explored your shadow self, taken back many of your most disturbing projections, and calmed your most explosive triggers.

The challenge of the renewal stage is change. It is my experience that three common reassessments take place—and they can have huge reverberations in your life. 1) You reassess what you are doing with your life, especially your form of service or work and you make a change; 2) you reassess the people and relationships in your life to more clearly see how they are (or are not) serving you and how you are (or are not) serving them, and you make necessary changes; and 3) you reassess your place on the Mother (your home location) and you relocate. In other words, in their most dire expressions, you break up a relationship or marriage, your quit your job, and you move. Sometimes these are necessary transformations, because, after all, you are changed and you see the world (and act in the world) in a changed way. But usually such major disruptions are not necessary—at least not in an abrupt way. My best advice is that when you feel the best (and are reassessing most deeply), do nothing! At least not for a good long while. The old Buddhist adage “After enlightenment, the laundry” applies. Your goal is not to be spiritual and surrounded by spiritual people. Your goal is to be most self-actualized human being and to live in the very real world that way. The question is, “Can you take your relationship, job, and home environment to the next level of satisfaction?” Doing the work on these three most important aspects of your life may be the deepest aspects of the renewal period.

That said, it is also true that during the renewal reassessment, you can also discover “who you truly are” and what your life mission is. Living from truth and clarity may mean that some aspects of your life need to be transformed. The challenge then is to not wait from a sign from God or the Spirits, but to actually undertake the transformation even with incomplete knowledge or feelings of insecurity. When making either small but consequential changes or sweeping and even dramatic changes, risk is involved and so courage is called for.

  1. The Disengagement

Most, if not all, of the stages of the spiritual quest up to this point are about doing: change, transformation, decision-making, and action. This stage is completely opposite, as its name indicates. It is about non-doing. Well, to be accurate, it’s not so much about non-doing as it is about not wanting to do. Not everyone goes through this stage, but enough of us do to make it worth talking about. It’s a difficult stage to describe because it can take many forms and occur with varying force.

The overriding sensibilities at this stage are feelings of lack of connection, motivation, and passion. This is what might be called the existential crisis—a period when you question all meaning, and if meaning even really exists (as some independent “thing” outside of yourself).

This stage usually arises when you have completed important inner work, especially Dealing with Helpess, turn it offthat of self-actualization. You have taken back projections, unhooked from triggers, learned self-observation and self-monitoring (self-control), attended to incongruities within yourself and outwardly in your life (relationships, profession). You have reduced your “needs” and realize that mostly what is left is “choice.” But you may be experiencing such equanimity that choices seem pointless. You feel dispassionate about everything! You can end up lacking motivation to engage in life, instead only going through the motions and putting on a mask so your family and friends don’t worry about you. If that is the case, you may have to, as some psychologists advise, fake it until you feel it (engagement in life—meaning) again.

The challenge is that this ennui can shift into a real depression and you may withdraw from life. The antidotes to such reclusive impulses are contemplation and patience. It’s time to stop judging or analyzing yourself (and life) and just let yourself be. This is a stage in which you can wean yourself from the highs and lows of human emotions: with needing those emotions to tell you what you feel and what is worth moving toward or away from, and from needing emotions to stimulate you and make you “feel alive.” Thus, this is a stage of inner stillness, which just happens to be mirroring itself in outer stillness. Don’t confuse the two! When you realize you are unhooking from the sugar high of emotions, you can “detox” in a healthy way and not confuse the move toward inner equanimity with the loss of self.

Ultimately, you will emerge from this stage. Usually, it takes the realization that while there might be some grand spiritual plan for your life, the reality is that you may not be able to know it except through the day-to-day living of life. In other words, to use a cliché, it really is the journey and not the destination that matters. There might not be any supernatural hand guiding you (or you might not need to feel it anymore), so you will just have to guide yourself. This realization does not mean you lose a spiritual perspective or belief; instead, it is your recognition that spirit will be realized through you so you are better off just being you and living your life again. Another cliché rears its head here: you learn that the magical is the mundane. And, finally, you learn to be comfortable in the lap of paradox and to befriend the Unknowable.

  1. The Reconnection

When you are able to deeply honor the simple, mundane, and every day, you are ready to reconnect with and revision your life. You might or might not regain your Green Road Sign concept and landscape backgroundpassion, but emotions don’t matter. You are making a choice: to re-acknowledge your humanness and to retake your place in the human world. To steal the title of book of physics that sits on my bookshelf, you are the owner of the “deep down things” within yourself, and you are ready to rise up and explore the mysteries of being yourself in the world—really yourself. This means that while you may feel like an island, you are part of an archipelago—a community. You both choose your closest community with newfound awareness and you open yourself to the boundary-less of your connection with all of humanity (and all of life). That is not some grand sentiment. Instead, it simply means that no one is off limits, except those you choose not to invite in. Choice is imperative. You do not have to a friend of everyone to be a friend to everyone. In fact, in the reconnection, you never waste your energy pretending. You own your choices. That includes choices where you say, “No, thank you.”

In fact, being able to determine your true choices, wants, and needs (we all still have them!) and acting on them without being hypocritical, duplicitous, or manipulative and without losing your manners (kindness and consideration) is the liberation that comes with this kind of reconnection. Life is always about the externalization of your internal state of being. In reconnection with or the revisioning of the self—this seventh stage of the spiritual journey—that externalization is of the state of both fidelity to yourself and humility about yourself. As Ernest Hemingway wrote, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” In reconnection, no matter how far you know you can still go, you never forget how far you have had to come.