Breaking Out of a Spiritual Rut

Someone asked me today why they were in a “spiritual rut.” They felt like their growth and insights had stagnated.

I suggested that in the process of growth, the explorer is always in the process of breaking boundaries, much like a young bird cracks its eggshell to experience a new phase of life. At each boundary, the explorer has to make a decision whether to leave behind old ideas and experiences to recognize something different and previously unseen.

Sometimes, the explorer would rather not break the boundary. Sometimes, this much clarity is good enough. Going further might require too much. It might be too strange, too clear, too… anything.

The longer an explorer sits at the edge of a boundary, the more the boundary becomes a rut, and the more a vague angst sets in. The boundary may seem totally unrelated to spirituality. It may be something that seems trivial. Or it may be something that cannot be questioned—an unassailable belief handed down through the family.

Waking up to the nature of the world (and, therefore, of oneself) is going beyond all boundaries. It means leaving behind old notions of not just who you are, but what you are. It means breaking free of millennia of religious dogma saying the human being is a limited creature. It means turning our understanding of what is before our eyes inside-out. It means recognizing that the vast majority of authority figures who give our society its ideas are simply repeating what they’ve been taught, not delivering a core truth that they explored and experienced.

In other words, the further the explorer ventures, the more the exploration begins to assimilate every aspect of life. No corner can be excluded. The divide between spirituality and any other aspect of life evaporates. Every boundary has to be crossed, including the boundary of spirituality itself.

The secret is that as you step into a boundary, it begins to disintegrate, along with its veiling cloud of misunderstanding. Step in and watch them fall. Every last one.

Then it’s just you as the sea.

Anoop Kumar, MD, MM is board certified in Emergency Medicine and holds a Master’s degree in Management with a focus in Health Leadership. He practices in the Washington, DC metro area, where he also leads meditation gatherings for clinicians. He is the author of the upcoming book Is This a Dream? He tweets @DrAnoopKumar.