'Am I Doing it Wrong?'— The In-Between Phase of our Spiritual Journey
When I reach enlightenment, I will leave this mundane existence for dust and enter into a life of rapture and ease. That is what I used to believe.
It didn’t go like that.
My spiritual journey wasn’t a linear arrow looking upwards. The conviction of knowingness twirled and looped and, at times, felt like I was going backward.
There seem to be three phases: not knowing, knowing but not fully harnessing that knowing, and then full realisation. I want to talk about phase two — the bridge, the in-between phase of realisation.
It’s a phase where we know our true essence, and we are connected to that depth. We have cultivated the art of observation. And, yet, we still, sometimes, act out of our conditioned mind. We have experienced the metamorphosis but are unable to use our wings fully.
I am certainly in that phase. I have realised my true nature, but remnants of ego remain. I still sometimes raise my voice at my kids. Yes, I can bicker with my husband. I still get hurt by people.
Am I doing it wrong?
I’m simply in the in-between phase. A hybrid. A bridge. I have one foot in a boat full of conditioning and one in a boat of truth. I am not who I used to be but not yet someone else either.
This phase is real life. And life didn’t go away just because I had some big spiritual shifts. I still have to do the menial tasks. I still need to get my children to school on time. I still get triggered emotionally.
The difference is that frustration or hurt or pain isn’t held onto for any sustained length of time. The waves of emotions come in, then go out. I observe it all without a sense of lasting entanglement. Hardship doesn’t disappear. Instead, it softens. Everything softens. Simply knowing my true essence (I call her Arabelle) is enough to dissipate any long-term suffering.
So, I no longer expect to be a perfect realised being in every moment. If I do yell at my kids, I first come home to my true nature, then from that place, I say that I’m sorry. There is no shame in atonement anymore. I can see through the mind’s old story that said vulnerability is weakness. It is not. As Brené Brown says, it’s the birthplace of belonging. Not just to the people we are saying sorry to, but to ourselves also.
In this phase, I have the power to choose. 'Lara the person'— with all her annoying and lovely good girl tendencies and quirks — doesn’t disappear. But I am no longer bound in only that aspect of myself. I have another element to come home to — Arabelle, my truest self. And there is an exquisite peace, incomprehensible before this moment, that comes with leading life from that place.
My practice now is to bring more of my true self — more presence, more love, more grace, more Arabelle — into everyday life. There is always a tiny little gap between aggravation and response. Focusing on that space allows Arabelle to come forth. That space is the bridge between unconsciousness and consciousness.
Perhaps we all can’t be fully enlightened gurus, but as in-betweeners, we are bridging a gap between the unattainable and the attainable. We are ripping down the pedestal. We are demonstrating to the people in our lives that to be spiritual is actually to be fully human.
Lara Charles is an Australian writer and mama living in Aotearoa, New Zealand, with her husband and four children. Lara writes at the intersection of spirituality and modern life. Her work has been featured on New Zealand’s most prominent media platform, Stuff, as well as spiritual platforms such as Tiny Buddha and Elephant Journal.
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