Wisconsin offers a diverse bounty of spiritual and psychological resources for the taking. In one’s search for wholeness and well-being there are many potential pitfalls along with numerous green possibilities.
Many of us go in search of spiritual and psychological services to either awaken our potential or to get personal freedom from what binds us, while others, hope to reach a state of enlightenment or nirvana. Interestingly, a literal translation of ‘nirvana’ is ‘cessation.’ We reach nirvana when we cease the search for spiritual and psychological wellbeing because we have obtained it. Ultimately our search ends the great illusion that what we seek is elsewhere (outside of ourselves). This is the great “green” indicator of a given spiritual or psychological practice – the ones that (without much ado) lead you to yourself. They simply open inner doors.
This passionate search for spiritual truth and psychological well-being makes us vulnerable to less-than-worthy practices but is also the fuel that moves us to a desired destination. If we are in spiritual or psychological pain or simply out of balance, we may need a teacher or guide to temporarily lead the way. Sometimes we search for a simple adjustment, other times we need to immerse ourselves in some practice to get through a dark night of the soul. Both make you willing and vulnerable.
Our culture puts out a lot of money for spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing. Beyond this we also open our minds, hearts and souls for instruction, healing and direction. So, holding a template in our minds as to what a green practice would be can help hold a guidepost on our journey to Self. Given below are some pointers to what makes a spiritual or psychological practice green.
A green practice offers an organic template of guidance free of dogma, rules or rigid assumptions. It may be rich with tradition and linked to historical practices (such as yoga, Tibetan Buddhism, Sufism, depth psychology, or mystical Christianity). But it will not forfeit present intentions and awareness for tradition. Therefore a dynamic practice evolves and is able to let go of traditions that no longer serve its practitioners. A green practice uses tradition as a means not a goal. One may practice a certain meditation to calm the mind but to practice in order to be the best meditator (or to please a given teacher) makes meditation a goal. A green spiritual or psychological service recognizes the need and intentions of the seeker rather than enforcing some formula. The greener the practice the more empowering it is likely to be for the seeker.
In a green practice the seeker’s experience is the guidepost, not the doctrine or practice. When doctrine supersedes a person’s intuition there is a divergence between what one truly experiences and what the doctrine insists one should experience. The moment you feel this divergence question the process, not yourself. Turn the questioning mind outward in this case.
A green practice is easily integrated into one’s life. This means it is compatible with an already good life. (Even in situations where a major life overhaul is needed like in the case of drug addiction, the process encourages you to enhance what you do have going for you).
A green practice does not require a long-term financial commitment or a big down payment to receive instruction. Recently a friend of mine attended a Friday night introductory workshop that promised the secrets of prosperity. The cost of the weekend was four thousand dollars. What’s a mere four thousand when you could manifest millions after this workshop? Most wrote checks on the spot. (Be careful if you are thinking, “fools.” There are many masterful and hidden techniques that are used to influence and control the minds of vulnerable people searching for help).
A green practice does not recruit followers. Instead it emphasizes personal responsibility and freedom. You are not encouraged to recruit others to this “way.” Success is clearly attributed to the seekers commitment and practice not to the healer, teacher, formula, or doctrine.
A green practice unifies rather than divides. It connects the client/seeker to their local community and to their own intuitive wisdom.
In a green practice the language is humane and not loaded. Loaded language is used as a source of directive control. Such vocabulary is meant to define various personal experiences and thoughts as the practitioner or group wants the client to see and respond to them. For example, you are told you are either in or out of “integrity.” Through such loaded language you are cut off from your intuition. A skillful, green therapist or teacher would frame a response in a question, directing you to ask and trust yourself.
The green practice relies on science and natural law. Much can be revealed through contact with nature and through the laws of science (such as cause and effect). During a difficult time, when all else failed my spiritual teacher suggested I go out into the country and watch the moonrise. This was back in 1990’s when I lived in the city of Minneapolis. The evening I witnessed the moonrise gave me what I needed. I acted on my awareness and soon moved to rural Wisconsin.
A green practice is transpersonal. It relies on a perspective that views the seeker as of part of the whole. A given personal issue is not pathologized where the focus is on only eliminating the negative condition. Rather, the approach is holistic, understanding the problem in context to one’s entire life.
And finally, the teacher or therapist is known to practice what they preach. The best teachers and healers do their most profound work by setting an example.
“The path to trust leads through inquiry, and we should never be complacent in our discernment.” John Kain, taken from A Rare and Precious Thing: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Working with a Spiritual Teacher.