A Season of Celebrations
The season of graduation ceremonies is upon us. These momentous occasions are engendered by those progressing from one life point to another. Seemingly academic in nature, graduations represent a passing of time, a maturing of self and the recognition of no turning back. There is much also to consider from a spiritual perspective. Here are four graduation gifts awaiting as part of this spiritual graduation journey:
1. Graduation celebrates stepping out of one place and into another.
We observe that school represents multiple graduation moments. Each year teachers prepare their students for the next step whether it is additional education, entering the workforce or practicing a vocation. Teachers rely on a fixed timeline and a pre-determined set of criteria which focus on readiness, understanding and comprehension of a particular subject. If a student has difficulty with a lesson, the teacher looks for alternative teachings to help overcome barriers.
Depending on the scenario, spiritual advancement occurs within daily events. It involves some level of preparation, such as a decision to break up with a partner. However, the way a lesson plays out is not based on a prescribed outline.
The experience unfolds in real time as the past cannot be lived in the same way ever again. The future remains a mystery. Once we decide to move on from a no longer sustainable or nourishing relationship, we often undergo pain, heartbreak and turmoil on our path to freedom. When we make it to the other side and reclaim our spirit, we have graduated with boosted inner knowledge. If we again find ourselves in a similar scenario, we can now make choices from a position of greater wisdom and empowerment.
2. Graduation celebrates completion and accomplishment.
In school we have clear-cut goals: to pursue learning and to pass through a series of tests, projects and experiments. We either succeed or fail based on overall performance and whether we have mastered a particular subject. If our achievements are favorable, we earn a degree.
Spiritually, life events occur to test our inner resolve, courage and deeper awareness of our evolving spirit's ability to rise up and out of struggle. On the spiritual side, our walk through life is not a pass/fail exam; it is a moment-by-moment practice of our values and beliefs. How we express these values and beliefs shows up as feedback we return to ourselves and receive from others. Our “successes” such as increased patience, being honest, and more genuinely caring for others will not earn us a formal degree - but we can continue to walk on this earth with greater integrity and strength.
3. Graduation celebrates an emerging picture.
After graduation and before embarking on new adventures, our minds take a pause. The mind may choose to wander in different directions and evaluate all that has happened thus far. We feel anxious, excited and uneasy because we anticipate but cannot know outcome. We are in the midst of changing our life's blueprint - the other side holds more questions than answers!
Our life transitions from a job, a loss, a once beloved home - look a lot like the post-graduation period. We feel stressed, out-of- sorts and eager to get beyond the newness and into a routine. Instead of wishing away in-between times, let’s try to engage with imagination and dream up a positive picture of what is happening. We can allow ourselves to be in the moment, and forego the ego's urge to feel and project fear. We can thus better appreciate the life's many little steps that deliver us to the other side.
4. Graduation celebrates transformational power.
For at least the first 13 years of our lives, we operate in a bubble called school. As students, we encounter personal and academic achievements and defeats. Our personalities develop knowingly and unknowingly. Yet despite academic demands and multiple growing pains and setbacks, a more blossomed individual steps forward at graduation. Before the eyes of school representatives and loved ones, graduates publicly declare release from the past. They bravely march en masse toward awaiting and unfathomable futures.
Our spiritual journey is a call to graduate and transform from the inside out. We enter into experiences which sometimes appear to be a never-ending, up and down roller coaster ride. The struggle to recover from a physical condition, or a mental/emotional event will and should be a small part of what defines us. But what really matters is creating and allowing for enough peace, love and joy to accompany our graduation and to reach for:
higher levels of awareness
unlimited spiritual horizons
deeper inspiration and appreciation of life teachers
joining the march toward enlightenment of all Beings.