Over the weekend, I was checking out Iyanla Vanzant’s new website. I had the privilege of participating in some of her Spiritual Life Coach training when I was co-teaching The Business of Coaching with my dear friend and IVISD Coaching Program Director Maqueita Eleazer. When I heard Iyanla’s new site was up, I was looking forward to exploring it.
This quote from Iyanla resonated deeply with me.
When I think about why this quote stopped me in my tracks, I see that it’s a simple way of articulating the journey I’ve been on, and I accompany clients on. I think of these two kinds of growth as the two wings of a dragonfly. I believe one must embark on both journeys in a balanced way to become a stable, well-adjusted human.
Where to focus?
Focus just on spiritual growth, and you are risking a life of spiritual bypassing – a “tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks” (Wikipedia).
Focus on just the personal development and risk missing out on the ease, grace, and comfort a relationship with something larger than us of which we are a part offers.
Finding the Balance
Before the car accident in 2004, I was in several 12-step programs and found that they focus on this balance as well. I was in therapy with someone who had an incredible capacity for nourishing my spirit and holding me accountable for my personal growth.
After the car accident, I spent several years high on spiritual growth and didn’t practice what I had previously learned. I cannot even begin to tell you the number of times I crossed boundaries with my new-found spiritual gifts by sharing what I was hearing without asking permission and repeating a mantra I was hearing “more money is coming” while simultaneously acting so fiscally irresponsibly, I had to file for bankruptcy to get out of the mess.
And yet, over time, particularly with the healing of my brain, the two began to come back together and find a balance. That balance included doing some in-depth therapy, particularly family of origin work which helped keep my marriage afloat.
Growth and Healing
Iyanla goes further in articulating different kinds of personal development we can engage in:
Again, I think the two wings of a dragonfly metaphor applies. Learning how to manage and move through life’s challenges is critically important. Healing the underlying causes of habitual, unconscious, systemic behaviors and beliefs that can create a more challenging life is transformational.
I appreciate that healing can take place in a variety of ways – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Over the years, I’ve found that a team of people, practices, and modalities support deep healing.
For me, that constellation continues to be classical homeopathy, massage, energy work, therapy, yoga, and meditation. Other forms of physical exercise help, too, like walking, weights, and cardio. Although the practitioners and foci have changed over the years, the constellation has not.
As I read this I wonder – “Whoever said being in a human body was easy???” Damn, it’s a lot of work!
Finding Intuition in the Dragonfly Metaphor
I pondered a bit about where cultivating intuition lands in this metaphor – with personal and spiritual growth being the two wings of a dragonfly. I think intuition is the body of the dragonfly – that place where spiritual and personal development meet. Our intuition is only as helpful as we are healthy, grounded, and present.
The more we work on the wings – pushing them out, fluffing them up – the clearer and more consistent our intuition is. It becomes second nature, and we can tell more quickly what’s intuition and what’s ego/personality. Well, that’s my experience anyway. What’s yours???
I’m grateful for the periods where deep healing work isn’t necessary. For the time, I can simply step into the flow of life and live. And yet, those deep dives into one wing or the other – spiritual growth or personal development (healing and growth work) help me step into a more fulfilling, integrated flow. I wouldn’t bypass them for anything.
And I’m grateful for the inspiration I receive(d) from Iyanla. Our ways of working with people may be different, but our beliefs are similar and our commitment to “the work” is unending.