Path work is a very personal thing – no person’s inner, or outer, work is the same as another’s. Some are outgoing in their work, others are silent; there are times when you can see the work, feel it, read it and other times when there is nothing to show for the work that you have done aside from a change in perspective. There are times when the person themselves does not realise that they are doing Path work, when in reality they are.
Recently, the question “where are you on your spiritual path” came up, and I began to wonder if the sort of healing I am doing with my mentor, the sort of work I am doing deep within my soul, is considered Path work. I believe that it is useful to include conventional healing as a sort of Path work, because you are working to live your best life. When speaking of mental health, the work that is done in therapy can be performed in conjunction with Shadow work and other things of a similar nature – from a shamanic point of view, soul retrievals should always accompany work with a mental health professional because of the memories and feelings that it can bring back to the surface. Learning different coping skills can also be beneficial to a spiritual path, because we are taught different ways to understand and communicate with our communities.
Path work is a winding trail through a dense forest – there are markers where you can gauge your progress, but just because you are here and someone else is there does not mean that you are less or more than they are. In a spiritual community where much of our progress is marked by degrees and certificates that, in the end and in my opinion, do not mean much, many of us may feel inadequate.
As it is with schooling, just because you received a low mark in Maths does not mean you are a failure or that you are less – what of the high mark you received in English or in Art or in Theatre? What of your accomplishments in Sports or in Music? Even if all of your marks are lower than your peers, you showed up and sometimes that takes just as much, if not more, effort than being the top of your class.
I have so much information stored in my head, and yet I have not used even half of it. I have read articles and textbooks on advanced scientific theories and methodologies. I have learned numerous different art styles and I have an extensive understanding of musical theory and genre studies. I have delved deep into the cultures of various time periods. And yet, I do very little (if anything) with this knowledge – partially because I did not obtain it through an accredited source, therefore do not have a degree or certificate, and partially because I just love to learn and have no desire to put the knowledge into action.
However, my love of learning has given me more than enough fodder for the tales that I weave, for the artwork that I create. It has also opened up a unique universe of intellectual people that I can converse with without feeling lower than they are. The amount of knowledge you possess is useless if you do not put that knowledge to good use. If you never become a rocket scientist, but you can converse about quantum physics with a rocket scientist, I believe that you are putting your knowledge to good use.
A person’s progress on their path, whether mundane or spiritual, should not be measured by degrees or diplomas or titles – granted, there are professions that require degrees and titles and whatnot. That is not what I am talking about here.
Life is not a piece of paper. It is not a certificate on your wall. It is not the ritual of moving up a grade or graduating. Life is breath, it is getting your hands dirty, it is experiential. If you spend your whole life learning and never practising, is that really living? Is the high school dropout who travels the world any less knowledgeable than the Ph. D student? We all have our strengths, we all have our own sets of skills, and we all have something to offer our communities, both local and global.
My spiritual path has brought me to a place of healing. I have stepped off of the trail and into a clearing where I am required to do difficult soul searching and growing. We all have these places along our paths, where we must stop for a moment and take in the lessons we have learned along the way, and put the knowledge to good use. Some may view these places as bumps in the road, as things that deter us from our quests, but that is not their purpose. Their purpose is to force us to take a step back and breathe, perhaps to heal ourselves or perhaps to find a new piece of information, a new skill.
Each person’s Path work is different but no less necessary for their continued growth and progress along their path. Reaching the end of our Paths is the only common denominator.
Kim Krans, the creator of The Wild Unknown, says it perfectly:
May you always be on the inner quest.
Until next time <3