We also bring a great deal of baggage into spiritual practice from our cultural values and attitudes. Our culture is hyper individualistic and focused on success and competition and so we will tend to bring a very competitive individualistic attitude towards our practice, worrying if we are keeping up with our peers and wanting to please our teachers. Ours is a culture that is impatient for results, materialistic and focused on personal comfort. Consequently, we are not comfortable with the kind of slow, gradual work involved in spirituality. And we are not comfortable just being with raw emotions and neither acting them out, dramatizing them nor numbing ourselves out through drugs or distractions. With the rise of increasingly sophisticated technology, there is more and more emphasis on taking in information and mental level processing and the devaluing of grounding in the natural world, including our oh so vulnerable bodies.
Spiritual seekers are often hard on themselves. After all, in some way they are often seeking a kind of perfection to make up for a sense of deficiency and badness that they feel within themselves. Hence, it is wise for them to become aware of how they relate to themselves and learn how to work skillfully with Inner Critics as part of their spiritual path. In my own work with clients who are committed spiritual practitioners, I usually find it very important to address the conflation of the Super Ego’s injunctions with their spiritual aspirations right at the beginning of our work. Most of them have some kind of Inner Critic actively monitoring their behavior and commenting on it. As with many behaviors that are long entrenched in the psyche, it takes some time for them to begin to distance from and to dis-identify with these interlopers and finally to change their relationship with them.