A friend once asked me why so many spiritual teachers and monks lived alone on tops of mountains or away from everyone else. I had no idea why this was or if it were even true. We were both in need of spiritual wisdom at that time. A Monks “R” Us next to the Chick-fil-A in the food court where we sat contemplating such things would have been very helpful.

What I did not know at the time was that I was still years away from being ready to receive or practice the wisdom a monk could’ve provided me. And this is why there are no monks in kiosks at your local the mall doling out their wisdom by the hour.

Spiritual teachers traditionally do not advertise or market themselves because the journey to be ready to hear the message is as important as the message itself. What I know now is that, when you are ready to heal, you will heal very quickly and naturally. You will also do what it takes to find a master.

Until then, we practice readiness. And that’s okay. I tell my stories to allow people to know I know what pain and struggle look like and to acknowledge the spiritual work we all do.

By now, you’ve all heard the story I tell about the personal trainer I used to frequent who had the waistline of a 13-year-old girl. I paid this Greek God-like person two dollars per minute to help me lose weight and be fit. In my mind, he could fix me. He was an expert with “a plan.” Piece of cake.

When I arrived at my first appointment, he asked a few questions before we started. First question was how many hours a day was I currently exercising? In my head I thought, “Did he just say hours per day?” Back then, it was exactly zero hours and zero minutes per day.

He then asked me how many grams of protein and carbs I was eating per day. I think I said, “Huh?” He asked me what my ideal weight was and what my goals were—another head scratcher for me. I told him I wanted to look like Heather Locklear (true story).

His questions were the trick of a master to kindly show me that I had no idea what I wanted and was not ready to make any changes. My answers suggested that I knew very little about a healthy lifestyle, the food I was ingesting, or my interest in physical activity. Mainly, my answers revealed that very little time had been put into thoughts or actions regarding self-care. I just wanted to look and feel better.

I wanted to be fixed, and I wanted a plan to “fix me.”

What 52-year-old Dana would tell 35-year-old Dana is:

You were on the right track. You knew you were unhealthy, but were not interested in the fundamental aspect of health, which is happiness. You could not bear witnessing your unhappiness, so you purchased an expensive distraction. Don’t worry. He’ll help you learn this, Dana! You’ll see that buying the expertise “to fix” your body was the perspective of a person not ready to do the work a personal trainer could help you do when you really wanted to be healthy and happy.

52-year-old Dana would also tell young Dana that, if she really wanted to understand the world and heal and be happy, she wouldn’t need a monk, either. She simply needed to practice self-awareness.

By universal design, we are designed to understand, forgive, and heal ourselves. We are designed for happiness and bliss every moment. If we are looking for others to fix us, we are disconnected from the place that knows we fix ourselves. Yet all processes can ready us and teach us.

All people, like my trainer, are designed to ask the perfect questions to awaken this. When we are ready to seek true understanding and health and happiness, it will come.

The most courageous act of all is the human who dares to witness himself/herself through the eyes of the world. I call this practice self-awareness. Self-awareness is the witnessing of self that allows the readiness for healing.

Why is this a brave act, you ask? Because you will have to let go of the life you’re in now—at least the dynamics and beliefs that keep you stuck (not the people in them). You also have to be willing to forgive yourself when you witness what you see.

This week, I want to focus on the spiritual aspects of readiness, because this is the part where we all get seriously stuck in the excuses and reasons not to heal our relationships and move into our power.

True healing is the process of awakening compassion within ourselves. It begins when we pass these three milestones of spiritual readiness:

  • When “I don’t know” becomes, “I know, but I can’t.” Truthfully, when I begin asking questions, people will tell me they truly don’t know solutions for themselves, yet with a few gentle nudges, the “I don’t know” becomes “I see the solution, but I can’t choose it.” This is a tricky place, because elegant solutions are everywhere, yet simply allowing yourself to see one is hard. MANY TIMES obvious solutions are negated before we even consider “I can’t.” Today, practice allowing yourself to seeing solutions to problems, even if there is an “I can’t” that follows it in your mind. Here’s why: The next step in the process is that “I see the ‘I can’t’ is really an ‘I won’t.’”
  • When “I know, but I can’t” becomes, “I know, but I won’t.” This is the hardest place I take people, the place in them that sees the stubborn ego in play. We witness our stuck place and realize it was ourselves not allowing us to move forward all along. It’s the moment when Dorothy sees Oz as a man behind a curtain. The illusions and power you’ve given to everyone else were simply that, illusions.
  • When I see it was always “I won’t,” and “I won’t” is “I’m scared.” This a scary, sacred place where our fears erode and compassion and understanding awaken. When we look at our fear, we are witnessing our own deep, hidden resistance to life holding us back. The witnessing reveals the story and usually corresponds to some relationship you were trying to protect from the behavior (and a fear that the relationship would change if your behavior changed). When we understand, the fear leaves. This is the place of true natural healing. We forgive; we ascend.

THE SPIRITUAL PRACTICE BEGINS. Today, we practice witnessing our “can’ts” and our “won’ts.” We lean into the powerful work. We make no excuses for our lives or others. We bravely heal ourselves.