In Awakening the Sacred Body, the author asks a hard question: "Who does your spiritual practice benefit?" That question isn't asked often. In fact, I can count on one finger the number of times I've come across this question in all the books I've read. It makes me wonder why this question isn't asked more often, but I think we can answer that by simply recognizing that a lot of the focus in spiritual books is on helping a person improve him/herself. Ironically, what isn't recognized is that in some ways what this encourages is a lot more focus on the self than on other people.

I think there's an assumption that goes into spirituality, which is that if a person is engaged in spiritual practices they somehow are becoming better people or more enlightened, or whatever else, but the problem with that assumption is that there is no guarantee that being engaged in any type of practice automatically makes you a better person. And that may not even be the point of the spiritual practice. Spirituality isn't always about making a person into a better person. It's a relationship, but what comes out of the relationship is also informed by what goes into it. Why we engage in spiritual practice is ultimately a personal matter.

With that said, asking who does your spiritual practice benefit isn't a bad question. It's a question worth asking and worth answering. The author shares the following:

"Reflect upon your relationships with yourself, with your family and friends, and within your professional life. Consider your life as a citizen of this world and reflect upon your contribution. These are the arenas in which you want to see changes in a positive direction. Any meditation done with the intention to benefit other beings should certainly benefit the people you live with and see on daily basis. This prevents us from hiding out in spiritual practice or simply being caught in theories of fascinated with abstract principles."

Much of the focus on my own spiritual work has been done with an eye toward improving my life and how I connect with other people. The elemental balancing work, as well as meditation practices were originally started because I recognized how chaotic my life was and how much I contributed to that chaos, both for myself and people connected with me. Doing that work gradually helped me to work out a lot of the internal issues that affected my relationships with other people, but it wasn't always easy for those people because doing such work necessarily brings those issues to the surface. However that's part of what doing such work involves. You bring to the surface what has held you back so you can examine and work with it and then release it. What must be considered is that while you do such work you keep the impact on others to a minimum.

Even if your spiritual work isn't focused on the purpose of changing your life, its still important to examine the impact it can have on yourself and others. If nothing else, such an examination helps you better understand why you practice the spiritual work you practice. It also helps you see it in context to the rest of your life. Ideally you aren't divorcing your spirituality from the rest of your life, but it can be helpful to really examine the relationship it has with your life and the people in it.

What are you doing to ground your spiritual practice in your life? Who does your spiritual practice effect and how do the principles of that practice show up in your life and how you live it?