Interacting with others while on a spiritual journey (part 2/2)

In the previous post, I shared how family , friends, and co-workers reacted to me when I shared my experiences from the spiritual path and my changed belief system. In this post, share how I experienced the interaction with other people who are also on a spiritual path.

Before I started blogging, I was particularly afraid of the reactions of materialists. Would they pooh-pooh my worldview and experiences? Would I have to argue with them, justify and defend my point of view?
But it turned out that even if I shared the link to my blog or the link to NDE stories with them, I would not get any reaction. So, I concluded that I must be somehow invisible to them and this fear that I would have to argue with them did not come true. Instead, an unexpected challenge arose, and that was interacting with other people on a spiritual path.

Travelers on a spiritual path

I met several wonderful and interesting people, not only online but also at work. I learned about other people’s life’s journeys and how they coped with partly tremendously difficult challenges.

I learned about several different spiritual traditions and also about many different forms in which people express what they have experienced and learned on this journey.

Some share books and youtube videos which resonated with them. Others share parables. Some create poems. Others are into photography and share their most amazing and beautiful pictures. A few people dedicate themselves to interviewing others. So, there are webpages, blogs, or youtube channels who interview only enlightened people, or only Near Death Experiencers, or only channelers. Some blog often and basically share their journal entries openly. Others package their story into fiction and create a book from it. And much more. There is such a variety of ways to share and contribute.

I got many new book recommendations for my long reading list. Also, I got plenty of encouragement for my writing and was very grateful for that.

I also learned which parts of my stories do and which do not resonate with others who are also on this path. That was valuable to learn.

But in addition to all the wonderful and enriching effects of meeting others on the spiritual path, there were also some aspects which were a bit irritating.


One thing that I needed to get used to was the language. Seems like people in every subculture (Buddhists, psychologists, lightworkers, Christians etc.) have their own language. Which is not a problem per se, of course. It can just be very confusing to suddenly be flooded with a multitude of terms from which the sender assumes that the receiver surely knows what they mean.

It becomes even more confusing when the terms sound like everyday language but mean something completely different. When someone used terms like ‘dharma’ or ‘metta’, I could look them up, but I remember how confused I was when a woman said that her task as a co-leader of a workshop was not to teach anything but to just ‘hold the space’. I had never heard that term before and tried to imagine what that would probably look like when someone opens their arms and grabs space with their hands and simply holds the space. LOL. It also took me a while to find out what people meant when they used the term ‘grounding.’

While I became used to the unscientific and ubiquitous use of the term ‘quantum’ in some lightworker texts, I still cringe when I read texts which state that our bodies are allegedly going ‘from carbon-based to crystalline’ ( – and in addition, some were seriously suggesting that the carbon atoms somehow turn into silicon atoms).


I encountered the need of others to put me into a certain box. For example, when I first started blogging here on WordPress, I was greeted with “Welcome and how wonderful to meet a fellow lightworker!” That other person just meant to say a nice ‘Hello’, of course, but at that time, I didn’t even know what the term ‘lightworker’ meant, let alone whether I would belong to that group.

Others had different types of categories into which they wanted to put me. So, I was asked whether I was a pantheist or a panentheist or a theosophist and whatnot. But I was not familiar with any of these categories. I only had some experiences to share about the beneficial effects of inner peace. My reading background was mostly books about personal accounts of other people’s stories of awakening and enlightenment as well as some channeled texts.

I wondered whether they expected me to look up all these new terms of lightworker, indigo, gridworker, pantheist, theosophist and so on in order to be able to answer the question in which box I did belong.

Unsolicited advice from various belief systems

I share my own experiences on this journey. And I share not only the good and blissful stuff, but also the ugly parts just to show what traveling on this path can feel like.

But sharing the more difficult parts has the side effect that compassionate people from all walks of life felt called to help and fix me and so they jumped in and offered unsolicited mental diagnoses and advice. It happened quite a few times that people of various other belief systems tried to offer their point of view to me.

For example, some people of Christian belief sent me emails regarding my blog telling me that my path was dangerous and that I should refrain from it and rather study the videos they suggested which talked about sin, punishment, and hell.

A few people from Eastern spiritual traditions let me know that according to their beliefs spirit guides didn’t exist (and they suggested that I adopt their point of view) and people who heard an inner voice or had an inner vision should just meditate more. And, BTW, signs and synchronicities didn’t exist either in their opinion and so they advised me to stop paying attention to these things. (I want to mention, though, that I have also met people from Eastern spiritual traditions who do pay attention to signs and synchronicities. I have even read about someone who channels a Buddhist spirit guide.)

A psychologist who was also on a spiritual path said that it sounded like multiple personality disorder when I heard an inner voice which told me to do something which I didn’t want to do. In addition to the unsolicited, free mental diagnosis, he was so kind to prescribe a certain kind of prayer which I should do to heal that condition. Even though he meant to be generous and loving, I was pissed off. But then I tried to see his point of view and I could understand that someone who probably had never experienced the inner voice of guidance and in addition had been trained in psychology could easily come to the conclusion that having a discussion with a spirit guide resembled a mental disorder.

In an online forum, another guy wanted to draw me into a battle about my beliefs. He had the opinion (A) that spirit guides do exist, but all of them are either completely deluded or evil and (B) that we should not just agree to disagree, but discuss until someone had won the discussion. He was seriously thinking that this way he could do a huge service to the world, just discuss the wrong beliefs out of everyone.

No, thanks. I kindly but firmly refused to engage into a battle. In retrospect, I thought that this was a lesson about trying to withstand the urge to justify and defend myself.

Dealing with unsolicited advice

What should I do with this? Avoid all the interactions – the pleasant ones as well as the unpleasant ones – , withdraw into cave time again and shut up? Or set boundaries?

Whenever I felt irritated by this onslaught of well-meant, but unsolicited advice and didn’t know how to react to it, I was reminded of the following little story that happened with my one of my sons when he was about one year old and just able to walk. I was in the bathroom, upset and fretting about something. My child saw this. He couldn’t talk yet, but he had enough understanding to know that mommy was upset and feeling some compassion, he looked for a solution.

So, he went to his room and came back and brought me his pacifier, signaling to me, ‘Put this into your mouth. It has helped me to calm down when I feel upset. I am sure it will help you, too, when you feel upset.’

How cute! I couldn’t help but break into laughter.

Now, when adults did this, I found it not nearly as cute as my toddler trying to calm me with his pacifier. But it came from the same line of reasoning that what had helped them would surely help me, too. And therefore, in all their love and compassion, they felt the urge to give me advice.

And sometimes this advice was very useful. But at other times, it came across as “Oh, your path is dangerous. Don’t go there, this is sinful, or else you will suffer in hell.” Or a bit like someone telling me, “Don’t travel too far out in the world because I believe that it is a fact that the Earth is flat and I really want to protect you from falling off the edge of the Earth.”

So, while my fears about negative reactions from materialists did not come true, what did happen was unexpected reactions from fellow travelers on one of the spiritual paths.

Now, some more reflections on reacting to this.

Shadow work

Sometimes others can be mirrors of my blind spots and could be an invitation to do some shadow work. So, I asked myself whether I did that to other people, too, to offer unsolicited advice to them which might not be exactly right up their alley. And, yes, I admitted that I did that, too, sometimes and made a note to self to avoid that in the future. But that did not mean that the influx of unsolicited advice and unsolicited mental diagnoses stopped afterwards.

It says more about them than about me

Later something else happened which made me think. During one time period, three people made comments about what they perceived as character traits of me. Their comments came independently and out of the blue without me asking for their opinions. Two of them said that I have a lack of patience while the third one said that I was way too patient.

I thought that this was a lesson which was meant to show me that people would have an expectation of what is normal or what their baseline is, so to speak. And when I deviated in a certain way from their own baseline, then I was ‘too impatient’ or ‘too patient’ – in their opinion. Or maybe it was that they projected their shadow on me. I couldn’t decide, but I settled for the explanation that some of the reactions which people showed to my writing said more about them than about me.

Setting boundaries

While sometimes I could just ignore the irritating comments of unsolicited advice, at other times, especially when I expected the behavior to happen more frequently coming from the same person, I firmly stated my boundaries with as much kindness and politeness as I was able to muster.

I was aware that it would almost break the other person’s heart if I refused their advice. After all, they came from a place of love and compassion and they only meant well. And in addition to that, they were so darn sure that they were right. So, how dare I refuse their advice which was given in the spirit of love!

But I stated my boundaries anyway. And this turned out to be an important step on my journey.

It did not mean that afterwards everything was all roses with regard to the relationships with these other people. For example, one woman became upset when I said “No, thank you, I don’t feel like going to your spiritual teacher, even though you have already insistently told me many times to sign up for her class.”

But even if the other person was pissed off, I found that it was better to set my boundaries than to withdraw and shut up completely.

In addition to setting boundaries, I have learned not to invest in useless battle over whose viewpoint is right or wrong. After all, when my guides sent me to do this blogging adventure, the mandate was to share my experiences. But they did not say, ‘Go out into the world and proselytize everyone.’

In summary, this was a time of loneliness among family and friends, but also about finding enriching connections to others on a similar path. It was about being encouraged about my writing, but also a time of being challenged. It was about letting go of attachment to praise and also of avoidance of criticism. It was also about learning to resist the need to justify, defend, and prove my point of view.

Interacting with others while on a spiritual journey (part 1/2)

I want to share what kind of reactions other people had to me when I shared my experiences and changed beliefs from my spiritual journey or when I reacted differently to life’s circumstances than I had done before.

So, there was me and there were others.

Me, with my increased need for solitude and quiet time. Me, finding inner peace inside and not so much by rearranging circumstances out there anymore. Me with my several paranormal experiences bursting to share this with someone else on one hand, but the fear of being judged as crazy on the other hand.

And then there were other people. Others who were just family members and who expected me to behave and function as usual. Others who were materialists and who did not believe in this woo stuff. Others who were travelers on the spiritual path, coming from various religions and spiritual traditions, having different languages for the same concepts, some just beginning to wake up and some further advanced and psychically much more gifted than me.

As you can imagine, there was a variety of interactions between others and me going on. Others who had a certain kind of reaction to my behavior or my changed beliefs. And then me having in turn a certain kind of thought and emotional reaction to their reaction.

Family members

When I told a family member about my experiences with anger vs inner peace, burned out light bulbs vs miracles, and that I thought that our thoughts can influence the weather, he stared at me blankly, somewhat clueless what to make of that. Then he said, “And does that mean that you are going to become a Buddhist now?”

I shook my head, wondering how he came to that idea. I figured that in his world there were only Christians of Catholic and Protestant faith. So, anything that did not fit into these categories was probably something more exotic. And probably the most exotic category he could come up with was Buddhism.

What some family members also tended to find irritating was that I could stay in peace and acceptance in situations which they found highly irritating. While for me it felt good to stay in inner peace in certain difficult situations, it felt as if they somehow expected me to get upset, too, because according to their worldview that was the right thing to do.

But there were also some family members who slowly opened up to the idea that we are more than our bodies and that there is life after death.

Old friends

When I tried to share with old friends what I had experienced, they listened politely and found my stories incredible and hard to believe. Some of them then said that they could not relate to it and changed the subject back to topics such as how the kids were doing and how their career was going.


I tried to share only with a few co-workers what I had experienced. Some of them were also on a spiritual path and interested and open to my stories. These encounters were wonderful and enriching for both sides.

In these interactions, it was important to learn when was the right time to share something. Sensing into whether the other person would be open and whether it would be welcomed or was safe to share what I had experienced. This required some intuition and also courage on my side and was not always easy.

But when I mentioned how disengaged I felt after the anger about too little appreciation for my work and that I did not feel like taking on more responsibility at the job, one colleague shook her head and said with a serious tone of voice, “But you have to find something where you can feel engaged. If you cannot find it here, you must change to another department and find it there.” This was certainly well-meant advice and also true – but not in a way my colleague saw it. She simply could not conceive of the idea that it was possible to find fulfillment outside of work.

So, on my spiritual journey, interaction with others was a mixed bag. Sometimes it was enriching, but at other times I felt more lonely than before.

Ego on the spiritual journey (part 2/2): ego backlash or the upper limit problem

In the previous post, I described how ego can sneak in as a wolf in sheep’s clothing and can be difficult to discern. In this post, I mention some noteworthy phenomena which I encountered.

Flip-flopping between perspectives

Often, I found myself flip-flopping back and forth between the ego’s perspective and the perspective of my higher self. One moment, I would be ranting about how awful and unfair things are, and a while later, I would listen to the inner voice that told me to be grateful and see the possible benefits of a disturbing situation. Until I would drop back into the ego’s perspective again. Back and forth over and over again until it settled down into a peaceful attitude eventually.

The ego backlash phenomenon or upper limit problem

I have observed a tendency in myself to keep my emotional thermostat at a certain setting which feels familiar. My normal mode of mind is relatively calm and focused on getting the tasks of the day done, be it work, household chores, or writing weekly blogposts. Occasionally, there is a bit of feeling of overwhelm with my long todo list, a bit of annoyance when things don’t go as planned, and some general grumpiness about why I had to incarnate at all.

Strangely though, when things happened which put me into an elated and enthusiastic mood for a period of time, I would come crashing down with a bout of negative feelings afterwards. And from there, I would move into the calm, focused, and slightly grumpy place again. It was as if I needed to stay in a certain range of emotions for most of the time.

This phenomenon has been termed ‘ego backlash’ or the ‘Upper Limit Problem’, a phrase first termed by Gay Hendricks in his book The Great Leap. (Here is an interview with Gay Hendricks about how he discovered this upper limit problem).

Spiraling forward

As I have mentioned before, the path is not a constant climbing up of the rungs of the emotional ladder from depression to peace and bliss. Rather it feels like back and forth and back and forth. It feels more like a spiraling forward motion.

How to deal with ego

In the spiritual literature, I have come across various suggestions about how to deal with ego.

Some say you have to kill it.

Some say that fighting with ego only makes it stronger. Therefore, our only option would be to ignore it because it cannot survive without attention.

Others say that what works best is some kind of appreciative cooperation. So, if the fearful part which believes in separation acts up with only the best of intentions to keep us comfortable and safe, then we should talk to this part and thank it for its good intention, and then tell it to relax and that we are going to try a different route this time.

Maybe there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Or maybe all of these view points together make up the whole picture (like in the parable with the group of blind men describing an elephant).

My path has been yielding to guidance because of the sheer necessity of it. When I struggled to get over the fear of sharing my story, not yielding would result in clogged things everywhere in the house (and boy are there many things which can be clogged, like drains, coffee machine, shower head) and in my body (breathing issues in my throat). But yielding and sharing, even though it was very uncomfortable to go through the fear, cleared these external issues.

So, other people may have a different approach, but for me, dealing with ego meant constantly coming to this place of submitting to guidance with ‘Okay, Thy will be done’ over and over again – because any resistance would have become too painful. So, it was basically an approach of disregarding the ego’s opinion.

Ego on the spiritual journey (part 1/2): the wolf in sheep’s clothing

The way life actually works is that everything happens in consciousness and that our beliefs and thoughts coupled with emotions are literally creative. So, what shows up in the outside world in our respective bubble of experience is a mirror of what is going on inside of each of us in terms of beliefs, thoughts, and emotions.

Everything is safely held in consciousness. Even after we leave this incarnation we will still be a bubble of consciousness with some content, some experience in it. Real peace can only be found in that which is indestructible which is consciousness. And everything is interconnected via consciousness.

But the ego does not see it this way.

The ego thinks that we are separate. The ego thinks that our thoughts do not have an effect on our surroundings. And the ego thinks that what shows up in the outer world is separate from what is going on inside of us. And not only does it assume that the outer world is separate from what is going on inside of us, but it also assumes that the outer world can be threatening to us.

Now, against the threats the ego wants to have some protection. And therefore, it sets up defenses. At the root is usually fear. And that breeds many branches which show up in a variety of ways.

Ego is the part in me which wants to keep me safe. Really, it has only the best of intentions. It thinks that I am a separate being in world which is full of randomly moving separate objects and people who could endanger me. And it tries its best strategies to cope with that situation.

Ken Wapnick, the famous ACIM teacher, said that the ego is a “maladaptive solution to a non-existent problem”.

The wolf in sheep’s clothing

One important thing to learn on this journey is how to discern when a thought is from the higher self vs when it is from ego. Now ego is easy to discern when it shows up like fear or judgment. But what makes it challenging is that ego can show up as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Ego can show up as over-responsibility which at first glance feels like it comes from love, but underneath that could be looking for an acceptable excuse for not going forward with life in more alignment to the soul.

Ego can show up as an overly controlling and coercing behavior, for example, on children which at first glance looks like parental love. But what it really might be is fear that if the children do not conform to society’s expectations, they will end up poor and will not be able to sustain themselves later.

Ego can show up as procrastination or as confusion. When I know I have to sit down and write the next blogpost, but writing takes a bit of effort and feels uncomfortable, and suddenly I feel the inexplicable, strong urge to tidy up my living room instead of writing – that bout of procrastinational cleaning urge is from ego. It is just masked as something acceptable. Sure, the cleaning and tidying up might be necessary because my mother in law is about to visit us and then it should be clean, right? Aah, it is hard to spot ego and even harder to discuss with it.

I didn’t mean to imply that any sign of responsible, parentally caring, house-cleaning behavior is caused by ego. But it could be.

It is important to look not so much at what is done but why it is done. What is the real underlying motivation? Do I clean my house because I like my MIL and want her to have a good experience when she visits us? Or do I do it because I am afraid that she might judge us if the house is dirty? Or do I clean the house because I need an excuse for not sitting down and writing another blogpost? Because even though cleaning the house is no fun, writing a blogpost about ego is even less fun, and therefore cleaning the house would be the easier choice at the moment.

The same investigation of the underlying motivation can be done for any other choice, of course. When someone does excessive physical exercise, for example, is that because they do it because they just love the act of exercising? Or is it because they want to be very slim and muscular? Is being in very good physical shape important to their self-image? I remember that Adyashanti shared that being able to ride his bike very fast was part of his self-image. And how life weaned him from keeping up this self-image by repeated mysterious sicknesses which caused him to be unable to train as hard as before.

So, it comes down to the underlying motivation for things, and discernment and remaining vigilant is important on this journey.

Emotions on the spiritual journey (part2/2)

In the previous post, I mentioned the various types of emotions which came up for me during my journey. Here, I describe what challenges I noticed while dealing with them.

Unexpected intensity
What struck me was the unexpected intensity of these emotions. While before, my emotional state used to vary only little around a normal of relative calm with mental focus (the state of mind I entered when I was reading books or doing computer programming), on this journey I entered a rollercoaster of emotions with an intensity which I sometimes found hard to endure.

I remember one time when the feeling of guilt became so much that I felt strong nausea that I had to will myself to not feel this emotion any longer and direct my focus elsewhere even though I thought this might mean that I was evading or suppressing the emotion.

Labeling was not easy
When I felt an emotion, I sensed it in my body and then tried to name it.

However, it was not always easy to find a label.

Were my tears from sadness? Or from relief and from joy of coming Home? And if they came without a reason, did I cry because of something in my own life, or did I pick up on something much vaster which did not belong to me?

Were the slight tension and anxiety I felt on some mornings before getting up as sign that I was in fear and that something was wrong which I should look at more closely? Or was it just a sign of a feeling of anticipation, partly joyful and excited, but also alert and a bit tense, like one would maybe feel right before going on a travel adventure? I wondered whether I should meditate and try to breathe it away. Or should I rather take it as a signal that it was time to get up and tackle the issues of the dawning day.

When I felt very little motivation to do anything, was this a sign of depression? Or was it just a necessary pause between phases with high activity? (I eventually settled for the latter explanation).

And what was this strange, uncomfortable feeling which came up when I was confronted with difficult guidance? Was it guilt and remorse because I did not feel like obeying? Or was it reverence and submission toward the divine?

There was much confusion and lots of questions. I didn’t always find an answer. The emotions came, and with them, the thoughts and the confusion came. And later, the emotions vanished and the confusion about what had happened also lessened.

After all, maybe it was not always necessary to find out what it was that I felt and why I felt it.

Developing more sensitivity
Over time, I also found that I developed greater sensitivity for my emotions. After all, I had learned that inner peace was conducive to miracles while anger would cause trouble like burned out light bulbs, for example. So, I started to notice anything that felt off inside of me. Anything which was not inner peace and calm even if it wasn’t as obvious as strong anger.

And boy, were there a lot of different shades of emotions to discover. For example, the grumpiness in the mornings when I had to get up early. The boredom and annoyance which came up during repetitive easy tasks like putting the wet laundry on the laundry rack for drying. The uneasy feeling of saying ‘yes’ when I really wanted to say ‘no’. And feeling under pressure when I had to do many things within a tight time schedule.

These emotions were not as strong as anger, for example. But they were not inner peace and calm and therefore needed to be noticed.

Processing emotions
What I found particularly challenging was processing these emotions. Suppressing them was bad. I knew that. So, I thought, okay, I would just let them come up and feel them. But then I was in danger of drowning in them and that was bad, too.

Inner peace was the thing to strive for because that was where all the good thing happened. But when I went to inner peace prematurely while I still had anger and grief in me, would that not mean that I was about to suppress my emotions?

One possible solution was provided by methods which questioned the underlying thought. Is this thought which makes me angry or sad really true? Maybe the opposite is true (Byron Katie’s approach)? Or maybe the Holy Spirit can give me some guidance on how to see this differently (ACIM’s approach)? If I could only manage to see things differently, then I would not have to be angry or sad anymore. These methods were applicable in cases where there were underlying thoughts to the emotions.

But what if there were just the emotions and no previous thoughts, at least not on a conscious level, which seemed to have caused these emotions? What if there was just grief or anxiety coming up for no reason? Then the above mentioned methods of seeing things differently did not work. I had to find something else.

Here, I chose to feel the emotions and when I had enough and was fed up with it, then I would try to alleviate it by whatever worked best. Anger could be channeled into physical exercise like swimming or riding my bike, for example. And grief could be alleviated by keeping myself busy with practical everyday tasks.

Layers of emotions
I found out that when I stayed with my emotion of anger and released it, for example, that there was another emotion below it, which was sadness. And when I stayed with sadness and released it, there was another emotion below which was fear.

So, there were layers of emotion like in an onion. As if one emotion was covered by another and then by yet another. All because the initial emotion was too uncomfortable to feel so that I put another emotion on top of it which was still not happiness and bliss, but at least it was tastier than the initial emotion.

I found that remarkable and something to think about. Imagine, we do not only tend to evade the experience of uncomfortable emotions by using addictive behavior (like alcohol, drugs, chocolate, shopping, excessive physical activity, anything that will help us feel better). No, we can also numb uncomfortable feelings by putting another feeling on top of it. Anger felt much better to me than sadness or fear, for example. So, it was tempting to find someone else to be angry with instead of just staying with the initial emotion of fear or sadness.

To sum it up, a variety of emotions came up which were difficult to endure, sometimes hard to label, and not always easy to process.