Spiritual Awakening and Transformational Practices

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What wants to happen? I love that question—that it can be asked in any moment if we just let go of the busyness of the mind, and we ask: What’s emerging here? -Leon Vanderpol

What wants to happen? There is an act of faith woven into the question—a surrender to the spirit and life force that moves through us. It is an act of faith because, in asking, we must trust that something deep within us will respond in a way that will ultimately serve us.

The work of transformation is learning to become intimate with that deep voice of inner knowing, the innermost self and soul. Transformational work is not something most of us have been taught—in truth, much of our education in life has conditioned us to feel alienated from the innermost parts of ourselves.

Living from our inner knowing, rather than the ordinary, strategic mind, is a source of vitality and exhilaration. Our inner compass is our most precious navigational tool.

While most of us have never been taught this way of being, we all have the capacity to learn if we are willing to relinquish what we think we know and listen to this new voice.

In this episode of On Living with Brooke Sprowl, we invited Leon Vanderpol, founder of the Center of Transformational Coaching and author of A Shift in Being: The Art and Practices of Deep Transformational Coaching, to sit with us and share his insight into non-religious transformational practices.

His presence and work offer a grounded approach to spirituality rooted in the everyday experience. This conversation was a reminder that every task, moment, and relationship can open up a new kind of consciousness and soulfulness when we move slow enough to listen to our inner wisdom and allow life to lead us.

During the interview, Leon and I discuss a variety of transformative practices, but we’ve highlighted a few here as a cheat sheet to get you started.

One important element of transformation is questioning your beliefs, deprogramming your conditioned habits of mind, and allowing the parts of you that are not serving you to fall away.

Often, many of the beliefs that we’ve built our identities around are not our own—they are inherited beliefs passed onto us through our families, religions, and cultures.

Some of these beliefs can house the wisdom we need to thrive or protect ourselves, and some of these beliefs can separate us from our perception of our own values and experiences, making it difficult for us to stay connected with our own bodily wisdom and intuitive knowing.

We question these conditioned beliefs, not because they are wrong, but because doing so allows us to approach life in a way that is more vast than what we have known previously—to access a deeper, richer, and more vital consciousness.

Questioning our conditioned beliefs and adopting this new mindset empowers us to reclaim our choice, step into new ways of being, and allow us to access infinitely more information than the conscious mind can process on its own. (The conscious mind processed 40 bits of information per second. The unconscious mind? 11 million).

After close examination, we can choose which beliefs to hold close and which to let go. There is choice, and there is also something autonomous unfolding within us whose truth will organically break down all of the conditioned beliefs that do not also have truth woven deeply into their composition.

To begin the transformational work of deprogramming your conditioned beliefs, start by determining what some of your beliefs are and reflecting on them. Generate a list: What do you believe about how you work? How others work? How life works?

Then, think critically about each one: In what ways does each belief move through you as you interact in the world? How do these beliefs support you and how do they limit you? What feelings do they generate in you? How do they impact other people who live in your sphere of influence?

Transformational work does not happen in a silo. So much of it happens through our relationships. Discuss your reflections with a trusted person in your life and, as you do, notice what naturally emerges in that conversation.

In the episode, Leon and I discuss how difficult it can be to recognize the voice of soul amongst the cacophony of voices that play themselves out in our minds. Leon suggests a facilitative technique he learned from Genpo Roshi, a Buddhist teacher and philosopher, that allows an individual or group of people to differentiate amongst the voices, called Finding Your Big Mind.

Start by calling forth the voices that live in a lower dimension, such as Critic, Skeptic, Doubt, etc. and follow with a statement that each specific voice would say in your mind.

Notice that you can discern these voices from each other and that each one has its own sound or texture. Then, move to voices of a higher dimension: Joy, Love, Harmony, Fairness, Responsibility, Peace. Learning to discern amongst the voices in our head allows each voice to evolve and allows us to better choose which to give authority to.

Another important element of transformative practice is Shadow Work. Shadow work is relating to the parts of ourselves that we would prefer to keep tucked away into the shadows—the parts of us that are ugly, that we repress, or that we hide from ourselves and others.

But to transform our relationship with life, we must love all of who we are, and our shadows are an important aspect of that wholeness. By working with our shadows, we uncover deep truths that allow us to see ourselves wholly and to have a more grounded understanding of the parts of us that are light.

Transformation often happens in the lessons we learn when we relate with our shadows. Shadow work cannot be bypassed. To engage with it is an act of spiritual integrity: when we look at ourselves honestly, we honor all of existence, and we can do so without judgment or shame.

Journaling and meditation are great tools for beginning to relate with your shadows. Ask yourself: What can I be honest about with myself today? What is bringing me to life? What is limiting or draining me? Where is my energy drawn?

When exploring a response, bring in a sense of neutrality and forgiveness. Notice any judgements that arise, breathe through them, and let them go.

Though it may be difficult to hold onto in the moment, remember that there is beauty even in the mess. There is humanity in it. We are all shadow and light together. When you integrate your shadow, you actually expand your capacity for light, compassion, and kindness by becoming acquainted with what makes us all collectively and intimately human.

Slowness is another essential practice for transformation. The soul has an agenda of its own, and for it to emerge, it needs vast expanses of time and space distant from our own agendas.

Most of soul-work happens far beneath the surface. Slowness allows us to redistribute our energy to the soul-work that is happening underground. When we slow down, our soul has the time it needs to deconstruct what isn’t working and reconstruct something new. It allows us the chance to practice discernment and deep listening.

Carve intentional moments of your day where your life can be unplanned. In those moments, ask what wants to happen? And then listen to the guidance.

Slow down the daily rituals of your life, such as eating, walking, or washing the dishes so that you may participate consciously. As Yeats said:

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

This requires slowness. Without it, you don’t even realize how much you miss.

Notice the voice in your head that tells you that you don’t have enough time. Learn to discern that voice. Then, find the one that tells you that you have all the time you need.

Of all these tools, trust is foundational. Transformational work is an act of faith. Even in the moments when it becomes hard to feel as if we are transforming, we can trust that the underground self is working in ways we can’t always see. We can trust that there is something unfolding deep within us and that we are worthy of it doing so.

While on our spiritual journey, we experience times where we break down. The breakdown is an important part of the journey, if engaged with properly, because it inevitably catalyzes our breakthrough.

But there are also times that the breakdown becomes overwhelming, and it can become difficult to see how to transform it. This is why transformational work does not happen alone. We all need someone in these moments to help us be guided through.

And that’s why My LA Therapy exists: to support you in doing just that.


Writer Bio


Brooke Sprowl is the Founder of My LA Therapy, a concierge therapy practice, and My Truest North, a cross-disciplinary coaching and consultancy firm specializing in mission-driven entrepreneurs seeking greater integrity, spiritual awakening, and deeper ways to actualizing their higher purpose through collective service. With 15 years of clinical experience as an individual, couples, and family therapist, she is trained in a wide-range of approaches, from evidence-based therapy practices to peak performance and flow neuroscience techniques. Brooke is also the host of the podcast, On Living with Brooke Sprowl. She is passionate about writing, cognitive science, philosophy, integrity, spirituality, effective altruism, personal and collective healing, and curating luxury, transformational retreat experiences for people who are committed to self-discovery and using their unique gifts in service of the world.

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