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Exploring the Spiritual Practice of Willingness

Dear Friends,



Upon returning home to Phoenix from a seven week journey around the Pacific Northwest, I watched multiple episodes of Iyanla Fix my Life on OWN network. In this television series, Iyanla Vanzant works with families using truth telling and other spiritual practices for exposing patterns and healing lives.

Port Townsend Sunset July 2013

Port Townsend Sunset July 2013

The first episode focused on the grammy singer Syleena Johnson and her relationship with her mother. My attention was drawn to and continued to ruminate upon the father, Syl Johnson. Although in the episode but for a few moments, it was clear that his old school training and perception of how a man ought to be, was a roadblock to change. I witnessed his state as stuck and unable to change as who he knew himself to be was so deeply entrenched he didn’t have the capacity or the internal space to know or do different. This is where the spiritual practice of being willing comes in. Willingness opens stuck places allowing one to see and know oneself from a greater place than a past identity. Willingness can open that which is energetically closed.

This brief moment in television allowed me to see in another the state of being stuck, stubborn, fixednot able, and translate this into questions for my own life. I found this interesting.

When am I not willing? What belief or perception am I holding onto so strongly that it prevents me from living in a state of willingness? In the case of Syl, it was his understanding of what father looked like. This is a clue. When I am stuck, I can look at what I am believing to be true about who I think I am and in what context.

Is my idea of who a mother is getting in the way of me loving my daughter?

Is my idea of what a minister is or does limiting my ability to have a full, fun, adventurous life?

How do my definitions support me, and how do they hinder me? And do I remind myself I am not any of the definitions I hold in my mind? I am more than any definition and paradoxically not any definition. Ultimately, I am life energy embodying my perception of myself and the world.

Embedded in changing perception lies a belief in loss (of control, power, life as I know it) which becomes magnified with my willingness to change. Temporarily staying stuck can feel much better than stepping from my comfort zone to the new beyond it. There is a false idea that identity can keep me safe. In saying yes to being willing, I am literally releasing my idea of me and opening to a new one which I don’t yet know. This translates into discomfort. I have trained my mind into welcoming discomfort as a sign of growth, to be embraced. This training took decades of practice.

My life experience has shown me when my Soul provides me with direction and I ignore it, I will be cracked open through incredible pain dragged screaming and shouting. Willingness is a gentler route for me to take.

What does willingness look like for me? It looks like saying YES to from my body back to my Soul and then loving myself through change. In my prayers I may acknowledge I don’t know how, but I speak the words out loud, I am willing. Then I give myself tremendous amounts of grace as I hobble through what I don’t know into a new knowing.

Every day I give thanks for my spiritual practice. I am blessed.


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