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Avoid Activism Fatigue and Burnout in General

Recently in the Mastermind group I belong to, we were discussing the profound impact the understanding of the Three Principles has had on our lives. In the conversation, I became more aware of how clarifying the understanding is and how impactful the practical implications of it are. Particularly with respect to me being more content and navigating my life and my emotional experience with more grace and ease.

This understanding seems particularly important during this time of upset, consternation, and stress related to the current political climate in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. I find the increase in activism, personal responsibility, and community inspiring. I recognize that change, no matter where on the political spectrum you fall, is going to take time. It is not going to be a sprint to implement meaningful adjustments to help the planet be healthier, provide support for those who are suffering, and eliminate prejudice and racism, to name but a few of the opportunities we have as humans to bring a more loving consciousness onto the planet. It is important, therefore, to avoid “activism fatigue”.

Burnout is something I am familiar with. In the past, my pattern was to work full out on something until I drop, recuperate, and then start the cycle over again. This happened to me in my work as a therapist. I was working on a team with families struggling with intense crises. I was available on-call in addition to scheduled sessions. I threw myself into my work being the driven, type A personality I was, and I felt swallowed alive. My body was the first to give out. After having to rest for six weeks after major surgery, things started shifting within the organization in a very dramatic way. This resulted in me moving into a leadership position rather than providing direct service. I thought, “Here is the answer to my burnout.” But no, my same type A driven tendencies showed up in that role as well. Instead of it being in response to family crises, it was related to keeping the company afloat and focusing on how to grow it. I started to get a clue that my stress was not about what was going on outside of me. As Confucius said, “No matter where you go, there you are.” It was at this time that I was really impacted by the understanding of the Three Principles.

The Three Principles is a theosophy introduced by the late Sydney Banks. He had an enlightenment experience, and over time, articulated the impact of that experience through teaching about the role of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought in the creation of human experience. He did not discover something new. These principles have been present since the beginning of time. In the same way gravity exists whether we know it does or not. The understanding of the principles is used to point to the formless truth that every spiritual and mystical philosophy points to.

What is different, and why this understanding has been so helpful to me, is it points to the truth of our formless nature with little dogma and no technique. In the book, The Wisdom Within by Roger Mills and Elsie Spittle, Sydney Banks is quoted as saying, “all techniques merely produce a placebo effect and perpetuate the illusion that something outside of ourselves has produced a result.” Sydney Banks saw that by simply understanding how our experience is created via the principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought, people could experience growth in consciousness.

The elegance and the simplicity of this is what cracked through the web of my conditioned thinking. 

When I came across the principles I was no stranger to spiritual teaching. Even though I did not grow up with any religious or spiritual education, in my twenties, I started to practice yoga and meditation. I took it very seriously. I would get up at 4 am, go to the ashram down the street, and join the communal Sadhana. In my thirties, I earned my Master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology, and in my forties, I was blessed to serve as a faculty member at the University of Santa Monica where I got my degree. All of this had a profound positive impact on my life. I became awake to my true identity of love. I recognized the wisdom of my soul more easily. I understood that indulging in my negative thoughts was not helpful, and I had many techniques to managing my thinking. However, my self-awareness was hard work.

Just like all of the other endeavors I threw myself into, I immersed myself into the work of my spiritual awakening and I was burning myself out. The more self-aware I became, the more clearly I saw weaknesses in my personality, and the negative spiral of my thought loops. I assumed I needed to work harder on improving myself so I could eliminate all of my negative thinking. I was on a mission to release myself from making any judgments. I believed I needed to do this in order to be my best self and make the contributions I wanted to make. I thought my increasing exhaustion and insecure feelings were telling me I needed to work harder in order to express my divine nature. I did not occur to me they were feedback that I was going in the wrong direction.

As part of my quest to work harder on myself, I attended a 3P intensive with the intention of learning how to eradicate the feeling of insecurity from my experience. Instead, what I woke up to was the perfection of all of me — my humanness, my insecurities, my perceived imperfections included. I saw how I had been completely blind to how my ego’s attachment to perfectionism was driving me. Simply from understanding how my experience is created, I jumped in consciousness, and saw how cruel and unaccepting I had been toward myself. I understood that “improving” myself could only be the fool’s errand of my ego. From a clearer vantage point, I recognized I had nothing to do. There was nowhere to go. I realized all of the judgments I was holding against myself were made up. As soon as I saw this, they dissolved. When this happened, I felt like I had been released from a pressure cooker. I lightened up, and everything I had previously learned about my spiritual nature now made more sense to me. I understood it more clearly.

When I saw that I create my experience from the inside-out by bringing thought to life via my consciousness, I naturally connected more fully with the formless energy behind everything from which all things come, including my insecure thinking. This resulted in me identifying with the content of my thinking less, and the formless energy behind it more. This gave me perspective so I could see that not only was I creating my experience, but I was also doing this independent of my outside circumstances and my history. The impact of seeing there is nothing that I experience other than thought in the moment coming from the Divine formless energy of Mind/God/Spirit/Universe transformed my life. It gave me an experience of freedom I had never had before. I now see that my experience is divine no matter how I label it.

The experience of insecurity I was so intent of ridding myself from was a self-creation, just another product of the Three Principles at play. There was nothing sinister in it. It was not caused by outside events or past experiences. Nor was it the result of character deficits. It was simply a normal part of my human experience. When I saw that, I stopped being afraid of it. As soon as I stopped being afraid of it, I created less of it. I was no longer hyper-focused on the feelings. As a result my thinking settled more easily, and I would bring different thoughts to life naturally. With this understanding, I also saw how my experience of burnout was coming from thought. I was burnt out from my thoughts not my job. Due to the misunderstanding that my experience of insecurity was coming from a failing within me, I was exhausting myself trying to drive out my humanity. As I said to a client recently, “You can’t cure being human, nor would you want to.”

Our humanity is just as sacred as our divinity. There is no difference. One is form. The other is formless. But, they are made of the same stuff. Love is the source ingredient. It is the essence of it all. The understanding behind the principles helped me to see this more clearly and deeply. I understand my loving nature more experientially, and I am more loving with myself and others as a result.

For those called to be of service, I encourage you to see for yourselves that your experience is created from the inside-out. Everything is made from the same formless, loving energy. When I see this, I feel no animosity and my service is simply my best expression of impersonal love in that moment. This feeds me. It does not deplete me. Let your wisdom guide you. Be informed by your common sense as to when to rest and experience the stillness. There is no urgency in divine timing, only the call of your heart to express your true nature more fully into this world of form. We can all rise to this calling, and enjoy the fruits of this expression, during the brief time we are embodied on this speck of a planet, in this ever-expanding cosmos that is powered by the mystery of the intelligence behind life.

Rohini Ross is a psychotherapist, a leadership consultant, and an executive coach. Rohini facilitates personalized three-day retreats to help individuals, couples, and professionals connect more fully with their true nature and experience greater levels of wellbeing, resiliency, and success. You can find out more about Rohini’s work on her website, rohiniross.com.

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