The Spiritual Transformation Soundtrack
If your life was a movie, what songs would be featured in the soundtrack? We all have tunes that have special meaning for us, that remind us of the significant times and relationships in our lives.
However, sometimes these songs have an even deeper meaning, and they broadcast our inner truths. I have only a handful of songs in this last category, and now I see that they clearly demonstrate how my awareness expanded over time. I'm sharing these songs with you because they summarize key characteristics of spiritual transformation.
The State of Wanting
The first song showed up when I was a twenty-two-year-old physical therapy student driving to my first internship. I wasn't used to long-distance driving, so I held my breath as Chicago's skyscrapers loomed up ahead of me, and I let out a big sigh when I was surrounded by cornfields. That's when John Denver’s song, I Want to Live played on the radio. I joined in, and it felt like my soul was singing.
This refrain became my mantra as I stepped into my adult life, and I sang it all the time. I had an intense desire to connect with others and to express myself, so I understand why the lyrics resonated with me. But now appreciate that there was more to it. The words, I want signified that this state of being was beyond me, and I was yearning for it. As I worked to heal, I discovered that I had been in a state of needing and wanting throughout my life.
When I was forty-five, I developed debilitating pelvic pain and began focusing on body-mind-spirit healing. About four years into this process, I was asked to sing a solo at church. The song was On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)* and it clearly summed up the changes I had experienced over that time. As I worked to heal, I sensed my spiritual nature, received uplifting insights, and felt much more connected to other people and nature.
Experiencing Duality and Wholeness
I continued on my healing journey. Three years later, I was developing a sermon about my experiences titled, Posttraumatic Growth when I randomly clicked on this song by John Denver titled, All this Joy. The song summarized my healing, so I sang it every time I gave this talk. The words, "all this joy, all this sorrow, all this promise, all this pain", clearly describe the duality of our human experience. At that point in my healing, I was moving out of the drama and fear of those contrasting states, and appreciating the whole experience. The lyrics "such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love" share this spiritual perspective.
Recognizing Our Essence
I continued on my healing journey. Three years later, the Denver song from my twenties popped into my mind again. But after every line about wanting, there was an additional line that pointed to the realization that I was already in the state I desired. I sang these new lyrics often throughout my day.
Moving Beyond the Ego
I continued on my healing journey. After three more years, the Denver song from my twenties popped into my mind again. This time the word "I " was omitted from every line. This new song matched what was happening to me. Instead of experiencing everything from the perspective of my human identity/ego/story, I could sometimes just open up and experience the flow of life.
Living with Awareness
I still live in all these states, and I flip back and forth between them. But now when I am in a state of wanting, when I am depleted by the contrasts of the world, and when I am focused on the needs of my ego, I can often see myself in action, and this opens up an opportunity to move forward in a more expanding and uplifting way. It is also easier to tune in to energy, love, support, and wisdom. And in those times when I move beyond my ego, and my identity is no longer at the center of my knowing, I feel great peace.
For me, enlightenment is not floating above our human experience in a state of bliss; it is regaining our ability to see and choose our state of being. With this awareness, we step in to our power to consciously create ourselves and our lives.
* The song On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever) was written by Burton Lane (music) and Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics) for the 1965 musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. It was performed by the actress and vocalist Barbra Streisand in the 1970 film adaptation of the musical.