Many spiritual seekers possess a drive and commitment to grow, evolve, and ascend. To be sure, doing so is hard work. From the depths of shadow exploration to the highs of Divine communion, there is an intensity on the spiritual path comparable to that of the high-performance athlete.
Both paths require a period of recovery and stillness before moving from one level of training to another. For the athlete, recovery is necessary to prevent injury by replenishing muscle glycogen, repairing and rebuilding microtears in soft tissue, and optimizing psychological well-being. Similarly, the spiritual initiate must also pause between initiations to integrate, adapt, and be ready for the next stage of development.
Take Initiative and Plan Recovery
Despite the emphasis on self-love, recovery is often completely overlooked within the spiritual realms, just as it is within sport. We tend to push through to the next phase seeking increasing levels of vibration and actualization, but Spirit will likely intervene to remind us of the need to pause and incorporate the work we’ve done. It is crucial that we don’t ignore the messages!
Recovery as Celebration
Significantly, the recovery process allows for a celebration of the effort invested. It marks the completion of one phase before tackling the next. It is important to honor and enjoy your evolution and growth. Again, doing so is seldom discussed. One of the reasons I am so drawn to the Sumerian Goddess Inanna is precisely because she unapologetically celebrates herself at every stage of her journey. We could all do well to learn from her in our own progression.
Upon the completion of each initiation, remember to take a moment to integrate and evaluate what you have just gone through. Read on for some tips on how to actively promote recovery and celebrate yourself.
A Personal Lesson in Recovery
Cultivating recovery can indeed feel challenging. But it is easier if you can plan it out on your own and be proactive. I was offered this lesson by Spirit in my late 20’s. It happened directly after winning the Philadelphia Marathon. I had trained for years with a goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials. This was my athletic dream. I laced up my shoes for Philly in 2003 totally unattached to where I would finish. I didn’t care if I finished in last place among the elite racers if I could just hit the qualifying time. But something magical happened. Throughout most of the race, it was hard to tell what position I was in. It wasn’t until mile 20 that I figured out I was running in second place. This fueled me on, and I caught up to the first-place runner at mile 22. We ran stride for stride for almost four miles listening to each other’s steady but aggressive breathing and the rhythmic sound of our footsteps on the pavement. With 400 meters to go and a slight uphill, I knew I had to make a move. I lengthened my stride despite the heaviness in my legs and leaned into the flow. The finish tape ripped across my chest, and someone placed a laurel on my head. I had won the race by five seconds.
It was my very first time qualifying for the trials, and I was ecstatic. But, instead of recovering properly and celebrating my accomplishment, I took one day off and then doubled down on my training to try and get ready for the next trials. I had three months to get ready—plenty of time to rest properly and intelligently and then rebuild. However, my 27-year-old self was so used to driving myself hard. Within two weeks, I was injured and unable to race for an entire year. Needless to say, I also missed the Olympic Trials and was forced to examine the fine balance between dedication and recovering optimally in order to heal and honor the work put in.
I had just won a marathon, the biggest win of my athletic career, yet I never even stopped to process that. It would have served me better to take a cue from Inanna and unapologetically own my accomplishment and celebrate the occurrence of something magical.
Anchor in Changes Made with Ritual
Today, I prioritize recovery both spiritually and athletically. Here is what I do to mark periods of recovery and celebration these days.
- Change up the routine. Go to sleep early, sleep in, and alter the order of your day to ensure you feel like you are doing something different.
- Unplug. Literally, put your phone down for a period of time to reduce feeling bombarded and take a moment to get to know your own upgraded energy.
- Get bodywork. Explore massage, acupuncture, or reflexology to honor the sacred vehicle of your body.
- Use your creativity to capture the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Any artistic expression will do! Make a collage, take a photograph, or write a poem that reflects your shift within.
- Treat yourself! This can be as simple as dressing in something that feels special or buying yourself a small gift like a new journal to write in.
- Engage in a special ritual to make manifest your integration and celebration. It can be short or elaborate. Ground yourself and call in Divine assistance. Write up what you have accomplished, place it on your altar or other special place and light a candle or make some other offering to yourself. Always give thanks for the Divine assistance.
Give yourself permission to take the time you need to recover and celebrate!
*Inspired by the wisdom of the Sumerian Goddess Inanna, this blog is an invitation to live as she does, like an Unapologetic Heroine.
Seana Zelazo, LICSW is a psychotherapist, spiritual coach, and intuitive channel committed to helping us live unapologetically, by restoring balance within and without through the wisdom of the Sumerian Goddess Inanna. Look for her upcoming book The Way of Inanna: A Heroine’s Guide to Living Unapologetically in Septembr 2022. seanazelazo.com