Practices From the Inside Out: When Spiritual Life Gets a Little Intense

Practices From the Inside Out: When Spiritual Life Gets a Little Intense April 6, 2019

When Spiritual Life Gets a Little Intense

Sometimes spiritual life can get a little intense.

Many of us have particularly strong feelings about spiritual life along with deeply held beliefs. We are committed to what we think we know about spiritual life. It takes a great deal to persuade us to change our minds.

We may feel we have already researched spiritual questions and found the answers we want.

Things can get a little intense when someone asks us to question our beliefs. Anyone who asks us to change our minds can be met with an intense stare.

Spiritual life can get a little intense even before anyone asks us to think about changing.

What we believe is particularly personal to us. Each of us has our own values. Most of us do not respond happily when someone calls our beliefs into question.

For some people, spiritual life is something which encourages other people to act a little strange. Some of us have intriguing ideas about how spiritual life works and what it means.

We may dress in unusual clothes and follow rituals few of us understand. Some of us like a lot of smoke and fire when we worship. Other people sit in stillness for long periods of time waiting for spiritual life to speak to someone.

Some people learned what they believe about spiritual life when they were quite young. Others of us had almost no experience with spiritual life as children. It can be difficult, to say the least, for us to understand or appreciate each other.

People can be embarrassed when they do not recognize someone else’s practices. We can feel confused or astonished as we begin to learn about spiritual life.

Spiritual life causes something a little intense in almost all of us.

What Do We Do When Spiritual Life Gets a Little Intense?

There are times when we get a little intense about spiritual life. Sometimes spiritual life stirs us up into intensity and other times when we make ourselves intense.

Spiritual life is alive in us. We appreciate its powerful presence within us and in the world, and in the people, around us.

It may take us some time and reflection to recognize spiritual life living and working in our lives. We know we feel something but need to sort out for ourselves what is happening.

For some of us discerning spiritual life is primarily an analytical practice. We work on understanding what spiritual life is up to within us. There may be things we struggle to comprehend.

Others of us have a more emotional or an intuitive approach to discernment. We are not as focused on understanding as we are on accepting how spiritual life is alive in us.

Discerning can get a little intense as we try to decide how to transform what we believe into how we act.

At other times things may get a little intense between us and other people. Spiritual life can use other people to point out to us areas in which we need to grow or change. It can be a challenge for us to learn and grow calmly as what we think we believe is called into question.

It is essential for us to learn and remember, no matter what we think, we have not found our final answer.

Our relationship to spiritual life is alive and growing. Spiritual life is beyond our ability to grasp completely.

Having everything sorted out and nailed down is not part of spiritual life.

We are not working toward a time when we will master spiritual life, but when it will master us.

Trusting Spiritual Life When Things Get a Little Intense

The times when spiritual life gets a little intense are when it starts to get interesting.

It is not our job to figure things out or intuit our way through spiritual life. The challenge for us when spiritual life gets a little intense is to pay attention and continue listening.

Spiritual life is not a puzzle or a problem to be solved.

My contemplative practices remind me to trust spiritual life when things get a little intense.

Trusting is not necessarily my first inclination when things get a little intense. I am motivated to sort things, find an answer I understand, and then explain it to someone else.

Spiritual life invites us to trust and take a deep breath. We breathe, close our eyes, and listen to sacred stillness. The spiritual life living in the stillness draws us in and wraps its arms around us.

What we experienced as more than a little intense were invitations to live into spiritual life.

We listen and consent to spiritual life doing its work in us. Spiritual life works in ways we may never understand to transform times we feel a little intense.

When We Feel a Little Intense

Spiritual life is not a blanket we wrap around ourselves to feel comfortable when things get a little intense.

It may be spiritual life at work in us and the world around us which sparks us to get a little intense.

There are times when life gets a little intense. Spiritual life is not about never feeling that intensity. Rather spiritual life shows us how to discern what causes it and learn from it.

We have opportunities every day to translate the intensity of our lives into behavior. Our lives are filled with the possibility of intensity. The question for us is how we will respond and translate our intensity into action.

Spiritual life works within me, for as long as I can remember, transforming frustration into compassion. Feelings of anger get translated into a passion for justice.

When things get a little intense spiritual life works to turn our intensity into what we can do.

Spiritual life is about putting our beliefs into practice when life gets a little intense.

How will we respond when things get a little intense today?

Where will we turn when life gets a little intense this week?

[Image by tanjila]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is, and his email address is

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