Since high school, I've been drawn to books that encourage us to explore the inner realm; when I'm high, I get off on watching trippy youtube talks about living authentically; my weekends are jam-packed with self-discovery workshops in pretty much all manner of personal-development and new-age streams. I love this stuff. I eat it for breakfast. I love the very idea of them. I love that I have the privilege of time to attend them. I love that a good portion of them are affordable. I'm grateful that there is an abundance of amazing self-help/new-age/personal-development events here in our glorious city. In fact, I even run a workshop space so people can lead these very workshops in my home (... and I love that I can attend without even having to get out of my pajamas! Double-awesome!)
I LOVE THEM!!!
So, yea, I'm a self-help junkie.
There, I said it.
And it isn't that my life is all that crappy. Compared to what I see in society around me, there's not a lot of "improvement" needed in my life, so why do I instinctively/obsessive go to so many of these 'self-improvement' type events?
Hmm.. A good question indeed.
From there, a part of me wonders if there is ever a time when we no longer need or want these kinds of workshops and books. Is there a time to let them go, and say, "I have all I need. I have experienced transformation and now am just going to be." Like the boat that gets us across the stream, is it wise to part with workshops and books once we're there?
(And where is "there?" How do we know when we are "there?" Aren't we already/always there?? In which case, do we keep the boat for life? I mean, practice is important. And if workshops and books keep us in the game, then that's necessary, right? But what of other boats? I've been wrestling with this "do I still need it?" feeling with my psychotherapist as well. Not to mention my love-affair with ganja. When to let go...)
Not knowing the answer to any of this, I also ask: 'Well, what is the motivation for my relentless attraction to these kinds of books, videos, and seminars?'
Although it's on the sane side of obsession (some might say barely!), does my search for increased knowledge and experience that these "self-help" modalities provide me with indicate an addiction? How does one know? Perhaps the most important question to ask is: Are they having any lasting positive impact on my experience of being alive, or do they put me into a head-space where I'm convinced that things are constantly in need of improving (or deepening, expanding, etc.). Can I go to a self-improvement workshop yet also know myself to be a perfect being? Are they mutually-exclusive? I guess the main negative of the whole self-help lifestyle that I'm in is that I seem to have difficulty integrating the teachings. It is like being a junkie in a way, although perhaps the difference is that the drug of choice is positive. Even so, I'm noticing myself flipping from self-improvement workshop to self-improvement workshop, dabbling in improving my confidence with art, my ability to kiss, my organizing skills, my Buddhist meditation practice, my knowledge about how archetypes play into our experiences, ... the list goes on. And it isn't like I don't think these are worthy ways to spend one's life (especially compared to hypnotically absorbing capitalism's messages through passive tv-watching!). - I'm just wondering how to best allow these workshops, books, courses, plant-medicine experiences (etc!) to serve me. - How to engage with them wisely. I'm wondering how I can integrate and embody the various teachings, modalities, and ways of knowing, to have an experience of feeling whole and united with something larger than myself.
Writing this (in less than half an hour before I'm out the door), I'm finding myself feeling simultaneously feel like "I don't need them. I am complete" AND "I like them. They inspire me."