Devotion, as stated by Cambridge Dictionary says that "Devotion is loyalty and love or care for someone or something. Devotions are acts of religious worship, especially prayers," it goes on to say.
People are devoted to sports times, and beer companies, brand names, and the latest self-help guru. We tend to place our devotion outside of ourselves much of the time. Some folks are doing great work, as they devote their passions and heart, saving the ancient rain forest, or dedicated to bringing social justice to the for-front so we can live in a world that is inclusive and fair for all people. We need this kind of devotion in the world. Devotion that makes this world a kinder place for all.
But are we not also devoted to our habits, even if they are rather unconscious? These days I am starting to realize that devotion is where and what we place our sacred attention on. Our attention is after all what all media companies are after. All companies are looking to gain a loyal following.
Are we being manipulated into becoming devotees to the many organizations around us?
Where are we placing our sacred attention?
Who and what are we devoted to and why?
Lately, I have been asking myself this question, "What am I devoted to, and what am I gaining from these acts of loyalty?" I was a devoted people pleaser for much of my life. I still am in many ways. I am loyal to a fault. I have been this way my whole life. I have allowed friends to treat me poorly, stayed in one-sided relationships, I have let myself down numerous times, to stay loyal to a friend, and or family member. I was a child of an alcoholic and drug addict. I learned very early on that my feelings didn't matter. I was rushed into forgiveness, even shamed for not forgiving. I was shamed for needing time to evaluate if the dynamics in my family were good for me or not. I felt a ton of pressure to be devoted, and loyal to my Mother, even though she was not devoted or loyal to me.
Through self-investigation, I am questioning where I place my devotion. Am I overly loyal to my friend/family member, or am I devoted to my unconscious habit of abandoning myself to gain love from someone else? I see this pattern in myself more and more these days. Devoted to a fault. I didn't know just how much of a people pleaser I was until this last year. I hate rocking the boat, and I avoid conflict. None of that feels good. Why am I more comfortable abandoning myself, than I am confronting a situation where I could regain self-love, but risk losing the love of others?
Spring, dirt, and the sound of bird songs have been inspiring a spiritual devotion within me. This kind of devotion feels good, and it reminds me to look inwards. As we age and grow in personal wisdom, it can become clear that many of our relationships need to be redefined and re-negotiated. But first, we need to take a hard look at where we avoid personal devotion to our self-development, because we want to be beloved by others, even if that means settling for scraps.
I am feeling called to go deeply into personal devotion this year. The world has gotten far too loud for me, and I have been listening to other's voices rather than listening to my souls' song. I think it is easy in this day and age to feel like you have to belong to a camp. Lines draw in the sand. We are living in the age of duality. Duality contributes to confusion and overwhelm.
We can use the act of devotion to come back home to ourselves.
This morning as I was watering my garden, sipping on coffee, and aware of the simple bounty of blessings all around me. I felt my feet grounded on the earth, and I invited the bird sounds to bring me into the present moment. It is becoming clear to me, that what I am loyal to, can expand my consciousness, and my heart; or if I am devoted to sticking my head in the sand, I become deaf to my own needs and boundaries.
Transitions in seasons, provide a reflective atmosphere. A time to check-in. As humans, we are so adaptable. We may be adapting in ways that lead to self-abandonment. It is uncomfortable to confront a situation that is no longer working for us. Especially when we long to belong. It is normal to want love from others, and organizations, but at what cost?
Dogs are such a good example of devoted creatures. They show us unconditional loyalty and love. A dog beaten by its owner will still show unbroken loyalty. As humans, we tend to do this too. We love hard. And we seek love in return, sometimes, no matter the cost. But we have the available consciousness to correct patterns, habits, environments, that cause us harm. We have the ability, unlike a dog, to set healthy habits and boundaries in relationships. We can also ground ourselves in self-awareness, and spiritual practices, that remind us of our personal needs and ongoing evolution.
What we are devoted to may need to change.
We can't talk about devotion without talking about religion. This is also a great example of blind loyalty. So many of us place allegiance to spiritual organizations. This was bred into us in our early developmental years. We were taught to never question what we were being taught about God. I was taught to accept all of the bible and not just the parts I liked. There are some pretty harmful ideas in the bible. Rejecting these parts of the bible, as a child, brought up guilt and shame in me. I was conditioned to believe that faith and devotion meant accepting the way others believed and prayed, as my own. It took me many years to let go of that conditioning. I needed to find my way of praying and showing devotion to a higher power that felt right to me.
Making space, applying radical curiosity around our inherited framework, is highly beneficial. It is eye-opening to explore our patterns and conditioning around devotion and loyalty.
Where are we placing our devotion and why?
Is there a tendency for self-abandonment in our need to be loyal to another?
The purest forms of devotion for me personally are the moments I remember to go inwards towards my heart. Connecting to nature brings so much harmony. I am in awe of the divinity that is all around me and inside of me. Being devoted to growing as a person is important to me. Shedding the old habits of self-abandonment feels a little scary but also empowering. I am committed to taking off the blindfold that keeps me in the dark, head in the sand, tossing myself to the side, to belong in relationships, or organizations. I desire to grow and come into alignment.
I am devoted to my personal and spiritual evolution.
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