Being devoted to our spiritual path can mean a lot of work: study, prayer, scanning the Zohar, going to Shabbat, celebrating the holidays – not to mention the work we do to transform ourselves into more sharing, selfless people. When we put in such tremendous effort, it can sometimes feel like we are doing things out of habit or because we have been told that we should. We might even question if we are really making a difference in the world.
"Our spiritual work has the ability to change our lives and the world."
When we lose appreciation for the power of our spiritual work, we start to do things robotically, without intention. When our actions are void of intention and consciousness, our spiritual work actually loses its power! Our spiritual work has the ability to change our lives and the world, but it is not enough to just go through the motions. When our spiritual work feels like a chore, it is often a sign that we have lost appreciation for its power.
Here are 3 ways to develop appreciation for your spiritual work:
1. Pause and reflect before you pray.
How often do we take a moment to stop and reflect on the power that is held within our spiritual work? Every time we do a positive spiritual action, we reveal tremendous Light which reverberates throughout the entirety of the world. This is an incredible feat! But it is so easy to lose sight of this. Appreciating the power of our work does not mean that we operate from a place of ego. Our spiritual work does not make us better or worse than anyone else – everyone is going through a process of transformation at their own pace and in their own way. Appreciating the power of our work is about appreciating the spiritual system that is in place and trusting that it works!
Rav Bahya ibn Paquda wrote that before walking through the doors on Shabbat, one should stop and gaze upon the doors, knowing that they are about to enter into a place of holiness and that they are coming before the Creator. How many us just come and go from Shabbat week after week out of routine? The same has been said of the Zohar. Before you even open it, hold it first and feel its power. Know what you are holding in your hand and how blessed you are to hold it. There are countless examples, but these are just a couple of practical ways in which we can pause and reflect before performing spiritual actions.
2. Find an environment that strengthens your spiritual work
Sometimes we turn to our spirituality just to make ourselves feel good. We seek out an environment that makes us feel better about ourselves. While, of course, there is nothing wrong with having an environment where you feel comfortable and uplifted, becoming dependent on that feeling in our spiritual work will never work, because it cannot last. Our spiritual work is not about feeling good, but about transforming ourselves to find lasting fulfillment. That transformation can sometimes be difficult and uncomfortable.
We should instead focus on finding an environment that supports our spiritual work. This could be a relationship, marriage, friendship, or community. We cannot do our spiritual work alone. We need tools and mutual support to dig deeper and grow a stronger connection every day. On the other hand, it is important to remember that no one can do the job for us. Even if we meet our soulmate, they can only love, support, and help guide us on our path. The real work is still up to us. Our goal is to find an environment that helps us do that work and gain appreciation for its power.
3. Trust that you are making a difference.
Developing appreciation for our spiritual work doesn’t just mean that we recognize our own hard work, but also that we trust in the Creator. It is about developing certainty that every spiritual act makes a huge difference, because the spiritual system works, even if we can’t see it.
Sometimes we look around and don’t see any results from our spiritual work. It is important to remember that the work we do resonates in the upper worlds, on a level that we cannot always perceive. Even if we don’t see immediate feedback in the physical world, we must have certainty that our work has incredible results in the spiritual worlds. This is about trusting the Light. The more that we trust in the Light and the Creator, the more we can appreciate the work we are doing.
We often forget how blessed we are to have access to the incredible wisdom of Kabbalah and the tools we need to change our lives and this world for the better. This understanding and appreciation is vital to the spiritual work we do. Without it, our work loses meaning and purpose. With it, we open ourselves and the world to the endless blessings of the Creator.