An Approach to Spiritual Practice: Pain is a Divine Invitation

Emma Celeste
5 min readOct 24, 2021
artwork by Olivia Tatara
artwork by Olivia Tatara —

To me, the practice of spiritual growth and resilience is a promise to move toward love no matter the weight of what you are carrying. It is a practice of softening after the great release of pain, of sinking deeper into love as if it is your home — because it is — in the midst of letting yourself feel it all.

This process doesn’t aim to cover up painful emotions; rather, it embraces that those feelings exist, accepts that any resistance to them only amplifies their power, and lets them flow without clinging to them.

There are two moments that offer opportunities for vastly different outcomes in your experience of feeling, releasing, and expanding:

1. The Peak of Emotion

The buildup, the moment when you choose to resist or to feel. Will I distract myself, or will I dive into what longs to rise to the surface?

Releasing means feeling pain for the shortest amount of time possible. Avoiding pain is not the goal, however; there is always an abundance of opportunity to learn and expand in the midst of pain. The sooner you feel, the faster you heal.

When you reach the peak, pause.

Breathe into this moment and acknowledge how much it offers.

If you choose to look right into the pain, it will show you unimaginable realizations.

This moment is sacred. It can be a gateway to growth, or a choice to remain frozen and repressed. Here, soften without judgment of yourself.

You are a spirit capable of embodying all energies, born into a physical body and raised in a society (and possible a family) that has shamed you in a certain way for your processing of emotions (strongly influenced by stigmas based on gender).

Whether you are a man raised in a household that shamed or didn’t practice vulnerability, or a person (likely a woman) who has been called “crazy” for showing all of your emotions, know that you are valid in anything and everything that arises for you on this journey. Know that at the beginning of your journey into yourself, you don’t even have to understand why you feel certain things. Constantly psychoanalyzing trauma can be exhausting and overwhelming.

Feeling your way out of the peak moments, instead of thinking your way out, can be incredibly freeing.

2. The Release

If you’ve chosen the beautiful release, it is then pouring out of you. Let it flow through your body, and allow the waters of your emotions to wash away.

The difference here is like taking a shower or a bath. In the shower, the water washes over you and flows away. In the bath, you sit in your own energy. Baths offer a different experience, but when your intention is to release, you must be aware of whether you’re letting those waters flow or if you’re sitting in emotions that you don’t want to feel for longer than you need to.

The water washes away the dirt — it is not there to mix and soak in it.

Your emotions do not exist to break you down. They exist to wash away thoughts, narratives, and attachments that you don’t need to carry. Your mind is nothing to fear. Cracking open does not lead to breaking or weakening. Feeling what has been repressed inside of you will free you of everything that is not truly and wholly you.

I did not gravitate towards spiritual connection as a foundation for my life in order to avoid pain. I found it because I was broken by the physical pain in my body that had seeped into my mind (or perhaps the other way around). In what felt like a sort of awakening to a new way of existing, my “oh shit, I’m fully alive and this is going to hurt many, many more times” moment, I needed a safe space to break, rise up, expand, and do it all over again, for the rest of my life.

I did not come to this practice to cover up pain, but to learn how to live in harmony with it.

I came here to make peace with the parts of my being that sometimes ache so deeply that it hurts to be alive.

I found, through the teachings of many spiritual teachers (books, podcasts, guided meditations), that I could surrender to the pain as many times as I may need, rather than surrendering my own existence to life itself.

I stay here because my own mind can be my worst nightmare or my safest haven, and because I made a promise to myself long ago to always fill back up with love when I feel lack.

I choose to be my own sanctuary, even when I cannot see clearly, when I lose faith, and when I have to be led back to myself by someone who loves me.

May you find your way back to yourself, wherever you go.

May you realize the infinite source of love that is the core of your being, and may you always remember to blanket yourself in it at the beginning and the end of each day.

All love.

above artwork by Olivia Tatara: