[Part 3 of a 4-Part Series]
Change. Some of us love it and some of us hate it. Either way, change is imperative to achieving spiritual satisfaction. I’m going to share some perspectives about change that will make the journey way easier. The more we understand the role that change plays in our spiritual walk, the less fear we will have of it.
Excitement or Comfort?
Some of us love change so much we avoid the phases of change that require inward reflection. We get stuck in the excitement of change, following the next shiny opportunity and playing the game until it isn’t exciting anymore. “Where’s the next shiny place I can go?”, we ask ourselves when we get bored or challenged. A person will continue to look outward and ignore the inward call underneath the boredom or challenge. This leads to jumping from job to job, partner to partner, location to location, without any real, deep satisfaction.
Those of us who really hate the disruption of change focus on the comfort of where we are. We justify to ourselves why it's better to not rock the boat. Sometimes we know exactly what isn’t working in our lives, and what we’d like to experience instead, yet we talk ourselves out of acting on it. People avoid the phases of change that require us to reach out to others and stand in the light, fully visible, vulnerable, and authentic. This leads to being stuck in the same job, same relationship, and same town, even though our heart is calling for us to work, love, and live our life in a gorgeously better way.
The Game of Inner Work and Outer Work
It basically gets down to the fact that some of us fear the inner work and some of us fear the outer work. This is when the Hermetic Cycle of Change can be a “soul saver.” The cycle of change has four phases, which are shuffle, deal, play-the-hand, and toss-in. Yes, it’s like a card game and it makes life a whole lot more fun! In my article, “The Season of Rumination”, I explained a bit about the four phases. I like to describe them metaphorically as womb, birth, life, and death. I also relate each of the phases to a season in nature. Winter is womb. Spring is birth. Summer is life. Fall is death.
The Shuffle Phase: Spiritual Discontent
In my second article, I talked about how spiritual discontent occurs in the shuffle phase. The way I see it, the shuffle phase is the womb of all change. No matter what the life change is, the shuffle phase is always filled with both inspiration and fear. It’s the realm of the dark night of the soul. Hopefully, I succeeded in the article in helping you understand how this phase feels. It included my own story of spiritual discontent.
While the shuffle phase is a very difficult phase to go through, it is essential in order to plant the seed for the new version of ourselves. It’s the time when we get to see who we really are at the core, and what is begging for rebirth. This phase is truly a womb of transformation, because it is holding the “egg” of who we can be, and it is waiting for the “sperm” of inspiration to quicken it into gestation. When the light at the end of the “birth canal” is clear and bright because we know our new spiritual direction, it’s time for the deal phase.
The Deal Phase: Spiritual Renewal
This second phase of the change cycle, deal, is like birth. When the deal phase is happening in the spiritual realm, it’s a time of new starts and hope. I call it spiritual renewal. This is when we experience the thrill of finding a new path that feels super right for us. We find others who are aligned with our new perspective of spirituality. They can be groups or just individuals, but they are fellow travelers. We might meet them at the local bookstore’s spirituality section, or in a yoga class, or at the local brewpub. It can be anywhere because there’s divine facilitation going on big time! The deal phase is about having clarity on our new spiritual direction and feeling excited about it. It naturally leads us into the play-the-hand phase, where we get to have new experiences with our “soul team.”
“There comes a time in the spiritual journey when you start making choices from a very different place. And if a choice lines up so that it supports truth, health, happiness, wisdom and love, it’s the right choice.”
The Play-the-Hand Phase: Spiritual Expansion
The third phase in the cycle of change is play-the-hand, which I associate with life. When the play-the-hand phase is happening, it’s a time of spiritual growth, passion, and glory. I call it spiritual expansion. This is when we are playing “full out” in our spiritual exploration. We have been growing our spiritual awareness and have developed confidence in our new direction. We are getting wonderful results! It’s a time of great peace of mind and many “aha” moments. In fact, we are doing so well that we begin to be pulled out of our comfort zone. That’s the sign we are close to the toss-in phase.
“A mind that is stretched by new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes 
The Toss-In Phase: Spiritual Release
The fourth phase in the cycle of change is toss-in, which I associate with death. When this toss-in phase is happening, it’s a time of reflection, acceptance of needed change, closure, honoring, and letting go. I call it spiritual release. This is when we recognize that the spiritual path we are on needs to change somehow. We don’t feel as comfortable with it as before. It might be that we need to take our chosen path deeper, working with a mentor. It might be a need to explore a completely new form of spirituality or a new spiritual community. It’s not so much the feeling of being lost, as it is the sense that something in our spiritual life isn’t quite as satisfying as it used to be. And into the floating sea of the shuffle phase, we fall.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
Lao Tzu 
Flow Through Spiritual Changes
- spiritual discontent
- spiritual renewal
- spiritual expansion
- spiritual release
These are the four phases of spiritual change. If we flow through all of the phases willingly and wholeheartedly, it will lead us to deep spiritual satisfaction. When we understand change, it makes the journey of uncovering the Divine within us so much easier.
Next: In the closing of this four-part series of articles, I will ask you to consider what spiritual satisfaction looks like. It has nothing to do with the spiritual path we choose and everything to do with how we approach the path.
Please connect with me about your experiences with the phases of spiritual change and how they have appeared in your life. You can use the comment section below, or email me at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you!
Written by Laura Abernathy