A fairly constant theme in many of the pieces we run on BoomerCafé is the wisdom we baby boomers have acquired after so many years on this earth. That’s what we see in this piece by Santa Barbara’s Dr. Diana Raab, a transpersonal psychologist and blogger for Psychology Today and The Huffington Post. She writes about what she’s learned through self-discovery, and about how it can empower you.
Spiritual seekers are those who follow the path of self-discovery. It can be a lifelong path or one sought as a result of a life-changing event, such as trauma. I believe I have been a seeker my entire life, but in actuality it might have been born during my youth when I was silenced and so had to seek peace and answers from within and from the scribblings in my journal.
It might also be connected to my fascination as a young girl with reading biographies and magazines such as True Confessions. Real life stories provide a deep connection to the kinds of experiences that offer answers for seekers who are posing questions. We want to learn how to navigate our paths and often do this by reading and hearing about how others navigate their own. In this way, the lessons from others are consciously or subconsciously incorporated into our own lives.
Next month I will turn 61, the age at which my grandmother, Regina, committed suicide, which I discuss in more detail in my first memoir, Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal.
Sure, it was the 1960s, before the days when psychotherapy was readily available to help those afflicted by depression. My grandmother’s family physician prescribed Valium to help calm the anxiety associated with her being orphaned as a young girl during World War I. In the end, through an overdose, the Valium killed her.
I believe if she were living today, she would have more of an opportunity to be a seeker because of the availability of psychosocial offerings, such as meditation, prayer, yoga, creative visualization, and creative endeavors like writing. She might still be alive because she would have found new ways of knowing and dealing with her deep feelings of despair.
I just returned from New York teaching a workshop called “Writing for Transformation.” Regardless of why each attendee signed up for the workshop, the common thread among all was that they are seekers. They are on a journey of self-discovery; they have questions for which they sought answers. The writing process is one way to find those answers.
In the most recent issue of The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Karey Pohn, Ph.D., wrote a beautiful memorial tribute to Christina Grof, who she called a spiritual seeker, pioneer, teacher, and humanitarian. Like many spiritual seekers, Grof came from a dysfunctional family where she was abused by her stepfather. She also had medical issues such as lupus, chronic back pain, and a painful auto-immune disease that severely interfered with her everyday life.
Trauma often leads people to become seekers as a way to come to terms with or understand themselves. During the process of helping themselves they often find that they are inclined to share their findings with the collective as a way to help others on similar journeys.
There is a poignant passage in Rainer Maria Rilke’s book, Letters to a Young Poet, which I often quote in my writing workshops because it really summarizes the essence and importance of being a seeker: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Ultimately, we are seekers for ourselves, while at the same time, our own seeking offers the opportunity to help others, if we care to share our thoughts, and our findings.
Diana Raab, Ph.D. is a transpersonal psychologist, award-winning memoirist and poet. She is the author of eight books, including her latest poetry collection entitled, Lust. She’s editor of two literary anthologies, and the author of two memoirs, and her writings have appeared in numerous trade and professional publications and anthologies. She is a regular blogger for Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, and BrainSpeak.