A Spiritual Tune Up

Preventative Spiritual Maintenance

Louise Tallen, RScP, PhD

My first car was a big, blue, 4-door Chrysler 440. It had been our family car and, by the time I started driving it, the car had around 150,000 miles on it. The gas gauge didn’t work and the car had a few odd squeaks and rattles. At eighteen, I was not terribly responsible, nor did I think much about the future. This led to more than a few occasions where I forgot to pay attention to how many miles I’d driven since my last fill-up, until the car was sputtering and I had to pull to the side of the road and hoof it to the nearest gas station.

After I’d been driving the car for about a year, during which time I’d performed no regular maintenance, it started making a new noise. It was faint at first and I thought, “It’s not that bad, the car’s just old.” I noticed around that time the car began hesitating a little at stop lights. Still, I ignored it. Then one, hot summer morning, I sat waiting at a stop light in central San Rafael. The light turned green. I pressed down on the gas pedal. A terrific grinding noise emanated from under the hood, followed by a loud metallic clanking. The car shook, the engine died. Cars honked, people flipped me off. I fought back tears. I pulled the hood latch, got out of the car, opened the hood and looked inside. Cars whizzed around me still honking.

I peered into the engine compartment. I had no idea what I was looking at, but it seemed the right thing to do. This was 1978—no cell phones. Suddenly, three young men appeared, all wearing uniforms with badges indicating they worked at the gas station at the intersection where my car died. One guy looked in and said, “Yup, timing chain broke. Car’s dead.” The other two looked in and nodded in agreement.

The first guy said, “Get in the car. You steer, we’ll push.” I did and they did and we got the car into the gas station parking lot. I called my dad, who came and got me. Our mechanic towed the Chrysler to his shop. It was deader than dead.

If you think that this was a great lesson and forever more I understood the value of preventative maintenance, you’d be wrong. Throughout my twenties and thirties I had a string of used cars, which I treated poorly, but which continued to run, sort of. At least they ran well enough that I ignored minor problems. I would add oil when it got low, figuring that was as good as an oil change. I continued ignoring rattles and squeaks until something catastrophic happened. Then I’d take the car to the mechanic and get the least amount done possible so I could get back on the road. It wasn’t until I purchased my first new car, when I was forty that I began taking care of my car and doing all the required preventative maintenance. Lo and behold, cars lasted longer. I didn’t have to use my AAA membership nearly so often and life got a lot easier.

The funny thing is, this is the way most of do our spiritual and emotional life. We tool along ignoring the longings of our heart, the sadness or anger under the surface. We don’t pay attention to those internal messages that whisper, “my relationship is deadening, my job is soul killing, my sadness is deep.” We just keep quieting that whisper. Eventually, it begins to shout and then, finally to scream and then we wonder why we’re in a heap on the floor. It’s at that point that people seek a therapist, a counselor, a practitioner, or a coach. However, most of us only stick with counseling or guidance until we stop feeling horrible and, instead are back to feeling vaguely miserable. Then we stop going. Things go along okay for a while. Then there’s a whisper, then a shout, then a scream and, once again we find ourselves in a heap. Back to the therapist, coach, counselor, or practitioner. And, again, crisis over, we stop going and go back to muddling through. The question you should ask yourself is “Am I really satisfied with just muddling through life?”

Wouldn’t you rather thrive? The way to thrive in life is to practice preventative spiritual and emotional maintenance. Many of us get regular oil changes, get our teeth cleaned twice a year, get regular physicals, but completely neglect our mental, emotional, and spiritual health until our soul bursts. What if you treated your spiritual health like your car? What if you got preventative maintenance—a regular spiritual tune up so that little issues didn’t turn into catastrophes?

Centers for Spiritual Living Licensed Practitioners are here to help you live life to its fullest. We provide spiritual guidance and support so that you can find your own answers and experience the world anew. Highly trained professionals, we work with clients to lovingly support their own growth and development. Why not make an appointment today? Don’t wait until you’re by the side of the road in a heap and you have to call a spiritual tow truck.

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