The Meat Grinder
“The meat grinder” … I bet you’re thinking what an odd title for a blog post! The meat grinder once I’ve explained it to you will make sense. It’s a fundamental element of the spiritual journey and one that is always difficult to come to terms with.
I first heard the term from the late, great Shaikh Nazim of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order. If you’ve not heard of Shaikh Nazim, please do go and do your own research. His energy is captivating and his legacy lives on through his teachings. Getting back to the meat grinder…let’s talk about what this is.
We all have periods in life where we feel we are being squeezed. Sometimes that’s down to life and whatever is going on at the time. And then there’s the spiritual squeeze where you can’t attribute it to anything in particular that’s going on in your life but there’s a huge pressure and weight on your being that takes a while to lift and shift. I call this uncomfortable, stressful period with no reason why it’s happening the Meat Grinder. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to come to terms with it, to understand it but the only conclusion that I’ve made is when you’re in the meat grinder, it’s a call back to Allah to reconnect and be in solitude.
As Rumi says, “If I am irritated by every rub, then how will my mirror ever be polished?” And the meat grinder is resonant with this. I can only describe it as the pressure of fighting with yourself and your demons. It feels as if there is something that is trying to stop you from accessing your own heart and your own connection and it’s these times that you are fighting just to be yourself.
Maybe one day I’ll find a way to articulate it in a way that makes more sense. For the moment, I can only describe it as one of the ways that one gets to really know oneself and what one is made of. There is something deeper within all of us and the meat grinding process takes you to discovering that depth. I also believe that by travelling down to the darkest places within yourself, you have no choice but to elevate yourself spiritually.
When we feel that immense sadness within and we can feel that it goes back centuries, as human beings it feels overwhelming and difficult to overcome. There is a deeper pull in to our own connection with Oneness. It’s solace. The love, the comfort, the mercy, the compassion can only be found within that connection.
I believe solitude and periods of time in seclusion offer the most healing through this phase. That is the thing that helps me the most when I’m experiencing the darkness. Solitude and seclusion is to be in the most lighted place within yourself and grow that light in order to push out the darkness and bring your heart back in to this world.
I don’t know about anyone else but every now and then I like to take a nice break from this world. Usually when life has been busy and we’ve been trying to keep up with everything, the quality of the connection suffers and actually with lives so busy, finding time for seclusion is really difficult. When it builds up though, everything points to your connection and you need to let go of this world in order to find your roots again. You need to sit in a safe place through the discomfort and allow Allah to take you through it. You have to surrender and put your faith in something greater than yourself. You have to enhance and amplify what’s good in yourself in order for that to overtake the fears.
It was never meant to be easy and the meat grinder will tear you apart until you blow up. That annihilation, that burning, that blow up and all that energy is what we can contain and harness and it can elevate and propel us to a place of spiritual insight that we’ve not experienced before.
And no matter how uncomfortable it gets, it’s keeping in mind the sweetness that comes out the other side. I say this to all my clients but the best way to learn patience is to sit through the discomfort.
These experiences are how we built that ultimate trust in the One. This is where we learn to submit and let go. This is where we realise that we are powerless and we just have to go wherever he takes us. It’s overwhelming at times and an awful lot to get your head around. For most people, this “dark night of the soul” happens alongside life happening so there is no relief, there is no real seclusion or break.
This brings me back to the title of this blog. Most of us are smiling through the meat grinder. Most of us on the surface appear to be happy or sorted and have our A-game on when it comes to hiding our crap from the world. And that’s ok too.
On this journey, there’s times when it stays hidden and you’re working through it quietly. There’s other times when you explode and have a visible breakdown. That’s ok too.
Don’t be too hard on yourself for being human. Try and be kind to yourself, encourage yourself and be a good friend to yourself. That’s the best way of getting through anything if I’m honest.
Elevation isn’t easy but then doing life isn’t easy either. You’re doing amazing. Just keep going. Everything will be ok.