The illnesses and deaths of two sets of parents within four years left me free of those care-giving responsibilities and open to what the rest of my life would be like. On a trip to the West Coast my husband and I had the opportunity to attend a weekend workshop with Gay Luce at IONS where we were introduced to the Nine Gates Mystery School. Independently we each decided it was something we wanted to do. Both of us have now graduated and plan to return to be on staff in the future.
Nine Gates Mystery School is like a crash course in spirituality. In the first nine day session I had more life-giving/life-enhancing and mind-expanding (I know that is a cliché, but it fits) experiences than in all my previous adult years. The second session took this to a much deeper level and left me with a real thirst for further exploration, which I am currently pursuing. I particularly appreciate the urging of the staff to search for and begin a spiritual practice that resonates personally with me; no one was "pushing" their own brand of spirituality as the best for everyone.
Growing up in the South, my only experience with spirituality was with main-line Protestant denominations and until recently I had not explored other traditions. When I arrived at Mystery School I had only just heard of chakras and knew little more. In the two years since beginning the first session, I have received a depth of experience that would have been impossible without Mystery School and the ongoing contact with staff and classmates. I have not left the spiritual tradition I grew up in, but instead have found a broadened and far richer meaning to and understanding of that tradition. I have learned more about myself, who I am and where I am going, in this time than in my previous 50+ years. I am calmer, more confident of and have a greater appreciation of who I am, and do not "sweat the small stuff" like I used to. I no longer search for activities to fill time with and have dropped some that once seemed important but are no longer fulfilling. I have begun to discern what direction my life is to take, in this "second half of life." This is an ongoing process and is very exciting!
The Nine Gates teachers each stressed the importance of a daily spiritual practice. Never having done this other than a short prayer at bedtime, at first I found it difficult to begin and keep up a daily practice. However, through my reading and searching since graduation I have found a practice that presently is meaningful and works for me and is continuing to grow; it is an ongoing and evolving process. The opportunity to speak openly in a safe and caring environment was important to me, since my early training was to be agreeable and to avoid conflict at all costs. I thought that as an adult I had outgrown this training, but now have come to realize I have been ignoring this part of me. I am now able to be more honest and open in my relationships, both with others and with myself. I have come to understand that this is of vital importance to me spiritually.
My advice is to be open to all possibilities; don't get stuck in one mindset. Do it! - it could be the most important move you have made in your life!