Return to the Sacred: Ancient Pathways to Spiritual Awakening,
I met Jonathan Ellerby, Ph.D., author of Return to the Sacred: Ancient Pathways to Spiritual Awakening, this past summer when we were both speakers at a meeting in Aspen. Jonathan serves as the Spiritual Program Director at the Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. When he showed me pictures of his newborn son, Narayan, who was laughing and smiling at the ripe old age of four days, I knew that this man was no ordinary guy! (He was overcome with emotion when he described his wife’s home birth. And his emotion was very moving to me. His obvious love for his wife and new baby—and his cherishing of her during labor—were so genuine and touching that I knew Jonathan was the real deal.) What a shining beacon of light and love he is. I was sure that any book Jonathan would write would be both full of insights and thought-provoking ideas and also provide the kind information that anyone could apply.
Return to the Sacred makes us aware that a spiritual practice (of some kind) really matters to our health, happiness, and wholeness. Jonathan also reminds us that spirituality is an individual thing that often has little or nothing to do with religion. (What a relief!) He writes, “The actual lasting and meaningful changing of a person’s heart and mind is something that only an experience of the Sacred can do. Looking around the world, we find endless examples of traditions of all kinds being forced upon others. Anywhere we find spirituality imposed or prohibited, we find decay of the spirit. Life loses its vitality and meaning when spirituality is controlled or contrived.”
Jonathan has traveled the world, working with many healers, mystics, and indigenous cultures. And from all of these experiences, he has created a wonderful roadmap of Twelve Master Paths and Practices. And this makes it very easy to find one that most resonates with and supports us on our path. The twelve sacred paths are divided into four subdivisions: body-centered practices, such as ceremony and ritual, sacred movement, and sacred music and sound; mind-centered practices, such as prayer and meditation; heart-centered practices, such as the path of devotion and the path of sacred service; and finally, soul-centered practices, such as ascetics and other forms of self-discipline that lead to spiritual enlightenment. No one path is any better than any other. All roads lead to the Sacred!
Reading through this book, I realized how many different paths I have sampled over the years. (Transcendental Meditation and t’ai chi are two examples.) My spiritual practice now centers around a practice known as einstellen (tuning in) and the work of the late German healer Bruno Groening, a sacred path associated with many physical healings. This path also involves tuning in for and helping others. And the practice is done listening to sacred music composed solely for this purpose. In reading Jonathan’s book, I see that my path combines meditation, prayer, sacred music, and also sacred study of the many books available on Bruno Groening’s life and work. How reassuring to see how my personal spiritual path fits into the grand overall scheme! Of all of the things that have sustained me in my life, a sense of the sacred is number one on the list. It’s a reality I always come back to, no matter what. This is particularly true when things get difficult, scary, or stressful. Jonathan’ book Return to the Sacred is a beautiful way to access this vast and wondrous field.