Monday, November 30, 2015

Imagining figures of light

Much is being said these days about healing and spiritual awakening, and the causeless joy, clarity, and peace that are the inevitable fruits of the inner journey. Not all that much is mentioned, however, about the disappointment of awakening – or of the ways it can break our hearts – cracking us open to the reality of the crucifixion, the resurrection, *and the transfiguration we are likely to encounter along the way.

In the rush to convert the negative to the positive, to manifest everything we ‘want,’ and to wiggle into some permanent state of ‘happy,’ we forget that there is no transfiguration without a radical embodiment to the cross of the wild darkness within.

In the full embrace of life - right inside the messy, shadowy, nether regions of the psyche - we are invited to meet the wholeness of what we are, which includes the dark and the light, the movement of separation and union, and the entirety of what it means to be an embodied human being.

There is something longing to emerge, out of the mess, surging up from the dark, rich soil of the body. But will you provide a home for it, to unfold and illuminate the path ahead, and resist the temptation to see it as an obstacle that is standing in your way? The only way out is through – and there is a part of you that will never forget this holy transmission which emerges out of the cells of your very own heart.

As Jung so poignantly reminds us, we do not become enlightened by "imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." He went on to say that the integral, non-negotiable journey of the dark and the light is one that is often “disagreeable" and thus would never be popular.

It is important – and an expression of tremendous kindness to ourselves and others – to remember that we may never want to turn back into that which we have avoided for so long. And it may never feel comfortable or safe. But yet so many are somehow being pulled back home, into and by their true nature, into the vastness where the mind cannot travel – to no longer abandon ourselves and to pathologize the wisdom flow of feeling, emotion, and sensation as it appears as our sensitivities, our core vulnerabilities, and the eruption of present, somatic experience as it comes to offer its intelligence and its creative invitation.

The ancient path of the heart may never conform to our hopes, fears, and dreams, for it is emerging in the here and now as an emissary of the unknown itself. Let us rest in the aching truth that one of the primary roles of the beloved is to seed deflation in the field of separation. Yes, awakening may always be a disappointment, from the perspective of egoic organization. In this sense, the journey is eternally hopeless, but it is in the creation of a home for our hopelessness—and allowing it to be illuminated within us—that we are finally able to step into a world beyond our wildest imagination.

Through our commitment to staying with the burning and the fires of the energetic world, we will come to the embodied realization that this disappointment is sacred, that this deflation is a benediction, and is whole.

As we journey together as fellow travelers, let us find a way to embrace both the joy *and the heartbreak of spiritual awakening, and bear witness to the wisdom shining out of our immediate experience, whether it appears as sadness, bliss, despair, or great joy. It is true that grace will appear in both sweet *and fierce forms, but regardless of its particular manifestation, it is still grace, sent from beyond to open us to the radiant fullness of being.

Do whatever you can to help others along the way – for you can do so much. Never underestimate the transformative power of your words, the way you touch others and hold them, and the most precious gift you have to offer to them and to a weary world – the fire of your very own presence.

Photographer unknown

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Breaking the spell of unworthiness

As long as you remain tangled in the trance of unworthiness, you will inevitably postpone fully being here, and continue to place the burden of your unlived life on those around you. Look carefully and see how the orphaned pieces of your body, of your heart, and of your nervous system continue to appear as your partners, your family, your children, your friends, and even as the colors in an erupting autumn sunrise.

Even though you sense a miracle is unfolding, it will not be possible to embody it until the spell is broken. As a sensitive little one, you made meaning of a world devoid of attunement and mirroring by blaming yourself – by coming to believe that something was wrong with you, that you were flawed, and that you were not worthy of good contact and presence.

As painful as this was, it was a much safer organization than interpreting the caregiving field around you as limited and incapable of empathic resonance. While the trance once served an important adaptive function, the dream has remained alive within you and is longing for the light of your awareness. Like all harbingers of integration, the dream is aching to be unwound and integrated back into the vastness that you are.

As you slow down and cut into the ancient groove of fight-flight-freeze, you realize that you are here now. And that you have capacities that you once did not have. The invitation before you is to dare to see that you were never unhealed, that nothing is missing, and that by infusing your immediate experience with presence, with warmth, and with kindness that you can re-author the story of you.

You can go back into those very alive feelings, emotions, and sensations that the old narrative has protected you from, and see, finally, once and for all, if you still need to be protected from the raw, naked activity of life, of love, and what it truly means to be a sensitive, awake human being. Not after you ‘heal your past,’ not after you feel safe all the time, not after you replace the hopelessness with hope, and not after you find answers to all your questions. But now.

Honor the role that the dream characters have played in your life until now – the unlovable one, the unworthy one, the ‘broken’ one, and the ‘unhealed’ one. You need not go to war with these ones. You need not send them away, practice aggression toward them, ‘heal’ them, or ‘let them go.’ For they will let go of you when they are no longer needed to protect you from the surging of the somatic world.

To let in the implications of this is utterly exhilarating. And completely terrifying simultaneously. One world is ending so that the true world may appear from behind the clouds of separation. The world of love is here… now.

Photo by Stephen Vecchiotti

Friday, November 27, 2015

How well did I love?

On this new Thanksgiving day, it is so easy to take for granted that tomorrow will come – that another opportunity will be given to witness a sunrise, to enter the breathless with the moon, to be astonished at the crystals in the newly fallen snow, to dissolve into presence with the deer on our morning walk.

But another part of us knows it is so fragile here, so precarious, so short-lived, and that this opening into life will not be here for much longer. Recognizing this, let us give thanks on this new day by doing whatever we can to help others, by being fully here and entering into the miracle with them, willing to give everything for love, no longer apologizing for our uniqueness, our sensitivity, and our vulnerability.

At the end of this life – which is sure to come much sooner than we expect – it is unlikely we'll be asking if we accomplished the tasks on our to-do lists, if we completed some mythical spiritual journey of ‘awakening,’ perfected ourselves, ‘healed’ our past, played it safe, got all of our ‘needs’ met, made it big, ‘manifested’ everything we wanted, or achieved all of our goals.

Inside these hearts there may be only one burning question: how well did I love?

Did I pause each day to behold the utter miracle of just one unfolding here and now moment? Was I willing to take a risk, to feel more, to care so deeply about this life, to let everyone matter, and to honor *this* very experience, exactly as it has been given? Did I stay close with the untamed movement of sweet and fierce grace as it took form as the others in my life, and as the wisdom flow of feeling, of emotion, and of sensation in this very body? Was I willing to fall in love, to truly fall in love with this life, exactly as it is?

Did I spend my time here in this outrageous star wisely, with my heart open and available, knowing it could be broken in any moment? Did I dance with the beloved around the moon, wander with him into the desert and into the darkness, play with her in the depths of the oceans, surrendering everything for just one glimpse of the mysteries of separation and union?

What is it that remains unlived… for you? And will you give everything to know this? To no longer be caught in the trance of unworthiness, in the spell that there is a love coming tomorrow, and in the dream of postponement. You need not delay your full participation here for another moment. Not until after you heal your past, become awakened, call in your soul mate, get your partner to change and see you ‘as you are,’ attract the right groovy work, or have certain spiritual experiences.

The bounty and the harvest of thanksgiving is upon you, always already here, erupting in the here and now as the cells and the beating of your very own heart.

I hope I make it all the way through this sweetest of ever thanksgiving days, but if for some reason I do not, this would have been enough. I have been given so much more than enough.

Photo by Carl De Souza

Thursday, November 26, 2015

An unprecedented portal of wholeness

At times, you may be asked to travel into the very groundless and contradictory landscape of the emotional world, without any understanding of what is being asked of you. It is so open here, but simultaneously disorienting to the mind that is longing for answers. It is as if everything you were so sure about only days before has fallen away into the vastness.

Unmetabolized feelings, orphaned sensations, and vivid images are surging in the somatic field, seeming disconnected and expressions of utter chaos. But things are not always as they seem as you approach the threshold of wholeness. The invitation has been made: trust in the process of disintegration and the intelligence of immediate experience.

Yes, it may always be disturbing to stay embodied to the burning feelings and sensations that appear alongside the dissolution of old dreams and the way you thought it was all going to turn out. But in the commitment to meet what is appearing with presence and with holding, you may discover that this destruction is sacred, unbearably creative, and soaked with reorganizing wisdom.

Before you turn from the confusion and scramble to transform or heal it with learned process, open into the uncertainty, the hopelessness, and the breaking of your heart. It is there will you will find life, longing to erupt and shatter the dream of partiality. For each visitor of the inner and outer worlds is unfolding in the radiant here and now as an unprecedented portal of wholeness.

Photo by Erez Marom

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

An embodied temple of presence

It can be excruciatingly revealing to step back and see how much of your sacred life energy is put into complaining about others and about your life situation. Much of this occurs at very subtle levels, however if you have the intention and take the time to see, you can discover for yourself just how prevalent it might be. And from this awareness you can then make a conscious decision whether to continue to abandon yourself in this way, or to lay down a new groove of self-care.

When you become lost in the spell of complaint, you place yourself in the victim position of a child, which is one of the most aggressive stances you can take toward yourself. While it may seem you are creating an environment of safety, there is nothing as unsafe as placing the source of your emotional well-being outside you, into hands in which you have no control.

As you explore the actual, embodied implications of leaking your awareness and precious life energy in this way, you may even come to discover it as an act of self-violence. For when you place the burden upon another to take care of your emotional world for you, you abandon yourself, fall into a trance of self-absorption, and lose contact with the wholeness that is always, already here.

Over the next few weeks, you might aspire to bring awareness to the ways you complain about your life and about others, and open to see how aggressive this truly is – not only to others, but especially to yourself. Each time you notice yourself sending your sacred life force into the activity of complaint, resentment, and blame, you could make the commitment to slow way down, to shift your attention back into the immediacy of the here and now, and ask:

What feeling am I trying to get out of in this moment? What underlying vulnerability am I not wanting to be in conscious relationship with? What am I seeking to avoid, through the activity of complaint, resentment, and blame?

As you reclaim experiential contact with that which you are moving away from, you could then ask, with kindness and with presence: Might there be a better, more skillful, and more compassionate way to care for myself in this moment? What if every time I became aware of the urge to complain, I used this as a mindfulness bell to return into present, embodied experience to see what is asking to be met and cared for?

By honoring yourself and others in this way, you create a sanctuary of kindness – an embodied temple of presence in which you can rest. It is from this sacred rest that you will remove the burden you have placed upon others to take care of your unlived life for you. By doing so, you can truly love them. And you can become a clear vessel through which love can erupt into this weary, gorgeous, outrageous world.

Photo by Scott Stulberg