Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Summary: B.L.A.M.E, Truth, Fear & Purging

Guarded -- Chad Perrone

My teeth they hurt from grinding
And my head will explode from holding it in
I pictured myself standing over you
One foot on your chest

Well I'll hate this place forever more
Because the world looks half of what it was
And I know that everyone won't be like you
But I'll still keep my hands up next to my face

And I blame you
For my headaches
And I blame you
For my mistakes
And my bad ways

I wake up tired from dreaming
Because I fight you best when I'm sleeping
Because I dreamt that I stood right over you
I had both feet on your chest
And I stood victorious

Now I blame you
For my headaches
And I blame you
For my mistakes
And my bad ways

There are days I thought I'd give up
I'm just trying to get back from you what I brought
I said there are days I swore I'd give up
But that's not today
That's not today

Because I blame you
For my headaches
And I blame you
For my mistakes
And my bad way
For my heartache
And this fucking bad name
For my mistakes
And my bad way

Well I don't need you to wish me well
I don't need you to wish me well.

I haven't been able to get this song out of my head, repeatedly playing it over and over again since September, when my Distilling the Shadows had begun.  It was an interesting moment of hearing various songs play in my mind as it all began to unfold, all of them suitable to what I was going through, but this one in particular struck me as interesting in the beginning.  I couldn't stop hearing the first few lines in my head at random moments of the day.  Normally I can find the distinction fairly quickly to the deeper message a song is sharing with me, this time I just knew I had to play it over and over and over again... I can recall a 30 minute drive one evening where I listened to nothing but this song on repeat for the duration of the drive.  Even then, it wasn't enough.

It occurred to me that whenever I wrote in my distillation journal I was grinding my teeth.  Hard.  I would take a breath, release the tension, and go back to writing, only to find myself grinding my teeth again, particularly in parts where I was addressing anger or shame.

This song is pretty much my theme for that time -- in battle with the dysfunctional Shadow Self, I would be extremely tired from restless nights of dreaming, and I still get choked up when he proclaims putting one foot (or both) on their chest, victorious... many migraines pounded my brainwaves during those seven weeks.  I honestly couldn't remember a time without a migraine, it was that intense. 

I didn't have much expectation of what would happen when the journal was burned.  I was ready, but I didn't want to let it go in some ways.  It contained pain that I didn't know if I could let go, because I somehow wanted to hold onto the proof that I could be that honest with myself, to reveal those pieces that we hide away from others, because I didn't want anyone else to see what I could barely stand to see myself, and yet the familiarity of this being, this side of myself that I gave life, I didn't know that I was ready to embrace its letting go.

Burning them... it was more symbolic in its pain than I realized it would be.  I wasn't emotional about it, I was almost indifferent, almost defiant, yet reminding myself that this was all choice.  I chose to distill, I chose to journal, just as I was choosing to throw it into the bonfire to let it go.  It never caught fire.  It kissed the flames, then nothing.  Nothing.  It just sat there, with everything burning around it, in front of it, even behind it!  Yet, my journal remained flame-less.  I stood there and realized that I hadn't let it go yet.  I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and heard nothing... the loudest "nothing" of all...  

It spoke, not whispering, not even yelling, just this tone that quite familiar, telling me "you have to let it go to see it burn".  Then panic struck.  Not panic for releasing, panic at the notion that it might stay there, surrounded by ash and yet never rising from the ashes itself.  I needed to see it burn.  I told the journal just that, that I needed to see it burn... I needed it.  Then another deep breath came as the wind spiraled around me, and I said "I am ready to let you go"... and it caught fire instantly.

Kali-Ma joined me in initiation just as She had several years ago when I did my first Shamanic apprenticeship... just as fierce, I welcomed Her back in this form.  She asked of my flesh as an offering, and what was surprising in that moment was what specific part she was taking -- my left arm.  Flesh from where my sacred tattoo sits, a healing art to remind me just how One I am with the Goddess...

Kali-Ma returned again in the coming days, as we were honoring Her at our Womyn's Circle, and the download of the ritual She shared with me came instantly.  Dancing Fear with Her was something I was truly looking forward to... I didn't know then that She had one last initiation for me.  

Earlier in the year I had spoken about my guides telling me that this year would be all about spiritual vulnerability and rawness.  I was meant to share and shed -- share the stories of my past, divulge more of my depression since youth, of my attempted suicide, even portions of the assault that led to it all, as well as the voice of the Goddess so prominent in rescuing my Light from trying to kill myself one November evening.

I obliged, out of curiosity for how this would enfold, out of fear (as contradictory as that may sound, because I am quite like a moth to the flame when it comes to fear: can't resist), and out of understanding that while fearful in the moment, I knew it would bring deep healing; and it has.  I became more honest about my past, and that journey into embracing my vocation as Priestess/Healer/Teacher... however, I knew that I was willfully holding onto one piece, the biggest Shame I was carrying that made it into virtually every distillation journal entry I had written...  Saturday night Kali-Ma asked me to share it... no... She doesn't ask... She TOLD me to share it.  She said "It's time now", and I found myself terrified.

What would people think?  Would this reveal change how everyone sees me?  Would any source of Light others see be tainted by the dark shame of a "secret" I was carrying?  Would these sacred systers in the group look at me and only see that story?  

In the end, I knew it was time.  My guides had been saying over and over to let go, so it was fitting that the final piece would be urged from Kali-Ma.  She demanded, and I watched Her stand over me, waiting.

Up to this point I had shared deep fears I was carrying, of being forgotten if I disappeared; of not ever embracing my Truth because I stand so centered at times in dysfunctional Illusion; of never fully appreciating or loving my Willendorf image because of bullshit perceptions from people who loathe the image of the Willendorf, and who try to shame me for that; to fear of success, and my own Inner Light... to the deepest secret of others finding out that I was once a cutter, and that it's a constant battle with Self to not return to old ways of shame.

I was a cutter.  It started at 16 when the biggest portion of my pain began.  When my first attempted suicide began.  I don't know how well I kept it secret; I know that I had bullshit excuses from the family pet's to walking into something to being clumsy... all easily embraced excuses, I was/am a klutz at times, however, no one really questioned me further.  It was the dark secret I carried that was only shared with my husband, as we began dating 6 months after all of this had begun.  Since then, it had only been shared with less than a handful of people.  

I carried the shame, and I knew from the onset of this raw task that I would need to reveal this piece, to let it go, to truly have no secrets in my life, to be free of denial and say that while I was in pain, I was also in healing.

The last time I cut?  February, 2005.  The last time I tried to kill myself.  I was laying on the bathroom floor, bleeding, so engrossed in pain that I couldn't see or taste anything else.  I won't ever forget the look on Drac's face when he walked in and saw me.  I interpreted it as shame then, because I needed to be stuck in that dance, but it was only until years later that I could just see his own pain, to see the womyn he loved, someone he sees in ultimate bright Light, laying there, thinking she's nothing but a worthless piece of shit, loved by no one, and convinced this world wasn't for her.

Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant... I vowed then it would stop.  I wouldn't transfer this energy to my child, and I would work on even deeper release than I had.  How fitting that during that time I was doing deep Shamanic training, deep in distillation then, so sucked into pain, but not really having the support I do now.  Yes... I know I have the support, even when I deny that truth to myself.

In 2009 a healing artist helped me to bring healing to that piece, to the cutting.  The tattoo that everyone loves on my arm so much, it's symbolic of a reality that isn't my path.  A Goddess standing on my arm where much of the pain was inflicted, an image-less face staring back at me, a mirror that I, too, am Goddess, surrounded by the chant: She changes everything She touches and everything She touches changes.  If I cut me, I cut her, I cut my daughter, I cut wombynhood... 

So as I listened (and continue to listen) to this song over and over again, I can't help but feel triggered by the word "blame".  I don't necessarily resonate with it, but it pushes me, so I had to look at what it meant... in a moment of journaling I heard: Believing Lies Abstractly Made Everywhere.

I was believing lies.  My lies, your lies, everyone's lies.  And I created pain out of that.  In that pain, I chose to stir up a cauldron of Anger, Fear, Jealousy and Shame.  Instead of dumping it out (for fear of contamination), I became the martyr, and took it all within myself, thinking I was helping the greater good, when instead denying my Truth and Light was the biggest disservice of all.

I've been going deep.  Deep into the last of the rotted roots that need destroying.  The final cycles of this distillation says it will start to complete itself this month, as I become rooted in rawness, ready to come back to the cycle of Light.

Just as "Guarded" kept me purging and digging deeper, "The Walking Dead" has helped me to balance, and cry, and heal, as most of Chad's music has done for me over the many years I have known him.

The Walking Dead -- Chad Perrone
I would have driven myself crazy
Had I tried to predict
That everything I had ever worked for
Would bring me to this
Nothing ever works out the way you want,
Despite your best plans
The final product seldom looks like
What you drew out by hand

So if I could trust in the things that you've said
If I could cherish what little is left
Just breathe new life into the walking dead
Would there still be this sentiment?

I might have told you
That I am not one to believe in much
Blame it on years of falling apart
On the absence of luck
But I am no different
Than anyone else with half a heart
But it feels like the wrong feet
Keep on leading me out from the start

So if I could trust in the things that you've said
If I could cherish what little is left
Just breathe new life into the walking dead
Would there still be this sentiment?

All of the wrong words keep rushing out
Exploding like fireworks when they leave my mouth.

So if I could trust in the things that you've said
If I could cherish what little is left
Just breathe new life into the walking dead
Would there still be this sentiment?

You can blame it all on my bad habits love
You can blame it on me
You can blame it all on my bad habits love
You can blame it on me

Someday I'll learn to let go of it
Someday I'll learn to leave
Someday I'll learn to let it go, let it go
Someday I'll learn to leave.
So if I could trust in the things that you've said
If I could cherish, cherish heaven.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Between.

My world has been on a constant stream of fast-forward this month.  It began in a flurry of emotions from the distillation, and then it evened out for a while, all while dipping my feet in various worlds of communication; I could very well be officially "talked out" for a while.  However, it has also been filled with some amazing busy moments of continual soulful scrying.

It's been rather interesting to observe my experience from afar: going through this distillation and facing those darkest aspects of myself that I haven't been willing/able/ready to look at.  Seemingly falling apart at the seams at times, in other moments embracing the return of my Spiritual Warrior.  The roller coaster ride has been intriguing, nauseating, and somewhat exhilarating.   I have both loved and hated this process, loved and hated myself, loved and hated others, and each time focusing merely on the one thing I knew I could control: my breath.

I've been able to see my role with a little more clarity, and how the facilitation looks when in the deepest waters of the well, not quite drowning, but not not drowning.  I see the jarred perception of being unable to swim and choosing to float.  Floating for the sake of wonder and viewing the spirals around, not floating because of discomfort.  I've been able to create a separation between my roles, with complete ease (much to my surprise), something my spiritual mother says is because we work from the place of deep integration and understanding of the dark that it doesn't hold us back or prevent us from our work, if anything it's an added component to the process of facilitation.

I have been sharing some of this process with friends... the space hasn't quite been held, to my standards (which I know sounds rather harsh and judgmental), and what's most intriguing is how painful this can be, and in the expression of that pain, instead of holding space what I have said creates a trigger, a reminder of their own shit, and now my shit is on hold, sitting on the side of the road, so old that the flies come to keep it company and guard it, while we inspect the newly formed shit coming from the other party... the other party not in the distillation process.

It's like sharing the story of the crazy dream you had with a friend only to have them take the moment over by shifting the attention to their own dream.  Not intentional, but done without thought, just action in the moment.  I have needed to journal those moments out, feeling resentful at times for taking the lid off my cauldron (which is [etherically] covered in marks and looks quite worn) only to have the other party take the lid off to their own, brand new, cauldron, without marks, without a story at all.  It reminds me to look at my own boundaries, which have been more solid and formed than I thought might happen during this time, and how sometimes the gift we offer others by way of listening and holding space becomes the gift we offer ourselves by sharing our Light, and being receptive of the Light that mirrors back and forth.

My guides have been clear this year that I needed to be open about my process, about my pain, about my healing (though I tend to write more about my pain and talk more about my healing than actually writing it out publicly), but how does one share when space isn't created?  How does one share when safe space isn't there... when it's empty space, waiting to be filled but never actually filled.  You can create it for Self, sure, but sometimes we need others to hold the wand and cast the perimeter so we can just release.

Last night I came home from an event and the long drive had me in and out of thought.  I thought about Shadow, but more intently I thought about Light.  More specifically, MY Light.  I feel in some ways I've become greedy with it.  Claiming territory and ownership from ego's mind, running in circles looking for the best hiding place to store it so it couldn't be shared with others, and yet I know I have been sharing, quite freely.  Late nights in the "Sacred Parking Lot" has me authentically one-on-one with other divine spirits in deep sharing.  Quite the contrary to hoarding it away.

What I'm seeing and noticing is that my "human" role is changing.  I don't know what She is going to do; I don't know if She is going to dance in unison with Spirit or if She's going to cast Illusions through everything.  And yet I see Her doing both -- Her dance is so much more coordinated than any steps my physical form could ever take.

Each subtle body is aligning in its own way, purging in their own order decided upon when my ego stepped out of the equation.  I'm not In Balance... but I'm not Out of Balance, either.  I'm in this critical place of the Between.  Not Light, not Dark.  I feel a bit like the Bear both preparing for hibernation and the subtle point just before hibernation ends... the Between.  It's organic, how Bears emerge, the internal clock ringing and knowing when to awaken.  I'm learning that more and more from Bear, my main guide, and I feel it being applied to now, this last week before the distillation ends. 

Last night in particular I had something arise, not necessarily within me, but not necessarily without me, however, it triggered something major that I needed to take the distilling journal out.  What met my surprise when I pulled it off the bookcase was what was sticking out of this journal.  I place this journal on a specific shelf, separate from my regular journal, in the same spot every time I use it.  There's never anything loose on that shelf, or really any shelf in this specific bookcase, and yet there was something sticking out. 

I was about to begin writing, ready to start labeling each page with what I needed to journal, when I actually noticed what was sticking out.  It was a bookmark I had received from a daylong retreat I attended with Lama Surya a few years ago.  On the back of the bookmark is a particular poem that I haven't read in about a couple of years.  It was stuck inside my distilling journal -- this journal that has nothing but my darkest shadows and demons and pain stored in there, along with a specific pen I am using for this process that is only for this journal, nothing else (and will be ritually released upon completion)... to find this piece, to reread this piece, to see where I was upon this triggered moment... I was blown away.  Tears flooded faster than they have all month in doing this work... it was this perfect gift in the moment to remind me of Light, of Love, of Compassion... all towards Self, towards the collective Whole... I felt freer and felt the stirrings of my Inner Bear begin, without fright, but in deep gratitude.  It's not so much that "this too shall pass", it was about "this too is passing", and the power of what can happen with breath and choice.

Free and Easy
A Spontaneous Vajra Song
by Venerable Lama Gendun Rinpoche

Happiness can not be found
through great effort and willpower,
but is already present,
in open relaxation and letting go.

Don't strain yourself,
there is nothing to do or undo.
Whatever momentarily arises
in the body-mind
has no real importance at all,
has little reality whatsoever.
Why identify with,
and become attached to it, 
passing judgment upon it and ourselves?

Far better to simply
let the entire game happen on its own,
springing up and falling back like waves
without changing or manipulating anything
and notice how everything
vanishes and reappears, magically,
again and again, time without end.

Only our searching for happiness
prevents us from seeing it.
It's like a vivid rainbow which you pursue
without ever catching,
or a dog chasing its own tail.

Although peace and happiness
do not exist as an actual thing or place,
it is always available
and accompanies you every instant.

Don't believe in the reality
of good and bad experiences;
they are like today's ephemeral weather, 
like rainbows in the sky.

Wanting to grasp the ungraspable,
you exhaust yourself in vain.
As soon as you open and relax
this tight fist of grasping,
infinite space is there -
open, inviting and comfortable.

Make use of this spaciousness, this
freedom and natural ease.
Don't search any further
looking for the great awakened elephant,
who is already resting quietly at home
in front of your own hearth.

Nothing to do or undo,
nothing to force,
nothing to want,
and nothing missing -

Emaho!  Marvelous!
Everything happens by itself.

The thing that made me smile and cry and laugh all at the same time?  On my drive home I saw a rainbow... probably the first I have seen in several years... and I realized I was grasping too hard, not standing centered in the Between.

Spirit works in amazing ways, answering the call before the consciousness recognizes the need to make the call... I'm in gratitude for Divinity's blessing on a night when things felt overwhelming.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Distilling the Truth

I have spent, what feels like forever, the past two months in just pure processing.  Processing my daughter getting ready for a big milestone of starting kindergarten which was both exciting and painful for me... letting go... it forces one to look at fear in a way you sometimes deny, and I had been in denial for a few months leading up to this big shift in our lives.  Yes, in the end it's great for her, even for me, but it was painful, and I felt alone in the process. 

I know other mothers had gone through the same thing, letting their own children go in this manner, but when you've gone through it, the wisdom of the generations becomes less "yes, I hear your pain, cry if you need to, I am here" and more "eh, you will be fine, don't cry in front of her", because gods forbid I have an emotion, or worse, that my daughter sees my human side at all.  Let's deny Self in favor of programming the next generation to deny themselves as well... brilliant.

To say I felt annoyed is an understatement.  I haven't really spoken about those moments, nor do I intend to go in depth here.  It's personal.  Raw.  Painful and beautiful and awakening, rolled up with various sharp edges.  Still... the timing... letting go... a week before I was to begin distilling the shadow... it was divinely cosmic, I still can't stop shaking my head in awe...

Christopher describes the distillation as a "ritualistic and psychological method of inducing a crisis that can result in a form of shamanic awareness and potential initiation."

I opted to do seven weeks -- which is to say that I am still in the process of my distillation and have the rest of the month to go. 

The week leading up to the official start had begun the process.  I could feel it in my core, beginning to slowly rattle, and my body's response began to tighten up in fear, in dread, in hope, in excitement, in pain... it was this rollercoaster where up wasn't defined as "good" and down didn't have recognition as "bad"... up was up, down was down... it was just this ride, this indescribable ride where you are acutely aware that there is life going on around you while you can't help but move through this muck that is being rattled through the ride, and you paid for consecutive ride after ride... there is no getting off... even if you begged... and yet you're almost glad for this, to have "rules", to have structure, to have something that is YOU saying this is what you NEED to do, and when the shadow self faces the unease, it must abide, because the aligned you is the one in charge...

"Truth is a failure I cannot accept
Truth would derail you as you wistfully slept
I can't find the answers to the questions unasked
I can't find the strength to reply as you sit there so goddamned relaxed

But you won't be denied... cowardly implied."

I've been listening and singing this song in my head repeatedly since beginning the distillation process.  The very first time I heard this song several years ago... I can remember how many points of fear it hit, how many times I caught my breath; how I had to pull over on the side of the road so I could bawl, because this was how I was feeling, so lost in my own personal Truth being a failure I couldn't accept.  I still choke up when I hear this song, and I feel my bones begin to shatter slowly because my Truth isn't as aligned as I know it could be.

My friend Jon wrote this song -- I have no idea what his interpretation means, and I'd almost rather not know, my version is what I am battling with... against.  It's a battle between Self, between Light and Dark... one aspect of me not being denied, yet which aspect of that Self was in denial was so interchangeable, I couldn't decipher it in the open, and I sometimes denied myself [the truth] asking the questions that I knew would move it... would rattle it...

I saw Christopher the next day after starting the distillation.  Committed to teaching a workshop at the Southern New Hampshire Pagan Pride Day, I couldn't back out, despite how much I wanted to.  The drive over was excruciating.  I was in emotional and spiritual pain... I didn't want to be seen, let alone see anyone.  I didn't want to socialize, I didn't want to be anything but in this process, as raw as it was, as ugly as it began, without needing to fulfill commitments.  But I did.  I went, committed to my commitment, though I attempted to stay fairly hidden, hoping to not talk to anyone, yet Christopher saw me within 2 minutes of being there.  The one consolation I told myself to going was that I wouldn't be seeing Christopher, because he would be busy packing for an event.  I didn't want to see him because he knows me well -- he knows when I am in my shit, when I am deep in my cave, when it's oblivious to everyone else, he knows, and I didn't want anyone to know.

We had a lovely walk, time spent alone together just talking and being.  It was precisely what I needed, and even though we both know how well aware of this process I am, it doesn't make it easy when IN the process.  Nor is it supposed to be.  I didn't step into this with any notion of it being either difficult or easy... I was stepping into it with open awareness.  Was I concerned?  Yes.  Why?

Because the last time I did some deep distillation... that was the last time I tried to kill myself.  That image, that feeling, none of it was far from my mind.  It was there, not in front of me, but following me.  It wouldn't directly stare me in the face until the second week, where the memories came flooding back, where the air no longer tasted current, but tasted of that air, of that time, during that painful process where life was too much, where everything was too much.  I could taste it again, and it scared me... it scared me... it angered me... it shamed me... I was in the boxing ring with no gloves, no bell to tell me when it would be over, and getting my ass kicked, while the sub-personalities around me did nothing but watch, wondering who would emerge victorious, without alliance to either aspect of Self. 

"These columns once so sure and sturdy now are crumbling around me
My foundation can't survive unharmed this time
These faced I believed, I mean, the true belief, they always would surround me
Convenient absence of the truth the only crime..."

That particular verse in the song... it felt so prevalent to now, and yet to then as well.  In fact, I believe this song came out the month I tried to kill myself.  I can't help but associate the two together at times. 

My columns felt sure and sturdy, and as the distillation continued, it began to unravel and crumble around me.  I didn't want to see anyone, I wanted desperately to withdraw from everyone.  And I slowly started to.  A habit and pattern I'm not proud of, but when fear arises I run to my cave and hide, until completely forgotten about, and then I emerge, wondering where everyone is. 

I've had a lot of well-meaning advice during this process -- and each time I receive it, the angrier I become.  Why?  Even now I'm just shrugging my shoulders, not entirely sure why, but feeling like it's more for their benefit to say it, to make themselves feel better, than to actually be there, holding space for the dark and the raw and the ugly.  I have held that space for another... it's uneasy, it's painful to watch, it's scary at times, but I've been there, because I know what it's like on the other end.  You don't want well-meaning advice.  You don't want someone to say "just get through this and it will be better later"... fortune cookies have better advice than that!

Ah... but that's my anger emerging.  Part of the aspects we are to look at: Anger, Fear, Jealousy and Shame.  I had thought Anger and Shame would be most prevalent, and yet I was surprised to see how quick and easy it was to bring up issues of Jealousy.  Though it does shift as each day occurs, what floods is amazing, and what feels complete is equally astounding.

I have heard a lot of advice and guidance to look towards the completion of the process... look at how things will be "better" when it's "over"... am I the only person who sincerely thinks this is bullshit advice?  However, I don't deny that some people need that thread to hold onto.  I used to be one of those people.  I needed to believe that things would get better, even recite the Buddhist mantra of "This too shall pass"... but then I started to uncover my need to look at the "better" and when it's "over" threads instead of being in whatever I was in, in that moment, as fully present as I could be, without making it "better", but understanding what it was.

That's how I am approaching this distillation.  When it's ugly, it's ugly.  I'm not looking at when it will be beautiful, when I will feel Whole... I'm just looking at the ugly.  Equally so, when it's phenomenal, I am in that phenomenon.  I had an amazing soul retrieval a couple of weeks ago that blew my world open, my foundation really wouldn't survive unharmed this time, because it was built on illusion.  The truth absent?  That I lied to myself.  The bigger truth?  That I knew I was lying to myself... and I enjoyed it.  I wanted to lie, because I wanted to embrace the illusion, because it was what I told myself I needed at the time. 

"We've been rising to a simmer and the smoke can be so thick
We're ever closer to the peak, the altitude can make you sick
The fear of heights is something you must overcome
This elevator won't be stopping 'til the roof
And when it does, nobody leaves, nobody else gets on it...

You won't be denied..."

That one line, "the fear of heights is something you must overcome", gets me every time.  The floodgates open, and I see the ultimate Truth there...

Right now, if I had to classify what this distillation is, currently, I would say, comparative to the weeks prior, it's better.  Will it finish "better".  I don't know.  I almost don't care.  I don't want to look at the when, crossing off the dates in my calendar until I can say "good, it's done, let's burn the fucking book now"... no, I don't want to jump to that, because then I'm not here, I'm not present, I'm not honestly unveiling the pieces needing, and even asking, to be set free... to let go.  The dysfunctional shadow pieces are ready to go... I know this... I'm the one holding them captive, eluding to myself that it's the other way around, even convincing everyone around me that it's them, the dysfunction, when I know it's me, holding and grasping, because letting go means facing who I am... as Marianne Williamson said, we are more frightened by our light than our darkness...

I'm frightened by my Light.  I know others see it.  They've pointed it out to me, some telling me they wish they could emulate my "wisdom" and "brilliance"... I'm not fully there yet.  At least not today.  If you had asked me the week following my soul retrieval I felt in the center of Light... I'm in the grey-between.  Not good, not bad; not light, not dark; not wanted, not unwanted.  Just... here. 

Yet, despite, or perhaps in spite, of this distillation process, I am feeling much more attuned to the Mysteries.  It's this odd combination of being both within and without.  I'm walking a tightrope that doesn't actually exist, and so my perception is split, so I can filter the information slowly.  I feel the dynamic of my cellular memory shift, and I feel it traveling through my blood, beyond the streams of my veins, and it's touching more around me than I realize... like everything else does.

Yesterday, in deep contemplation of this process, of these Mysteries, I stepped outside of my place and a butterfly flew within inches of me... in front of me, to the side, stopping a moment as I recognized its deep message, then flew to the ground, where I thanked it for its message and asked if I could take a picture.  She fluttered her wings in response, and fluttered her wings when I left, flying closer to me as I left.  She had been around for days... yesterday I was more "awake" to recognize her.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Darkness-driven Shame

"As Pluto continues its occupation of your sign, you begin to appreciate what is liberating you, as it peels away tired facades of history.  This leaves you raw, exposed to the world around you." ...

I created this year as the Year of Vulnerability for myself... I decided I needed to be raw, to be exposed, to peel away those layers of illusions that I so skillfully crafted over the years.  A friend of mine commented on how she felt it was both brave and scary, what I was doing, and asked why.  Why would I put myself in such a position to be so exposed?  In all honesty, I'm not sure how I actually responded to that.  It doesn't feel "brave" to be walking that tightrope, it feels partly stupid, and unlike some adventure junkie, I'm not feeling motivated by the "thrill".  It was something asked of me from my guides, advised from Spirit, and ultimately something I knew I needed to embrace to shed...

More than half the year is over, and so much of myself has been Open, so incredibly open that at times it felt so out of body, because of how much I allowed to flow.  I would love to say that I feel lighter, more liberated, and while I know that will come, I'm feeling those old surges of terror, of feeling the exposure like fire to my skin.  It's not that I'm ignoring the pain, I realize that the pain is partly an excuse, it's the distraction to convince myself to shut down and retreat, and so I safely push beyond the boundaries of my own core, and I do partly feel stronger for it, but this week I feel scared... I want so desperately to retreat, so desperately to vanish and become the invincible self I once was...  Others will share the advice "go within, be gentle with yourself", as I have muttered those same words to others, as well as to myself, before.  However, sometimes the obviously stated can be unproductive.

My cave calls, like a sordid lover, and I'm enticed and aroused by its manipulation tactics.  Do I follow the familiar scent?  Do I expose the cave for what it really is: a brothel of illusions?  Or do I tear it down and reveal the more functional entrance? 

I watched this documentary a few months ago that left me pretty rattled... a seemingly simple question became an exposé into my mind, and I paired it up with the Vulnerability and took off in flight.  This author began to speak about the differences between Guilt and Shame: Guilt being about a moment of action -- "I feel bad ..." while Shame was "I AM bad..." and my breath caught, so quickly and so painfully like barbed wire, and I realized I had to seriously look at myself in the triggered role of Shame... I used to say that I rarely attuned or even fully understood the energy of "guilt", not because I was heartless or that I haven't done things in my life that I am not pleased with, but the general energy of it felt rather foreign to me... not shame... no no... shame and I became fast friends... perhaps shame became that sordid lover calling me from the cave...

I understood where the shame came from, and this year has been a release and healing of much of what I have held onto. 

I have been very open this year about my past -- of what led me to the Goddess, my (several) attempts at suicide, the darkness of my depression and the skillful mask worn to protect that illusion from others.  People in my life now didn't know me then.  They didn't see how I was, how lonely, how scared, how broken I became... they didn't see me in my darkest moments, only one person has ever seen that, only one.  To many of them, I'm a beacon of Light, and I so willingly share it.  But the Darkness and the Shadow, it's easier for me to dive into that realm, more so than the realm of Light at times (or so it feels)... similar to Marianne Williamson's quote, "It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." 

I didn't want to necessarily share these stories, yet I trusted my guides' direction in the necessity of it.  I see now, outside of the direct emotion of it, how it became beneficial, to me in the (partial) release, and to others who have held their darkness so close and secret.  Christopher commented earlier this year that I was the true definition of what magick could do, how it could heal.  While he knew me most of that time frame, he has never seen me in the deepest of that darkness, but he is one of the very few (less than a handful) that knows everything of that time and space, and he knows just how much I've had to do, how much I've had to trust and release and just dive in to get to that other side... however, he also knew that bringing up the accomplishment is still something I shy away from integrating.

After this weekend I had some time to sit quietly, and I felt the familiar flashes that arise when I feel like people have gotten too close; when so much of myself has been easily shared... it's a defense, I recognize that, it's the Shadow Dance doing its thing, and while I've amazed myself this year in the open rawness, I can't help but feel almost judged... no, that's not the right word... my Inner Self says the fear is more attributed to the understanding that this is just not something many facilitators do -- they don't open their closets and allow their skeletons to be revealed -- so why the hell am I doing it?  Others will see, judge (discern), question... they'll know... and yet, there's this understanding that by embracing the lessons of Shame and healing them, well, my shame becomes no one's weapon, instead it's a tool. 

I'm uncertain what this short period of fear-driven retrieval is asking of me... and yet even as I say it to myself I realize that's not entirely true.  Much like what was shared with me last week in meditation -- I heard ever-so-clearly: "You don't have to hold onto that Darkness anymore... You can let it go..."

That's where I am at: coming to terms with the reality that who I was is a chapter of who I am, and that I don't have to embrace the illusion of a (now) false reality to continue my evolution.  That Darkness isn't my definition, though I have allowed it to define me over these years.  Who am I without it?  The same person I am with it... it's literally that simple, yet my mind wishes to make it that much more complicated.  I'm working on unraveling the complications, the ironed-out illusions that seem so perfectly fitted in this dreamscape that I'm confusing it for actualized reality.

The fascinating piece of it all is that it's all movement -- none of this has become stagnant once this year... I accept that accomplishment.


Friday, June 24, 2011

The Season of Spider - Vulnerability

Despite the Wheel turning to seasons and shifting in weather patterns, I sometimes view the seasons in terms of patterns and rhythms.  What has it brought in the past?  What is it revealing now?  Where are the clues to be followed to unveil what's to come?  This season has been mixed in emotion, jumbled even, not quite fragmented, but not entirely visible to the naked eye.  It has been both bright and dull, both seen and unseen, and, as I reflect to the actualized theme of what is being presented, what lesson I am to learn, who the Teacher actually is... I'm left, not necessarily awestruck, but sort of like a child who has taken a test and the whole time the answer was written right on the desk.

My season?  Spider.  Spider has been visiting with such enthusiasm, if I didn't know better, I would assume He would want to move in.  I have, forever, shielded the "welcome" mat to Spiders, entirely out of fear, it's often joked about that I can walk into a room and sense a spider within a few seconds of being in their presence, a "Spider Psychic".  Not a trait I adore, I assure you, instead my toes curl, the high-pitched squeak of fear trembles through my throat, and I plead, begging someone to remove them from my presence.  Being told that they are more afraid of me than I am of them has left me with little comfort.  I either become so enthralled by fear that I plead with them to keep their distance, or I become vicious, yelling at them, showing them who is boss, and attempting to rule with power over.  An interesting view, no doubt, but in stepping outside of this bizarre sequence of events, I am reminded, beyond the sentient being factor, that there is really no room, no pure love or functional energy in power over.  Just one of the powerful lessons brought to me by Spider...

Spider comes to visit when I am not paying attention to the deep crux of my own Creation.  S/He comes when I am not embracing the beauty of what is to be birthed.  Instead I hold it closely, covered under bundles of blankets, maybe even store it in a box, because, as I've come to realize in this "seasonal" aspect -- I am afraid to be vulnerable.

I walk this interesting path of being student and teacher, facilitator and client, healer and one being healed, and I've somehow always remained, to some degree, as vulnerable as I can, as appropriate as it needs to be.  I really do believe in this aspect that if I am asking my own students or my own clients to be open to possibilities, to be open to healing, to be open to their natural awareness, then, obviously, I must be too.  But I feel it goes beyond that, to some degree.  It's not about airing out my fear, my trauma, my dysfunctional (or even functional) shadow self.  But I'm there, walking the same road, a very similar path, in fear, in darkness, and even in denial at times.  It's a tender thread of expressing that vulnerability and holding it sacred... or secret.

As Spider presented Itself, the variety of sizes were dramatic.  He always begins small, a sort of reminder that I need to pay attention to the work, to the art, to the overall development of the Matrix of Creation... and yet, because of the Messenger, and the self-imposed crippling fear that comes with His presence, I sometimes don't listen as clearly as I would or could if it were, perhaps, Bear, coming to share the very same lesson.

And so, I don't listen.  Not as clearly, not as concisely.  And Spider arrives again... generally much bigger, as though to say "You can't ignore me now, I am here and you must listen"... and so I negotiate.  Poorly, but I negotiate.  If He keeps His distance, I will do the "work" requested of me.  He's smart, though.  He knows I will say and do anything to be out of this fear, out of this massive discomfort plaguing me, and then I will drift a bit.  It's a common theme, it's been a dance we've partnered in for several years.

Yes, years.  Sometimes I am slow/stubborn to the point of ridiculous.  However, that is a story for another time...

Beyond the other messages Spider shared with me, things that need to be done, areas needing to be disciplined, thoughts that need to be shared, etc, I floated back to the aspect of Vulnerability.  I'm told, some rather contradictory things, that I am open book to all, and yet I am a complete mystery.  Either way, when faced with the energy of being vulnerable, there's a degree to which it scares me a little.  That openness, that release of confinement, the ability to let go of the bounds of crippling fear, to attune to the spiritual essence of vulnerability, it is another phase my Guides are guiding me towards.

Chogyam Trungpa said "True fearlessness is not the reduction of fear; but going beyond fear."  I recognize going beyond fear also sways with allowing oneself to be vulnerable.  And so I dip my feet, ever so slowly, in that realm, where it's not about fear or even fearlessness, it is simply about this moment, this authentic breath that means I just allow.  Though allowing means flowing, it means letting be, letting go, letting Self stand in the center of Truth, completely neutral to judgment.  It's an expansion of what I'm viewing the "traditional" definition of vulnerability to mean.

If I'm vulnerable, what does that look like?  Authenticity.  It's me beyond the labels, beyond the titles, beyond the various hats worn, it's just M.E. = My Experience.

For a moment My Experience this past weekend had me wanting to retreat in that quiet cavern after being so "exposed".  I don't consider myself social or outgoing in the least, and yet part of My Self projects that image, that reality, and so it becomes, in essence, part of my story, because I've agreed to the layout of the puzzle.  While this has become easier over the years, and I'm less panicked and confined by the social anxiety that once felt so thick and heavy, it became a balance of honoring those (often) tiny aspects of fear to allowing myself to be open in allowing my core to show (Spirit says "shine", so I feel the need to acknowledge that).

Spider's web spins, Its spiritual venom has penetrated into my etheric body, and while everything, in the end, boils down to choice, I know, ultimately, shying away and cloistering the wisdom I have to share isn't an option -- not from a spiritual, truthful perspective.  And even that acknowledgement, in this very moment of vulnerability that sits on the surface of my skin, of my self-claim of wisdom-filled Self, it's sort of this freaking out moment, of "what are you acknowledging... and why aren't you integrating it even further?"... Good question.  Plentiful answers, the spinning begins again, and I weave, through, above, within, without...

I need to BE the Spider... that's what I have been cowardly avoiding all of these years.  I say that, honestly, without the judgment that it seems to film it -- I have no attachment to that word, "coward", in the way it's so shamefully used.  Then again, my language has always felt rather unique to me.

Where shall I go with this?  Simple acknowledgment.  That's where it begins.  Yes, I'm scared.  Yes, allowing others in is both terrifying and beautiful.  Yes, I do think that even when we are our most authentic selves and allow those parts of ourselves that are so hidden to be exposed that we are opening ourselves up, at times, to pain.  It's the Web.  It spins, it's beautiful, it's intricate, it's artistic, complex, and yet has this simplicity to it, of just being there in an instant, or so it seems.  But, much like the beauty of the web, it's fragile.  It breaks, it tears, it's forgotten about...

It's forgotten about... my internal trigger went off there.  And that next layer of vulnerability reveals itself to me: I am afraid of being forgotten.  I worked hard as a child to not be seen.  I carried that into my teen years, and even into my early adult years.  I wouldn't even allow myself to be heard, let alone seen.  And yet, I desperately wanted to be seen, to be heard, to have more than just this voice that spoke words, but have a voice that shared meaning.  I wanted to be seen as me, without comparison, without agenda... I can feel the comparison to the web, to its simple yet intricate nature, to being there one moment, gone the next, to being beautiful and then... not.  Becoming something, then becoming nothing.  My vulnerability reveals the fear of becoming nothing eventually.  Our layers of selves will evolve, but it's that in-between evolution that I'm not quite articulating well.  Like the bardo of the mind -- the mind not shared, but the mind playing like the record keeper, for the duty of the Self to replay and record.

I continue to dig through the files of my records, sometimes needing to listen to those old tapes, just to understand more of where the healing needs to begin, and other times, like those filled with cobwebs, just letting it go, telling myself that under this web it is unnecessary to dig, because it's become hidden, cocooned almost, because it's not a gem that needs dusting off.  Or maybe I'm a poor treasure hunter, finding contentment in what is here versus what is there.

My sense is that this Season of Spider isn't a short one... and coming to terms with both my fear of His physical presence and being open to His spiritual presence and integrating His medicine is my next and current lesson...


Friday, April 29, 2011

Coming Undone - "Washing the Rice"...

During the time span of being sick for over two weeks, and really sitting with the emotional (and psychological) aspects that came up from a diagnosis with Bell's Palsy that had me feeling far different than the image being reflected to me in the mirror, I knew the overall message was to rest, and why I chose not to listen before it came to the rollercoaster that was delivered isn't entirely revealed to me, yet.

The (acknowledgement) of the cold came first.  A minor but stubborn, foggy head and germs invaded my system, leaving me feeling strange and emotional, as my colds tend to leave me, but the numbness and partial facial paralysis was something I couldn't prepare myself for.  To feel yourself change while everyone around you sees nothing different reminds me of my days out of high school, following the call of the Goddess more deeply and sensing that my overall being was entirely different, yet I remained looking the same to others who knew me well -- or so it would seem.

I felt different, I felt numb... and I panicked.  I have spent about half of my life dancing the shadow dance, mostly leading on the dance floor, other times allowing my dance partner to rule, stomping on my toes, belittling my efforts, and convincing me that my efforts were worthless -- the dance of depression that is often felt and very seldom seen -- granted this is one of those dysfunctional aspects of the shadow when not partnered in love, and I have been revisiting those memories for a couple of months now.

Last month I did some healing work with a dear friend, leading me to the center of pain that had been buried, left behind and waiting to be discovered, and what has transpired since that healing has been nothing short of amazing and fucking ridiculous... I can't help but laugh at how the Universe presents these gifts, and how we either rip off the wrapping paper with eager desire or we carefully (frightfully) peel away the tape, ever so slowly, unsure of what comes next, perhaps wondering if the package itself is going to be the best part of all.

My gift came in the form of a cold shared by a stranger I met for a few short minutes, though her spirit must have sensed that my spirit self was asking for a retreat -- a time to simply let my guard down and go within, but not too far, no, not too far, but just enough to examine myself from this newly healed persona.

The gift was wrapped in the form of a Bell... and I felt distorted.  Mutant even.  I didn't want to be seen nor touched.  Dramatic when the reality is that my condition was extremely mild and hardly noticeable at all, but then again, what we feel is far different than what we appear to be.  I felt different, and I didn't like how it felt.  I didn't like how it controlled me, and I loathed how much control I gave it.

In my dance with depression I have always come out victorious.  My friend had said how impressed he was with me, how far I have come, how I am the definition of what magick can really do for someone.  Perhaps.  There was this ping in my body of discomfort in having heard this out loud.  He had even said that he felt that I needed to hear it, that I needed to be told how much I have accomplished, and I realized that "ping" was there to remind me that I am still working on that layer of compliments that my inner child so rarely received.

In a moment of panic, before the diagnosis, before going to the ER to find out what, exactly, was wrong, I looked at Drac with pained eyes, complete vulnerability permeating the room, and I was able to say, for the first time out loud, "I'm scared that now that I have made the conscious choice to live that that choice will be taken away from me..."

Even relaying it in my mind is painful... it's sad... sad for that little girl 16 years ago who felt the only option was trying to end her life... sad that she hid, so buried, so frightened, so abandoned and so alone, in her own darkness, housed by two beings separated, and it took 16 more years to come to a place where she could be peacefully integrated... and upon her integration she became frightened all over again, that her life would be changed in ways she couldn't control.

Our minds can be rather dramatic, but the drama unfolds into action, hopefully, that inspires change... transformation.  I gave power back to a voice that was silent for too long.  I can't say that it doesn't still scare me to some degree, but I'm not as squeamish as I was before.

And so, in that time of Bell's and sickness, I sat... I sat under my favorite blanket and just... sat.  I pulled out my journal and wrote, not much, my thoughts felt they needed to be more internal than stretching themselves onto paper, which journaling tends to be my normal approach to almost anything.

I needed quiet.  I needed to keep my hands busy, distracted, so my mind could just focus on one thread to the next.  Somehow my mind convinced me it would be a good idea to go through my stash of yarn and unravel all the skeins to form into solid balls... and so I began, one skein at a time, taking small ones at first, then larger ones, unraveling each and just rolling them up.  It went by faster than I anticipated, and it was calming.  My hands were busy, my mind was relaxed, there was nothing to do but simply ravel this yarn up.  That's it.  How permissive!

I saved one particular skein for last.  I purposely saved it for last.  I bought this amazing sock yarn last year while vacationing in the mountains.  The womyn at the yarn store happily spun all the yarn into tidy balls for me, except this particular one in which the machine she was using was having problems.  I told her not to worry, and she switched out the yarn for a newer one to make the process easier for me.  I came home, put it away and told myself I would get to it later.

This was later.  I had done them all, I wasn't feeling well, I needed a distraction, I didn't want to do anything but just complete this (which, for a Capricorn, is a big deal, since we are masters of beginnings but fall prey to the art of completion at times)... and so I began unraveling this orange and green yarn.  I felt excited to think when it would be done I could eventually start up a new project, asking myself why I put it off for so long... then, in a moment (because everything really is but a simple moment), the yarn tangled.

And I mean t-a-n-g-l-e-d.  And it tangled some more.  And some more.  I had somehow managed to make such a mess of this yarn that it was nothing but knots and tangles and a complete and utter disaster of fiber.  Those little people that sit on your shoulders began to guide me on what I should and shouldn't do... "Trash it... it's not worth your time" the rebel said... "Stick with it, you'll feel so proud once it's done and you've completed it" the idealistic one said...

I came back to this documentary I had watched a couple of months ago, "How To Cook Your Life", and this one line the Zen Master had said about washing rice -- how when you're washing the rice "wash the rice" -- and it has become a mantra of mine since then, to remind me to be in the moment of everything, in full awareness, whatever I am doing I am "washing the rice".  It has since become an inside joke with my spiritual mother who will often hear me recite this line when I know I need to really be with something.

Wash the rice.

So, I told myself, while all of this was going on, that I wasn't going to be distracted, that I wasn't going to be angry about this mess that was in front of me, but that I was going to take a spiritual approach to this unraveling and just "wash the rice".

I began to look at it as a metaphor of my life -- in looking at this mess, how will I handle it -- how do I handle messes that occur in my life now?  Do I accept the anger and become fueled by it (which has its benefit when the anger isn't destructive), or do I embrace compassion, for myself and the situation, and work to heal?  So I began to unravel, ever so slowly, and the first day saw little results.  I wasn't discouraged.  I told myself that tomorrow it would be complete.  Hours into the second day the anger started to bubble.  Drac had come up to me and asked how it was going and I just muttered through gritted teeth, "I'm washing the fucking RICE!!!"... and he laughed.  We laughed.  How insane I must have looked!

By the third day, with two balls forming on either end -- one neatly rolled together, the other done messily, knowing it wouldn't be permanent because I consciously wanted it to be neat -- something shifted.  This no longer became a tangled mess of yarn... it shifted into a healing session.  This was a healing of the moment, a past life regression, a glimpse into the future, all rolled (no pun intended) into one.  Life was mirrored by the knots.  Sometimes tight, sometimes loosely formed, other times tangled into other threads, with an uncertainty as to where it began, where it would end, if it would ever end -- much like depression: when you are in it, you can't see beyond the scope of the pain.  You are in the moment with it to a degree, but you are also wrapped up into the pain of before, and in looking at the overall picture all you can see is the pain that will continue.  You can't see it ending, because it looks too tangled to ever end.

Each roll of the ball, going over and under, untying, pulling and tangling some of it up even further... it all had this synchronicity to it.  It was entirely synchronous.

I can't relay everything that happened as a result of this one skein of yarn, how the threads unraveled easily when I stopped looking at the overall skein but instead looked at what was in my hand in front of my eyes at that very moment... I was washing the rice.  I can't begin to explain how life, my life, human life, spiritual life, became clear to me as a result of unraveling yarn.  I can't explain how the one side of "perfection" that was neatly rolled ended up being the much smaller ball, and how the "imperfect" one became the one twice its size... or how I consciously chose to unravel that larger one to morph it newly fixed into the new one; thoughtfully, slowly, expressively... I can't explain how when it was over there was both an excitement of completion with having done it in mindful pleasure, or the sadness that enveloped my moist eyes because it was complete... life lessons were learned and immense healing was birthed from these simple fibers that became a metaphor for life.

What will become of this fiber?  My spiritual mother suggested a creation that could be passed down with the stories and lessons learned and gained from this experience... something to share with my daughter, full of the mysteries of life and of wombynhood... and upon this suggestion I heard Spirit whisper that it should be an altar cloth... and so it will eventually be.

Two weeks later my cold has left my system, my Bell's is nearly released, and the yarn awaits new creation.  I have been reminded to celebrate the artist in each of us, including that which painted this place and time for me to embrace illness and heal through/with it.  New dance steps were learned, with vital messages of Being without justification.

In the end, "washing the rice" became the best medicine.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pausing through March

"Letting go means
letting come and go, letting be.
Letting go means
opening to the wisdom of allowing.
This is nonattachment." -- Lama Surya Das

That one quote, aside from making me catch my breath just a little bit in truth and awareness, pretty much sums up the month of March for me: letting go. 

It was letting go in both its small and large forms, some of which meant simply letting go of time -- I didn't open my datebook once during that month, didn't look at my calendar on the wall once (actually forgot it even existed!), I didn't plan for anything.  Unusual, yes, and completely out of character.  I hardly live in the calendar montage, but I am quite cognizant of linear time when I am fully here, and yet even in Spirit there is that awareness, because I'm here, my contract is here, and so Here maintains a level of responsibility that I must facilitate and abide by, per "contract" rules, after all.

March has, in the past, been a month of tremendous transition and pain.  Generally coming off of frequent visits in the land of desperation ("depression") in February, March begins a purge -- suitable for Ostara and birthing and rebirthing of the Earth -- in year's past I have found myself on the surface of a volcanic eruption.  It's the one time of year where my inner bitch roars, though not harming those around me, but letting an implosion stir before an eruption around my environment begins, and I'm feisty.  Not pleasant, not sassy, just miserable, feeling my skin crawl, feeling the inside needing to purge -- I have spent 3-4 years in March in the emergency room with the most random virus that can only be manifested by my Higher Self to sit down and shut the fuck up.  After these years of painful hospital visits I made the conscious choice that I could purge without needing to be poked and prodded with needles or the violent bile that burns through my stomach... and so it just stopped.  Imagine that: conscious decisions manifesting change... insert universal giggle here!

From there I decided to rewind a bit.  What was going on in March that had me so ill every year?  What happened in February that would make me go so within my cave and my depression that I would need to, for lack of a better word, lash out?  When it was figured out, it was just gone -- it was as though it merely needed to be understood, like a complicated math equation, and once it was discovered it didn't have the same meaning, certainly not of the same intensity as it once had, and so it could be what it needed to be: part of the process.

This year I decided everything could be put on hold.  It's not to say that I didn't keep up with important meetings or classes or whatever else was actually in the datebook that was never opened, because I did, but most everything else was just put on a shelf, left to be viewed peripherally, but not actually touched.  It was freeing.  It was necessary.  I had more pressing, internal matters to tend to.  A healing and purging were rising to the surface, and I gave myself permission to process through it with ease.

I went back to the quote, my theme for March, and I just allowed.  Old wounds resurfaced and I didn't panic.  I didn't tear, I didn't hide, I wasn't afraid.  It was there, it came, it went, it was very much like the waves of the ocean, and in the end those waves became a catalyst for my healing.

It's not to say that I'm not still clinging.  I am.  I'm clinging to one major piece, one piece that isn't necessary to carry anymore.  However, it's not something I'm stripping away in a moment.  It's a mindful process of conscious release... release and letting go, not "getting rid of".  This healing gave me more clarity on this clinging piece.

I had a soul healing from a trusted friend and teacher recently, one who knows as much about my past traumas as less than a handful of other trusted individuals, even the deepest shame I sometimes am unable to share with others, yet it becomes more pressing as time continues, and as my own work develops and redevelops, that this one piece of "shame" must be shared (though not today). 

The session was great.  Powerful.  Healing.  Scary.  I vocalized on more than on occasion that the drive over was met with fear.  It wasn't paralyzing fear, just heart-racing "what will happen next" kind of fear.  It wouldn't stop me, and I refused to allow it to (and told my friend as such -- that even if I say "I'm scared" that I just needed a good arse-kicking, and this friend was willing to do so!). 

My world has been different since then.  Clearer.  My sense of awareness is so much more crisper than it had been.  Even the way I receive messages now has shifted.  Everything is... my inner voice says "easy", and yet I feel the need to clarify that "easy" is not how we interpret "easy" to be... it's just easy.  It's simple, it's profound, it's gentle but powerful.  Why?  Because it is -- because I've let it... in this format I have opened to the wisdom of allowing and attuned with nonattachment. 

I have been looking within and processing, but I have been also looking at the scope around my perimeter.  What do others need?  What can I offer?  What is ego's role (from its functionality) and when does it stand back (away from its dysfunction) and become pure?  My layers of understanding my role In Service feels like it has shifted.  In visually looking at it, it was once even, like standing on a skateboard (which is a terribly analogy for me since I can barely walk and chew gum without my clumsy nature running amok!), just even, perhaps gliding from side to side, but the foundation being even.  Now the foundation has shifted... it has tilted, which in our society would make one think that it's "off-balance", however this isn't the case at all.  The image, in my case, of that balanced skateboard was true in form for that moment, for that time I built the foundation -- it was balance then because I believed it to be in balance, just like now I believe this appearance of the tilted foundation is balance, because I label it as true, but it's just an image, something for the brain to wrap its mind around, to somehow give meaning and to make sense of what it is that I'm trying to do, or aim for.  In the end the image doesn't matter.  It's just an image.  It's no-thing.

In the mix of not being online for most of March and stepping back from most cyber connections, I let myself be in that place of doing no-thing and enjoying it.  Things got done, yes, but time wasn't wasted.  I admit I spent most of the month submerged in reruns of "21 Jump Street" (I'm currently near the end of season three!)... a program I used to watch as a kid, it was more entertaining than reading about what others were (or weren't) doing on FB... plus it was fun to remember the monster crush I had on Johnny Depp then as a kid!  Tiger Beat photos of him on my wall?  That's right!

I needed something fun as I processed through what my power animals were sharing, what Purpose was driving into me, and because, frankly, watching Johnny Depp was sometimes more fun than swimming in the ocean.  We tell ourselves we can't do this because of that, and we shouldn't do that because of this... I maintained the structure of responsibility and stripped away the "shoulds" and the "have-tos" and allowed myself to do, literally, whatever I wanted to, without any notion of guilt or feeling like I was "supposed" to be doing something... in that moment I was supposed to be adoring Tom Hanson, that's it ;)

In that time I had also been thinking of another one of Lama Surya's quotes: "Killing time is deadening ourselves."  It made me shift my mentality that every thing I do, from chores to work to parenting to pure silliness, was done with conscious choice and with a release of external (and internal) judgment of how it was supposed to be.  I'm not killing time.  I'm consciously choosing this aspect in this moment. 

I have been told that it's time to gear up for busy Service, to reformulate a plan that was, essentially, already in the works, but not so far into it that it can't be restructured.  In the meantime, this weekend begins a stir of BUSY for some time to come.  There is so much necessity in the air, I'm not sure where my foot will land first, but I know it's ultimately at the base of the labyrinth...


Friday, February 18, 2011

Bare bones -- returning to Self

In my slow digestion of Pema Chodron's "When Things Fall Apart", I find myself coming across her wisdom in moments that I really need to receive it, though sometimes met with apprehension, it's an invitation to go deeper, even if my inner self is, sometimes, in denial about what it may find.

I have been contemplating this one passage, this one chapter really, that she speaks about Hopelessness...

"For those who want something to hold on to, life is even more inconvenient.  From this point of view, theism is an addiction.  We are addicted to hope -- hope that the doubt and mystery will go away.  ... As long as we are addicted to hope, we feel that we can tone our experience down or liven it up or change it somehow, and we continue to suffer a lot."

Upon reading this passage it immediately triggered me.  Denial, sure, anger, indeed, but a sadness of truth that I hadn't expected.  Addicted to hope?  Really?  When something is wrong, when we're in pain, don't we try to lift ourselves up, even those around us, with notions that there is hope, that there is something better, something that will change this moment from "bad" to "good"?  I sensed that my denial and anger over this notion was because I realized that it wasn't so much that I didn't believe this passage, but that I was shocked to see how I have been clinging to hope.

She speaks about the first Noble Truth, and how when we're suffering it doesn't mean that there is something, actually, wrong.  A wild notion: suffering does not equate with something being wrong.  I suppose this is where our judgment comes into play.   

"Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty.  We can't simply relax with ourselves.  We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment."

Hope robs us of the present moment.  I literally had to put the book down when I read this.  In my own clinging to hope, I've become addicted to standing outside of myself, disconnected and numb, all so whatever suffering I was experience would go away.  Though it's clear that if it's not processed through it never simply "goes away", it simply builds, and returns, and oftentimes we are overwhelmed by this pain... and we return to hope.

This reminds me of days and weeks (and months and years!) of training with Kamala about the Four Forces, about language, about how each word has its own meaning, sure, but there is both a functional and discordant energy that surrounds each word.  In thinking of "hope", it's, naturally, a good word, right?  What's so 'wrong' with hope?  That's the problem.  Thinking of it in terms of "right" and "wrong".  It's a word.  It's an action.  It's a feeling.  It is... neutral.  It's powerful because we give power to it.  So when she speaks about the renunciation of hope, it's not that attaining "hopelessness" is bad, it's simply a return to form, a return to the bare bones, to the beginning of the beginning, without escapism...

I've sat with this notion of hopelessness for about a month now -- seeing my role in the past of sharing that addiction with others.  Sure, I've held space for someone's suffering and trauma, but somewhere in that space there is this leakage of hope, of attaching the cord of clinging thoughts to someone else, so they, in turn, can feed the addiction, numb themselves instead of being present, I mean FULLY present in their bones, and then spreading it to someone else.

I like hope.  I love hope.  I cling to it.  I nurture it.  It nurtures me.  This isn't about the negating aspects of creating a world full of hopelessness -- it's about me understanding my addiction, my clinging, to something outside of myself when suffering comes.  It's about an awakening into myself that hope, in its pure form, is great, but when I use it to not feel what I am experiencing, even for a moment, then it's pure illusion.  I've spent enough time in that reality...

My spiritual mother and I have been digesting these aspects together.  It never surprises me that when I am processing through something, she is also processing through something very similar.  Here we were just the other day, a couple of hours into a conversation on the phone about hopelessness, addiction, honoring form... and we hit the same road block: in Buddhism we're taught about non-clinging, about getting to the core of being nothing (no-thing), and yet in Paganism we're embracing that we are all One in the Universe -- we are everything; we're the cup, we're the trees, we're the wind, we're the trash, we're everything... so we're centered in this reality of being nothing and everything, all in one, without hope... needless to say we had a good laugh...

The clinging, the attachment, coming back to Chodron's quote about how life is more inconvenient when we have things we are holding on to.  I awakened to something important in my pattern of life: when in the darkness of my depression (which visited me last month for a few weeks) I am without hope.  I am in the dark, I am in the suffering, and I am in the pain.  I don't cling to hope (generally) to escape it, I spend much of the beginning portions sitting in it, returning to the bare bones, and yet when I see that thread of light, I jump to it, cling as though it's the last breath I'll ever take, and the work of returning to Self has vanished in place of numbness and fear... fear that I will allow myself to be swallowed in the shadows, fear that I have always been in the shadows, and this, the Light, is the true illusion.  We tell ourselves stories when we're in pain.  Sometimes I'm a better storyteller when suffering that when in the light... a complete judgment, and others may not agree with that statement, yet this is the character that chooses that truth in that moment.

Hopeful... hopeless... I sense that all I need right now is to burn some white sage and be in the center of my bare bones, returning to Self...