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.