new shoots in the dark

In my part of the world, summer has taken a while to show up. It’s now here in full force: temperatures are high, and wildfires are burning all over the province. A smoky haze envelops my city, where there should be blue sky. Tonight is a full moon, and later this month a total solar eclipse, partially visible from where I live.

What does all this mean? Nothing, maybe. At one time I would’ve written about this as a chance to burn away what no longer serves us individually and collectively. The heat is kicking up tension, the smoke obscuring the path, the full moon marking the opportunity for completion.

Perhaps this is true, but I can’t say anything with certainty. On one hand it seems things are too unpredictable, on the other I feel completely stagnated. I’m noticing a chronic, underlying disgruntlement, triggered more often these days. I am impatient and anxious much of the time.

a smoky, hazy sky

It’s been on my radar to write an updated ‘About’ page. Mystic, wanderer, tantric, yogi… would I still describe myself this way? Possibly. But these words have formed an identity, an image, that no longer fits. Defining myself as ‘spiritual’, however earnest and sincere my intentions, has also – in some ways – disconnected me from others.

For a long time, I perceived the dominant, external reality as negative, and feared that focusing on this negative would only reinforce it, thus bringing more of it into my life. (The Law of Attraction.) I didn’t watch the news, and I unplugged from most social media. It was important to focus on the light.

But did it make me a happier person? No.

Because resisting something only strengthens it.

Because fearing negativity, and suppressing that fear, takes a lot of energy.

Because we are all connected, and living in a bubble doesn’t work.

Thanks to Leigh for sharing a recent Oprah interview with author and speaker Charles Eisenstein. Oprah and Charles discuss that hate is a ‘bodyguard’ for grief. The low-level suffering many of us experience is due to profound disconnection from our communities. Everything that’s happening to the world is happening to us….and we’ve numbed ourselves to the feeling – the knowing – that we’re all connected.

If we are evolving into a more conscious and empathic species, it’s important to know what’s going on with the rest of humanity. I want my feet on the ground, aware of what’s happening on (and to) the planet. I want my eyes opened where I’ve previously shielded them. We hold light where we can; but we also allow ourselves to feel the darkness. This can open the doors to empathy.

We’re all co-writers in this planetary script. Oprah and Charles discuss that we will hold on to our stories the hardest just before they completely collapse. This is happening on a mass scale. Where do I see my own beliefs playing out on the global stage? My stories have shaped my life, and it’s difficult to let some of them go. But they hold a me-against-the-world slant, and I don’t want to tell that tale anymore.

No matter who we are, we’ve inherited ancestral beliefs, religious conditioning, tribal fears and shames, and a collective worldview that for the most part stems from division and separation. Creating a new story is a massive undertaking.

I know so many kind and caring people who do their best to live in integrity and harmony with the natural world. They work hard every day to live by their values and take personal responsibility for their actions. I am inspired by them, and want to learn more from them. They give me hope that seeds of empathy and compassion are being planted in what appears to be the darkest of days.

Perhaps this moon is indeed a fortuitous time to end one chapter and begin writing the next.

a compassionate february

I have been waiting for February. February feels like fresh air and moving forward. Not ‘moving forward’ as in doing a bunch of things; in fact, as I write these words, I feel utterly exhausted. I can barely grasp the gravity of what’s happening in the U.S., and the tragedy of the Quebec mosque shootings. It’s all slammed me in a way I wasn’t expecting.

Which is why I’m taking extra care to be aware of, and conserve, my energy as much as possible. 2016 brought into sharp focus the consequences of not honouring my energy. So much of my attention was directed outward, and I felt the severe financial, emotional, and spiritual impact. What I thought made me feel good was actually draining my life force, slowly but surely. By the end of 2016, I was running on empty.

It’s hard to imagine 2017 being more intense than last year – but it likely will be. How are we going to handle it? I don’t tune in to social media or the news, but that’s not necessarily the solution. This isn’t a time to bury my head in the sand. (It wouldn’t work anyway; I’d still feel what’s going on globally. We are interconnected.)

purple-tulips

January was about wrapping up loose ends and completing, or moving forward with, projects and commitments I’d procrastinated on. At times it felt like a bit of a slog…but I’m glad I took care of these things, because the more I clear the energetic cobwebs, the greater space I have within. And the better equipped I am to handle what 2017 will bring. The good, the bad, and the ugly/beautiful.

On another note – or maybe it’s completely related – I recently attended some mental health training sessions as part of my new job. Though I registered in these courses to assist those I work with, the training unexpectedly helped me on a very personal level. Not only did I come away with a greater empathy and understanding for those with mental health issues, I felt self-compassion and insight into my own journey.

We never know what’s going on in someone’s interior world. Our assumptions, wounds, and projections are so strong that we can completely miss the humanity in another (and in ourselves). These past few weeks I’ve realized that I often assume others are ‘okay’, when maybe they’re really not. This all feels very timely and relevant to the world stage.

Many of us are grieving. Collective healing begins with self-compassion; when we acknowledge our own vulnerability, we recognize it in those around us. Compassion dissolves our hardened walls. When we cut out the superfluous ’stuff’ of our lives, we draw on our inner resources and share them with others. We become creative in totally new ways…creative with people, love, and relationships. We become leaders in our own lives.

Reaching out to others is courageous; it’s much more comfortable to stay in our cozy little spaces. But withdrawal and isolation won’t work. Our survival as a species – if that’s what we want – hinges on the awareness that we need each other, now more than ever. Baby steps quickly become leaps and bounds. Compassion is the way.

I wish everyone a peaceful February.

the pain of bliss

Soon after I posted on the joys of mantra meditation, a dear friend emailed me to ask what I’ve been up to “besides being blissed out”. Her question made me smile, and pause to reflect.

Kundalini yoga and meditation have certainly given me a newfound sense of spiritual connection, hope, and yes, bliss…but I’ve mostly been spending time in solitude and contemplation. I’m continuing my shadow work, diving deep into feelings of darkness and limitation to touch the underlying fear, grief, and sense of separation.

seawall-tagore-watermark

Many people are scared of experiencing, or talking about, deep emotions. Some fear that focusing on negative feelings will manifest more of them. Especially in the spiritual community, we say affirmations and practice the Law of Attraction to avoid what we consider negative. But it’s really our unconscious programming driving the show. And we can’t delete that with positive thought alone.

For me, bliss can only come with feeling and releasing painful emotions. This pain has accumulated over lifetimes, in my childhood, in my ancestry, and in the collective. Bliss is the authenticity of feeling all my feelings, without self-judgment. Bliss isn’t about being ‘happy’ all the time. That is a precarious place to be, because we fear losing that happiness. Bliss is freedom from the fear of feeling.

A few months ago I wrote about my move to a new location. I can see now that much has shifted for me in my short time here. It has been a challenging time on many levels. But I’ve needed to be in a place where I could consolidate my energy and prepare myself for something very new.

There have been many tears…but there is a subtle, lasting, profound joy in their release. It’s hard to put into words, but I know that many others are going through this cleansing process, and for a purpose.

I am compelled to do this work and I sense it’s about something much bigger than me. I feel deep gratitude to be on this path. And from what I’ve seen in some awakened women around me, the journey through these darker places is well worth it.

In a universe of oneness, we are all carrying each other’s pain. In releasing our own pain, we release it for humanity. We become lighter and more free to create a new reality through feeling our way into it. That, to me, is bliss.

re-wiring my connectivity

I would love to be one of those people who really doesn’t care what others think.

Take my sister, for example.  It never ceases to amaze me how two siblings, from the exact same parents, can be so totally different.  She is three years older than me and, for the most part, has never cared what others think. (I’m sure she has her moments, but I’m speaking generally.)  She seems to have been born with a strong sense of self, a core knowing of who she is.

I, on the other hand, have been the ‘softie’ of the family. Permeable boundaries, super sensitive, feeling what others felt – whether I wanted to or not.

Our familial roles can cement early in life, and we often play the part well into adulthood, unquestioningly accepting it as who we ‘are’.

All this is on my mind as we sisters, in a rare double appearance, recently attended a large family gathering.  In fly-on-the-wall mode, I watched our respective interactions with family members.  I felt the little girl inside me surface: afraid of hurting or offending others, viewing them as authority figures, and worrying about how they perceived her. My sister, on the other hand, seemed completely unperturbed by anything around her.

This makes me wonder: is it really possible to stop caring what other people think of us, if we’ve cared for most of our lives?

My answer to that is Yes.  We are capable of any change and transformation we desire.  But when we’ve trained our system to respond a certain way for so long, it may require more than a mental decision to just ‘stop caring’.

On a subtle level I feel many little wires and threads connecting me to others.  This has affected my ability in the past to make clear, self-authoritative life decisions.  And while the thought of severing these ties gives me great freedom, it’s also unfamiliar.  What does it feel like to make decisions completely independent of the thoughts and opinions of others?

It feels like trusting myself.

Of course.  It has nothing to do with other people.  It’s all about my relationship with myself.  When I’m good with myself, when I’m clear with myself, when I’m solid with myself…what others think doesn’t even factor in.  There is no need to seek external validation or distraction. My energy is directed within.  And it feels good. Genuinely, authentically good.

But do I want to disconnect completely?  I am wired to feel, and though this might include others’ pain or discomfort, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That is empathy, a quality I consider very important.

This is the art of fine-tuning my feelers: knowing which connections strengthen and serve me (and others), and which drain and fragment.

So perhaps this isn’t so much an issue of caring what people think, as becoming more aware of who and what I attune to.  This requires being clear on my own truth.  The discovery of that truth is a priority.  When I really know it, it doesn’t waver in the presence of others’ truths.

So how do I do this?

By stopping.  Getting still.  Breathing.  Moving all that energy circulating in my head down through my solar plexus, and letting it build there.  Creating a new home and sanctuary.  A sturdy place for truth to rest.  Letting that knowledge take the reins.

The true place of power is in my gut.

It overrides the ego’s investment in what others think. Ego wants to look good, to be in control.  It wants to please people, and seeks their validation and approval. (Often resenting them at the same time.)

Maybe my sister was born with a strong third chakra. Perhaps my Piscean sun set me up to be a feeler.  A million theories could explain our differences, but it’s irrelevant.  The question is, how would I like to live now?  What traits in my sister inspire me to cultivate similar traits in myself?

Self-trust.  Turning to my own inner guidance first and foremost.  This doesn’t mean switching off from others.  It means unplugging some of those wires, and connecting them inward, to my source, to my greatest knowing.  This is where my power is recharged and replenished, and from where I serve life in full integrity and alignment.