the fires of kali

It’s curious that the things we most love to do often get pushed to the back burner during times of stress. This post is my attempt to reconnect with blogging, a bright spot in my life – but one I’ve neglected these past few weeks!

Like many others, I’ve experienced some big life changes and it’s taken most of my energy to keep up with my day-to-day routine during all the transition. Last month, I moved homes yet again. Those who know me will probably find this amusing, as I change addresses more frequently than anyone I know…but these particular circumstances were unsettling and threw me off center. The silver lining? I’ve discovered that I’m getting tired of being a gypsy. I’m craving a real sanctuary, somewhere I can land at the end of the day and truly call ‘home’. I’m intrigued at what this realization might bring!

The past is certainly coming up for re-evaluation and reconfiguration. An old flame recently returned to my life, and the relationship is evolving into something new. Is it resurrection or completion? It is hard not to ask such questions, but of course only time will tell.

technicolor kali, sonja picard

Through all of this, I’ve been feeling goddess Kali’s strong presence. Kali, the destroyer of all that is old, tired, and decayed. Her sword slashes my ego to the core, over and over again, making it excruciatingly uncomfortable to remain in habitual reactions and beliefs. She asks me: Is this really what you want? How uncomfortable does it have to get? What are you sacrificing? Is it worth it?

This all sounds intense, and it is. But there’s also been so much beauty and healing these past couple of months. My external situations are no doubt mirroring the shifts on the inside, and while this often feels stressful and exhausting, I welcome it. Things have to get completely shaken up to settle in their new and rightful places. (I’m seeing snow globes.)

Kali asks: What do you want? I usually go blank at this question. Is it because I don’t know, or I don’t feel worthy of having it, or because it’s never been about external things? Probably.

What I want is to feel my connection with my source, my creator – God – more than ever before. To use the collective chaos and turmoil as the catalyst for delving deeper into my own Self. And that means trusting my own guidance and authority, something I’ve written about before, and is more crucial than ever.

Having said that, perhaps it’s also time to start creatively dreaming about those externals! I’m feeling renewed excitement in reviving plans and projects that I shelved a while back. Doing things for the sheer enjoyment they bring, like writing and blogging. Perhaps these times present a golden opportunity, a fruitful time to plant seeds that will grow into something big. The old hardened roots have to be dug up first, leaving what looks to be a huge mess…but it’s actually the fertile soil for great beauty. Summer feels ripe for the picking.

Jai, Kali Ma.

the sword of the feminine

A few years ago, during my first Ayahuasca journey, I was shown the image of a sword. I’d never seen anything like it before. It was a work of art, beautifully silver and encrusted with jewels and crystals. I understood that this was not a weapon of destruction; it was the sword of love, cutting through all illusion. The sword of the Feminine.

I think about this sword often. Sometimes I feel it as an etheric presence behind or above me. The image was/is so pristine and powerful, merely remembering it brings me comfort and relief. The sword itself is a remembrance of something I intuitively understand but can’t quite articulate.

It’s interesting to think about the sword now, because my perceptions of the Divine Feminine and Masculine are shifting. I’m realizing that I don’t actually know what the Divine Feminine and Masculine are. It’s kind of humorous and humbling to admit that, because I’ve written about these concepts numerous times on my blog.

shakti's garden by sonja picard

shakti’s garden by sonja picard

For several years, I took part in women’s circles and gatherings. And during my Kundalini Yoga teacher training, I had many ideas for women’s workshops. But something happened earlier this summer. I went off most social media and entered major hermit mode. I had no desire to participate in or facilitate women’s gatherings. I actually felt hostile to the idea. I found myself going within to what seemed like a very frustrated, depressed place. Was this self-sabotage? Fear of change? Remnants of ancient patterns? Addiction to familiar emotions?

I realized that despite all the work, at my core I didn’t feel anything ‘Divine Feminine’ about myself.  How could I then encourage the divine in others, or see the divine in men? It’s not that I felt like a fraud…but ‘Divine Feminine’ and ‘Divine Masculine’ had become concepts I’d used and heard so many times that they no longer held meaning for me. I had thought that these spiritual principles, and others, transcended duality – but perhaps they just reinforced it.

I do believe in a Divine Feminine and Masculine essence within each one of us, which we project outward to co-create reality. But experiencing our essence is a deep and personal journey that goes beyond ‘spiritual’ or new age concepts (e.g., idealized depictions of gods and goddesses). And it takes time. Humanity has run on certain archetypes and beliefs for eons; some are loving and some are not. Can we create new archetypes, and are we ready to?

There is tremendous power in women’s circles, and I know these will re-emerge in my life, in some form, when the timing feels right. I know I don’t have to have all the answers, because I never will (and that’s so not the point). I also think more men’s groups and retreats would be very helpful. The men I know who’ve participated in such groups embody something that is truly…well, ‘divine’ is the word that comes to mind.

I believe the sword of the Feminine is guiding me to her truth and essence, which is in harmony with the Masculine. That harmony creates something new, beyond the labels and categories of duality.

We have seen so much of humanity’s darkness coming to the surface this year. I have my thoughts on the force of patriarchy, but I don’t want that to keep the ‘us against them’ dynamic alive in my psyche. I have observed the darkness within myself and, as uncomfortable as it’s been, it does feel like my process is creating more space within.

The challenge for me is to remain open and trusting in this space, not wanting to immediately fill it with anything, even ‘love’ or ‘light’ (which can be further conceptualizations of the mind). The space itself is highly intelligent, and from this place we can create relationships beyond what we’ve ever known.

delusions in love and money

A couple of weeks ago I returned to my hometown after five months living in a much smaller city. I’m happy to be back. Though my time on the Island was powerful, it was also quite challenging. I missed my native city’s buzz and beauty, and my friends and family.

Wherever you go, there you are. It’s true. Moving to a new location may seem like the solution to our frustrations, but once the novelty wears off we often find our old thoughts and behaviours creeping back in, like weeds growing in our minds. The same dynamics appear, but with new faces and places.

On the other hand, new scenery can give us a reset or fresh perspective. Many people are now being guided to relocate. Maybe we’ve learned all we can where we are, and it’s time to move on.

Personally, so many of my own illusions and delusions came to the surface these last few months, especially in terms of finances and relationships. I became aware of how intertwined my views are on love and money, and where I’ve buried my head in the sand about each. Reality can feel too painful or overwhelming to confront, so we make up stories to avoid it.

Some painted tree posts from my Island 'hood

Some painted tree posts from my Island ‘hood

I’ve never felt totally at home in 3D. I’ve preferred to spend time in realms beyond the physical, seeking the bigger picture ‘why’ of things. But I can see that over-spiritualizing – looking for a spiritual explanation for everything – doesn’t always serve. I’ve dismissed physical reality as somehow inferior to the ‘higher’ realms. It’s all just an illusion.

Yet we are in the physical, material world on planet earth, and my struggle has been with scarcity. Survival. Poverty. Not enough. I’m not enough. This has manifested in bank balances and romantic relationships that could do nothing but reflect this lack. I’ve blamed ‘evil financial corporations’ and fantasized about ‘twin flames’. I’ve been terrified that external sources had so much power over me, and that I couldn’t wriggle myself out, despite my best efforts and intentions.

It’s been essential to dive into my emotions and memories to understand where my limiting beliefs originated, and how I’ve created experiences of lack over and over. I’ve been on my self-healing journey for many years, and in feeling the pain and emptiness for so long (especially these last few months), I’m now sensing that it doesn’t mean anything.

All the stories I’ve told myself about love and money, and my worthiness (or lack thereof) to receive them, about lessons and karma and suffering, are simply not true. It seems like a paradox; we must feel the intense realness of our darkest places, our deepest lack and shame, to realize it was never true to begin with. Not for us, our parents, or our ancestors.

There is grief in this. We’ve invested so much time and energy in our stories, hopes, and delusions that we resist letting them go. We have known and loved those stories, even if they’ve caused pain. Letting go feels risky, as so many of our loved ones are invested in these same stories. We doubt ourselves. What if I’m wrong? What if God’s testing me, to show how much I care? What if I’m quitting two minutes before the miracle?

Letting go means we give up our attachment to being powerless. We don’t get to be so sad and moody anymore. A whole new range of experience awaits, and we have to be responsible. Who knows what that will demand of us!

But holding on to what’s not working eventually becomes so draining that we simply do not have the energy to continue. It’s not worth the consequences to our body and spirit. We have no recourse but to throw in the towel and trust the tiny shred of hope that something greater just might be on the horizon.

I’m open to miracles, 5D living, and quantum shifts in consciousness. Bring it on! But I’m committed to not living in la-la land. I intend to see the physical, material world with more crystal clarity than ever, knowing I have the resources to handle it. I’ll see through 3D’s illusions (and yeah, it is all illusion), so that real truth can shine through.

Happy February!

the disease of people pleasing

Where do I even begin writing about my life changes since meeting up with my dear friend Alexandra Marlene a few months ago?

Alexandra is a true conduit for the Divine Feminine. I have no doubt she is here to lovingly and ferociously shake up humanity in delivering a message the world is ready to hear NOW. She and I initially met on a yoga retreat to India a few years ago, and reconnected last November. Through her presence and friendship, I’ve been able to access deep parts of myself…belief systems so ingrained that I couldn’t see how they were running my life. It has been a profoundly healing and transformative ride.

For one thing, I never really understood how I was a people pleaser, till I took up a recent contract job with my previous employer. The workplace dynamics of hierarchy and subservience that I observed were an assault to my senses. One colleague’s overly servile behaviour particularly irked me. This is pathetic, I thought. We’re still just a bunch of secretaries running around, kowtowing to the (male) powers that be. What the hell am I doing here?!

ppl pleasing

One of Alexandra’s core teachings is as within, so without: everything in our outer world is simply a mirror to what’s happening within. And so it didn’t take long to discover that the people pleasing I perceived triggered me because I was identifying with it.

I’m now seeing my people pleasing tendencies everywhere. In my impulses to stick in smiley faces and exclamation points on work emails, so as to not sound bossy or unpleasant. In the habit of justifying or explaining myself when I think I’m disappointing someone. In my deferential behaviour towards those in ‘authority’. Even on this blog! It’s a habitual way of being, and it’s fascinating to see how it’s permeated my life.

Why do so many women people please? (Because let’s face it, this seems to be a woman thing.) After much inner excavation, I know where my own inclinations come from. And I have compassion for the little girl who desperately wanted to be liked and accepted, and who felt responsible for the well-being of those around her. For her, being ‘nice’ – compromising herself – was the only option. Disapproval = rejection = abandonment. Major fear. Survival.

But what about the woman she is now? Does she need to carry all that around? Is it serving her to pretend? Can she finally stop feeling so responsible for others? Does she get that she never had that kind of power to begin with?

And how ‘nice’ is she really being, if she’s pretending? Does inauthenticity, in any form, serve anyone?

There’s nothing wrong with nice, if it’s coming from an authentic place. It’s a problem when we get that icky feeling within…when we know we’re not acting in integrity with how we truly feel. Some of us have been doing it so long we don’t even know how we truly feel in the first place!

We get used to betraying ourselves. It becomes so normal we don’t even realize it’s happening. And then we wonder why we’re so depleted and resentful.

I judged my co-workers, because what I observed in them activated the severe discomfort of my own self-betrayal. People pleasing now feels like a hazy film that’s coated all my relationships. What could life look like with this film removed? How will I show up?

Will I become selfish, as the ego warns? Probably – but in the most beautiful way. Loving of self…none of my energy bound up in pretending…free to give even more of my real self back to those around me. Not threatened when others are their true selves too. Authentic, self-expressed, clear…yes.

It’s time for the people pleasing to stop. It’s time for self-compassion as we understand what created it. As long as we fear what others think of us, we will always play small and suppress our real power. The energies are here to support a new way of being. I believe we are ready to rise to the occasion.

becoming unbound

“Ah, so you’re a fixer.”

These words were spoken to me a couple of months ago by someone I had recently met. I’d mentioned that my ex, who’d just returned to my life, was going through a rough time and that I wanted to support him. I immediately bristled at her comment. “I am not a fixer,” I said. “He’s fixing himself.”

But her words stayed with me, as did the irritation I felt towards her for saying them. I knew my resistance was showing me something. Was she right? Was I a ‘fixer’?

Love Locks on the gates of Juliet's balcony, Verona, Italy

Love Locks on the gates of Juliet’s balcony, Verona, Italy

How do we know when we’re emotionally supporting someone, and when we’re rescuing them? I’d always disdained the idea of women trying to fix or save men. Why were they wasting their precious energy? Didn’t they see that people are responsible for themselves, that you can’t change anyone?

But things were fuzzy when it came to my own situation. I cared about my ex, and though we were living in different cities, he was back in my life after years of estrangement. I was so thankful for that. Romance aside, couldn’t I be there for him as a friend? I’d been on a path of self-discovery since our breakup. Maybe I had something to offer him. Maybe I could help him get back on track…

It was surreal when he visited me a few weeks ago. It was as if nothing had changed…yet everything had changed. I could feel how I felt with him all those years ago – insecure, ‘not enough’ – yet I also felt a strength I lacked back then. I was living two different me’s in the same moment.

I wanted time to get to know each other again but, like a whirlwind, he left town soon after he arrived. I’d tried not to get my hopes up about a future with him, but it happened anyway. Now that he was gone, I panicked. What if we don’t talk for another seven years? What if I never see him again? What if this is it?!

My best friend saw the distressed state I was in and insisted that I spend the weekend with her. What I remember most from our conversations was her request that I be more vulnerable in life. She knows me better than anyone, and she told it to me straight. I’m the gal who pretends everything is going great, when really I often feel lonely and isolated. It was time to stop wearing that mask. To reach out more to those who love me.

I’d been afraid to be truly vulnerable with my ex during our entire relationship. I hadn’t wanted to appear needy, dependent, weak, messy – like all the other women he knew. I wanted to be cool, confident. Not draining or suffocating him.

But what about my needs and desires? I’d held back for fear of rejection. I’d set my whole life up to avoid humiliation, being laughed at, or (worse) pitied, but all that took a huge toll. After being with my best friend, something roared to life within. No more. I knew I couldn’t live that way another minute: all buttoned up, silent, the unknowns and what-ifs eating away at me. Slow death.

I called my ex and expressed what I couldn’t during our visit. That I wanted us to try again. That we’d waited so long and why not just go for it, when our second chance was right in front of us? I sounded so clear, so raw. He listened and responded that he was not in the same place as me. Through our conversation it became clear that we had very different needs. After a few moments, we wished each other well. And that was it.

***

My emotions fluctuate, but somewhere in there is relief. I feel a sense of peace that I didn’t before. And this could only come from knowing I was true to my feelings. The real pain wasn’t in the rejection, but in the holding back. My own words brought me the freedom I was so desperately seeking.

I couldn’t be his ‘fixer’; I needed my own healing and attention. He showed up at the perfect time for me to really get it: the real power is in the vulnerability.

 

i want my power back

In my last post I wrote about my journey into my power centre, and how that relates to the Divine Feminine – her reemergence on planet earth, and the role I play within that.

It’s clear to me that many of us, especially women, have felt very disconnected from our solar plexus.  I myself had always written it off as having a ‘weak’ third chakra…but what was I telling myself?  That I’m not wired to be strong?  That power is for other people?

shiva and shakti, by my amazing friend sonja picard. http://www.sonjapicard.com

‘shiva and shakti’, by my amazing friend and artist sonja picard (sonjapicard.com)

On yet another walk, these insights were further intensified. (Yes, I seem to have most of my revelations on long walks, especially those along the water!)  I remember I was in a particularly twisted state at this time.  And it mostly had to do with a man.  Something this man did (or didn’t do) that day set off some major triggers, and I was sent into an emotional tailspin.

Prior to this, I’d had a very teary few days at work, for various life reasons; at some points I felt like I was one synapse away from a nervous breakdown.  My heart was beating rapidly and I felt a free-floating sense of terror and helplessness, the likes of which I had never felt before.  A feeling of nothingness, emptiness…like I was a mere shell, with no substance. I was gasping and grasping for solace in something, anything…but not finding it anywhere.

So on my walk that morning, I had the sense that everything I had once derived comfort from was gone.  I couldn’t feel God or my angels (could I ever before?), no spiritual teachings or readings were working, and there was nothing to pray to.  It was just me – and this terrified me, because it felt like there was nothing to me.

At that moment, all I could do was breathe.  On some level I understood that breathing into my belly was my only option.  It was my last resort; the one thing that just might give me relief, keep me sane.

I’d always been stubbornly resistant to deep breathing. It felt uncomfortable. I rolled my eyes when yoga teachers would go on about ‘the breath’.  It was a sensation that didn’t come easily to me, and I didn’t enjoy it.  I thought it was overrated.

But now, I strongly sensed that it was my last hope. A deep, profound knowing that my head was no longer going to give me  the solace I craved – and that it never would (if it ever did!).

As I walked, my iPod distracted me from my intense discomfort. A certain song helped me to breathe deeply.  As I did so, I felt a little spark growing in my belly. Dancing, swirling.  I don’t know if I actually felt it or visualized it, but it doesn’t matter.  My focus suddenly turned to power.  I became very aware of my personal power.

“I want my power back,” I said aloud, in a low voice, surprising myself.

uma parvati, sonja picard. www.sonjapicard.com

‘uma parvati’, sonja picard (sonjapicard.com)

And so it began.  A  two-hour  dialogue with my power.  I ‘saw’ that a tug of war had been playing out within me, for years.  Me fighting myself, my whole life.  I was ‘told’ (by my power) that the ego wants me to fight this war, so that I can be distracted, occupied, my energy drained – that is, not in my authentic power.

I understood that my authentic power wants me to surrender this war.  Not surrender it to some outside force, but to myself.  To the most wise, creative, authoritative power in me, which resides in a place my mind has little (if any) access to: my belly, my gut, my solar plexus.

The insights continued.  I realized that I’d been carrying the belief that I have to choose between power and a man.  That intimate relationships ultimately take away my power.  “I want both”, I said, again surprising myself by speaking aloud.  “I want both.  I WANT BOTH.”

It’s then that I started to really feel it – that self-love is in the belly.  That once lit, the fire grows inside, bigger and bigger, building.  It has always been there.  You choose, my power told me.  You decide.  I either claim it and direct my own life, or I don’t.

I then stated: “I am not asking permission to have my power back; I am TAKING it.”

I can’t say that I felt a strong  sensation in my belly, but my internal eyes were definitely seeing and feeling something new.  “Show me your secrets,” I asked.  “Your knowledge.  Your creation.  Your magic.  Show me how my bliss truly transforms, and enables it for others.  Show me.”

I saw how much self-doubt, fear, and insecurity I’d been carrying my whole life. And I wanted it gone in that instant.  I wanted the miracle of divine intervention, for lightning to strike my belly – zap, zap, zap – for transformation and change to occur immediately.  And my power said, Okay, it’s done.  It’s never been undone; you just keep throwing shit on it that you have to remove.

Hmmm.

In that moment I realized that my wise, all-knowing power will never allow me the relationships I most desire until I acknowledge the full extent of my power, my Divine Feminine, my love for myself.  She’s been waiting patiently, unwaveringly, feeing my pain and angst…but she won’t give in on this one.

saraswati, sonja picard. http://www.sonjapicard.com

‘saraswati’, sonja picard (sonjapicard.com)

Breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe.  Keep breathing.

I don’t have to understand ‘why’ or ‘how’. I don’t have to analyze or intellectualize my power centre and the knowing that resides there.  So many definitions of my self and spirituality have been (mental) concepts.  The time has come for communing with God through the belly.  Its fire melts away all the superfluous stuff in the background – all that is not love. I don’t have to do anything; I can enjoy this process.  All the old beliefs can be dropped, I was told.  They were never even real to begin with.

I realized that the most terrifying thing of all is not being there for myself.  Why has it been so hard to be there for myself?  To have my own back, first and foremost?

***

Why some people seem born with a strong sense of self, and not others – it doesn’t matter.  It is in everyone, to be discovered eventually.  We are all lotuses emerging from the waters.   There is no sense in thinking about what I used to be like, or what could happen in the future.  Enjoy this beautiful stage you are in now.  It will create more beauty.

I create it to share it.

Regarding the man who seems to have sparked this dialogue…even at the time I knew it wasn’t about him specifically.  But he drew my attention to something in me that was screaming for attention.  The emotional discomfort was so strong that I had no choice but to pay attention.

And I am so thankful to discover how essential it is for me to allow the power I couldn’t previously access.  And how it relates to the Divine Feminine, which is personally very important.  “No man (or woman) has the power to destroy me”, I realized with great relief. I am indestructible.  Yet I have never been more open.

I no longer accept feeling ‘gutted’ as the norm…bottomed out, hollowed out. No.  With a strong spiritual sun, spirit cannot leave me. My sun forever holds my spirit in place.

the burning loneliness

In Reveal, Meggan Watterson writes of her spiritual pilgrimage to France, where she discovered that, without a partner/lover travelling by her side, she was challenged to maintain her own self-worth: 

I found myself on a treacherous see-saw, vacillating between the extremes of feeling free and entirely independent – like Salma Hayek in the movie Frida, when she cuts her hair and becomes her own after her husband has betrayed her – to feeling totally alone and ineffectual, my life devoid of purpose and meaning.

While my experience was not so intense, I resonate with Watterson’s words.

misty fireball

There were times in Italy when I was just so cool with my aloneness. I loved being on the trains, listening to music and watching the landscape pass me by. These were some of my favourite moments. I loved doing whatever I wanted each day, even if it meant doing nothing. I loved getting up early and walking for hours with no real destination, which might have been harder with a travel partner. Sitting at a cafe and just observing my surroundings was a favourite pastime. This is when I often met people; in that open, receptive state, content in being one with everything around me.

But at times it was incredibly challenging to be alone. That is, it was lonely. As in, I’m in Italy and there’s all this beauty around me and yes, I’m grateful, but man, what is the point of it all, if there is no one around to share it with? I remember walking amongst the intense crowds in Venice and thinking, How can I possibly feel alone right now, with all these people here, all of us enjoying this beautiful place together? And while I felt that to some degree, I was also fooling myself. Venice was hard.

lonely venice

At times, I was so sick of my own company. Of entertaining myself, of thinking my own thoughts. I realized there’s a limit to how much of myself I can take.

I thought about those I love, my friends and family back home. I missed them. And, more profoundly, I felt how I shut them out when I am at home. Well, maybe that’s too harsh. Rather, I felt how I don’t really make the effort to spend more time with them, to show them how much I care. Why don’t I do more to maintain those loving, vital connections?  Do I expect/assume that others will do it?

One of my most challenging moments was in a restaurant in Sorrento, on the Amalfi Coast. As I sat down and ordered my meal, the room quickly began filling with people. Groups of people. Families, friends, couples. Maybe it was because I was towards the end of my trip, maybe because I’d made two strong (soul) connections a couple nights before…but I felt my aloneness intensely. Like I was in the middle of a 360, my solo status blatantly on display for all to see. Spotlighted.

I could feel my face and body burning with it; that no matter how cool I attempted to look, people could see right through me. Wondering why this girl was alone, here of all places. Maybe feeling sorry for me, embarrassed for me. I was practically hyperventilating with self-consciousness. Regardless of whether anyone even noticed me that night…I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

a new door

I realized in Italy that I need people. And that I want to need people. Be dependent on them.  Be softer and more vulnerable.

I think I have overrated my independence. I’m glad that I can be happy in my own company…but I can see now how I’ve gotten too comfortable with it. As more and more friends find partners and start families of their own, I see that years can go by in flash. I haven’t known for sure if I want marriage and/or children, but I recognize I could be on the trajectory of not allowing them at all. And that’s a big wake-up call.

Now that I’m home, whether or not I invest more energy in creating/sustaining my relationships is totally up to me. It means questioning: what is truly liking my own company, and what is not being comfortable in – avoiding – the presence of others? Is there a fear of rejection in ‘putting myself out there’? Have my ‘introvert’ and ‘high sensitivity’ labels merely become (un)comfortable excuses to avoid deeper interactions? Does being ‘reserved’ make me feel somehow powerful, untouchable?

***

Or maybe it means not questioning any of it anymore. Maybe the whole point is that it is not so complicated at all. Love is not complicated. It’s the ego that wants to make everything an issue, a puzzle, a problem to be fixed.

I think the Italians would recommend that I stop thinking about it, and live.  Right.  Okay.

Grazie Mille, Italy.

Images courtesy of Vaughan Lewis.