I am feeling a deep sense of heavy-heartedness on The Path today. So much so that it feels achievement enough to just turn up, walk, and get myself back home. There is no plan to blog. It doesn't feel good putting my darkness out there.
Once home, I'm curious. Why on Earth am I feeling so flat? There aren't any obvious reasons. With a little quiet reflection I realise it is the result of a weekend of unexpressed anger. Ah, again, I was afraid of putting my 'darkness' out there. Instead, choosing to keep it in.
The theme of heartache seems to be a reoccurring one at the moment. Noticing some inner turmoil on Saturday's walk I checked in with myself, as usual, to get a sense of what was really going on within when an image of a large rod going straight through my chest came to mind. I felt as if there were people at either end lifting it up and carrying me. I realised, as bizarre as it was, the image perfectly described the sensation I had in my chest. A feeling of being a slave to my heart.
Moments later, without realising, I found myself veering off the usual path. Literally carried off by the intense anger I was experiencing in the moment. About to change course, I had a sudden sense of No, damn it! This is where the anger is leading me. In truth, I didn't know where I was going. It looked like the path of anger was leading me straight into the bushes, a dead end. As it turned out, it led me right back on to the path. What a surprise! And how much better it felt to acknowledge the anger rather than trying to stay on track and correct myself, if only for those few moments.
Many of us grew up believing anger was bad and that being angry makes us a bad person. It's not true. Anger is simply there to let us know something is wrong. It's part of our internal guidance system. It's a messenger. Not that it's about lashing out when angry but it can be equally dangerous, to ourselves and those around us, to keep quiet and suppress it. Suppressed anger eventually turns into cold rage. A deep-seated resentment that is often masked with a polite smile. It doesn't serve anyone, and certainly not our selves or our bodies. Cold rage will always find a way to express itself, but unlike the more visible expression of its counterpart hot rage, the devastating effects of cold rage can be much less obvious. Rage, whether hot or cold, takes its toll on our body, mind and spirit, depleting our strength at every level and cutting us of from ourselves and others. By noticing when anger arises and acknowledging its message it's possible to use it to our advantage. Perhaps someone has overstepped a boundary, or perhaps we need to lovingly put a boundary down in the first place! Perhaps we are actually in danger (physical or otherwise) and simply need to get ourselves out of the way. Finding a way to be present to our feelings of anger allow us to use it in the way it was intended, to keep us on purpose. Open-hearted and compassionately honest.
I'm au naturel on The Path today. Bare. Naked. Well, what I mean is I forgot to pick up my phone :-\ As my recording device of choice my first thought is what a relief! I don't have to write today - forgetting no one is forcing me. I'll have a nice stress-free walk instead - forgetting this is the whole point anyway. And so I am walking, empty-headed, light and free...for now.
Before long I notice a sense of really wanting to slow the pace down. So, I get slower...and slower...and slower...but curiously it still isn't slow enough. I'm feeling a little ridiculous now. Thank goodness no one is in sight as I am determined not to be swayed by the presence of others on the path. A tough (inner) call when there is so much madness being played out! I realise if I go any slower I'll come to a halt. So I do. I take some time out, sitting on the frosty verge overlooking the field, sun-bathing for a while. Before I know it I am back on the path again. I don't actually remember making the decision to get up! So I guess whatever is going on it's not about stopping. I go as slow as I possibly can. There is a sense of trying to find my own rhythm. Ahhh, this feels better...though it could take forever to get home. As I gently pick up the pace a little I begin to feel lighter. Aha, so it's not so much about slowing down, as lightening up. Got it!
Return to emptiness.
I'm taking lots of photographs today. Pure joy.
Having so enjoyed capturing nature with my camera today I notice I am wondering whether I need to take a course in order to improve my photography skills. But actually, I notice I'd rather not. I really don't want, nor need, another set of rules to live by. Ok, I might learn about composition and lighting and perspective but the fact that I am even aware of these concepts feels like enough for me. If I take on board somebody else's version of the right way to do it I suspect I will be limiting my experience. Instead, I want to be free to explore for myself. Limitless. Without fear of getting it wrong. Left to enjoy the process of discovering what works for me.
The walk nearly over, I notice there have been lots of red, lip-shaped leaves on the path today. So, there's something going on around intimacy. Intimacy offers us the opportunity to open up to our tenderness and vulnerability as well as our full-bodied passion. Both of which scare the life out of me! Either way it's all about being in contact. Touching one another (and indeed ourselves) in the softest most vulnerable of places. Lips, skin, genitals...heart. I realise my fear of intimacy can keep me out of contact, out of relationship, disconnected. And so I hear Nature's gentle reminder to stay in touch, first and foremost with myself. Not doing anything other than noticing when the natural urge towards contact, towards intimacy, arises from within.
Hey...and all this without the aid of a phone. Will the wonder of the human mind and heart never cease? ;-))
As I walk The Path today there is a bright blue sky. It is a beautifully sunny day. Frosty. Chilly. But gorgeous. My thoughts wander to the creative process and what a joy it is. Being back in the flow. I have an image of all the chaos before me, and around me as I proceed to write my book. And yet I have a sense of the pearls of wisdom that are floating around amid the confusion and disarray. I imagine I have a giant needle and thread and gently, one by one, I am taking those pearls of wisdom and threading them into a necklace.
The path is incredibly muddy but I am not feeling perturbed. In fact, I notice I am walking with a bit of a swagger. It's quite amusing. I envisage the guys that strut with their arms wide and loose, taking one step forward and then almost dragging the other leg slowly into place. Making a point, it seems. This is how I roll (no matter how crazy it might appear to the outside world!) It takes courage, I feel, to fearlessly express oneself like that. Through movement. The total embodiment of who we are in the moment.
When it comes to the creative process I notice I'm no longer worrying about having it all sussed and perfected before I begin but just diving in anyway. Finding my way as I go along. Noticing that although I'm alone, I am connected. Sharing feedback, and mutual support. Noticing sometimes my writing ignites a spark in another and at other times there is silence. Being grateful either way. Happy to commit to expressing myself and the joy of the process. I notice some paranoia that there must be some unwritten rule (or perhaps a written one!) that it's not cool to blog about blogging and yet it happens to be where the joy is right now. Where the lessons reside. The current challenge being to express myself unashamedly from hereon in.
I recently began to feel quite heavy around the usually delightful process of blogging. I felt as if I were losing my way a little. Getting blogged down :-)) Despite the dip in energy, I chose to trust the process and stay with what was. Allowing myself to gently move through it, moment-by-moment. Having re-emerged, I appreciate that with the heaviness came clarity. It enabled me to define what is wanted and what is not. I realise the heaviness was simply me trying to fit a book into a blog. A large square peg into a small round hole. It just didn't fit. However, with this renewed sense of place and what belongs where I notice managing my time and my energy is much more effortless. I feel freer and more able to walk the walk.
As I'm walking I'm thinking perhaps I don't need to transcribe this voice memo. Maybe I could listen to it and go straight-to-blog. I notice how keeping (visible) paper records gives me a sense of security. That there is some level of mistrust regarding the internet and computers and the transient nature of digital data. How it can without warning simply disappear. Once again, I am finding the process of trusting the invisible fascinating. Quite liberating.
On the final part of the path I notice a bright green Mountain Dew Energy drink bottle. It amuses me as my pet name for my blog and book is DEW (as in, Down-to-Earth Wisdom). I smile as I wonder if there is a 'mountain of energy' available for DEW? It certainly feels that way. I am feeling incredibly supported right now. Momentarily, I notice some shame. People might think me naive taking counsel from a bottle of Mountain Dew! But quickly I return to centre. It doesn't matter. It brings me clarity. And regardless of outside opinion, I realise...it's the way I roll! :-))
As I step into the house it seems there is still more to say. Yesterday it dawned on me that my book is essentially about recognising and relaxing into the truth of who we are - One Life Force Energy - whether it be described as Flow, Creativity, Sexuality, Love, God, Source, or any other name. It is who we are. We don't do creativity. We are the creative process. Creation, itself. So, with this in mind, I wonder can I allow myself to get right in there, straight-to-blog, go with the flow, splodge all over the page, make a mess, dive in?
The answer, it seems, is Yes! Yes! Yes! ;-))
…what I notice as I observe the ensuing inner battle between love and fear is this: the deepening experience of lightness and joy always seems to be closely followed by equally powerful feelings of badness, self-justification, exhaustion and finally, collapse. Whatever project, idea, or dream I am in the process of creating, at this point, always falls flat. It seems whenever I am on track, before too long I am knocked right off. Not necessarily by anyone else but by something within. As I lay silent and still on the sofa for twelve hours straight, I didn’t try to change anything. I just watched in what form the ‘darkness’ emerged. The answer was Doubt.
As I acknowledged just how crippling self-doubt can be, it also became apparent that the burden of proof lies within the doubter. If someone else doubts us, it is none of our business. Their need for proof is their problem. If we doubt ourselves, however, responsibility is ours. My own personal doubts in that moment were whether I was qualified enough, deluding myself, making a fool of myself, getting it wrong and generally messing up. A fear of humiliation. A fear so disabling it habitually has me huffing What’s the point! as I throw in the towel on yet another dream. In the face of such self-doubt the challenge is to foster a sense of self-worth. Since doubt arises out of confusion and fear what is needed is clarity and love. Gentle, self-awareness.
We think we know ourselves but most often we don’t. We only tend to see what is clearly visible - those parts of ourselves that we are comfortable projecting out to the world. The parts that make us feel more acceptable in the presence of others. Strong? Helpful? Intelligent? Caring? It is far more difficult, however, to be conscious of the aspects of ourselves that we have hidden from view. Our shadow. The disowned parts of ourselves that by definition we are too ashamed to own. Anger? Jealousy? Vulnerability? Tears? Selfishness? What comprises our shadow is different for each and every one of us. As we grew up some of us may have been supported in our vulnerability; some of us told to toughen up! Some of us may have been encouraged to express our anger; some of us repeatedly silenced.
Self-awareness, then, allows us to make visible, that which is invisible. To shine a light on our habits, patterns and learned ways of negotiating this world. To ask whether they are truly serving us or simply limiting us in life. Giving us the choice to employ those beliefs that promote our growth, and the opportunity to drop those that no longer support us on our path. When in doubt as to which decision to make notice which feels expansive and which more contractive. As I let myself be guided by the more spacious, relaxed and joyful option I the notice the answer to the question What’s the point! is revealed.
The point is Love.
And so, when it comes to the increasingly powerful experiences I seem to be having - I've decided - no more resistance to The Path. Just a gentle curiosity as I wander towards the light within.
…and so the battle between darkness and light ensued. Having been somewhat dumbstruck by my previous experience on The Path, I didn’t write again for almost a week. How curious! I seem to stumble across a way to access quite powerful insights, in a way that is more effortless and enjoyable than ever, and I suddenly appear to be resisting it with all my might. In fact, I got so busy taking care of everything and everyone else that two days later I hit a wall of extreme exhaustion. I wasn’t ill. I wasn’t sad. I was exhausted.
The more people asked for help the more I became a jittery mess. I couldn’t operate the computer. I daren’t drive. I couldn’t even prepare a meal. With each request I became increasingly hot and itchy and irritated (simmering rage trying to surface, physically, as itchy skin) The source of my rising anger, it seems, was the overwhelm I felt about being asked to help when I had nothing left to give, and the heat the guilt I felt at having to say no. It felt shamefully apparent at that point that I was the one needing help.
By the following morning it was clear I needed to be quiet and I needed to be still and so I lay on the sofa and barely moved for the next twelve hours. At times I considered watching television to entertain myself, but sensed only more irritation. Occasionally I thought about having a snack, but knew nothing would satiate me. I watched as guilty thoughts drifted in and out of my mind regarding all the jobs that were not getting done. The idea of writing - ordinarily a source of joy - simply added to the overwhelm. As I lay there I noticed tension in my shoulders, fists and jaw arise alongside the thoughts. Each time I let it all go with a long, deep breath and a return to stillness.
Who needs a Hollywood blockbuster movie when so much drama prevails within!
And so, the first part of this blog began with the observation that the more intensely I experience light and love the more present darkness and fear seem to be. It may have felt like the darkness was out there, a fearsome opponent (as the movies, a lifetime of conditioning, and the powers that govern us would have us believe), but the truth is it’s all within. We’re not up against life - we’re up against ourselves. Our humanness. The inner battle taking place between our fear and our power is the nature of the human experience - dual-ity. It is this contrast, the extremes, the full spectrum of life experience that fuels our growth, our awareness. Urging us to remember that what is lovingly holding this dualistic experience, is Wholeness, and what we are is Divine. Perhaps, then, it’s not so much about conquering our fear as listening to its message. What it has to teach us about ourselves. How, in that moment, we are allowing fear to block a more joyful experience. It seems it’s not about resisting, avoiding or pushing away fear, but befriending it. Gently, slowly, one fear at a time. Since what is welcomed in no longer has any power over us.
It reminds me of the eleventh century Tibetan Buddhist, Milarepa, an incredibly stubborn and determined man who lived alone in caves for years on end. The story goes, he returned one day to his cave having collected some firewood only to find it filled with demons. They were reading his books, cooking his food, and sleeping in his bed. They had completely taken over. He knew the teaching of nonduality between self and other but he couldn't figure out how to get these guys out of his cave. Even though he had a sense they were a projection of his own mind, the unwanted parts of himself. Whatever method he tried, nothing happened. They wouldn't budge! He got angry, they laughed. Exhausted, he finally he gave up and just sat on the floor saying I'm not going away and it looks like you're not either, so let's just live here together. At which point, all the demons left except for one particularly vicious one. Milarepa didn't know what to do but surrender. Putting his head in the mouth of the demon he said just eat me up if you want to. With that, the final demon left. The moral of the story being: when resistance is gone, so are the demons.
To be continued...
I’m sensing a time lag at the moment whereby I feel I am still processing the experiences of last week. There was an interesting mix of emotions, to say the least, from travelling light to two dollops of sh*t on The Path. It’s as if the more intensely I experience one thing (e.g. light and love) the more present its opposite (darkness and fear) seems to be.
Walking the path the day after writing travelling light (31-10-13) I sensed a distant rumble of impending darkness on the horizon. A tsunami of fear heading my way. It seemed to have magnitude equal to the Light I had expressed the day before. If it had a voice it would have been booming How dare you bring Light! It felt as if an epic battle of gooood vs evilllll was about to take place!
I took my hands out my pockets as I had the day before, but this time with a sense of being ready to fight. Ready to break this pattern of fear once and for all. Bizarrely, I felt the urge to break into a sparring run, just like a boxer in training. And so, with a quick check for the presence of fellow-walkers (I’m not that brave yet!) I did. Punching left and right. Jab, jab, jab jab jab! I sparred with the darkness for a full minute or two. It was such a relief to release the physical tension, particularly from around my shoulders. It felt like I was shaking off my fears regarding the sense of impending doom. Come on then, if you think you’re dark enough!
The following day I felt the urge to walk the path for a second time, only this time recording my voice rather than typing notes. I had always appreciated that as I typed my notes they would automatically backup onto my computer. Everything was clearly visible. Recording my voice, however, would involve manually typing up the transcript once I was home. I wondered if it would be worth the effort?
As it turned out, it was quite an experience. Recording my voice seemed to free me up. I would simply stop, and in my mind, just waffle! And then carry on enjoying the walk. It was effortless. Only, whereas I would normally have between one and twenty typed sentences, by the time I got home I had I over ten minutes of recording. It seemed that trying to make sense of my mutterings might be harder work after all. Yet, when I played back the voice memo it was absolutely coherent from beginning to end. OMG! I have really tapped into something powerful here, I thought. It did take quite a while to transcribe but it was a joy. It also shocked me that I didn’t flinch at the sound of my own voice for perhaps the first time ever. It sounded quite clear and confident. Who on earth was this person?
…to be continued.
...So, I am halfway along the path and my phone disengages. Which also happens to be halfway up the hill. I take the opportunity to pause and notice what is here. With a deep breath I watch a flock of birds as they make their way across the horizon. There is a sense of relief. Spaciousness. Relaxation. That is, until I notice myself starting to count them. There are 50. I think of fifty percent. Suddenly an internal rant ensues...You're telling me I'm only f*cking half way on this journey! I could have sworn I was almost there. I don't think I've got the strength for this. I realise, at this point, my glass is very definitely half empty!
As I continue the walk, I continue the rant...
What am I playing at anyway, counting birds, looking for meaning, analysing (anal-ising) everything I see? Why can't I just sit back and accept and appreciate everything just the way it is, without the need to fathom? Life would be a lot more pleasant. A lot more spacious...especially in my head!
The truth, of course, is I can.
So why don't you? I ask myself.
Because I enjoy making sense out of life.
Well you're not enjoying it at the moment, I remind myself pointedly.
No. I'm not.
So why don't you just do it when you're enjoying it, and stop when you're not? I enquire.
Isn't that a bit of a cop out, just engaging in the joy and not the sh*t? Spiritual bypassing, personified?
I then remind myself that quite often I enjoy engaging in the sh*t...eventually :-|It's where all the magic is. Sh*t has transformative potential (as long as we're not bagging in up in sweet-scented poop bags!)
So, what's this all about then, really? I ask myself. What is it I want to say?
It's about resting when we need to rest.
It's about acknowledging the sh*t too. Accepting when it's here right now. Not deliberately cycling in it, though. Using the drama within and without as an excuse not to experience our joy. Instead, we can use our sh*tty feelings and experiences to further inform us about ourselves. Enabling natural change for the better to occur. Simply by noticing how we really are in this moment. What is not working for us right now. It's not necessary to try and get ourselves out of the cycle, or to try and stop cycling (that would just be climbing on yet another cycle!). Bringing gentle awareness to that fact we are in it, are doing it again, is in itself transformative. From Here, with self-awareness, we gradually begin to shift out of the experience, without effort.
Much love on the path <3
There's sh*t on The Path today. Half way through the walk my phone (on which I record my experience) closes down. My initial urge is to race onwards. Get the walk over with because if I come up with something useful I'll only forget and then I'll be more frustrated than if I'd never walked the walk. What a shame though, to race ahead. Losing all the other benefits of walking my walk.
I take a few paces back to where my phone disconnected to see what's there. Although by that I mean what discomfort I was feeling at that point, what is there is a plastic bag of sh*t. Dog poop in a plastic bag. A crazy concept in my opinion. Instead of letting the sh*t be washed away by the rain or naturally decay back into the earth (where it can actually help towards new growth) we bag it up in plastic thereby preserving it for the next 500 years or so. I imagine there are millions of poop bags being created every day - that are going nowhere fast. We must be creating one hell of a poop mountain, quite unnecessarily. Let the dogs, the owners, and the sh*t be, I say!
And so, with the theme of disconnection running through my mind I notice an ache inside as I consider loved ones that are not particularly interested in what I write. But why do I need them to be interested? I ask myself. I know in the bigger picture love is unconditional, that is, whether they are curious about me or not. Yet I also notice the heartache of perceived separation. Disengagement by one or both parties can make being in relationship seem more limited. I want to share my world so that they might come to know me better. I want to know them better too. I love the sense of connection and growth that sharing brings. That although we may feel alone and isolated from time to time essentially, we are all in this together.
As I reflect on all this I sense this isn't really about them, its about me. It's about the importance of staying open to my experience of being in relationship. There is so much to learn. I am reminded that true connection comes from within, and that the depth of relationship I have with others is a measure of the depth of relationship I have with myself.
To those who are reading this and to those who are not, I love you.
Trained in a depth, buddhist-based psychotherapy, using everyday outer world experiences to develop inner wisdom, one day at a time.