I didn’t quite get to a new post this mother’s day, but did want to take a moment to wish you all a wonderful day of celebrating motherhood, your mother, or the beauty of nurturing in general (for we are all mothers to something.) Here also are some past posts – perhaps one will contain a nugget you could use right now:
All Beings Have Been Our Mother (at BellaOnline)
I also wanted to offer this poem excerpt from Mary Oliver, who understands loving and letting go (the core of motherhood) – so well:
“to live in this world
you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go”
- Mary Oliver, from the poem “In Blackwater Woods”
In closing, a blessing for the 275+ kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls (and countless other children suffering from brutality less publicized on any given day):
May you be back in the arms of your mother soon.
Til then may you feel the strength and love of the eternal mother in your bones.
May it carry you through your travails, through your pain, to peace and love some day again.
“To not have your suffering recognized is an almost unbearable form of violence.” – Andrei Lankov
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness month, and for me this month is really about breaking silence and facing that which we usually push aside. So much of the suffering that sexual abuse and assault survivors experience is due to the discomfort of those around them, and from our culture at large. Often the prevailing message is to keep quiet, not make waves, and move on. The underlying pain, betrayal, shame, rage, and fear is left untended.
In what remains of April, I urge you to help redress this balance in some small way. Perhaps consider a donation to a charity that works to combat sexual violence or aid survivors (VDay and The Breathe Network are two of my favorites.) Perhaps let an assault or abuse survivor in your life know that you care. Or perhaps you can show your solidarity in another way – by vowing to face something in yourself that you have pushed aside, left untended, or unhealed. We all have such parts of ourselves, and when we surface and speak them they begin to lose their power. We begin to heal, and as we heal ourselves, we heal the world.
In the spirit of this, I found a poem to share called ‘Breaking Silence’, that I feel speaks powerfully to this theme. But first, a few offerings this month, several of which are related to National Sexual Assault Awareness month:
- I will be offering Meditate Like a Girl’s FREE monthly guided meditation next Tuesday the 22nd. The theme is ‘Spring is Here’, and we will tap into the energies of spring in nature, and our chakras, to connect with the energy of rebirth available now. Click here to register (you can listen live or by recording after the fact.)
Note that also at Meditate Like a Girl I am continuing my Chakra Meditation series by introducing a 12-Chakra meditation, based on the 12-chakra system from Cyndi Dale. The article includes a free guided meditation, as the other articles in this series have. Enjoy!
- Related to National Sexual Assault Awareness month, tune into Diantha Harris’ Life Potentials Radio Show next Thursday night, April 24th (or listen to the recording afterwards) to hear Diantha interview both myself and Molly Harris (founder of The Breathe Network) in a show entitled “Identity and Empowerment After Sexual Trauma.” We will be discussing many powerful topics including the pros and cons of words like ‘victim’ and ‘survivor’, the role of body-based modalities in healing trauma, and the very complicated, often fraught topic of forgiveness.
- Also offered free this month by The Breathe Network is Understanding Trauma and the Body by Lara Veon on Friday April 25th. This is the first of a series of offerings by The Breathe Network to educate healing practitioners and trauma survivors about holistic ways of working with trauma.
In honor of this month I have also created new, better-quality, versions of the audio files that accompany my free Ebook Healing the Subtle Body Wounds of Sexual Trauma. I’ll be updating the book itself soon too, but for now, at least the recordings are more usable. (And if you have utilized this Ebook and found it beneficial, please consider reviewing it on Amazon, Ibooks, Smashwords, Goodreads or anywhere else it appears. Thank you!)
I hope you find these offerings useful, and that you consider ways to break through your own silence this spring.
Had I; reached so far
Can’t sense pain anymore
With my heart ajar
Dragging my sinking ship to shore
A warrior; I’ve been
Battled with words through thick and thin
With my existence being my only sin
I forged a war within.
Hatred imbued minds
Deeper than depression, longer than loneliness
With me and my dark side
My mind; a voice in utter mess
A voyage; self discovery
Out of this cold paralysed dark
Leaving behind a trail of memories
So sore, so stark
There’s a voice within
Unheard and unknown
My only saviour, my kin
Saying I’m not forlorn
This place, this silence
Had scared me for long
However this violence
Nurtured a heart so strong
This voice shall break silence
The silence of my sorrow
Let it roar, let it show
The years of being hollow
This voice shall rise above
From the shackles of cruelty
To preach the bosses; meaning of love
To give strength to plurality
In honor of Women’s History month, I wanted to add to my occasional series on historical Women Mystics. Since most major spiritual traditions were dominated by men teachers and leaders until recently (and many still are), I think it’s important for us as modern women seekers to connect with models from the past – women with rich spiritual lives. It affirms the universality of the spiritual quest, and weaves together a structure for feminine awakening reaching across time and distance.
The woman I chose to feature this time is quite different from the women I have featured in the past. Most have been mystic rebels – in order to honor their mystic yearnings, they defied religious conventions of their time. Most have also been from celibate traditions, and thus have not had husbands or families. They have also largely been literate, and therefore we know of them, and their mystic experiences, through their own personal writings or poetry.
Umm ‘Abdallah is a very different choice, as none of this is true for her. She was the wife of Ali al-Hakim at-Tirmidhi, a 9th century Sufi scholar and mystic. We only know of her and her mystic experiences through at-Tirmidhi’s own memoir of his spiritual journey, The Beginning of the Matter, one of the first known preserved Sufi autobiographies. He never gives her name, so she is referred to by historians as Umm ‘Abdallah, which means ‘the mother of ‘Abdallah.’
As much as it bothers me that we know her only through her husband – that she has no voice or even name of her own recorded in history – her husband’s descriptions of her mystic experiences and dreams captured me. I decided that in fact it was very appropriate to feature her, because like many women throughout history she sought deeper spiritual teachings in the only way she could at the time – through her husband. In so doing, she played a very special role in his path and teachings (which became of some reknown), and as a couple they formed a unique spiritual partnership, one based on equality and mutual support for each others’ search.
Umm ‘Abdallah was a very specific kind of spiritual mystic – a dreamer. Deep mystic knowledge came to her in her dreams, through symbols and visitations, on a regular basis. While we all dream, and occasionally have particularly meaningful dreams, the spiritual journeys of mystic dreamers revolve around their dreams. In every spiritual tradition I can think of, there is a special place for dreamers, and Sufism gives them particular significance. Dreams are considered symbolic representations of spiritual dimensions, belonging to the ‘alam al-mithal’, or ‘World of Imagination.’ Far from considered useless fantasy, this kind of imagination in Sufism is honored as the intermediary between the seen and unseen world.
Umm ‘Abdullah’s dreams were also teaching dreams – they brought new knowledge and teachings to her husband. While much of mystic Sufism is based on a teacher-student dynamic, seekers may also receive teachings directly from the Divine through dreams. At-Tirmidhi did not have a formal teacher for much of his path – he studied and meditated on his own. At a certain point, his wife Umm ‘Abdallah began having dreams that answered his questions when they arose. Many of her dreams included an old man, white-haired and clad in white, representative in Sufism of a Khidr, or teacher of Divine Knowledge who comes to teach those in dreams who do not have a living teacher.
Through a Khidr in Umm ‘Abdallah’s dreams, her husband receives guidance on how to proceed to the next level of his path, and also encouragement to become a guide to others himself. As these dreams continue, at-Tirmidhi writes:
“Now my wife kept dreaming about me, dream after dream, always at dawn. It was as if she, or the dreams, were messengers for me. There was no need for interpretation, because their meaning was clear.”
In further dreams, he is given signs that he has progressed from the level of external worshiper to one who truly communes with the Divine. In addition, Umm ‘Abdallah receives a message that she is his spiritual equal, and they proceed along their path as such, in a united spiritual quest. The level of mutual reverence and spiritual partnership that he describes in his memoir is truly unparalleled in historic spiritual writings, as far as I know. However, this is all in private – in public at-Tirmidhi is the spiritual leader and teacher, while Umm ‘Abdallah devotes herself to protecting and helping to spread his teachings behind the scenes.
What really captured me in the tale of this mystic couple was a 10-day spiritual transformation that Umm ‘Abdallah underwent after many years in her quest, while awake, although including many dream-like visions. She experienced wave after wave of mystic visions, along with ecstasy and light pouring into and through her, unsought and unstoppable. Here ‘s how she described the first two days to her husband:
“I felt as if something penetrated my chest, circled my heart, and enveloped it. It filled my chest up to the throat; I almost choked from its fullness. Heat spread through the cavity of my body, my heart was aflame, and all the Sacred Names appeared to me in their glory. Anything upon which my eyes fell, on the earth or in the sky; anyone whom I looked at, I saw as I have never seen before, because of the beauty and joy and sweetness [which filled me]. Then a verse in Persian descended upon my heart: ‘We have given you one thing!’
“Again I was filled with joy, elation, and great energy.”
“The next day,” she said, “another verse descended on my heart: ‘We have given you three things: Our Glory, Our Might, and Our Beauty.’
“Then,” she said, “I saw this glow behind me, and it stayed above my head as if in a dream, and in this glowing light these three things were revealed to me: the knowledge of the Divine Glory, the knowledge of the Divine Might, and the knowledge of the Divine Beauty…”
From the third day onward, “knowledge of the names of God were revealed to her”, one after the other. At-Tirmidhi writes,
“She remained in this state for some time, and then the knowledge of God was revealed to her. Each day new names were opened up to her, and the glowing light was upon her heart, and the inward meaning of the names was revealed to her…On the tenth day she came to me and said the name “The Gracious” was revealed to her.”
This translation was taken from The Taste of Hidden Things, by Sara Sviri. If you’d like to learn more about Umm ‘Abdullah as well as many other Sufi women, check out the excellent Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure, by Camille Adams Helsinki.
Happy International Women’s Day, and Women’s History Month! I was blown away by the response to my request for submissions on the theme of ‘feminine power.’ My idea had been to create a weaving together of different expressions of feminine power, as it comes through each of us uniquely. It has surpassed my expectations! I hope you will browse, and come back, and visit each and every link to feel what we have created and emanated together.
Truly thank you, to all of you who participated. And for those who didn’t but would like to, I invite you to do so in the comments.
First up is my own contribution, which is the final article in my 3-part series on kundalini over at Meditate Like a Girl. This one is on Kundalini Rising in Women. Below is an excerpt, paired with the beautiful new site badge (note that Meditate Like a Girl has changed formats, and is accepting submissions anytime, so I hope some of you will consider submitting):
“Teachings about kundalini in women can pretty much be summed up in one phrase: We’ve got it it all backwards. By this I mean that historically and culturally, the dominant message regarding women and power is that women have less, and men have more. In terms of the power structures that have dominated our seen world, this has certainly been true, and we have been working hard – particularly in the last 100 years – to redress this…But in the unseen world – unseen by the physical eyes anyway – the exact opposite is true. On the subtle plane, where kundalini operates, women have more power, or rather, a more open and direct access to power.” [read more...]
Next, from artist Christina Gage, check her divine online gallery for more:
Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.
-The Beatles, ‘Blackbird’
“To me, the dark goddess is the primal element of feminine power, where you are fully, deeply in your body and connected to your own soul. I had spent my whole life focused outward: amassing knowledge, trying new techniques, engaging teachers and healers to help me move forward—and all that has certainly helped my journey of self-development and healing. But in the dark goddess’s realm, the mind’s learning is kind of useless—which is scary for someone like me who has relied so much upon the cerebral. She asks for integrity, experience, courage, and heart. The trust required is tremendous—the dark goddess has made it very clear to me that she is not my guide, she is my teacher. She doesn’t lead the way—she instructs, suggests a path, and then allows me to find my way, using what I’ve learned. Since I’ve been working with her fierce, transformative power, my focus is deep within my self, rather than on external acts, seeking approval, or managing other’s perceptions of me. For the first time, I feel fully embodied; I feel what I AM. And I am sovereign, empowered by the Divine Feminine, the dark and the light.”
Michaela Haas, author of Dakini Power, submitted artwork of Pema Chodron created by Noa Kaplan, (Dakini Power features a wonderful interview with Pema, as well as 11 other woman Tibetan Buddhist teachers.)
Robin King submitted an insightful article on Embodied Forms of Feminine Power in Buddhism which I liked so much I posted it as a guest author post at BellaOnline. Here’s an overview related to Samantabhadri:
“Samantabhadri represents the awareness-wisdom aspect of the mind. Her naked, unadorned appearance reflects the essential nature of mind in its essence. She “is the expression of limitless space, the natural state that is the ultimate truth… Samantabhadri is the expression of that which cannot be expressed in words or symbols, the ultimate nature of mind, the limitless expanse of simplicity” (Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism, Judith Simmer-Brown, Shambhala, 2002).
Meditation on Samantabhadri is an invitation to let go of seeking, to let go of striving, to let go of accomplishing, to let go of ideas of power. It is an invitation to let go of thinking that you are a doer, and to let go of the belief that anything needs to be fixed. It is an invitation to rest in pure awareness. Through her meditation, worldly experiences soften their hold on the mind, and unconditional love remains… an unconditional “Yes” to the beauty of Being. The singer Kirtana described this meditation beautifully in her song ‘Already Home, Already Free’ on her album Unseen Grace:Nothing to seek. Nothing to gain. Nothing to know. Nothing to lose. Nothing to do, but let go. Let’s rest here, where the future and the past disappear… Here–in the sanctity of Now.” Rosie Good of Yoga Bindu shared a poem by Alice Fulton, who is “complex and wonderful”
From Deonesea La Fey, Queen Visionary at Passion as Prayer:
“Feminine Power is most deeply sourced from Living simultaneously in the Sensual and the Sacred. The sensual urgings of your amazing body are actually longings connected with your divinity…connected to a deep spiritual longing to be more fully self-actualized and embodied as a human on this planet.” [Check out Deonesea's DailyOm course 'Allow Yourself to Have Sensual Pleasure' here...]
“Women are now working as much as men and are making more money in many cases, while still doing the majority of work at home. It’s time women choose partners who will support their dreams and help to successfully balance work and home visions.” [Read More...]
From Wendy Dumaresq, founder of the Natural Women’s Network, including the ‘Menopause as Healer and Teacher’ project:
“To me Feminine Power is being able to Be Myself, whatever that represents at the time. What is nourishing for my soul and assists my Feminine Power is the stories of other women, having appropriate information and exchanging support with other women …” [read more...]
Cate Frazier-Neely, voice teacher and blogger (including on the mid-life journey), offers this fascinating insight into working with animal energies as feminine power:
From Burl Hall (so glad to have some men contribute) of Envision This BlogTalkRadio:
“Feminine Power is the ability to create from within into the without. It is the unfolding of potential from within all. It is the power of the Earth to birth, sustain and take back all life (which is reflected in women as birth, nurturing and intercourse). Feminine power emerges from the inside out, in contrast to the masculine tendency to try to rule from the outside in (as per the military, gov’t etc). Feminine power in this way is the power to conceive, be it a baby, a thought, an idea, a planet or a universe. It is the emergence of a hidden potential into being – much as an egg is a potential being that becomes actualized. It is non-local, for the process in humans is as much a conception of the mind as well as a biological conception. Again, this same process is universal. So, when you see seeds in spring springing forth as new plants, this is exactly the essence of femininity.”
An original poem, from Kaveri Patel, of Wisdom in Waves:
Dancing in the Dark
The evening sun blushed as
he watched the moon undress,
still surprised by her stark white
beauty after these years,
in love with her nude performance
and willingness to dance in the dark.
Courtney Walsh, of Squeezing the Stars, contributes her parable ‘The Temple of Woman’ – here’s the beginning:
“The woman was wild and free. She lived in her body. Occupied it fully. She loved her body. Her body loved her. She loved her mind and how it could mix just the right herbs to help the villagers. She was a healer. She was in love with love and in love with life.” [read more...]
From Akemi Gaines, Akashic Record Reader, whom you can connect with on Facebook here:
“We have been incarnated as both men and women, and will continue to do so. We all have both male and female powers within us.”
This image from Pema at Wonder Momma, along with a blog post, excerpted here:
Susan from Mildly Mystical, contributes ‘A Different Way to Fight’ about her friend’s feminine power facing cancer, excerpted here:
“She is like a birch tree, rooted in her life, bending with the force of the strong winds blowing and straightening when they subside. I respect her strength and courage, and I appreciate her wisdom. I am blessed to have her as a friend.” [read entire post...]
Vikki Nash, artist/teacher/healer, of Bindu Creative Wellness, contributed this image and article entitled ‘The Mandorla as an Archetypal Representation of Divine Feminine Power’, excerpted here:
“As a visual artist and a healing practitioner I have a passion for living a soul centred existence and assisting others to do the same. One way I achieve this is to affirm and reaffirm my connection to the power of the feminine through my artwork by using deeply powerful archetypal symbols and forms. One form I am profoundly connected to is the mandorla which, for me, symbolises the power of the divine feminine.” [read more...]
These powerful images from Mel Bohrer, artist (more of her work here):
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
- Martha Graham, submitted anonymously
Artist Sara Steffey Mcqueen, contributed these original works and personal sharing:
“I had Uterine cancer 5 yrs. ago, and discovred the Indian goddess, Durga. I felt her many arms came to help keep the cancer at bay until I could have removal surgery. Since then, I have created this chalk watercolor piece in her honor. “
“The ‘Exquisite Uterus’ is a group collaboration organized as a traveling exhibit in Wisconsin.”
“‘Shekina’, a pastel of the feminine face of god as the great power above our crown chakra. The image was a reflection of Her great power in the universe to guide and awaken.”
A’ra Blair, author, counselor, facilitator of Sacred Sexuality and Reclaiming the Divine Feminine, shares her blog post “The Seat of a Woman’s Power”, excerpted here:
“As women, we’ve often gotten lost in our sexuality, mistaking it for love. Men who have felt threatened by a woman’s power and her sexuality, have not been kind. Neither the lost woman nor the fearful man is operating from the high watch of their Divinity. Neither honors the self and therefore, is incapable of holding our greatest gift, that of our sexuality, in high holiness.
Yet the Dance of Sexual Connection is how we all came to be!”
Tina Rubin of Eye for Detail Photography shares these beautiful images and poem (see more here):
“Living from your heart is quite easy. It’s never the BIG stuff in life that creates the ripples of change. It’s not the promotion, the expensive car, the designer clothes, the large house or the “well knowns” in your circle of ‘friends’. It’s the smallest, simplest acts of kindness, the knowing smile, the quiet touch, the soft response; being in service with compassion and gratitude, that’s how we live from our hearts. That is what evokes change. That is what empowers us and brings the joy that we hunger for in our daily lives.”
Jay Schryer, truly a man of the goddess, wrote this poem, and an accompanying blog post:
Protect me as the mother bear protects her cubs
Wrap around me like a warm, soft blanket and
Pour your love into my heart and quench my unquenchable thirst and
Bathe me in the flames of your passion until I burn for you—
And only you.
Teach me how to dance in the rain while others merely get wet.
Teach me how to dance in the flames while others get burned.
Teach me how to dance on the wind while others simply fall.
Teach me how to dance on the earth while others only crawl.
Your power is the power of grace: it soothes, comforts, and heals.
Your power is the power of wisdom: it teaches, guides, and helps.
Your power is the power of courage: it chases away fear and uncertainty.
Your power is the power of patience: nature never hurries, yet all is accomplished.
Your power is the power of compassion: it heals through a gentle touch.
Your power is the power of kindness: it teaches us how to treat each other.
Your power is the power of love, and it is the greatest of all powers.
You are the Divine Creator. All life flows from you, Divine Mother.
You are the Divine Destroyer. All life returns to you, Divine Mother.
You are everything,
And I am yours.
Margarita Alcantara, a Licensed Acupuncturist and Reiki Master/Teacher, contributed this powerful image and her own blog post entitled: “Owning Our Feminine Voice: Turning Our Weakness Into Our Greatest Strength”:
“How many times have you been told to be silent, to hold your voice in, to not speak your truth? As women, we have been encouraged at an early age to put a lid on our emotions, lest we seem “hysterical”, “overemotional”, or “weak”. In honor of International Women’s Day this Saturday, I share the story of a patient’s liberation in speaking her truth, and reveal why our voice is actually not our weakness, but our greatest strength.”
Hazel of Hazel Tree Doula contributed this image and her own blog post on “Awakening Feminine Power”, excerpted here:
“As you breathe to begin to reclaim your feminine power, remember how this is rooted in the womb, the place of creativity.
How would our world be different if ideas, projects and creativity were sourced from a womb space honoured by such gifts and love?” [read post...]
Ravyn Lunatique contributed this powerful persona picture and post, “Rebirthing Myself”:
“A few months ago, as my flame dimmed to a flicker, I prepared for my final exhale from this body. What happened instead was a benevolent rescue by the Goddess, in many forms and guises, and being inspired by her once again.” [read more...]
And from Bonnie Snyder, Energy Alchemist and Life Balance Coach, of Diamond Pathways, this image and blog post, “Evolving Feminine Power”:
“Our feminine power is always evolving. And, I believe feminine power is the key to living our hearts’ desires and dreams as well as creating positive change for our world. What “Feminine Power” is and how it influences us has drastically transformed as the more traditional societal roles that women have been expected to fit into — and have embodied for centuries — have changed in recent years.” [read more...]
Elizabeth Bain, intuitive energy guide for animals and humans, shares her own experiences of feminine power, in her own blog post, excerpted here:
“”The times that feminine power has shown up for me have been varied. From specific meditations focused on feminine power to soothing assistance while working on self-healing to the great mothers of different animals appearing on my meditation walks. My experience of feminine power is as an energy that is woven within everything in the universe. Just as human DNA carries both the genes of the mother and the father, so too does all energy carry strands of feminine power and masculine power. I do not see the weavings of the universe so much as I know/sense them spatially.” [read full post...]
“We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own or to other peoples’ models, learn to be ourselves, and allow our natural channel to open.”
-Shakti Gawain, submitted by Shari Saginor
From Joy of Facets of Joy, along with her blog post ‘An Invitation to Claim Your Divine Birthright and Center into Divine Power”:
“Feminine power is not reserved for “goddesses” and people with special powers – it is an energy available to each of us, a connector energy that we may simply breathe into and create with.” [read more...]
And last, but certainly not least (in fact, I saved it for last because it is so moving and powerful), Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’s speech on beauty, contributed by Diantha Harris of Life Potentials.
May you come into your own feminine power this day, and may it lead you to the happiness, love, abundance, and awakening that are your birthright.
March 8th is International Women’s Day, and as some of you may know (because I say so every year, lol), it’s also my birthday! So I always try to do something different to celebrate here at Mommy Mystic, that is related to the divine feminine. As I was out walking earlier this week, contemplating what felt right this year, it hit me suddenly: I’d love to create a collaborative post, with many (MANY) different views on FEMININE POWER. Among other things, feminine power IS collaborative, so what better way to celebrate it?
Of course, feminine power means different things to different people. And so I invite you to think outside the box, and send me an image, thought, paragraph, or even link to an entire blog post or article, that you feel represents feminine power in some way. It may be of or about a woman you think embodies it. It may be a moment you feel you brought it forth in yourself. It may be questioning the idea of feminine power altogether – anything goes! And you don’t have to interpret feminine power to be just about women (because it’s not!) or be a women to contribute (in fact I’d love to have some men contribute.)
I will combine everything I receive here at Mommy Mystic on March 8th, and link back to anyone who wants to be linked to. We will create a post emanating out feminine power to the world, for anyone who wants to receive it.
So, in summary, here’s the skinny:
- Theme: FEMININE POWER
- What to Send: An image, word, poem, phrase, sentence, or paragraph that represents this theme for you. If you decide to write a blog post or article on this yourself, I’ll include the first sentence or two here, and then link to the rest of your post.
- Be Sure to Include: How you want yourself listed (if at all) and a linkback URL if you want. If you use an image that is not your own or in the public domain, make sure you also send me the source site URL so I can link back.
- When to Send: ASAP! Or by Friday March 7th at the latest.
I’m very excited about this, and am so looking forward to receiving your contributions. Please share with anyone you feel might like to contribute! Coming together is power…
Thanks all of you so much for sharing and commenting on Energy and Action in the Year of the Horse. I’m glad it resonated, and what a great way to start off the Horse energy. I thought this month I would follow-up with more thoughts on something I mentioned in that post – spiritual disassociation. Energetically, this is a great year to identify and work through any of these tendencies.
By spiritual disassociation, I mean the tendency to use spirituality or spiritual practices as a way of disassociating from ourselves and reality, instead of for connecting more deeply, and more from the heart. In other words, spirituality as escapism. The question to really honestly ask ourselves from time to time is:
Does my spirituality, and do my spiritual experiences, feel like I am leaving myself, or coming home to myself?
In a world where we are over-stimulated and stressed, bombarded by so many different energies and demands, it is easy for our spiritual practice or beliefs to become a form of escape. Especially for energetic ‘sensitives’ (probably you if you are reading this blog!) who can blame us? If we have found a way to shelter ourselves, a ‘place’ in our mind we can go for a break, a belief system that offers us comfort and security, isn’t that a good thing?
And the answer is yes, it often is! Certainly in the case of meditation, research has shown that practices of many different forms have measurable physical benefits. It lowers blood pressure, increases endorphins and theta brain waves, lowers stress hormones in our system, and has many other benefits. So that is all wonderful, and certainly helps us in our daily life.
But if our desire is to awaken to our true nature, our essence, Source, spirit, God/Goddess-realization as our very own being, then we don’t want to only escape. We don’t want to create another way to run from ourselves, or to disengage from the world and our real emotions and sensations. And it is very easy for meditation and other spiritual practices and beliefs to cross over into this territory over time. A ‘check-in’ around this is a great way to cut through any tendencies that have developed along these lines.
The question above is perhaps the most direct way to contemplate this. At some level of our being, we always know. Sometimes just asking the question will cut through. Here’s some others that I like to use:
Am I kinder in my daily life?
If we are feeling happy in meditation, but always irritated outside of it, something isn’t right. We may be getting attached to a state of energy that we have learned to generate in our meditation, and then are aggravated whenever we don’t feel this outside of meditation. What is the good of this really? Of course, sometimes we are just going through a sensitive time, and our meditation or spiritual contemplation may be the only time we aren’t subsumed by this. That’s OK, to a point. But it’s worth looking at what is really going on – at what emotions are arising outside of meditation, and taking a look at them. This is really the spiritual integration process that goes on our whole lives. If we are centered in our heart, if we default to kind (our natural state) we are OK.
Am I having a hard time connecting with my body or with accomplishing/manifesting goals?
This is a classic sign of root chakra disengagement or block, and is something most trauma survivors work through over many years in their healing process. But all of us are apt to experience phases of this, especially if we are engaged in chakra or kundalini-based practices and shifts. Sometimes it is a temporary phase (see my Kundalini series for more info on this), and some extra work on grounding will help us manage the transition. But sometimes we have begun to ‘check out’. If we are engaged in a long-term spiritual path, sometimes this is a sign that we have come up against some aspect of ourselves that we aren’t quite ready to face. Working gently – but persistently – will get us through. And of course, when it comes to goals, sometimes we just don’t get what we want – just because the world isn’t conforming to our vision board, doesn’t mean we are spiritually disassociated! We are talking about deeper and longer term patterns here.
Am I getting rigid, on or off, the meditation cushion?
When we get attached to certain spiritual practices, or to certain ‘states’ that they can bring us to, we can feel a rigidity developing within us – an aversion to anything that interferes, and a frustration when our practice doesn’t yield what we ‘want.’ Or this may show up off our meditation cushion, and we find ourselves frustrated with those who don’t share our beliefs, beginning to fall into a fixed view of the world and what is ‘right.’ We are resistant to opening, and have become attached to control instead. Our meditation or spiritual practice has become about creating or ‘getting to’ a certain place. There is no room then, for anything new to arise, or for the true essence of our awareness and spirit to show itself.
I think chakra and kundalini-based paths are especially prone to these tendencies (and these have been the mainstay of my path for 25 years.) This is partly because we can experience such amazing states of bliss once we have learned to shift and move energy through our chakras. But it’s important to remember (as all the classic texts warn us!) that the bliss is a byproduct, not the point, of practice and/or energy work. It means things have shifted and something has been released within us, and it means we have learned to let go at a certain level of our being, and allow the energy to move upward. But in and of itself, it doesn’t mean we are awake, or more self-aware, or more open, or more compassionate. We have to do that work ourselves, off the meditation cushion.
The value of the chakra and all energy-based practices and work is that it shifts things around in our subtle body, and by extension, our psyche. It pushes things to the surface of our consiousness, and brings up latent karmas, that we may not have been able to see before. Very often this manifests in our daily lives, and so it is through dealing well with it there that we really grow. In this way our spiritual practice/energy work and daily life work hand in hand. The former isn’t an escape from the latter.
I know I will be working with this myself this year, and as always, your own sharings are always welcome!
And as a final reminder, the next round of my Energy Healing for Sexual Abuse and Trauma teleseminar begins February 23rd. Also, join me on Energy Awareness radio this afternoon at 3PST/6 ET (or by recording later) when I talk with T. Love about the feminine energy body and self-care. And oh yea, happy LOVE day Friday:-)