Perhaps everything terrible is, in its deepest being, something that needs our love. – Rainer Maria Rilke
It’s often around this time of January each year that our Solstice intentions or New Year’s Resolutions start to unravel, and we find ourselves plunged into old feelings of letdown, inadequacy, or unworthiness. Discouragement and negative self-talk creep in, with familiar refrains of ‘I knew I couldn’t do it’, ‘It’s always like this’, or ‘Maybe later, it’s too hard right now.’ Winter doldrums don’t help matters; while for those of us in the northern hemisphere the Solstice marked the return of the light, it’s pretty slow in coming, and the cold in most places is in full swing. A heaviness and weight can settle over us, and a sense that we can’t prevail.
Even if you aren’t feeling this way right now, I’m sure you can relate to these feelings, and to the self-doubt and unworthiness that are often at the heart of our deepest emotional wounds. Unworthiness is really at the heart of so much of our pain. If I could grant everyone in the world one thing, it would be an innate sense of their own self-worth – a sense of worthiness as a birthright, not something that has to be earned in the eyes of the world.
But alas, this isn’t the way it is for most of us, and instead our sense of worthiness is linked to so many different things – accomplishments, appearance, relationships, financial status, religion, nationality, race, gender – all of the aspects humans have come to judge others by, and so we come to judge ourselves by. Our sense of lack or failure in any one of these areas is often what causes us pain, or if not lack then the stress and anxiety of attaining or maintaining that which we’ve gained. Either way we are trapped in a constant cycle of up and down, feeling good when that which our own self-worth is based upon is going well for us, and feeling bad when it’s not.
The only way to break this cycle is to unlink our sense of self-worth from the worldly attributes it’s usually linked to. For this, we often turn to personal development and spirituality. We hope to heal that part of ourself that is dependent on these measures of worth. And yet unfortunately, what often happens is that we just adopt a new yardstick to measure ourselves by – now we want to be a ‘good’ person. We want to be more compassionate, more faith-filled, more generous, more patient, more mindful, more aware, more ethical, more disciplined. These are wonderful goals! The world certainly needs more of these qualities manifested. Yet too often what happens is that we simply carry over our old patterns of self-judgement, while changing our goals. We may be judging ourselves against a different standard, but we are still judging, still succeeding and failing, and still linking our sense of self-worth to how we do.
This focus on changing ourselves presupposes there is something wrong with us, something that needs to be fixed or destroyed. It assumes there is a ‘good’ part of us and a ‘bad’ part, and that the good part is fighting the good fight, trying to overcome our worst qualities – whether this is anger, greed, jealousy, laziness, or whatever. When our good part wins, we feel good. When it loses, we feel bad. The battle rages on and on, and our sense of worthiness goes up and down with it.
To really liberate ourselves from feelings of unworthiness, we need to unhook our worthiness from this cycle entirely. We need to recognize our natural worthiness – our essential, innate goodness – and heal from there. This is 100% more powerful than change. When our assumption is that we are naturally good, our entire worldview changes. We see mistakes as mistakes, not as signs that we are failures or terrible people. We see successes as cause for joy, not arrogance, because we don’t need to feel superior to others in order to compensate for insecurity. We can truly be present for our lives, riding the ups and downs of experience, without being consumed by any of it, because we have our solid foundation within.
So whatever change you have been focused on, take a moment right now to truly feel and own your innate goodness. You might try some self-talk along these lines:
I am innately good. In my heart, my intentions are pure, and all the goodness present in the world is also present in me.
This is a pretty seismic shift really. From a cultural and spiritual perspective, the idea of ‘original sin’ is embedded pretty deeply in the Western psyche. We are conditioned to think of spiritual growth as an atoning or overcoming of our naturally sinful nature. Part of the reason I was originally drawn to Eastern spiritual paths is that they are based on the opposite assumption – that we are innately enlightened, that we are all composed of Buddha nature, reflections of the same Source. But in these traditions too, it is easy to be pulled into the self-judgment cycle – “I’m not meditating enough”, “I’m still eating meat (or caffeine, or sugar)”, “I’m still getting angry (or impatient, or jealous, or depressed.)” Our path can become just another internal mechanism for judging ourselves ‘not good enough.’
I was recently reminded of how subtly this can function when at a yoga class, listening to two women talk about the cleanses they were about to embark upon. These were two slender, beautiful, healthy yoginis. Yet their discussions of cleanses were filled with self-criticism – “I ate soooo much sugar over the holidays, it was disgusting”, “I know, I can’t believe how many carbs I absorbed, I completely lost it.” Of course, cleanses can be a wonderful, healing practice, and too much sugar and carbs isn’t good for us. But in this instance what I really felt coming off of these two women was shame. They felt ashamed of having indulged, and their talk about their cleanses was filled with a desire for self-punishment.
Although there are plenty of men walking around struggling with self-worth, women often have an even bigger problem with it, because of the cultural devaluation of girls, and feminine energy. And within all of the world’s dominant spiritual paths (Eastern included) women and their sexual energy have often been portrayed as shameful, or even dangerous. We absorb these cultural messages when growing up, even if we ourselves had a functional childhood. If our childhood was less than functional, if it involved abuse or assault, as it does for so many children, and especially if it involved sexual abuse or assault, we may so deeply internalize shame that it is difficult to feel any sense of self-worth at all. We can never be ‘clean’ enough, or good enough.
It’s for these reasons that working to own our innate goodness, and cultivating a sense of natural self-worth, is the single best thing we can do for ourself, and the single best thing we can do to help us attain our goals too. Having goals and striving to change ourself and our life are good things when we don’t build our sense of self-worth upon them. When we are free of the up and down worthiness cycle, our fear and anxiety naturally subside, and we are able to act with more freedom, more power. We don’t spin into downward spirals of discouragement and despair when we make a mistake. We just move on.
Affirmations such as that above can help, and meditating on your heart chakra too. Gently let go of the habit of judging yourself as good and bad in every moment. Send that part of you you feel is ‘bad’ some love. Send the part of you judging some love! Take a deep breath and send every part of you unconditional love. Let go of the past. Own your goodness – it’s your birthright.
May all beings recognize their essential goodness in 2015.
Winter Solstice is my favorite time of year, a special and powerful time, honored in most spiritual traditions as we welcome the return of the light. This particular Solstice is magnified by a new moon, which always carries the energy of a new cycle, and fresh start. To celebrate and link to this beautiful, transformative energy, I invite you to join me in a special Solstice tele-meditation, timed for the exact time of the Solstice, from 2:30 – 3:30 PST (to look up what time this is in your time zone, check here.)
This meditation will be offered on a donation basis, with a recommended donation of $10, but any amount is appreciated (and if you cannot give this year, simply vow to give back in another way at another time – not to me, but to the light.) I will donate 50% of the proceeds to The Breathe Network, which has done so much great work this year setting up their new teleseminar series. You can register here.
Last year, I used the metaphor of a caterpillar cocooning and emerging as a butterfly to connect with the transformative energy of this time. This year, the symbol of the Phoenix is calling to me – symbol of renewal, resurrection, the Sun, or enlightenment, depending on which spiritual tradition you consult. As I’m sure you know, the mythology of the Phoenix is of a great sacred bird that cyclically burns to ash and then is reborn. The Phoenix’s fire is one of purification and release, laying the foundation for new life.
To prepare to burn in your own fire, I recommend contemplating the following questions (and some of these will be used in the meditation, so if you are planning to do that, you may want to journal your answers and keep them handy.):
- What experiences from the past year am I particularly thankful for? What energies and lessons did they bring into my life?
- What challenged me the most this year? What parts of myself did this bring to the surface?
- What am I ready to let go of? What situations, emotional patterns, or energies no longer serve me?
- What gifts did I discover in myself? What strengths came to light?
When the Phoenix is reborn, it is immortal and invincible, until the time for the next phase of its burning arrives. On the ‘other side’ of a Solstice transit (and in this case the new moon), we reach our being forward to connect with the new vibration, the new self, we wish to embody. To begin connecting yourself to this new you, contemplate the following (and again, for those doing the tele-meditation, you may want to have this with you):
- What gifts and strengths do I want to magnify in myself? What do I want to feel more?
- What does abundance mean to me? What am I already overflowing with, and what do I want to attract?
- What do I know to be true? What do I value? What is the foundation for my life and path?
- Where would I like more ease in my life? What would I like to flow?
If you are doing this as part of preparation for energy work (including the Solstice telemeditation) the important thing is to feel your answers – feel the states you desire to release or cultivate. Feel them in your body, and as vibration.
I hope you will join me on the 21st. But in any case, I wish you a beautiful and light-filled December, and check back on the 22nd for my annual end of year ‘thank you’ book giveaway – I found some great books this year that I am excited to share with you. Namaste-
I have received many questions about mid-life kundalini transits recently, and so felt that was a sign I should reblog this post. Also please note that the final edition of Meditate Like a Girl published this week, and includes the last of my posts in the 12-chakra meditation series I had been doing there – ‘YOU as a Chakra’, with a free guided meditation. You can get to that by clicking on the link in the sidebar after reading this post. Namaste-
Originally posted on Mommy Mystic:
Alex Grey’s Holy Fire, http://www.AlexGrey.com
“In each moment the fire rages, it will burn away a hundred veils.
And carry you a thousand steps toward your goal.” -Rumi
There’s one word for summing up the energetics of midlife, at least within the spiritual traditions that discuss it – FIRE. As in holy fire, sacred fire, kundalini, transformative light, and the burning away of obstacles and any debris. Also hot flashes of course, which I have yet to experience, but are all part of the energetic fun.
From an energetic perspective, midlife shifts occur throughout our forties. Biologically, perimenopuase for women is the 8-10 years prior to menopause, and the current average age for menopause is 51. Throughout most of our 40s then, our body (and energy body!) are experiencing shifts in preparation for menopause, regardless of whether we experience any physical symptoms. Our hormones are shifting, and usually we experience…
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I’ve decided to occasionally rerun some older posts, and this one has long been one of the most popular posts here. As I head out for some time in nature myself, it felt like a wonderful time to revisit this. I hope you agree, and feel free to share your own thoughts on the earth’s energy hotposts…
Originally posted on Mommy Mystic:
For those that resist the idea of chakras, in the human body or the earth, think of it this way: Chakras are simply energy vortexes or intersection points, which we know exist in some form in virtually every structural and energetic system. Think joints in the skeletel system, or glands in the endocrine/hormonal system. Chakras are the energetic version of these intersections, and each one conducts a different type of energy. Electromagnetic research is starting to be able to detect these intersections – in both humans and the planet.
Another model I like for thinking about chakras is as a doorway for awareness. Whether you are meditating on your own chakras, or traveling…
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We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum instead of two opposing sets of ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we just are, we can all be freer…It’s about freedom. – Emma Watson, speech at the U.N. introducing the HeForShe campaign