Sunday, 6 December 2015
This year I’ve fallen apart. Everything I once held dear has been torn down and ripped away. My beliefs have been shattered, my sense of spiritual connection has disintegrated and turned to dust, and my physical self has crumbled with ill-health and disability. The story of my life unravelled as everything fell apart; I broke. It's not easy to admit any of this as the truth is rarely easy to face. Yet, I've reached a point where I'm no longer able to hide behind the relative safety of my keyboard or to wax lyrical about the joys of pain and struggle. Life isn't all fluffy bunny and marshmallows; sometimes it's gut wrenchingly difficult.
I’ve been standing precariously close to the edge for quite some time looking into the murky depths below, wondering what’s hidden in the mist and trying not to let my imagination run riot. I clung tightly to the edge until the day I couldn't and I fell. This year I’ve been falling, just like in those nightmares of my childhood when I’d suddenly lurch backwards into freefall, waking up in a blind panic, feeling nauseous and trembling. It felt like the nightmare had shifted into reality as I turned to face my ‘what is’ head on. Yet, this makes it sound like a conscious and willing choice, but I was dragged to this point and pushed into a corner leaving me with no escape route; I’ve had to face my reality as there was nothing else left as all of the facades, false beliefs, hopes and various levels of denial fell away. In hindsight, reaching such a point was inevitable, after all, no one can keep putting on a brave face, smiling and pushing on forever.
As the storm clouds kept coming, their relentless and tenacious determination ensured there was nowhere left to hide. There was no shortcut around the storm, the only way was through. This meant facing my shadows, facing my reality and facing up to myself with a lot of brutal self honesty. I guess I'd always believed that life is a journey, and, as we evolve, we step from one room to another, carrying with us new insights, new wisdom and new awakening. Yet, in a slightly whimsical kind of way, I hoped my point of breakthrough would be akin to walking in to a new room, turning the light on and starting afresh. I thought I would simply start seeing the world with fresh eyes and a new perspective, and keep striding forth as I've always done. However, life had a very different plan for me. Admittedly, I tried hard to cling on to what I had, even though I intuitively knew I couldn't carry on as I was. I felt a kind of safety in denial, it was an uncomfortable comfort zone to me, yet I didn't want to let it go.
There is a lot of wordage given to the concept of awakening, breakthrough and acceptance. I myself have written a great deal about this, feeling a deep sense of awareness of the process of my own personal evolution, as well as a sense of collective awakening. Of course, I, like everyone, am on a continual path of growth and learning, but it has always been a more palatable option to believe that breakthrough and, indeed, breakdown, were, ultimately, immensely positive experiences. Who was I kidding?
As I gazed around at the debris scattered all around me in the aftermath of the storm, it was undoubtedly hard to feel a sense of positivity. In that moment, I felt grief, anger, despair and desolation; positivity was conspicuous only by its absence. I had been forced to a point of breakdown and surrender, and yet, although it took me a while to see through the blurry haze of my tears, I was aware that my perception had shifted as everything looked different. Every sound, colour and smell was somehow more vibrant, as though I had opened myself up to a new layer of awareness. Initially, it felt as though I had no skin as I couldn't filter out the intensity of the shifting vibration all around me and within me. However, despite sensing a shift, I kept on resisting and denying as I couldn't bring myself to face the truth that everything had imploded and fallen apart. I kept on resisting until my resolve was smashed and there was nothing left standing between me and, well, me.
By being forced to a point of surrender, I had stripped back the facades I had clung on to for so long and I was left naked and bare facing my ’what is’ with total honesty as there was nowhere left to hide. The intensity of the chill in the cool air was undeniable, yet, at the same time, it felt refreshing as I could breathe freely for the first time in years. Spiritually, emotionally and physically I felt able to expand and, although the pain of falling apart was exquisite, the sense of reconnection I sensed would rise up within me stirred my curiosity and spurred me forward. However, reconnection wasn’t the default setting that emerged at the point of breakdown as I found myself in a kind of numb voidal space: not quite here, there or anywhere.
I felt as though every atom and cell of my being had been shocked and broken open; like an egg being cracked apart. Through those cracks poured a lifetime of ‘stuff’ and it was immense. Perhaps breakout is a better description than breakdown as although I definitely fell apart, I sensed a profound and intense feeling of indescribable release at the same time.
I've often pondered why this was the year for my falling apart. I’ve faced a lifetime of challenges, so why now? I’ve spent my life trying to be the best me I could possibly be, I’ve embraced self-healing and spiritual teachings, and I’ve worked so hard trying to heal myself in order to free myself from the ties that have bound me to ‘ought’s’ and ‘should’s’. Yet I’ve pushed my own self-destruct button as I wouldn’t pause; I wanted to keep on keeping on just in case everything fell apart if I stopped (even though my fragile house of cards had already fallen apart, I wouldn’t accept or acknowledge it). My head became a logjam of thoughts, beliefs and fears, and my soul became saturated as I built layer upon layer of facades. I stored up years of uncried tears for all of those experiences I wasn’t fully present for and I allowed the cracks in my physical health to become a gaping chasm as my body buckled and crumpled.
I fell apart this year as I could no longer keep on keeping on, trying to cling on, trying to push on. I fell apart as I tumbled into the gaping chasm I’d created and landed in a heap on the cold ground below. It wasn’t a soft landing but, in that moment, everything stopped, frozen and raw as I saw the truth of myself in all it’s glory. It wasn’t pretty, yet it was also beautiful at the same time as my awareness was fully in that moment and I realised that, despite my best efforts, I’d spent most of my life focused on what I hoped was ahead of me; I'd never allowed myself the opportunity to step fully into the present moment, and it was this denial and resistance that finally broke me.
My overloaded mind, body and soul needed to fall apart in order to fully get my attention. It was time to express the pain, sadness and the disconnection, and it was time to allow my true self to step consciously into the here and now. I found myself staring into that big hole, so beautifully described by John O’Donohue as, ’the precarious broken threshold of my own heart and soul’. I needed to let those uncried tears flow freely and I needed to let myself breathe, rest and take stock of my reality.
I guess it is somewhat ironic that in the process of trying to find myself, I actually lost myself. I looked so hard for the truth of me, I failed to notice my reality. I have long been dealing with health issues, but it was only when they escalated and I fell apart, I realised that I wasn't accepting my 'what is’, I was doing quite the opposite. Integrity, authenticity and acceptance are crucial steps on the path of awakening, yet all three involve a willingness to see beyond the facades we've created in order to stop trying to be anything other than what we are. Although I believed I was in a space of acceptance and surrender, I wasn’t. Of course, I would have preferred a little nudge to show me the error of my ways rather than a devastating tsunami tearing me open and ripping me apart, but, in truth, I’m rather good at ignoring nudges.
I’d love to say that the sun then rose and everything was well in the world as all the pieces suddenly fell into alignment and I felt a deep sense of peace. Entering the chilled darkness in the depths of my heart and soul pushed me to the point of extinction as every ounce of foundation fell away. There was nothing left to cling on to as hope was absent as I was made to truly face everything I had denied, repressed and ignored for years. My sense of spiritually, of inter-connectedness, shattered and I felt so angry and abandoned. The intensity of the pain rising up from my depths left me feeling isolated and alone, scared and confused. At the time I needed my spirituality the most, I turned my back on it as it felt hollow and without sustenance. This was of course a reflection of how I felt: disconnected, desolate and barren.
Although I’ve spent my whole life in the dark believing I was already in the light, reality shook me into consciousness and I remained fully awake and aware in that dark, cold place for months. I had days when I longed for death and I had days when I longed for life. I felt frozen in paralysis, not having the energy or strength to do anything other than be fully aware of where I was. Denial takes a phenomenal amount of energy but acceptance takes much more. I stayed there until the day I didn’t. I can’t say I had a powerful moment of revelation or insight, I just felt a weight lift from my soul and a light re-ignite from the core of my being. It was as though someone finally flipped the light switch on in that room I’d been pushed into on the next stage of my journey of evolution. It took a while to adjust my eyes and, in truth, my soul still feels jaded as I recover from the devastation. Yet, I find myself grateful as I feel as though I’m finally home: I’m present and the facades and falsehoods have fallen away. Of course, more will surface as that’s a part of being human, but, for now, I feel a glimmer of hope rising from deep within me as I'm tentatively exploring a deeper and more enriched connection to my mind, body and soul.
I'm still coming to terms with my physical ill-health and disability as its changed my life from the inside out and this involves grieving, anger, compassion, allowing and accepting, all of which churn up layers of emotions and belief patterns. Of course I have days when I'm angry about my reality but it passes as I know I'm the only one who suffers as a result. Awakening is an on-going process but I finally feel ready to be here now. Maybe ‘awakening’ isn’t the right word but it’s hard to extrapolate an apt description that suggests a positive to a period of utter devastation. I think I’ve been awakening for years and I’ve realised it’s not ‘being awake’ that matters, it’s noticing or paying attention. It’s the same as being alive: being alive isn’t the same as feeling alive as the former suggestions existence but feeling alive suggests a conscious interconnectedness. It’s only now I can say, hand on heart, that I actually feel alive. It’s painful and raw, but I’m wholeheartedly feeling every emotion, feeling and sensation. I’m feeling a growing sense of the true essence of me as I breathe deeply into my heart and soul. The threshold of my heart and soul that I’d feared for so long is still fragile but I’ve dived in and now fear isn’t the force that’s holding me back or shaping and defining my life.
I, like so many of us, have experienced breakthrough over the last few months after years of spiritual, physical and emotional upheaval. I had to breakdown to reach a point of surrender and I had to have every one of my many escape routes cut off in order for me to stop trying to out-run and out-wit truth; not to deliberately live an ‘un-truth’ but in a somewhat futile attempt to relieve the discomfort of being human. It’s taken a while for me to assimilate the process in order to articulate the essence of the changes within me as I find myself with a brand new vocabulary and a brand new perspective as a result.
In truth, I’m still adjusting and I’ve given up trying to condense and distil the experience in order to try to make sense of it as it’s beyond my logical and rational comprehension. Thinking about it gives it structure and it has none. My wounds are still raw and my soul feels weak and, although I intuitively know that falling apart was what I needed, I know it’s my willingness to be vulnerable, genuine and real that is setting me free. My essence shattered, but spiritually I feel more whole than ever before. It's certainly complex and confusing!
So, this was the year I fell apart but it’s also the year where echoes of possibility began to ricochet down the long corridors of my soul, tickling my consciousness and re-igniting my desire for life. I haven’t, as yet, given shape or form to these possibilities but I can feel them stirring within. For now, I’m resting in the moment, allowing myself to breathe fully as I slowly begin to open wholeheartedly to the process of healing; I feel weary from the battle, but the whisperings of hope keep the flames of my optimism flickering gently in the darkness.
Friday, 14 March 2014
As we continue to stand in-betwixt where we once were and where we want to be, there is a growing sense of awareness in connection to where we are now. Such an observation may sound obvious, but relatively few souls ever truly notice the present moment, focusing instead on the journey between ‘here and there’, looking back and looking forward but never really noticing the now.
Living with a linear perspective is something that shapes and defines both our lives and our world as it tends to keep us locked in the past/future mindset and away from true awareness of the present moment. Of course, it is only natural to look ahead towards goals and dreams, and to use the past as a reference point for decision making and for shaping the storylines of our lives, yet, such a path tends to keep us focused on the gap between where we are and where we want to be as opposed to raising our consciousness to the ‘bigger picture’, inspiring us to step beyond linear thought and towards conscious living and being. The gap becomes something to step over, to get from one side to the other rather than a place of learning, wisdom and growth. We ‘mind’ the gap (as in, we are bothered by it), but are rarely mindful of it.
It is part of being human to notice the gap between where we are and where we want to be as this inspires the motivation and determination to strive ahead, to discover, to innovate and to invent. Yet, when we become overly focused on this gap we become stuck in linear time and unable to re-connect to the infinite consciousness that shapes and defines the present moment. This may sound a little perplexing as the nature of infinite consciousness suggests a step beyond shaping and defining anything, but this is the point, as it is only by consciously embracing the present moment that we can make sense of the true nature of infinite consciousness; in other words, we cannot make sense of it until we consciously embrace it and become it.
Life has a habit of repeating patterns and cycles as we walk the treadmill and follow those storylines that play out over and over again. Although we think we have learned our lesson and moved on, we can still find ourselves back in familiar territory as the cycles repeat themselves and we find ourselves looking back for reference and looking forward for even more reference, understanding and wisdom. Yet, there comes a time when we need to realise that there will always be lessons to learn from the past and wisdom to discover and re-discover in the future but neither of these need to keep us away from the present moment.
There is a risk that we create a new cycle of distraction as we try to make sense of life and try to accomplish more in order to ‘get it right’ before we live the lives we know we were born to live. We set conditions: ‘when I lose weight, when I meet my soul mate, when I get that perfect job...’ and each one of these does not take us closer to living the life of our dreams but further away as it highlights the gap between where we are and where we think we need to be in order to be truly happy.
Happiness is a word that is hard to define as it means something very different to every single person. Some define happiness as ‘having it all’ and achieving material success. Many see happiness as having a plethora of external successes and achievements and yet it is only when we realise that no amount of external success can truly make us happy we begin to feel a sense of emptiness that all we once held dear actually doesn’t really matter all that much after all. Such a realisation can leave an after-taste of emptiness for a while as we strip back our souls to the bare bone, but we soon realise that from the emptiness true happiness has room to grow and flourish as we connect to the essence of happiness and embrace this feeling from deep within.
Present moment living, breathing and being is not for the faint-hearted as it means leaping into the gap (metaphorically, not literally) but not becoming defined or consumed by it. It also means stepping beyond linear time and embracing the concept of true happiness. Of course, in reality, there is no other way, but until we reach that point in time where we are prepared to wholeheartedly embrace this, we can find ourselves stepping over the cracks in the pavement, minding the gaps and watching out for potholes. In other words, our focus remains not on where we are but on where we were and where we think we need to be and until we realise that neither of these exist in the present moment we can never truly be liberated.
Of course, we will always remain mindful of the gap between here and there, as this is a part of being human, but the more consciously we step into the present moment, the more we can become One with the awe-inspiring universal consciousness. It is in the present moment where we step beyond the edge of the boundaries we perceive to be around us in life and fly free into the realms of joy...
Saturday, 15 February 2014
Over the past few weeks there has been a powerful sense of shift and re-emergence. As the inner (and outer!) winds howled and the rain cascaded down in torrents, there has been an undeniable sense of breakthrough as the chrysalis cracked and a new wave of clarity began its slow journey towards the sunlight. For many who walk the earth, such events seem to go unnoticed as life continues to tick along and nothing seems to penetrate the pedestrian-ess of the routine. Yet, there are those of us that seem to feel things far more acutely and intensely, and this most recent storm has been one of fairly monumental size and proportion.
There have been times of clarity and times of confusion, times of insight and revelation, and times of isolation and disconnection. There have been times of light, times of dark, times of day and times of night. There have even been times when night became day and day became night; when the light and the dark were no longer distinct and separate, but entwined and merged in a kind of spinning mass of energy. Of course, light and dark are not really separate forces, but, as human beings, we tend to see them this way as it helps us to find context, depth and definition to life.
Yet, during this storm, our very perception of life altered as we no longer see things as we once did. As a result, the merging of polarities and melting of defined boundaries and beliefs no longer feels confusing, but intuitively it feels right and as it should be. Although there are, as yet, few words to describe this new way of being, the vibration of residing in such a space feels life affirming and right. It is as though the vibration of life has changed and everything is much more itself once again.
As we open up to this life-affirming vibration, our senses are reaching new levels of sensitivity as we hear every thought and every heartbeat, see sharper colours and feel the true pulse of the universe. In such moments of magic and amazement, we can lose self-definition and clear boundaries to become a fully integrated part of the Whole; it is as though we no longer stand alone and finally feel connected and unified once again. It is in these moments that we feel, see, hear, sense, touch and taste more acutely than ever before.
It is akin to those few moments once the storm has passed; the stillness feels energised and poised to burst back into action with a single breath that triggers a chain reaction of birdsong, insects humming, and everything taking a big stretch as it comes back into full focus once again. Yet, nothing is the same any more as the whole world feels, and looks, different; the trees are stronger, the colours are brighter, the light is somehow more condensed and the whole vibration of life feels more energised and invigorated. It is as though life was holding its breath, trying to get through the storm, but in the stillness, there is no need to struggle, resist or fight any longer.
This moment of breakthrough is a collective experience, but, at the same time, it is also deeply personal. Therefore there is no set moment of breakthrough, but a cascading effect as we each get our time in the stillness to break out of the chrysalis that has served us and protected us for so long. Some may choose to remain in the safety of the chrysalis, and there can be no judgement for such a choice, after all, we are all unique. Yet, many will choose to let go and become One with the experience in order to evolve and let go; there is no ‘right’ way to do this, just an acceptance of the process and a willingness to offer gratitude for the experience.
Although we know that the storm will pass, during its peak, it is hard not to feel disconnected, isolated and alone. Of course, intuitively we know that this is part of the process as it is only by experiencing the disconnection, the isolation and the feelings these states of being invoke, that we can truly appreciate the value of the shifts we are now going through. Like night without day, and light without dark, we need the context in order to truly ‘make sense’ of the experience. Yet, these emotions and experiences do not define us, they are simply a part of us, and once we breathe them in, they re-integrate and become a little part of a much bigger Whole.
Denial of our imperfections, darkness and nuances no longer serves a positive purpose; we can no more eradicate these from our lives than we can stop the day turning into night, but there is nothing to fear about this process as it is a part of the natural cycle of life. The time for total self-acceptance is upon us as we let go of the storylines and beliefs that have shaped and defined us for so long and instead open up to a brand new way of living and being.
We are all a mass of complexities, nuances, eccentricities, quirks and imperfections; this is what makes us unique, incredible and perplexing. At the same time, it is this mass of ‘stuff’ that allows us to find true context in life in order to step beyond the dim light and back into the brilliant sunshine once again; in fact, we step beyond the concept of light and dark completely as we take a big deep breath of life and relax. More storms will come, but when we let go, we realise that each one is an opportunity to grow ever closer to living and being free...
Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Everything has its time in life. There are moments to smile, moments to cry, moments to reflect and moments to stand up and be strong; there have always been such moments and there will always be, as this is a part of life. Of course, for many of us, such moments often collide together bringing us a collaboration of feelings and experiences in the blink of an eye. Then there are those seemingly endless moments where we feel almost devoid of anything; those gaps or spaces in-between the spaces of life that somehow seem empty and without meaning. No one ever said being human was easy...
In a single moment we can feel as though we are at the epicentre of a whirlwind so strong, we can hardly stand up; we struggle to stay upright, battling to go on. And then, just like those few moments after a storm has passed, we find the stillness and the quiet before the world wakes up and becomes itself once again, and this moment brings us insight, wisdom and clarity, helping us to carry on and inspiring us to live our lives as richly and as fully as possible. Of course, both states of being are a part of the bigger whole as we cannot have one without the other. Like the day that follows the night, storms come and go in life, moments pass and, as Heraclitus once declared, ‘you can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on to you’.
Change is a part of life and the more conscious of change we become, the more aware we are of the millions of moments that come together to make up the whole. Life is not about the number of moments we have but about the quality of those moments. We can never know what lies around the next corner in life, and why would we want to as surely such knowledge will keep us even more acutely focused on the future and away from the present moment? The best gift we have in life is the present, and rather than define ourselves by the past or by aspirations or hope for the future, when we live in the present moment, life becomes richer, fuller and more energised as we stop living conditionally and start getting on with the business of making the most of each and every moment.
When we stand on the edge of the boundaries that we imagine and perceive in life, we realise that those boundaries are only there because we allow them to be. When we take a deep breath and re-align, the boundaries fall away as we once again feel centred and unrestrained as we step consciously towards the true infinity of life. Life is, by and large, what we make of it. Stuff happens, change happens, shift happens (often without the f) and although we are not always in control of this, we are in control of how we perceive and respond to such situations.
Life is a precious gift, and when we begin to truly appreciate this, we realise that there is no room for harbouring anger or bitterness, or clinging on to resentment or pain. When we do, the only person that truly suffers is the one that stares back at us when we gaze in the mirror. Whilst all of our experiences shape and define the paths we walk in life, we do not become them unless we choose to. When we step beyond the boundaries, we begin to feel the freedom of never stepping into the same river twice, not as a way to avoid responsibility or accountability, but the opposite: to consciously and wholeheartedly come alive once again.
The river flows whether we want it to or not. Life happens. Stuff happens. And yes, some of it isn’t nice; some of it is hideous, painful and beyond reason. Yet, at the same time, life is for living, and the more we embrace this, the more we will realise that it’s not just us that suffers and struggles, in fact, we see that suffering, pain and struggle goes beyond social standing, wealth or intelligence; life is difficult for everyone. It’s not about us personally; never has been, never will be. Of course, knowing this doesn’t actually change anything, but it does lift our heads up away from isolation and disconnection towards realising our own strength and acknowledging that we can either remain victims or we can embrace life once again.
Everything has its time in life and we have a choice: embrace each moment (leaning into any discomfort) to become free, or we can keep on keeping on. When we choose to embrace each moment, we fully appreciate the value of life and we become more aware of the preciousness of life. Such a realisation wakes us up and inspires us to dance more consciously with all that life has to offer; we become integral parts of the Whole and feel the life force flowing freely within.
As the river of life continues to flow and the currents chop and change, it is time now to find the strength within to let go and to become One with the flow, opening up to living authentically, joyfully and consciously. In essence, it seems that this is the time to dance...