Do we even realize when we’re pretending? Wearing a mask? Showing up with our finest of armor and tried and (not always) true responses? Sometimes, oftentimes we don’t. We’ve practiced them so long they’ve become a less real version of us, and we don’t even recognize our true nature. It’s become so commonplace anymore to live (and die) with pretense and fences up around our cores while our inner selves are desperately and deeply begging to be called to the light.
Recently I spent a weeked tucked away in the woods and water of Seabeck, WA with 5 other women who are in some way guiding with Souldust , a collective of humans living life in technicolor and helping others to do the same. It was a vibrant amalgamation of planning and supporting, naming and laughs. And although I fancy myself pretty openminded and connected, it hit me that I still hold back…all the damn time. Even worse, I make excuses for it. Before bed on the first night, Rachel gave me a quick and dirty chakra reading to see what the weekends’ focus should be for me. Bold expression. Finding harmony with nature, culture, and myself. Easier said than done. Finding inspiration in others comes easily to me. The commonality is a challenge. We tend to see ourselves in the stories of others and they become reflections or refractions of us. In the end though, how much of the story is legit and how much is a projection?
There is was, clear guidance. Simply put, almost everything that transpired for me on a personal level that weekend centered around rising from the ashes, standing proud in who and what I am … and SPEAKING it out loud, standing up for myself, and realizing my worth lies in all the places I hadn’t been looking for it. The diversity of these women who share so much commonality is astounding. Healers from the ground, healers from the ethers, warriors of darkness, creators, space holders, protectors, hand holders, detail seekers, desire and sexuality guides…one would have to be tapped out to walk away unaffected. I also saw several snakes…not everything is a sign but the fact they didn’t freak me out just might be. Ha!
Thus, reignited my passion for deep study. This last year and change has been one of healing for me…emotionally, physically, and doing some serious internal work. That work became so rote that my thirst for newness and shifts turned stagnant. I used my illness as an excuse for stalling out. The off-site weekend encouraged me to trace my steps back to where my passion in serving others lies…the belief that we ALL need to heal and we all must get there in different ways but with similar roots. I’ve begun to connect with nature more, protect before and process after challenging or draining situations, grow my knowledge in practices of mindful movement and healing, but always originating from a place of deep thanks. Going a step beyond, if we have gifts and talents, it’s wasteful not to extend them to the world.
Coincidentally, I’m currently co-authring a CEU course geared towards psychologists and yoga / mindfulness professionls on Reframing the Higher Self : Eastern Philosophy Meets Western Psychology. It was a thought Dr. Stephanie Wright and I had several months ago but both put on the back burner. As always, the timing is divine and we’re both in the thick of it with our research and seeing how the gears turn together. The work has found me diving back into the ancient yogic related texts (Vedas, Upanishads, et al) with a different perspective. The place I’ve arrived at (for the moment) that resonates strongly as a NEED for those of us who have disconnected from our authentic self is negotiation of the sacred.
There’s a vast chasm between the way most lived in any ancient world religion and the way we live today, especially in the West. It’s all too easy to fall into a cycle of chasing the dollar, the title, the glory. We want more, and we want it now. In some cases we’ve come to believe we deserve it or, even worse, are entitled to it. We’ve drifted so far away from simplitude and gratitude, it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack. Societally, we will never heal until we learn to sit in the dark, embrace and accept it as an equal part of the whole, hold that space for others, and fan the sparks that light us up and keep us moving forward.
Agni is the fire in the belly. Fire is hot. Heat is transformative…and illuminating. If we cultivate a bhakti (devotional) practice to ourselves, our light will radiate out and illuminate others. But don’t be fooled…it’s work. It’s in the trenches, visceral reaction, rise from the ashes labor. Labor is both a death and a birth. When we labor in love and devotion to the spirit inside that, in turn, uplifts the universal connection, we accept the death of samskara (imprints) and awaken to what we’re forging into. With the fire comes the polarity of softness…opening the heart and softening into that which you are and which is to come. Soften to those who so desperately desire to shape shift back into their truest self, as well.
Illumination of the sacred is to be present, in the breath, in the moment. It is to find gratitude in the great and the small. It is to find santosha (contentment) and release the desire for more. It is to foster permission and prohibition so we might begin to view our world from a tripartheid lens that there is a world greater than ourselves, there is a world we humans create in which we must orient ourselves, and there is a world of our own individual experience. Whether we’re practicing bhakti with a person or a thing, it is not the object that is sacred but how we treat it. It’s not the place we seek that is sacred but how we define it. It is not the time that is sacred but how this time is delineated from any other time. Sacred is in the doing, in the loving.
Closing thought: Gratitude is the bridge between no longer (the ashes from the fire of burning away samskara) and the not yet (the sublime, all the possibilities we’ve yet to realize. Participate in life fully!