Exiting The North

English: Photograph of a Vajrayogini painting ...

English: Photograph of a Vajrayogini painting from Thangka. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last few months have been strange.  A submersion in single-minded commitment. Trying hard to get the thesis finished, and when I haven’t succeeded in hitting the targets, putting everything else off till I do.

This approach, weirdly, sapped the energy right out of my work.  I see how much that is a part of my agreements.  To be alone.  To isolate myself.
I held on.
Doing the practices of the North, and dawn meditations, where I struggled to stay awake, I was aware of this deep anxiety.  The pain of how I separate myself from all things.  The way the work of the thesis, unreleased, hung around and fed the anxiety.  How as soon as I did the work, that anxiety would lift.  The sense of connection returned.
It has been a test to stay with it, and leave it, all at once.  Let this part of the project go.  And accept its incompleteness.  Because beyond assembling, some light editing and binding the thing, there isn’t a great deal more I can do content wise.  Got to trust what’s there.
I finally handed the thesis in a month and a half ago, but it is still not quite done.  There are the examiner’s comments, due after Easter.  Further revisions likely.  Meanwhile, life goes on.  In the North you face the biggest tests to your staying power…  I get it.  Finishing this work is my hot spot. Staying with the wisdom of the process as I begin to face East in the Wheel.
We went back to South Africa over the festive season.  To see family, and for my partner to do some work.  We have taken the risk that he leave his job to work the hail season over there, so that with the cash he makes, he can buy a vehicle over here in London and we can have more control over his working hours in order to share child care responsibilities more equitably.  While in South Africa, I kept writing on the thesis daily, energised by proximity to the place that my work is all about.  The tension between separation and unity.  This is all tied in with what I do next.  How I manifest my intention in the real world. On the last day there a friend came over to tell me about a project she is working on, to set up a school that emphasises the natural world and play as central to children’s education, and also bridges the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged in South Africa by offering subsidised places to low income families.  It’s about building an amazing, innovative space to educate children that is accessible to those who are normally excluded.  It is pretty risky and untested.  My friend wants me to get involved, and work on the project.  There is funding.  It’s a paid role.  This would be in about 6 months time.
I sit with the possibility of what can come next.  The risks and the rewards.  What do I do with what I’ve learnt?  How do I manifest right action?
Before we went to South Africa, and while we were discussing whether my partner should leave his job or not, I had the following dream.  It speaks to the heart of ‘what next’.  The step by step.  The letting go. The trust and faith.  The marriage of the miraculous with the pragmatic.  The dream mobilised many symbols of the past few years to powerfully engage me.  I’m still sitting with this one.
I go to a party, with young French people next door to our old home (This is the house we used to live in, our dream home, which we were evicted from very suddenly a year and a half ago.  Though traumatic, the energy released by leaving was what propelled me into opening up to new possibilites.)  I am not with my family.  I must make a decision about whether or not I stay and take halucinogens with these young, sweet, naive,open and exploring French students.  It is hard to make the decision, but still I stay, not deciding either way.  I know it is only for one night, taking the drugs and exploring my own mind.  I will go back to my family.  I look at our old garden next door.  I speak to Charlotte Joy (a colleague in the anthropology department who also has young children, but is more successful than me), and show her the garden, explaining how we lost it when we were evicted.  “It looks dull but at least it is here” I say, because the wild forest like garden planted by my friend is gone, and has been replaced by healthy looking – if dull- vegetable patches.  Well tended.  I am describing the garden to Charlotte in terms of loss, but I realise as I speak that there is no loss.  It was never really my garden.  
 
I must still make my decision about imbibing the halucinogens.  
 
There is aggressive knocking at the door.  Noise Officers from the council, female, like the two women who evicted us from our home in the real world.  i don’t invite them in, but they barge past to serve noise eviction notices.  Suddenly I realise I have nothing to fear from them!  This house is not mine, and the music that had been playing loudly has been turned off.  What a laugh!  An anti-climax for them.  
 
I must still decide.  
Sarah from the ReUnion (the amazing artist project that I got to know over the summer that took over and transformed urban waste ground near our flat into a magical summer space) talks it through with me.  She is somehow running all of this.  But she is neither naive nor young.  She is youthful, knowing and wise.  She is the one who knows.  She will not make a decision for me, but she shows me the den that has been made to cocoon me when I need to retreat from the massive explorations of my conciousness I will undertake by eating the halucinogens.  I know that I will take this leap, it is just scary and I worry about leaving my children.  
 
But it is only one night!  
 
I will be back with my family!
 
This decision is connected to the business idea my partner and I have been discussing in the real world. I see that our plans have a spiritual source and involve travel to South Africa.  
 
I take the drug.
 
My daughter is suddenly there, and afraid.  
 
Twin goddesses rise up out of the wooden floor boards to help me.  
 
They are made out of fire.  Wildly powerful.  But also controlled, exotic, and deeply knowing.  They are coloured red and orange.  
    
They have a lot to show me.  
 
A sweet Bengali girl from my daughter’s school comes and comforts her as I absorb the knowing the Goddesses are imparting.  They do this by asking a series of questions about the business idea.  As I answer it gets clearer.  At its heart, the plan must be altruistic and self-helping, connected to our mission in South Africa.  
At this point I woke up.
I went to the bathroom, and when I came back to bed and fell asleep, I felt the Goddess again, her twin aspect now singular.
My body was vibrating.
I knew she was made of fire.

Am I Done Yet? Shame and the Writer.

When you’ve been with a project for a long time – and I’ve been with the work of my post graduate degree for almost ten years – it’s sort of weird to let go of it.  Especially when it doesn’t feel like I did my best.  I handed the thesis in last week Friday.  A big heavy blue bound tome, that looked the part, but left me feeling empty.

Because it could’ve been better?

Because I’m painfully aware of how my habitual pattern of refusal has kept me time and time again from doing the work I dream of doing?

Because there is still the letter to the examiners to complete?

Instead of the expected and hoped for rush of release, I reached my target and fell flat.  Seeing only the gaps, what’s wrong with the work, the real possibility of failure.  Or the even scarier possibility of being given yet another chance to give it my best shot.

What might have been a celebration of completing  became a wallowing in self-criticism.  I shudder when I think of the examiners reading what I have written, sweated over and sacrificed for.  Close my eyes like I’m on a scary roller coaster I’m riding over and over again in a grim endurance test.  I start to write the letter to them explaining what I have done to the manuscript in response to their last set of comments, and feel ashamed.

That’s what’s at the core of this refusal to be cool with where I am at: shame.

It’s been written all over the life story exercises of the West of the Wheel.  A deep abiding shame.  Damn!  And there was me thinking I’d got this thing down.  Ready to enter serene and smiling into the East.   When it doesn’t turn out that way, my impulse is to give up.  I can’t do this.

Can I?

Who is the ‘I’ at the centre of all this chat anyways?

My writing partner and friend in the Circle writes to me.  A reminder that these are the fault lines.  Recognise the cracks, but don’t fall in.  Not this time.  Wallowing in my shame is Resistance to Life.  And life is sweet at its heart.  Sweet and shameless.

IMG_0190

My Circle partner shared a powerful reflection on shame, thesis submission and the intersection of the personal with the social scientific by Alison Pryer.  You can read the full post by clicking the link at the end.  It’s so beautiful, and true.  Her story, and the bravery with which she writes,  put my stuff in perspective.  And the way that it is poetry that offers her a wild exit from the sense of shame that threatens to paralyse her creativity resonated deeply with what it means to me when I let go and allow that channel to be opened.  Reflecting right now, the experience I can liken it to is the one I had giving birth: something that could’ve so easily been tainted with shame, but for various reasons wasn’t, unlike other parts of my life.  Why was that?  Pryer alludes to it when she writes about the poet maintaining a state of alertness while lovingly attending to the world.  Much of the pleasure of making poetry lies in the wait for and then the chase after that which is elusive, and which will always ultimately evade us. Like pleasure itself, poetry is somewhat unruly and feral. It can’t be controlled or scheduled. You have to take what comes. Thus, the poet must remain in a state of alertness, must attend lovingly to the world, in order to experience and represent wonder and possibility.

Here is a bigger extract.  I urge you to click the link at the end.

All of us have at some time or another keenly felt the intense burn of shame – the horrible recognition of our deficiency, inadequacy, and unworthiness, that feeling of exposure and social alienation (Kaufman, 1980). Shame is the obliteration of vulnerability and trust in relationship. Thus, shame is only possible when we make or find ourselves vulnerable, as I was in this particular pedagogical situation as a doctoral student being publicly examined at my doctoral defence, where I had chosen to talk about my explorations of a subject matter that was taboo. Clearly, I had been naively trusting, blind to the power of academe to uphold its unspoken culture of silence, even though I had so accurately described it in my work.

 Unfortunately, further factors compounded my shame. According to Elspeth Probyn (2005), shame “always attends the writer” (p. xvii). Also, those who have experienced shame early on in their lives have “a greater capacity to re-experience the feeling” (Probyn, 83). To make matters worse, according to Gershel Kaufman (1980), shame is “always particularly amplified in a culture which values achievement and success” (xiv). By the end of my doctoral examination I was teetering on the brink of failure.

Perhaps western culture goes too far in its almost complete pathologization of shame. So much so that it is shameful to even talk of shame. Yes, shame is always unwelcome, always uncomfortable, painful even. Shame “marks the break” (Probyn, 2005, 13) in relationship, in connection, in community, in trust. We feel shame not because we don’t care, or because we have no interest in a given situation, but because our interest, our love, our care, our desire for mutuality in relationship is not returned. We are spurned. We yearn to repair “the break” so that our interest, love, desire, and care might in some measure be reciprocated. Shame, writes Probyn, “illuminates our intense attachment to the world, our desire to be connected,” (63) and is always deeply embedded in contexts, politics, and bodies.

As I have since discovered, it is how we respond to an experience of shame that matters the most (Kaufman, 1980; Probyn, 2005). Shame can be a highly generative emotion, a catalyst for self-transformation. Probyn puts it this way:

Shame is not unlike being in love. The blush resonates with the first flush of desire. It carries the uncertainty about oneself and about the object of love; the world is revealed anew and the skin feels raw. Shame makes us quiver. (2)

This keen appreciation of our longing for connection and community is in itself deeply transformative. Shame, shot through with desire, may embolden us to tell new stories (Probyn, 2005), or to tell old stories in new ways.

            Poetry may be the ideal medium of inquiry for someone (like me) who’s longing for connection and community has been heightened through an experience of shame. The making of poetry is deeply concerned with building relationships and seeing affinities (Simic, in Zwicky, 2003, 47). It is also about finding community, coming home as it were, to our own lives and the life of the wider world. Thus, it is a medium that affords an ecology of both knowing and expression. Jane Hirschfield (in Zwicky, 2003) expresses this more poetically:

Every metaphor, every description that moves its reader, every hymn-shout of praise, points to the shared existence of beings and things. The mind of poetry makes visible how permeable we are to the winds and moonlight with which we share our house. (16)

Poetry is also an ideal medium of inquiry for someone (like me) who has experienced trauma. The poet, Charles Simic (in Zwicky, 2003), writes:

My hunch has always been that our deepest experiences are wordless. There may be images, but there are no words to describe the gap between seeing and saying, for example. The labour of poetry is finding a way through language to point to what cannot be put into words. (85)

Much of the pleasure of making poetry lies in the wait for and then the chase after that which is elusive, and which will always ultimately evade us. Like pleasure itself, poetry is somewhat unruly and feral. It can’t be controlled or scheduled. You have to take what comes. Thus, the poet must remain in a state of alertness, must attend lovingly to the world, in order to experience and represent wonder and possibility.

         Simone Weil (in Zwicky, 2003) says, “The poet produces the beautiful by fixing his attention on something real. It is the same with the act of love” (102). Adam Zagajewski (in Zwicky, 2003) insists that in poetry we exercise our capacity “to experience astonishment and stop still in that astonishment for an extended moment or two” (p. 108). Thus, the creation of poetry calls for a nondualistic appraisal and understanding of the world, one that privileges neither thought nor feeling, intellect nor emotion.

         Earlier I quoted Probyn’s (2005) claim that “shame always attends the writer” (p. xvii). However, the quality and clarity of a poet’s perception helps to dissolve feelings of writerly shame by rekindling profound connections to the world. Simic (in Zwicky, 2003) proclaims only half in jest:

The ambition of each image and metaphor is to redescribe the world, or more accurately, to blaspheme. . . . The truth of poetry is a scandal. A thousand fornicating couples with their moans and contortions are nothing compared to a good metaphor. (46)

So the poetic impulse – that generative, loving state where whole worlds are birthed with mere words – is of necessity quite shameless.

Cultivate a shameless heart filled with light.  Be that girl.

Over and out.

http://www.ccfi.educ.ubc.ca/publication/insights/v13n03/articles/pryer/index.html

 

 

 

When Work is Resistance

I’ve thought a lot about resistance over the past year.  Read Stephen Pressfield’s book, been inspired and shaken by the rallying cry to recognise the insidious forms resistance takes.  For me this meant getting on with my work; with writing; no matter what it took.  The results were powerful, and productive.  I realised I did have it in me to do this thing.  To finish the thesis I have been working on for years.  To move on.  To use other forms of writing to take the pressure off the dissertation, to allow it to be what it is (an academic training exercise) rather than the bearer of all my memories and experience.

I’m handing it in in two weeks.  And the pressure is on to keep working.  To keep up the momentum and get it done.  And I’ve been there at the coal face.  Everyday, writing, editing, crafting.  Releasing the need for it to be perfect (it isn’t).  Releasing the need to know everything (I don’t).

So what’s gone wrong?

I got an inkling of it when my daughter fractured her arm in the playground last week and the first thought that flashed into my head was , “But what about my work?”

Then a dear friend extended an invitation to come to a surprise birthday celebration for her husband.  First response?  “But what about my work?”

Well, what about my work?  In pursuing it so single mindedly I have begun to exclude other daily practices that give my work life and purpose.  In the aftermath of the resistance to engage with what is happening elsewhere in my life, my work has begun to congeal.  I find that though I turn up everyday, progress is slow, the creative spark that was transforming the text vanished.  Resistance came in by the back door.  Not because I wasn’t turning up for work, but because I wasn’t turning off the work.

I see that Resistance is also about not participating fully in my own life.  That the single minded pursuit of work, when it is at the cost of a balanced Wheel, drains the life blood of what sustains the work in the first place.

The Love that keeps you turning up.

The Love that lets you leave when it’s time to.

Untangling the threads of these final weeks, I see that my challenge is not to simply turn up for work.  It is also to blur the boundary of work and play, to make work a long term satisfying practice that I return to, restoring the meaningfulness of work as part of my Life, rather than a crash diet I go on every now and again.

Pause to keep going.  Funny that.

Being in Allignment with Intention Is Not a Get Out of Jail Free Card

I Awaken my Light…

How much of my life is in alignment with this intention?

Last night I went to bed late having actually done some work on a project that is mine.  I didn’t feel tired, I guess that’s the energy of doing something fresh again, like I was energised by returning, at last, to a project that I want to finish, even if I struggle to at
times. This is interesting to me, the way in which awakening my light is about honoring the things that are close to my heart, that feed the inner fire. And feeding that fire means having more energy, rather than less. This seems to be the way to see if what’s happening is right; to check in with that energy. So there are different kinds of tired. The tired that comes from ‘job well done’, the tired that feels like pushing through treacle because there is so much resistance to doing the task. I’m caught up in thinking about work now. It’s like at long last I have permission to pursue it. Here’s another interesting thing. In order to finish the thesis, I have to totally let go of making it polished and spectacular. There’s not enough time, and the project is too convoluted and complex anyway. My skills are not there yet. This means that sometimes I don’t want to bother finishing.  But here’s the rub, and where I know when I am in alignment with my intention.  Because dropping the standard, and doggedly sticking to it in order to finish, and finishing itself being the end goal, means that I am released from the other baggage and find that the energy returns. The fire ignites.

Going to sleep last night after doing a good few hours on this, I had a dream about my mother and father. My father was collecting all kinds of stuff as he does, and it was all covered in mould, damp. It needed to be thrown away. He hates throwing stuff away. I remember when we left South Africa to come to the UK 19 years ago, how he threw tantrums when my mother took control and emptied the house of all the rubbish and stuff that had accumulated over the years. In my dream last night she, my mum, assumed this uncharacteristically assertive role again. She had a new boyfriend, and was keeping this new information to herself. It was like she had distanced herself from us, her children, and was now living her own life. From what she did say, I guessed that the new boyfriend was Greek, from Tottenham, and a Spurs supporter. A proper immigrant London son and geezer. Not her usual arty, flaky, volatile type at all. It was cool. I liked this change. Having guessed her new involvement I reconnected with her on an equal level. She admitted to me that she had never wanted children, and that she was aware of how this not actually wanting the children she had would’ve affected our experience growing up. This was even more so for my younger sister than me as she had been the second child, and her birth had been located in the really difficult part of our mother’s relationship with our dad. Like I was the romantic baby, my sister was the no-turning-back baby.

Later on my dad let me and my sister throw the mouldy stuff away. It felt good.  Both to thrown the stuff away, and have his permission to do it.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

In the waking world, my circle partner and I shared our free writes in our weekly space about how in alignment we felt with our intentions.  Mine was the piece of writing shown above.  Discussing our observations from the preceding week, we had a conversation about the unexpected twists in living an intention.  I’ve transcribed it (we held our circle in a chat room due to work commitments… holding our space indeed!) as an experiment in communicating the process of working our way through the Wheel:

Maia – Awakening our light is sometimes not what we expect

Dom –  yes, that sounds right

Maia – Not necessarily all romantic and free

sometimes laundry

facing what we don’t want to

it’s etched with pain and struggle too….

Dom – And awakening our desire within that….

Maia – And pulling ourself out of i

it has tension at the edges

that we see and choose not to submerge in

it can be tired

Dom – Honouring the intention to awaken desire in ALL of life…

Maia – It has a history of heartache

of disappointment,

promises not kept

the birthing process is painful sometimes

and we to mourn

for losing innocence to find it again..it’s the tunnel we have to go through

Dom – Bumpy journey through the birth canal…

Maia – yep

and accepting that

Dom – and that’s where your intention has so much resonance for me… because it holds this thread of accepting all of life… not                  resisting or trying to push away the bumps….

Maia – well it’s only possible if I do

which maybe I didn’t realise

I thought this stuff was partly a get out of jail free card

you know a clean slate where its all different

Dom – Ha ! Tell me about it!

Maia – but its a bit of both or something

Dom – yes… that’s the thing…. its a bit of both….

Maia – it does say you don’t have to feel what you been feeling that’s not yours

but it’s not easy

Dom – exactly… and so the processes in the west of naming and holding and releasing are such an important part of clearing the    space, so you can’t just push it away and avoid. We work with the pain, hold it, and release.

Maia – What feels hard is that I have to do it myself – the thing that’s it’s actually my choice, i create it, am responsible

Dom – Sounds so simple as I write…. I think about the power of resistance that slows me down

Maia– we get help but we have to be willing to take that responsibility

that leap of faith that belief

no one will do it for me

Dom –   When we hold that… the realisation of taking responsibility… how much are we able to drop then? And how liberating is that?     Like… for example, you dropping the idea of doing the PhD…  I have to talk to my boss today about doing less hours in the office over the next few weeks…. it terrifies me… to ask for what I need….

Maia – each of these little things is important and what it’s about

reminds me of a pema chodron quote

where she says we hear a lot about the bliss of enlightenment

but not a lot about how painful/difficult it is to go from being totally wound up to being unstuck

Dom – ha ha… yup.

Maia –  or something like that

but joy is important because we have it there everyday

like my therapist said – have fun – without it there’s not lubrication

Dom- Yes! And it’s hard to go down a slide dry…..

Maia – maybe this could be a task for next week……

Dom – fun is so important… its everything… that playful, smiling spirit…

It changes the nature of things… the heaviness…

Maia – everyday before we sleep, write about the things that made us happy that day

from the smallest to biggest moments

Dom – Is this our practice this week?

 Maia – and share with each other – just a list if we wish

a suggestion…

Dom – great… I love it ! xxx

share all in one next week? Or email each morning?

Maia –  hmm maybe email each morning – i like that idea

Dom – me too…. sort of like daily scripting in reverse….

Maia – yep….. too much counting sorrows let’s count some joys

Dom – Joy counting x

Maia –     : ):)

Dom – Mould wiping : )

Maia – Hehe !

Dom – tee hee xxx

Scripting the Entrance to the North

I’ve been at the gates of the North for a while.  There have been many diversions, things to attend to, resistance to unravel.

Our circle didn’t meet for a good few weeks as these threads of new jobs, relocations, changed plans and shadow dancing were worked through. Are worked through.  Process is always unfolding. I get this. When our circle finally met, it was sweet, a reminder of the value of a cohort rooted in mutual commitment to truth, and the diversity of how truth manifests.  What was clear in our meeting was my resistance to scripting a new story.  Like I wasn’t wanting to let go of the old one yet, or needed more information to make a new one.   Can’t say I’m fully out the woods of these fears, and holding on stubbornly to the old storylines.  But damn, I’m noticing them playing out.  I can see the trees even as I tremble beneath them.  She moves through, anyway.

There’s an agreement here that I break when I move on. The one that says I need to know everything.  Gulp.
Finally I do. Move on. Into the entrance of the North. I call on helpers because when I break the agreement named above, I can open up to assistance. For me right now, this is the support and insight of the circle, the strong home-girl compassion of the deities who speak to me, retreat into time alone and consultation with a fresh version of the I Ching (a dear old friend and guiding hand through many turning points).

I script.

This week I move with a light and slow touch. I perform my roles as mother, worker, partner, sister, friend, daughter, writer and thesis reviser with care, attention and a  joyfully playful mind.

I notice when I compare myself with others. Even little things; the seemingly inconsequential. I note the effect this has on how I do the  things that matter to me.  What forms of censorship I impose. What is suppressed.  What I do instead. I write down these observations as I go about my business, do my work.

I do this to identify what my truth is.

This practice assists me in locating and living by this truth, inhabiting it rather than being led by speculation about the ‘truth’ I think others may expect from me.

I live and respond and take action from this still point. I stay watchful. Keeping meticulous notes frequently helps me in this, because any kind of research is assisted by reflective record keeping on the job.

I travel with pen and paper.

I awaken my light.

I discover my truth.

Bring on the week….  looking North.

Echidna

Echidna calls!

Unexpected totem, coming up from the Underground

Clinging to this excavation of truth

Protecting the fragile shoots

Of new creation’s completion

She, being a home-girl and fully grounded

Focuses on detail, unafraid

Scrutinising

A sepia-tinted Bree St, Fordsburg side

Washed up on the River, Southside

She knows that these flows must be sifted systematically

Stubbornly

Till the stability of the patterns emerge

Anchored in the harbour

Warm burrow in the storm

Sweet and fierce warrior

Lover of Home

Keep On Moving: Postponement as Troublemaker in the North West

keep moving

keep moving (Photo credit: Wrote)

Our circle’s experience of symbolically entering the North of the Wheel in Denmark was so liberating and powerful, the feeling of freedom and flight that followed so wonderful, that there had to be a crash at some point!  And so it goes.  Peak experiences are brilliant – I love and live for them!  But they have their shadow aspect, which manifests as a belief that somehow this is an arrival point, a finishing line moment.  So when the insights of the peak experience have to navigate their way through the more mundane spaces of everyday life, it can be hard to adjust to the ordinary; to the application of insight.  Jack Kornfield wrote a whole book on it, ‘After the Ecstasy, The Laundry’.

It is in these post-peak spaces that Troublemakers really show up.  And as Julie Tallard Johnson discusses in the Wheel of Initiation, these Troublemakers are ways in which our attachment to habitual ways of doing and being in the world can be identified.  They offer us the opportunity to liberate ourselves from them when they show up.  The more you practice, the more you can spot a Troublemaker when it comes up.  A bit like that scene in The Matrix when Neo plucks bullets out the air as if they were apples on a tree and tosses them aside.  Practice strips troublemakers of their power to damage you unthinkingly.  However, where I’m at is more like the start of the Matrix, where Neo flails about and is generally nearly cut down by said bullets!  Awareness of Troublemakers, and shifting the energy patterns that hold you captive to the beliefs that surround your responses to them (what our Circle focused on in Denmark),  is only the beginning!

The day after getting back from Denmark, still on a high, I received an email from Julie about Dealbreakers.  As the week progressed, and things got tougher, I really felt the resonance of her communication.

At times, it is an all-out civil war between our habitual selves (that often sustain our pain stories) and our more authentic nature (and our intentions). Deal breakers finally break the deal with some agreement that is keeping us hostage to our pain stories. (Wherever we are suffering there is an agreement to a pain story).  When a Deal Breaker arises a choice is usually involved. My indifference would say to me: “This doesn’t matter.”  “This doesn’t count.” My authentic self knows on a very basic level that everything counts. In fact sometimes the smallest choice opens us up to an new paradigm, and the briefest comment reveals the deepest truth. It all matters (but this doesn’t mean it is heavy or somber). Every decision, as Joseph Campbell would say is a Destiny Decision. Within the Buddhist philosophy we recognize that everything contributes to causes and conditions and everything has a consequence. So when we break an agreement, and invoke the Deal Breaker there may be blood, but more importantly there will be LIGHT. 

I realised that our Circle was probably more in between than our big leap forward had suggested.  Located somewhere North West if you will. Though we have symbolically moved into the North of The Wheel, in many ways we are still embroiled in the business of the West.  The clearing out of pain stoires, identification of the habitual, recognition of troublemakers and looking out for Dealbreakers.  This is movement in the Wheel.  When I stop and take a breath , I feel how I love and am energised by the dynamism and gathering momentum  of the Wheel!  It is a beautiful thing.

In our Circle we have been negotiating reforming our meeting schedule as new jobs, country moves and change occur around us.  This has been challenging, but also an opportunity to approach our work together in ways that are responsive to what our circumstances actually are (as opposed to imposing a vision of how it ‘should’ be on the process). The point, sometimes, is not to achieve perfection, but to keep turning up. Keep moving.

To finish, I am sharing some of my Circle partner Maia’s writing around something that both of us have identified as a powerful agreement to ‘Postpone our Lives’ or ‘Not Participate’.  These are dealbreakers for real.  I love her writing because it is so raw, and honest.  It elucidates the fragile jaggedness that comes up in this kind of work: it articulates the captivating Siren charm of Resistance (she points out that the will to postpone and resist starting comes up as much in work that she does like to do as work that she doesn’t).

I am in major procrastination mode.  Came to the library to work because it just wasn’t going to happen at home.  Those days when you just don’t want to start.  Probably/maybe when I start it will be much easier.  Been thinking how much this is linked to my deal breaker – not wanting to participate in life, or feeling helpless in my non-participation. I’m that girl  looking at the playground roundabout, thinking that is the world and I am not on it. It was this feeling of being separate and alienated, this numbed off state, of being unable to move beyond the separateness and part of the movement of life.  

Whether I like the work I have to do or not, it brings me face to face with that state again. There are two Osho tarot cards that came to mind this morning.  The one is of a woman looking through window.  She’s all grey and the world outside is full of colour. The card is called Postponement. The other card is called the Outsider.  It shows a child looking through a gate longing to be outside.  The child doesn’t realise the gate is not locked.  

I have always disliked getting these cards, especially the postponement one, which asks you to put aside the desire to delay and act.  I don’t like the card because I like putting stuff off for tomorrow. It’s comfortable, I have gotten used to it.  As much as I have longed for action, to live my life as a bird in full flight, delaying – putting off and slipping into that numbed off, nothing is really happening state is what I know.  It’s really very comfortable. I  also got tired of hating myself for it.  But it’s all been changing for me. The Wheel of Initiation has helped  a lot with it.  Swept me up more than I anticipated.  I now see the possibility of not choosing to follow the narrative.  I see that I am actually a bird in full flight who thinks she’s a postponing woman.  I see the power I have to re-write the narrative to shift and transform and ease out of these heavy habits.  Yes it’s difficult.  I have to meet the troublemakers again and again.  This is my deal breaker.  

I was thinking of an intention that works with this – I participate fully in my life.  It’s what I read Toni Morrison said in an interview.  She just wants to feel whatever she’s feeling whether it’s good or bad.  To really be there.  So here’s the practice.  The call to come alive in whatever I am doing. To not put myself off.  

The feeling I encounter when I do step up to participate is that I can’t do it, that I’m not good enough. That’s the Outsider card.  The gate is open but I don’t step out because I believe I am not good enough. I am that thee year old girl, getting frustrated, crying I can’t do it.  Giving up.  As soon as I start to write there’s a voice crying, I can’t do it, it’s too hard.  That’s the voice I have to look at and say thank you and then turn back to the feeling that I can. 

When I delay or don’t do something that I must, I end up feeling more powerless, paralysed, heavy – it’s circular and then there is no way out.   That’s the mess I create.  I have to keep moving, even though it feels heavy.  Keeeeeep moving.  It’s lighter ahead.   

Maia Marie 2012

 

What am I postponing?

How would it feel to do it?

What happens when I finish?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wheel-Initiation-Practices-Releasing-Inner/dp/1591431115/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347454034&sr=8-1

http://www.julietallardjohnson.com/

http://www.osho.com/Main.cfm?Area=magazine&Sub1Menu=tarot&Sub2Menu=oshozentarot

http://www.jackkornfield.com/

Pain Stories? Let’s Head North!

Arrived in Denmark tonight…  heading northwards.  I realise that Denmark is not that much more North than London, where I have come from, but that’s about right.  We are still very much on the edges of the West of the Wheel.  So this is a creep northwards, an inching towards the next direction.  As it is!  The West is a demanding place, where we face all kinds of difficulties.  The stuff that makes us want to turn back.  The pain stories.

I’m all disorientated…. arriving at night… no knowledge of the language.  But that’s cool….  being out of the orientation of what is familiar is a good way to be.  Sometimes.  Anyway, my circle partner tells me everyone speaks English here anyway.  And hey!  Even the word ‘English’ comes from the word ‘Angle’ which was the name for those Danish invaders all those centuries ago, who along with their Saxon bredren, gave us that infamous moniker ‘Anglo-Saxon’.  It’s all connected!

So, this is something my writing and circle partner wrote all about Pain Stories.  We are moving, ever so slightly, northwards.  And her reflection is pretty cool.  So here it is.  Enjoy.

Pain Stories

What a dramatic ring it has. We have been talking about pain stories for a while, sharing them, circling around their meaning in our lives. I have been thinking recently about staying too long. Like the Dionne Farris song “I stayed just a little long and now it’s time for me to move on”. I am always/often staying too long. Past the point where I know I should get up and move, I am still sitting there, wallowing, paralysed with indecision or just plainly not wanting to let go – a little kid screaming mine mine long after the toy’s left your hands. Where’s that step between knowing you have been holding onto this truth for too long and actually letting it go? As Pema Chrodron said somewhere letting go is not something you can actually practise it kind of happens like magic when the ground is set for it. What you can practise she says is gentleness and precision. Precision as in focus, concentration seeing things for what they are. Gentleness for each mis step, inability to move, the meandering route we are likely to take.

So where does that leave us now? We haven’t finished thrashing out our complicated life stories, configuring the various threads to our pain stories. But we have shared a lot. We have been sharing a lot for years. And we know the things that press us down. So much of what we have shared over the past year has been about seeing them more clearly owning up and loosening those ties. It’s a process possibly there’ll always be more to undo and unhem from ourselves and we’ll keep coming back in different forms until we’re light enough to float up into the atmosphere. And along the way there are lots of opportunities for letting go, or for setting the ground for letting go. Intentions, rituals, marking moments all have a role in this…But we also need lightness that’s part of what helps the magic happen. There’s a deep mystery to all of this – which our rational minds can’t quite grasp. Coming from a culture of words – Words to map, words to express, words to limit and free we sometimes forget the power beyond words and store too much faith in the act of saying, as if saying it is enough…
Cause really you have a sense of why you build a certain path, follow a route, but not really where it will go. There’s a balancing act there – focus and openness. Precision. Gentleness. Letting go.

You must know the person you are “or a pattern that others made may prevail in the world” A lot of our writing has explored this. How we have channelled our energy into serving forces that suppress us – for acceptance, for recognition. We want to reclaim this energy for ourselves. Ignite that fierce compassion which guards our hearts and takes back what’s ours.

“The medicine for the wound is right next to wound”
I am not certain what this means. When i think of my pain stories they are just painful. But i can feel that in seeing them for what they are there is healing. Perhaps it’s the old story – when we run from the hurt it just gets worse. When you stop and face it, you find how to heal it…I had a dream recently
I was at the drill hall but it was a different looking building, and I had just had my Danish class there. I was walking around with the guys. The building was doing this weird thing to us, the rooms and passages kept on changing. We were walking around with a torch following strange noises, like the scuttling of creatures. Doors would suddenly shut closing off our way. It was dark and creepy but I wanted to go further, see more. Then all of sudden the passages disappeared and instead there was a smart modern shop – something that the outsiders would be able to see. Nomonde was next me now and told me that the building is actually always the same. It’s my fear that makes it change. I could see that now, it was this organic mass shifting in response to my fear. I could see the possibility of facing it without the fear but told her it’s hard to be there without being scared….
It’s like that one step forward one step back, touch my power and run away. So we continue, giving each courage in the dance.

“People are disturbed not by the events but by the meanings they make of them”
We don’t just experience things, we develop narratives around them and then we repeat these narratives. I have been noting that in myself recently. Like with this decision not to do my Phd. That impulse is there to feel like a failure – it doesn’t work out because it’s me, because there’s something wrong. Then there’s the – what will people think of me, I look like a loser – parcel. But that impulse is not as strong. It’s there but not a truth as it used to be. I choose to not acknowledge the pain story as truth, even as it runs through me…There’re there as ghosts, as I turn more and more to finding my own truth, defining who I am on my own terms.
As Julie writes it:
“It is the strength of the ego that holds on to the agreements of pain. It says to you: ‘This pain speaks the truth’; ‘If you give up this agreement, you will be destroyed’; ‘This is who I am.’ The ego doesn’t want you to listen to your wisdom heart and follow a true god home. Rather it wants you to stay lost and focused on false god rooted in the pain of the past”.

Sometimes it feels that my ego holds me on a leash, I can get some space but too much and it pulls me back, roughly. Then I feel lost.

In the West

Purification, release, recapitulation
Most important is holding in one’s heart-mind a wish for purification, a wish for freedom.

by Maia Marie 2012