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?