“Something is happening…I think I’m…I might be…feeling my feelings?!!” I clearly recall this bewildered declaration to my friends a year or so after the decision to leave my marriage. I let my sense of self become so buried during my previous relationship that I had forgotten how much I loved to experiment with change. I started trying out many alternate ways of being in my newfound freedom, and one was to stop drinking alcohol. I had no direct intention or timeline other than to shake things up, see what might happen. Well, a lot happened.
Over the next year, I decided to stop dating, quit Facebook periodically and nixed television entirely. I was becoming a life-editing freak. More and more emotional stuff kept bubbling up inside of me. Where alcohol abstinence left off, social isolation and time spent sitting in silence picked it up. The deepest psychic agony can rip through our bodies without warning...like a cellular hurricane. Once I fully liberated any leftover stop up, the exorcism ensued. In psychology, its called healing your childhood wounds. In the spiritual community, they describe it as energy clearing. But, neither of these terms felt appropriate. Death is what it felt like. And it was. The beginning of the end. Death to the ego. Or, more precisely, death to its grasping role as main player in the house of me. Hardcore spiritual detox.
The common theme of the practices that carried me through my gritty dark night of the soul was surrender. It seems so ridiculously simple after my over 20 years of truth seeking. I’m the girl who bought her first self-help book at age 18, Revolution From Within by Gloria Steinem. I moved on to the Tao Te Ching the following year, dabbled in astrology, and the writings of Freud, Nietzsche and Don Miguel Ruiz in my early 20's. While I learned a great deal from all of my spiritual research, it took going deeply inside of myself to realize the most important truths. The biggest lesson? There is no shortcut to awakening. We can read, pray, craft the perfect diet, yoga our hearts out, attend workshops, get counseling…and all of this does help on some level. But, until we courageously trudge through our own emotional muck, piece-by-piece, layer by painful layer, we will never find the pure bliss and freedom on the other side of it. There were three big takeaways that stuck with me from these experiences:
- Feel those feelings, and allow others to as well. Holding space for ourselves and others means listening with compassion and without agenda. Encourage others to walk their own path. Be there to witness and support, but let them decide without intervention what their next move should be. By letting go of the need to manage others, we give ourselves the gift of this freedom also. Understand the mirror concept; what bothers us or brings us joy in others will tell us something about ourselves. Alternately, the way others behave is ultimately not about us. Question reactive judgements. Allow.
- Be okay with simply being. Learn to be our own best friend and lover of life before attempting to have a sane relationship with another person. Enjoy our own company. Speak words of loving kindness to ourselves. Love our sticky parts. Practice self-care rituals that enhance our one-of-a-kind DNA. Get out into nature. Meditate. Let thoughts and feelings surface (the good, the bad, the ugly) and be with them until they release. Just be.
- Sit with uncertainty…and learn to love it. Accept that God, the universe (or whatever resonates) has a bigger and better plan than we could ever devise for ourselves. Own our situation and look for the lesson. There is always a lesson. The answers will come without force or manipulation. Surrender and be free to the divine flow of life. Believe that good things will happen without excessive strategy. When it feels right in our heart and body, take inspired action. Receive.
These lessons initiated the reclaiming of my true nature. It was my default mode before the world started dictating what was valuable or true. How do we know when we are accessing our energy of origin? When we feel like our child-self again. When life starts to feel magical, fun and effortless. Feeling our feelings does seem scary at first. But, if we keep showing up for ourselves, if we keep keep going there and going there...the fear diminishes each time. It gets to the point where this situation actually becomes comical (at least it did for me), like, what crazy ass Jedi mind trick will small self try to pull today? Then, there's the moment we realize that the force has always been with us. The expression of our higher self is emerging. The Tao. God. No ego nonsense can touch that.
There is a concept in eastern spirituality called the yin/yang balance. I bumped up against this repeatedly on my sojourns within. So many frustrations switched off when I started to absorb this ancient wisdom. Yin encompasses essentially feminine qualities such as: being, receptiveness, softness, playfulness, intuition, depth, and cooperation. As a culture, we have been debasing yin qualities for centuries. The masculine yang qualities of doing, dominance, performance, linear thought, independence, accumulation, logic, and competition have pretty much written and directed the social history of the United States. There appears to be a focus in self-help articles and language circulating via social media on the buzzwords lightness and expansion. While these are without question very desirable yang signifiers, it almost feels like another way of subtly diminishing the essential counterpart yin qualities of darkness; think stillness/being, and contraction; think going inside of yourself/awareness. The irony here is that you can’t truly embody the essence of one without the other, at least not in a healthy or harmonious way.
I believe this is why our world feels so off kilter, not only on the macro level (i.e. the environment, politics and popular culture), but also on the micro level (i.e. human relationships and connection to self). Just like plants need both sun and water to grow, we need a balance of yin and yang to thrive to our full potential as individuals and as a global collective. Imagine what trees and flowers would look like without rainy days? They would all be baked to death in the sun, withered, brittle and calling out for nourishment. Similarly, our souls are begging for a return to this natural balance.
Despite the cultural mythmakers cranking the fear factory into overdrive within the media and political spheres, there is a definite yin resurgence happening. Women are beginning to deeply sense that something is missing from their lives, and men are waking up to their yin nature as well. Society-at-large will have us believe that feminine qualities are less than, even co-opting the primordial meanings to fit their warped narrative as weak, out of control, illogical, and hysterical. Consider the stereotypes: the psycho bitch, the needy insecure woman, the slut, etc. This is what happens in a society where yin essence is not understood or valued. On the male side, there is the girly man, the weakling, and the pussy: Can’t get any more literal than that. This twisted construct is at the root of violence. The masculine authority pushers are profoundly terrified of feminine power. One of the most brazen examples of this was expressed hundreds of years ago in Salem, MA. Women and men who were remarkably in tune with nature and their feminine essence were labeled as witches and publicly executed. No wonder we often feel removed from ourselves today; embodying this source energy in our mutual past was punishable by death. Pernicious cultural myths are about control, and their clout heavily depends on us feeling helpless and afraid.
True feminine energy is raw, powerful, transcendent and fearless. Yin opens the door to the depths of our soul and invites us in to see everything that is holding us back. The process of shedding tears literally heals us. Once we transmute through yin, we access the freedom, expansion and blaze of yang. This is emotional balance. Harmony. Homeostasis.
Reintegrating my feminine essence was life altering. It took a gradual detachment from everything I thought I knew and understood about life. That original programming is slowly being replaced with the birth of a primal awareness. Did the temporal elimination of numbing escape mechanisms like alcohol, television, and social media accelerate this journey? Without a doubt. It’s amazing to me how everything in my environment now seems to emit what I can only think to describe as cosmic shine. I'm pretty sure the natural world has always been aglow; it just takes new eyes to see it. Now, I recognize when others are on this path because their presence is grounded, yet open and unbound.
Other women and men are starting to unearth this original truth as well. It’s as if something divine is being activated and they are intuitively coming home to the tribal circles that once fed their souls. The world is shifting back to this sacred balance, realizing that the current yang dominance has become toxic. Men are getting in touch with their yin qualities by working to heal themselves, learning to meditate, being still, having the courage to get vulnerable and ignite their warrior expansion. Women are starting to gather, working together to redefine success and what it means to embody femininity. For someone like myself who thrives on discovery and transformation, this excites me to no end. So much of this movement is directly connected to the expression of our physical health as well, which I will explore in detail further down the road.
While some of the world population appears to buy into the opinion that everything is doom and gloom and falling apart, I choose a different viewpoint. The empire is crumbling because we don’t have use for it any more. We know better. We are letting go of the illusions we once believed. New and holistic versions of culture are taking shape. The world is falling together. It's thrilling to watch kindred spirits out there getting emotionally naked to make an examined life cool again. More of us are starting to care about our inner worlds, and realizing how this relates to our physiology. Depth and consciousness are becoming very attractive qualities because we require more in our partners now, they've got to spark our soul. It's time to get off our phones and get our Walden on people. I’ve been waiting for this since birth. We all have. Some just don't realize it yet. They will. Call it female intuition.
“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It's time I had some time alone).” ~R.E.M.