Monday, June 27, 2011

Spiritual Awakening and Instant Connections

I'm switching out of my shadow blogs momentarily and moving up into the vibration of awakening and those of you working with amazing instant connections. Let me dust myself off from the muddy parts of the soul. Hang on...okay. Let's talk about this really light and beautiful thing called connection.

Your Natural Connectivity Emerges
When you wake up, all your barriers get blown out. I talked about some of the difficulties people have with this, so it's definitely time to talk about the beauty of it. Without so much crap in the way, you can connect very easily and naturally with others. For those of you who always could do this, you can go even more deeply, more quickly. Ultimately, we are interconnected, and connection can happen instantaneously. This is normal, even though initially it feels unusual because we've so rarely been able to do it because of all of our barriers and judgments and criteria around connection. This connection is love. That's just what it is, but for those of you who haven't explored love enough yet, this doesn't necessarily mean it has anything to do with romance. It could if that's where you and the other person want to go, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Love plays on a lot of levels...well, it plays on all levels. So part of the exploration that comes with this instant connective ability is the discovery of where that connection naturally wants to go.

Relationship Intelligence Takes the Wheel
Most people have no idea what their relationship intelligence is. They're often driving towards a specific relationship that they want. This can be in romantic or even in the business world. You want a job so badly that you don't pay attention to the fact that you don't like your potential co-workers in the interview process. Your own relationship intelligence says that these people are not a good connection for you. Low and behold, you end up in jobs that you hate and end up incessantly job-hunting, looking for the "perfect" job that keeps evading you. Of course, there are a lot of other elements here, and I'm grossly over-simplifying. But you get the picture.

Instead of forcing relationships into being something specific, a deeper intelligence comes forward to guide it. This still requires your own mental intention to see and feel what's right for you. Then you have to communicate it to the person or people you feel this amazing connection with. So, it's not such a raw thing that you just completely check-out from your head and flow with (although it can be--usually, you have to do the thing you're least good at on the spiritual path. If you good at flowing, you'll have to communicate more and create boundaries. If you're good at the latter, then you'll have to do the former). From there, it's a practice of continued vulnerability and seeing what happens.

Evolving Connections During Spiritual Awakening
During the initial blast of awakening, everything goes in motion. In truth, it always was in motion, but now, you're not digging your nails into the ground and holding on for dear life--although a part of you may still want to. :) With that said, the amazing connections that you make with others are being founded off of the amazing new connection that you have with you. That internal connection will shift as you shift. A lot of us talk about how it feels like we have to re-make a brand new agreement with ourselves every day.

"Hey, Jim," I'm looking in the mirror.
"What's up?" My mirror image says.
"So, who the Hell am I today?"

It's an important conversation to have. Once I know that, it's easier to figure out how to be in the world and which connections will be right for me. Because as I evolve, those relationships evolve. And many of my connections are very committed to their spiritual paths, and so they're evolving too. The initial point of connection is gone almost as fast as it's happened, and so it becomes an evolving relationship that expands, contracts, completes, and comes back around occasionally.

Letting Go of Connections on the Spiritual Path
All of this becomes a profound, continued practice in letting go. That amazing connection you had with someone was a one-time thing. It was beautiful and amazing, and that moment is gone. Those two people are gone. This is a big adjustment, and for those in committed relationships (like marriage), it presents a lot of challenges. There's no doubt about it. Some of the people I talk to about what the "new relationship(s)" are going to be point out a lot of difficulties around the current accepted ideas of monogamy and marriage, and I certainly don't have any solutions on that score right now. Although, the phrase "do the best you can" comes to mind.

Because one of the greatest lessons we all learn (and this is very Buddhist) is that everything is change. Awakening is becoming the change. Gandhi's "Be the change you want to see in this world" is very profound because it points to this truth. So you're going to keep changing and so are your connections. And the very fluidity of it will continue to guide in amazing new and re-newed connections into your life, and the different levels and flavors of the experience will shift and show you all kinds of amazing things. I've had a lot of really profound connections with people, and I honestly can say that none of them are quite the same as each other.

Managing Your Awakening and Coming to Peace with Out-Dated Relationships
For those awakening, you're simultaneously hit with a grieving process for relationships that do not serve you as well as these new deeper connections. Holding on to the old, unhealthy relationships does nothing for either of you. It simply propagates an old way of being that does not serve you or them. So, you probably feel pulled in two directions. Suddenly there are these men and women who totally get you, yet your old relationships still want you to live in the box, be "practical," yada yada yada. It's nonsense. They're scared, and they're stuck in the world of control, which is illusionary anyway. You're coming out of that world, and it's intense and scary for the parts of you that can't let go of it. Plus, some of these instant connections come like bullets straight through your heart, and then they're gone the next day. Being able to emotionally manage this for yourself is a big deal.

Here Comes the Journal Suggestion Again: Will He Suggest a New Tool Some Day?
I'll suggest a different tool some day when I stop hearing tons of people tell me how helpful it is. Emotional clean out is important for your awakening. It helps you to stay clear and begin to mentally understand what's going on with the connections you're drawing in. You'll be able to clear out a lot of old pain and issues, so a lot of people who come during your early phases of awakening are to help you transition (sometimes in painful ways because that can be necessary). They won't last long. Others will show up for the long-haul. They may not play a huge role initially or maybe they will. But they'll start to put down some roots with you because you can now connect in a way that nourishes both of you and aligns with your soul paths.

And keep in mind, working with the different relationships coming through your life is a profound spiritual practice of its own. You'll have more karma and crap come up for you that you can face, heal, and release with other awakened people, and even if they aren't awake, you'll still have plenty coming up for you with all that awakening energy moving through you. The big thing is not to hold on. But totally enjoy these connections. No one can ever predict how long this stuff will last--although maybe you'll have an intuition from time to time. I know with my best friend that I could see how bright his energy was when I met him several years before we became best friends. So you perhaps know what this sudden bright spark in your life may evolve into being in your life after all.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Your Sexual Shadow and Working With a Partner

The first piece of writing that I did about sexuality and the shadow was very focused on you. I firmly believe that that's where you have to start because when you're with a partner, you really do have two shadow selves that can be at work in your joining. That complicates things, and hopefully, you have a partner who is doing his/her work to understand their shadow. But I'm going to make this post a little bit softer than some of my other blog posts and leave the harder issues (sexual traumas) alone for the time being. This is probably going to sound like a basic sex column, and what's one of the core parts of sexuality with a partner, class? Communication.

Good Communication: It's Never Out of Style
I'm already waiting for someone to have a thought saying, "How is this spiritual?" Oh wait. There goes one. Everything is interconnected in us. Everything is spiritual, and that definitely includes sex. Sexuality is one of the primary (and for some people, only ways) that people feel union. It's an amazing way to let the body know that it is connected and not isolated. And orgasm is one of the surest fire way to break open the mind--at least for a few breathtakingly beautiful moments. And then the mind usually rushes back in.

Communication with yourself is step one (hence the journaling). Verbal and non-verbal communication with your partner is step two. Until you can talk to yourself and admit what you want and need, it's tough to do that with a partner. When I talk about sexual issues for this blog, it's less about a major issue coming up for you (although it can be), and it's more about where you're uncomfortable or want different needs met. If you'd like a different type of stimulation or touch from your partner, you have to know how to verbalize and ask for it. This makes the experience better for both. It nourishes you both as you both learn how to serve each other, and at the heart of spiritual sexuality is a deep, profound, loving sense of service.

Breakdowns in Communication Breakdown a Relationship
If you want to destroy a relationship, just stop talking. I think my parents have a rule that no matter how hard things get that they keep talking. Maybe there have been breaks in there to blow off steam, but they've kept talking in different situations. There is no worse breakdown of communication than what can happen in sexuality. It'll destroy the whole moment and experience. If something is coming up for you--a desire for a different position, some upset feelings, or whatever--your partner has probably noticed it. It just shifts the experience, the way your bodies feel, and the way your emotions run. It's hard not to notice. I'm sure not all partners are super-sensitive to this, but in some ways, we all know. We always know. It can be said in off-handed remarks like, "Ya know, it used to be really good, but I dunno. It's not the same anymore." Most people don't have words for these things, so step one to finding your shadow desires is to start communicating.

Shadow Desires: Running the Gamut from Kinky to Simple Exploration
I'm really not here to tell you what's right or wrong sexually. I think there's enough of that going on already. I'm here to encourage you to find out what's right for you. Most people are so locked down that they have no idea. They have thoughts, and then they're like, "Well, I could never do that." Certainly, this takes a partner who is willing to explore with you, and that's important to have. This topic is a street made for two, so you'll have to figure out what the right road is for both of you. That's lots to explore, and there's lots to share. Oftentimes, this type of thing ends up in the sexual article about how to spice up your sex life, which are funny things to read. They usually go back towards communication, but I think a lot of times they miss the most important relationship lubricant--love.

Loving Your Shadow and Your Partner's Shadow
Making space to be able to talk about and accept what your partner's secret desires are is important. It helps your partner feel more seen and secure, and in relationships in general, so much more intimacy is possible when we feel more fully seen. More needs get met just in recognition than you can possibly imagine. So many relationships can't really even touch deeply in sexuality because they're always trying to hold onto images of what they think they should be for their lover. It's kinda like the overly-chivalrous dude who thinks he's been impolite if he gets too handsy with his lover, who secretly wants her knight-in-shining armor to throw her on the bed and rip her clothes off. You all know this is true--take a look at the romance novel section in the bookstore if you don't believe me.

Deeper sexual intimacy echoes out into other things in your life. It gives you a very strong sense of connection with your lover, and in relationships, I think that's a crucial building block to deal with all the other crap that goes on. It is also an energizing thing because you're not busy locking away aspects of your sexuality during sex. It opens up the body more deeply. Locked up and tense bodies don't blend well together. It's a lot of chafing and uncomfortableness. And where there is discomfort in other parts of your relationship, those shadow aspects walk right in with you into the bedroom.

Sexual Energy and Illumining the Shadows
You probably won't want to fill all of each other's fantasies, and that's not really what I'm aiming at with this blog. That's part of the trap of shadow work--you can get lost in the shadows and secret desires. It's much more about acknowledging and making space for those desires to be seen with a partner. Maybe you enact some of them, or maybe just communicating that they're present for you is enough. Maybe your shadow is simply all the simple stimulations and touches that you enjoy and being able to tell your partner. It doesn't have to be anything particularly crazy. The simple things go a LONG way in relationships and sexuality. The point is to be able to fully be with your partner without trying to hide parts of yourself in the midst of intimacy. It sounds crazy, but people try to do it. It really is a turn-off.

Above all else, we end back up at love (can you tell that I'm working on a theme?). Loving the shadow and all those hidden things is important. Sharing those parts of yourself with a partner is extremely powerful, and they can open you both up to deeper intimacy in your hearts and bodies than you can imagine.

Shadow Expressions: Permission to be Messy on the Spiritual Path

A lot of people have this pristine version of spirituality stuck in their heads. They somehow think that it's the option to the cleaner, safer version of life. A lot of that is just avoidance. It's a way to avoid the crappy parts of us, and ironically enough it's a way to get stuck in the muddy parts of life. Well, life is as much the mud as the clean, pristine paved road. Sometimes to get to the road we really want to take, we have to slog through the mud. So here's a post to embracing the least as best as any of us can do.

Shadow, Mud, and Darkness
Down in the shadows, you've hidden a lot of yourself. If you want to fully embody your truth and deepest light, you have to see these shadows. All this crappy stuff you've done, all the terrible stuff that's happened to you, and everything in between must be dealt with. It's already showing up in your life, but so many people try to bottle it up. If you're doing that you're probably getting ready to explode. In one of the conversations that I had this weekend, a person mentioned the phrase "feeling contained" to me. It's a great phrase. I think it's applicable to 90% of this country--maybe to 90% of all the people in the world; I don't know. So locked up in images and ideas of what and how we should be, we just want to scream. We want to scream for a very long time and break do it.

Making Room to Express the Shadow
All that repressed crap needs to come up. I encourage you to let it. It's trying to anyway--every day of your life. But instead of waiting to burst and medicating yourself on a painkiller to dull the reality washing through you, make time to have this expression. Find a safe space. Find a safe person or people to be in this shadow aspect, and explode. Go fucking nuts. Really. I mean it. If you don't, it'll just happen another way, bringing with it unintended results. So you wait until you're overloaded and can't take a critique from your wife. You explode. You scream at her. You break a couch, and then suddenly, you're looking at divorce papers because she can't handle your outbursts anymore.

Maybe you go into counseling after that, and a lot of soft spoken people talk quietly about "What's going on inside?" And you kinda want to explode again, but you still don't really know what it's all about. You are just trying to hold it together because the subliminal message is that it's still not okay to be raw, wild, upset, and a little god damn crazy.

Counseling, Psychology, and Other Therapies
There are so many awesome therapies out there, and you should take advantage of all of them. But they do have their time and their place. I don't know half the things that I should for all of these, and I'm pretty sure that some of them do offer ways to really let out all the upset feelings in a mess in a safe way (Think of my example in an earlier blog post about bashing rocks to smithereens with a sledgehammer while swearing profusely: You can't hurt rocks' feelings). I've already mentioned other tools like journaling where you can just let loose on your feelings, and I've talked about how you can start to dig through the feelings to the core, unmet issues. Perhaps you get stuck. This is where a good counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, healer, or other such person can help you get past the sticking point. Because until you uncork that issue that's clogging you up, you'll just build back up all the frustrations and angers and griefs until the next explosion.

Simple Messiness and Making a Regular Spiritual Practice of It
For some of you, you aren't working on huge issues right now, but you still get locked up and feel that need to express parts of you that still don't fit inside your ego shell. All egos are shells, and even after awakening, we all don some kind of new shell. It's important to slough that off from time to time to let out frustrations and let in other parts of us that perhaps we forgot about or didn't realize we had. For some people, this can just be dancing your heart out to the wee hours of the night in the middle of the desert. Dancing is an amazingly expressive practice, and I see so much pain and sadness sweated out as well as joy and fun invited in through dance and movement. It can be a practice in messiness for some people who haven't allowed themselves to really enjoy their bodies and are stuck in a rigid social construct of who and what they think they can be.

Other simple types of messiness can be:

  • Screaming and yelling
  • Pulverizing an inanimate object like a rock (I know I've mentioned this before, but I like it) or punching a boxing bag
  • Crying
  • Wailing (I've heard of a term called "keening" which is usually done for grieving the loss of a loved one)
  • Dancing (Really opening yourself up to your body)

By and large, when done in the right location and space, this harms no one and feels really good to do. I don't recommend screaming wildly in your apt complex. Other people won't understand, and it'll ignite all their unworked out issues. It will also evoke a lot of concern because normally the only time people really scream is when they're already in physical danger (although I think the way all of us hold in such emotions means we already are in significant danger to ourselves, as in the example of what happened with the divorce scenario I mentioned earlier).

All Emotions and Feelings Are Sacred
One of my friends said that "If we weren't supposed to be able to feel it, God wouldn't have given it to us." It's such beautiful wisdom. So for all of you who think spirituality is only about feeling good, high-states, bliss, love, and what-not, I encourage you to re-think that. You're creating a hugely powerful and overwhelming shadow side of unexpressed feelings. You are also your anger, sadness, rage, depression, and debilitating fears. All of it makes the whole of you. Without any part of it, you are lessened, weakened, and diminished. You can't move with the fullness of you into the embodiment of your truest light by denying parts of yourself. You have to take everything on your spiritual journey.

Sure we all work to release emotions, attachments, desires, and issues that do not serve us, but remember that you can't escape all the things that may not necessarily feel good to you. This is life. We get the whole thing all at once, and that's the only way to come into that space of experiencing the unconditional love--the love that has no opposite, is in all things, and accepts all things.

And so I encourage you to express your shadow in safe ways, and accept the whole of yourself.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Ego and the Shadow: The Dysfunctional Couple Within Us

As I continue to delve into the shadow and ways to look at it, it's important to look at what we're up against. Namely, that's the ego. In the broadest non-psychological strokes that I can use, the ego is typically all the socially acceptable (or perhaps personally acceptable) traits that we display in the world. The shadow is all the unacceptable traits that we've repressed, ignored, or avoided. Usually, the part of us doing the repressing, ignoring, and avoiding is the ego, so the battle that so many of us feel tearing us apart is often between these two main parts, neither of which is actually who we are.

Walking the Tightrope of Shadow and Ego Work
We're so programmed to create egos and identities and stories about everything, that this type of work is particularly tricky. You're not going to be damning one or the other of these attributes. You're also not going to just mindlessly embrace the shadow in an up-yours move to your ego. Running off to go wild in the woods at a festival in a sudden explosion of shadow-dancing doesn't help you necessarily to understand the shadow. It doesn't necessarily help you to understand the ego that you created to repress the shadow elements of yourself. So after your journey into the full embrace, you collapse back into your own ego patterns, and you start all over again until you explode again in some other way of relatively healthy or unhealthy expression.

Peeling Back the Layers on Your Spiritual Walk
Really, this whole combination of work is tricky because we are so full of desire and fear and a whole bunch of unmet needs. Unmet needs is a phrase that I'm whole-heartedly stealing from a friend, and I think it's a great way to frame what the ego and shadow are both trying to do: meet some kind of need. This is where you have to do a lot of personal work (not necessarily, but for most people, it makes them feel like they're getting somewhere). You have to figure out what are the needs that you're trying to meet. I could tell you that I think 90% of the time people are simply trying to feel loved and connected, but that probably doesn't help you if you don't really know how you've gotten to where you are.

If you're a director of marketing who hates her job, is stuck in a failing marriage, and misses spending time with her children, then you've got some work to do. How did you end up in this job? Why did you marry this other person? Why can't you create time with your children? These are just doorway questions. You're going to have to drill down through more layers to get to the core. This is important otherwise you won't really understand why your shadow side just wants to go on a binge-drinking spree and have an affair. That will probably look really good at the time, and then it'll be a terrible mess (especially if your partner finds out). Then you'll feel ashamed and try to repress that shadow side again, but the shadow was just trying to meet the needs that you haven't met. It's just doing it in an unacceptable way (I'm using unacceptable loosely--it's tough to write about these things in this language without using judgmental terms).

The Ego and Shadow Battle
What you can't get lost in is labeling things good or bad. To start to understand yourself will involve a lot of compassion, love, and patience. If your shadow really wants to have an affair, then perhaps you should look at this as being unable to meet intimacy needs. Then dig a little deeper. What kind of intimacy do you really want to have? Why can't you feel that now? That last part will throw a lot of you for a loop. So much of what we feel on the spiritual path is a deep connection to ourselves. Through that deep connection to ourselves, we feel deeply connected to others. Part of the ego battles that people live within in this world is a struggle to get the world and everyone around us to please us. This is always futile. Acceptance is the only way to truly engage with the world. Everything else will lead to misery.

Moving Out of Ego Misery and Bringing Light to the Shadow
The shadow is always there. It's following us around wherever we go. It also shows up with the people that we draw into our lives. Whenever we see something we don't like in someone else, we're usually seeing something we don't like in ourselves. It's a humbling thing. It's not true all the time, but for the most part, we have to learn how to see things about ourselves that we haven't liked. We have to see our own cruelty and unkindness towards others, and when we do that, we start to understand why others bring cruelty and unkindness to us. This isn't law of attraction stuff exactly. I don't believe that everything we have happen in our lives is stuff that we've specifically attracted. I believe in chance and that sometimes shit just happens; there's no story about it. It simply is.

With all that said, learning to figure out what your needs really are is important. Money, awards, great lovers, and all the rest are simply attempts to meet those needs. Usually it is to feel happy, loved, and connected. In some ways, humans are the most simple creatures, but we've complicated the hell out of everything. You gotta do a big rewind on your life, and usually, that rewind takes you back to playing in a garden or jumping in mud puddles as a kid. Here's an example of a rewind, taking someone from a point in their career through some of the core assumptions:
  • I need to make a 6 figure income to afford a home and have a family.
  • I need to get married.
  • I need to get a better job to get more money.
  • I need to get an intimate partner.
  • I need to get a job to pay bills.
  • I need to finish my degree and graduate.
  • I need to get accepted into college.
  • I need to get good grades in school.
And what was before that first one? What were all those other ones trying to do? I'm sure they seem practical, but that sort of real world practicality is a lie. It's always future-looking to find happiness in something else. Before that one before the first "need" probably wasn't anything. It was probably you as a child just being happy with what was. I'm not saying everyone has great childhoods, and there's a whole other conversation to be had about childhood trauma and family issues. I'm saying that in the return to awakening (because that's where we all start until we forget), that we become a child again. We aren't repressing our needs and forcing ourselves to act out often in unhealthy ways. We also bring to the situation the wisdom of adulthood, so we don't need to stick our hands in the fire to discover that we get burned. We already know.

The Wisdom of Children
The combination of childlike innocence and adult wisdom makes us feel loved, happy, and connected. Which is what both the ego and shadow have almost certainly been trying to achieve at the very root cause of everything. And once you get back to that place, you won't need the ego or the shadow in quite the same ways. They won't necessarily go away, but the game will now be much more in your hands. You'll be making your choices much more consciously, and with that awareness, you probably will get all the things that you've always wanted, which may not turn out to be as much as you first thought.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Embracing the Shadow: Bringing Sexuality Back Into the Light

It's time for another sex chat. It's fun. It's a charged issue for everyone, so let's get cracking.

Shadow Self: The Trunk of Avoided Issues
I've already talked about the shadow in an earlier blog, but for a brief re-cap, it's essentially all those repressed feelings and issues that you don't feel you're allowed to have or to express in society. Sexuality is a big one. I've spent quite a bit of time blogging about it, and I'm sure that I'll spend more with it still. I just feel like it's so important to drive home the value of sexuality as part of our overall lives. It's much more than what most people let it be, and that confining box of ideas about when, where, how, and with whom is very problematic. It causes all kinds of problems on both ends of the spectrum from causing others to feel pain/receiving pain in sexuality to total self-denial of one's sexuality.

And it's probably why they're some of my most popular topics. I guess it's just too rare for someone to talk rationally about sexuality and in the spiritual context. Keep in mind, that this is also just one context to hold sexuality in. For me spirituality is ultimately in everything, but for a lot of people out there, there are a set of definitions of "this is spiritual" and "this is not spiritual." In creating that paradigm, you re-create the shadow because most certainly things are going to fall outside of the lines of your definitions. They already do anyway.

Looking Over Your Shoulder
Shadow work starts with looking over your shoulder. This is unusual for a lot of people. A lot of people are too afraid to even look at their shadow, and hence, they play out the same cycles in their lives. In terms of sexuality, they have the same issues that recur again and again. A man may continue to have erectile dysfunction disorder. A woman may not be able to even get excited about sex or is so scared of it that her body just won't function properly. On the other side is the promiscuity part of the equation that can lead to sex-aholism and other issues around combining pain and pleasure. I think in many respects the spiritual process is essentially about pulling apart pain and pleasure to really understand what's going on.

Shame is one of the big things that is often going on. It keeps us from looking over our shoulders to figure out what's following us. Shame holds things down. It's like the thousand pound weight that we can't move in our bodies. It's pretty horrible. Subsequently, we may seek out different sexual practices that already include a shaming of the body. The sadism and masochism practices really aren't about love, but if a person already feels a great deal of shame, this can blend in a kind of reprimanding for having sexual feelings like lust and desire. It becomes an outlet to vent some of the pent of sexual frustration.

Pain and Pleasure: Too Close for Comfort
It is interesting though that in shadow work, you can access some of this deep-seated shame very directly. I've heard of some dominatrices that actually can use their work as a way for someone to more directly confront big issues like shame. It's a really tricky thing though because you can end up simply fueling the cycle more instead of breaking it. It's not how I teach these things, but I honor that everyone needs different doorways and gateways to breaking through. Personally, I try to keep pain and pleasure as separate from each other as possible. I'm not a "No pain, No gain" person even though I warn everybody that this will hurt at times as we break through old layers of issues in ourselves.

But still, there's a lot of ways to engage with the shadow. The most important part is to know that that's what you're doing. Going into it intentionally is key. You can't go into it thinking that you're just going to use the same old things to get the same old feelings again and some how break free. That's why whoever really wants to take you down into sexual pain through the path of the shadow has to be really adept and clear about how this is going to work and the overall parameters of the practice.

Journaling and Sexual Practice
I think the cleanest way that I can offer you to get into your sexual shadow is through journaling and building your own sexual practice. Building your sexual practice is more than just masturbation, but I've written about this before as well. I encourage you to check out my other posts about sexuality as well as learning about Taoist and Western Tantra practices.

As for the journaling part, I encourage you to freewrite your nastiest, dirtiest, kinkiest sexual fantasies. Seriously. Go to town. As I always say with the journal, this is your space to be completely honest with yourself. Don't worry about being a good story teller, accurate, or realistic. If it's in your head, put it down on your pen and pad (or your computer--whatever works). This can be the first time when you really engage with your shadow. In some ways, it may feel really, really good just to have it out of your system.

Once you've written it out, read it to yourself. Take a look. See what's there, and then probably after that, you'll need to journal through your 19 different reactions, which will probably range something like the following:
  • "I can't believe I wrote that."
  • "That's horrible. I'm a terrible person."
  • "I'm such a slut."
  • "I gotta try that one some time."
  • "I hope no one ever finds this journal."
There will be a lot there for you to pick through, and then it's time for your personal sexual practice.

Expanding Your Body Awareness
For those of you currently in awakening, you'll be very aware of just about everything going on in your body. It can be a rough time depending on how much pain you're carrying in this lifetime. For you, you'll want to be gentle with these practices and allow yourself a lot space to grieve at points in your sexual practice. It sounds very strange to a lot of people who haven't grieved out issues from the systems, but sexual energy is a profound space to move in. In awakening, there's even more energy flowing for you, and I encourage you to not stop if you do start grieving during your practice. Continue through and allow the energy in your system to move things and heal you; that's one of the amazing things that sexual energy can do.

For others who are already a little stunned by the frankness of this topic, you just need to learn how to bring some mindfulness to your practice. Start to pay attention to how you feel, and work on letting go of having a goal (ejaculation/orgasm). Along with this, use your journal entries as fodder for your practice and pay attention to where and how you feel stimulation in your body. What kinds of feelings move through you as you visualize this story you created? Where are you tense? Where are you relaxed? You may be surprised where you hold tension around your sexuality--it may not be the usual places that you expect.

Kindness, Love, and Self-Compassion
Above all else, shadow work requires a lot of love--much like any work on the spiritual path. You are actively bringing your attention to things that you've avoided your whole life. They've been following you around, messing up relationships and other aspects of your life. So you really haven't been able to get away from them. It can bring up a lot of anger to have all this stuff in your way to real intimacy. Just be patient. Give yourself space to learn and grow in a new way. Because in so doing, your sexuality can start to transform you. It is powerful energy to work in; that's why it takes so much energy and shame and fear to repress it. Taking the lid off can be one Hell of a ride. But if you give yourself plenty of compassion and self-love, you'll be just fine.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Walk in the Cemetery

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Susan shares her thoughts as a walk talks an unexpected turn.

My dog--Buzz--and I went on a walk to meet a friend and her pooch. I didn't think I was setting out for an adventure that afternoon. After 45 minutes of walking along the trails of lower Frick Park, a woman and her daughter directed me to travel through the cemetery in order to reach my destination. I ventured on despite where I was being lead. Within moments I quickly realized this was by far the largest cemetery I have ever been in. Thousands of grave stones lay haphazardly along the hilltops before me. The commentary in my mind initially took precedence before I kindly reminded myself to be present in this space.

A young white-tailed female deer suddenly appeared a few hundred feet ahead of me. It wasn't as startled to see me as I was to see her. My sidekick wagged his tail but did not yelp in excitement as usual. It was very unlike him. After a few minutes we continued to meander around the gravestones, some dating back to the early 1800s. Another 20 minutes passed. Yup, I was lost. A bit of anxiety started to pass through me. The roar of cars on a nearby road assured me I was bound to get out eventually. I phoned my friend to include her on my adventure as she waited patiently for me on the other side. Within time I came across another woman and her daughter walking cautiously along the path. They calmly "shhhhhd" me while I attempted to describe my location to my friend over the phone. Without a word, the woman grabbed my attention and pointed towards two fawns resting directly on top of a grave only a few feet ahead of us. I was thankful for the reminder to stay present.

Curiosity drew me closer to the fawns. The anxiety I felt drifted away with every step I took towards the animals. One fawn was staring straight at the tombstone, which was quite old. I knew on some level the sight of this event had a symbolic meaning. It only took 90 minutes to finally lead me to my destination. I could feel the muscular fatigue settle into my hips and feet. My mind was still captivated by what had just happened. I found out later that my walk could have taken less than 30 minutes if I had only followed a different trail--one I have walked along many times before. This was yet another experience that proves I was meant to follow the path less traveled.

Walking amongst the gravestones made me think of all those that I have crossed paths with in my mere 28 years of existence in this lifetime. Although these people were dead, their souls were still very much alive. I was immediately reminded of the oneness I have with these souls since they are just as much a part of this world as I am. They now exist in a different form, some may say these souls have transitioned into new forms of life. All of these transitions are rebirths in some way. It seems that these rebirths have been moving quite swiftly through me the last few years, especially this year. The shift is happening to all of us in one way or another. I am continuously amazed and humbled by these events in my life.

My relationship with nature has shifted as well. I just noticed that many of my blog entries have been inspired by a simple walk and grounding help from Mother Earth. I have learned that it is in my best interest to keep watch of the symbols that She gives me. The days’ events were a sure sign I needed to do some research for the symbolic meaning of deer. To no surprise, I learned the deer has a similar meaning to that of a toad or butterfly, an all too familiar sight over the last few months. I found an excerpt from the book, Animal Speak. The author, Ted Andrews, stated,

“If a deer has entered your life, look for new perceptions and degrees of perceptions to grow and expand for as much as the next five years. It can indicate that there will be opportunities to stimulate gentle new growth increasingly over the next few years…When deer shows up in your life it is time to be gentle with yourself and others. A new innocence and freshness is about to be awakened or born. There is going to be a gentle, enticing lure of new adventures.” (

Questions still arise when I attempt to decipher the meaning of the fawns’ location. Perhaps the fawns were late ancestors of the deceased, and they wanted to stop in for a visit. Maybe they were protecting the grave. Could it be that particular patch of ground just felt good to them and nothing else? Who knows.

For me, I can only relate the experience to my life, one big rebirth! The “dead” body lay in the ground while a new birth (the fawn) takes its place. Every aspect of my life seems like it is a new adventure right now. As I shift in my life, all my relationships have shifted. My path as a healer has shifted. The location of where I am heading towards is a small aspect of all the shifts I am experiencing. I think it’s important to remember that one should not rely solely on an awe-inspiring event to help us appreciate the shifts in our lives. Although I am truly thankful for these experiences, it helps me remember to be more aware of the subtle shifts I make on a daily basis. Whether I am making eye contact with the grocery clerk, speaking with an old friend, or taking a walk in a cemetery, I am shifting with every step I take. The gentle shifts I make in my daily life help give me the space to create anything I want and therefore find my own truth. Truth is my name.

Susan started to cultivate a deeper relationship with the Creator four years ago when she was introduced to the works of Eckhart Tolle's, "The Power of Now" by Jim Tolles. Her life has been transformed in countless ways since then.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shadow Dancing: Meeting Your Darker Half

I've really kept the tone of this blog fairly upbeat and on the lighter side of the coin, but now, I think it's time to bring in the shadow. The shadow is a scary thing to most people, and that's part of how it gets his or her power, depending on who you are. It is fed by repression and neglect until it builds up and starts beating down your door. But you don't want to see it or admit that it's there, so you run. You run into ridiculous positive affirmations that are valueless if you can't see the whole of reality. While I believe in the ultimate good that has no opposite, most of life lives in the duality of good and evil. That needs to be honored, and only when you know how to accept and receive evil can you step into the space of ultimate good.

Receiving and Respecting Evil
This is probably a shocking subhead. This isn't the way most spiritual teachers are talking these days as we focus on attracting good things and being in the present moment. This isn't bashing anything, but we have to look at our shadows. If we don't, really bad things will happen.

The shadow consists of all the things in our lives that we don't want to look at. These are things like our fears, hatreds, shames, sadnessess, despair, and all other manner of "negative" feelings. I put the word negative in quotes because that is an ego judgment. It says, "These feelings are good, and those feelings are bad." I've been working with some issues around isolation and sadness that are surfacing in me as I engage more fully with my shadow, and it's interesting how much easier it is to just be with them. The shadow side just wants acknowledgment--at least most of the time; there are a wide variety of circumstances. Sometimes you have to take decisive action depending on your shadow and what you've done.

Meeting Your Shadow in Real Life
Sometimes your shadow demands your attention so badly that it manifests in a person. Probably this person doesn't quite have all your shadow elements, but they'll have enough that you can project the rest of those attributes onto them. For instance, you have huge power and voice issues. You've swallowed down all kinds of things that you should have said and given up your power when you should have done something. All this stuff has been sitting down deep inside of you--squashed down by repression. Maybe the repression is shame about your lack of voice and inaction. Maybe it's fear. One day, you have a boss who is an absolute tyrant. He screams at you and belittles you. He makes you do all the worst kinds of job. Congratulations, this is a powerful moment. You've just met your shadow.

Shadow Work--Serious Business, Sometimes
Depending on your shadow, this can be some serious stuff to work with. In the former example, you may want to scream back or maybe even get into a physical altercation. This is what your reactive ego would lead you to do. It won't actually heal your shadow issues. It will most likely lead you to get further admonished and de-based in the situation, fired, or even put in jail depending on what you've chosen to do in the situation (and even in a reactive state, we are choosing our decisions). Identification is huge, and it's the first step. When you can look at someone and say to yourself, "Ah-ha, I see you shadow," you've taken a huge step towards dealing with the issue yourself. If you still think that life is treating you poorly, then you'll miss this identification part, and subsequently, you'll have to deal with this situation for sometime. Even if you leave that job, you will most likely attract another shadow aspect to fill that place in your life.

Step 2 is about understanding what you've repressed. What is all this pent up anger about? I often view pent up anger as blocked action or energy. Somewhere in your body and in your life, you stopped an action. You had something very important to say. You had something very important to do. You didn't say or do those things, and now you're pissed at yourself. Your shadow is screaming to get your attention. Journaling helps to figure it out, but with anger, I like to encourage people to give themselves an additional outlet.

Step 3 is about finding that appropriate outlet for all that rage or whatever the feeling is. If you don't, you'll punish yourself or you'll end up punishing others (which is also punishing yourself). I personally like sledgehammers. There is nothing more fun than finding a pile of rocks or other useless debris and bashing the shit out of it. It's amazing. It's a great workout too if you're looking for that. I'd encourage you to work in some verbal abuse. It is a pile of rock after all. It can take it. Maybe you work yourself up into some profanity. Maybe some of you are balking at that last part. "No, I don't like to curse." You don't have to, but then again, it sounds like you've found another way that you're restricting your voice. If you're coming to that place because you don't like the feeling of swearing, that's fine. But if it's because you've got a mental ideal about right or wrong things to say constricting your larynx, well, then I'd encourage you to swear like the nastiest sailor out there. It'll be fun. If you don't know any good swears, message me. I've got a few good ones.

Step 4 is about changing your patterns. Now that you know what the issue is about and you've given yourself an outlet, you have to change the pattern that created the situation. In this example, you'll have to learn how to speak your voice and use your power when you're called to do it. If you don't, you'll just re-create that aspect of your shadow. The situation will re-create itself in some way or another until you fully shift the pattern and clear any deeper karmas around the issue.

What Lingers in the Dark: Bringing the Light of Spirituality Into the Blackness
We all have shadows. Sometimes, they're just blindspots. Sometimes, they're things that we want to forget. Sometimes, they're simply lessons that we have to learn in this life. They're not bad. They're not evil, but if they're not addressed, they will act out in often destructive ways. Everyone does their shadow dance differently. It's a profoundly powerful piece to the spiritual path, and it's one that I'll be devoting more time to discussing over the coming weeks. Because while the depth of love that we can all experience is amazing, it only gets deeper when we can fully see and engage with our darkness. In that way, our shadow becomes our newest and most important lover until the blackness melts away into the light.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Embracing Your True Self on the Spiritual Path

Some of the most urgent questions for people these days revolving around this question of "Who am I?" It's made out to be a really profound question. It fills up movie and TV time, but I'm not so interested in it. It's not that it doesn't have value. It's not that it isn't worth exploring, savoring, discovering. It's not that it's a useless question, but it is.

Embracing Who You Know Yourself to Be
I will make the caveat and the space to hold that some people are so confused and upset and twisted around that they really don't know this answer. But for most of you, you do. It's the answer that comes up first in your head before your mind rushes in and says, "No, no, no. I can't do that." I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say that or read it in an email. It's part of why so many of us teach to go with your first feeling about something because usually the mind is much slower than your deeper knowing. The deeper knowing is always first. The mind is usually scared of something.

You probably already know the first big fear that stops everyone: money.

"Well, if I had all the money in the world, I'd be a healer."

I think money is often a dodge though. If you take that out of the equation for a lot of people, you'll start to find other fears around self-judgment, social approval, and being recognized for who you really are lingering down there. We really are afraid of being who we know we really are. We can't hide behind excuses anymore though, and it's time to take a good hard (or a soft gentle) look in the mirror and be honest.

Seeing Ourselves in Our Original Light
There's nothing quite so true to me as the reality that all of this is a return. All of this is a remembering. When I hear a student mention spirituality as "remembering," I instantly know that they're on the right track. We are all remembering on a planetary level how to be in community together again. We're not doing this for the first time. We already know. Deep down, we already know how to be kind, giving, and in harmony with the love that surrounds and penetrates us. But before we can do this on a global level, we have to do it with ourselves. It is true that we change the world when we change ourselves, so now, it's time to get to work.

Write Down Your Dream Life
So let me preference the dreaming of your true life with this: this isn't about mental comfort or luxury. Spirit doesn't need us all to be driving around limousines and living a constant day-spa life. In truth, just about anyone able to access the Internet and read this blog is already living a very comfortable life. Most of the world lives in such dire poverty that the Internet is a far-off magical commodity. I always encourage you to appreciate what you already have. In so doing, you are a little more prepared to dream up the real life that you want to live.

What is it that you really want to do? Com'on now. You know. No limitations here. You're writing this down for yourself in your journal. Total honesty is required here. Leave the BS out. You don't have to do anything else other than write it out...yet. Do you like healing, teaching, building houses, making healthy food, raising children, creating efficient organizational structures, making art, crafting music, developing computer codes, etc.? Seriously, where is your heart's passion? That's always the key. It's not about doing what necessarily is pleasurable all the time; discovering your true self is about where you really come alive.

Spiritual Teaching, Blogging, and So Much More
I can tell you that what I'm doing in transforming my life isn't "easy" in the sense of security or certainty. Of course, those things are illusions anyway. Tomorrow, you can break a hip going off a curb--this is a true story that I heard once. I think the question is if you break that hip, lose your eyesight, die, or otherwise have life drastically change your world, have you been living the life that you want to? Or are you still waiting? Who are you waiting for? The Second Coming? Seriously, you're going to be very disappointed in your whole life if you wait around for things to be perfect and just come to you. You have to make a decision, and that decision is to embrace the true you.

Spirituality in All Things
I'm sure that some of you got a kick out of my earlier list that placed a passion for organizational structure on the same footing as making music, but everything is spiritual. When you do what you love, that's what makes it spiritual. That's what energizes the deepest parts of life and makes things come to life. You can't take a limited view of spirituality as something you only do on Tuesday nights with your meditation group. It's so much bigger than that, and that's part of what's banging on the inner doors of your mind trying to burst out. You know that you're so much more than who you are right now, and you do know who and what you are. You are fast coming to the point where those questions won't matter, and the real question of how do I do this will appear before.

Which when you're ready to know, will also be simple. It's just one foot in front of the other and a whole lot of love and faith. And really, that's what life has been about all along anyway.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


This blog is a shout-out to all the people, Web sites, and bloggers who have supported me in one way or another. I'm not going to attempt to name everyone, but a few people are standing out in my mind and in my heart today.

Gratitude for Interdependence
As many of you know, there is nothing that we do in this world by ourselves. Everything is a partnership with others or even the universe--we are just so interconnected and interdependent. I'm not gaining the momentum and readership in spiritual teaching because of what I've done. I'm gaining it because of what others have done with me and for me. By myself, I could easily be another dead blog that no one knows about.

So in a very different way, I'd like to thank StumbleUpon and Google. Thanks to all the visionaries, computer engineers, marketing people, finance people, and everyone who has put together the organization to create the tools that are driving almost 90% of my traffic. Without you, I'd probably only have a couple hundred friends and friends-of-friends who ever look at this thing. Because of you, nearly 9,000 visits come through this blog a month, and that's an increasingly growing number. And to take it one step further, without Blogger, I'd have to use another tool, and without blogs, I would not be able to project my voice in this way.

Guest Postings, Link-Love, and Commendations
Thanks to everyone who has linked to this blog and to those who yet will. This helps spread the word even more, and I am honored that you liked this blog enough to do so. Some great blogs have linked to me too including Alexys Fairfields' Soul Meets World blog. Alexys, I've appreciated your comments and our blog conversations. Thanks also to Kris Cahill for linking to me from Psychic Everyday and for all that she's doing helping people on their spiritual paths.

Of course, I have to thank all the people who've let me guest post on their sites. Evita over at is awesome. She's brought together more than a few lightworkers and healers, giving them a vehicle to share their voices, and she even had me featured as the person of the month in April. Most recently, Jonathan at let me post a new article about discovering a spiritual path. And I just feel so humbled to have been given the opportunity to write on these as well as other sites and speak to new audiences around the world. It seems like I get to connect with some new and amazing people every day, and these are a lot of the online people who are helping to be my digital community to do so.

Thanks to all the readers, email subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, StumbleUpon followers, and so many more. All of you are helping to create this new paradigm shift because that's what this blog and so many others (like the ones that I've mentioned) are about. We're changing the world, and we're coming into this New Earth by connecting in such meaningful, kind, and generous ways. I read a quote on my Facebook feed today, and it said: "We need each other. So much."

So true. And thank you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

5 Tips for Finding Your Blindspots on Your Spiritual Path

Blindspots. We all have them. It's part of living our lives. There are simply some parts of us that we can't clearly see, and there are some aspects of ourselves that are completely invisible. We can only see them with someone else's help or by expanding our own vision. It's a powerful thing, especially when we've been taught to only see within such narrow confines. The stories of how we're supposed to be and act sexually, physically, psychologically, emotionally, intellectually, and so forth become tiny tunnels with narrow focuses. It's hard to see much of anything. And then one day, you get blindsided and realize that it's time to open up your vision.

Friends, Family, and Enemies: Plenty of Mirrors and Reflections to See With
The great thing about life is that you're surrounded by countless mirrors unless you're living in a hole somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Every person that comes into your life is a mirror. Someone comes and reflects a lot of happiness, and you want them to stay. Someone else comes and reflects a lot of your anger, and you want them to go. They all show you different aspects of yourself.

This is always a great line that I hear from people, "Why do I always attract jerks for dating?" Ah. Well, you've brought a powerful mirror to you to show you all the things you don't like about yourself. Being able to see how their traits reflect you in some way is a powerful thing. It's not great for dating, but it is definitely illuminating. Because if you're attracting a lot of hard-hearted people, you may have to consider how you're being with your heart. Perhaps you'll have to open up more to allow kinder people to connect with you. Or perhaps, it's a reflection that you need to set up more boundaries with whom you interact. There are a lot of ways to slice this one up. It's up to you to develop a practice to figure it out.

Tools, Techniques, and Overly Practical Advice That Probably Doesn't Sound Very Spiritual
This is another reality-check: real spirituality is practical. It's about living your everyday life in integrity. Okay? I just like to remind people what it's all about before you're like, "This is more advice my parents told me, and I wanna get some juicy cool yoga back bend to fix my life." That does sound fun to me too. Let me know if you find one.

  1. Journaling. A lot of the tools that I'm going to mention will involve other people, but the journal is--as always--a great way to begin writing down the "reflections" (i.e. the people who are attracted to you). What are they like? Why do you like them? Why do you hate them? What traits do they possess? If you're attracting angry people, do you have undealt with angry? It really is time to stop blaming life for sending you what you don't want and owning your piece of the puzzle in creating your life (and that's a really big piece, btw).
  2. Talking to Close Friends. Close friends are great because they can be the next level out from your journal. You can use what you've discovered in your journal to ask your friends about what they notice about you. Keep in mind that blindspots aren't necessarily bad things. Many times, a lot of us don't realize some of our biggest talents. So as you talk with close friends--some of your closest reflections of yourself--keep in mind that while you'll hear some stuff that you may not like, you also may learn some really cool stuff about yourself as well.
  3. Connecting with Family. This is always a tricky one because you most likely share a lot of the same issues. So if you ask your Dad about a blindspot, and he says that you need to stand up for yourself more, you may feel activated. You may be like, "But you never stood up for yourself." This is potentially the trickiest technique to use, but it also can be the most rewarding. You can watch a lot of your activations and see how you get upset about something. And as I said before, you may learn more about some of your amazing gifts and things that you do naturally, but simply don't notice.
  4. Finding a Support Group/Spiritual Group. There are plenty of amazing groups to connect with, and a lot of them are formed around specific issues. So, connecting with a group of people working on codependency can become a powerful tool to see other reflections of that issue. You may start to notice where you've had the same behavior. Much like driving behind a car with it's backlight out, it's so much easier to see an else on someone else's rear bumper than on your own.
  5. Connecting with a Spiritual Teacher, Counselor, or Healer. Connecting with a spiritual teacher is always a powerful thing. I'm amazed at all of the people who are taking up this work, so I imagine that if you're ready and go looking, then you'll find one. The thing here is that you really need to be ready to dedicate yourself to shifting how you live your life. You will likely have some profound reflections come back to you. Plus, you don't necessarily need to find someone with the "spiritual" title. There are amazing psychiatrists, psychologists, and others who are dedicated to helping people see more elements of themselves.
Recovering From Temporary Blindness
Spiritual awakening is like turning all the lights on at once. It's a ton of information, but gradually your eyes adjust. While there's a short period of blindness with that, it does help to have other people to care for you as you transition out of the more permanent blindness you've been living in. Truly, most of humanity has been living in the dark. We've been crashing into all kinds of crap and generally making a mess of things (wars, genocides, environmental destruction, the list goes on). It is time to open our eyes, and it is time to find out where we are blind. Because what we don't know, does hurt us, and sometimes, what we don't know also includes some of greatest talents.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

5 Signs of a Spiritual Awakening

spiritual awakening signs, spiritual awakening, spiritual awakening symptoms, pond, grass, nature
I've spent a good deal of time talking about spiritual awakening, and it's probably time to circle back to what that means again. I blogged about "What Is a Spiritual Awakening" some time ago, and my basic definition of awakening is that you realize what is real. You realize it on multiple levels--heart, body, mind, and subtle energy levels. The soul comes forward, and you're irrevocably changed--even if you try to go back to old ways of being.

In general, I think everyone has spiritual openings every day, but they don't stick and become that rolling swell of awakened consciousness that profoundly changes everything. These openings are those little moments of peace and clarity that we all have. They're small moments that come when we let go regardless of if we're doing anything overtly spiritual. In letting go, we surrender to what is instead of always trying to manipulate, control, or direct what is before us in a vain attempt to get what we think we want. They give us glimpses into the awakened state of consciousness.

And ultimately, the awakened state of awareness is always right here in this moment. For some of you, that truth has come forth. Keep in mind, that most of us try to run back to the ego, which is why there is often so much pain and discomfort in most people's initial awakening shift. Additionally, detoxing and healing can be a messy process. So while the following spiritual awakening signs sound simple (and they are), we often go through intense journeys to de-complicate our lives and bring our lives back right-side up.

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5 Signs of a Spiritual Awakening

1. All I Feel and Want to Feel Is Love

It's beautiful. You feel like love. You feel love for everyone. You want to give love to everyone, and you feel like you can receive love from everyone. This isn't a sexual or romantic thing, although that's certainly not precluded. Because it's also not just an airy, platonic idea. You really feel love on multiple levels. Some of the people who come to me describe it as love just bursting out through their chests or like there's all this energy running up and down their spines and through their bodies. It's an intense thing to unlock the high voltage highway of love inside of us, and it really is unconditional. When you're in the fullness of an awakened moment, you love everyone despite how awful someone may be towards you and others in the world.

2. A Deep Sense of Calm, Peace, or Serenity

Another sign of a spiritual awakening can be a profound sense of calm or peace. Often we move back and forth from this calm into the old fearful ego mind for a while, but as we continue to choose the truth of our love, the calmness grows. The inner waters that fear, anger, shame, guilt, and so forth have been constantly disturbing start settling down. Each time something gets agitated again, it becomes even easier to see what it is as this inner peace expands. With that peace comes greater clarity, which I mention next. In the combination of love, peace, and clarity, you begin to realize some of the depth of your errors as well as the expansiveness of your talents. This naturally encourages changes, which may seem to arise on their own (This is why you see so many long spiritual awakening symptoms lists about food changes, sensitivities, and so forth. These are secondary spiritual awakening signs--without the primary ones I'm listing, it may not actually be an awakening).

3. A Profound Sense of Clarity

Coming with all this love is typically a profound sense of clarity. Life may be awash with love, but you also can more clearly perceive what is kind and what is unkind. This level of clarity can take on surprising levels of sensitivity for many people. Some of you may suddenly discover how poorly refined sugar makes you feel. You start to realize how consuming it is not in integrity with loving your body. The clarity also tends to grow as you engage with it further, and as I mentioned earlier, a need to take action generally arises to let go of any thing, habit, or relationship that does not serve you while stepping into work and new connections that honor the path you've chosen. To deny this sense of clarity, tends to bring a great deal of confusion, apathy, and upset feelings. For more on that, you might check out this blog post:

Post-Awakening Challenges: The Lost Gray World of Apathy

4. Loss of the Desire/Need for External Elements to Bring Happiness

When most of the world is operating through the concept of needing external things to make us feel good, it can be quite shocking to suddenly need nothing. Some people go through intense phases of giving away lots of stuff because suddenly you realize how lots of things burden and clog up your life. This may be initially strange to some of you, but as you relax into this space, it simply feels good to not need anything and to get rid of things. To find all your love inside of you as well as discovering how interconnected you are to the loving consciousness of the universe naturally dissolves away this illusion that we need relationships, jobs, vacations, and so forth to make us feel happy. Love is already here, and it makes everything so much brighter.

5. Abiding Awareness

Finally, the most important aspect of how I define spiritual awakening is that it abides. It is here 24/7. You can't get away from it because it is you. Even if you try denying it, you can still feel that awareness alive and moving through you. For those who have profound spiritual openings, they can last a few hours or days, but then the window closes. You're right back where you were. Now, make no mistake about it, we can do a lot to avoid embracing an awakening even as it is moving and abiding within us. To cling to illusions and lies when the truth of our love is erupting brings all kinds of suffering. So I really don't recommend it. And why do you think these lies will satisfy you after tasting the truth?

But truly we are a society lost in deep delusion, so this happens. All I can say is to encourage you once again to let go. Let go into the flood of love that's unleashed. Engage with each dam that comes up to stop this flow, and trust the dissolving of that blockage. This awareness is here to stay, and with loving attention, it starts to grow and swell as your life is re-shaped in the image of love.

Signs of a Dark Spiritual Awakening

I know this term sounds dramatic, but it seems fitting for one of the experiences people have when awakening. In this experience of awakening, the person doesn't feel love, truth, bliss, clarity, or any of the other really good things that are commonly associated with a spiritual awakening. Instead they wake up in darkness. They drop directly into their pain without any bliss or beautiful realizations. The light may be on in the house, but there is so much trash and baggage on top of the person, they can't see that light. They simply feel pain because that is the truth of their current human experience. As such, there's really only one sign of a dark awakening and that's:

  • The energy abides and tends to relentlessly push up pain into the person's awareness.

Now, it is important to test any assumption that you are going through a dark awakening and aren't having a depressive episode or an unknown malady. Going to doctors can be useful, especially if you happen to have lots of physical pain. Intense, undiagnosable physical pain has been a common theme among the people whom I've known and who have had these dark awakenings. But the way to test if this is an awakening is to turn towards the spiritual path. Energy healing, spiritual inner work, spiritual texts, and other things often have a remarkably strong influence on someone who is in this dark awakening because like any other kind of spiritual awakening, the awakened energy is moving you towards truth. Spiritual tools and knowledge offer critical external support to help the person move though all the pain that is coming up and which the person has amassed--there's no punishment here; this is just your pain. As you work through all the pain, the more common signs of spiritual awakening such as love, truth, and clarity then may arise.

Certainly, most everyone drops into their pain to heal it after awakening, but as I said, with a dark awakening, there's no sign of light at first. You simply have to go into it and have faith in your own healing process.

A Comment About Increasing Sensitivities

For many of you, you're being re-sensitized to life. I don't list it as a primary sign of awakening because everyone experiences this differently. Many people shift naturally throughout their lives to greater levels of energy and other sensitivities, which has nothing to do with awakening as I'm discussing it.

However, for many in awakening, you're feeling vulnerable to just about every issue that anyone is having in the room around you. This can make a lot of us reclusive, especially during the initial stages of awakening. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and I encourage people to retreat to some place safe to work through their integration period so that they can handle the full energy of themselves. I really don't see awakening as taking on new energies. I usually see it as taking on the fullness of your own. Coming with that, you may now be extremely aware and sensitive to all the good and bad things in you and others, and you'll find that you have to re-discover and recreate new boundaries.

The Many, Many Secondary Awakening Signs and Symptoms

The spiritual awakening signs and symptoms everyone else likes to point out are results of the ego kicking and screaming its way out. They can only ever be attributed to a spiritual awakening when some (or all, but especially the last one) of the above mentioned spiritual awakening signs are present. Otherwise, you could be having some other physical or emotional ailment that has nothing to do with an awakening.

Additionally, this ego tantrum is showing you how divided you've been inside, and that's exhausting. As such, many people experience that inner division as chronic fatigue. If you are still trying to eat an unhealthy diet after awakening, you are very likely to have food sensitivities. Before you were too numb and de-sensitized to notice that dairy was a problem. Now you can notice via bloating, nausea, or some other uncomfortable feeling. This isn't the spiritual awakening tormenting you; it's you realizing how much gastrointestinal torment you have been in. This is actually great news because now you can make conscious choices to change and live healthier. When we can't feel ourselves and what is right for us, we can really hurt ourselves. In this way, we all learn that ignorance is most definitely not bliss.

And speaking about the bliss state, well that comes and goes. Awakening is the stateless state. It is the canvas that holds all colors. So when bliss comes and then goes away, simply understand that this is how it is. Nothing has been lost. You are still the awareness you have always been. This bliss experience isn't something that everyone who awakens feels, and it is a byproduct of those aforementioned spiritual awakening signs. When we are at peace and connected to love, bliss tends to be the experience that likes to arise in those waters. When we inevitably start churning up unconsciousness and attend to the pain we're carrying, the bliss state and the associated feelings will go away. It should never be confused as the state of awareness that you should always be experiencing. The human body is always shifting through different states of awareness.

The Ego That Won't Go Away

The ego will keep coming back too. There are many aspects to it, and it's rare that someone wakes up so totally and completely that it completely dissolves. In that way, I encourage you to simply stay engaged when you start to fall back into identity and preferences for how you think life should go. Your next phase of work is now opening up to you.

Elsewhere on this blog, I talk about the move from the unconscious ego to the conscious ego. All these signs and symptoms you are feeling are part of being able to see and understand the totality of yourself and your unconsciousness. When you are aware of your sensitivities, physical needs, and so forth, a conscious ego can sift through all this data to make correct choices. Consider the example about the bloating issue someone may discover during a spiritual awakening. Now that a dairy intolerance is no longer hidden (unconscious), you can make more conscious decisions about the foods you eat to live healthier. It's really that simple.

Anyway, for more on the ego, check out "The Return of the Ego."

Spiritual Awakening: It Takes You Only to Love

These are the five signs that come to mind. If you'd like some advice about a spiritual shift or possible awakening arising for you, you can contact me through my contact form. I do 1 hour consultations for those who are interested.

Most of all, remember that you will be okay. This is actually a beautiful process, and it's going to allow you to follow the path most true to your soul. It's an imperfect, human path too. So, you'll have good days and bad, but underlying everything will be a much more alive and profound sense of love, clarity, and peace.

If you'd like to hear more of my thoughts about spiritual awakening signs and symptoms, please enjoy the following two videos.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts

I get a number of people who contact me about their spiritual gifts, and I thought it'd be a great topic to discuss. Tuning into your spiritual gifts is difficult for a lot of people partly because people have piled so much crap and nonsense on top of their gifts that they aren't readily apparent. It's also interesting because some people seem to think that a spiritual teacher can give them their spiritual gifts in some way. Teachers and healers can help open the conduit, but after it's open, it's all you, baby.

Opening the Conduit to the Divine
The more I open to the depth and expansiveness of who I am, the more it feels like I'm just riding this raw electric impulse. It makes it hard to sleep. It's one reason that I'm terribly sleep deprived at the point of writing this. So I hope you give me some allowances in this blog. :) The point is that opening to yourself is a powerful thing. Most of your life, you've been living the watered-down-lite-lite-draft-beer-from-the-can type of life that you can have. It really hasn't been you. It's been what you thought you should be. You've cut yourself off from yourself in multiple ways, and to suddenly run down the path and say, "Give me all my gifts!" can be a lot to grapple with at one shot. Seriously, smaller bites, here people. You don't need to eat the whole Thanksgiving Turkey at once. Mmm. Turkey.

Observing Yourself: Spiritual Illumination in the Hallway Mirror
Most of the time, our gifts in life aren't really that hidden. It's just that people have a kinda screwy idea of what spiritual gifts are. Spiritual gifts get cast as these kinda magical, supernatural hey-look-at-me-levitating-and-warping-to-the-Andromeda-system types of things. I'm sure somebody somewhere can do that, but most of our gifts are about the here and now. They're about helping people here and now to heal and learn how to be themselves. This blog is certainly not very supernatural, but it is a vehicle for my writing, which is a gift to all those of you discovering your spiritual paths and awakening.

So, if you want to know what your spiritual gifts are, start by observing what comes most easily to you. What have you been doing your whole life? This may lead you to see how you've naturally intuited information about others or yourself. You may remember how you could heal animals that got hurt in your backyard. You may discover that somehow people just feel better after talking with you. This has been going on your whole life.

There are lots of things that are woven into the fabric of daily lives that go unappreciated. Appreciate them. They'll start to show you where your gifts are, and then you can start to develop them. If you are great at talking with people, counseling or public speaking classes become a channel to focus whatever it is you have to say. I know this doesn't sound super psychedelic, spiritual, but that's not how I teach. I believe spirituality is meant for everyday practical things because that's where we live, and that's what has gotten so damaged by desire, anger, and fear in the world consciousness. So that's why we get tools that focus on these everyday things.

Letting Go of Fears
Usually, the big problem with connecting with your spiritual gifts is fear. I have a number of highly aware psychics that connect with me, and they're usually terrified off their asses. I don't blame them. Society hasn't give them much space to deal with what they know and how to interpret what to do with that information. I was talking last night with someone about how when I intuit information about someone I ask the divine if I need to do anything with that information or not. Because as most psychics will attest, knowing people's secrets kinda sucks. After awhile, you really don't care because you're not interested in having power over others or controlling/changing their lives in some way.

And if you do want this knowledge to manipulate others, you are in for a big whammy. It is really, really, REALLY bad to abuse this power, and there are repercussions. In many ways, a lot of people can't tap into their powers until they're ready to use them in integrity--although some people these days are coming into the world with lights really turned on. It's a lot to handle. And honestly, for this blog, I encourage any of the psychics reading this who want further guidance to contact me directly because this topic takes us off into a whole other direction if you're a psychic who's already receiving lots of information. In essence, you already have discovered one of your spiritual gifts.

Building Your Spiritual Practices
For anyone new to this blog, I encourage you to check out the starting out section and the Spiritual Tools of the Trade blog post. Because discovering your gifts means you start to do a lot of self-work to clear the internal obstacles to your clarity. I'm not so much interested in you conversing with divine spirit guides as much as finally conversing with yourself. You may say that you don't really like you, but that's not true. That's an ego layer that's been around for too long. The deeper you, the real you loves you completely and unconditionally. And I'm sure that's hard for a lot of you to even read. Which is why it's time to do the work. Any gifts that you have can only and should only surface when you're ready to stand fully in your light. Because then you'll be able to offer those gifts to the world in integrity and in peace.

Thanks to Arran Edmonstone for today's picture. You can see more of his awesome photos on this Flickr link.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

For All My Relations

Susan talks about the shifts in relationships moving through her life on her spiritual path.

Being in Relationship with Everyone
The word "relationship" is such a complex and yet simple word. When I think of relationships I am immediately reminded of the Lakota phrase, "Mitakuye Oyasin" (Mit-awk-wi-awsin). The phrase means, "For all my relations", and it is often said with gratitude to our ancestors during various Native American ceremonies. Mitakuye Oyasin also reminds us that we are all interconnected and in relationship with everyone.

A Part of the Whole
A special person in my life recently helped me see a whole other meaning to the Native American phrase, Mitakuye Oyasin. I am in relation to everyone in every moment, whether happy or not. For example, there was a happy occasion between myself and another. That joyous event would not have happened if I was not "A Part" of it. The moment between that person and I would not be the same if I was not there. In contrast, I could have a disagreement with that same person with the relationship being changed just as equally. No blame is given, but that event would not happen if I was not "A Part" of it. These examples helped me realize that I am equally in relationship to everyone else in all moments. We are all parts of the whole when we take responsibility. Perception of the event is the only thing that gets in the way.

Letting Go and Accepting Relationships
As I continued to contemplate the infinite ways we take part in each other's lives, I looked upon the relationships in my life. I came to understand that some relationships cannot support me in my spiritual growth. The old foundations, simply cannot hold these relationships. If one person is not ready to be in a new foundation, they will cling onto the relationship or walk away. Much of this is the ego just screaming out for help in the form of an angry letter, phone call, etc. As we let go of the unhealthy attachments in our lives, it also forces other people to do the same.

Although these relationships may fall apart, it does not have to be dramatic. They simply flow out of my life effortlessly. I trust that Spirit will either cycle these people back into my life or they will not. Eventually, letting go of a harmful relationship with a close family member or friend can feel as effortless as letting go of a relationship with an acquaintance one hardly knows.

This process of letting go has given space for new and more stable foundations to form in return. It has been a pleasant and unexpected surprise to see who drifts into and out of my life. These people have given me the space to allow myself to remember how to own my heart, body, and mind.

It Is Okay To Be Human

Being more aware of my spiritual path doesn't mean I will always feel like frolicking in fields of flowers. Life can be messy at times, and that is fine. Sometimes I just might feel frustrated or angry. I do know, though, that those destructive emotions flow easier when I ask myself questions about where the source of such emotions arise from.

I encourage you to keep in mind that we are in relationship to everyone and everything around us, whether we feel we are actively participating in it or not. Being human, being our authentic selves, all the time, benefits everyone. Mitakuye Oyasin.

Susan started to cultivate a deeper relationship with the Creator four years ago when she was introduced to the works of Eckhart Tolle's, "The Power of Now" by Jim Tolles. Her life has been transformed in countless ways since then.
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