So down, down, down we all must go if we are to truly know ourselves.
The First Step Into the Mud
The first step into the mud is sometimes the hardest, or it can also be the easiest, depending on the person. In essence, we are finding out how serious and committed we are to the spiritual path. Is the spiritual path just a fun, free-floating state of awareness? If that is what you want, then stepping into the mud seems like going in the opposite direction of what you want. But I truly tell you that stepping into this darkness and dis-ease is the only way to be free. We are not here to fight it out with the dark, but rather, in the light of our own awareness, we begin to reveal our true nature as well as a whole load of suppositions about who we are, how to act, and so forth. It can be quite appalling and upsetting to many people to find out that the things they thought they wanted really were nothing more than other people's ideas that they bought into. They may even find out just how much some of those ideas have been hurting them, such as an addict finding out how much a drug has been causing them suffering. So we are all going into rehab of one kind or another, and meditation and self-introspection is often the methadone of choice to navigate the muck.
Finding Out the Many Lies of Society and FamilyMost families are operating on autopilot. They are passing down generations of assumptions. Some are helpful; many are hurtful; and most are completely unconscious. This might not seem such a big deal with the assumptions that are helpful, but even with something like drinking plenty of water, you can drink too much. This, of course, is a very benign thing. Most other assumptions and social programs are much more toxic, and many families run on a whole lot of fear. Children have grown up fearing reprisals from parents, and many more have had serious physical and sexual abuses from adults. Those messages get intertwined with the very idea of love, and so for those of you who are healing such things, you have to go back to your roots to reclaim love from the idea that love and pain are virtually inseparable. Along the way, this may or may not mean confronting your family. I generally encourage people to leave such things for later. See what you can do to let go and forgive within your own heart because most other people--including your family--will have no idea much less any kind of appreciation for the work that you are doing.
In the Haze and Amazement of AwakeningFor those of you who have awakened and have found yourself back at home, this can be a time of both immense clarity and immense lack of clarity. This is okay. But it is important to stay engaged with your environment and the lessons that are surfacing. It is less about fixing everything versus really getting a clear understanding of yourself. The more you can see how you have "constructed" the you of this moment, the more you can finally choose your actions, including how you want to think.
Before awakening, most of us had no idea that our thought patterns are developed and chosen. I'm not talking about the critical thinking that schools will teach. I am talking about how you perceive, judge, and evaluate everything and the resulting responses that you've learned and perpetuated in every aspect of your life. These internal habits can get so subtle that you won't even know they're there, and even as you awaken or develop greater conscious awareness, you will find layers and layers of this messaging. The hardest coded stuff will almost always be the stuff associated with your family lineage.
The Family of the Present and BeyondHowever, family issues aren't even limited to this lifetime. Generations of patterns and forgotten pains get hardcoded into us. At times, this healing work does feel like your very DNA is being taken apart and re-written. Perhaps that's another reason why so many of us feel so exhausted during this process. But not taking that idea too seriously, what I am suggesting is that there is a level of depth of shift that is so subtle and so profound that you cannot possibly imagine it until you are working in it. Then there is a level of deft awareness to see and heal that is needed that is very different than how we are with most other issues. Because trying to resolve a mother daughter issue with your current mom may not make any sense when the the deeper victim attitude that you've inherited stems from how your great-great-great-great grandmother treated her daughter. From that abuse, certain patterns and avoidance tendencies of thought, emotion, and action were learned. Those got passed on, and if other traumatic instances happened to other generations in that lineage, new levels of unconsciousness got piled on top of them. And today, you just figured out how strongly the impulse to avoid difficult situations has been for you throughout your whole life and you wonder why.
This is part of what returning home means. It is not all bad, but even healthy habits must be looked at. For instance, a general dedication towards hard work can be healthy, but in Western Society, it gets taken too far, creating work-a-holics left and right. Consequently, learning about where this work ethic came from is also important. Then you can deconstruct any unconscious triggers that get activated and make you feel like you are not working hard enough.
The Laundry List of Family IssuesBecause families are rarely all focused on the conscious spiritual path, there tend to be a laundry list of issues that are barely (if at all) beneath the surface. They can include a variety of things, such as:
- Substance addiction
- Physical abuse
- Verbal and emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Absenteeism and neglect
- Over-protection (not allowing the child to learn to take risks)
- Various levels of obligation and shaming
Obviously, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but it is important to name some of it to give you some more ideas for self-discovery (using your journal is great for this stuff). It is important to recognize all the things that you carry within you. In that clarity of your own awareness, things can start to shift and release. The nature of the darkness is to be in the dark. This happens when we avoid things, ignore things, and otherwise do not look at them. That's why some of the most important work I do with students in sessions is simply to look at something together.
Releasing the FamilyReleasing family issues often means dissolving old unhealthy social contracts. This will very likely cause upheavals for some of you. Many of you have the sense of guilt and obligation tied up with the social contract, but my friends, this contract needs to be made null and void. No one is actually benefiting from it, although many people think they are. This is part of what many of you are finding out on the spiritual path. You are finding out that many of the things you thought were right for you simply aren't. You will find the same as you look into family and lineage issues that you presumed were just normal ways to interact in a family. The wonderful opportunity you have in dissolving and releasing unhealthy connections is that now something new can be born. Again and again, you have to have the courage to step out into the unknown, and of course, there is no guarantee that anyone will come with you or create a new, healthier connection with you. But I have found that those who truly love you in an authentic way will want the best for you and will do their best to support you, although it may not exactly be quite what you expect.
At Home for as Long as it TakesHow long your sojourn inwards to the root of issues or to your actual family home will take I cannot say. It will take what it takes. It cannot be rushed or forced, and it will certainly feel incredibly vulnerable. But as you slough away old unhealthy patterns and come to greater clarity about how you have been creating yourself in this life, you can now choose otherwise. This is the gift of the spiritual path; you find out how much choice you actually have over your life. Any level of needing to dominate, control, or be a victim in your life washes away, and you become clearer and clearer about what is necessary and real. This tends to lead most of us towards lives of greater and greater simplicity, kindness, and love. It really is quite beautiful. You are truly quite beautiful, and as you come through the muck into the beauty of you, you may see how quickly pain will dissolve away and leave only the truth in you behind.
For more on this topic, you can watch this YouTube video: