But we've always been here, and when we let go of some of this junk, we feel like we've struck gold. We have, but it is nothing special. It may sound strange to say this, but the more you are just you, the more this is nothing special. The initial euphoria of finding oneself melts into the naturalness of being.
Yet, part of that melting away of the old also involves continuing to develop our willingness to go into the unknown. You see, now that you've dropped part or all of a major issue, you're probably also finding yourself in a new part of the woods. All the old sign posts that you were used to following--no matter how much discontent, pain, or misery they used to offer--are gone. Gone with them are familiarity and the comfort we derive from familiarity, which we generally associate with safety even if our lives are miserable. And a part of you may want to run back to this familiarity because suddenly you are in a brand new space and don't know what to do.
No Idea What to Do? Take a Deep BreathBefore getting caught up in the next set of life lessons and choices and to-do lists, take a deep breath. Enjoy this moment of freedom. Enjoy this spaciousness. Watch the mind if it is now trying to define and control life once more. If you have finally stepped out of an old issue, don't be too quick to fill up that vacated space. I often write a lot about how important it is to get comfortable with spaciousness. We are so used to filling up every last moment of our lives that to suddenly have a few slots free is disconcerting. Well, get used to it (the freedom, not so much being disconcerted). This is a good place to be! It gets even better the more you relax into it. Before you make the next decision, I encourage you to relax and breathe into the moment. As I've mentioned in other posts, a few deep breaths to slow down and pause and observe things can save you from horrendously bad mistakes or missed opportunities.
But I Still Don't Know What to DoThe complaint in the above subhead comes up for many of you still early on your paths. The ego is still in control even after letting go of an issue, and that ego wants direction and definition. Sometimes we don't need to do anything. Life is already taking us there. Sometimes we do need to take action, but in this world, it often is much less work than we think. A few strokes of the paddle in the river of life tend to be enough. We're not always in the rapids where we have much more navigating to do, and more often than not, when we think we are, those rapids are mostly made up by our egos anyway. So the continued relaxing is really important as you adjust to yourself.
Truly you are adjusting to yourself. There is a reason we use the term "rebirth" on the spiritual path. We are being reborn. We are coming forth again from a deeper place of wisdom, which coincidentally has always been there. It's important to let yourself adjust. It's important to notice your thoughts and any new thoughts and concerns that were hidden before. Realizations tend to continue on their own if you pause and breathe and let them bubble up. As I've mentioned in the Multiple Layers of Healing blog post, we tend to go through different levels of healing around an issue. In a really big release, all or most of the layers have releasedthe issue, which can be wonderfully opening. If the subtle energy, body, mind, and heart all drop something (like lack of self-love), you can feel tremendously free and full of love. Depending on what the issue is, the resulting freedom, love, and vulnerability can be terrifying to the remaining ego and its stories. Once again, go even slower to get used to this new "you" that has been born.
The Tendency to Turn AroundEspecially for partial releases, it is so easy for someone to want to turn around and go back to what is familiar and rebuild the issue again. Here's an example.
A woman has horrible self-esteem issues. Her lack of self-love has led her to date men who are abusive. Their abuse of power is the shadow side of her abdication of power, and their hard-heartedness mirrors her own lack of self-love. She finally realizes it. She sees how all the men in her life have taken advantage of her and how she's deprived herself of love. She finds her voice, breaks up with her latest romance, and transfers to a new department at work with colleagues and a boss who appreciate her.
However, the new men in her life aren't aggressive, and her old physical and sexual triggers have not been healed. So these new men don't turn her on, and she doesn't think she is "interested" in them. She doesn't realize the depth of the issue. She also rejects their gentle, loving approaches as being insincere. She can't receive the new compliments her co-workers and boss are offering her either. She hasn't realized that she still can't receive love and that her ideas of love are still mixed with pain. Already, she is thinking that her past lovers weren't so bad and the old job she was doing had better people to work with. Because these new situations are so unfamiliar to her, she is looking to go back to the old situations and ways of acting.
This is one of hundreds of issues that I could point to. My encouragement to you is that you do your self-work to understand your issues and how you've created your life and the relationships around you. There are many ways that we play small, close our hearts, stay silent, abuse power, hurt others, manipulate ourselves and others, and more. The importance of the above example is to illustrate that sometimes the fear of the unknown is one of the greatest causes of giving up on ourselves and our healing right when life is starting to bud.
The Return to Old PatternsThe great thing about having released an issue is that if you return to an old pattern that was unhealthy it begins to feel bad to absolutely horrible. My body is extremely voluble. It will tell me if I have moved backwards to a food or specific habits in eating that do not serve me. Alcohol is an easy example. Returning to drinking (which I can't remember the last time I did) is such an awful experience. The light of my awareness and clarity of consciousness that I Am is so strong that it's like putting a spotlight on the experience to show just how toxic and terrible it is. Let's remember that alcohol is essentially poisonous. It's great for sterilizing stuff. What is sterilization? It is killing bacteria. How it became such a prevalent recreational drink is kinda crazy, and my body reminds me of that very quickly if I drink it.
Each time you return to an old pattern you bring more light and awareness if you continue to go down the conscious path and allow your awareness to expand. Each time you return to the familiar pains, you see just how much you're hammering nails into your own hands with whatever the unhealthy pattern is. You can see even more of the truth of the situation. The more clarity you have, the more you probably won't want to return to the pattern. The more you will find that staying in this newness and uncertainty is the only sane option before you. Not only that, but it's feels way better too.
The Evolution of Conscious Patterns and the Arrival of the Next LessonsIf you allow yourself to stay in this new place without reaching back to the familiar old patterns, you will naturally evolve new conscious patterns. Consider that if you always had a drink to relax in the past, you can now consciously choose a variety of tools to help you relax: meditation, exercise, talking to a friend on the phone, etc. The same goes with the example of the woman. If before she had to have a dominating man to turn her on and take care of her, now she can choose to be more open to a variety of men with different emotional dispensations. She doesn't have to marry them all; she simply is being conscious of how they are creating their expressions, as she gets used to feeling good and feeling loved. The bigger the issue (such as self-worth) the slower you'll usually need to go. So in the above example, she probably needs more time to learn how to listen to her heart and to differentiate from what feels familiar and what feels like love.
In staying in this inner place, the next set of lessons will arise. The issues that could hide underneath the broad umbrella of an issue such as self-worth no longer can hide. Thus, as you integrate your awareness in this space of newness, you grow naturally and almost effortlessly (I say almost, because some of you will need to take conscious action as part of your individual, unique paths. There can be a little bit of effort if you are still breaking out of old habits). As you grow, you hit the next edges of your world that are holding you back, and the cycle of healing, growth, and release begins once more. (Here's a great blog on that topic: The Process of Releasing Pain from Your Energy Body).
Don't Rush to the Next ThingFor those of you in the shifts after awakening, you probably won't feel like you have much of a choice before the next set of lessons arises. In some ways, you do, and in others, you don't. But it is an intelligent process, so I can only tell you that you're receiving just what it is you ready to face. For the rest, you're going to have way more choice in how much depth you go on your path. You can always quit your spiritual growth to some degree. Obviously, I don't advocate that; I think there is so much beauty and love inside all of you that it would be a shame to let those seeds go untended and let little sprouts die too soon. But you can also pause. If a shift has been particularly demanding, let this new space be enough. Don't worry about the next set of lessons that will arise, and give yourself a chance to just integrate with this understanding and awareness. Let yourself release into the newness. You will not be harmed by your vulnerability. You will actually feel more alive and better able to meet the demands of your life. As I said before, it will feel unfamiliar, but now you can more consciously decide who and what is in your life and how you want to live it.
The butterfly picture accompanying this post is a gift from Becky Stiller. You can see more of her lovely work on her Flickr account.