As the process takes us into the depths of our perceptions, emotions, and actions, what is consistently demanded of us is our presence.
This is my take on the process of growth and healing and will be henceforth referred to as “the process.” In truth, this process may take 10 years. Perhaps even double that amount of time… or more. Many don’t follow it to its completion and many more don’t even start it. Starting with an expectation that it will be fast is something is best dropped now. That doesn’t mean it can’t move along at a swift pace, but the many years spent in the process are also a gift rarely recognized.
That being said, what is the process? It looks different for everyone but it will be multifaceted. Working with the emotions, the interpretations and beliefs, habits and actions, the physical body, the awareness and more. One size doesn’t fit all and different things speak to different people. There are also multiple layers to the human experience and each needs to be taken into account. At times it will be conceptual, but most of it will be experiential in a way that “gets the hands dirty.”
Throughout the process there will be times when it is reflective. A part of this is the examination of beliefs and interpretations of the world that have been formed in life. From the moment we are born we are programmed by our experiences. We learn what is acceptable and unacceptable. We learn what is right and what is wrong. We learn what is rewarded and what is punished. This impacts our neural wiring, our emotional responses, our thought process and mindset, and our orientation to the world as a whole.
It is through this lens that we interact with the world. The process will lead you to sit with and challenge many of these beliefs in order to let go of the ones that are no longer serving you. This can be a very difficult task for those who are not ready to question the world they live in. Sometimes these perspectives, or at least the ones we are aware of, come from sources we trust… or want to trust. Perhaps it comes from your religion, your family members, your teachers and mentors, or other places that you do not want to oppose (it may not even be safe to). Challenging these is not necessarily challenging where they came from, but a process of recognizing if they are helping or hindering you in this moment. Again, easier said than done for many.
The process will lead you into your past, what you have done that has led you to this point in your life, including your impact on others and their impact on you. This might include the pain that you have caused others and that they have caused you. What habits you currently have and what purpose they are serving. What coping mechanisms you might have and what role they are playing for you. Taking an honest look in the mirror at your current and past actions and asking, “does this represent who I am?”
It will lead you to face your shadow and all of the uncomfortable emotions that arise as that occurs. All of the shame, guilt, fear, rage, sadness, anxiety, frustration, etc. All of the insecurities, unworthiness and lack. Anything that you might avoid because of the pain that it causes you. The inner monster and ugly parts. This process can be scary and uncomfortable, but it is also liberating once you get through to the other side.
What may be even more of a stretch for some is to sit with emotions like love, joy, and connection. Marianne Williamson’s quote that begins with, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us,” comes to mind. For many, there is an original trauma or painful event that disconnects them from their authentic self. This often comes before we have formed an identity and ability to process our situation in life. If we are presented with an experience where our developing brain perceives that it is unsafe to be our natural self, we may adapt our behavior to protect ourselves from the threat. This could be protection from our caregivers’ emotional responses, physical harm, or any number of situations. When this happens, we may interpret this subconsciously as “I am not safe/enough as I am,” so we adapt to survive. Again, this can often lead to a disconnect from our “true” or “authentic” self.
Losing our connection to our true self is losing our connection to our full capacity to feel, connect, love, and offer our authentic expression. Reconnecting with this can, again, be a turbulent process because we have to face what is keeping us disconnected. At times, it is actually our capacity to love that may have been the factor. If our caregivers couldn’t “meet” or “hold” our love because of their own inability to connect with their authentic self, it may have been unsafe for our love to be expressed. For some, it may be the very thing that we seek that is the scariest and most difficult thing to reconnect to because we shut it out for survival.
As the process takes us into the depths of our perceptions, emotions, and actions, what is consistently demanded of us is our presence. In fact, that is one of the most important aspects. Can we be present to life, as it is, and be with whatever arises? This includes everything mentioned above. For those who are sensitive, this can be very difficult. The nervous system needs time to learn how to be present to all of the feelings we may have shut out. It needs time to learn how to sit with who we are as we are.
Once we reconnect with our authentic expression, the next part of the process is following this presence and inquiring into what we want to offer life. What are my values when I am not avoiding myself? What are my interpretations and beliefs when I allow life to be as it is and not need anything from it? What is life presenting to me in this moment that I can be with, learn from, and harmonize with? How do I want to meet the world and express myself? What am I passionate about?
We may also need to re-learn how to be present with others. We form so many “masks” or ways to present ourselves to protect ourselves and to be perceived a certain way in life. If I grew up with caretakers that didn’t allow for crying, then I might have learned to pretend or mask my feelings every time tears arise. If this happens at young age, I might not even realize that I shut down and repress my tears with a show of being “stoic” or un-impacted by the event. Decades later I might still be operating from this programming every time I talk to someone about sad topics. The process will lead me to learn to become aware of these programmed responses in relation to others and help me form true and authentic relationships.
For those called to take the journey further, the process may lead to a deeper inquiry into reality. Following the depth of awareness back to its source and sitting with stillness, silence, and emptiness. Learning to feel the energy of the subtler aspects of the body and of the natural world. Harmonizing with life and slowly dissolving the individual identity as a separate experience and entity from the whole. Walking into unity with all things.
So, why would someone care to embark on this journey? What makes this process worthwhile?
The answer to this has always been obvious to me but may not resonate with others. I simply cannot imagine an alternative to how I would live my life. If this or something like this is the process that I must follow in order to reclaim myself (my passions, my natural expressions, and my connection to me), if this is the way towards healing myself (my shadow, my masks, and my unconscious patterns), if this is the way to become a sovereign being, if this is the way that I can answer the calling deep in my heart to be afire with life, if this is the way that I can come into integrity and connection with other human beings (to feel more deeply the authentic expression of each individual), if this is how I can contribute to a world yearning for truth and authenticity, and if this is the way that I can breathe deeply the great mystery of reality and walk the razor’s edge of the unfolding of the Universe, then I will walk it. There is no other path. There are no other waters to navigate. There is no path that I could take where I continue to avoid my own healing, my own evolution, and my own realization. There is no path that I would or could take that would lead me anywhere but back to myself.
I want to be clear; I too am still in this process. I am still on my own journey. If you are like me and there is no other option, my heart goes out to you. I want to connect. I want to heal with you. I want to come together and meet you, as you are. I want to be met by you. I want to help you unleash yourself, your true self, into the world and help you merge with the great unfolding of life.