Shadows at dawn

The pull of a new calendar year is strong, as if something in me can’t wait for a clean sheet of paper to start writing another story. It yarns for the taste of spring, for fresh changes. This is very much in the collective at this time of year and I do have some resistance to being caught up in the collective yearly pattern, as I know there isn’t a need to be in that place, yet here I am. Have you noticed how pictures of bluebells begin to pop up here and there around this time? People post them everywhere. It pulls us out of here and now in an instant and we begin to wonder.

Anger is often present for me during this month, which is one of those months I wait to be done with. The cycle of holidays every year and all that comes with it brings a lot of ‘don’t want to be part of it’ feelings. It is quite uncomfortable with a bitter taste that needs to digest and integrate before a new something is seen and experienced. I guess what I refer to is some shadow elements of the psyche is brewing on the surface of my unconscious and, yes, I do recognise it. It needs expression, but also containment. It is angry, expressive, violence-like, impulsive. It needs attention and love, but it doesn’t mean it is a nice picture to look at. It is often not and it can be loud especially in dreams when I know how to parcify it during waking hours.

Very similar in nature if you notice in certain places, like the one I just came from, e.g. everything was grey and not just in a way of rainy skies, but the whole atmosphere was covered with colour grey, dull and feeling like it’s not enjoying it. I describe this energetically, but visually it looks like a wet, old rag, for example, that can do with a bit of whiteness injected or a dirty water that’s stagnated. It needs renewing, refreshing.

If I was to describe it as a feeling in the body that would be stress, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, ‘bags under eyes’ type of presentation. It is a sort of wanting to rest yet being restless as monsters are moving within in the dark, under the ground.

I know the ‘beast’ very well although I haven’t seen it or heard for sometime. With me the triggers are stress and being stretched or asked to do things I don’t want to do. These have been running for years. During this time I also pick it up from others easily and that overwhelms me a great deal. December is like the remains of something, like the last residue of some unpleasant drink or wet ashes post fire.

This year has all been about doing things differently and the above patterns have also run their course. Enough is enough I’d say. There’s got to be another way of expressing shadow material so that it doesn’t just have its needs’s met and go back into a state of being parcified, but it has a chance to transform into or balance with the opposing force. Something is needed immediately as these things arise. More transforming and less keeping in awareness I’d say. I will give it a go next.

Happy 2019! Let it offer more explorations and awareness. Further success and achievements, more joy and satisfaction.

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Comparing lands’ signatures and emotional healing

North Wales, Snowdonia. So peaceful here. The land lulls you gently into comfort and quiet, soothingly singing a gentle tune. The land’s signature is of a simple life, uncomplicated by any depth of emotion or tragedy, I feel. It is an old land with ancient roots, no doubt, steeped in tradition, but it feels like whatever conflict there might have been it is resolved and the land enjoys a life of simple pleasures. Spirit here is pure and gentle of a colour white. It is felt all around, but ever so slightly. It is in the background and not at all overwhelming. Mostly in the mountains and rocks one would meet the land’s spirits and they are all of a vibration of support and nurture. They continuously tell a story, always talking and if you sit quietly you can clearly hear a narration, which again, like a lullaby, sends you to a place of peace and comfort.

In contrast Scotland’s spirit is rich and troubled, one might say. It carries the land’s history through its glens, mountains and lakes and the strength and power of it can’t be denied. It is in your face penetrating through skin. I am deeply affected emotionally and get sensory overwhelm every time I am in the land. It taps into my shadow signature of violence, loss, grief and bloodshed. Even madness, I’d say, is present in the mixture of what is the land’s spiritual heritage. It stands proudly in its stunning beauty, very protective and wary of strangers. It is anything, but peaceful.

Perhaps, I sometimes reflect it is not a place I ought to be as I align with my past pain addiction when there. I get thirsty for the sensation of attachment to all that the land’s spirit represents. Over the years I certainly understood why I feel the way I do when I am there and why my spiritual awakening had to occur in Scotland. I remember it vividly when all my senses shut down and a strange mixture of deep grief and pure ecstasy entered my awareness all at the same time. I was then given a task to start working it all out and an incredible process of awakening began.

Amidst Snowdonian mountains and forests I feel good. I always had in a way I never do when in Scotland. That place is hard to describe even now, it simply goes beyond me. There I don’t feel safe necessarily, well, perhaps only when on an Isle away from the main land (recent discovery). I feel on guard and bereft but also so incredibly touched and moved in a way I can’t put into words. I feel like my heart breaks when I am there and when I am away from it, both. You can read my other posts about my feelings for the land and my difficulties staying away from it.

Perhaps, I thought this time round while in Snowdonia is that I am aligning more and more these days with the signature of light and peace without needing or wanting to be anywhere else emotionally or spiritually. Perhaps, my light is no longer in the shadow and I have found and settled into the oasis that I had always sought – inner peace.

I can see myself returning to Wales over and over again just to be what I am when I am there, living in the moment with no rush of any kind and a slower way of being in peace and tranquility.

Perhaps, Scotland will remain a mystery for a little while longer and the role of it in my life will become clearer as I continue my exploration and relationship with the land…

 

When pain finds a home within your soul

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In psychological circles this is referred to as pain addiction. This is real, lived experience for many. It is a state of being where separating pain from anything that we encounter in life becomes impossible. It merges with our being in a way that becomes familiar, safe, even sweet and impossible to imagine not feeling it. It becomes one of the personal signature of an individual, which brings all sorts of distortions with it. The process of unravelling is needed, deep diving into dark places, but mostly reintroduction of the light into a personal experience, as the light often goes into a personal shadow.

This is what it looks like when I tap into that part of myself still present although it no longer affects my life in ways it used to. It is now fully in my awareness and I know this character well, hence able to communicate with it and meet its needs if and when.

Ugly, dripping poison from its finger tips, so wrapped in its own pain it is second nature. This creature outgrown the most excruciating suffering that it feels at home with it, it’s learnt not just to be with it, it is inseparable from her being. It is very old, with bent and crooked limbs, long nails and grey hair or is it fur – both. It is animal-like with human eyes and deep intelligence. There is kindness somewhere there, but it is not apparent. It wants to be bad, it thinks it is a good thing, as it will fill up the cup of pain even more. It seeks the ritual and any opportunity to refill it. Like an addict it is constantly in search of the next fix.

Grown into my flesh it wears deer-skins and smells of wet mud and berries. Like an animal it claws into me holding on with a scowl scary and disturbing. 

I know it well and these days all that is needed of me is the acknowledgement it is there when I begin to feel its warm breath on the back of my neck. It is often present around my shoulder/neck area. It is very warm, sometimes feeling like a burn, but it also shows me some compassion these days and often sweeps away mud and moss pieces when it feels it made a mess. It is a child and an old creature all at the same time. It is deeply broken, but not unlovable and it likes to spread itself on rocks (I love rocks) and roll off them into a wet grass.

I often work with clients in ways of looking at different parts of them. I would ask when they begin to describe an energy that takes over them and affects their life. I seek to bring it to life with my client in a way of seeing what it looks like, what it sounds like and what is its behaviour before moving to what that part of us need. Many find this very useful and become curious about what else is within them that affects their everyday behaviour. When we make those characters real it is easier to relate whether we choose an object representing it, or we do a drawing or find a drawing that most reminds us of them or we relate to them through colours, sounds. However we connect with parts of ourselves it is about becoming conscious/aware of what takes place within our psyches and why.

Transformation after a dark night of the soul

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My experience has always been that transformation, upgrade, growth comes after a period of darkness of the soul. The darker and deeper the drop the more profound the transformation. It is, however, not easy to realise or get to the other side and comes with practice. There are often steps to follow.

The first one is awareness of light and dark within you, a true connection to both energies within your psyche. Both need to be known intimately, accepted, befriended and experienced. I frequently say that the best awareness comes from repeat lived experience and real life examples. Think of yourself in your ‘dark’ cloak. What does that look and feel like? Is there a clear image of yourself, in what voice and language that side speaks, what does it usually do, what its preferred or default way of behaving. Get to know it, notice, befriend and learn from it. The same goes for your light side of the psyche. What are you like when you are wearing your ‘light’ cloak. What’s the vibration and presentation of that energy within you? When you know both and can easily identify, recognise and connect with both you can navigate both your transformation and your dark nights better.

Another step in the process is to fully stay in the process and yes, natural reaction is to try to get out of it, change it, do something when we are in a dark place. It feels uncomfortable and painful. We resist, reject and want to strip ourselves of all that it brings with it, but even though it is natural to want to do that what if we allowed it to be? After all it is within us, it is part of us and it is there for a reason in any given moment.

Darkness and pain can also be comforting and safe to some of us and it is familiar to a point we get lost and settled into it. To me it feels like a dark cave where no one can find me. It can be soothing and reassuring. If it is so for you recognise it, explore your relationship and history with pain and dark places in general. Is there more to it?

Another opportunity when ‘in darkness’ is your unconscious will be showing itself through dreams more vividly. For me I begin to have profound, vivid, dark and nightmarish dreams. I always find those fascinating and even when unpleasant I find they keep my energies going. It is like stirring a caldron, a process of ‘cooking’ taking place in my unconscious. I get very involved with its content and open up to messages. This part of the process is valuable as much can be extracted from the dreams when in a state of darkness.

I find at this point in my practice that I know when darkness comes there will be light post-pain, post-anxiety and depression. One might say I learnt to keep the faith. In simple terms the only way is up. What’s needed here is trust and again it is another difficult point where we either give up (on ourselves) or manage to override our dark state somehow for the fear of never being able to come out. Never is a strong word, it deletes all possibility for change and it is an illusion. We all know that nothing ever stays the same and change touches absolutely everything. I strongly believe in the ‘Phoenix rising from the ashes’ transformation.

To reach the light we must be patient with the darkness. Not only we need to be with in it, allow feelings to do their thing in their own time, be graceful, soft amidst anger and desperation, be kind to yourself and your darkness. Needs that come up when you are in a dark place will be your usual needs, but amplified a lot and we need to meet those needs. Give yourself what you need in those moments through really listening to the voice of your pain and despair.

Light comes in gradually. First you begin to notice coming back into life through small things, wanting to connect again. You will feel your isolation state stretching into a need to relate. It is like a process of remembering your ‘whole’ self, the way you had been before going into darkness. You remember belonging to a group, family, your usual dynamic. You begin to want to get involved again in small ways, your voice will start coming back, healthy, balanced one. You begin to feel different, lighter, more grounded and less scared. Darkness has done its thing. It’s been and gone and by allowing it to be we allowed ourselves to feel what needed to be felt, worked through and acknowledged whatever that is for you.

I recently have gone through such period of darkness and all of the above was true for me again and when one morning I saw a big beautiful butterfly land on a bench next to me I knew the light was near. Transformation followed slowly with big insights, a strong desire for change and implementing things in a different way, adjusting behaviour and interactions. I also remained strongly aware of my needs, which through being amplified in the dark showed up more clearly in life. Through my voice returning I was able to communicate them to others more effectively. What followed was a sense of renewal, rebirth and upgrade into new ways.

Darkness is a great teacher. It not only puts things in perspective, it brings us literally back to life, more fully engaged in the present. I also find there’s a serene period of contemplation and a silent observation that accompanies the process of coming back to light. That is always very pleasant and incredibly needed.

We all potentially seek light and all leads to it whatever we go through in life and the most profound ‘come backs’ are through deep darkness.

The Emptiness of Death

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When someone leaves your life forever, never to be seen, heard, experienced or felt on no level, never to walk the Earth again or breathe the air or see the sky, it feels empty to the one left behind.

Empty to a degree that nothing seem to fill that particular emptiness. It is a feeling of despair and disbelief and hopelessness about anything that can be done about it. We can’t change death, we can’t rewind the clock to stop things from happening, we are powerless at the hands of the force merciless and sudden.

It is one of the human experiences that is beyond comprehension. We can’t make sense of it with our minds and when turning to our hearts the pain is too much and unbearable when we tune into that hole, that emptiness, that nothingness that suddenly entered our lives.

Cruel – yes

Unfair – yes

Gaping emptiness – yes

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No amount of reasoning, pleading, conditioning yourself to it is going to stop it in its tracks. When it is time, it is time. How does one say goodbye to that, in the emptiness, in the hole with no sunlight, just emptiness. How to be, what to do, what to feel – all and nothing at the same time. Overwhelm of ripping claws of devastation created by an empty space or frozen in that moment when nothing else exists, no longer exists and you are suspended between living and joining that emptiness.

The pain is sharp. If it was to be described in tastes it is like it suddenly goes very bitter or extremely sweet when overwhelmed with memories, e.g. it is all about extremes of either unpleasant sensations to the max or the pleasure of remembering to a degree it is also unbearable when feeling a hand of a loved one in yours like it was five minutes ago.

Emptiness, what to do? All we can do is stay in it, stay still and wear whatever masks are thrown at you whether it is sobbing creature rolling on the floor whaling and howling like it wants no longer exist or flooding in the ocean of tears till you can’t breathe or see and all sense abandon you in that moment. A road to realisation that nothing will ever fill that emptiness is a long one and it might take for the rest of your life to even begin to feel ok with the knowledge there is emptiness.

Does it transform into something remotely comforting? I think we do need to aim to transform it into something even if it is something we create with our imagination. It is powerful to feel and know that something or someone gone is gone forever. The truth is they are gone, what we are left with is a feeling, a knowing, a memory of it once existing with life and passion and blood in their veins and laughter in their belly. We hold that image where the emptiness is, we make peace with it, we carry it within us carefully hidden in a sacred space of the heart. We can always access it and eventually we will feel more love than pain, more warmth and chilled sensation of an initial emptiness. It is not impossible, but it is a long process of first and foremost of honouring all the feelings that dance around that emptiness in unison with your soul crying. The rhythm of your heart beats as one with the Earth and the lulling comfort of the Earth gives us a reassurance that within the emptiness there is a hope for growth.

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