Soul Sense

September 29, 2008

When to push and strive and when to surrender? I had an interesting experience this Spring. As a result of a profound dream I felt guided to do some active imagination. I spent a day in sacred space doing my own personal workshop. This entailed a series of different practices from meditation to journaling and visualization to drawing supported by contemplative music. At the end of the day I reviewed some of the pieces that had come to me and was particularly taken by a drawing I had done. It featured a book called the book of golden ideas, it reminded me that each one of us has our own book to experience which represents the  journey of our life and that part of what I had come here to do was to “go deeper” Gradually a feeling of excitement developed. I was to write a book about going deeper. I leaped into action firing off an e-mail to my circle of intimates asking them what going deeper meant to them. Replies started to arrive and I collated them. Some people were tardy and a few never seem to never get around to answering. I collated them and noticed that I was feeling a little disappointed. It did not seem to be giving me what I was looking for. I tried summarizing some of the key insights but it never came together in a way that inspired me. I decided to let that aspect go for a while trusting it would come to life later on. I moved on to another section which would review concepts of soul. I surrounded myself with books that contained references to soul and started to sift through for gems that I could include. I found my attention wandering, inertia set in and there was no magic in the project. Fortunately I had a trip to England that May that would take my mind off the project for three weeks.
Unfortunately my mind never came back to it. It was only at the end of summer that I got tired of tripping over all the books that surrounded my office that I started to contemplate where I was going. I wondered if I was in resistance and how I could resolve it. The thought of soldiering on appalled me. Yet I realized that if the idea indeed came from my deeper self then I was compelled to break through the inertia. I sat pondering my dilemma and suddenly it occurred that I needed to go back to source and check the credentials of this “divine idea”. I found my journal of the day and reviewed my insight. I smiled as I realized my error. The divine idea had been to “go deeper”. There was nothing about writing a book. However, when I have this kind of breakthrough my ego loves to find a way to attach itself to the opportunity and make it his own. I call it “the ego dressing up in God’s clothing”. The ego liked the idea of writing a book however what the soul was asking was for me to go deeper.
The dominos fell into place. When the ego is attached to an idea it has no power or force. We can get it done by brute effort and employing our mind but it is like rowing upstream against the current. A soul idea comes “pregnant with every opportunity for expression.” (Rev. Marvin Anderson) and has the capacity to unfold much more simply. It is more like floating downstream. Fulfilling a soul desire creates that sense of flow that seems so effortless. My experience of going deeper is exhilarating and spellbinding. I notice my increased desire to devote time and energy to it. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote “The quality of the imagination is to flow and not to freeze” I think that applies to soul as well.

Honouring the Story and the Journey

September 28, 2008

I love Thich Nhat Hanh’s beautiful reflection that honours life so fully.

“I wake up each morning and I smile
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me
I vow to live fully in each moment
And look at all beings with eyes of compassion”

So what does it look like to live fully in each moment. To do this I try to engage mind, emotions, my physical being, my heart and my soul in a meaningful way each day. I live a very spacious life which has given me the opportunity to explore this. So every day I try and do something that honours every aspect of who I am. For the body I try to stretch and do some form of exercise. Because I have had to give up jogging, it means some combination of cycling, the gym or walking. My soul is honoured through a morning meditation practice and my soul dialogue. My mind is indulged through reading, an occasion game of Sudoku and by writing. My emotions are engaged through music, through encountering real life experience like Erica Gruell’s amazing work with the Freedom Writers or Ian Brown’s amazing reflections in the Globe and Mail on his life with a disabled son. And I look for some opportunity to support or help someone else in my life. Then of course I try and find some time to play. (This is easy for me and I have to be conscious that play does not distract me too much from my desire to live consciously.) My prayer each morning is that my soul will fulfill its highest expression in this incarnation. I would hate to reach the end of the journey to find I have missed the reason I got on the train in the first place.

The Magical World of Dreams

September 25, 2008

I have long believed in dreams as a powerful way that our inner landscape emerges into our conscious minds. Of course knowing when a dream is important becomes is a key element in discernment. We all dream and dream frequently. In fact most of us will enter REM state six or so times a night. It is during REM sleep that we dream. (that’s when our eye lids seem to be moving rapidly) Frequently we have no memory of dreams however sometimes dreams emerge with astonishing clarity. I don’t believe that all dreams carry equal weight. Some seem like junk mail – the unloading of a busy fragmented mind. Others are the familiar anxiety dreams – we forget an important appointment. Occasionally we can have pre-cognitive dreams. These are rare and recognizable by the accuracy of their detail. The dreams I think are the most important are the symbolic dreams where meaning is disguised. The reason for this is not clear. One suggestion is that it is the language of the right hemisphere of the brain, another that it helps to avoid any censorship by the conscious self. During my work on dreams I have noticed a magnificent eloquence expressed by the symbols of the dream. The language of our dreams will be unique to each one of us which is why only the dreamer can truly interpret the dream. Some symbols to seem to be collective. For example water representing emotions or the unconscious. Many are individual and are uniquely created by your consciousness. The more I work with dreams the more amazed I become at the depth and intricacy of our unconscious minds to reveal the inner depths of our soul’s wisdom. The characters in a dream often resemble aspects of who we are. For example, I have a male friend who is the epitome of the dynamic masculine. He is an incredible craftsman, sets goals and always brings them into perfect form. In my dreams he always represents that part of me that can get things done. He is frequently accompanied by a feminine archetype that represents the more passive form of allowing things to unfold at their own pace. It is important to realize that our conscious mind will try and dismiss the significance of the dream. In fact your immediate response after you awake is likely the most unreliable one because the ego self is now attempting to take control. I have observed dreams as incredible resources in decision-making, healing and achieving great clarity. A dream theme that repeats itself is just begging to be explored. As my teacher Atum O’Kane once observed, “Having a dream and not working with it is like being given a gift and not unwrapping it.

The Ego – Kill it or Save it.

September 22, 2008

Much has been written lately about the ego. “Ego-self is seen as bad and we should disconnect from it. Ego is responsible for most of life’s problems. The desire to live from soul and not in ego is the key.” Although I agree with all of the above statements I think we should pause before we try and kill it. My dear friend and teacher Atum O’Kane expressed the perspective that the ego in its rightful place can be the servant of the soul. A healthy ego can address the challenges of your life in a meaningful way. I believe that as embodied beings we are here to fully experience life in a body not try and continuously disconnect from it.
So how do we commission the ego to be the servant of the soul? First we need to establish some way of assessing what the soul is trying to bring forward rather than a goal of the ego.  This is never easy because th ego has a way of insinuating its agenda into our life.  Sue Humphreys once wrote “ We must differentiate between divine ideas and human thoughts.”   Whenever I have an idea that I perceive has merit I will seek guidance from my deeper self by engaging what I call the SoulClarity process. I set the intention “Show me the way” and then by paying attention to my life I notice what emerges. I  facilitate my intuitive senses through meditation, music, exercise and writing amongst other tools. I may consult oracles such as the runes or I Ching to confirm my sense of direction. Sometimes soul insight arrives in unlikely moments. My idea for my book Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions came when I was riding my bike. Unlikely as it seems suddenly I could visualize it. Spirit will always affirm divine ideas in one way or another. If a door closes I will always look for another one to open. There is often a sense of flow that develops and ego begins to seamlessly operate to bring the idea into form. Doubt and fear dissipate as the soul finds its expression through the ego. The soul needs the ego to do the work. Trust the soul for ideas and the ego for bringing them into form.

But it feels like cheating!

September 20, 2008

I have been exploring with one of my clients the sense of flow that results when we let go of attachments to a specific form and allow life to unfold relatively seamlessly. He recently engaged in a conscious self-dialogue and saw his own pattern clearly. The more attached he is to a specific outcome the more likely he is to find the work difficult and a grind. The more he can let go the easier the project will unfold. ‘It feels like cheating” he told me. “Why should my life unfold so perfectly when all around me I see disaster and mayhem.” His story concerned a hectic day where he had conflicting appointments, which required him to be in two places at once. He noticed the desire to get hooked into the drama, which would have normally led to increased stress and a diminished sense of wellbeing. Instead of going into judgment and resistance, he took a few deep breaths and let go trusting that he could work this out. The idea then occurred to him that he may be able to attend one appointment over the phone which proved to be an acceptable compromise. As he waited for the call feeling totally at ease he got a message that the meeting had to be rescheduled. Coincidence or synchronicity?
I sense that as we shift from what Ken Wilbur refers to as the logical rational paradigm, different laws of the universe apply. In the psychic paradigm we begin to notice synchronicity working to support us. Carl Jung coined the word to describe what he called “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” He did not believe in coincidence only meaningful coincidence. The belief in synchronicity requires an acceptance of some connecting principal. In my worldview we are part of an interconnected universe. As we commence the journey to evolve our consciousness to a higher level then the universe supports us in amazing ways. Once we make a commitment to personal growth and seek meaning in our lives then the universe responds by providing us with meaning. It’s as though we have to buy the ticket before we actually see the train exists. Once we are on the train the journey can begin. Of course this introduces the tricky issue of faith. Kahil Gibran once wrote “Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof.” My own faith was derived from experiential evidence that was undeniable and was in conflict with the logical-rational world. Proof based on the scientific method is impossible because the precise experiment cannot be repeated however the impact on the heart stays forever. And the more we hold onto belief the more the proof is given to us.

Story versus Journey

September 18, 2008

Abraham Maslow suggested that once we have achieved certain basic needs in our lives then we can create the opportunity to explore self actualization. I like to think of the soul as the driver towards individuation. I see myself as living my life on two levels. There is the drama or the story of my life that unfolds at an experiential level then there is the journey of my soul that goes deeper. This caused me to start looking at my life in a whole new way. For example if I am friends with someone and they offend me, I  may think they are a jerk and the relationship finishes. At this juncture if we review only the drama of the event we may go into blame, dismiss it as being their problem and move on. Alternatively we can feel really hurt, go into victim and project this hurt on them and others and get stuck in our misery.
However when we start to view life as a soul journey then we do our best to disconnect from the drama and observe it from a place of the witness. We start to take responsibility and see it as source of possible growth or healing. The story of our life becomes a series of pointers or indicators to our soul’s journey. We start to see patterns of behaviour that are repeated over and over again. It can lead us to explore healing and change on different levels. We take responsibility for the unfolding our lives and hopefully begin to feel like a co-creator of the drama. And of course we start to become conscious of resistance. For example we plan to go to a workshop but never get around to making the call. A client of mine knows he needs to make some time for personal creative expression yet somehow he never gets around to making it a priority. Someone else intends to start a meditation practice but it never quite happens. Once we start to paying more attention to our lives it is like walking through a beautiful garden and starting to really see the flowers. We observe intricate patterns, similar to the wonderful cause and effect between the sun, the rain, the insects and the blooms. We start to see the same magical inter-relationship between the events of our lives. For a moment it all makes sense and then we lose it again. Resistance may have temporarily triumphed but new growth is on the horizon.

Different Stations on the Soul Journey

September 17, 2008

Sometimes I like to use the analogy of being on a rail trip. We start off at our originating station and then we are faced with all kinds of options and choices. Perhaps we want to take off on a branch line or choose to hang out on a detour for a while. Other times we are on the main intercity line making great progress then we get shunted into a siding where we seem sidelined forever. My challenge is the waiting room. It’s a place where on the surface nothing seems to be happening. I am hoping for some momentous event to shift our direction in life but the train never arrives. Perhaps a new focus for my life even the soul purpose that will fulfill my deepest need. However the waiting sometimes seems endless. I have realized that my waiting room has two floors. On the lower level are the idle distractions. I have had to learn that there is a great difference between “being” and “not doing”. The danger of not doing is that it can lead into apathy. Apathy is a soul less place. It is a place where I can get loss in distractions and make no progress. It is filled with mindless TV watching, channel flicking and video games. Perhaps it is reading a stream of trashy novels, drinking the extra glass of wine or beer or getting trapped in tabloid news for the sake of diversion. The upstairs is a very different environment. It is the room of meditation, of constructive reading, of journaling and planned reflection while listening to my favourite classical music. My greatest challenge is that my resistance can stop me recognizing which room I am in. This can lead to occasionally dire consequences.

“If something is for our betterment why do we have resistance?”

September 15, 2008

The first response I received from a friend who read my piece on resistance was why do we have resistance? This reminded me of St. Paul’s plaintive inquiry in the epistle to the Romans “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” Paul blamed sin for his problem however in the light of modern psychological theory there may be a better explanation of why resistance arises. Freud originally proposed the concept of resistance in psychotherapy. He believed clients consciously and unconsciously erected barriers to treatment. However once Freud understood that ego defenses were unconscious and outside the patient’s awareness, then resistance was seen in a favorable light. It provided a clue to the opportunity. In psychotherapy resistance is seen as ego defense. So if we can accept the hypothesis that within each one of us there is an internal struggle for control between the ego and the soul then resistance is the way the ego attempts to control the agenda when we start soul work. So when we transpose ego for our human nature and soul for our highest good then our electrical analogy suggests that resistance is our ego opposing change that is arising from a deeper level of consciousness.  Individuation is a term created by Carl Jung to describe the process of becoming aware of oneself, of one’s make-up, and the way to discover one’s true, inner self. It is my belief that individuation which arises from the soul’s agenda is frequently deemed a threat by the ego so resistance arises. The positive side of resistance is that once we identify it we know that positive change is on the horizon. Our challenge is develop tools to help identify the awareness and to work to surmount it.

Popeye Meditation

September 14, 2008

A friend and I recently completed a wager for $250.00 that she would meditate every day for a year and I would soul journal at least three times a week. At the end of the year we celebrate with some special occasion assuming we both achieved our goal. This could range from a spa day to going zip treking although the more I think about that, the less of a celebration it seems. That should probably be the penalty for failure. After the first week she started to complain that nothing had happened yet and that she wasn’t sure meditation was making any difference. “After I run I can feel it doing some good” she explained. I laughed at the image that entered my mind. It was of Popeye meditation where it works like a can of the magical spinach. After you down it your spiritual muscles start rippling and the effect is immediate. My experience is that the reason meditation is called a practice is because you have to practice it. I started in 1992 and recall how challenged I was for many years. It was only after a meditation workshop when I heard Deepak Chopra say “Until you make meditation the number one priority in the day you will never successfully maintain a practice” that I was able to be really consistent.
Over the years through personal experience and some research I have developed some key conclusions about meditation:
1) It helps to reduce stress. Jon Kabat Zinn has successfully pioneered mindfulness as a stress reducing technique at his Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness  at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
2) It helps to stimulate your immune system. A study conducted in 2003 suggested that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways.
3) It facilitates your intuitive guidance system. It took time but I found a tremendous increase in synchronicity and intuitive activity.
4) It opens you up to spiritual experience. I found this aspect the most noticeable. It was though like the monolith in the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey meditation transmitted a signal to the universe to open me up to new experiences.
As Ken Wilbur says the only proof is in trying the experiment.

Turning Awful into Awe-full

September 13, 2008

I awoke feeling somewhat despondent. I felt a little like my car’s engine on a frosty morning – sluggish and a little reluctant to turn over. It was as though the cares of the world were weighing me down. Thoughts of President Palin sinisterly architected by Karl Rove in the US and Steven Harper with a majority government in Canada chased disturbingly through my mind. How could the dark forces achieve so much success? Why was the American voter so out of touch the rest of the planet. The possibility of yet another creationist, apocalyptic President with even less experience than the incumbent caused shivers of gloom to reverberate through my body. Shouldn’t there be a test that would eliminate anyone from having control of the red button if they believed in the Armageddon? I got up, made my tea and allowed myself to wallow in feelings of disillusion. Then I checked my e-mail to see my Thought of the Day:
“Be Awe – full
 Look out on life with amazement, not shock. The variety, the diversity, the manner of every person, the beauty amidst the drudgery, the contrasts, the opportunities, the heroism in the lives of ordinary people, your gifts, your talents, your friends – even just one friend – is all awesome. Live in awe, and entertain wonder, and you will be knocking on the door of true love. Don’t kill it with cynicism or criticism, don’t sabotage your life with moaning and complaining. Open the eyes in your head and the eye in your intellect and choose to see the stunning, awesome, diverse beauty of life happening around you right now. Meet it with your heart and you will enrich and be enriched in one single moment.”
During my soul journal later that day I asked about my morning disillusion. I sensed clarity emerge. I cannot help being impacted by all the negative energy that surrounds these elections but I do have a choice on how to respond. Surrounding myself with light and beauty is important. In addition I must take care to feed my soul not starve it. Prayer, bodywork, meditation, music, walking in beauty, positively reinforcing the emotional body and dance are all soul food.  Avoiding being energetically hooked into the drama, the conspiracy theories, the  dehumanizing of the other side is important to sustain a positive energy supporting change.