The Archetype of the Liberator

November 13, 2012

On the weekend I attended the fifth in the program The Archetypes of Spiritual Guidance led by Atum O’Kane. Personally this weekend was not as powerful as the previous two but felt very affirming. I realized what an amazingly liberated life I lead. Of course it took sixty-seven years to feel that way. It seems to me that liberation consists of both intention and attitude. I realize that the reason that my life feels so liberated that I set an intention to live a balanced life between body, mind, emotion, soul and spirit. I pay attention to whether my life is encompassing these. I do my best to incorporate two periods of meditation and reflection each day; I check on whether I am stretching my mental capacity; whether I have engaged my emotions and how I have fed my soul. I feed my soul through music, poetry, play, occasional dance, a daily walk in the beauty that surrounds me and I believe also through the spiritual coaching I do. Of course many of the activities cross-pollinate – walking also feeds the body, learning poetry exercises my metal acuity.

We did some interesting exercises looking at our attachments. For example what are the three things you would instinctively take with you in an evacuation, the five additional things you would select after reflection, and the two things you would want to turn over to someone else. Frequently the recognition of our need to free ourselves from something will come form a time of disillusion. Atum talked about changing the illusion by changing the perspective, “shatter your ideal on the rock of truth”. We looked at five experiences of disillusion in our lives and how you made your way thought it. I observed that these events often created an opportunity for fear to so shift to love, judgment to compassion, disillusion to joy and ennui to vitality. Because of my commitment to find meaning in every experience and having the faith to believe that each event will pass and we can either learn from it or do it again.

Poetry has become one of my great teachers. We talked about having a clear intention of liberation each day. My reminder comes from that beautiful mantra by Thic Nhat Hanh: “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.” In addition a second poem by the amazing Tagore came to mind. “Open the door, liberate the blue sky, let the inquisitive flower scents enter my room. Let the light of the early sun flood my body from vein to vein. I am alive. The word of greeting that throbs in every leaf and twig. Let me hear it this day spring dawn. Let it flood my heart and like like a scarf does a field, green with the shoots of new grass. The love I have known in my life utters its silent language in the sky, in the air, everywhere. I am bathed in the light of its pure enthronement. All that’s real I see as a necklace of jewels on a breast of blue.”

It seemed a beautiful way to hold an intention of liberation.

Atum focused on doorways to liberation. These include love, glorification, inspiration, insight (into patterns that control us), laughter, detachment, transcendence, imagination, wisdom, creativity, individuation, commitment, grace, faith and trust, gratitude, forgiveness, truth, courage, change of perspective and consciousness, surrender and acceptance, redeeming the shadow, freedom of equanimity and peace, freedom of mystical depth and absorption/union with the Divine, living in the present moment, illumination and I added joy and intuition. Each of us need to explore the doorways that most resonate for us. We did an intuitive practice around selecting four of the doorways, placing them in a cross then drawing a mandala that I could use in my Train Your Intuition groups.

Upon reflection I think the path of liberation is a natural extension of the journey to wisdom. Many of the doorways are a natural outcome of pursuing the archetype of the wise one.

The Languages of Inner Wisdom

November 12, 2012

My reflections on DecisionClarity were almost immediately tested. Someone wanted me to work with her on a decision with which she was wrestling. In our preliminary discussion I noticed some resistance on my part because she professed to be an atheist and did not relate to Soul. However despite reminding her that I was a spiritual coach, she was persistent so we set up an appointment. It became an excellent reminder for me about finding an appropriate language to describe our innate ability to solve decisions a deeper level. It became clear that words such as Soul, Higher Self and Intuition did not work for her. For a moment I felt bemused about where to go next before I recalled a fourth language I refer to when I present on DecisionClarity – the sub-conscious brain. A part of our right hemisphere that can solve problems while we are not aware.

The initial model for Decision-making that I developed was limited to exploring the three concepts of intuition, universal guidance and the higher self, but a rude awakening compelled me to explore further.  In one decision-making seminar I noticed a participant completely lose interest in my presentation.  It was as though his body stayed in the room but the rest of him moved on.  It was painful to observe.  I felt like a shepherd guarding a flock of sheep while one wanders away, with no means to bring it back because of my responsibility to the others.  So I suffered, sensing that his feedback would be devastating.  And indeed he lived up to my expectations in describing my presentation as, “an absolute waste of time and should be eliminated from the program.”

Although I felt sad I had failed so dismally with one person, I knew that somewhere in this debacle was a gift.  I turned it over to my own inner guide and then laughed out loud at the insight that came to me.  Fifteen years ago I would have been that man making the same dismissive observation about my own presentation.  At that time in my life I would have been unable to relate to any of the concepts for inner wisdom.  I would have considered the presenter to be from some strange new age cult and dismissed anything he had to say as cosmic fluff.  Now my task became more clearly defined.  What could I have said to myself fifteen years ago about inner wisdom that could have made some sense?

Suddenly I remembered an amazing shift in my life that had occurred long before I developed any understanding of my inner senses.  My company had arranged a workshop called Rediscover Your Brain, facilitated by a wonderful woman named Geil Browning of the Browning Institute.  As part of this process, she introduced me to the idea that biologically our brain contains the ability to process information unconsciously.  This was particularly intriguing to me.  As someone who was already over-stretched in his or her conscious mind, the idea of also working subconsciously was an exciting way to increase my productivity.  I decided to test out this novel theory.  Part of my job was to analyze and prepare reports of research studies.  Usually I would collect all the data then sort, sift, prioritize and painstakingly develop my conclusions.  This time I decided to put my subconscious brain to work.  After completing the data collection I then released the project, somewhat sceptically I will admit, to my unconscious. About one week later as I was jogging around Vancouver’s seawall I noticed, to my amazement, the framework of the report appeared complete in my mind.  My unconscious had delivered.  It was only recently I realized this had resulted in “the faculty of knowing without the use of rational process” which of course matches the dictionary definition of intuition.  We seem to be hard-wired for intuition.

Facilitating the unconscious brain to sort information, and solve problems became the fourth perspective for consideration in the decision-making process and I sensed that this expanded the relevance of inner knowing to a wider audience. I realized, however, there was yet another gift as a result of this exploration. This particular model of understanding the brain had even greater application to the decision-making process.

Digging Out Of The Hole

November 6, 2012

© Lorne Craig

The tears are rolling down my cheeks as I convulse with laughter at the recent e-mail from a friend who is working on my new website. I have asked for a status report on my project and the reply comes back as follows: Resistance Autoreply: From the desk of ….. “Thank you for your e-mail. I will be in resistance until Monday February 23, but will return your message once I am back from the state of denial.” I pick up the phone to thank him for my morning smile. “I am digging myself out” he tells me “I’ll be back on my feet soon.” It reminded me of a lovely poem that I frequently refer to in my spiritual coaching work. It’s titled: THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson. The first chapter goes like this: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost . . . . I am hopeless. It isn’t my fault. It takes for ever to find a way out. It is such a brilliant analogy of life before we become conscious, and move away from the state of victim. If you find yourself in the same situation again and again and it is never your fault, then you are living the first chapter of the poem. Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day you repeat the same story over and over without realizing you are stuck. The first step to moving on is awareness. Frequently it takes someone else to help you perceive that you are actually attracting the same situation into your life over and over again. Once we are aware, we move onto the second chapter: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place. But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out. This is the stage of denial. Although you are aware of your pattern you aren’t prepared for the conscious work that will result in a shift. It’s easier to pretend the hole isn’t there but of course there is always a rude awakening. This is where a coach or therapist can support you to see your own resistance to changing your behaviour. What unconsciously draws you to repeat over and over an action that no longer serves you? You start to appreciate and take responsibility for your life, which allows you to move to chapter three: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in. . . . it’s a habit. My eyes are open I know where I am It is my fault. I get out immediately. At last you know where you are; you recognize your environment but like a moth drawn into a flame you just can’t find away of avoiding the hole. Now you slowly learn that you actually have choice. Stephen Covey writes in The 8th Habit that “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.” Our choice allows us to move to chapter four: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it. You have learnd to see the problem situation and avoid it. Then a miracle happens. It is my belief that universe sends us the experiences from which we learn our key lessons in life, and once we have practiced sufficiently that we can move on and avoid that aprticular hole in the road. We are ready for chapter five: I walk down another street. At last we no longer confront the hole on a regular basis. We have completed that piece of our soul’s journey and we can move on. We stroll confidently down the new street feeling a sense of pride in our accomplishment. And then it happens; Crash! We fall in a brand new hole: totally unexpected and of course it’s not our fault!

1) I walk down the street

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost . . . . I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes for ever to find a way out.

2) I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

3) I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in. . . . its a habit.

My eyes are open

I know where I am

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

4) I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

5) I walk down another street.

Soul Poem for the New Year

November 5, 2012

Mary Oliver authored a wonderful poem called The Journey. I believe it contains an insightful perspective of the moment when we are called to make some kind of leap forward in our lives. It begins evocatively, “One day you finally knew what you had to do and began it“. I frequently recite this poem as an introduction to spiritual coaching. It offers a beautiful context to consider the nature of the soul journey and that transition is often a necessity for change and growth. The decision to start spiritual coaching often emerges from a time of confusion, a sense that you need to shift the direction of your life but don’t know how to proceed, Mary Oliver conveys a remarkable sense of the unfolding drama of change.

One day you finally knew what you had to and began it. Though the voices were shouting their bad advise and the whole house began to tremble. And you felt the old tug at your ankle; mend my life each voice cried but you didn’t stop, you knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations and their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough and a wild night. The road full of fallen branches and stones but little by little as you left their voices behind the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds and there was a new voice that you slowly recognized as your own that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you can do, determined to save the only life you can save.”

To me Mary Oliver is perhaps the quintessential American poet, her depth, her wisdom and that soulfulness that inhabits so many of her poems creates a wonderful perspective for the concept of soul journey. This poem reminds us that we must make our own way, that we will feel resistance both from within and without, at times it may be stormy but light will begin to shine.

From DecisionClarity to SoulClarity

November 1, 2012

I was feeling stuck. I wanted to write a newsletter but I felt blocked and bereft of ideas. Overcoming my frustration, I followed my inclination to do nothing. Some days later, feeling somewhat guilty because I still had no desire to write, I began to reflect on the meaning of feeling blocked. It felt a bit like a road-closed sign in front of me. Did some thing need to change, then an idea flashed across my mind, it was is it time to change the name to SoulClarity. I worried a bit about this idea – the word Soul seems a riskier proposition than a nice safe word like decision. Everyone relates to making decisions but not everyone relates to the idea of Soul. I resorted to a traditional ritual when faced with indecision, I drew a rune. The result was Fertility, “A rune of great power, receiving it means you now have the strength to achieve completion, resolution from which comes a new beginning”, it was time to move on.

I developed the DecisionClarity model for the Centre for Integrated Healing back in 2000 to help cancer patients feel empowered to make their own decisions. It led to my book, Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions, a number of speaking engagements, workshops and a counseling practice to support clients with decision-making. Over the past few years things changed. I shifted my personal focus to Spiritual Coaching and created the SoulClarity web site as a companion; DecisionClarity became an aspect of Spiritual Coaching. I observed that frequently major decisions were a catalyst for personal growth and not necessarily about finding an answer. It became more about the journey than the outcomes; using the DecisionClarity intuitive model frequently introduced people to the world of soul and finding meaning in their experience. During this period, opportunities to present on decision-making declined, and my workshops changed their focus to exploring dreams and intuition. Recently as you may recall my role at Inspire Health finished after eleven years; it seems like the appropriate time to make a transition.  Welcome to SoulClarity.

Before you press the unsubscribe button, let me introduce you to the world of SoulClarity. First perhaps a few words on the concept of soul. Soul is a translation of the Greek word Psyche. Wikipedia refers to psyche as the totality of the human mind, conscious, and unconscious. In the context of SoulClarity, it represents the belief that we are more than the sum of our body, emotions and thoughts. Renowned psychologist and spiritual teacher Jean Houston once wrote, “you are more than think you are and something in you knows it.” Some prefer the term ‘Higher Self” but no matter what language you prefer, Soul, Psyche and Higher Self are different expressions for the belief that we are connected to a greater whole or a Divine source that is available to support and guide.

The newsletter will appeal to those interested in the journey of the soul and who seek meaning in the everyday experiences of their lives. It will share stories about intuition, dreams, synchronicities, and other things that add meaning to life in addition to decision-making. I hope to share perspectives of the soul through the eyes of my favourite poets and authors and I will welcome contributions. My inspiration will be the words of the wonderful Sufi poet Hafiz who once wrote, “ What is this joy and laughter budding in our hearts, it is the glorious sound of a soul waking up.” (Daniel Ladinsky)

Those on Facebook may be interested in liking my SoulClarity page for a regular diet of soulful perspectives.