The Soul’s Journey – What Station Are You At?

January 12, 2017

I think that a train journey is a wonderful metaphor for the journey of the Soul. We move from station to station over our life and of course there are two stations that we will all experience – Birth at the beginning where I sense we are unrealized Spirit and the final terminus where hopefully we have fulfilled the Soul’s desires and become realized Spirit.
Of course the stops in between are unique to each one of us. There are many terrains in which we may find stations – desert, ocean, valleys, dark, light, the roller coaster and the stop named Resistance is all too common.
I believe the journey of the Soul embraces every aspect of who we are: the emotional, psychological, spiritual, mental and Soulful. A client asked me recently how to discern what was Spirit and what wasn’t. My reply: “It’s all Spirit to me.”
This is what makes this epic adventure so challenging, so complex and so rewarding. It is important to differentiate between the station we inhabit and the current state. The station is our personal climate while our state is the current weather within that climate.
For example an early station in my life was Fundamentalism. It was a demanding station with a very masculine, authoritarian God, severe punishment for wrong-doing and only one way out by being saved by the blood of Jesus. While stopped at that station there was good weather and bad weather. Times of great happiness combined with equal confusion.
The train eventually pulled out. For a while it travelled through no-mans land then arrived at Atheism where it remained on a siding for twenty years. There was lot of varied states at this stop from enormous joy and success to absolute shock and despair.
Discerning our current station can help us identify the foundation that helps us manage the variety of states that may occur. For example my current station has evolved from the belief that I am a Spiritual being having a human experience. My specific stop at this point in my life is a station called Flow. It represents the worldview that if I stay conscious and aware, attend to my spiritual and psychological needs, set intention and pay attention then what is mine will come to me – both the good and the less so. During a recent Spiritual Guidance evening with the small group that I work with we did a practice to reveal the current station of the members of the group. I started with a guided meditation to encourage a process of practice of active imagination to access the guiding wisdom that each of us can access.

“Close your eyes, perhaps sigh and feel yourself coming fully present to this time, this place, this moment. Then bring your intention to a single breath. In, Out, Deep, Slow, Calm, Ease, Grace, Peace, Smile, Release, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.
Now imagine an empty canvas, it is blank, it is waiting for you. It will reveal to you the station your Soul train sitting at. “Held in the embrace of silence, resting in the deep heart, allowing my Soul to be, I come home. Allow an image to begin forming in your mind. Where are you? Don’t engage with it or shape it, allow it to take its own form. When you feel ready begin to draw the image or write the words that are emerging.”

What was most revealing was how unique each image was to the individual journey and in every case there was a deep sense of wonder at the positive aspects of the station despite current conditions that may be challenging. One participant was reluctant to draw because she feared the image would represent her current difficulties. Instead it offered her an oasis for respite when things seemed too intense.
Some times we get stuck at a station too long. We have to be aware that if energy departs from this place, it is time to move on. Resistance can result in being stuck. One client of mine who clearly realized she had stayed too long at stop named Constructive Discontent exclaimed, “I jammed the emergency brake on and can’t recall how to release.”
Unfortunately there is no map of all the stations. We muddle our way through as best as we can – hoping we fulfill our personal itinerary and doing our best to remember the wonderful words of the poet Em Claire.

It’s a beautiful time to be alive.
And the long walk home is peopled—
We, are everywhere.
Yet the struggle to surrender is where we walk alone.
So the next time you fall
to either side where you lie
and take the hand
of your dear Sister or Brother
whose own face is muddied.
We can rise together,
even if we fall alone—
for it’s a beautiful time to be alive
on this long walk home.

The Soul’s Journey – The Emotional Coup D’Etat

January 9, 2017

The Emotional Coup D’Etat I slammed my iPad shut and threw it across the room with a vehemence that surprised me. It was as though I needed to eliminate the offending e-mail from view as quickly as possible. I sat feeling a flood of energy flowing through my body like a hot flush. I noticed a desire to indulge in some mindless television viewing. I recognized the signs that a complex had engaged. Fortunately it landed on the sofa.

The concept of a complex is explained exquisitely by eminent author and Jungian analyst James Hollis in chapter 4 of his amazing book Hauntings. A complex is a reaction based on history charged with energy that is autonomous of our conscious state. Hollis refers colourfully to the moment when a complex engages as an historical “coup d’etat”. Our response to this take over is generally one of three reactions: “avoidance, dominance or compliance.

Mine was obviously avoidance so rather than follow this unconscious dictate like a lemming, I resolved to explore my reaction and understand it. Moving myself to an easy chair, putting on some sacred music I began to review the sequence of events that led to this moment.

The Status Quo I had made a commitment to organize another gathering of the spiritual community of which I am part. This decision had emerged from the completion process I had conducted at the conclusion of the very successful event in April in Assisi, Italy. One of the questions I had examined was: “What do I take away from this journey?” The answer was that I am very good at this type of thing then the realization that this was a way I serve both the teacher who becomes my partner in the event and the community.

My job is to underwrite the financial cost, organize the space for accommodation, meals and meeting, liaise with speakers, invite and register guests. The theme and program are developed with my input.

One of my priorities is to craft communications to the community. This involves details of the program, the location and costs. I had taken what my teacher had sent me and made some suggested edits. His response was the “offending email” that had so triggered me.

Exploring My Feelings After sharing the e-mail with a friend, she observed, “it all sounds perfectly innocuous to me”. So despite my resistance I knew the reaction was not about the communication but rather about me. What on earth had caused such a powerful reaction in both my body and my feelings? It was obviously not about the present moment. In an instant what began with a flush of energy through my body like a current of electricity translated into feelings of shame, embarrassment and rejection.

The answer was not too difficult to understand. My over–the–top reaction was based on a history with authority figures beginning with my father. It was reminiscent of my relationship with my authoritarian religious father. The energy and feelings that prompted the child who worked so conscientiously to find his efforts judged as inadequate.

My reaction to the email emanated from my sense of implied criticism and judgment.   I had worked hard on the proposal and it had been rejected. My avoidant reaction was consistent with my childhood coping response of frustration and then avoidance.

Letting it go From the adult perspective his words and response were entirely reasonable but complexes are neither logical nor rational but emotional. I noticed a sense of relief as the pattern became clear. It was as though the intense energy of the complex could now be released in the light of self-awareness.

As Irish mystic and Poet W.B. Yeats once wrote:

I am content to follow to its source

Every event in action or in thought;

Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!

When such as I cast out remorse

So great a sweetness flows into the breast

We must laugh and we must sing,

We are blest by everything,

Everything we look upon is blest.