The Soul Journey – Signs and Synchronicities

February 22, 2017

He stood there looking more serious than usual. ‘I have to take my shoe off”, he announced. I found this a tad bemusing as he always takes his shoes off when he arrives for his spiritual coaching session however he continued to gaze at me in a somewhat accusatory fashion. I developed a sense I must be missing something then he repeated himself. “I have to take my shoe off”!

The penny dropped – “you didn’t do it again?” I asked. Last time he had turned up he had inadvertently trod in dog shit while parking his bike. We had thought nothing of it at the time and concealed the offending shoe on the back deck during our session. It seemed an amazing synchronicity for this to have happened twice in a row. I have lived here for twenty-three years and never trod in dog poop outside my house.

As you may be aware I believe that each of us have access to a guiding force that resides within. The reclusive poet Emily Dickenson referred to it this way, “The sailor cannot see the north but knows the needle can.” This inner compass can speak to us in many ways. What I refer to as the languages of the Soul are not as readily understood as our native tongue. They include dreams, metaphor, symbols, signs and synchronicities amongst many.

Carl Jung created the term synchronicity (synchronizität in German) to describe a meaningful coincidence. I was eager to explore the possible metaphoric meaning of my client’s current experience.

After opening our session with our usual guided meditation I asked him to recount how it had occurred. “I remembered last time”, he told me, “so I knew it could happen again, that patch seems a particular favourite for untrained owners and their dogs so I was aware of the possibility and more careful than usual. But then I stepped back on to the sidewalk into a pile that I was not expecting.”

I reflected back to him what he had just said, “you knew it could happen, so became more aware and then to your surprise then you stepped in it anyway. Does this have any metaphorical connection to your current life”? By now he was rolling his eyes as the significance of his experience sank in. “It’s what happened to me during the past week – twice! I had calls about two ‘shitty’ jobs. I could see they were both things I should say no to but despite protesting somewhat by the end of the conversation I had accepted them.”

I began to remark on the amazing nature of this connection when he interrupted me to suggest, “you don’t have to look so gleeful about it!” I attempted an apology but shared with him my awe at the amazing way the inner compass had revealed itself. It felt so affirming of my belief system.

We have worked for a long time on his tendency to want to please and always say yes. He is aware of the root cause that he loves to be picked. It is a compensation for the gawky teenage nerd who was always last to get chosen for sporting teams. This desire to please in order to get accepted is a very common wound from the child’s need to manage an overwhelming world. Eminent Jungian Analyst and author James Hollis refers to himself as the founder of a “recovering nice person’s group”.

We had developed a strategy based around not reacting but taking time to respond by always asking if he could call back rather than replying immediately. This provides time for the adult response rather than the child reaction to the old complex. However as often happens we develop a misplaced sense of confidence. Then we step right back into “it” once again.

And I can’t help feel a sense of joyful awe when I witness the inner guide working through these concrete signs and synchronicities. As James Hollis wrote in his book Swamplands of the Soul, “All we can say for sure is that a mystery comes through us, seeking its own fullest incarnation and that whenever we serve the mystery within us; we experience a linkage to the mystery outside. When we stand in conscious relationship to the mystery we are more deeply alive.” Even when standing in a pile of dog shit!

The Soul’s Journey- Living in Flow

February 20, 2017

It is following the way in its fullness, now satin now cresting. All knowing, it flows one way in shining or in shadow.” Linda Hogan

An annual tradition during my Christmas visit to Ontario is to spend an evening prior to New Year’s Eve with my niece and her family when we write cards reflecting on the year that has past, reading the cards we wrote the previous year and drawing a card from one of the divination cards I have given to my niece for a potential glimpse into what the ensuing year holds.

This year we used Lynn Andrew’s insightful offering titled the Power Deck – the cards of wisdom. It seemed both amazing and exceedingly unlikely that my niece and I randomly selected the same card out of a pack containing forty-five cards. The particular card was Flow. The words that resonated with me were “Become one with the river, dissolving the sense of mind and living totally in your instinctual nature. Let go and relax into the eternal flow.” It reminded me of the beautiful poem by Linda Hogan from which I quote above.

Later when developing a metaphor on the Soul journey as train journey (see for more) I decided I am currently at 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.

I used to relate to the idea of flow as everything in my life running smoothly and positively. If things went wrong then I presumed that I was no longer in flow. I have begun to realize that flow is much more akin to a river, beautifully expressed in the lines of the poem by Linda Hogan.

There are many aspects of the river that relate to life. At times it is tempestuous and dramatic tumbling over rapids. At others it will be serene and placid. It has eddies and backwaters where we may be diverted for a while and when it becomes difficult to see progress. It may also have blockages – boulders or logs that abruptly stop everything. There may even be whirlpools where we get stuck going round and round.

Currently I am planning a trip to Europe and all has not gone smoothly. I make plans then I am stopped in my tracks by various obstacles so I start all over again. The lack of forward progress feels very like a whirlpool. I am doing my best to let go and trust.

When we become one with the river we don’t fight the obstacles, we accept them. It is not so much about breaking them down but allowing them to dissolve. Sometimes we may need a shove to help us move around the blockage.

I believe I am going to Europe – I have my flights booked. The first and last parts of the trip are to be devoted to family. As for the big chunk in the middle it is still a mystery. And sometimes living in the mystery is what Flow is all about.

Postscript: Recently I was reading selected  blogs for a blog book I have created. It is now a couple of years later and I realize the amazing serendipity of that moment. In May of the following year that we both drew Flow on New Year’s Eve, my niece called me to say that her husband had to cancel joining her on a trip to Europe to visit their daughter in Graz, Austria. As I still I had that ten days unscheduled I was able to meet up with her in Budapest and travel to Austria and Prague. Now that truly is Flow!

The Journey by Linda Hogan

The mouth of the river may be beautiful.

It doesn’t remember the womb of its beginning.

It doesn’t look back to where it’s been

or wonder who ahead of it polished the rough stones.

It is following the way

in its fullness,

now like satin,

now cresting,

waters meeting, kindred

to travel gathered together,

all knowing it flows

one way, shining or in shadows.

And me, the animal

I ride wants to drive forward,

its longing not always my own,

overrunning its banks and bounds,

edgeless, spilling along the way

because, as I forget,

it knows everything

is before it.