The Souls Journey – Resistance is Futile

January 18, 2019
dalek

“Resistance is Futile”

“Resistance is Futile”. These words may seem familiar to anyone who has viewed the longest running sc-fi TV series of all time – Dr. Who a BBC program that began in 1963. These lines are regularly uttered by the Dr’s arch-enemy the Daleks. As the Dr. is still around in 2019 this has proved an empty threat but you could be wondering how this is relevant to a blog dedicated to the Soul’s Journey?

What do I mean by resistance?

Resistance in terms of our psychology is when we unconsciously we block something from conscious memory. Freud pioneered this concept but all therapists encounter it in what is described as door knob therapy. At the end of a session a client is literally poised to leave the room when they mention the one vital thing that had eluded you for an hour. When I work with clients to help them arrive at a decision, I encourage them to commit to some intentions during the next few days. For example get immersed in some music, go for a walk in nature, monitor their dreams and notice the unusual – anything to help them escape the emotions and thoughts around the decision. It is a clear sign of resistance when they turn up at the next session and have done none of those things.

There seems to be an interesting parallel between the word resistance when applied to electricity as opposed to human nature. Electrical resistance is invisible. It is the degree to which an object opposes an electric current passed through it.

Human resistance is also invisible until we learn how to spot it. If we think of the object as human nature and electric current as our highest good then resistance is the degree to which we can oppose our highest good.

Why Do We Exhibit Resistance?

This question has been asked for centuries. In fact St. Paul in his epistle to the Romans asked,””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.” He blamed sin but I prefer the hypothesis that within each one of us there is an internal struggle for control and resistance is the way the ego attempts to control the agenda when we start soul work. Resistance will tend to take place whenever we embark on personal change, make a challenging decision or address some painful issue. We often cannot see the depths of our resistance until after the fact. Recently I ended a friendship of sixteen years; it was only in the aftermath that I realized I should have addressed the dysfunction three years earlier.

What Does Resistance Look Like?

It is a coat of many colours – denial, distraction, diversion, food indulgence, procrastination, avoidance, rationalization are some of the more obvious. As my friendship crumbled I rationalized that I needed to empathetic and loving. As a result I walked around on eggshells for three years failing to address the issue at the core of the disharmony. Then there are the more devious possibilities. One is the Spiritual Bypass where we escape into spiritual diversion and its accompanying risk of insidious self-satisfaction. Forgetfulness is another strong indicator that we are in resistance – we miss a therapy appointment we had scheduled.

How Do We Know Its Resistance?

There are a number of key pointers.

1) If you find yourself in a state of inertia, spending time in mindless distractions and failing to move ahead you may be resisting some task.

2) If you lose your sense of flow and doors seem to close rather than open and life is full of obstructions then you may be in resistance.

3) The “Cosmic 2 x 4” is nature’s way of getting our attention. If we fail to move forward with a core Soul priority, are missing the signposts we have been given then occasionally we are stopped in our tracks by a disaster or catastrophic event. Once in Thailand a branch fell from a tree on a clear, calm day and landed on my head a literal cosmic 2 x 4!

What To Do When We Realize We Are In Resistance?

The first step is to ask for support. I will set an intention each morning acknowledging I am stuck and seeking clarity. Then I pay attention to my life – the natural signs and synchronicities that act as signposts along my way. I explore my feelings is there an old haunting from the past that creates a fear of moving on. I pay special attention to my dreams. I explore the unhealed and unforgiven in my life that may require my attention.

Are the Daleks Right?

Is resistance futile? I believe it is; it serves a purpose to get our attention but eventually to complete our task we need to seek it out and disarm it. We can bypass it however it is still awaiting our attention. It’s a bit like an unpaid parking ticket; we can ignore it but it can come back to haunt us. Acknowledging and facing our resistance is a key to our peace of mind and restoring a sense of flow to our lives.


The Soul’s Journey- Exploring Hidden Depths Through Poetry

January 12, 2019
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The gift of Soul poetry is that it unfolds itself like a Russian doll

I began learning poems about seven-years ago. It began primarily as an exercise to test my aging brain’s ability to recall yet over the years it has become so much more. I have become curious about the poems I choose to learn. I never know precisely what draws me to a poem or a poem to me. It is more than the words, more than my initial response; it is a connection at a deeper level. I call this my Soul poetry.

The gift of Soul poetry is that it unfolds itself like a Russian doll where inside each doll is another doll. As I go explore the poem’s meaning it requires going deeper not just into the poem but into me. It is no longer important what the poet meant, the importance is how I relate to the poem emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. I can learn a lot about my inner landscape from how I respond to each poem.

I have observed that the attraction toward an individual poem is guided by the current focus of my inner journey. For example when I was getting far too intense about my spiritual enquiry I found myself drawn to poems about play. “There is only one rule in this wild playground, all the signs Hafiz has ever seen read the same, they all say “have fun my dear, my dear have fun in the Beloved’s divine game”

When I found myself at a time of transition the poem that emerged was by John O’Donahoe titled For the Interim Time with the words: You are in this time of the interim where everything seems withheld. The path you took to get here has washed out; The way forward is still concealed from you.”

The more I have worked with poetry I have realized it is an exquisite place to appreciate projection. Projection is when we project emotions, and feelings that are often disowned or unconscious onto someone or something else. So my desire for play that is being restricted by the intensity of my work shows up in my engagement with Hafiz’s poem. (This also happens with dreams – one of the roles of dreams is to compensate for that which we are failing to live consciously). The acknowledgement that I am facing a time of transition shows up in the appeal of John O’Donahoe’s poem.

Recently I did a workshop on exploring our inner relationship with poems. I would recite a particular poem three times. The first time I would ask the group just to listen and discuss their reactions. The second time I would ask them to close their eyes and rather than concentrate on the words check in with the feelings the poem evokes. The third time I would again suggest the eyes be closed but this time they should observe which stanza has the most energy or significance for them.

The result was way beyond my expectation. One of my favourite poems to explore is by Denis Levertov called Primary Wonder. On one level everyone recognized the exquisite description of how the distractions of life can divert us from our focus yet there was one stanza that caused a dramatic division in the perspective of the group. Over 50% were triggered by the lines “and that, O Lord, Creator, Hallowed one, You still, hour by hour sustain it.”

The debate was intense with a lot of resistance to accepting this was not “badly written” but a projection of old wounds around religion. Fortunately my point was made impeccably by one participant who had been brought up in a tradition far from conventional Christianity and could not understand why there was any problem.

Another wonderful poem Prepare to Feel by Julie Leavitt caused one group all to feel sad while another tapped into an intrinsically positive message. Why the difference? Did the words change? Of course not, the feelings arise from some relationship that we project onto the words themselves.

I am so grateful for this interest in poetry that flourished quite late in my life. I have learned fifty poems so far, I have to continually refresh my memory or they can slip away. Yet they are so much more than a brain exercise, rather they help me keep in touch with my inner state. As Rumi once wrote, “Your heart is the size of an ocean. Go find yourself in its hidden depths.”

Quoted Poems – full length.

Prepare to Feel by Julie Leavitt

Prepare to feel the same

Prepare to feel disappointed at having no time for wonder.

Wonder why the starling flew in at that moment.

Wonder why the reflection of the last light of sun through the church window appeared

over head at that precise moment.

Wonder why the neon from the hotel surprised us like night time did?

Prepare to feel surprised and disappointed at once.

Disappointment is the pile of bricks stacked and never used.

Surprise is when you knock them over.

Nothing can be made without knocking over what’s old.

How do I know?

Because I am old enough to be surprised and disappointed many times.

How do I know?

I am embarrassed to tell you how many times I turned away from amazement and was

greeted anyway by starlings, and herons and hawks that flew by in their usual migratory

pattern.

Primary Wonder
“Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; caps and bells.
And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng’s clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, 0 Lord,
Creator, Hallowed one, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.” Denise Levertov

A Suspended Blue Ocean
The sky
Is a suspended blue ocean.
The stars are the fish
That swim.
The planets are the white whales
I sometimes hitch a ride on,
And the sun and all light
Have forever fused themselves
Into my heart and upon
My skin.
There is only one rule
On this Wild Playground,
For every sign Hafiz has ever seen
Reads the same.
They all say,
“Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun,
In the Beloved’s Divine
Game,
O, in the Beloved’s
Wonderful Game.”
by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

For The Interim Time

When the near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,
No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.
In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of darkness.
You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.
The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.
“The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.”
You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.
Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.
As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.
What is being transfigured here in your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.
“To Bless the Space Between Us” by John O’Donohue. Pub in 2008 by Doubleday in Blessings