The Soul’s Journey – Exploring the Dynamic Feminine

May 23, 2019

A Planet in Crisis

I know I am not alone in believing that our planet is stuck between paradigms. The old one doesn’t work and we have not found a new one. The very future of homo sapiens is at stake yet recent world events indicate we are regressing rather than progressing. Recently I read Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief lessons in Physics. he has a clear opinion on the future of the human race, “We belong to short-lived genus of species. All of our cousins are already extinct. What’s more, we do damage.” Can we survive? I still live in hope and recently had a dream that inspired me.

A Dream in Three Acts.

Act 1 takes place in a forest. I am part of a dissident group that is being pursued by government troops. They are firing at us. I do not feel scared but fascinated to the lengths the authorities are going to attack us. Then they bring up a tank. This seems way over the top but before I can flee the troops mutiny and begin attacking each other.
Act 2 we have escaped to a conference where the mood of the group has turned ugly – resentful, aggressive and unbalanced. I am concerned about what may happen and text a woman I know who possesses some kind of authority. She replies immediately that she wants to meet. I find her in a small, somewhat Mexican looking town. Her name is Eva and she says she wants to address the group. I am sure this is a good idea and take her to the event. She is petite, dark haired with incredible presence.
Act 3 something amazing happens as she arrives at the venue. She seems to connect positively with everyone she meets, embracing them and uplifting them. The news of her arrival ripples through the gathering. Meanwhile I try and locate the organizer whose name is Ian. Eventually I find him in a room where they are setting up the final session. He seems disinterested in what I have to say but I beg to talk to him. Finally I begin telling him what has transpired but before I finish I notice Eva has arrived beside him. He immediately hands her the microphone but she wants to use the small lapel microphone that has somehow got tangled in my left foot. I have no shoes on. As she begins to speak I feel myself fading into the background. My work is done. I wake up feeling a little frustrated I heard nothing of her message.

Resolving Problems at Another Level

When I considered my personal environment in which this dream occurred, I had another insight. I have been wresting with the state of the world and the future challenges that face homo sapiens (see https://wp.me/phAyS-Eh). This dream seemed related to those concerns
My feelings in the dream moved from curiosity to apprehension, from concern to action, concluding with a sense of satisfaction at having played my role. However I am left with a lingering question about what my role is?
Albert Einstein once said, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” It seems to me we keep trying to fix things at the level on which they occur and perhaps the dream is about new solutions. Changing leaders and ideologies, engaging in opposite solutions creates even greater friction and misunderstandings.
Suddenly the first act of the dream makes sense, our society is at war with itself. The dream symbolizes what is all to real in our society at the moment. There seems to more and more polarization.
Following this thread the second act suggests that as we attempt to fix things at the same level with the same tools, the energy of those attempting to force changes on societies, can turn ugly – protests, violence, revolution, loss of respect and even abandonment of proper principles, all lead to chaos. The imposed solution creates even more resistance and power shifts back to the competing side.
In the third act Eva represents another way. The name is interesting in itself. My unconscious selected a version of the name Eve that means life or the living one. She carries all the aspects of what I sometimes refer to as the divine feminine – compassion, caring, equanimity, love, empathy, passion and enthusiasm. This archetype carries great power. Yet she is also dynamic. My sense of the dream is that it offers the idea that change must occur through the dynamic feminine.
But what does that mean both individually and collectively. Unfortunately I don’t hear her speak. My role was to introduce her. What could that look like in my life? I need to begin by holding the energy and hope for change and seek the guidance for how I can contribute to encouraging a shift.

What Can I Do?

A journey of a thousand miles starts with but a single step. I began a meditation this Summer where I stand beside an ancient tree. I tap into the living energy that has witnessed the transformations of the past 500 years and has seen our progress and our backsliding. I reflect on the positive changes I have seen in my lifetime: human rights, gender rights, the right to be gay and lesbian, transfer of power in South Africa, peace in Northern Ireland, the end of segregation in the USA. I affirm a prayer: “I am a radiating beacon of love and hope, show me the way.”

NB After writing these words I went to the gym for a workout. I always listen to a blog and today it was by eclectic author and anthropologist Wade Davis. (https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/wade-davis-light-at-the-edge-of-the-world-1.4499962) He offers a vision for hope based on his observations as an anthropologist and offered a wonderful quote from his father: “As my father would say, ‘what side do you want to be on? Do you want to put your shoulder to the wheel of justice, or do you want to be part of the problem?”


The Souls Journey – Creating Your Self Care Kit

May 8, 2019

Stress Can Grow Like a High Rise

Recently I have encountered a number of friends  experiencing unusual levels of stress. including death in the family, changing jobs and countries, personal illness, marriage, changes in employment of a partner and illness of a loved one. Two psychologists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe developed a stress index to assess if stress related to developing illness and in their opinion it does. If you are experiencing four of the above factors you would be at a higher risk of illness (See index)

Then We Forget Self-Care

One thing my friends had in common was that the aspects of their lives concerned with self-care had evaporated. Pressure of life had got in the way of things like exercise, yoga, going out in nature, relaxation and play.

It is no wonder that stress and anxiety create such a toll. It seems a general rule that the first things to go from a stressed life are the things that could actually help us cope. We are more likely to devote any available time and space top mindless distractions. Why is that?

Likely it is some form of childhood coping mechanism that has never left us. Under pressure we are more likely to engage in old patterns. Hiding one’s head under the covers seems a sound strategy to escape life’s challenges as a six-year old. Perhaps it has less relevance today.

Developing a Self-Care Kit

Each of us needs to identify our own self-care plan and find a way to remind ourselves when life takes a turn for the worse. As Carl Jung once said, “ the shoe that fits one person pinches another, there is no recipe for living that fits all cases.” Each plan needs to be individual.

Mine embraces daily meditation, a walk in nature, listening to music, writing in a journal, learning poetry and stopping watching TV at least an hour before bed. However we don’t all feel stress equally. It is essential to pay attention to how life unfolds.

Mindless TV and Games Playing and other Distractions Are Not Self-Care

I have learned to recognize that when I find myself slipping into mindless pursuits it is assign of underlying anxiety. I try to check in each evening and ask, “Did I live a balanced life today?” I do not beat myself up if I have not but I do attempt to stay fully conscious of what is going on in my life. And make adjustments.

So What To Do?

I also believe that times of great crisis remind us to assess whether the path we are travelling is in concert with our deepest being. Jungian analyst James Hollis in his wonderful book Living An Examined Life suggests, “When what we are doing is wrong for us we can temporarily mobilize energy in service to goals but in time such forced mobilization leads to irritability, anger, burn out and symptoms of all kinds.”

I think our society has detrimentally confused selfishness and Self-Care. Self -Care can help reduce stress and make our lives more productive and meaningful. Each of us should design a simple “Go To-Self Care Kit As the poet Hafiz (exquisitely interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky wrote in his poem The Swing, “You carry all the ingredients to turn your existence into joy, mix them, mix them.

Components for a Self-Care Kit

Developing your own self-care kit requires identification of the aspects of your life that bring you joy, help you to feel grounded, support you in moving into the witness state (observing what you are experiencing) and exploring the moments you seem to move into a relationship with the mystery or a larger sense of who you are. Some examples:

Meditation, Contemplation, Centering Prayer, Yoga – all ways of stilling the mind. Medical doctor and meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zynn runs a successful mindfully-based stress reduction clinic at the University of Massachusetts medical Center that has demonstrated significant results.

Exercise: Running, a bike ride, walking, skiing, and many others can get us back into our bodies and  help reduce anxiety and stress.

The Arts: Music, poetry, art, theatre can all offer nutrition to cope with life’s traumas.

Grounding: This is considered a powerful way of addressing emotional trauma. Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD, is Professor of Psychiatry and the director of the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) research unit at the University of Western Ontario recommends a Grounding Toolkit.*

Journaling: Writing and exploring can also be extremely cathartic.

Frequently we will argue that there is not time for these things but that is generally resistance. When the Buddha was asked, “what do you do when you are to busy to meditate” he replied that he would meditate for twice as long.

*This includes walking meditation where you’re paying attention to the feet on the floor; listening meditation where you’re listening to ambient sounds; nature meditation where you’re looking at trees and sky and the like. There are also equanimity practices where you imagine yourself being a mountain going through seasonal changes with a sense of continuity and stability to your “mountainness,” even though there is a lot of change going on around you. (https://s3.amazonaws.com/nicabm-stealthseminar/Trauma2017/confirmed/NICABM-TreatingTraumaMasterSeries-Module3TalkBack-TraumaticMemory.pdf)