The Soul’s Journey – Can the Body Show the Way?

May 19, 2018

I am standing at the top of my stairs when my throat began to close up. I am puzzled. Is this an allergic reaction, a virus or something more metaphysical? I stood for a moment and the words “it’s hard to swallow” popped into my head. I laughed. I knew exactly the meaning of this symptom. Within minutes my throat had eased.

 Mind/Body/Soul?

My interest in the mind/body/soul relationship was developed by medical intuitive Mona Lisa Schultz’s remarkable book Awakening Intuition.This was expanded by metaphysical teacher and author Louise Hay’s work particularly Heal Your Body which has become a superlative reference book when I sense my body is trying to tell me something. More recently there is the Jungian perspective that suffering is a device the Soul may use to get our attention. Eminent author and Jungian Analyst James Hollis suggests we lose life force if our lives are not consistent with our deeper Soul desires. I am by no means an absolutist in terms of the body/Soul connection and certainly do not suggest that all our ailments are connected to a Soul issue. However I do believe we owe it to ourselves to at least consider the possibility when we get symptoms

Too Hard to Swallow?

I have had too much personal evidence that my body is part of my intuitive system to ignore it. The message from my throat closing up was that an interview I had completed earlier for a story I was planning to write for the Centre for Integrated Healing was just too hard to swallow and I should not write it. On another occasion I had a persistent chest cold but before heading to the doctor, I asked myself what inner work this may represent. The response came loud and clear “you have something to get off your chest”. I connected the dots to recall an encounter with a friend that remained unresolved and was getting in the way of our friendship. I got it off my chest and both the cold and the friendship were healed.

 Fear of Moving Forward

This Soul/Body relationship became even more firmly entrenched recently in a bizarre incident as I was returning from my wonderful chiropractor and my left hip began to hurt. I assumed it was just the body adjusting to the treatment but the next day after a visit to the gym, both my hips were sore. I felt a little aggrieved and decided to e-mail my chiropractor for advice. For some reason the server stopped working. I tried twice to no avail. Then I got out my copy of Heal Your Body and looked up sore hips. “Fear of Moving Forward” I sat contemplating and at first could think of nothing then recalled I was trying to plan a dream workshop but had been procrastinating in contacting two people who were interested. I wrote to them pressed send and off went my e-mail. There was no magical release of my hip pain but at least the server was working so I sent the email to my chiropractor again. IT WOULD NOT SEND! This was truly weird; my computer was being selective about what it sent. I returned to the idea that there was something I was not moving ahead with. I had promised a friend that I would visit her in Australia but had been procrastinating. I wanted to book business class on points but I wasn’t sure I was ready to make the commitment of time and money. (Ironically it was likely that every day I delayed would make it more difficult.) I bit the bullet and picked up the phone. One hour later I had the whole trip planned and booked in business class. And my hips seem to heal quickly – no need for an additional visit for treatment. And normal service for my emails resumed.

However it is even more affirming when I encounter it when working with a client.

Following the Clues

Recently a client arrived who was clearly feeling very good. In response to my enquiry he said that so much had turned around since our last session. He was on top of his job, his financial state was finally reflecting all the work he had been doing and best of all his painful back was better. I asked if he saw any connection with his back healing and his improved state. He could not recall then I remembered that last session we had looked up L5 pain in my Heal Your Body book. The first suggested cause was security. “It’s interesting” I observed, “that your back improved at the same time your security concerns diminished – are you interested in exploring the connection?” A couple of months ago when he was feeling financially insecure, I had suggested prebilling and was curious if he had followed through. He shook his head and said that he really enjoyed the lump sums flowing in when the project was completed. “Any other reason?’ I queried. There was a pause then he exclaimed, “that isn’t exactly true, I don’t pre-bill because it causes me to feel an obligation to the project. “But aren’t you already committed once you accept the project?” I enquired.  At this point I reflected on the sequence of events: “you felt financially insecure, you chose not to improve things, you got an L5 problem that Louise Hay suggests is about insecurity. This healed once the cash flow improved.” It seemed quite convincing and I wondered out loud whether he thought he could have avoided the back problem if he had taken steps to address the insecurity earlier. Then it was like the roulette ball falling into the desired slot. The voice dissuading him from the appropriate measure to increase cash flow was the reaction of an old child complex around avoiding responsibility. Perhaps the Soul gift was to remember if this happened again to renegotiate from the perspective of the adult who knew the commitment came from accepting the project not by asking for a pre-payment.

Another amazing example that the Soul knows the way even when the ego doesn’t and that sometimes we need to pay attention to the body to get the message.

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The Soul Journey – Reflections on Fate

May 8, 2018
Trevor:Cameron

Conventional and Unconventional

Recently my friend Cameron unexpectedly died. We had been extremely close in the late sixties when as twenty-three years olds we shared an apartment in Toronto. Now he was gone. As one ages we have to get used to losses and the vagaries of fate and the imponderable question of why him and not me and the realization that this is one aspect of the mystery we can never know.

How Different Could Two Friends Be?

As I reflected on these days long gone, I remembered what a vibrant, charismatic, unconventional young man Cameron had been. He was always the life and soul of the party; he could play the guitar; he wrote songs: he was gregarious; he was amusing and quick witted, and he was a chick-magnet. Everyone wanted to be his friend and I think I was always a little bemused that he chose me.

I was his opposite – conventional, square, responsible, organized, disciplined and had a solid job. I was also shy, likely depressed; I still blushed when embarrassed which was frequently, had low self-esteem and zero self-confidence with women. We were complete opposites. He was everything I wanted to be.

He did help me come out of myself after I broke my square dependable horn rimmed glasses in a car accident, he encouraged the acquisition of a pair of blue tinted circular frames similar to those worn by John Lennon.

“That Which We do not Bring to Consciousness Appears in Our Lives as Fate”

It had never occurred to me that Cameron represented something that was disowned in my own consciousness. Jungian analyst Robert Johnson referred to this as the projection of our inner gold on another person. However my shift in image from the new glasses and growing my hair gradually helped me reclaim some of that gold.  However it did seem my fate was to live a very unconventional life changing countries (living in England, Canada and Australia), changing jobs, changing relationships, a dramatic mid-life crisis resulting in me leaving wife, job and country to travel around the world with my girl friend for eighteen months at the age of 48. Devoting myself to spiritual enquiry at the age of 50 and never working full time again.

That Which You Resist Persists

Tucked away in my unconscious was the desire to be as unconventional as him. However my conditioning, as a child and young adult, both at home and at the boarding school that I was sent to, (where such behavior would not have been acceptable) had resulted in the unconventional self to be unacceptable. So fate stepped in. As I reflect I can see now that I was never really felt in control of my life. It had been my fate to be unconventional without really intending to be. Cameron although never losing his spark of unconventionality stayed married to the same woman for 48 years, brought up three children, and was mostly consistently employed in a secure job.

Time To Change?

Perhaps it is time to become deliberately unconventional and reduce the power of fate – perhaps the gold earing and the tattoo I have sometimes admired in others. On the other hand fate seems to have dealt kindly with me so perhaps I shall just leave things alone.

Thank you for journeying together dear friend, may your sweet soul rest joyfully in the mystery.

 


A Soul’s Journey – Increasing Stress and The Shadow Personality

March 21, 2018

My plane is touching down and I notice a plethora of feelings: anxiety, apprehension, foreboding, gratitude and joy. For almost two years I have been organizing a conference for the Spiritual Community I work with; it is in Oaxaca, Mexico. And tomorrow it begins. So too, would my own personal ‘conference’ with the alter ego I call ‘Shadow Trevor’.

A Glorious Locale

Oaxaca is a beautiful Spanish colonial city in southwestern Mexico replete with colourful, streets reminiscent of Europe and more than a dozen medieval churches built in the grand Dominican style – an astonishing combination of European style and vibrant Mexican culture. The area is a treasure of regional crafts, Mesoamerican archeological remains and a spirituality that combines indigenous and the Catholic beliefs, focused significantly around the Lady of Guadeloupe. It is, however, still in Mexico, and fully subject to unexpected bureaucratic complications. The unfolding journey had been challenging but successful, I was ready to complete my two-year mission.

The Stress Builds

Organizing a conference is a full time preoccupation for four days. You are managing all the details – meals, breaks, speakers, and everyone’s personal needs, discomforts and anxieties that they need to bring to your attention. Then in addition, the stream of the unexpected always takes you by surprise. Over the next 24 hours, circumstances began to concentrate, like the flow of magma in a volcano, building up pressure within me.

  • Someone was claiming they had paid for a room at the hotel and they were not on my list.
  • A speaker arrives with the flu and has no idea when he will be well enough to slot into a packed schedule.
  • His absence requires you unexpectedly to take on an additional event that is connected to the conference but not actually part of it.
  • Two speakers give you lists of unexpected demands for their Sunday presentations
  • One of our community members had gone to great effort to organize a permit for a dance (17 steps of Mexican bureaucracy) and due to miscommunication, the time is wrong and it may not fit the agenda.
  • The meeting space has to be completely cleared by 4.00pm to allow the set up for Friday night’s optional event – dinner and performance of Guelegatzer Dancing – which suddenly grabs everyone’s focus, requiring constant attention.
  • There is a desire to schedule an additional event Sunday evening. Sure. Why not.

At this point, unaware of the impending volcano, I am going with the flow, keeping a smile on my face, adapting and solving problems. And then I make a catastrophic error.

 Where it All Goes Terribly Wrong

Prior to the last event I conducted in Assisi, I had a powerful dream that reminded me of the importance of grounding myself and avoiding too much alcohol as a coping mechanism. I should have remembered this on the Friday.

That night, at the dance performance, relaxing after a full-on day, I had a glass of red wine. It tasted so good, it led to another. Then the maître’d approached me to tell me they had used the allotted wine for the evening. “Keep pouring,” I instructed generously, sliding down the slippery slope. By then my decision-making was compromised and instead of the grounding walk my body desperately needed; it was off to the bar for another drink.

The Three Faces of Control

I learned control at an early age. My mother had a baby, a four-year old, a six-year old, a ten-year old son from her first marriage, and two stepchildren aged 14 and 16. How she coped is still beyond my comprehension, but as a consequence I learned independence at a young age. Six-year-old Trevor took charge of his 4-year-old brother and created a world of wonderful adventures.

This has proven a great gift in my life and control and organization has contributed hugely to my success in the business world. But when my veneer of control comes under attack, this vulnerable six year old is exposed and a darker persona emerges to try and keep the walls of the fortress from crumbling. I call him “shadow Trevor”

This persona forfeits the niceness and smiles, focusing purely on getting the job done. He can be abrupt, possible hostile, cannot tolerate dissension and has no time for pleasantries.

If he fails in his quest the result is dire – the six year old is uncovered. The face of the six year old during my business career was explosive anger, erupting like Vesuvius and apologizing later.

My New Six Year Old Face

I have spent twenty years getting more in touch with my emotional body, and on Saturday morning, as I began to feel overwhelmed, I saw for the first time another, more endearing side to my six year old.

Rather than getting angry, I wanted to cry.

I sought out my partner Atum, who carries the responsibility of the teachings at the conference, and told him I needed a quiet word. We went to my room and I broke down and sobbed. The feeling of release, followed by joy, was amazing. I had a sympathetic shoulder to cry on and share some of the load I was carrying; it was a tremendous relief.

It’s a shame this is not an acceptable business strategy. Businessmen would live a little longer.

Reflections on The Journey

As eminent Jungian analyst and author James Hollis suggests, “we all live in haunted houses”, meaning the past will unconsciously influence our current behaviours.

Seeing emotion not as an enemy but a friendly face is a positive new awareness. Noticing that when “shadow Trevor” emerges it is time for some conscious rebalancing and shedding of the load is another important realization.

My resort to alcohol as reflexive anxiety management system was old history repeating itself. I learn slowly, but hopefully become a little more self-aware each time.

So I am choosing to organize one more conference before I lay down the responsibility. It will be Assisi in 2020.

As the Bard said, “Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more”.

 


A Flutter of the Cosmic Cape

December 10, 2017

On Thursday I awoke suddenly to the beating of my heart. It seemed faster than usual. Since the procedure that corrected my atrial fibrillation I have been much more conscious of my heart, I focused, it was still in sinus rhythm then it seemed to miss a beat. I was immediately traumatized; I practically leaped out of bed; the possibility that my atrial fibrillation was coming back deeply disturbed me.

Coping With Denial

At first I did not want to know. I decided to engage in my morning meditation practice hoping it would dissipate by the time I finished. However it still seemed to be beating faster than usual. I made my morning tea, sat for a while with my anxiety then checked my pulse again. It was definitely beating faster than I was used to however it did not have the familiar pattern of the arrhythmia that I had lived with for ten months. My first coping strategy was to suppress what could be happening. I would rather spend the day in denial rather than address the situation. I had an appointment with my cardiologist in less than week; I would try to defer worrying until then.

A Tinge of Relief

I headed to the gym. As I began my 35 minutes on the treadmill, I was apprehensive about what would happen. For ten months the treadmill had not been able to measure my heart beat because of the erratic rhythm. (At the time I had assumed all the machines were broken.) Since my procedure they had worked fine. After fifteen minutes I gingerly placed my hands on the monitors. I practically held my breath waiting the fifteen seconds for the reading. Finally 154 showed up. I gave a sigh of relief and offered up a brief prayer of gratitude. It was not arrhythmia but why was my heart beating less efficiently? It was definitely about ten beats faster than usual. Was I becoming obsessional? Was this something to worry about or was it just within normal range? I knew it wasn’t tachyarrhythmia, the levels would be much higher and it wouldn’t steadily decline.

Slipping into Mindlessness

I did my best to pack my anxiety away and get on with my workout. I was relieved to find it didn’t possess me as I got on with my day. It was only later in the evening that I noticed I had shifted into a state of preoccupation with overlapping mindless activity – Netflix, playing games on my iPad and feeling restless. When this happens it is like a stop sign reminding me I had unresolved anxiety.

Contemplation and Reflection

I decided to spend the last two hours of the day in contemplation and reflection to assess what was going on. I began by putting on some sacred music, then picking up my journal.

I began to unpackage my anxiety. It was not so much about the condition – I had lived with it for ten months; I was fortunate enough to have few side effects. However I certainly did not want to get embroiled in the medical system once again.

The Anxiety Behind the Anxiety

Then I realized what eminent Jungian analyst and author James Hollis describes as the anxiety behind the anxiety. I had undertaken a three-month inner journey as a result of my atrial fibrillation. (See https://wp.me/phAyS-CP) Suddenly I was facing a realization that perhaps my quest for meaning has been nothing but a delusion. Perhaps I had made it up to feel better. This was the real fear – that this inner journey had been for nothing In summary, “I guess feel bummed, and the proponents that life is random win out.”

The Puzzle Unfolds

As I sat reflecting, listening to the beautiful music of Enya, some pieces of my personal puzzle emerged. On Tuesday I had held a dream group. During the evening we drew angel cards and another from a deck called The Nature Speak Oracle by Ted Andrews that had previously offered great insight. On this particular evening I had drawn Courage from the angel cards and Power of Prayer from the nature deck. Neither had seemed particularly relevant then but they certainly did now. Then I recalled a practice I often do when I am suffering from challenges of faith. I review what I refer to as my Soul Journal. It is a collection of meaningful moments on the Soul Journey including something I describe as Moments of Awe and Wonder. It is my “Go To Chest” in times of challenge.

Exploring My Go To Chest

Somewhat synchronistically the previous day I had come across the very first entries when I first started in 2010. As I reviewed I began to capture the list again in my journal.

  • Taking a hiking cane for the first time on the day I broke my ankle, without it I would never have made it off the mountain.
  • Doing a 360 over my handlebars to avoid a small child and finding myself sitting on the ground with no injury as a passerby said “wow that was spectacular”
  • Meeting a woman for the first time in a line up at the library and realizing I had her telephone number in my pocket as someone I wanted to write about.
  • Driving up Mammoth Lakes Road and feeling what I thought was an electric shock. When I stopped I saw a turn-off that I knew I needed to explore and found a couple desperate because they had locked their keys in the car.
  • Having a psychic love affair as a result of which my worldview completely shifted.

In total I recorded eighteen of these moments of awe and wonder. I felt a clarity and calmness. No one contrary incident could cause the experience of years to collapse. My worldview felt affirmed. Perhaps I was supposed to live with atrial fibrillation, if that was my destiny then so be it. I will continue to seek meaning in every experience. It is my way.

Power of Prayer – I Hope

I decided was time to engage in the power of prayer. I have a somewhat dualistic relationship with prayer. I know it works – there are too many amazing stories about prayer. (Check out Larry Dossey’s books on the subject.) But how when and why is all part of what I call the Mystery. Who exactly I am praying to is beyond my comprehension. I don’t believe in praying for specific outcomes for my self. The phrasing of this particular prayer was more a discussion.

“Divine presence within me, I would prefer not to have my atrial fibrillation return but I am willing to accept whatever is for my highest good. In which case I pray for the gift of acceptance and surrender. Maybe it will come back, maybe it won’t, help me to surrender”

An Amazing Shift

I noticed how much better I was feeling. I found a new poem to learn and wrote it out, I did a gratitude meditation and focused on the transmission of positive energy to others. I realized how much better it was to spend my time in this manner as opposed to the mindless television and games playing.

The next morning I felt different. After my meditation I checked my pulse – the gentle, slow beat of my heart had returned. I sat with gratitude in my heart and wondered what I may have been missing.

A Flutter of the Cosmic Cape

The words the fluttering of the cosmic cape came into head. Like the matador fluttering his cape at the bull, perhaps the cosmos had been trying to get my intention.  As I contemplated this possibility, it occurred to me I had lost my way in terms of two practices that used to be a key component of my day. On the day of my episode I had spoken to a friend in Ontario who shared with me her morning practice of music, journaling and contemplation. As she spoke I remembered that used to be my practice before I got an iPad. Then the ability to check e-mail created so many distractions that contemplative practice vanished. Also my evening gratitude practice had also become truncated and squeezed in between TV watching and bed.

Finding My Way

It is time to disengage and set a different focus. My day would begin with meditation; continue with music, journaling and contemplation. At ten in the evening, I would put away my devices and focus on my inner journey. I would try and spend from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. without devices.

Post Script: Missing The Clues

It was only as this particular episode completed that I realized that the flutter of the cape was perhaps the end of a series of hints and clues my Soul had been sending me. (I sense the fluttering of the cape is one step ahead of the cosmic 2 x 4.)

First I burned myself on a hot dish, then I damaged my ribs helping my friend load his truck, spilt a bag of almonds and lost a toque that I was fond of. Then there were two dreams: one with Woody Allen and the other featuring Donald Trump reminding me that if I follow that which is mindless, shallow and inauthentic I will lose out. All small things but certainly suggesting my life had lost its flow. (See my dreamclarity blog for more on the dreams

James Hollis suggests in his book “What Matters Most” that the psyche asks of us what sustains the Soul and what sustains the Spirit and if we do not answer these consciously they will go underground and show up as somatic disorders, behavioral disorders and projections. I sense my Soul was asking the question but I was asleep.

 

 

 

 


The Souls Journey – How to learn to Say Yes

August 9, 2017

Yes:No - Lorne

My recent blog on “How to Learn to Say No” triggered an unexpected self-awareness. I needed to learn how to say “Yes”. My default response when asked to do something was often “No”. This was intriguing. While I was exploring the mechanisms that caused someone to react with a ‘Yes”, I realized I had the opposite inclination. So what gives?

I realized my initial response would always take care of my own needs and feelings first. In fact I would not naturally consider the impact my response may have on another. For example recently I planned a visit to idyllic Cortes Island where I am fortunate enough to have a second home. One of the gifts of visiting is I get a chance to hang out with a dear friend of many years. One of our shared interests is soccer and when he knew of my intention to come he suggested we watch the Confederation Cup Final together. As my interest in the sport wanes in the warmer weather, I abruptly dismissed the idea. It was not until I began this inquiry that I began a process of reconsidering my reaction. Suddenly I began to see that that this was not about soccer but friendship. It never entered my head that he may have extended the invitation because he wanted to see me. At no time had I considered the feelings that may have been behind the invite.

So why, when faced with choice, is my automatic response more likely to be no, and what can I do to become more conscious in my decision as opposed to reactive? Once again I suspected this is a pattern created in childhood by a coping mechanism. However while I find the situation that is likely to create the reaction of “Yes” easy to comprehend, I could not immediately see what circumstances may lead to the opposite result.

Those who can only say yes are likely influenced by demanding or narcissistic parents where yes is rewarded whereas no could result in a withdrawal of affection and the like. So under what circumstances could “No” become the answer that gets rewarded and affirmed.

I sense the key must lie in my early dependence as a child. At the age of six my mother had a baby girl; my younger brother was only four and she had three older children to care for as well. As a result I became extremely independent.

As a therapist suggested later my needs weren’t being met yet my self-sufficiency as such resulted in this not being a problem. My universe became that containing me and my younger sibling. We create a world that was autonomous of the world around us. Under those circumstances it seems reasonable that self-preservation of this entity became the coping mechanism and a natural consequence of that was to reject things that interfered. In this way saying no, unless it clearly served the primary scenario would emerge as a natural result. Thus my automatic response to anything that does not immediately resonate with serving myself is “No”.

So how to change? Well the first step in this as in any other healing journey is awareness. By becoming aware I can begin to notice when the default response is about to manifest. The second step is to play for time – can I let you know later? The third step is consideration of the other – how will they feel if I say no? Is there a higher good to be addressed? How would I feel if I said yes? Finally there is the conscious response which may be either yes or no but it will be a considered response as opposed to a reactive one.

Recently I had scheduled an evening with a small Spiritual Guidance group that I facilitate. When the number dropped to only two people attending I decided it was not worth the time and energy. However both of the remaining people seemed quite upset. They asked if I would meet with them anyway. I noticed my immediate inclination was to say no but I took some time rather than reacting. I realized that perhaps there was a higher good that took precedence over my feelings so I reinstituted the meeting. It was a wonderful rewarding evening that I am so glad I did not miss. As the Hindu proverb says, “you take one step toward God and God comes running towards you.”

 


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 – Coping with Trauma and Overwhelment.

November 23, 2016

There were two major events in my life recently. First Donald Trump was elected to the presidency and secondly Leonard Cohen died. Both affected me deeply but only today did I begin to see an evident connection.

Leonard Cohen’s passing was not announced until Thursday evening after the election. One of my first reactions was to buy his last recording “If you want it darker”.

It was later announced that he had died on the Monday preceding the election. It seemed an interesting coincidence that the man who wrote these words, “And now the wheels of heaven stop, you feel the devil’s riding crop, get ready for the future: it is murder” over twenty-years ago, should never breathe a single breath on the same planet as President elect Trump.

Listening to his latest work the words, “But it’s written in the scriptures
and it’s not some idle claim,
 you want it darker 
we kill the flame” resonated in a new way. Perhaps he was the flame. Is it beyond belief that either consciously or unconsciously he made the decision to leave us because of the bleakness of the future he saw ahead?

There are other words that seem overt reminders of Trump’s pre-election statements on the second amendment: “They were middle-class and tame 
I didn’t know I had permission to murder and to maim.”

So perhaps Leonard Cohen’s coping mechanism with this trauma was to “shuffle off this mortal coil”.

I began to review the many different coping mechanisms that friends of mine had manifested to the news of the election result.

Some became motivated to become more active – to join like-minded groups and support change in positive arenas such as the environment, poverty and racial tensions.

Others became obsessed to understand how such a regressive step could occur. They focused on how this could possible happen, questioning all the data particularly “how could 53% of while women vote for a man who admitted to sexual assault.

There were those who just wanted to make it all part of a divine plan. They kept texting Cohen’s words “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” A CRACK!!! I felt like screaming, “This isn’t a crack it’s a f***ing canyon!”

There are also those who preach forgiveness and understanding for those who have inflicted Trump on us. We need to understand how they had been ignored and left behind and this was just a reaction. Although I believe in forgiveness, I struggle with understanding. These were ignorant ill-informed people, who believed the lies and who have created the most powerful man in the world out of someone who has the emotional and psychological development of a six year old. Don’t take my word for it, listen to this amazing, scary podcast by Jeff Salzman https://www.integrallife.com/daily-evolver/trump-terrible-integral-look-boy-who-would-be-king

My response had been avoidance. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I won’t listen to news about the transition. I behave like an ostrich, I want to bury my head in the sand for four plus years. (An even more classic case of avoidance is someone I know who has created a fantasy that it did not happen and Obama is staying for eight more years.)

I began to be curious about how our initial coping with this trauma would reflect on our personal psychology. Frequently our initial and most powerful responses to major trauma are a function of old coping mechanisms developed in childhood.

I could see my own reaction clearly as an old pattern. When I finally gave up on combat with my authoritarian father, I would hide myself away. In face of the overwhelming other I just would not show up. Eminent Jungian analyst and author James Hollis does a remarkable job of summarizing our responses as a child to the powerful other:

1) Stay out of harm’s way – avoidance. We can do this by distancing, suppression, repression (unconscious), projection on to others, distraction, numbing and drugging, and disassociation.

2) The birth of the power complex – we move in and attempt to take control. Education is a benign form.

3) Compliance – give them what they want. Produces dependency on state, religion, and results in giving away authority.

How interesting. Perhaps it is another victory for Donald Trump that he has overwhelmed us into child states.

It is a great reminder to always reconsider the first reaction and allow the adult self a say. Sometimes gifts come in strange packages!

And on the subject of gifts, here are the words of Leonard Cohen’s last gift to us all

If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame
Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker
Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord
There’s a lover in the story
But the story’s still the same
There’s a lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it’s written in the scriptures
And it’s not some idle claim
You want it darker
We kill the flame
They’re lining up the prisoners
And the guards are taking aim
I struggled with some demons
They were middle class and tame
I didn’t know I had permission to murder and to maim
You want