The Soul’s Journey – Exploring the Power of Belief

June 8, 2019

WC Fields“Everybody’s got to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.”

W.C Fields

For much of the eighties I suspect that this quote by W.C Fields summarized my worldview. The beauty of this belief is that as long as you were upright there was the possibility of it coming true. Recently I have become fascinated by the power of a belief to influence external circumstances. There are so many stories of miracles, manifestation, positive life change, and mystical experiences that it raised the question of how and why so many different beliefs appear to have power.

The Power of My Parent’s Belief

My parents truly believed that God would provide. Their belief came from scripture. In Philippians 4:19 it states “And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” They believed this and there was always just enough even if it took a miracle to accomplish it. On one occasion I heard them discussing the fact that they could not meet the mortgage payment on our house in a lovely part of London and unless God showed up with some solution we would be forced to move. The next day an envelope containing a significant amount of currency arrived with a note to my father saying, “God asked me to send you this.”

Is The Proof In The Pudding?

These types of miracles were not uncommon in Christian circles and of course were presented as evidence of their one true God. However one thing I have learned about belief is that you can’t manufacture it and once it has evaporated it has no power for you any more. I recall more than once my mother saying to me, “you have got to have faith and my response “mum you can’t ‘got to’ with faith”.

More Miracles?

In the early nineties I began to let go of my atheism to embrace a concept of the new age called manifestation. The basic premise is to set a clear intention then bring positive reflection and visualization on the outcome and the inherent power of the universe will eventually work. This was best marketed in a book and video package titled The Secret that presented miracles just like the Bible. And despite eminent critics like author and depth psychologist James Hollis crying, ‘hogwash”, it works – at least for a time to people who truly believed it. Even yesterday a friend of mine was describing utilizing just such a technique to achieve a breakthrough in their career.

Back to Christianity

In the late nineties I came full circle and embraced Christianity in what was called “the new thought” form at the Unity Church. It had a much nicer, mother/father God and no crazy notions about salvation through blood. Everything in scripture was to be explored as mythic guidelines for living. At the centre was a core belief that if you were in right relationship with God then all good things would be yours. Financial success, relationship and health were easily attained however if you fell short then each of these would suffer. So if someone got sick, you could heal yourself as long as you were good with God. (I realize now it was basically The Secret with an added sense of responsibility and guilt.) At the time my belief had its own power in the manifest world. I have a record of a number of occasions where I appeared to defy science through instantaneous healings. It served me well until one day it no longer made sense and as Hollis mentions, “When the energy leaves the symbol all you have left is a dry husk.”

The Esoteric Exploration

In the year 2001 I began a much more esoteric exploration that embraced many of the wisdom traditions – Sufism, Buddhism, Jewish Mysticism and Christian Mysticism. At the mystic level beliefs are not so much about getting things but more about how to live. Loving kindness, compassion, mindfulness, equanimity, sympathetic joy for others became measures of one’s life. I was also introduced to depth psychology and Carl Jung. I learned that true change required me to understand myself at a deeper level and that spirituality was no longer enough. The path to true change was through psychology and understanding the unconscious. The quest for things was replaced by the desire for meaning.

Embracing The Mystery

Why is belief so powerful no matter what you believe in? It is truly a mystery although I sense it is part of the journey toward change and personal growth. Perhaps we need something to believe in to coax us along the yellow brick road. Once the belief loses its power for us we can never go back we have to go forward or stay stuck. My current belief too has its own power to manifest through dreams, complexes, signs and synchronicities all connected to my belief in the power of the unconscious.

At times like this I go back to the Sufi poet Rumi as my exponent of the mystery.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to Sleep

Rumi – exquisitely interpretated by Coleman Barks

 

 

 

 

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A Soul’s Journey – From Clarity to Confusion

April 17, 2019

Either this deep desire of mine will be found on this journey
or when I get home
It may be that the satisfaction I need
Depends on my going away, so that when I have gone
And come back I will find it at home.
I will search for the Friend with all of my passion
And all my energy until I learn
that I don’t need to search.
The real truth of existence is sealed,
until after too many twists of the road.
The seeker says,
“If I had known the real way it was,
I would have stopped looking around”
But that way of knowing depends
on the time spent looking.

Extract from Baghdad Dreaming by Rumi

Living An Examined Life

This morning I began to read for must be the fourth or fifth time Living An Examined Life by eminent Jungian analyst James Hollis. It is a profound book of guidance for the soul journey and I found myself thinking, “This is the only book I really ever needed” then laughed out loud as I recalled Rumi’s poem above.

My bookshelves are full to overflowing with different theological, and philosophical perspectives of life. Today some of them seem downright crazy and it amuses me that they captured my attention so intensely at different moments on the journey. Some I still love but many reflect a very different station of my life. From belief in the occult and bizarre new age extra terrestrials to the tomes on new thought and how we could have everything we wanted just by setting intention.

Each of these stations of my life had its own power then at a certain point I needed to move on. As James Hollis suggests in his book Hauntings, “There are only answers that make sense to you in this moment in your life and they will fail you tomorrow. What is seemingly true to day will be outgrown when life or our Soul brings us a larger frame through which to view them.

A Trip Through Time

My library is like a time machine. From the New Testament, the last gift my father gave me, to Living An Examined Life, the books journey through evangelical Christianity, to new age craziness, to the power of intention, new thought consciousness to an eclectic combination of Christian mysticism, Jewish mysticism, Sufism, and Buddhism. Then the sad realization that despite all my Soul study and reflection I could still relapse into the same reactive, inconsiderate, impatient SOB I had always been. So my library then became crowded with books on psychology and all of James Hollis’s eighteen books as I realized the journey of the Soul necessitated not only Spiritual but psychological exploration.

Certainty Evaporates Like A Mist Over The Ocean

Now after twenty-five years certainty has vanished; I stand in awe at this unfathomable mystery of which we are all part. As C.G. Jung observed, “No-one can know what the ultimate things are. We must take them as we experience them and if such experience helps make life healthier, more beautiful, more complete and more satisfactory to yourself and those you love you may safely say, “this was the grace of God”. or more simply expressed by Sufi mystic Rubia of Basra, “No-one knows anything about God and those who say they do are just troublemakers.”

Many years ago I wrote a small book to help people through tough decisions, it was titled “From Confusion to Clarity in Four Simple Steps”.* I think my next book may be “From Clarity to Confusion – A Soul’s Journey”

* www.decisionclarity.com

 


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 Levitt 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 Levitt

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


The Soul’s Journey – Reflections on God

April 18, 2018

This morning I finished reading an article in Presence Magazine (The journal of Spiritual Directors International) on pilgrimage and spiritual direction by Valerie Brown. In closing she writes, “for spiritual directors there is one central question ‘where is God?’

I realized that answering that question will be influenced by the personal lens I adopt which creates my perspective of God.

I grew up in household dedicated to evangelical Baptist beliefs that offered salvation through blood or a trip to hell. I was a true believer until about 14 years old when I was given an essay to write titled, “Why God is a good God and not a comic sadist” Somewhat courageously I changed the title to “Why God is a comic sadist and not a good God.” It became my coming out paper and began a period of atheism that lasted 30 plus years.

It was after I turned forty that I realized my atheism was actually a rejection of my “father’s God” rather than an absolute state of disbelief and I began an inquiry that continues to this day into what God means to me. It has embraced many shifts in concepts and a continual letting go of old certainties. At times I have clung to old views reluctant to move into the unknown. Mystery to me encompasses the vast cosmic energies of the universe that embraces all things and that we are one insignificant aspect.

It seems an irresistible and dangerous desire of human beings to claim they know God. Somehow ignoring the fact that each vision can only be viewed from a very limited perspective – that of our humanity. This suggests a good reason that in certain Jewish teachings God is referred to as the one who can’t be named. Yet vast tracts of humanity cling to the belief that their face of God is the only one and waging war on those who may feel differently.

Frankly I like C.G Jung’s perspective – “God is the name by which I designate all things that crossed my willful path violently and recklessly, all things that upset my subjective views, plans and intentions and change the course of my life for better or for worse.”

This is a reflection on some of the quotes, poems and insights that have shaped the way I see something that could be called God but I prefer to describe as Mystery.

Reflections on God 2


The Soul’s Journey – Living the Examined Life

April 11, 2018

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I woke this morning feeling heavy – a combination of drowsiness, resistance to starting the day and inertia that I often associate with the grey, cloudy, damp, dreary day it appeared to be. I began my morning mindfulness meditation but felt distracted and unfocussed. I would drag the attention back to the breath but noticed it would move to my heartbeat and a heaviness around my heart. I checked for associated signs of a heart attack then brought the attention back to the breath

No Such Thing as a Bad Meditation

After I finished I noticed some judgment that it hadn’t been a “better” meditation. I reminded myself that there is no such thing as a bad meditation and began my day as usual with some tea, sacred music and reflection. I started to journal about how I was feeling. I had some judgment about how little I had accomplished the previous day. In the morning I had tried hard to focus on my list of things to do but had run into a series of obstacles that had frustrated me. It was one of those days when I tried to push through while getting nowhere.

Leaving The Stuck Place

Finally I had taken off for a coffee and a lovely walk around the ocean and Granville Island. It felt good. I recited some of the poems I have learned, sung some chants and enjoyed the beauty. By the time I got home I decided it was time to reengage but to no avail. I felt like reading so I picked up a novel I was reading Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time and in no time got totally engrossed and could not put it down until I had finished. I noticed this strange sensation of guilty pleasure. My afternoon and evening were filled with reading, listening to music, some old Twilight Zones (I love that show), a brief strata meeting and an hour of contemplation before bed. I am trying to learn a poem that begins with the words,

“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 host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing their coloured clothes, caps and bells.

Denise Levertov Primary Wonder

What is Life Supposed to Look Like?

As I write I realize my angst comes from fear I am not living the life I think I should live. My mentor eminent Jungian analyst James Hollis talks about living the examined life in his recent book of the same name. I wonder if I am ignoring my responsibility to my Soul through lethargy and inertia or is this just my old protestant work ethic getting its reminder in. I sit perplexed and write, “What is life supposed to look like at the age of 74?” Yesterday I avoided lots of things I could have been doing. Each morning I affirm that I will be guided where my passion takes me but what if my passion seems to want to read a novel?

A Meaningful Coincidence

In my confusion I recall a moment of fascinating synchronicity that happened the day before. On Sunday I had facilitated a dream workshop. It is I something I truly love to do: it is engaging, rewarding, invigorating and a full day. One of the practices I offer is asking participants to draw a card from a deck I have titled Soul Cards. They are images without explanations. The exercise is to observe what feelings, energy and symbols arise from your projection on the image – it is a gentle introduction to a process that is similar to how I explore dreams. As I was putting the cards away I noticed one that seemed to speak to me; I knew my priority was to continue holding the space for the group so I ignored the impulse to explore it. At the end of the day I was ready for a walk and to relax so I packed everything away without giving the image another thought. However the universe had other plans. On Monday morning as I engaged in a frustrating search for a photo of Assisi, I encountered a photo of the same card taken on January 14th. I have no recollection of taking it but suspect I took it for someone at my dream workshop then. It seemed like a sign to explore.

Taking a Journey Into The Imaginal World

I found the card and began a journey of active imagination with it. What were the symbols – a gentle, curious deer; a solid tree holding up to stormy weather; a feminine figure resting in the security of the tree. The energy is both dynamic yet peaceful, my feelings included a sense of curiosity while feeling strangely reassured.

The Ah-Ha moment.

Of course! The deer was the reminder to bring gentle curiosity to myself when I feel blown about – not judgment. The card reminded me that after an intense day like Sunday I needed to take it easy. The woman reminded me it was about connecting more to the feminine and resting in the embrace of the earth. I had become stuck in the masculine energy of doing things and then getting frustrated by pressing on rather than letting go. After exploring this image I noticed an immediate shift: the heaviness around my heart dissipated, my energy lifted, my judgment of myself diminished and I felt a restored sense of flow. Perhaps this is what living the examined life is all about.

Denis Levertov’s poem finishes like this:

And then once more the mystery is present to me, the throng’s clamour recedes, the mystery that there is anything at all, let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything rather than void: and that.O Lord, Creator Hallowed One, You still hour by hour sustain it.

Thanks so much Denise for your exquisite insight.

 


Poems for SoulClarity 3

November 27, 2017

This is the third in the poems I have learned series. I notice the gap between poems seems to be expanding so only right more.

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem

and hold it up to the light

like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem

and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room

and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski

across the surface of a poem

waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do

is tie the poem to a chair with rope

and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose

to find out what it really means.

I immediately loved this poem by Billy Collins. It gave me a tremendous sense of freedom from trying to find meaning. It reminded me of why as a child I hated poetry class.

Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

This poem by the late Maya Angelou has so many exquisite phrases. I always begin a Spiritual Coaching Session with a guided meditation and a poem. This one will often result in a projection or transference that leads to meaningful dialogue. One client particularly was drawn to phrase “of things unknown but longed for still”. It caused a deep reflection on his longings.

 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.

This is a personal favourite of mine with its remarkable metaphor for the Soul Journey and the sense that dissonance sometimes exist between the inner and outer reality as wel as the sensate and intuitive.

Breath by Kabir (translated by Robert Bly)

Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
not in masses, nor in kirtans, not in legs winding around your
own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me instantly—
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.

Be still, wake up, I say to myself, Stop running around all over the placeAnd look at the eyes gazing at you from the next seat.Today, notice the loving gaze upon you from the next seat.

The wisdom in this poem strikes me deeply every time I recite it. How often am I running around not seeing that which is right in front of me. The depth and richness of the lines “When you really look for me, you will see me instantly—you will find me in the tiniest house of time.” Thanks to Robert Bly for his exquisite rendering particularly the words, “Student, tell me what is God? He is the breath inside the breath.”

The next three poems are represent so clearly where my heart is at the moment. I love to recite them; they resonate at the deepest level of my being. There is so much joy. They all contain a similar message about the full appreciation for these amazing lives we have been gifted. Thank you God for the Persian poets!

 On A Day by Rumi

On a day

when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a day.

My eyes are like the sun that makes promises:
the promise of life
that it always
keeps
each morning.

The living heart gives to us as does that luminous sphere,
both caress the earth with great
tenderness.

There is a breeze that can enter the soul.
This love I know plays a drum. Arms move around me;
who can contain their self before my beauty?

On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open
and the love starts.

Today is such
a day.

This is Now by Rumi

This is now.
Now is, all there is.

Don’t wait for Then.
Strike the spark, light the fire.

Sit at the Beloved’s table.
Feast with gusto, drink your fill.

Then dance
The way branches of jasmine and
cypress dance in a spring wind.

The green earth is your cloth.
Tailor your robe with dignity and grace.

We Have Not Come Here to Take Prisoners by Hafiz

We have not come here to take prisoners
But to surrender ever more deeply
To freedom and joy.

We have not come into this exquisite world
to hold ourselves hostage from love.

Run my dear, From anything
That may not strengthen
Your precious budding wings,
Run like hell, my dear,
From anyone likely to put a sharp knife
Into the sacred, tender vision
Of your beautiful heart.

We have a duty to befriend
Those aspects of obedience of our house
And shout to our reason
“Oh please, oh please
come out and play.”

For we have not come here to take prisoners,
Or to confine our wondrous spirits
But to experience ever and ever more deeply
our divine courage, freedom, and Light!

Yes by William Stafford

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could you know. That’s why we wake
and look out–no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

This last poem became particularly meaningful because it was read in a circle of people many of whom were living with the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis.


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
look
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
even
on this long walk home.