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

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The Soul’s Journey – Reflections on Soul

April 16, 2018

Half a day lost staring out of this window.

I wanted to know just one true thing about the Soul

But I left thinking for thought and two inches of snow have fallen over the meadow.

Where did I go? How long was I out looking for you who would never leave me?

My witness, my here.

 Kate Knapp-Johnson

How is it with your Soul?

This reflection originated after reading an article on the origin of the Methodist movement in the 1700. This was the greeting of original members of what was called the “Holy Club” founded by John Wesley. Methodism was a derisory term used by their critics due to very strict methodology that the Holy Club followed.  John Wesley who was leader of the club turned table on the mockers and adopted the name.

Concepts of Soul

I found a helpful web site BeliefNet that had asked teachers from different faiths their perspectives on Soul and the body. There are common elements around the spiritual nature of Soul but also many differences. Eminent Jungian analyst and author James Hollis talks about psyche the Greek word for Soul as representing inner energies related more to the unconscious than the conscious. Hollis suggests five questions in his book What Matters Most: Do I have a Soul? What does it mean to me? What does it ask of me? What does it mean to show up? Am I willing to engage with it and serve it? I worked with a group and asked them to draw whatever emerged when I asked “How Is It with Your Soul?” No one struggled to form an image and I felt that all images represented something deeper than the ego state.

Personal Concepts of Soul

I think that each of us must answer Hollis’s five questions and determine our own relationship with the idea of Soul. I have found that once we bring conscious attention to Soul, it will meet us in many different ways. My enquiry over the years has led to my reflection below as well as my own personal “ten commandments” to help me fulfill my soul’s desire for expression through me.

Reflections on Soul

My ten commandments

 


The Soul’s Journey – Living the Examined Life

April 11, 2018

IMG_0058

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.

 


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”.

 


The Soul’s Journey – A Sense of Place

January 6, 2018

I am sitting luxuriating in my new morning ritual, the sound of Gregorian Chants whispering through the ether. Those of you read my blog The Flutter of the Cosmic Cape may recall the insight that the acquisition of my Ipad had resulted in a major shift in my early mornings from a quiet contemplative time to a litany of distractions. My new year’s resolution is to banish electronic devices between 10:00 pm and 10:00 am.

I begin with a simple mindfulness practice in bed, bringing attention to the breath and observing thoughts as they arise while trying not to follow them. This is followed by a sitting practice down by the fire focusing on loving kindness, healing prayers, gratitude and setting some intentions.

Then it is time for my morning tea, to play some sacred music, and read something inspirational. This particular morning it is an article in Presence Magazine (the quarterly journal of Spiritual Directors International) about a sense of place. It features the writings of renowned environmental author and poet Wendell Berry. One specific poem stuck out like a flashing neon light.

It was called “How to be a Poet” (to Remind Myself.) It includes the words “Sit Down. Be Quiet”, “Stay away from screens”. It resonated not because I want to be a poet but rather as a description of how I want to start my day.

This led to more gratitude around the amazing space I have created. It is full of sacred objects, rich memories and the energy of the many lovely Souls I have shared it with in meditation, prayer, listening and spiritual reflection.

Next it is time to journal, something I completely shifted away from and before long I realize I have material for a new blog. Not a poem but it would include the beautiful poem of the morning. What a lovely way to start a day. Distractions have been replaced by a sense of peace and harmony and a bonus – I have a new poem to learn – something I had been looking for.

Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

Affection, reading, knowledge,

Skill – more of each

Than you have – inspiration

Work, growing older, patience,

Joins time to eternity. Any readers

Who like your work,

Doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditioned breath

The unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

A three-dimensioned life;

Stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

There are only sacred places

and desecrated places.

Acept what comes from silence.

Make th best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

Out of the silence, like prayers

Prayed back to the one who prays,

Make a poem that does not disturb

The silence from which it came.


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 Soul’s Journey Finding Empowerment With the Medical System

December 7, 2017

Birthday Blues

On Tuesday which happened to be my birthday I awoke at 2:00 a.m. and observed the prospect of more sleep fading like the grin of the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. I set aside my frustration and did my best to engage in my usual insomnia treatment – mindfulness meditation. I soon realized that I was suffering from anxiety about my appointment that morning at the Atrial Fibrillation Clinic. Part of it was fear my A-Fib would return. I did my best to practice a mantra I developed while at a circle at Callonish (a centre that provides emotional and spiritual support for people living with cancer. “It may come back, it may not come back, help me to surrender.”

Then I realized there was a larger anxiety. It concerned telling the cardiologist that I stopped taking my prescribed blood thinner. How did I explain my decision to ignore medical advice? I began taking the blood thinner called Xarelto after my initial diagnosis for two reasons. First it seemed clear there was a much higher risk of stroke from a blood clot if you have A-fib, second they would not do the procedure called cardioversion unless I took it. Cardioversion is a treatment where they shock your heart with an electrical impulse to restore the natural rhythm.

The procedure had worked perfectly for me and almost immediately I observed it felt counter-intuitive to keep taking the drug. My heart was functioning perfectly why did I need it? However my fear of countering medical authority was far greater than trusting my intuition so I carried on.

The Interpreter for the Divine Feminine

Then I woke to a lovely image of Missandei (the beautiful Nathalie Emmanuel) from the Game of Thrones with her arms wrapped around my neck. As I recalled the content, I suspected there was something important encoded by my unconscious into the dream.

The dream had begun with me sitting opposite Missandei and noticing how attracted I was to her. I also realized that I had no idea if my feelings were reciprocated. Then she was standing across from me and performing some kind of mystical enchantment with her hands that was directed at my heart. I knew she was trying to assess whether I was authentic – ‘the real thing”. I felt this glow of warn energy around my heart that expanded until it felt like a blissful golden ball. Then she moved and placed her arms around my neck. I knew she had decided in my favour. I exclaimed, “God I love you but will I get hurt?” Her response was gentle and clear, “I will not hurt you.”

The key to the dream I sensed was figuring out what archetype Missandei represented. I knew she must be an aspect of the divine feminine. It was when I recalled that she was Deanery’s’ interpreter that the meaning began to fall into place.

It was an “ah ha” moment. The interpreter of the divine feminine would be my intuition or inner compass as I have become fond of referring to it. One of the guiding principles of my life today is to follow my inner compass. (It was reclusive poet Emily Dickinson who in a poem observed, “The sailor doesn’t see the north but knows the needle can” that gave rise to the idea of an inner compass.

The Sign That Made The Difference

It was a powerful message to follow my intuition yet I still felt too scared to oppose medical advice. A couple of days later I shared my confusion with my dear friend and dream partner who asked me whether my body gave me any signs on how the drugs were effecting me. I replied that there were few side effects although it was a nuisance no longer being able to take anti-inflammatory products.

That evening to my surprise I glanced down at my left forearm to see a huge discoloured bruise. It was a huge shock! I appeared to be bleeding internally. However it seemed like a clear sign and gave me the courage to immediately stop taking the drug. (A nurse friend of mine told me later that it was probably seepage from the vein that had collapsed when the nurse was inserting an IV. The Xarelto had been doing its job to prevent clotting.)

Now two months later I had an appointment with the cardiologist. I realized I could tell him I was still taking the drug, or offer to start taking it again but both responses seemed inauthentic. As I walked to the clinic I asked for support in finding then words to handle this situation.

It is somewhat ironical to reflect that for many years I had been teaching decision-making at Inspire Health in Vancouver to help people feel more empowered when facing medical authority. I had even written a book titled Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions. Suddenly five years later I am experiencing this challenge in person.

Facing Fear and Staying in Integrity

My appointment went well. The ECG proved my heart was still in sinus rhythm. The nurse asked me about medication and I told her I had stopped. She asked if I knew it was recommended that people of my age stay on the drug to lower risk of stroke and I said “yes”. She did not question my decision. One down, one to go.

The cardiologist had been briefed by the nurse and brought the subject up immediately. He told me that A-Fib could return and the medical recommendation was clear that people of my age and diagnosis were more likely to suffer stroke if they did not take the medication. I told him that I was aware of that. “So why stop the medication?” he asked. The moment of truth had arrived.

The words flowed smoothly and easily like a gentle stream. “It concerns my worldview,” I observed.” Much as I respect the value of western medicine, I believe that healing is much more than just treating the symptom. It is about wholeness and I have done an immense amount of work on exploring what was behind my heart losing its rhythm.” (See https://wp.me/phAyS-CP for more on this) Then I shared with him my fear and apprehension, the power of the dream and the sign of the bleed in my arm that encouraged me to act.

The Joy of Empowerment

He was respectful and empathetic. He said they could work with me in the future if required and perhaps if there were a reoccurrence of my condition I could consider taking the drug again. I responded affirmatively saying I had kept my supply. He discharged me from the care of the clinic and we shook hands. I walked out into the sunshine feeling joyful and empowered. It felt like a wonderful birthday gift.