Consciousness and Healing

Coming to understand the interconnection between healing and consciousness takes some time…and some consciousness, too.

All that we knew to be true no longer holds. Our old ways of being, thinking and operating are no longer productive, nor desirable. We come to realize that our pain; be it physical, emotional, or psychological, is simply a manifestation of our disconnection from our essence, our essential nature, and our Source.

The path of healing requires surrendering, not just once, but an infinite number of times. It requires our humble submission to a life unlike the one we “thought” we were supposed to have, yet one that feels oddly familiar and rich, too.

In 2007, when I first began writing and producing books to promote health “from the inside-out”, I was not entirely sure why I felt so called to do this, only that I had to.  The word “consciousness” was not even in my vocabulary at the time….nor soulwork…nor biofield…nor grace.

All healing journeys, whether someone is dealing with cancer, endometriosis, cystic fibrosis, mental illness, or divorce, have a common “treatment” and that is the elevation of the person’s consciousness.  Without this, treatment is incomplete.

Very few medical doctors today can help you with this. It is something we have to learn to do for ourselves, breath by breath.

When you’re fully ready to receive the experience your soul is guiding, there is a calm and clarity that pervades your entire life.  Follow this. Embrace this. Accept the invitation and trust that all will be well, not in the ways you “think”, but in the ways that are sustainable and real.

How conscious do you want to be?

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” – Carl Jung

Coming to consciousness, which is our ability to see without distortion, requires that we temporarily turn our attention away from a few trusted anchors, namely, our own thoughts and emotions.

While coming to know and understand the nature of our minds demands our full attention and awareness, if we don’t move past it, we remain stuck in our own thoughts, or worse, come to believe them as truth.

Same goes for feelings and emotions. We can become so certain that because we “feel” something, we must act upon it.  Yet, without understanding the wisdom behind the emotion, we lack clarity– which inevitably leads us back to “enlightened wisdom” because of the pain and or suffering we cause ourselves through sheer ignorance.

Everything we do and don’t do serves the greater good. If we embrace the notion that everything that is happening is actually enlightened wisdom, and can hold this paradox in our hearts, our desire to judge ourselves or anyone, simply melts away.

So, is there a “right way” to expand our consciousness. No. All ways are the way. Even as I crafted this graphic, I realized the futility of creating something semi-linear and “staged”…..however, as our minds do like to try to make sense of these things, I’ve outlined what I see as the evolutionary path of consciousness (our ability to see the world without distortion), and the various stops along the way.

As always, this work of mine has a simple goal; to help reduce human suffering by facilitating human flourishing. If we don’t know where to look, we can’t see it, and therefore, we can’t create the conditions that promote health, well-being, creativity, and true-productivity.

 

The People Who Grind Us and the People Who Shine Us

I’ve been contemplating this for a little while– specifically, the people who have, whether intentionally or unintentionally “grinded” me; meaning that they caused me to reassess, re-think, and re-evaluate, whether personally or professionally, some aspect of my life.

The “grinders” are not easy people. They’re not supposed to be. Their sole (soul) purpose is to show you where you have work to do because you have not fully integrated your own trueness. That’s it.

Getting into any kind of ego battle with a grinder is not only ridiculous, it is wasteful of your energy and creativity.   “Grinders” are learning too by the way,  and you, in fact, are a “grinder” to them/for them! (in Buddhist teachings, the “grinder” is only yourself– there is no “other”).

Ultimately, the “grinders” are a gift because they represent the fullest vision and version of something you yourself find intolerable, and in doing so, provide an incredible opportunity to  consciously change.

And the “shiners”?……they are represented in everyone and everything, actually. Anyone who makes you shine, lights you up, awakens some aspect of yourself, is a shiner– and that includes the grinders……especially the grinders! 

Vocational Arousal

This provocative term, vocational arousal, came by way of the joyful and visionary Barbara Marx Hubbard. She, in conversation with Steve Farrell, were discussing the obvious (and necessary) shift in our collective consciousness, and what this means for humans as we now them…us.

Vocational arousal describes an internal yearning or calling to our highest work; to our specific “duty” while on Earth.  While this “calling” used to be experienced by the few, specifically those in spiritual vocations, artists, healers, nurses, physicians, and teachers in particular, this arousal is being expressed, en masse, by more and more people on the planet.

In my own work, I use the term soul-work to describe this calling–this yearning deep within each of us that is often at odds with the duties and responsibilities of one’s person-hood….or so we think.

To this end, several of my colleagues at Soul Publishing Group and I are sharing our own stories of vocational arousal. These narratives, many of them decades in their unfolding, describe the journey of shifting from conventional thinking, to one of a higher consciousness and state of being. Many describe the sheer panic, the struggle, the ridicule, the second-guessing that accompanies any journey that is guided by the soul, our higher-calling.  The courage and grit of these stories are a true testament to the power of the human spirit.

To be true to who you are is the single greatest gift you can share with others. Then, when we unite with others who are similarly inclined, the synergy and creativity that unfolds is beyond what any one single individual could ever do, or even imagine.  Of course, we can “sense” these things– deep within, but our human minds are actually limited when it comes to fully grasping the magnitude and effects of the consciousness of connection and what this means for life and work as we know it today.

What is calling you? What is your soul-work?

Vigil

When I was 8 years old, my grandmother took me to a vigil.  To this day, this event remains one of the most powerful and sacred of my childhood.

The vigil I attended, a death vigil,  took place at night– in someone’s home. The main living area, where the body lay rest, was illumined by simple candlelight.

Most of the women, dressed in gray and black, sat side by side; some praying as they held tightly to their rosaries, some simply wept, some were singing sweet, gentle songs.  In their faces, I could see their stories; of sadness, of grief, of acceptance, of love.

This week, as several friends and I maintain vigil over a beloved friend, I realize the magnitude of love necessary for holding space like this. To keep a vigil requires that we remain awake, watchful, prayerful.

How many of us have the desire, mindset, discipline, humbleness to be as comfortable with death as we are with life?

Death is, in fact, the ultimate “shadow”; that part of our lives we dare not look at, speak of, nor accept. However, in the absence of its embrace, we cannot fully embody our own humanity.

For me, keeping a vigil for the dying, and keeping a vigil for the living, are one of the same.  We need not wait to become “awake, watchful, and prayerful.” We need not wait to make sacred each dawn of our precious lives.

Adapting

Adaptation is a bit of a paradox.

While it is wise to adapt, it also feels like we’re surrendering, or somehow “giving up”.

Yes. It is both, and.

It is only in surrendering (our ego) that we allow the grace of life to enter our being.  To surrender to life, however, is no easy task.

In our Workbook of Human Superpowers we define adaptability this way: openness to changing conditions

Adaptability, then, is not necessarily something we do, but is more of an orientation, and openness, to whatever comes our way. If we desire happiness and personal peace, it is our task to adapt; constantly.

Control is the opposite, of course. However, control is something we all must do and try– until we learn, for ourselves, the futility of our effort.

Life is a constant flow of favorable and unfavorable events and circumstances. If we can be mindful (aware) of this, it becomes easier (slightly) to “go with the flow” and to adapt to what life is asking of us.

The Anatomy of Suffering

Ever since childhood, I’ve wanted to understand why there is suffering in the world; specifically, why we create it. This curiosity has led me on numerous intellectual, spiritual, and practical explorations, which I am still uncovering.

As a young girl, I was fascinated by the stories of my aunts and uncles– the stories of their trials and triumphs…of death and life regained. One of my favorite aunts used to say, when asked how she was doing, “ahi, en la lucha”….literally, in a battle, and this always confounded me.

Was life really a battle? Or just her life? Did all the grown-ups around me feel this way, too? How can life be such a “battle”, when it is filled with such beauty and abundance?

Yes. Life can be a battle. Life can be brutal. It is brutal. The opposite is also true.

After 52 years of life on Earth, and struggling with PTSD for the better part of 30 of them, I understand the anatomy of suffering and why life can feel like a battle. I also understand that the great equalizer of suffering is consciousness; our ability to awaken the mind and see beyond our circumstances.

It seems to me my daughters came better prepared for life on Earth. Perhaps they’ve benefited from generations of brave men and women who forged their own paths in search of a “better life”. Perhaps their video games, filled with countless “realities”, have equipped them with an upgraded mind; one that is less hampered by the negativity bias, false ideas about the way life works or is, or the way things used to be.

Reality is truly in the eye of the beholder. If you believe life is a battle, a competition of sorts, this is your reality. However, if you believe that life is actually heaven on Earth, your choices and responses will be much different. Much like Viktor Frankl reminds us in Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Your attitude towards the inherent suffering of life can either enslave you, or liberate you. Everything in your life at this moment; your home, your partner, your friends, your work are ALL expressions of your attitude toward life. Are you free?

Transcending our conditions

What conditions, if any, do you wish you could transcend?

There are countless methods, tools, and practices for moving beyond our current conditions, whether physical, psychological, or emotional in nature. But perhaps the most powerful practice is gratitude. Gratitude is a practice of personal peace.

In the midst of chronic illness and suffering, it is not uncommon to experience severe negative emotions and thoughts.  Unattended suffering leads to personal and inter-personal aggression and violence. We know this. We can’t just ignore our suffering. I’ve learned time and time again that gratitude neutralizes my suffering in such a way that it simply and effortlessly transmutes it, and therefore my understanding of whatever “condition” is elevated.

In my years of practicing gratitude, I’ve noticed the humbling effect it has had on me and those around me. I call this humbling effect grace, or the aha moment. Inevitably, grace enables transcendence and therefore our desire to yield, not because we have given up, but because we can see from a higher ground.  We actually become defenseless because we fully understand that there is nothing to defend or fight. If you are fighting something or someone, it is because you do not understand it, or yourself; it is because you are suffering.

To move beyond painful conditions is a challenge faced by each of us. While it’s common to seek solutions “out there”,  the solutions are actually “in here”; they are solely with you. What’s always out there, is the support, compassion, and love from fellow humans who have connected these dots.

Why do you do what you do?

I grew up around talk radio and still love it. One of my favorite radio personalities is Terry Gross, who hosts Fresh Air. What I find most fascinating about her show is not so much who she interviews, but the questions she asks. Like a skilled investigator, she shortcuts through the obvious in search of the most interesting, personal, and deepest truth. I have often paused just to marvel at her questions and in doing so, contemplate my own.

In my own line of work, learning to ask better questions has yielded considerable insights. A few years ago (well, more like 18), I too contemplated this question: “why do I do what I do?” and this came during one of the highest points in my corporate career. In an essay titled Enterprises of Meaning, (2013), I shared the following:

Vowing never to do anything of artificial importance again, I left corporate America in 1998.  Some called this departure “bold” and “inspiring”; most called it “stupid” and “misguided”. I was 4 months pregnant with my first daughter and decided to trade-in the security of a lovely salary and stellar benefits, for education and a more meaningful existence.  That Fall, my friend Julie and I enrolled in a graduate degree program at a nearby University – both of us fueled by a deep desire to not only learn more about the world around us, but about ourselves.  And we did. And we are still learning.

So here I sit, 18 years later, asking myself the same question; why do I do what I do?, and of course, the answer is both infinitely simple and complex.

The poet Mary Oliver, when asked about why she writes, stated that when a poem comes to her it is like an energy so powerful that she must stop everything else and simply write it down–or it will be gone.  It is something she cannot help but do. Many writers and artists know this feeling. Inspiration is not a “thought”; it is an energy that visits us, in order to manifest itself in physical form.

When inspiration comes knocking on your life door, you have a choice; follow it or ignore it. Either route is imbued with great peril and potential terror. Either path will yield data for the heart. However, only one path will be representative of your fullest, most authentic humanity, and result in personal peace and true wealth.

In the years since leaving corporate America, I have come across many others who have heeded the call to follow their soul’s call. Many of them are “here” with me, as we support, co-create, and grapple with duality! One thing we all share in common is the deep understanding that comes from “the fall”; the necessary softening, integration, and utilization of the ego, in the service of something greater than ourselves.

If you’re at a life cross-road…if you’re struggling or suffering…if you’re ready to ask yourself the deeper questions, there is support available. To this end, here are a few questions from our Soulful Inquiries™ to help get you started:

– What one thing can I do today to be more peaceful in my life?
– What level of consciousness do I wish to embody?
– Is my life in alignment with my soul?

Where the Light Enters You

Profoundly changed I am, and yet, relatively the same I am, too. To the million and one things that conspired to bring me here today, I say “thank you.”

This famous quote by Rumi, a favorite of mine, has danced in my heart for several decades. It is paradoxical, of course, that a wound would be the method by which light and grace transmutes us. Perhaps it isn’t as much the pain, as it is the sheer force of love that cracks us finally open, to reveal the truth that has always been.

Cracked-open, like a flower in full bloom (or like a nut!), take your pick.  It is a journey, this life of ours. Each step on our path a validation of the application of will, of you choosing love and loyalty to your soul above all else.

To view life from a clear and new perspective has its advantages. It also enables the natural separation from forces that no longer serve your soul, which opens up the space, (infinite space!), to create a conscious day.