The more work I do on myself, the more I realise how little I really know and the more I also realise that no one thing or person or event can create a Big Shift That Is Going to Change Everything.
While deep spiritual and personal development work will dislodge some of the ‘stuck things’, any grand epiphany discovered in a moment of deep truth and vulnerability must then be conditioned by consciously choosing to ‘act out’ the change we seek. Hmmmm. That’s a bit yuck. It’s one thing to become aware of a previously elusive “little critter” (self-truth) that had been hanging out in the shadows of our psyche, its quite another to wheedle it out of the darkness and remain in the light (I’m reminded of the scene in ‘E.T’ when Elliott stays up all night offering smatterings of Skittles to coax E.T out of the shed and up the stairs unto his bedroom. Remember that?) Doing so takes the same amount of willingness, discipline and perseverance as getting endurance fit. It’s a choice we must make again and again and again, with grit and grace, day in and day out, until eventually the choice becomes embedded into us and is no longer something we choose but something we are.
I just spent the weekend on a 2.5 day one-on-one personal immersion retreat with my mentor, coach and counsellor who has known me for the past 6 years, and already knew where most of my hidden closets were long before going into this ‘retreat’. It was such a humbling experience – spending 54 hours immersed with my mentor, who was willing to do whatever it took to shine the light on the darkest recesses of my spirit in order to free my soul and reconnect me to my Core, the place where eternal freedom resides. I arrived early Friday and by Sunday evening I was lying face down in the grass, asking Mother Earth for help as much as I was committing to serve her – to serve Humanity – by practicing daily kindness, compassion, acceptance love and gratitude. And to continue to reach for and stand in my place of Truth – whatever the ‘ouch’ factor.
The funny thing about these retreats is that you leave feeling blissfully zen and like you’ve Got It All Figured Out and then BAM! you get tested within a milli-second of leaving the sanctuary bubble and realise your previous neuro-conditioning is still very much at play and it’s going to take some practice, discipline and pig-headed determination to condition the new neural pathway.
If you were to ask someone to describe me, they would tell you I’m FUN, interesting, enthusiastic, outgoing, personable, passionate and vivacious. The flipside of this – the shadow – is a flair for drama, which has played out in various ways throughout my life and which, after this weekend, I now realise has been a primary cause of tremendous personal pain. I got hooked into a story that served me by fulfilling my needs for certainty, significance, variety and even connection – I connected to other people by sharing my story with others (much as I am doing here now) but in a way that disempowered me, as the victim.
By the end of the weekend, I made a commitment to consciously disengage from any more ‘drama’. Moreover, I was so raw, humbled and tender that I believed I had not only shifted but dissolved any vibration that had been attracting ‘drama’ in the first place. Wrong. Within 12 hours of leaving the retreat, I was tested – three times – and I witnessed my ‘former self’ on auto-pilot before the new ‘Drama-Free’ version of me even realised what was happening, let alone intervened. It was interesting to witness the internal tussle between the old neural pathways and the new. The old self is still so much stronger than the new self. It would have been far easier to return to the old way I would have responded to these events. Instead, I had to ask myself “How would ‘drama-free’ respond to this right now?” And then when I had the answer, the two internal selves had a bit of an arm wrestle to duke it out. Drama-Free prevailed on 2 of the 3 tests and Old Self took the last round.
I went into the retreat thinking I was going for one reason. At the end, I realised that one reason was a mere fraction of the equation. I left thinking “I came, I saw, I conquered” and within 12 hours was knee-capped, realising there is no “conquering” – just catching a glimpse of a precious truth, like having a firefly alight on your hand for a sweet, finite moment, and then drawing it into the light through humble invitation, patience and perseverance.
Its only been a day since I left, and I’ve already stumbled and scraped my knees half a dozen times. Oh, to be a master of this funny thing … this journey of life … or even to have a Crystal Ball. I am neither a master nor a fortune teller. I only have my convictions and they are now clearer than ever:
1) that Love is the Most Important and Powerful Thing On Earth – to give love but also to be fully open to receiving love.
2) that it is Better to be Kind than to be Right – ultimately, there is no separation so when we have discord with another you are also having discord with ourselves.
3) it is OKAY to let ourself be seen, warts and all. The people that are meant to be in our life will “see” us – in our raw, genuine authenticity, vulnerability and open heart – and not bail on us when a blip appears on the radar. It feels absolutely AMAZING to be seen in all our ‘nakedness’, and still be loved. Wow, what a profoundly humbling gift and blessing.
4) that whenever we are feeling lost, alone or unsure, we only need to ask for guidance and it is there. Go outside, sit with nature, feel into the stillness, be patient, breathe fresh air, absorb the sun or bask under the night sky … and TRUST that WE are being looked after in ways we cannot even imagine.
5) that we are ALL worthy and that whatever we are feeling, no matter how dark or how light, is mirrored in the people, places or situations we are coming into contact with. Everything and everyone we encounter offers us insight into ourselves.
6) that we are all solely and completely responsible for ourselves – our thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours. Another being is no more capable of “making” us happy, sad, angry, frustrated, confused, hurt or joyful than the sun is capable of making the moon dark or bright. EVERY experience we have is a projection from within.
7) We truly MUST be the change we want to see in the world (Gandhi) and “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” (Margaret Mead).
Big Big Aloha Love to Us All.