Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Journey Within

If you call forth what is in you it will save you.
If you do not call forth what is in you,
it will destroy you.

~ Gospel of Saint Thomas

An acquaintance of mine, Irene Bilton of White Rose Wellness, recently posted the above passage on her FaceBook Page. Although I am not new to this quote (I pinned it up on my desk wall many years ago), the timing of her post was perfect. Not only did it relate so well to how I am feeling these days but it is the subject I have wanted to write about for the last few weeks. Kind of nice to get a boost, or opening sentence, from an unexpected source.

Just under two years ago I started a morning routine. Every day, just at waking, I ask the parts of myself—aspects of my personality—that I am not in full relationship with to come home. The words have varied over these many months but the intention remains the same: I want to become more aware and more accepting of who I am… all of who I am and not just the more tolerable aspects of me. And I am sure you know the parts of self I am talking about: the ones that embarrass, irritate and even humiliate us. Yeah, those ones.

The thing is these parts that seem to shame us are aspects of our self that we don’t really know or quite understand. They are like work friends, the kind we share a third of our life but probably would never take home to dinner. These parts create uncomfortable feelings within us because they tend to arise and make themselves known when we least expect it. For example, I have always been impulsive. At best, I take creative risks and, at worst, I put my foot in my mouth and hurt people. It is not all of who I am but is definitely a part of me. Moreover, I have always known this about myself; I just didn’t have a strong enough relationship with it to hold it in check at the appropriate times.  When I finally did explore this impulsive part—got to know it better, why it took over like it did and what it hoped to accomplish with its deeds—I realized it was just a part of myself that felt neglected and wanted to be noticed. So, now I take leadership over that part—re-parent it, so to speak— and give it the healthy attention it desires. I deepened our relationship. I got to know its ins and outs and whys and wherefores so much so that this part now trusts me to take care of its needs. In other words, this impulsive part doesn’t surprise me (as much) in those times when I am so wanting to come across as calm and reflective.  Indeed.

I’ve been consciously working with my internal parts for sixteen years, ever since I started training as an ARC BodyMind Therapist. But some parts of our self—our proverbial blind spots, as it were— are really ingenious at hiding out. Our friends and colleagues may see them and we may even get glimpses of them but these parts are elusive and tend to wisp away on the slightest breeze when we try getting a closer look. These aspects of our personality are usually formed in childhood as a way of coping with life. As such they tend to be quite independent after years of success and are not too open to change. These parts, therefore, need time and patience and, most importantly, safety to let themselves not only be known but be guided under new management, i.e. our true Self. (For more info on parts check out this article, The Community Within, or come for a BodyMind Session.)

Perhaps it is not so coincidental then that a month or so after initiating my morning routine, I took on a minimum wage job as a cashier—the lowest of low in the big box pecking order. I have written much about those initial days (see blog postings from May – July 2012) but in summary I probably learned more about myself in these past two years than, well, maybe in all my life and yes, not all of it has been pleasant. In fact, most was not as I was reintroduced to parts of myself that didn’t appreciate the position I had put myself in. But I got through. Most of what I learned was to smile at myself and forgive my foibles; to smile with others while letting go of my attachment to their foibles, and to open my heart while being patient and accepting when it wouldn’t budge on demand. I continue to learn these lessons ever day; some days they sink in better than others but I am okay with that. It is just the way it is.

Then, this fall, I was gifted again. After 18 months of stating my intentions and asking for my parts to come home several deeply entrenched and relatively unconscious parts did just that.  The most dramatic came in a dream as I watched from above the metaphoric sufferings of someone held in a retched prison. In waking my first thought was that I had been given a sign or a message that these were the type of people with whom I should be working. It took a few minutes for me to realize that the protagonist of my dream was, indeed, a part of myself. Sigh. I have since let that part out of “jail” and work with her, this part, that is, daily. In other words, I am taking better care of myself in a way I hadn’t thought possible (or even knew was needed).

I tell you these things because not only is life more interesting when we have a stronger relationship with all aspects of who we are but that it takes time and commitment to do so. There is no quick path to inner awareness—it is a life-long journey. I had no idea back in February 2011 what would come of my morning prayer or how long it would take but I am so very grateful and blessed that I stuck with it.

I end with a poem I posted in October.

Folk ask me
how it goes with my life:
What’s new, they say, what’s happening?

I shrug. Same old.
How can one describe
the changes within,
the writhing, tumultuous ride
I find myself on?

What can I say of the trust I feel—
that it is all good
and sound naïve,
or express doubt and
betray my confusion?

My body ferments with risk
of turning sour
like milk gone bad or expired juice.
I am not ready for this. Instead
I throw away the moldy jam and
toss the black spotted greens.

I wash the shelves with vinegar, acetic and pure.
I eat plain. 

This once barren field
is transforming. No longer fallow,
no longer carefully cultivated
the wild yeast within me grows.
Pregnant with life:
fertile, abundant, alive.

As it was meant to be.

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