Let me tell you a secret. I am a mess. I am not ‘together’ at all. I look together on the outside. My life is looking pretty good at the moment. But I am not together. I am falling apart, one piece at a time, or sometimes a whole load of them just start to cleave off in one go. That’s when it gets crunchy. The other day I sort of found myself deciding whether to have a breakdown or not. It could have gone either way. But just like the other times I’ve been in that position, there was too much of me conscious to really go there wholeheartedly. And it's a bit too much drama for my taste. Better to just voluntarily give up and let go. That feels better. Crisis over. I’m a mess, I’m a failure. Generous, loving, but still an asshole at times.
I heal people as I go around without having much control over it anymore and sometimes, as an empath, it makes me trigger and I am still learning how to manage the level of perception I feel. I feel awful for no apparent reason other than that I’m letting go, rather than holding it in. I’m not trying to be cool, but from the outside I’m 'performing' better than ever before without even thinking about it. I feel anxious because when I look around there’s very little else holding me back any more. I read somewhere recently that if the path in front of you is trodden, it’s probably not yours. SO TRUE. I do and experience things ever day that make me weep, make me sublime, make me dissolve, and none of it makes sense. I keep getting married. It doesn’t make any sense. But it’s too compelling to give up now.
I have recently joined a rock choir. For those of you not in the UK, this is a bit like a Glee. It is satisfying and soothing in so many ways, not only for the singing of Footloose and Can't Stop the Feeling in four-part harmony with choreography, but also for the fact it meets in the local church, and we’re all standing there singing to the crucifix at the end. I'm not Catholic, but but y'know, crucifixes have been growing on me lately... Anyhow, I was there last week, just enjoying the experience, and I looked up and thought - He doesn’t look as if he has it all together.... But appearances can be deceptive. The key theme I have running through me at the moment is power, influence and authority. Do you need to look cool, together and badass to have this, or do you allow yourself to come undone? I found myself coming a little undone in the choir rehearsal. And then that night it continued. I read some post on Facebook that made me feel off-centre so instead of trying to resist and figure it out, I just opted back out into that gnosis state. I spent the night going deeper. My guides took me back to the church where I became one with the church itself, the walls, the chairs, the crucifix on the wall. Just feeling into the waves and ripples that made all these solid items. The bliss of dissolving into nothing. The point they made was, who has more power and influence? The one who is together, who looks in control, or the one who knows they can penetrate all things with their influence? The authority comes with letting go.
I’m like the person on the assault course who’s crawling through the mud, and then there’s a big wall ahead, and I just stop. Why is it better at the top of the wall, on the other side of the wall? What is wrong with just lying here quietly in the mud? Feeling into the mud, my body in it, looking up and seeing the sky, becoming one with even the wall. There is no need to go anywhere as I can feel it all in this state of compassion. And what happens to the wall? It just disappears, and it’s like, you can go through now. And I’m like, actually I’m ok here, I’m not sure why I thought I needed to go through but if you say so...
This is a bit like my life now.
My mind is checking out. So ciao, see ya! I hope you weren’t attached to me with my mind.
I go into my mind and I can’t string a sentence together. To be honest I never could. I switch off my mind and just turn up and open my mouth and something coherent comes out. I know where I’ve been going wrong all this time....
Luckily, losing your mind is a good thing in spiritual terms.
I go into my mind with an issue and it shouts random words at me like a perverse word association game. They say when you are drowning your life flashes before your eyes - this has been going on for a while... I look at someone and my mind delivers a name that is not theirs - Jessica becomes Sarah, Emily becomes Jenny, Nicki becomes Natasha, I become Wendy, and so on.
But, there’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t want a diagnosis because in your diagnosis is always an implied judgement. I don’t want to be fixed. I want to be loved the way you love a rose. I want to be held and told it will all be ok. There’s nothing wrong with me. Finito.
Go deeper, I tell myself.
More and more, the message I am getting is to FAIL. Allow it. When I fail, give up, everything shifts. Sometimes from minute to minute, sometimes overnight. How else are you going to dissolve your ego? Too many people are holding on to a half life instead of living. How can you define a successful life? I am hot out of seeing Bohemian Rhapsody at the cinema - Freddie Mercury died at the age of 45. Successful life or unsuccessful? To me, successful is surrendering to your poem, your part in the tapestry of humanity that you came here to weave. If you try to be together, chances are you will probably hover on the edges of success but never actually benefit from that full swell of feeling the wind behind you when you seize your moment.
Fail better, Fail harder. Fail nobler. And let the universe fill in the gaps. It's MUCH bigger than you are.
It's not me, it's you.
Let's call this delegation.
This is counter to most streams of thought which tell you that anything you perceive in anyone else is a reflection of something in yourself. So you do your own work and see what shifts. But then you get to a point where this is your own work. Because if you can feel it, you need to call it. Maybe not out loud, but firmly and silently. Because the bigger you become, the more you can feel other people and their stuff. Or they'll unconsciously try to project it onto you. And if you feel bad about seeing negativity in others you'll end up sucking it up. You need to call it. You need to give it a name. Pretending it's not there is not loving. And when you do, don't allow yourself to feel bad or guilty. Demons go for the jugular every time so you need to be tough. They will say: 'you don't understand me or what I've been through', 'I'm being nice', 'I'm just worried about you', 'you are not so perfect yourself' etc. etc. All these things sound reasonable, play to your compassion, and are designed to get you to back off so that you'll leave them alone to be small. It takes practice, but if you do this your relationship with the real person you care about will improve and more love will flow between you. It's actually an act of trust in the other person - you don't need to rescue them from seeing what needs to be seen and correcting it.
It's not me, it's you. Because it puts you back in touch with who you are, standing firm in your inner light.
This is work in progress. I'm an empathic healer which makes this really tricky so I have been finding rage useful. Allowing rage helps to integrate the shadow body and it's not the same as anger at all. Anger is more superficial, reactive and based in the ego and its attendant emotions. Rage is a much purer cleansing power which bubbles up from your belly in the same way laughter does. Rage is loving, and should leave you feeling light and joyful. It can even be funny.
Here is a selection of four poems around this theme. Rage-y, muscle-the-demon-to-the-ground-y alchemy: this is me, and it's not ok to be aggressive, passive aggressive, cynical, victimised, reductionist, self-righteous, pious, complacent, patronising or accusatory around me. We are all heart-broken, maimed, limbless athletes in the Paralympics. But we can still GO.
I am not here to make friends
to seek reassurances
I am not here to blend in
I am here
Suddenly it’s not ok
for you to deny me
to pretend that I’m not real
to make me doubt my soul
and what I feel
It’s not ok
for you to humour me
to redefine this cynically
I hear your demons
they are carping at me
They want to make me small
so that you don’t have to let go
But it’s not ok anymore
when I look at the work
that I’ve done
the passion that I’ve shown
the truth that I’ve grown
to feel your indifference
If you try to give me bullshit
if you are nice
if you try to be understanding
show me sympathy
but we are feeding your pretense
I will grab you by the throat and shake you
If you take the moral high ground
I will slap you
and pull it out from under you
It is kinder than the violence
this does to my soul
If you play the victim I will keep away from you
lest you make me your next aggressor
I am on my knees
at the beauty of this
but you are unmoved
Where is your fire?
You are busy, you are tired...
Let me tell you how God is busy
Did you not see
what happened there in that
how the universe realigned itself
to my pretty?
Can you do that?
Who will give you permission
to call the clouds to attention
the moon and stars to heel?
I want to see the rage in you
that burns your self to ashes
I am not gossiping
with other inmates
I am standing at the door
and turning the key
Will you be free?
How much love
do you allow yourself to give?
the only question
If you think it is other
your arguments are
But our soul
is a simple
What do I mean by these?
For me these are moments that really caused me to re-evaluate my view of the world and kick start some internal re-wiring. Defining moments are those you use to shore up your idea of what you are and what you are not in the world. Un-defining moments make the world bigger, force you to throw off pieces of your ‘self’ and find more at-one-ment.
I hope we all have some of these. Here is my list. It is not exhaustive and these are not ‘favourite moments’ or ‘time of my life moments’ (although some were that too). For some people these moments would be ‘so what?’ - that’s fine. These are some of the ones that I was fortunate enough to have that made me grow.
1. When I was 13 and went on my first French exchange to Dijon. Tipped off the coach and picked up by my penfriend’s family, we arrived at her home. The garage had automatic gates down to a basement garage. We walked up through a games room to the ground floor where staircases curved up on both sides of the hallway to the second floor landing. My room was the size of my whole upstairs at home. There were so many rooms that I forgot which one was the toilet and had to go in my ensuite shower in the night. In the morning we had breakfast outside (truly exotic - Frosties with yoghurt and raspberries) in the sunshine next to the huge swimming pool. We had pool parties after school. I secretly fell in love with her cousin. One weekend we drove down to their flat in the Alps for a spot of tobogganing, views of Mont Blanc and Raclettes. Hot chocolate and brioche before brioche was a supermarket staple. Bloody meat presented for lunch (just eat it - no one else is dying). Mind blown.
2. First visit to Camden Market as a teenager when my friend’s mum drove us there. I felt as if I’d entered an alternative universe of dreadlocks and joss sticks and other funny smells. Trinkets and memorabilia and tie-dyed clothing. Cue lots of saving of pennies and return visits. Happy days.
3. First term at Cambridge. Getting a ‘D’ in my first piece of Use of French homework and the soulful look from our lecturer. Never knowing the answer in the Russian grammar workshop. Vaguely wondering how other people did but also wondering why it was scheduled at 9.00 the night after the student club night. Busting a gut just trying to keep up. Not being able to define myself by ‘doing well’.
4. Arriving in Beijing on the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1996. (It does something to you to see the same country go past for seven days, the same lake (Baikal) for one whole day.) But specifically, the journey ended one morning at dawn as we pulled into Beijing. The parks we passed were full of older people practising Tai Chi. Before I had any idea what Tai Chi was. Before working out in parks was a thing. Beijing itself, The Great Wall. Wondering if we needed to go home at all.
5. Short and sweet - first night in Istanbul age 20. Being woken at dawn by the call to prayer from the three nearest mosques. (Argh. Do you have to? I like my sleep). Roll on a few (ahem) years. If you can't beat 'em....you marry them (or something). Nowadays when in Turkey I pass my mother-in-law in the dark on the way to the bathroom as she gets up to pray, me to meditate.
6. Living in Russia in the late ‘90s. Different rules. Not worrying about it.
7. Hmmm. Still not sure I want to talk about this. Breaking off an engagement because I fell for someone else. (I guess settling down at 24 was a little optimistic). The genuine horror of not being a ‘good girl’. Trying out the mantle of ‘scarlet woman’. Not being struck by lightning. And finally, most terrifyingly, not being sure why I had wanted to marry the guy I finished with in the first place.
8. Giving birth. Nothing prepared me for the way my body behaved in labour (and yes I did do the class - I'm thorough I did two). My experience was of my body transforming into an enormous pump over which I had little control, designed to expel a wee babe in super quick time. I learned fast that I needed to ham it up to get the midwives to pay me attention. My first daughter was nearly born in a corridor, the second not quite in the toilet. Neither one was ultimately fazed by the experience. Mild trauma and over excitement.
9. Early motherhood. Major identity crisis. Where did ‘I’ go? Who is that puffy face looking back at me in the mirror? Why is the weight not ‘falling off’? My ‘little sister’ is awesome but how do I come to terms with myself as ‘mother’? Am I the only one who feels like this?
10. Babaji. Beginning, middle and end. The ultimate love-hustler. In his presence everything is forgotten. All that matters is the joy that comes with it. Not being. Just love.
This is the quote that is keeping me centred right now, from Hindu saint Sri Anandamayi Ma:
"Before I came on this earth, Father, 'I was the same'. As a little girl, 'I was the same'. I grew into womanhood, but still 'I was the same'. When the family in which I had been born made arrangements to have this body married, 'I was the same'... And, Father, in front of you now, 'I am the same'. Ever afterward, though the dance of creation change around me in the hall of eternity, 'I shall be the same’.”
'I am the same'. Everything else is illusion.
As an assassin
Gently whispers in the ear
Of his victim
As he lowers him to the ground
Eyes wide in wonder at his fate
Awaiting the last breath
You speak in tongues
Like an incantation or last rite
Stroke my hair
So, when Babaji first came into my experience, I remember being under the impression that I was in a safe pair of hands...
You know, I didn't know that much about him. I'd never read Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, so I did what any sane person would do in that situation - I Googled him.
And I came across a couple of stories from that book, including this terrifying one which takes place in the Himalayas with Babaji and his group of disciples:
So I read this story, and then I read it again.
'Phew, is that you?' I said. 'You're tougher than I am'.
And I wasn't sure what I meant by that at all....
And I turned it over and over in my mind, but my mind couldn't make sense of it.
But my whole being was switched ON.
And I still felt safe, because the part of me that was real was safe, but really, this should have been a great big neon flashing warning sign. (Retrospect is a great wise thing).
There was a lot of jumping. There might have been some pushing - the jury's out.
Some of it was fun, some of it was earth shattering, some was excruciating in ways that I have trouble explaining in any kind of linear way. And bits of me were falling off all over the place, shattering, breaking, dissolving.
And I would be asking around fifty times a day 'Are we there yet?'
We must surely be there?
You need to trust the one you've chosen to destroy you, even if you didn't quite see the whole of it coming at the beginning, and you need to feel as if it's a safe pair of hands. That it's worth all the jumping because you'll have a better experience after. Does your 'killer' look as if they're having a good time? This is important when it gets tough.
So, lest we forget, as we talk about awakening, enlightenment, ascenscion, consciousness and all the rest of these words that get bandied around, this journey is about dying. Letting go of all attachments to the body, the identity, the morality, the respectability, the good, the bad and the ugly. Becoming completely empty so that you are like an open window for the divine wind to blow through. Getting over yourself and getting out of your own way. And laughing, because you can't continue to take seriously what doesn't exist.
And really, if you're going to go, there are worse ways to go than by falling into Love...
confidence - freedom - passion