It is my sincere hope that sharing my perspective and personal experiences on my own journey to myself, helps you on yours.
EMBRACING THE DARKNESS
I was on a packed Greyhound bus the other day on a 6 hour journey from Grande Prairie to Edmonton. My heart is always happy when I'm travelling regardless of the conditions. It's always interesting to me to observe human behavior (my own included). I noticed in amongst the complainers (because the bus was an hour late) and just general complaining, there was also sharing and laughter. That's duality and shows me that life looks different to everyone and how I used to be the complainer myself. To some, life looks grim and hopeless, and to others, it just is what it is and will be what it will be.
At one point on this journey I pulled my handy dandy little laptop out of my purse and decided to listen to some Spiritual type recordings I'd saved along the way for times like this. I like to feed my soul with positivity and a higher view of what appears to be happening. I was guided to listen to an interview with Neale Donald Walsh, the author of Conversations with God. If you are not familiar with him, his journey has been an interesting one. He was on top of the world in his younger years, unstoppable in fact. Or so he thought. Yet in his later years at one point, he found himself having lost everything. His job. His relationships. His home. He lived on the streets for a year as a result of this experience and this is when he was opened by the darkness that surrounded him at this point on his personal journey, and found the voice of Spirit talking to him. He named that voice God, and later shared his experience and these conversations with Spirit through a series of books called 'Conversations with God'.
A particular part of this interview stood out to me so I whipped out my little notebook and drew on my old mad steno skills and wrote it down. Here it is.
"You are (I am) the light. Good. Now how would you know you ARE the light if there weren't darkness? God said I will surround you with darkness. Raise not your fist to heaven and curse the darkness not, but USE the darkness so you may know who you really are. BE a light unto the darkness so that all those who see YOU might know who YOU really are and by the light of your example, who THEY really are as well."
It reminded me of how many times I shook my fist at life and how jaded I was most of my life being angry at Creator by refusing to believe he even existed! Even when I found my spiritual path and belief in a higher power and purpose, when I found myself in places of struggle, I did raise my fist and curse the darkness and God!! I see clearly now, it was because things weren't going MY way or on MY time schedule! Yet looking back on all the times of darkness I've experienced, it is crystal clear to me that they were meant for me to use as an opportunity to grow and find myself. To become stronger. To question why I was here on this Earth.
The other snippet of the interview that stood out to me was this: "If you judge it (the darkness and struggle), resist it, make it wrong, it will become (in your imagination) virtually insurmountable. Only by embracing and accepting it, by actually BLESSING it, is to learn who you really are".
To surrender our expectations of how life 'should' be according to us, is to free ourselves from alot of pain. We don't know all of the answers and we won't see the reasons for many things here on Earth until our soul leaves our bodies to go home. Trusting that our souls have chosen this experience here and now for a reason is empowering.
Today I am most grateful for all of my darkness, and as it continues to show up I embrace it, knowing fully that there is a grander plan and I'm not working alone here. I say to Spirit, I know you can see ten steps ahead of me and trust that all is for a reason I'm not able to see yet and there is some opportunity in this for me (us) to grow stronger. Show me. I'm listening.
Peace, Love and Embracing the Darkness
When I first made a commitment to change my life and paying attention to my thoughts and how I was talking to myself, I noticed these two words would precede many of my thoughts. They still do, but in a more positive way than in the past.
Like many humans, I have spent most of my life in fear and worry mode. While those very familiar emotions still surface, and probably will until the day my soul chooses to leave my body, they seem to surface now more to remind me that there is nothing to worry about or to fear. It's an illusion created by me and my negative thinking patterns. I've learned that I will always be okay no matter what as long as I keep the faith in a bigger plan, and I stay in close relationship to Creator.
At one point I made a pact with myself to stop using the phrase"what if". I did this because I found myself starting a thought or a sentence with those two words and ending it with thoughts or words that continued to instill fear in me. I would find myself completely paralyzed at times when choosing those negative thoughts. Sometimes I'd instill enough fear in myself to cause severe anxiety attacks.
Getting to know oneself intimately by being willing to recognize and face our patterns, our familiar stories, our unwillingness to change or forgive, seems like the harder road to travel. It definitely feels that way at times, however I've found that road eventually has surfaces more smooth than I've ever experienced, longer straight stretches of freedom, and less bumps along the way.
Staying on the fence, or being in denial, or worse blaming everything and everyone else for how WE are feeling seems like the easy road to take because we won't have to change by taking responsibility for ourselves, our feelings or our actions. It takes going to that scary place. The mirror. To look into our own eyes and face the horrible person we 'think' we are and accept that person. Taking what appears to be the easy road, has everything staying the same. Kinda like driving around in circles. Same scenery, same bumpy bullshit showing up over and over until it's faced and healed.
I've travelled both roads, and I have to tell you, taking the former has been the hardest road at times but ultimately has been the most freeing. The shackles that bind us are of our own making.
So my old fear based thoughts looked something like this:
What if I trip and fall and hit my head?
What if I can't pay my bills?
What if 'they' don't like me (translation why don't I LIKE ME?!)
What if I don't do it right?
What if something horrible is about to happen?
What if someone gets mad at me?
What if we humans don't wake up and we continue to destroy the Earth?
What if it's too late?
What if I'm not good enough?
You get the picture. Fear. Fear. Fear. Worry. Worry. Worry. I was the only one who could change my thoughts and patterns. I knew that for sure. So I did, and continue to.
After years of removing the "what if" phrase from my personal vocabulary, I've recently welcomed it back in, in a positive way. Now it looks something like this:
What if I have no expectations?
What if I wasn't scared?
What if by finding my own inner peace and happiness, I inspired young people to do the same?
What if I choose compassion and forgiveness?
What if something awesome is about to happen?
What if we all learned to love and accept ourselves?
What if by showing kindness to others it creates a ripple effect in the universe?
What if we all faced what is truly happening, instead of making excuses or burying our heads?
What if we spent more time looking at solutions instead of problems?
WHAT IF ??
RESPECTING OUR MOTHER
When I was a young girl (that would be many, many moons ago now) I remember how I saw the world and our planet. I can remember feeling quite hopeless actually in seeing very clearly that the humans were destroying the Earth. I thought what's the point?! You've destroyed her! Why am I in this place of destruction, pollution and disrespect, where people abuse the Earth, themselves and each other? I felt like all this talk about God made no sense to me. How could there be such thing as a 'God' that would have allowed this kind of abuse? I also made a very interesting decision at that very young age, which was not to bring children into this world. I felt VERY hopeless and angry.
Looking back now, I understand my soul's path and why that was my beginning, my wise soul knew why I was here but the human part of me needed to walk a very long road in order to be more aligned with my soul. As we all do. I love Mother Earth so much, and I'm passionate about her well-being and I needed to find my own way to my personal belief system, through those years of struggle. What followed for many years was me being disconnected from a higher power, which resulted in my feeling so very alone and choosing to numb myself which rendered me powerless.
It's only been in the past ten years that I've found my faith and my path and a belief in what I call Creator. It has only been since I've found that relationship with Spirit, and strengthened my personal connection with a higher power, that I have found purpose and clarity in my life, and hope. I can see now why I felt so protective of Mother Earth back then, because as an adult, I would be using a gift I never fully understood until now. Giving a voice to her and the animals, birds and insects through my drawings. I understand now that we're all a part of our Creator and I believe our souls chose to be here on this planet, at this very time, to clean up our mess. I say 'our' because I think every single one of us has to take responsibility for how we've contributed and continue to contribute to the current way of the world.
Mother Earth sustains us. But we humans seem to have forgotten this. We take her for granted every day, fully expecting water to come out of a tap, and a light to appear when we flip a switch. While I have personally struggled as I've observed the ongoing destruction and disrespect toward her for my entire life, I finally have hope. Which is kind of interesting as she is in worse shape now than when I was a young girl.
We humans are actually waking up, becoming more aware, and taking action which is what gives me hope. The truth continues to surface daily with respect the trickery and greed in this world which I think is great because it means we can no longer ignore what is actually happening. People are speaking out to give the Earth a voice and that gives me hope. We are recycling and using more user friendly cleaning products, we are conserving energy and attempting to find more eco friendly energy using what she freely provides to us, wind, water, and sun. More hope.
I think sometimes we feel small, like how can one person make a difference to make a change this HUGE? Turning a planet around. Cleaning up our mess. I think it's possible though, and more than that it's a must if we wish to leave something for the generations to come. I also think that if we are here, on this planet now, we came here to do this. No one is coming to save us. We have to save ourselves.
If everyone takes the time to pick up some garbage, turn off the lights when they are not needed, turn down the heat in our homes during the day when the house is empty, turn off the water when we're brushing our teeth, takes the time to recycle, doesn't leave vehicles running, takes the bus, rides a bike, car pools when possible, buys used items, lives communally, and uses natural cleaning products, it will all add up and we become less of a burden. Our power is in the collective and if we all do a little something we can and will eventually make a big difference. Our future actually depends on it.
There's a healing energy simply in acknowledging what she provides for us, instead of taking it for granted. We can show gratitude by being thankful to her for our breath, and for clean water to drink (which is being poisoned at alarming rates), warm showers, lights, heat, food, the ability to travel, and her breathtaking beauty. I give thanks to her daily and that might not seem like much but it's something.
While things aren't ideal just yet, at least there is hope on the horizon. I sometimes wonder how a young boy or girl sees the world now, if I saw what I saw all those years ago. Do they have hope? Or were they like me at that age, seeing how the humans that came before them destroyed our beautiful home and wonder 'what's the point'?
Either way, they are who we leave this planet to and the generations after them. Let's keep doing our part and honoring our Mother so they have more hope for the planet than I did as a kid. Let's give them a seat at the tables where decisions are being made that ultimately affect them and their future. Let's listen to them.
Peace, Love and Respect Your Mother
"Listen, or your tongue will keep you deaf"...I would love to share the name of the person who spoke these words however I don't know. Although, our Ancestors who practiced the old traditional ways of life would not have cared to seek credit for their words anyway, as the wisdom was offered with an open heart to help others live a better life. I share these wise words with the utmost respect and thanks.
It's been my observation and experience the past few years, since I've been actively working on my 'listening' skills, that listening seems to be a lost art. Not that it's really an art I guess, it's actually a powerful tool to maneuvre through this life. It's one of the senses that we humans were given here to use on our soul's journey. I've found that not listening has gotten especially more noticeable the more overcome we are by the latest technology. Our attention has become so easily diverted and we all tend to be more self absorbed at times than is healthy.
Have you ever noticed yourself in a group situation or even one on one where you are not listening because you are too busy thinking about what you are going to say next? Have you ever noticed you ask someone a question, even one as simple as 'how are you?' but you can't remember what the other person told you? Great marker points for us to realize we aren't listening. I'm not sure if many people even give this much thought but I have really noticed it the more I practice my listening skills that most people are not listening when it's the other person's turn to speak. They drift off or are busy checking their phones or if I've noticed when I'm having a phone conversation with someone, I can tell when they are more interested in checking their computer or sending a text than being truly engaged in what I hoped to be an equal exchange of energy. I've even sometimes found myself sitting with two or three people all talking at once, unsure of who to listen too! haha
We can learn alot by practicing our listening skills. Learning how to listen makes the sharing experience far more enjoyable and productive. Many of the Indigenous practices use what is called a talking stick, or I've experienced some using a stone as well. It's a powerful way to honor another while they speak. While the person who holds the stick or rock is speaking, no one else speaks. It is that time for you to listen and respect that person and what they have to contribute. When that person is finished speaking, the stick or rock is passed so the next person can be heard. Listening skills were extremely important to our Ancestors who lived on the land, their survival often depended on it.
I owe the beginning of my self awareness about my own listening skills to a roommate I had in Inuvik some years back. We were talking one night at the kitchen table and I was interrupting like I used to do alot, and yapping my face off like I used to do alot, when he stopped me and said "You're on transmit again and I need you on receive!". How funny is that? Nothing like hearing it from a highway man! After that moment I started to become aware of myself and when I was and wasn't listening. That was a valuable lesson for me and while I've as yet to perfect it, I remain aware of it to this day.
Through my life coaching work I have often had clients who are in their heads so much analyzing and over analyzing things that they aren't open to notice or hear their messages from their higher self or Spirit helpers like guides and angels, let alone people. The thinking and being in their mind so much, has actually acted like an energetic wall stopping the flow of ideas and inspiration that wants to come through. This is especially noticeable among air signs such as Aquarius, Libra and Gemini. The idea is to learn when to think or talk, and when to listen and be still. This is in no way a judgement, simply an observation.
It's also been my observation that some people who are not particularly good at listening have hearing problems, or ear problems. At times, I've also been shown that their pets or kids have taken on the hearing or ear issues to reflect it back to whoever in the house is meant to be shown to work on their listening sense. It's hard being honest with ourselves sometimes, admitting or accepting that part of ourselves we are adamant that we are NOT. However, denial keeps us from growing and the ego loves that ;-)
What a different world this would be if we all started to be aware of, and practice truly listening and engaging in the natural back and forth flow of a conversation. Truly listening to another person speak is like silently saying 'you matter', 'I see you and I hear you'.
We all need to learn to talk less and listen more at the appropriate times. Just think of how much more fulfilling our conversations and relationships could be!
Like the old ditty says, "A wise old owl sat on the oak, the more he heard, the less he spoke, the less he spoke, the more he heard, now wasn't he a wise old bird?"
Peace, Love and Listening
So much has been written and talked about on this subject of forgiveness, and God only knows we've all had opportunity after opportunity to put it into practice. As we all know, what we resist persists so until we get it figured out it, those opportunities will continue to arise. I can only share what I have personally learned on the topic and well, here it is.
Unforgiveness and holding on to resentment towards ourselves and others only hurts one person. Us. It think people who show up in our lives who we feel hurt by, are there to teach us about ourselves and where we are at on our own journey. The hurt we feel others have caused us, comes from a place within them that is in pain. Hurt people end up hurting people. The people who cause the most pain in the lives of others are actually the ones who are in the most pain. They have been hurt so badly themselves (usually in childhood) that they shut down emotionally and act out of a place of being closed and jaded. They made a decision to make sure no one else gets close enough to hurt them so they hurt you!
We've all hurt other people too, no one is exempt from this because we've all had some pain somewhere in our past. We need to forgive ourselves too, and understand that we've hurt others in our lives from that place of pain. We can use our pain as a guage. The more we heal our own pain, the more we will notice people not showing up to hurt us. They are our mirror and we are theirs.
If we can look at who and how we've hurt others as a result of our old painful experiences, and forgive ourselves, then we can find the compassion needed to understand that we are all human, we've all got pain, and then we can find forgiveness for another.
This is not an easy process, and it is just that, a process. But it is doable and oh so freeing. I've been confused at times in my process of forgiveness because I thought at one time, that if I forgave someone that meant what they did was okay. That's not it at all. To forgive someone's actions means honoring the fact that they're human and they have pain, sometimes so deep that they've done things to others that seem unforgivable. To find it in our hearts to forgive their actions, frees us from carrying around resentments that hurt US. It doesn't mean we have to be their friend again, or have them in our lives, although that might be an option. It's okay to cut them out of our lives completely, we need to do whatever has us being true to ourselves.
Many of us have even held resentment toward God, Creator, Universe, Source (whatever name we personally use for a higher power) because we can't understand why 'bad' things happen. Myself included. I was so mad at God most of my life, I refused to acknowledge a higher power even existed!
What I've learned is that my anger and resentment had me moving further away from having a relationship with my Creator, when in fact the more I opened spiritually the more I have been able to find peace and forgiveness. I understand that everyone is on their own journey and that I am only in control of my own actions and reactions and healing my own pain. Every circumstance and person I encounter is there as an opportunity for me to grow if I choose, and that is what I choose.
What if the souls of the people who have hurt us the most, made an agreement with our souls before we signed up for this gig on Earth loved us so much that they agreed to meet us here and cause us pain so we could grow and find freedom through forgiveness? Pretty radical I know, but I believe this is the case. Again it doesn't mean we can't cut them out of our lives, it just means using the opportunity to learn and grow through forgiveness. I forgive and send thanks to their soul and hope they find a way to heal the deep pain they must have experienced in their childhood. I honor their journey and know it is not me they need to answer to. It's themselves and their Creator. We are experiencing with others all through our lives, and even though we are having an experience together, that experience will be different for each of us.
I am still peeling off some layers in this department and have found freedom in doing so. It started with me simply being open and willing to forgive even though I knew in that moment it would not be immediate. I learned not to take everything so personal and that people who hurt people, are the ones who are hurting the most. I've found compassion for myself and for them.
If we are ever to see peace on this Earth, we are going to have to find it within each and every one of us as an individual first.
Peace, Love and Forgiveness