When pain finds a home within your soul

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In psychological circles this is referred to as pain addiction. This is real, lived experience for many. It is a state of being where separating pain from anything that we encounter in life becomes impossible. It merges with our being in a way that becomes familiar, safe, even sweet and impossible to imagine not feeling it. It becomes one of the personal signature of an individual, which brings all sorts of distortions with it. The process of unravelling is needed, deep diving into dark places, but mostly reintroduction of the light into a personal experience, as the light often goes into a personal shadow.

This is what it looks like when I tap into that part of myself still present although it no longer affects my life in ways it used to. It is now fully in my awareness and I know this character well, hence able to communicate with it and meet its needs if and when.

Ugly, dripping poison from its finger tips, so wrapped in its own pain it is second nature. This creature outgrown the most excruciating suffering that it feels at home with it, it’s learnt not just to be with it, it is inseparable from her being. It is very old, with bent and crooked limbs, long nails and grey hair or is it fur – both. It is animal-like with human eyes and deep intelligence. There is kindness somewhere there, but it is not apparent. It wants to be bad, it thinks it is a good thing, as it will fill up the cup of pain even more. It seeks the ritual and any opportunity to refill it. Like an addict it is constantly in search of the next fix.

Grown into my flesh it wears deer-skins and smells of wet mud and berries. Like an animal it claws into me holding on with a scowl scary and disturbing. 

I know it well and these days all that is needed of me is the acknowledgement it is there when I begin to feel its warm breath on the back of my neck. It is often present around my shoulder/neck area. It is very warm, sometimes feeling like a burn, but it also shows me some compassion these days and often sweeps away mud and moss pieces when it feels it made a mess. It is a child and an old creature all at the same time. It is deeply broken, but not unlovable and it likes to spread itself on rocks (I love rocks) and roll off them into a wet grass.

I often work with clients in ways of looking at different parts of them. I would ask when they begin to describe an energy that takes over them and affects their life. I seek to bring it to life with my client in a way of seeing what it looks like, what it sounds like and what is its behaviour before moving to what that part of us need. Many find this very useful and become curious about what else is within them that affects their everyday behaviour. When we make those characters real it is easier to relate whether we choose an object representing it, or we do a drawing or find a drawing that most reminds us of them or we relate to them through colours, sounds. However we connect with parts of ourselves it is about becoming conscious/aware of what takes place within our psyches and why.

Stay present with what you DO have

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When focusing on what we don’t have rather than what we do have it can be pretty hard to differentiate between our wants and needs. Time to evaluate!
Is that something that you want is really what you need? If you think you really want something ask yourself why? How specifically it will make your life better? What is it in your current life that can’t make your
life better? Does what you want have a foundation that stems from a real need and contains a potential beneficial change or is it an illusion?

These questions are super useful to consider when stuck in a ‘I really want to do or have this right now’. Why, why, why is the key. Sit down and really break it down, answer those questions and pretty soon you will know whether what you want is really what you need.

I have an example, which relates to a locality of where I am and my belief that somehow if only I was somewhere else geographically my spiritual needs would be met and I would somehow grow into something that will transform my life. The question is why can’t I do it where I am right now and what’s wrong with the place I am currently at? The answer is nothing is wrong with my place (what I do have already) and yes I can do it here and now without having to be somewhere else. There are levels to this, the first being ‘running away from something’, avoiding certain feelings or situations or not tapping into resources available to me here and now in the place that I am in.

The universe always drives us in a direction most beneficial for us, it wants the best for us all. It is up to us to decode messages that come into our realities daily. It is up to us to notice and hear those messages. Sometimes it comes in and slaps you in the face literary and pretty quick you realise that what you thought you were struggling with was wasted energy and nothing else. We realise illusions got created out of fear.
All that we need to do is tap into here and now and look at our life as it currently is.

I am seeking to move, escape, run away, detach, separate and all of those things and I had one place associated with it all and that place was the answer to all my struggles. Well, question really is what it is that I am running away from? Through reflection and therapy sessions we can work out motivations behind our behaviours and feelings that come up in our lives. Invaluable.
I remember my therapist asking me a clear question once ‘ok, you want to move to this country?’ Notice she didn’t ask me why or what for. She said ‘which area would you move to, which county attracts you the most’. I had NO answer, none and it got me thinking. There is something in that not knowing, so if I don’t know that, what else don’t I know. I couldn’t back anything up. It felt empty, pointless and had no foundation. Sometimes demystifying something really helps by drilling down into what we think we want and seek. Often it is all in our heads and when bringing stuff into our bodies it answers questions judging by feelings it brings up or shows a clear lack of feeling. We take it from there. Often our ideas and thoughts are popped like balloons and we are able to move with our lives just as they are. Not only that we begin to enjoy and appreciate what we do have more.

Take my example. Looking at where I am right now. I love where I live. I am connected to the land and the signature of the place. I created a few sacred spots for myself and all elements are around me. I have space, fresh air, freedom to grow my vegetables and a lovely house. It is no more or less beautiful than the place I think I want to escape to. I am pretty sure if I was to test my ‘want’ theory without answering all the questions above once I have done it then it would be the case of ‘now what?’ I previously did this with a job and that was exactly the outcome. I recently recognised I am doing it again with another thing. I am doing two things. Not drilling into my motivation behind the desire and not taking what I do have already into account.

Through every experience involving dreams and desires I can summarise it in one sentence.

With every dream we must have a clear answer as to ‘why’

We must feel it with every fibre of our being. It simply must feel like ‘home’ deep in the soul. A lack of feeling should be an indication of another process in operation whether it is an illusion, an escape from something, resistance to staying where you are or any other historical pattern of behaviour.

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Transformation after a dark night of the soul

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My experience has always been that transformation, upgrade, growth comes after a period of darkness of the soul. The darker and deeper the drop the more profound the transformation. It is, however, not easy to realise or get to the other side and comes with practice. There are often steps to follow.

The first one is awareness of light and dark within you, a true connection to both energies within your psyche. Both need to be known intimately, accepted, befriended and experienced. I frequently say that the best awareness comes from repeat lived experience and real life examples. Think of yourself in your ‘dark’ cloak. What does that look and feel like? Is there a clear image of yourself, in what voice and language that side speaks, what does it usually do, what its preferred or default way of behaving. Get to know it, notice, befriend and learn from it. The same goes for your light side of the psyche. What are you like when you are wearing your ‘light’ cloak. What’s the vibration and presentation of that energy within you? When you know both and can easily identify, recognise and connect with both you can navigate both your transformation and your dark nights better.

Another step in the process is to fully stay in the process and yes, natural reaction is to try to get out of it, change it, do something when we are in a dark place. It feels uncomfortable and painful. We resist, reject and want to strip ourselves of all that it brings with it, but even though it is natural to want to do that what if we allowed it to be? After all it is within us, it is part of us and it is there for a reason in any given moment.

Darkness and pain can also be comforting and safe to some of us and it is familiar to a point we get lost and settled into it. To me it feels like a dark cave where no one can find me. It can be soothing and reassuring. If it is so for you recognise it, explore your relationship and history with pain and dark places in general. Is there more to it?

Another opportunity when ‘in darkness’ is your unconscious will be showing itself through dreams more vividly. For me I begin to have profound, vivid, dark and nightmarish dreams. I always find those fascinating and even when unpleasant I find they keep my energies going. It is like stirring a caldron, a process of ‘cooking’ taking place in my unconscious. I get very involved with its content and open up to messages. This part of the process is valuable as much can be extracted from the dreams when in a state of darkness.

I find at this point in my practice that I know when darkness comes there will be light post-pain, post-anxiety and depression. One might say I learnt to keep the faith. In simple terms the only way is up. What’s needed here is trust and again it is another difficult point where we either give up (on ourselves) or manage to override our dark state somehow for the fear of never being able to come out. Never is a strong word, it deletes all possibility for change and it is an illusion. We all know that nothing ever stays the same and change touches absolutely everything. I strongly believe in the ‘Phoenix rising from the ashes’ transformation.

To reach the light we must be patient with the darkness. Not only we need to be with in it, allow feelings to do their thing in their own time, be graceful, soft amidst anger and desperation, be kind to yourself and your darkness. Needs that come up when you are in a dark place will be your usual needs, but amplified a lot and we need to meet those needs. Give yourself what you need in those moments through really listening to the voice of your pain and despair.

Light comes in gradually. First you begin to notice coming back into life through small things, wanting to connect again. You will feel your isolation state stretching into a need to relate. It is like a process of remembering your ‘whole’ self, the way you had been before going into darkness. You remember belonging to a group, family, your usual dynamic. You begin to want to get involved again in small ways, your voice will start coming back, healthy, balanced one. You begin to feel different, lighter, more grounded and less scared. Darkness has done its thing. It’s been and gone and by allowing it to be we allowed ourselves to feel what needed to be felt, worked through and acknowledged whatever that is for you.

I recently have gone through such period of darkness and all of the above was true for me again and when one morning I saw a big beautiful butterfly land on a bench next to me I knew the light was near. Transformation followed slowly with big insights, a strong desire for change and implementing things in a different way, adjusting behaviour and interactions. I also remained strongly aware of my needs, which through being amplified in the dark showed up more clearly in life. Through my voice returning I was able to communicate them to others more effectively. What followed was a sense of renewal, rebirth and upgrade into new ways.

Darkness is a great teacher. It not only puts things in perspective, it brings us literally back to life, more fully engaged in the present. I also find there’s a serene period of contemplation and a silent observation that accompanies the process of coming back to light. That is always very pleasant and incredibly needed.

We all potentially seek light and all leads to it whatever we go through in life and the most profound ‘come backs’ are through deep darkness.

Disconnect to reconnect

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Points of discord or disconnection in a relationship can be seen as opportunities to re-evaluate not only what the relationship means to you but also look at your role within that dynamic and whether what’s required, expected, etc. aligns with your deeper soul space. What does it mean? What happens to you when the other pulls away or pushes you away and vice versa.

It is vital to look at yourself as you are outside of your relationship and without the other. Even though we make commitment to a common experience we are still individuals with our own purpose and direction and if a discord points towards your neglect of self then it is time you stopped and gave yourself a hug or had a word with yourself. In any case what is the lesson that a situation shows you?

We often face a battle in a relationships between external and internal. External being all the cultural, historical, familial, religious conditions and expectations, e.g. An idea of a woman self-sacrificing for the sake of her man and kids and the whole family. Internal being is our inner most deep desires and aspirations. Our soul’s calling, e.g. Travelling the world, working in the wild saving animals or volunteering in a remote area somewhere being of service, etc.

We are often torn (I am talking about women here specifically) between two worlds and it is vital to become conscious of dynamics that create that struggle in a relationship. Brutal honesty is needed with ourselves and others and that would be the first step I would say after becoming aware of the rift within you. That place of confronting the ‘norm’ is scary, daring and feels like one would be criticised and banished. Here we learn how to stand in our own truth and what often happens, not always, that opening of our own concerns and inner cries invites an opening in others. It is quite profound how we all fall into a trap of being what’s expected and ignoring what’s burning within us deep down. We essentially ignore our voice and abandon ourselves. Tragic if you think about it. Breaking patterns of expectations is incredibly difficult. It is what I would call a radical change and that feels and looks impossible to so many. It is hard especially at mid-point of your life when many say, oh it’s too late, etc.
it is never too late to pick yourself up in a hug of acceptance and understanding even when you are the only one acknowledging it.

Tares in a relationship offer an opportunity for us to step back, to withdraw instead of trying make things better, smooth things over and/or rescue the other despite of your own pain. It is brave to step back and say ‘this is not serving me’, a certain behaviour it an attitude is no longer acceptable and often it would be the same pattern repeating against and again and the thing with patterns they can be broken. Will the other hear you? That’s another thing. When you find that voice within to express your non-compliance to the way things have always been what response do you get? One of denial and criticism or one when you are truly heard and supported. Either is a possibility but with that expression and standing up for your inner deep callings of the soul shifts are possible with or without a relationship.

We disconnect to reconnect potentially either to the other in a different way or to ourselves in a deeper way. Nature demonstrates this dynamic very well. Many of us are disconnected from nature externally and internally and nature is often seen as something scary and wild, something one can’t control. It is scary because nature is a catalyst for change and a mirror into our own worlds. It will reflect all that we seek to hide. It activates our senses in a way that we can’t avoid seeing and hearing ourselves. It wakes us up into awareness of the bigger picture outside of our everyday interactions, rules, jobs, the ‘norm’. Stepping outside of that is scary for many. When we disconnect from nature we disconnect from ourselves.

I often exercise going into nature when I am in a dark place. Yes, it takes some internal struggle to step into nature consciously when in that space, but it always feels necessary. I seek connection to myself when there is a struggle on the external level. Lessons are huge and very difficult material is often present, but one thing is for sure there is no other way. It is going through something and not around it that ultimately changes us and the way we relate to others and ourselves.

So if you are currently disconnected, seek to connect in a different, more conscious way and include yourself in that.

From Maiden to Mother – summer soul work

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I am feeling inspired today having gone through a challenging time in the last few weeks. Energies have been slowly building up to the peak point that is Summer Solstice and this year it was the hottest day. I am not good with heat.

What transpired in everything that surrounded me lately is the replay of my struggles on a journey of motherhood, a reminder of that difficult time of birthing and coming into the role of mother. What got activated this year not for the first time and became so profoundly present was my passage from Maiden to mother and I believe this year is that time not just to begin this process, but possibly to complete it. I felt during spring I have come into a space of acceptance. It was a physical experience of knowing that I had passed that threshold from maidenhood into mother consciously for the first time in ten years. My physical mother’s energy assisted me well in those times and deepened our connection.

HERE is a post I wrote back in March about that experience.

On my altar this morning I placed Maiden and Mother with favourite flowers of my physical mother. As always this was spontaneous and inspired by energies running through my body. I woke up early today feeling alive again as the heat dropped and the sun is not shining. I can breathe again and think and be in the space I am comfortable in. Comfort comes up a lot in a way that I am with others, myself, my son, and my husband. This feels crucial to cultivate that space for exploring this transition into comfort place of the Mother for me.

Ten years on and only now this year I feel the soil is finally fertile for me to birth my inner mother fully into being, accept her within and express her externally. This doesn’t just relate to the physicality of being a mother to my son although my relationship to that has been transforming steadily over the last few years and there is less and less battling with the external against what I feel within. It is activated now and again still and I do believe that echoes of struggles will always remain on some level. Experience for me had been traumatic and violently raw in many ways and traces of that trauma is bound to come in, but I have awareness of that and actively seeking to move into a healing space where my painful memories can be held in acceptance and contained in self-love.

This journey is also about the changes in me internally, my body, my face, my hair, skin and voice. What I look like now is nothing what I did before I became a mother and when in my maidenhood. There is however this freeing lack of yearning, desire and need to conform and hold on to that youth conditioning, which carries such a desperate self-abandoning and punishing signature. Looking back at my young self, that maiden was sick mentally, emotionally and physically. Her soul was stunted into non-being, non-acceptance and zero self-expression due to fear, anxiety, extreme criticism of herself and multiple traumas buried deep within. She existed in the name of validation and approval based on physical beauty. Many of us, former maidens had been there.

Now I am feeling liberated in the state of what it means to be a woman and a mother from inside out. Shining the light of soul, acknowledging all and every single qualities within and using that in the world regardless with complete acceptance. I feel summer will help me do this, summer is here to strip me off all remaining clothing that no longer fits me and doesn’t represent me as I am in my Mother/Woman way of being. Summer is the Full moon of the year, the fully pregnant time when all is ripe and beautiful ready to birth the new and transformed.

Summer Solstice 2017

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Summer Solstice sizzled away like a hot fire pit and this morning we have fresh air and breeze. It is as if the earth is about to take a deep breath out and join in a dance with the brewing storm. I am up early this morning as I feel the storm coming and I become alive again after a very hot week and the hottest day of the year – Summer Solstice 2017.

I was faced with so many challenges during the week, confronted with the burning Sun, which seemly held no mercy for my discomfort and I moaned and moaned till I could bear it no longer. When Summer Solstice came and the heat reached its highest peak here in the UK my voice was gone and my spirit dimmed to a faint whisper of acknowledgment of my troubles. In that ‘melting’ I began to recognise my powerlessness against what appeared full of people to be a big lesson in love, patience and gratitude. I ended up taking a journey to the city, on a hot train and to my surprise I remained calm and collected with no grinding within my mind or heart. I stepped into a space of surrendering. I recognised it and that inner silence felt soothing. I remained in observation of things around me and within me and communicating gently with nature in its hottest burning state. I felt it smiling inviting all growth into dancing and fires burning all over the globe in honouring the Sun smelt delicious. The song of the Bard enchanted me into trance-like state of love, peace and gratitude.

I felt my relationship with the masculine challenged in the physical and spiritual sense and I knew it needed to be repairs, as ‘heat’, distorted fire within me raptured it. I began consciously cooling down in terms of being ok with what is and being accepting of releasing with the sweat what needed to go. I understood that my voice had a major place in how my discomfort is perceived and its effect of others. I pulled back, withdrawn to reflect on the sound of my voice and the meaning of the words spoken. It is within the balance of expressing your inner most uncomfortable cries within your soul and body and respecting the space where others co-exist. It is always about the balance and both are equally important if we are to be authentic. It is as much you as it is others, no more and no less. As we look within more the outside transforms and as the outsides engages with us we discover things within. Through the ‘voice’ work I offered a hand of reparation to the masculine and embraced its firy nourishment. There is still mistrust, yes, caution and suspicion and subsequent wish to withdraw. I am very aware of that, but what I choose is not only engage with that restraint within me in response to the masculine heat, I am also willing to expose my face to the brightest, hottest heat that seeks my attention.

I feel alive today post-Solstice and very inspired to continue this journey with deep gratitude and love in my heart and seeking engagement more and more with myself and others. Summer teaches connection, relationship to yourself and others. It is a time to be sociable, to acknowledge those links we have with others and recognise our contribution to that collective dance. It is the NOW time, summer, when we look at our achievements and life as a whole ‘warts and all’ and come out proud into a play field of our life with full engagement and appreciation.

 

Walking with ancestors

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This morning was one of those mornings when I felt my time was well spent. I was called to visit woods, a particular place I know well. Whenever I am called like this I always follow and I got in my car this morning open to what messages awaited me.

A smell of pines surrounded me on the way to the woods and a field of associations opened up in my awareness. Pines connect me to home, a land I was born in and another place where that association is often activated in is Scotland. I love pine trees and I am so familiar with the smell. While driving I craved to see them and realised that was one reason I was called to this particular wood and not any other. This is the only place where I can find pines in a particular corner of that forest I knew well and worked in before.

 

As I walked into the woods with confidence and anticipation I came across a broken pine branch straight away. I picked it up and put it against my face. The smell at this point was constantly around me and I breathed it in deeply feeling connected. I also felt not alone. It took me back to the days when I was young and mushroom picking with my parents and grandparents. I also remembered my encounters with pines in Scotland and Wales, thick, furry canopy in dark green against the purest blue of the sky. Soft carpet of fallen needles underneath my feet and that crunch of dry foliage and sticks that is so familiar to my ears.

And then there it was, a squirrel. It sat still at the foot of a pine tree and I felt energy going through me and tears coming to my eyes. Grandmother. Memories flooded in. My grandmother loved squirrels. She even had a couple of stuffed ones in her flat. I remember them vividly sitting on top of a television. I watched the squirrel and it watched me. I never before witnessed a squirrel be so still for quite some time. It didn’t run or turn just watched me before starting to climb a tree but slowly with shaking her tail in an interesting sort of way. I felt my grandmother near me as she often is. I the sat down on a stump and my granddad came to mine. I didn’t know him too well but I was around him a lot and have so many memories of him painting and care taking his wounded foot. It needed bandages changed every day and he would do it in this tiny stool, looked like a tree stump. I felt him around too.
In a distance I perceived a deer, vulnerable, soft and gentle, innocent and pure. My sister, I thought, and with a fresh breeze I observed a silver beech swaying her long green sleeves in a wind dance. The birch is a maiden tree to me and also strongly associated with my home land. My sister died young and was the sweetest soul.

Pine smell continued to be around me and it felt comforting. My relatives are buried in a pine woodland cemetery far away in Russia, Siberia. Three graves together amidst pines with rows singing their demands and moans into the wind. Don’t you think crows often sound like that they are dissatisfied with it all. I love them, very characterful and unashamed of their nature. My sense of smell took me to that cemetery once again, a place I remember well. I also had an awareness of my father currently being there and perhaps in the actual cemetery as I sat on a tree stump in England communing with ancestors in nature. I created an intuitive ‘grave’ collage on the ground and while in that space it felt like I was in the actual place.

 

They live within us and their ash fertilising our souls and make us grow with each breath and memory of that connection.
I have always associated deep sadness with the land of my birth, yet today I don’t feel it. They have moved on a long time ago and I have known about it for sometime. They are together, but also go on travels of their own to be with their own essence. It is a forever kind of connection like water or air that couldn’t separate itself from one another’s being. Even with letting go the memory is stamped forever on a canvas of their experience. They might become strangers over cycles yet there will always be a certain recognition on every encounter and there are many encounters throughout a life time, I believe.

As I was leaving I came across these three crosses amidst trees. They looked significant and made sense to me.

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This Litha I am incorporating my ancestors’ altar into my main one for the first time. It feels right to perform a ritual in their honour around this time in June, around anniversary dates and what today’s walk taught me was that remembering my blood lines is to be included in my spiritual practice and something that is natural and within me.