Congratulations on surviving 2017! I liken the experience to accidentally getting on the highway going the wrong way and then realizing there's no way to get off or turn around. Certainly not ideal but we discover we can still move forward even in spite of the oncoming traffic. 2017 offered an onslaught of unanticipated events, between massive political upheaval, a handful of cataclysmic natural disasters and the very dark side of the white patriarchal paradigm emerging with fervor. As soon as we started to accept one terrible new reality, the next one was already zooming toward us.
Many of us found ourselves in a very fixated, reactive state of being. I mean, it's not so easy to remain centered and non-reactive when there's a mack truck heading straight for us. And while many of us have not been operating from our "best selves" this past year, the opportunity has afforded us the chance to see our own shadow sides surfacing in the face of so much fear and angst. I got to see myself play out some pretty unhealthy and destructive patterns in reaction and in resistance to what was coming at me and while acting out my shadow side is never particularly fun, it's the only way I can see it for what it is....and then choose something different.
That's the paradox of these times. The mass exposé of what's no longer serving us is the only way we can choose a new way. We need to actually see that it's happening before we can decide to cease giving it our energy. The shedding of the old guard paradigm where the egoic self is in the lead and our essential Self is deferentially lagging behind is a painful, harrowing process. Seeing that this is our individual and collective default is a very difficult thing to have to come to terms with. We are right in the middle of the reckoning phase. We could probably get stuck here for a very long time lamenting the fact that we've been allowing our own and other people's egos to govern the sacred land of our lives for far too long. But that my friends, would yet again, be giving too much power to something that never should have been reigning in the first place.
There is such beauty in this moment. We are getting in touch with our desire (need) for peace. We are so done with all the fear and hate-mongering. The longing for more is vibrating in the very centers of our being. We are starting to see another way forward. In the throes of surrender, we see the shiny potential of what's possible when we take the boxing gloves off and back away.
If you are finding yourself in a semi-surrendered state with some semblance of awareness that you want things to be different but not a lot of clarity as to how to go about creating this change then I am writing this post for you. Your disorientation is a natural by product of simply being alive in the midst of such intense disruption to our systems and psyches, but the great thing about chaos is that it's an opportune time for change. With that said, I'm going to offer up a framework with which to look at how we can go about creating more harmony and synergy within our lives in hopes that it helps steer you just a little bit closer to where you'd like to be operating from as we move into this new year.
PART 1: SELF
As we all know, the lynchpin of our whole experience here comes down to the quality of connection and overall awareness we have with and about our own selves. A self is a complex and dichotomous thing so it's helpful to break it down into its various aspects. There are many ways to break down the facets of self so I have appropriated my favorite way below. Based on this model, there are 4 main aspects of self that we must be able to distinguish between and ultimately balance and harmonize. The goal is to raise our awareness and learn to identify which aspect of self we're operating from and instead of reactively defaulting into our well worn patterns (Example: intellect running the show, body completely ignored, inner-child causing shit-storms when under stress, essential self: who's that?) we instead choose which facet of self we want to reference in response to whatever is happening in the moment.
Pictured above is me - I'm about 6 years old on the left and 39 on the right (my current age). The interesting thing we discover about being grown ups is that no matter how old we get (or feel) on the outside, there's still an inner child within us. The inner child is the less programmed aspect of ourselves that never entirely grew up - it represents our innocence, the childlike joy, wonder and playfulness that we have the capacity to still experience. It also represents our sensitivity as well as all of the unmet needs we experienced as a child that never got resolved. Because of this, the inner child can be quite the trouble-maker. It's not the fact that your partner forgot to check in with you about your important meeting that caused you to come unglued, it's that your father rarely if ever acknowledged the important accomplishments you made as a child. If we're not aware of these original unmet needs, then they're going to come out sideways and affect our relationships, our credibility with ourselves and our ability to experience unencumbered joy and wonder. By building a communication line with our inner child we are opening up ourselves to the most tender and wounded parts of ourselves. By meeting the needs of your inner child (current needs as well as the ones that didn't get met when we were children) you will be offering yourself a healing salve that will facilitate a regeneration of your wonderful childlike qualities that are so fundamental to our ability to deeply enjoy life.
The intellect is the most programmed aspect of self, largely determined by familial and cultural programming. When we are operating from our intellect, we are deferring to logic and pragmatism (plus all the "shoulds" that we've accumulated). While the intellect can be very helpful for things like planning, prioritization, and applying reason and focus to decision-making and accomplishing goals, it's very limited and somewhat superficial in its scope. For example, if you're solely referencing your intellect to decide on a job change you will likely not be taking into consideration the more nuanced aspects of what's going to serve your highest good. Pay, growth potential and commute are all important things to consider as is value alignment, energetic resonance and interpersonal compatibility. Which job will meet not just your surface needs but your deeper needs as well? People who stay in marriages or remain in careers based exclusively on the dictates of the intellect are generally not going to be holistically satisfied. The goal is to know when we're referencing our intellect, understanding its limitations, leveraging it as a tool but not blindly adhering to it as "truth".
The body is an incredible resource that we tend to both under and over utilize. We lean on the body for lots of heavy lifting and assume it'll operate optimally regardless of what we throw at it. The expectation is that it will perform as planned even when we under feed it, over feed it, deprive it from rest, push it too hard physically, pump too much cortisol or poison through it's veins, etc. This essentially works until it doesn't. And for many of us this moment becomes the catalyst to actually start paying attention to the body; its needs, and on a more nuanced level, its wants as well. Our body provides us with ongoing feedback about our experience. This is evidenced through its response to the nourishment we give it or lack thereof. It can be observed in how hard we push it physically and whether it thrives in the face of the ways we challenge it or whether it breaks down and starts malfunctioning. There's a feeling I get in my body, usually around the heart center when my body is saying YES. There's a sense of inner expansion and opening. This could be in regards to any experience: meeting someone new, a random conversation, an opportunity that has emerged, reading something in the paper. The reverse is also true when my body wants to convey a NO. There's a palpable contraction either in the heart center or solar plexus. The body is giving me the message that it's not down with whatever just happened, or even more subtle than that: the content of what I just thought. My litmus test for any decision is to check in with the body. Is it telling me yes or is it telling me no. Sometimes neutrality needs to be sat with longer until there's a definitive answer. There is tremendous wisdom in the body that is there for the taking if we are willing to pay attention.
The essential Self is the most fundamental and universal aspect of self. Some refer to it as the spiritual Self. It's the aspect of you under all of the conditioning and overlay. Unlike the other aspects of self, this aspect of you is non-dual in nature. It is tethered to source, god, love - whatever you want to call it and it never wavers from what's in the best interest of your true Self. If we took a moment to stop, close our eyes and put our hands over our hearts, we'd probably get some initial messaging, likely from our intellect and likely poking holes, but after a few moments of trying to locate the essential Self, you might feel a sense of grounding or settling in. There might be a sense of familiarity and homecoming. This is you making contact with your essential Self. This is the facet of you that you want at the helm of your life, steering its course.
Innerland is designed to help you access your essential Self, build a relationship with it and learn to orient through life with it being the default lens. There might be a discrepancy between the agendas you've upheld (likely designed and maintained by the intellect) in your life and the agendas your essential Self has for you in this lifetime. To the degree that there is a discrepancy there, is to the degree that you will experience a sense of dissonance and underlying feeling that something is not quite right. I use the creative process because it's both a regenerative as well as disruptive tool (there being a relationship between those two things) that shakes things up, forces us to get out of the way, moves our gaze from the dictates of the intellect and gets us in touch with who we really are and what we really want. When we begin to allow our deeper visions to unfold, a whole new world of wisdom reveals itself to us. And the real kicker is that the wisdom, while coming from you, is also coming from the channel that gets opened up as a by product of engaging in the creative process. It's a direct portal to source, where infinite wisdom and possibility exists. This is the missing piece; the keystone, that needs to be in place as we construct our realities, re-envision our futures and redefine what's possible for us as individuals and as a collective community.
PART 2: Other - coming soon!