Create the Life You Imagine ~ December 2018
“Life is a Mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.”
~ William Butler Yeats
The first stage of our spiritual journey requires us to gather up all of our human parts so that we have our physical, emotional and mental lives fully engaged in the journey. Any one of these parts could derail us from our path if we move forward without them. We need to give some attention to all of our parts to create and maintain the balance we need to be successful on our journey. In the Oz story Dorothy metaphorically gathers her Courage (Lion represents her physical energy), her Passion (Tin Man represents her emotional energy) and her Focus (Scarecrow represents her mental energy) as the qualities that would aid her in her travels. She had to listen to each of their stories and get them committed to moving forward with her on the journey. Likewise, we need to spend some time in reflection and dialogue with each of our parts, noticing which parts need attention so we don’t get stuck. We looked at the quality of courage last week, today we will gather up our passion and our focus.
Lesson 2: Harness the PASSION of your feelings and vital life energy in the present moment.
Our feelings are a gift. In the present moment our feelings gently steer us away from the negative and unpleasant and toward the uplifting and satisfying. Our feelings soar in the happy and momentous experiences of life, and they fall during times of suffering and loss. Our feelings give us the goose-bumps and excitement when something seems right and the pit in our stomach or tension in our chest when something is awry. Our feelings help us to pay close attention to each step of our journey and to make sense of our experiences along our path. Our feelings and passion for life help us connect to the deeper and richer parts of our journey and to the people who walk most closely with us along our way.
The danger is that our feelings and thoughts can get tangled up together to create powerful and toxic emotions. Emotions are connected to the experiences of our past. Emotions have the power to flood our senses, and we can drown in these deep waters and lose our way. If we are repeatedly reliving the painful experiences of our past through the toxic and paralyzing emotions we have created, we will be frozen in time along our spiritual journey like the Tin Man who is found frozen along the journey to Oz. My friend and teacher in the energy of emotions, Carol Ritberger, writes that “if you hold on to old emotional hurts, fears and life’s traumas, then you use up enormous amounts of energy trying to sustain something that in reality is really disconnecting you from your life. … Holding onto any emotion that does not serve you well makes no sense at all because it will rob you of everything: quality of life, energy, good health, enjoyment, love, happiness, joy, peace, meaningful relationships and abundance—All the things that both God and our spiritual selves believe we are worthy of having in this lifetime.”
We can learn from the Oz adventure that we must be wary of getting disconnected and paralyzed in the purgatory of toxic emotions and traumas from our past. The old French root of the word purgatorymeans “place of cleansing.” If we can remember that every experience of life is an opportunity to remember who we are and to connect more deeply with our truest Self, we can learn the lessons of our past, cleanse the toxic emotions that are keeping us stuck and fully engage in the journey before us. Our passion and energy for life and our present moment feeling senses will be marvelous sources of wisdom and guidance as we make our way to our spiritual home.
Lesson 3: Use your strategic mind to FOCUS on your life dream and to cut through illusions and limiting beliefs.
Our strategic minds are phenomenal at making plans, asking questions, conducting research, analyzing problems and collecting knowledge. Our minds can help us to concentrate, focus and prioritize in a world of dizzying distractions. The trick of working with the strategic brain, however, is to follow the Wizard’s advice and remember it doesn’t “know” much. If we are going to set out on the spiritual journey, into the eye of the great Mystery of life, we need to know that it will not make sense, it will not be logical and it is beyond our ability to understand. The cosmic questions cannot be answered, they can only be lived and experienced. On the journey home we will meet the transcendent, the numinous and the ephemeral, and our strategic brain will be of no use in that atmosphere.
While I know that my mind can be a source of great focus and concentration, I also know that it can create a firestorm of doubt and confusion. Our minds are all capable of disabling and destructive thinking patterns. Neuropsychologist Joan Borysenko vividly described the destructive power of the mind in a book for our times, Fried,saying that “a neurotic thinking pattern is negative, self-critical, hopeless, helpless and blaming.” As we walk along the spiritual path, the neurotic habits of our mind will derail us as powerfully as our toxic emotions. But our minds are also capable of recognizing patterns, even our own self-destructive patterns, and we can catch ourselves in the act and choose new thoughts and more empowering strategies.
Our strategic minds are also excellent at studying and learning. If we can get clear about some of the operating principles along the spiritual journey, then we can be more prepared for what lies ahead and more conscious as we travel. I have spent the last thirty years or more reading and studying the psychological, philosophical and spiritual texts and teachers of all traditions, and you see the trails of those teachers weaving throughout my work. My personality is hard wired for logic and analysis and I have been helped immensely by the writings and teachings of those who have walked this Mystery before me. They remind me to suspend my critical mind and to engage my mystic mind, to trust my deepest intuitions even in the absence of objective proof, to open to a wider and deeper source of wisdom and truth and to live in constant relationship with the unknown and the unseen.
The wisdom of the Oz adventure is to let your mind help you focus and concentrate on the path in front of you, but don’t let it create a firestorm of self-doubt and distraction. Let yourself study and learn from wise masters and mystics of the path, and don’t disable yourself with questions and contradictions. Most importantly, remember what the Wizard says to the Scarecrow when he asks for brains, “You don’t need them. You learn something every day. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth, the more experience you are sure to get.” Relax your mind enough to enjoy the journey and trust that the deeper wisdom we seek will be gained through our experiences, and like Dorothy, our steps are invisibly watched and guided along the way.
Wishing you courage, blessings and light as you continue this journey to create the life you imagine.