by Kara-Leah Grant, Musings from the Mat
For over a decade now I’ve been living deep journeying into the Self.
Post-Bali was no exception.
I’d stirred up, identified and released a negative core belief centred around the third chakra. This was difficult work and intensely liberating all at the same time.
But that old third chakra negative belief wasn’t all that was stirred up.
There was something deeper.
Something that I haven’t yet fully identified and I definitely haven’t come to terms with it, or released it. But I’m working on it, with the help of my close friends and the simple act of paying attention to the subtle aspects of my life.
Here’s what I know so far.
I feel off balance, heavy, sad and disconnected. Yet I also sense the beauty of life, how incredible my life is and how fortunate I am to have my son, my family, my friends and my wider community. However, somehow, even though I know this is all here I can’t feel it. I can’t bring it into my heart and allow myself to enjoy the beauty of my life as it is.
There’s something inside standing in the way. Some idea. Some belief. Some expectation.
Whatever it is that’s going on in my subconscious, whatever negative belief it is that’s creating my present reality, it’s got something to do with second chakra. It’s about pleasure and enjoyment, guilt and punishment. It’s about the sweetness of life.
Whatever it is, it has been with me for a long, long time. In the past though when this heaviness has surfaced in my life I’ve been able to distract myself sufficiently to move past it.
Smoking weed was particularly effective. God, when I felt like this, what a relief it was to have a toke! Everything would drop away and whatever it was that was stopping me from enjoying the moment fully would dissipate and I would wake up and be able to smell the roses.
Of course, that only ever lasted as long as the stoned sensation lasted and it never allowed me to go deep and understand what was happening. In essence, it was an illusion. I felt liberated and free, but I wasn’t. I was using addiction to cover up my truth.
It’s been five years since I last smoked weed and even though I know I would feel good instantly I’m not tempted to go there.
But drugs are not the only way I’ve avoided this feeling, whatever this feeling is. I’ve used men and relationships, I’ve used busyness and ambition and I’ve used sugar.
Now, I’m drug-free, not in a relationship, nor do I have a crush on anyone, I’ve lost the busy busy busy ambitious drive and with this last shift back to Wellington… I can’t use moving location as a distraction either! My son starts school in six months and I’m aware of the need to stop still in one place for him to have stability for his school years. (Yes, I suspect I’ve been a relocation addict!)
I’m aware of how often I reach out for sugar during the day, perhaps seeking for the sweetness in life that I sense is missing.
This place I’m in right now is the difficult place. It’s where there’s nothing massively wrong and I seem to be functioning ok, but something is not quite right.
And, because my life is good and I am blessed in so many ways, I also feel guilty about not feeling good and as a result often lie to even myself about my internal states.
Oh everything is fine, everything is great. What have I got to complain about?
If you experience this too, it’s this phase where you can get stuck in for months or years. We reach for the distractions, or create drama in our lives, or makes ourselves so busy we can’t notice what’s real for us. We cover up the fact that we don’t feel open, relaxed, connected and present.
Over the years, when this stage of life has hit, I’ve gone through a few stages.
Stage One: Reach for distraction; drugs, men, adventures, work, food.
Once I stopped reaching for distraction and instead tuned into what I was feeling, I graduated to:
Stage Two: Notice that something is wrong. Despair, freak out and worry about what’s wrong with me? Why do I feel this way? Feeling this way is wrong. Therefore I am wrong. There’s something wrong with me!
Then I worked out that thinking there was something wrong with me was yet another distraction and I moved into this next stage:
Stage Three: Notice that something is wrong and be ok with it. Oh, I’m here again. Something is surfacing from my subconscious.
Stage Three effortlessly lead on to:
Stage Four: I want to feel good, how to I fix myself? What needs to be known, healed, released?
This was a useful stage and I was here for a long time. From here I would do the following:
Stage Five: Trigger the emotion that needs to surface, identify the core belief, become aware of unconscious programming, feel so much better.
This time though, as I reached this stage, it feels different. This time, I feel like something more is needed and paradoxically it’s something less.
It’s time to let go of Stage Five, which has it’s own subtle distraction danger. It’s still a cycle of identifying something that’s wrong with me and fixing it so I feel better.
That means I’m operating from a belief that I am flawed.
Oh yes, it’s time to move on to Stage Six. What’s Stage Six? I suspect it might be deep surrender and acceptance of whatever it is I’m feeling, as it is.
It’s accepting me, as I am, whether I feel good or not. It’s about feeling compassion for myself as my flawed and imperfect self.
This is the stage of integrating what I experiencing on retreat in Bali.
While it was useful to identify another core belief and do some healing work around it, the paradox was a deep realisation that there will always be work to do and I will always have times of feeling like crap because that is life. I will never reach this magical blissed-out place of total equanimity by fixing myself, or understanding myself.
I’ve realised that my ability to dive deep into my unconscious to understand it and therefore heal it has itself been driven by a desire to feel good.
This is not a bad thing. We all want to feel good. But the truth of life is that often we won’t and until we can learn to live with those moments when we don’t feel good we’ll constantly be fleeing our lives – whether it’s through distraction, addiction or even our spiritual practice.
If I continue to be driven by this desire to feel good I will stay stuck on this wheel of Stage One to Stage Five. There will always be aspects of Self to identify and release and work with.
The process of waking up itself has become another addiction.
(I had to highlight that. It seems important.)
Whenever I feel something ‘awful’ – fear, confusion, anxiety, grief, anger… I automatically leap to How do I feel better? Sure, I’m applying it to my spiritual life, but it’s just an extension of an addictive way to live.
Instead, I wondered, what happens when I drop the desire to feel good and instead ask myself:
What is the truth of this moment?
And in the asking of that question, what happens if I accept where I am completely, get curious about what I’m experiencing and see what it might show me?
Maybe this is what wakes us up. Maybe this is what makes us more conscious. Not always striving to feel better, but asking ‘What is the truth of this moment?’.
That’s been the work of integration for me and it has not been easy. It’s on-going. It’s work of continued courage as I own up to the ways I still run from my life, the ways I still wish my life was different, the ways I still wish I was different.
This also requires great compassion for myself in my flaws. I am human, in the way we’re all human. I make mistakes. I don’t measure up. I fail. I’m not always the best parent, or friend, or family member, or writer, or woman.
Feeling into this compassion for my flawed self is bringing up a lot of tears and vulnerability. I feel like I’m being broken open to life in a new way. It’s deeper than the broken-openness I’ve experienced in the heart.
There is much more to say about this. It’s feel important and I need to sit in it for longer before I share more.
Suffice to say;
We are all broken. We are all beautiful.
Life is the dance between the two – between the broken shards of beauty that allows us to shine as we are.
I am more than I ever dreamed, and less than I hoped.
Both of these things are true and in the realisation of that gap lies freedom.
I am as I am.
I am as I choose to be.