A book that opened a door and led me to a path for my life

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When asked one time what book had the biggest impact on me in terms of offering a path to follow in life I thought briefly and came up with the following. Louisa May Alcott’s, “Little Women”.
One of the main characters if not the main character, Jo March, had much to say to me. When I first read of her in the book I was intrigued and a little infatuated. I was only ten years old. Not your usual fare for a little boy though I was also reading Moby Dick at the same time.
Her boldness, outside the box thinking, and steadfast honest behavior was such a breath of fresh air. Though a female in a world dominated by males she represented freedom and independence from what seemed like a very restrictive society even for males. To me she represented a way out of the cultural box.
All the male hero’s of my early years seemed to be of the same cloth and color, i.e. various shades and textures of emotionally restricted John Wayne’s, Clint Eastwood’s,and James Bond’s. None of them could show a lonely, sensitive, intuitive, inner-directed and compassionate boy how to express his soul in a healthy way.
Then along came Jo who should have been much more restricted and oppressed than this young white male of the suburbs and yet her joi devivre and drive to own her life gave power to this little boy and offered hope that he too could break out of the box that culture and family had put him in.
“You can be lonely in a crowd, if it’s the wrong crowd” Jo said to her sisters and putting into words how I had been feeling for all of my short life.
Though it took me several more years to fight my way out of the box and to find a crowd where I felt accepted and included this one book set me on a path toward my own expression of a self I’ve come to appreciate more and more as I grow older. Also like Jo I’ve found that the union of both my masculine and feminine aspects e.g. the rational, assertive, decisive masculine and the inclusive, compassionate and intuitive feminine has made me stronger and more useful to others. From her I have learned to own my own being and resist what others wanted me to be. Thanks, Jo.
It is often said that we have the power to choose the path we walk but like the book I read at 10 years of age more often than not if we look closely enough we are chosen for the path from a place deep within us and it is from there that experiences come into our life and have the power to transform us.
As a boy I knew I was different and those differences were not accepted by many of those around me. This presented me with my first known crisis, are those differences wrong and thus need to be corrected toward some definition and expectation of ‘normal’ or can I continue being different? Though we all have to make some changes to accommodate the world we find ourselves in the question becomes by how much and of what kind? This has always been a balancing act for me i.e. shall I give in to living a life with little or no mistakes or do I engage it as fully as I can, mistakes and all, and do it without condemning myself for them or alienating others to the point where I get totally ignored and/or rejected?
The decision to be as much of myself as I can has gotten me into trouble sometimes (maybe a lot) but has driven me down a path with very little boredom and where sometimes I’ve been of some value to others. Outside the box living has become my norm over the years and continues to inform many of my actions right or wrong.

How to forgive and let go

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“How do we forgive” was the question one reader posed as a comment at the end of a blog on letting go. I thought it a great question and realized that I had not really answered it in any of my ramblings on letting go of what binds us. Here’s my answer to this blog follower’s question, hopefully others will find some value in it as well:

M.,

Great question that really gets at the heart of the healing process. Firstly we need to look honestly at our own hurt our own pain our own sense of trust that has been damaged by someone’s actions. There’s a very strong desire to exact retribution, to even the score, and to make yourself right again by making the other person wrong and punishing them. When hurt it can often feel as though you have been made less than and that somehow you matter less than others.

If this sense of betrayal and denial of your worth becomes so intense that it drives you in an inherently negative and self-defeating direction it can harder to let go. So first of all look at your emotions and own them. Notice that when holding on to your anger, resentment and hurt you are a different person than you were before the affront you are feeling like someone you don’t really want to be.

So you must own your feelings around this and don’t give power to the offender by making them responsible for your feelings. The process is about changing something in you not in them because you can’t change them. You can only change you. If you’re waiting for them to say or do something to make right whatever wrong has been done then you’re handing them the power over your life. This goes for resentment too. Holding onto it also gives the power to the perpetrator. Hanging onto resentment just keeps the pot boiling inside of you. Resentment is a poison that keeps you stuck and unhappy and makes it imminently more difficult to move on. Essentially it makes you a prisoner to the situation.

Remember that to forgive doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to maintain a relationship with the perpetrator(s) i.e. to those who have been disloyal. Forgiveness is a way of setting you free. It’s about altering the mindset of “poor me” or “why me?” It also opens the door to learning from the experience which will open a channel to your own inner wisdom and will allow for healthier perspectives and possibilities to move forward.

I don’t know your circumstances but often those who have hurt others are hurting within themselves and this causes them to lash out. Here’s the tough part because it requires you to move outside your own wounded ego and your damaged sense of self to look deeper into what may be causing them to hurt you. Try, without any expectation on your part of them accepting their wrongdoing, to give them the opportunity to look into their own behavior. This requires an act of caring for another human being and takes you out of your wounded self. Often to see that it was another wounded self that caused you harm can have a healing effect for you. And that’s what forgiveness is mostly about, the healing of you.

It takes confidence, bravery and strength to forgive and allows us to adapt and makes us more resilient so as to help the next time we are wronged (and there will be many next times). In so many ways the process of forgiveness is an act of love for yourself. it’s a way of standing up for yourself and saying that “I don’t deserve this” and that “I am strong enough to own what has happened and then take control of where I am going from here”.

Remember also, M., that you do not have to do this alone. There are many trained facilitators and counselors who can help you with the process of forgiveness. If you want help with your process try Googling “therapists who can help with the forgiveness process” and research what you get.

Soul Dreams      

hands-khattaway-300x300.gifI’ve been having dreams of people and things where there are parts or aspects missing and dreams of my childhood and childhood home where I see things and people I haven’t seen in years. There’s a common meaning between these kinds of dreams, that of something lost, something that used to be there but is no longer.

There’s an ‘energy’ in each of the images of a dream, an energy associated with each of the aspects of ourselves. Sometimes when something is lost or missing or that was associated with some part of our childhood but no longer present our deeper self longs for the missing part. What’s lost could be an admired aspect such as hope, or a dream of the future, or a feeling of excitement, or love, or of peace, acceptance, potential, possibilities, esteem, or meaning.

The list can be endless for when young, everything is possible and then life happens and the possibilities get whittled away and we learn to let go of more and more of our dreams. All these energies of the self that have been filed away or shoved down into the unconscious want to be recognized, reenergized if you will, and brought back into the self that is you.

For me it is enchantment, awe, and significance that has been carved away from my core, the suppressed expressions of my soul. My dreams serve as healers to the wounds suffered by my soul self and reminders of who I am. A dream of my eleven year old self has an energy that I gave up over time and sometimes this aspect will return in the form of my childhood bedroom or a beloved, but now gone, family member or pet and serve as a guide to regaining the lost energy.

The process is often called “soul recovery”. We may have lost some part of ourselves due to some pain or abuse, some trauma or heartbreak but for whatever the reason we cannot feel complete until we have learned to bring home the missing aspects. They’re still there, these missing parts of ourselves, they’re still part of us.

The eleven year old is still in there with the same dream for his or her life and the essence of the dream can still be expressed only now we have tools and opportunities gained through age and hard fought for wisdom that can help us to harness our missing energies and express the basic core of the dream. But first we have to recall the messages of our inner self through the medium of our sleeping dreams for it is in these dreams that the soul is trying desperately to communicate with us what we are really here for.

Don’t give up on your soul dreams. Listen to that small quiet voice from within that wants you to know who and what you really are.

As I finished writing I pushed away from my desk and took a break, pulled on a jacket and stepped outside into a brightly crisp morning and bid the just rising sun a good day. As per my morning ritual I closed my eyes and welcomed my part of the earth into its new course– standing before each of the cardinal directions and whispering a heart-filled gratefulness. With each breath in and out I chanted the morning’s mantra, “Earth am I, air am I, fire and water and spirit am I. Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us”

I opened my eyes once again to the east and the sky was ablaze with gold, the distant trees dark silhouettes against its slowly strengthening glow. Turning to the North again and preparing to turn through the compass once more I was stopped in my tracks, for this morning the Earth had given me a new gift. Rising before me stood a brightly colored and full-arced rainbow with one foot planted near a Sycamore at the end of the street and the other stretching off to the south as though challenging me to follow.

The crows were flying out of the northwest on their morning pilgrimage and flew through the multicolored arc, winged black caricatures of the magical arts transformed into soaring messengers of joy. This is going to be a soul dream of a day.

What is REM sleep? What’s going on in there when you sleep?

 

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On occasion I’ve mentioned REM sleep. Some people have asked, “What is REM sleep?”

It stands for Rapid Eye Movement sleep and is the last stage of sleep where the EEG wave pattern is similar to the waking brain with some of the characteristics of both the alpha and beta states that are earlier states of sleeping. As a point of interest, the alpha state is also that same state that one finds themselves in when meditating, or when in “the zone,” or when daydreaming. Is this the state that a meditating Buddhist enters the mandala during a Tantric meditation (see below)?

REM is that time during sleep when we dream and when our eyes move rapidly under their lids as though tracking what they see, though that part of the theory has not been shown to be true. However, having said that there are those theories that continue to suggest an eye-brain correlation during REM sleep in that because of the discontinuous nature of most dreams, the brain is “looking” around the dream-scene trying to make sense of these discontinuities. We have these same discontinuities when awake, only the brain smoothes them all out and projects what looks like a linear presentation.

It has also been theorized that this jumping around of the mind’s eye during REM sleep may actually cause the sense of discontinuity and that the dream images actually come at us in an entirety which the mind then has to linearize (sort out) to make sense of it all. We may be doing this in the waking world as well which is why the concept of time (a construct of the mind that does not actually exist in the physical world) was created as a means of sorting it all out. It’s interesting how Tibetan Thangka paintings show the entire life of an individual in a circle surrounding the Buddha suggesting that the person’s life is all happening at once.

 

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Mandala Thangka

“Time is nature’s way to keep everything from happening at once.”

J.A. Wheeler-Physicist

 

But let me get back to REM. During REM a normal person’s musculoskeletal system (which is your body movement system) is suppressed or shut down. Why? Well we don’t have solid answers for this, but we do have research that points to reasons for this. Some evidence suggests that one of the reasons for dreaming includes both memory consolidation and memory erasure. In the erasure mode, any memory that is not reinforced becomes weakened. Memories with physical reactions are strengthened through repeated physicality, thus those memories brought up during sleep would be less likely to be retained if there were no physical reinforcement. This ‘feedback loop’ is shut down during REM.

There’s also the added advantage that when we were all huddled together against the cold in our dark and lonely caves, the dreaming of the day’s physicality would not be reenacted to the annoyance of your neighbor you’d be punching and strangling thinking that you were being attacked by some Saber-tooth tiger. Of course this theory only holds up for ‘unwanted’ memories with some other activity being responsible for the retention of those memories needed for survival. But don’t dismiss the erasure concept too quickly because if our brains could not erase the unwanted (which is enormous when compared to the wanted) we would need bigger brains to hold it all. This is in fact what we see in animals who have huge brain mass compared to their body mass and who have no REM. As a matter of fact studies have shown that when someone is deprived of REM sleep for too long, the brain goes almost instantly into REM and resists any further attempt to prevent it. So REM seems to be an adaptation for those creatures with higher order neural network systems such as ours.

It also gives us many hours of entertainment projecting meaning onto the sleep visions that may or may not have any inherent meaning. But isn’t this pretty much like the rest of our lives where we are continuously projecting meaning onto every object, person or event? Seems to me that dream interpretation of meaning projection is a pretty non-confrontational way of looking at what’s going on inside of you and around you. And who knows, higher-level self-awareness may just be the next neural adaptation the evolving human is developing.

“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”

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Its not nice to mess WITH MOTHER NATURE
by FrenzySadist
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Fan Art / Manga & Anime / Traditional / Books & Novels©2013-2019 FrenzySadist

My wife and I were talking about an old television commercial about how a new margarine tasted so much like butter and the main character dressed as Mother Nature herself exclaimed, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”. This got me to thinking about our troubled relationship with nature and that seems to have led me to a dream later that night.

It was a dream full of ruins, tidal waves, death and destruction, oceans turning into deserts, fires raging across the globe– an apocalypse, perhaps, but one of our own making, not God’s.

The planet does not need us in order to survive. We need it, so why are we killing it? Are we that arrogant that we think we can do whatever we want with it and that that won’t negatively affect the ability of the planet to sustain us?

The planet is like a spaceship hurtling through space. Though it isn’t the primary purpose of the ship, it gives us a means to feed and water ourselves, keep us protected from the freezing temperatures of space and provides us with oxygen to breathe. That’s all well and good and it’s all incidental to the journey that spaceship Earth is on i.e. we can use it as long as we behave ourselves, but this ship is self-regulating and when something threatens it will fix the problem so as to continue the journey. And the “fix” could be accomplished by getting rid of the part that is causing the trouble and replace it with something more reliable.

I think we better stop being the problem that needs to be fixed perhaps we too need to be more self-regulating in a more harmonious way with this planetary ship we’re all traveling on?

Certain self-serving elements have turned the plea for a sustainable economy into a political tool. This only distracts those easily distracted in order that they may be manipulated to support an unsustainable agenda, the unfettered domination of the few over the many. They’ve also developed a profound ignorance of what it takes to sustain a livable eco-culture and it is this ignorance that allows them to ignore the evidence that they are gravely affecting the ability of the ecosystem to sustain us, all of us. Their greed and obsession with the need to control is choking the planet. But the planet will retaliate and either reduce or exterminate the threat– the bigger the threat, the bigger the reduction.

Perhaps it’s time the easily distracted woke up from their stupor, their self-created delusions, and say “enough is enough”. The planet doesn’t care about our greed, our politics, our ignorance, our beliefs, our religions, what we want or don’t want, or our self-serving ignorance. If we become too much a problem for it we will go the way of other species who couldn’t adapt to it’s primary goal, sustainability i.e. perpetuation of itself with or without us.

Bottom line, the planet doesn’t need us to survive, but we might be providing it reason to get rid of us in order for it to survive.

So what to do…well, might you want to hold the big picture in mind while you act on local needs and initiatives, as local as what goes into your dinner and into your garbage? Think about it with only minor discomforts, you can actually save the world!

The healing of the anima/animus: So how do you step outside the trap of the box you’ve gotten yourself into?

 

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I’ve been talking in class about the rational, concrete and patriarchal world we live in i.e. the cultural-emotional “box” we live in– the myth that informs and directs how we live our lives and react to our environment.

The question that came up for me when I first realized that the box even existed was, “Okay, how do I get outside it?” which is a typical male response to any problem. I’ve been working on that for over 35 years now. At first all my efforts were for naught because I didn’t really understand the parameters of the box (didn’t know where the walls began and ended) so everything I did was within the context of the box i.e. more box stuff. When I realized that it was I who was creating the box, albeit in partnership with the society I was living in, I began the task of tracking down what I was doing and why, in other words, “what purpose did my behaviors have for the life I was living?”

In my case it was about maintaining and protecting the persona (my presentation to myself and to the world of who I was or at least wanted to think I was) and not dealing with the hurts in my life– most of them gained during the experience of being parented either by my mother and father or the other authority figures in my life, that was pretty much all adults, though there were certain children I gave that power to as well e.g. some bullies, girls I was in love with and who demeaned it, boys I looked up to who ignored me or taunted me with their arrogance.

These hurts are real, though the patriarchal society might say, “Snap out of it you wuss* and get on with it!” To the degree that I didn’t honor the reality of the feelings, of the emotions, is the degree to which they went underground into the subconscious and then grew until they began to effect not only how I viewed myself, but my world perspective and how I reacted to my experiences, in other words, how the material I shoved into the subconscious took over the running of my life.

So how do we begin stepping outside the box we’ve built for ourselves?

Here are a few suggestions that have helped me along the way:

  • Do something you thought that you couldn’t do– perhaps even something you were afraid to do.
  • Read poetry, fantasy, fairytales, ancient mythology**. Step outside the rational, concrete and patriarchal world and into the symbolic and mythic.
  • Become more conscious of your own myth, the story of your own life.
  • Become more receptive to your own inner environment.
  • When you see someone and you’re finding yourself judging them don’t make that judgment real, just notice that you’re judging. Chances are the judgment has nothing to do with them and far more to do with you.
  • Have your feelings, don’t let them have you i.e. don’t become them. Notice them without doing anything with them, don’t resist them***just experience them without judging them.
  • Notice what the circumstances are associated with your feelings. For example, what’s happening when they show up? Remember to just notice.
  • When you reflect upon an early emotional injury (usually recalled when a similar circumstance shows up in your current life) what do you do with the hurt e.g. do you automatically let the ‘perpetrator’ off the hook by taking some or all of the blame? Try letting the emotional experience play out without doing anything with it, don’t even analyze it, just have it. Don’t make it any more solid than it is by either agreeing with it or resisting it.
  • When having a feeling or emotion notice what’s happening in your body. Do you feel tightness anywhere? Has anything happened to your breathing? Are your hands clenched? How do your arms feel? Check your neck, back, chest and face, anything happening there?
  • Keeping our emotional injuries bottled up regardless of their level of trauma i.e. their degree of severity, allows them to fester and grow. Frequently they will find a form of outward expression through the body i.e. through over or under weight, migraine headaches, debilitating pains, nightmares, or stomach ailments– to which the patriarchal medical response is to prescribe a pill, or to tell you it’s “all in your head” and not real.

When I was working full time as an administrator the level of stress that had to be dealt with and endured on a regular basis made life very difficult over time. Eventually I developed pain in my right shoulder that became so painful that it could not be endured and totally incapacitated my use of that arm and severely affected my ability to do my job.

Medically I was sent to physical therapists, chiropractors and eventually was given cortisone shots to reduce the pain and inflammation. The shots worked for a while but eventually the pain returned and sometimes moved to another part of my body such as the neck or lower back. Basically I was ignoring the messages of my body and soldiering on like the Great Patriarch said I must.

For the last two years before I permanently retired I was in and out of the hospital and doctor’s office. Within a month after I retired and I was able to reflect upon all the emotional material that I couldn’t see my way through while in the trenches, the pains disappeared, never to return.

As with all myths there are ‘turning points’, those shifts in personal awareness and perspectives of the hero (in this case, you). Those who take the mythic journey within themselves will also experience these shifts and over time become less dominated by their subconscious and more able to live a life of true conscious ‘free-will’.

It is a fact of life that when all seems the most hopeless and becomes like wandering a wasteland that the stage is set for transformation. Up until then the ego, the center of who we think we are, sustains the lie that all is well and that material success and rational living are the only goals in life.

So what to do?

Women in this society need to acknowledge their inner strength through the development of their animus (inner masculine) so as to forge their own voice and identity. Men on the other hand need to nurture their anima, or inner feminine, so as to polish the sharp edges of their voice and to ensure that it is their voice and not that of another who is speaking for them.

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*a very patriarchal colloquialism implying that anyone who looks too closely at their emotions and inner self is being too girly, i.e. not rational and manly.

**a symbolic, non rational, non concrete activity

resisting is the best way to keep something stuck and growing into something bigger.

Poetry and the loss of soul

12006963_f520.jpgAs I sat working on a workshop on poetry I’m developing I began to list answers to the question, “What is poetry?”

When I came to the end of my list I wrote down, “Everything, and every event in life is poetry. The soul of our being is a poet!”

Poetry speaks of and from the imaginal. When it “speaks of” it’s the soul trying to understand itself and in the “speaking from” it is talking about a nonlinear, non-rational, imaginal, and animating force behind the human quest and thirst for meaning.

Poetry for me is an imaginative activity that encompasses everything in life. Imagination is at the root of all poetry and may very well be the essence of our souls as well. It seems that when my soul desires to break free of my egoistic rational and literal interpretation of reality it speaks to me through poetry and metaphor in my dreams and the events and people in the world around me.

Poetry is about images not literalisms or naturalisms. It is about alternative ways of seeing the world and ourselves. Poetry helps us reconnect with our soul.I say “reconnect” because our society seems to be suffering a loss of soul where it has lost its connections with others and with self. This affects those within the society by robbing them of their sense of belonging and communion.

Our personal myth has also gotten lost, as has that of the larger myth of the greater society. Meaning has become blurred, as has our reason for living.

The current social situation infecting the country and the world is a symptom of our loss of soul. Radical and violent approaches to regaining what is lost reflect the unrecognized panic people are feeling associated with this loss. But this panic is also a symptom of the loss of soul and trying to treat symptoms is futile; It may temporarily relieve the pain but doesn’t cure the cause. Addressing the loss behind the symptoms is critical.

It’s the imaginal needs of the soul that are missing and this has separated us from that which gives life meaning. We see some attempts to address these imaginal needs of the soul in the growth of interest in astrology, divination, magic and fantasy. Even poetry is experiencing a revival. But the society in general is trying to deal with the loss through literal thinking e.g. more jobs, better wages, better medical care, and walls and laws. These may have their merits but are not what the soul is crying out for. Achievement of these goals might temporarily satisfy the ego, a voracious consumer of temporary satisfactions, but will do little or nothing for the soul.

We seem to have lost our excited and loving connection to life. We are in survival mode and this abuse of our souls that we have tolerated for so long has led to the symptoms of disconnection that we see in our communities and greater society. This disconnect is the herald of our greater loss of soul.

Humans are being treated as commodities, objects to be manipulated, and subservient to the power and greed of others. People have become just a means to and end for producing ever-increasing capital. To that end they (we) only have one purpose until they are no longer needed. There is no soul in this and that has stripped people of their own soul expression, their raison d’etre. Modern society implies that a human’s meaning is in what they can produce outside itself. It ignores the inside meaning and demeans the experience of spirit, humanness, individuality, essence, purpose, emotion, mercy, morality, wisdom, and God. Our soul has become secondary to our utility and with this shift in our meaning is the loss of meaning in life.

Are we just cogs in the machine or plug-ins to the corporation god or do we have greater meaning than that? I know that you know the answer. So what are you going to do about it? Hint: the answer is already in the text of this post.

 

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The different way men and women express emotions especially as manifested in their dreams.

 

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As I’ve been preparing to do a presentation to some of the men of the church on the meaning and usefulness of dreams I’ve been focusing on both masculine and feminine experience as they manifest in dreams. Earlier this week I spent some time looking at the differences in gender regarding the experience of emotional events as they are expressed.

Both genders seem to lose their “voice” at a young age. Boys are just as emotional as girls but their expression of it is altered by society over time. What voice am I talking about? Girls lose their masculine voice while the boys learn to moderate their feminine.

Research has shown that a boy’s emotional aspect is often different from a girls. Often the extreme sensitivity that boys feel when younger has been suppressed and demeaned. This can leave a boy feeling as though there’s something wrong with them i.e. broken. This can happen with a girl as well and it leaves them feeling insufficient. In truth we are all born somewhat alike with the primary differences being in how we express that likeness or in how we learn not to from the society we live in.

In a Psychology Today article (Sep 9, 2011) it’s claimed that men dream of other men or men in general more often than women e.g. 67% of characters in a man’s dream are men as opposed to 48% of characters in a woman’s dream being women. Men’s dreams are frequently about aggressive encounters with other men who are typically strangers while women tend to dream of women whom they know or are familiar with.

The article also points out that these different trajectories and content patterns are both biological and socially affected.

In the emotional arena Paul Hudson in June of 2015 as reported by the Elite Daily suggested that men may very well be more emotional (read as sensitive) than females in general. However, the study showed that men just hide these emotions better i.e. men have been taught (usually by society and culture regardless of upbringing) to keep their emotions to themselves. Men are often taught to be ashamed of their emotions and one learns quickly that as a man you can lose acceptance and respect by sharing your emotions.

So how do these differences manifest themselves in men’s and women’s dreams? In an article written by Gabrielle Gresge in Sept of 2017 as reported by Brit+Co a study discovered to no one’s surprise that the top dream topics were sex and intimacy, feeling paralyzed, chased, some future event or about a cheating partner. This is consistent with the nearly 4000 dream stories sent to me for interpretation over the years.

When gender is considered women (35%) reported dreaming of relatives who had died with men showing much less of this. In the area of cheating women treat these dreams as symbolizing the need for some tough decisions where as many as 39% of men take the dream more literally in that they think that they may have feelings for someone else. In my experience with people who have these dreams women experience their male relationship cheating in dreams when they themselves are feeling disconnected as though the romance seemed to have left the relationship.

Another somewhat significant finding suggests that women tend to look for meaning in their dreams at about twice the frequency that men do.

Women in a man’s dream often speak to a man’s lost gentler and more patient or caring side while men in a women’s dream can help bring back certain aspects of their hidden and suppressed masculine nature such as assertiveness and decisiveness.

In this way our dreams come to us as arbiters of our health and well-being. They often bring back aspects of our lost selves and our so-called lost voice so that we can function more healthily and authentically.

None of us are all one way or the other and to act as though that were true limits the expression of the soul.

 

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The synthesis or “marriage” of the different aspects within each of us is known as the Sacred Marriage.

It’s been said that men have difficulty dealing with and expressing their emotions and that women for the most part operate on a much more emotional plane. One of the biggest complaints women have in their relationships with men is how the man won’t talk– translated as he won’t share himself emotionally.

This condition can be extrapolated to the whole society as well. In a patriarchal society, a society where everyone is measured by success and productivity, bottled up emotion becomes the norm.

Women in the western cultures are slowly moving toward parity and that’s a good thing, but it doesn’t mean that the feminine aspect is being treated equally. This is because when women gain parity in a patriarchal society they are only gaining equality at the level of the masculinized culture of productivity and success i.e. they become more like the men in terms of their soul expression.

The cost is a continued loss of the feminine aspects for both genders. This creates an imbalance of too much yang and too little yin that causes psychic wounds with little ability to heal them i.e. it’s the feminine yin that heals.

The other day I heard a conversation amongst a number of men as to why there are fewer men attending church, “It’s because the language of the church is too feminine. Too many words deal with love, compassion and caring. This just doesn’t relate to me.” Said one of the men. The rest of the conversation seemed to be centered around the need to masculinize the church language so that religion would become more relevant to the men.

I was appalled by this conversation. Church is the one place where the feminine aspect can be expressed and acted upon and they want to transform it into something more masculine. More masculine? Have we forgotten the Inquisition? What about witch burnings, holy wars, tar and feathering, obedience of the wife to the husband, a woman’s place is in the home, shaming, second-class citizens, chattel and Scarlet Letters? Is this what we want to return to? I would suggest that most rational, spiritual, and God centered people would say NO.

How about men learning to be more introspective and honor the less dominant aspects of their nature? How about men learning to bring greater psychological balance to their every day consciousness? How about women being women and striving to add compassion, full expression and creative intuition to the mix instead of suppressing this so that they can compete?

We all swim together in a cultural sea that seems to see material happiness as the only goal. This is a limited perception of what life is about, of what our true abilities are and more often than not leads to unhappiness.

We sell ourselves short. We have incredible potential when we are in balance with both our natures– the masculine and the feminine. But we have to have a vision greater than the everyday myopia of the current culture.

As a people all over the world we have suppressed, distorted, denied, hidden, and forbidden parts of our nature. This has led to a universal neuroses e.g. easily prone to anxiety attacks, hysteria (OMG there’s measles, Ebola, avian and swine flu, etc., etc.) phobias, depression, and a distorted way of looking at the world (note how much money we spend on diets, fashion, Botox, products for looking good, entertainment).

The definition of a neurosis is: “poor ability to adapt to one’s environment, an inability to change one’s life patterns, and the inability to develop a richer, more complex, more satisfying personality.”*

We have this idealized image, some say fantasy, of ourselves developed over time and with the help of our parents and society. All too often this image is a pretense meant to protect the individual and society from what it fears e.g. being out of control.

But most of the time it doesn’t reconcile with reality, of who we really are and this brings about individual and mass insecurity and no matter what we do to try to feel safe, nothing really works. So most of our human activities are centered around feeling safe e.g. military and paramilitary (police, guards, DEA, ATF, TSA, homeland security, oh yes and walls and guns, etc.). Budgets for all this so-called security make up the vast majority of our expenditures.

In our sometime embrace of the extremes of human behavior we demean our humanity and lose our souls. The real threat to security reveals itself when we reject the center where we move our divergent aspects together and bring balance to our rigid positions and in this rejection stray toward the opposite extremes.

What gets lost is love and the ability to live up to into our real potential. All this because we refuse to acknowledge and integrate our conflicting natures.

*Boeree, C. George “A Bio-Social Theory of Neurosis”, (2002).

Chasing after self-worth is like a dog chasing its tail

 

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I had a dream the other night that seemed to be pointing to my oft feelings of low self-worth. In the dream I was both chasing and being chased and never getting to my goal.

Why is it so important to see my own worth, my own value, my own strengths? If something needs doing and I know intuitively that I can contribute and am dedicated to act on that intuition does it make any difference if I think I’ve got little or nothing to offer?

It seems to me that low self-worth is only important if I use it as an excuse to not contribute or to not act. Knowing at some level that I know something that can on occasion help others ought to be enough. Knowing that there’s something within me that can contribute if I let it seems to be more important than whether I feel good about it or about myself. I realize that it steals some part of my sense of aliveness but so what? If what I’m being enlivens another it might be enough. The satisfaction of having given from myself outside myself ought to be enough.

I’m tired of chasing self-worth. Sometimes I catch it but have never been able to hold onto it for very long. It’s not something I’ve ever been able to keep probably because I don’t ever think it’s real. Trying to attach certain talents to a sense of self-worth also seems a waste of time. I can see my talents or at least what I think are talents in the moment and I’m freely willing to give them away if necessary. What determines what’s necessary seems to be something deep inside, something other than my ego-self, i.e. that part of me that craves self-worth.

It is this deeper me that I’ve learned to trust. Whether that makes me a talented person of some worth seems irrelevant. Chasing it doesn’t seem to change my overall estimation of self so why bother? I know when I have something to give and can only hope that when given it is useful. Trying to get acknowledgment for the giving of something useful is also futile for my ego won’t accept it anyway, it’s primed only to reject. It’s an interesting creature this ego-self in that it longs to be accepted and yet rejects it when it comes around. It’s kind of like a self-involved and petty dictator.

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By Mark Lynch

Because I’ve learned that others need to know that their gifts to others or me have been received, welcomed, and made useful in order to feel complete I’ll acknowledge them. However, as you can guess in my case a gift of “Good work, Bob” or “you did a great job” will be acknowledged outwardly but almost never believed or if momentarily believed not held onto. The Bob Ego-self doesn’t believe it’s of much or any value. However, the “Deeper-Bob” knows otherwise so this is what I try to operate out of. When I operate out of Deeper-Bob incredible things can and do happen.

When I stop chasing my own metaphorical tail life becomes much less stressful.