Trauma. It’s a tricky topic … especially in spiritual circles. Some seekers want to awaken in order to heal from trauma. Others believe they cannot awaken until they have healed from trauma. Some spiritual teachers include trauma-work as an integral part of the awakening process. Others do not consider the emphasis on trauma to be relevant to the path of enlightenment. And yet others have no idea how to address it.
I ask you, what do you long for? You tell me you want to find fulfillment in the work you do, to do something meaningful, to express your authentic voice.
I ask you, what do you long for? You tell me you want to find happiness in relationship, to meet your soul mate, and finally feel loved.
To fall apart. It sounds scary. It sounds like the end of the world. The end of us.
We do everything in our power to not fall apart. We keep our emotions in check. We keep our feelings hidden, even to ourselves. We contort ourselves around family rules. Don’t rock the boat, they said. Don’t listen to your wild truth, just fit in to our expectations and you will be fine. We conform to society norms. Work hard, spend, save, have a family, secure your future, and you will live a good life. We perform mental acrobatics to convince ourselves that we are fulfilled. We do anything to not fall apart.
The innocent longing to come home – what we call the spiritual search – is so often hijacked by an unconscious psychological agenda for comfort and perfection. Along with the desire to end the suffering created by ego’s tenacious story-telling comes a hope that this ending means we no longer have to feel what we don’t like to feel.
Empty your mind of unexamined beliefs, passed down through generations, inherited without question .. they do not belong to you. Empty your heart of accumulated grievances, held onto regrets and resentments, hardened into a story of ‘poor me’ .. this is not who you are. Empty your cells of undigested memories, toxic emotions, calcified into lethargy and short-sightedness .. it’s not how life is meant to be.
To meditate .. or not to meditate? Is a dedicated meditation practice the only road to enlightenment .. or is the direct route of recognizing “what is already free” a better way? Should all effort be put into achieving a higher state of consciousness .. or is it best to simply let go of any effort to do anything at all?
Friend, do not wait for the perfect moment. The perfect moment is a figment of the imagination, a fantasy designed to delay the discovery of peace.
The perfect moment cannot exist, because reality cannot be divided into separate moments. There is only the forever-unfolding now. And this now offers you the most precious opportunity to discover what is more true than any narrative that torments or delights you.
When I was a child, I told my mother I wanted to be a nun. She slapped me. If only she had asked why I had said that, I would have told her it was because my true home was the silence inside me and I wanted to live here all the time.
The path of the Mystic
is beyond words.
It is a fall into the Heart of Darkness
in which the self is sacrificed over and over again.
You want freedom. From your self. That pesky self that berates you when you get it wrong. Nags you for not being perfect enough. Condemns you for not living up to expectations. Yours or others.
That annoying self that coils into a tight ball of defense when it feels rejected. Lashes out like a scorpion’s tail when it feels attacked. That arrogant self that musters up all its strength to make things go according to its own wishes. And then rails against the world when it doesn’t quite go that way. The self that coerces, cajoles, seduces and begs. And then collapses into a heap of ‘poor me’ when the strategy doesn't work.
Awakening, you understand there is ultimately no self. You know there is really nobody here. You get it that time is only now and space is only here. You are empty, still, silent. You are unbounded awareness, and there is no suffering. You are free.
Until something happens. You get pulled back into the world. You get sick and experience excruciating pain. You fall in love, you fall out of love, you get triggered. Your parents don’t see how free you are, they continue to treat you like a child, and you feel angry.
Does awakening erase the personality? Do all personal traits, tendencies, and idiosyncrasies get wiped away in one fell swoop? Does our astrological imprint become obsolete? Do we transcend our conditioning completely? Do we return to some kind of innocent tabula rasa?
It boggles the mind to decipher what happens to the self after awakening out of the dream of self.
You cannot be more present. You cannot practice presence, or try being more present, or learn how to be present. You cannot lose presence, move away from it, find it, or move towards it.
Presence is not a thing, or a commodity you can possess, or a state of mind.
It can, however, dawn on you that presence is always here, that you are always here, that there cannot be anything else but presence, that you are presence, and that everything is contained in presence.
Friend, do you run away from your pain, your shame, your secret rage and private grief?
Do you stuff those unwanted feelings into the dark recesses of your belly, cover them over with things to do, things to get, things to eat?
Do you turn away from disappointment, rejection, failure and regret, pretending they do not visit you in the dark of night?