In my practice, I find, again and again, a pattern in which “doing the right thing” and “doing what we are supposed to do” can lead to a big, hard wall.
From the time we are small children we are taught rules. They help form us, keep us safe and even “on the right track.” Rules attempt to create order out of chaos. Or, perhaps prevent perceived possible problems (say THAT five times!).
Yet, what I am noticing is how many people, especially women, have spent their entire lives following “the rules” and doing everything “right” only to come crashing into the hard, cold wall of misery. Okay, some haven’t hit misery yet; some are scraping alongside discontentment. Either way, they are discovering that although they have done everything by “the book” and have followed the “rules”, life hasn’t necessarily rewarded them with their dreams or even Joy.
Why not? They wonder, “What have I done wrong?”
Nothing. They haven’t done anything wrong, and life isn’t what they wanted or expected it to be.
I remember when I first began working as an Interior Designer at a large architectural firm in Sacramento; I was fresh out of UC Davis and my internship had turned into a real job. Before long, I was calling my mom in tears about all the “unfairness” of office politics. She shared with me information from a book she had read which noted how girls are taught that if they behave like a “good girl” and “do what they’re supposed to do” then they can expect to get “good grades” (which they then translate into rewards, promotions, etc.). Boys, on the other hand, are taught that they should do “whatever it takes to win the game” (i.e. cheat, if necessary!). Thus, the moral of the book – and my mom’s advice, it seemed – was to “toughen up” and “learn how to play the game.”
I never really liked sports, I never read the book, and I never learned how to play office politics. I believed, and wanted to believe, in “doing the right thing.”
So why is this pattern emerging? Why is it that when people do “what they are supposed to do” to create their lives they aren’t finding happiness?
To address this question, I’d like to take a giant step back – okay, some of you may need to take two or three giant steps back – in order to have a greater perspective.
As we move from duality to Oneness, we are finding blurry lines everywhere, including that line between “right” and “wrong.” In the example above, about living and creating our lives, people have spent much of their time doing what is “right” according to a belief system that may be completely “wrong” for them as individuals. They go to college, get a degree in something they enjoy and/or offers great earning potential, get married, and so on, because they believe it’s what they are supposed to do in order to be happy. Yet, even for those who wanted all these things, Life has seemingly pushed them up against this same, hard wall! Why is that?
I have said this many times: It is our BIRTHRIGHT to live in Joy!
That wall of misery and discontent only asks us to seek out our birthright; to ask ourselves, “What truly brings me Joy?” And, more specifically, “What is it that I – on a Soul level – want to bring to the world and do?”
Many of us, however, don’t give ourselves permission to ask such questions, let alone seek their answers. Instead, we follow our parents’, society’s and other’s rules which we have completely bought in to and now own – pink slip, and all!
Once, a client asked a question that had something to do with her marriage and her happiness. When I acknowledged her deep misery, her response was, “My husband is very old and he will probably die much sooner than me.” In that moment I saw how completely bound she was to the “rule” about what it meant to be a “good wife.” She had a similar question about her job, but was just as clear that she was “doing the right thing” because, as she noted, in another ten years she’d have her retirement.
Another “rule” we believe is, “If I do what is ‘right’ for me, then it may not be for the good of all.”Interesting belief! If what the Universe wants for you is to remember that you ARE Joy, and is urging you to step into that place, then why would becoming more of who you are and acting accordingly be harmful to yourself, others or the planet?
As perfectly human beings, we have done nothing wrong by following these rules we were given. We can continue to do nothing wrong – or better yet, we can stop perceiving that we ever DO anything wrong. We can stop judging ourselves and get there is no “wrong” and therefore no “right.”
Stepping away from the belief in “right” and “wrong” allows us to observe our “rules” and recognize that we always have, and thus make, choices. We can continue to stay in marriages and jobs that make us miserable, or we can decide to make other choices. It can be empowering to release our rules; it can also be frightening. Like a cage, these rules are the bars that keep us contained. They can make us feel trapped and they can make us feel safe. Acknowledging the rules we have set for ourselves is the first step toward loosening the bars on our cage. Perhaps removing, or even softening, a few of them will help us breathe a little easier.
What do the bars of your cage look like? How free do you want to be? Are you afraid that you would harm someone if you were let out of your cage?
Perhaps you are afraid of your power.
At this time of awakening we are being asked to bring forth our power; to reach deep within ourselves to discover, and hence bring forth, our magic and our gifts. When what we thought we wanted isn’t bringing us Joy, or even manifesting, we can choose to let that hard, cold wall of misery stop us. We can also choose to rest, gather our composure, and look beyond it.
Have you hit any walls lately? If so, are the walls of misery or discontent asking you to call forth your deepest dreams, desires and gifts? Do you dare reach that deep into your Soul? Do you dare not?
If you thought you were moving toward what you wanted, and it still is not working, I believe it is because the Universe wants so much more for you than you can imagine! Our little minds and egos cannot comprehend our own Grandness or the Joy that lies within us. How do we discover this Grandness and Joy?
To begin with, I invite you to move from Form to Formlessness; to allow yourself to soften your rules, structure and rigidity so you can discover the possibilities that lie within your creativity, emptiness and potential. I invite you to rest, breathe, meditate, just be, and – lo and behold – break as many of your rules as possible! And, finally, I invite you to trust. Trust that you don’t even need to “know” what your gifts are; you simply need to call upon them to emerge and create a safe space for them to materialize.
As we meander through fall, we find ourselves experiencing more and more darkness. The mornings offer little, if any, light at hours that used to shine brightly. Our evenings are shortened as the sun drops into the western horizon and calls it a night at dinnertime. Although this happens to us every year at this time, it can still take us by surprise when we find ourselves in darkness at hours that used to bustle with activity and plenty of light.
In days past, our bodies and activities were more in tune with the changing of the seasons. We planned our farming and harvesting according to this natural cycle, as well as all areas of our lives. Today, however, we have modern conveniences that allow us to keep the lifestyle and pace moving briskly along, often making this transition from Summer to Fall a bit more shocking.
I can't believe it's dark already! Where did the time go? I still have much to do even though it's dark outside!
Fall is a time to reap our summer's harvest and settle into the simplicity of our lives.
For those who are gardeners, the harvest-time is evident; crops are changing accordingly, or laying to rest until Spring. Yet, for those who buy our produce, we merely wonder why some fruits are harder to find, why the costs of certain veggies have gone up or down, or why some don't taste as good as they used to just a few months ago.
Yet even today's gardener may not have the settling-into-the-simplicity-of-our-lives part down. In our current culture of "full speed ahead" - at LIGHT speed, mind you - we often don't know what this looks like or means.
Slow down? Simplicity? Not with my schedule! I'd sink, for sure!
Darkness offers us a time to slow down. When it's harder to see, we tend to walk slower so we don't trip. However, with flashlights, houselights and driving lights en masse, we expect ourselves to use this technology and keep on going.
It is wise to note that our bodies and spirits remember the natural cycles even if our minds and schedules don't. No matter how much caffeine and to-do's we pump into our systems, our bodies are getting sluggish and tired. Naturally, we have a need for longer nights of sleep. Our energy doesn't seem to last as long as we wish; our pace slows down significantly. Our wise spirits are calling for simplicity and ease. We desire the predictability of rhythm and routine. We yearn for heart-felt connections in small groups and longer periods of solitude.
How can you honor your body's and spirit's need to enter the darkness of Fall with grace?
We only get three months of each season; why not enjoy them? Fall offers us a chance to slow down, reap our harvest and create simplicity in our lives... not to mention some amazing and vibrant colors!
Did you ever ride Disneyland's Space Mountain? This roller coaster is in full darkness - the twists and turns are only mildly perceived with the help of human senses. Eyes, somewhat adjusted to the dark, make out the structural framework of the roller coaster which seems to be much too close to the vehicle itself; only daring folks (hopefully with short arms) are crazy enough to hold their hands high above their heads! Ears can hear the train's contact with the rails and perhaps detect which direction the coaster is heading, although the screams of other riders are far more audible. Bodies feel the climbing, dipping and swerving of the ride and instantly try to anticipate its next sharp move; there's some pretty good wiggle room with only a lap belt to keep you in the car. Spiritual senses, such as intuition, are often left in the dust as the rocket launches full speed ahead!
No, we are not at Disneyland, and no, we aren't riding Space Mountain right now.
However, as the economy dips, relationships swerve and hardships are the only things that seem to be climbing, you may be wondering how to get off this unpredictable ride - or at least shed some light on it so you can see what's ahead and perhaps brace yourself.
First and foremost, getting off the ride is not an option. Your vehicle is moving much too fast, you are wearing a lap belt and there are far too many obstacles. And although it may seem like an eternity, in the greater scheme of things, this particular ride will end soon enough - every ride comes to an end. And, you have to trust that if you were really in danger, the ride would stop, the lights would turn on, and you would be escorted safely to the nearest exit.
Lights can be helpful, but in the case of Space Mountain, the point of the ride is not to see or know what's coming next. Perhaps in our human and spiritual maturity, we've ridden all the other types of roller coasters and we were bored. We wanted something new and unpredictable. We trusted that we could handle the intensity of a roller coaster in the dark.
Whether or not you can see what's ahead, your body automatically reacts to the intensity life hands you. Seeing may help, but really, how would you brace yourself?
Some folks - usually in a fearful state - hold on tightly and try to keep their bodies firmly in place on roller coasters. Yet, most of the time, too much bracing - in a desire to resist every bump and turn - can be counterproductive and whiplash may result. Perhaps lifting our arms above our head in the dark isn't the best choice for this particular ride, but flowing with the vehicle as it twists and dips is not only more gentle on our bodies, it implies we are skilled riders. After being beaten and jostled due to our own rigidity on roller coasters past, we have learned how to ride with grace and ease.
Screaming, of course, is always an option. Some laugh, some yell, and yes, there are those who were not fully prepared for such intensity who cry. All of these reactions are releases for the body and spirit during stressful - even joyfully stressful - situations.
Although our senses are here to guide us, it is a primal instinct to use them for our survival. We listen, watch, feel, smell and taste whatever necessary to ensure our safety. When times challenge us, we may even be on ultra-alert and hyper-sensitive. This doesn't always serve us, however. For example, we might receive an adrenaline overload, run into the face of danger or freeze completely. So, perhaps, it's better to have some of them disabled at times? Maybe not seeing what's coming is better for us in our current situations?
Since we cannot see what's ahead on Space Mountain, it requires a huge amount of trust; hence skilled riders know how to surrender to the ride and simply go with it. When your physical senses "fail" you, maybe it's actually for your own good.
And what about those spiritual senses? Our physical senses are strongly linked to our intuitive senses, and these, too, are set on self-protection default. It may not be able to see and predict what's going to happen, or when, but it can guide you. Learning to tune into your own intuition is simply a matter of paying attention to what you are already receiving with your other senses. Then, by careful "listening" to your inner voice and "seeing" with your inner sight, you will likely get other information to guide you. Maybe you won't know the next turn, but you sense - physically and/or spiritually - that the ride is about to turn left and drop downward. Sometimes you turn left and drop downward, and other times you are surprised to find a sharp right instead.
However, if you are fully surrendered to the roller coaster, which way it turns really won't matter too much.
All in all, however you choose to ride your current roller coaster of life, just remember that it's just one of many in the amusement park. There are lots of rides for lots of personalities. If this one isn't to your liking, trust that it will end soon enough, that you will be able to safely get off it, and know you can go find another ride. And, since you did fork our a chunk of change to get in the park, and you did get in line (even begrudgingly) for that darkened roller coaster, you might as well try to have fun!