W.O.R.D.S.: Enough (or Be a snake!)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions.*

Expectations hurt us most

Never reaching that standard

Of perfection, which is smoke on the horizon.

Under every self-bashing thought

Glides a snake of venomous fear. Instead,

Hold it tight until it can molt into the newness of Enough.

~

I once heard someone say, if a snake tried to shrug its skin before its time, it would die. Wherever you are along your journey, whatever you are doing right now – as long as it is authentic to your true nature – it is right. Eventually you will be able to shrug off the “skin” which is keeping you alive right now allowing transformation to your next stage in life.

Almost three years ago, I assisted the author of Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore and his wife, Hari Kirin Khalsa at their weekend workshop at Kripalu Yoga and Education Center in Lenox, MA, From Religion to Spirituality.

At one point during an arduous meditation where my outstretched and circling arms were screaming, Khalsa said something that I needed to hear.

Do what you can, whatever it is, it is perfect. Even if you just imagine yourself doing it, it is exactly right.

Release Expectation!

Whatever you have is enough to give.

Whatever happens is enough.

For a perfectionist like me, trained as Marlene Winell in Leaving the Fold said fundamentalist Christians often are, these were true words of potential healing that I continue to struggle with every day.

Prompt: In this moment, I am enough.

~~~
*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

W.O.R.D.S.: Divine (or why do the crickets sing)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions.*

Divinity humming in the trees and throbbing

In the mud;

Vibrating through earth’s veins and pulsing

In my blood.

No one, no thing is apart from deity,

Every life is a part of the whole entity.

Di/De= root meaning “apart” or “separate”/”off” or “from”
Div/Dei= root from deus, meaning “god” or “god-like”
Divine/Deity = “god,” “god-like” or to perceive by intuition (not sight)
In = root meaning “not”
Therefore… Individual = NOT divine, not god, apart from god or not being able to perceive through intuition.
Jung’s concept of Individuation = psychological integration, i.e. the bringing together of divided parts of ourselves, all our senses, memories, disassociated parts of self (due to trauma or cultural training), and our conscious, unconscious, and higher and collective conscious.

Without going into Jungian psychology (that’s a rabbit hole I’m not fully capable of scaling), I’m going to briefly share my understanding of divinity, which I am still questioning and tweaking as I go along.

The very language we speak reflects the separateness of “god-ness.” But our language originated in cultures that also separated mind from body, men from women, the mortals from immortals, and humans from nature.

But this concept of Otherness has not always been in the human consciousness.

At one time, Earth and Nature was the only consciousness. Her rhythms, her vibrations, and her energy in the form of the seasons, the life-death cycles, the very workings of our body and the bodies of every creature and oxygen-breathing form was what brought the All together as one. The idea of “apart” did not exist.The All was a Whole of which All were parts.

Earth hasn’t changed, only our story of how it works has. Let’s change that story.

Like an orchestra playing a symphony, each instrument produces its own vibration, which when played together create a perfectly cohesive sound: one tune as a sum of its parts.

It has been found that every single thing on this planet (nay, in the universe) emits its own vibration (and we can entrain to the rhythm of others, both human and otherwise). This is its inDIVidual energy.

But all those energetic vibrations pulsing together make up the DIVine – the “god-experience” which we sometimes can tap into. You know, those “mountain-top” moments of transcending Self, when we suddenly know that we are not alone and that all is one.

All world religions acknowledge that one must transcend to know/experience “god.” It is no coincidence that drumming, chanting, singing, intoning, dancing, and other rhythmic/vibrational activities have been used as ways to access the sacred, i.e. to integrate that which has been apart from us.

To be inDIVidualized in the process of inDIViduation is to bring together in harmony all the parts of our Self that have caused us personal dissonance. And once we are in tune (intuition?) with our whole self, we can get in tune with the All: transcend ego and connect with a higher consciousness.

The Divine/Deity is the energy/life-force with which we all vibrate and sing, like a symphony of crickets.

Cricket Symphony

Prompt: I acknowledge divinity in myself…

~~~
*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project: Calling (Or, how do I know my bliss?)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions.*

Can you hear the calling of your soul?

And are you really listening?

Listen, listen with your heart,

Listen with your breathing

In, and your breathing out.

Notice how your body feels when

Guiding words vibrate within.

“It was his calling to be a doctor.” “Midwifery is my calling.” “I was called to be a writer.”

Our calling. What does this really mean? And who’s calling?

Some would say it is God who is calling us to our destined path. Well, maybe so – if you believe God is happy to let you do whatever it is that sets your soul free and your spirit soaring. Unfortunately, some believe that those things that make a person happy and fulfilled are contrary to God’s will and so they stunt their own potential in pursuit of unclear message of what it is to be acceptable to God.

That’s not my idea of a divine, higher source of wisdom. For me, divinity IS the journey towards, the search for,  as well as that itself which brings us FLOW (when we lose time doing something we love and have a talent for – our gift). It is the quest for, and the experiences of, transcending the monkey-mind of ego; that place where we are challenged, yet loving it (even during the difficult spots).

We know what these experiences are, what activities can bring us to that place, but we don’t always know it. Contradiction? Not really. Deep, deep inside, in that place that resonates when we hear and recognize some innate truth — when we catch our breath, or our eyes suddenly smart with tears — that is the place of true, gnosis: Knowing

But, as humans in a head-mind “body,” we’re not very good at accessing that spot on a regular basis. It’s deep down there in the body. In our cells, not our thinking mind. We have to listen very carefully to connect to that place. And many times we’re doing everything except that which resonates, that which causes us to flow  beyond, below, and above our critical, fearful, rational ego that tells us we SHOULD be doing this, that, and anything else that will make us respectful, scripted members of society – perfectly.

But that place is calling. That place which knows what your Purpose — our Bliss — here on earth is calling out. And if you listen carefully, very carefully — and it might take some practice, a lot of “walking” around down there — you will hear your Higher Wisdom speaking to you, reminding you what you probably knew intuitively as a child: Your Calling.

So, who’s calling? You. Divine You.

I write this as a reminder to myself because my “calling” has become a little hoarse lately. I thought I knew — and I know I’m on the right path — but the exact destination (or journey, because life is a journey, not a destination) seems to have shifted. But that’s how this thing works: Listen, take a step, listen again, take another, sometimes in the opposite direction than you thought. And that is exactly perfect. Whatever step you take it is enough and right for today for tomorrow you can take another.

~~~

*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

W.O.R.D.S.: Belief (or What is the definition of love?)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions.*

Belief in a life lived is all I need, because

Every day is a leap of faith.

Living in unity with the All,

Invites me to believe in Trust.

Envisioning the path on which I walk

Forwards my Wholy Self.

Am I a Believer? Yes. I believe in lots of things.

The smell of freshly cut grass in the summer. My children’s downy-soft earlobes. The full moon rising majestically over the Vermont mountains. The melancholy crooning of the mourning doves. The taste of dark, rich chocolate melting on my tongue.

I also believe in writing with groups of supportive, heart-honest people.

I believe in making decisions based on compassion (including for yourself), not rules. And acting from a place of confidence and happiness and love, not reacting from a place of fear.

I believe in equity, not equality. In cooperation and collaboration, not competition and conquering; power-with, not -over. In giving a hand-back to give a hand-up.

I believe in a Universe that is unfathomable, a mystery. A Universe – within and without – that yearns, and endlessly realigns, for balance and wholeness. A Universe that is a web of All That Is: all connected and all valuable to the Whole.  believe when one part is weakened, so is the All.

I believe this is a great and simple definition of love: “Wishing for the happiness of the Beloved.” (Buddhist). And God is Love. Lotus is Flower. Love is God. Flower is Lotus. Love – wishing for others’ happiness – is the definition of divinity.

Yes, I am a Believer: In the divine in myself that is the divine in you that is the divine in all that is the Divine.

But that doesn’t mean I completely understand or know all the answers… and that’s okay.

Prompt: “I believe…”

~~~

*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

W.O.R.D.S.: Acceptance (or what is good poetry?)

The W.O.R.D.S. Project (Words Open Resonating Depths of the Sacred): A weekly alphabetical search for questions.*

giftboxAcceptance

Allow the words of judgement to be

Cast off into dust.

Care, fully, as a mother who

Encourages her children,

Pushing with a gentle arm and

Tales of loving persistence,

Announce yourself ENOUGH!

No more bullying in silent

Creation of a weakened soul. No!

Ease open your heart to accept the unique gift of You.

At this debut of my new project I immediately want to tell you that I don’t claim to be a poet. But that would be a bit incongruous with the subject matter. This project is not about poetry and whether is it good or not is kind of beside the point.

I wanted the words to just come, not from a place of thinking, but from a place of feeling. If I tried to write “good poetry” (which, by the way, according to a workshop I recently attended is defined as 1. Well-crafted 2. Affecting 3. Beautifully worded 4. Memorable) I would be using my ego rather than my body to write it. I accept whatever comes, trusting that there will be deeper meaning than I could ever plan to say by trying to figure out what I should say.

I was once in a workshop at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health with Hari Kirin Khalsa. At one point during an arduous meditation which, in my mind, I was doing, oh, so complete wrong, Khalsa said: “Do what you can, whatever it is, it is perfect. Even if you just imagine yourself doing it, it is exactly right.”

She told us to, “Release Expectation! Whatever you have is enough to give. Whatever happens is enough.”

Acceptance is giving yourself permission to be a learner. To be learning. To fail. To make mistakes. A “mistake” is just another name for new knowledge. Judging sends you hurling backwards into self-doubt. Acceptance pushes you forward to self-confidence and enlightenment.

So, I may not be a “good” poet but I accept that my poem is absolutely perfect!

Prompt: “I am enough! I accept this about myself…”

~~~

*This project is an off-shoot of the work I did for my graduate degree where I used Words to help heal from my negative indoctrination from “The Word.” Words are powerful agents for transformation! (Thesis/Final Project: Calling Little Gypsy Home: Reclaiming Voice Through Expressive Writing and the Sacred Feminine; Memoir: Sing from the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search in Voice.)

Again with the Tension?! (Or, It’s OK not to know)

It’s happened again. An old theme has come circling around, adding another new level of understanding.

June 2009: I wrote this post on a different blog, which I then re-posted here in July 2011. This is the gist: During a Journal Therapy training I wrote (well, it kind of wrote itself while I held the pen) an Alphapoem which included the phrase, “Resume the Stability of Tension.” Not knowing what the hell that meant, I played with it for a while using other writing exercises. Then a few weeks later I was provided with the answer while reading Christina Baldwin’s Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest:

… you need to envision a lifeline between [where you are and where you want to go]. It needs to be tense, like a tightrope, something you can walk along. The necessity for tension requires we develop a different attitude about tension: this is creative tension. Creative tension is what creates the path. When we lose tension, we wander without focus (my bolding). We have to decide over and over again to stay close to the tension, to walk the wire.

In response I wrote:

I was wandering without focus. I was trying to split myself between a job that was sucking the life out of me and the longing to pursue a writing/teacher career… [but] I choose to put my Longing back in charge. Together we will walk the high wire of creativity – up where Potential and the Higher Self lives.

And so I went on my way. Two years later, I am writing, teaching and learning amazing, life-changing things.

Today: I pick up the copy of Marion Woodman’s Leaving My Father’s House: A Journey to Conscious Femininity, and casually flip to a page. I read this:

Knowing [the eternal feminine] has nothing to do with blindly stumbling toward a fate we think we cannot avoid. It has everything to do with developing consciousness until it is strong enough to hold tension as creative energy.”

Having read a lot about the Sacred Feminine or Feminine Divine (or in pure psychological terms, the feminine aspects in both men and women, or our more Right-Brain-associated functions), it is that part of us that can deal with mystery, with the not-knowing, ambiguity, paradox, contradiction, irrationality, possibility… i.e. what creates art  – or stresses us completely out!

Personally, I don’t deal well with Not Knowing. It makes me tense, as it does many people. We like answers, truth, predictability, logic. We are, after-all, a predominantly and proudly Left-Brained culture. Woodman’s use of the word “tense” in the above quote reminded me of that kind of tension, the stress kind. The kind we are told is not good, the kind not to sweat. But here she is telling us that Not Knowing, that being tense, is a way to produce creative energy.

And doesn’t that make sense? We can only come up with new ideas, create new possibilities, think outside that proverbial box, if we don’t have an answer already, if we are not concretely certain and convinced and determined that we already have The Truth. No great change, no great art, no great invention, no discovery, no shift towards better was ever made by those who already had The Answer.

And so, two and a half years after writing that strange phrase and then having been given The Answer, I am given Another Answer, on the surface contradictory but equally good, equally empowering. The one does not exclude the other, they can live side-by-side, providing me with new possibilities of thought.

“Resume the Stability of Tension” = Only a tense rope (a focused life) will carry you forward, and it is only when letting go of what you think you know that you can move forward. It is OK –  indeed good – not to know.

Maybe next week, next year, tomorrow, I’ll be offered another equally truthful meaning of the poem that was given to me…

Prompt: “It is a contradiction, but equally true, that…

P.S. Just hours after publishing this post I picked up where I had left off in the other book I am reading, The Chalice and the Blade and read this:

tension between pairs as well as opposite is a frequent theme. The dynamism of nature and its periodic rejuvenation through the seeming opposites of death and birth… unity and the duality of life and death… motherhood and virginity… femininity and masculinity… juxtaposition and essential unity of the creative and destructive powers… this [is the] all-encompassing transformative character of the … ‘goddess of opposites.'”

Natural Wisdom – in verse

These poems were written by a participant in one of my recent workshops, Natural Wisdom: Writing as Spiritual Voice. They are Alphapoems written in response to prompts while listening to sounds from nature. As you will read, not all are directly related to nature, but this is an example of the wonder and power of expressive writing: If you open yourself to the writing process, what wants/needs to be expressed will be. The author remarked that she was not expecting these words to come out, “they just kinda did!”

Thank you for your generosity for sharing them with us!

Poems by Gwendoline James

THE STORM

Dark skies releasing themselves of pent-up heat,

Inspired by Thor;  continual rumblings then stomach-churning crashes.

Straight rain falling to earth with relentless power,

Threatening all beneath its touch without regard,

Analogy for washing clean, washing away,

Never heeding any demands to stop.

Clean, so clean, until it hits earth, rivers, fields, then mud and torrents and flood and devastation.

Eternal rain……… or so it seems at this moment.

MOTHER LOST

Gone before I knew you, like the

Wind, blowing through and leaving

Emptiness, which I

Never recognized until the need to know you became

Dominant  in my later life.

Open my heart to the memories I do not have.  I want to hear you

Laugh, cry, talk ……why did

Illness take you away so that I

Never knew you, felt your warmth, heard your voice, fed off your

Energy, which was all spent by the time you gave me life.

SIDMOUTH

Soothing my fears, calming my thoughts, in this

Idyllic place.

Damp seaweed gently sweeping between my toes, the

Mouth of the river opening itself into the

Ocean.  What powerful secrets lie

Under your white crests;  your dark teal depths reflecting the

Turmoil of my mind before I came to stand in awe at your edge

Happy for the seagulls overhead and for your cleansing, incessant water to wash over my feet and

recede again into itself.

— Gwendoline James