Everything is so green. That's what I remember thinking about a month ago now, how the winter that did not seem to let go gave way to what perhaps has been a brief spring--summer seemingly here now, although not officially yet.
If you think of experience and the personal perspective of reality to be based on a quality of awareness or consciousness, then seeing the transition from the quietness, perhaps even message of death, of winter, seeing that transition into life again, with almost a vibrancy of lush greenness in the world, from trees and plants of all kinds, this experiencing of reality can be seen to have different flavors, spring and summer being an opening, an inviting, to an understanding of expression, and giving, and a sense of the freedom of experiencing life.
Underneath what may be of concern, what may be psychologically apparent, or seemingly permanent, we all get glimpses of this consciousness, the flavors and different forms of beauty of it, whether that be the inward understandings more readily apparent in winter, or the more connective and expansive natural tendencies we might have as life returns in all its vibrant greenness to the earth during the months where the seasons are warming up.
Grateful for this time of year, may it unlock and allow us to see an expansive consciousness or awareness, opening us to the possibilities of spring, and the all but present experiencing of summer now.
I am thankful for the blog format to be able to supplement my thoughts found on the main portion of my website, and to share what may be helpful from an autobiographical perspective, certainly from the process of my thoughts and what I feel to be important for here..
I will try and share a belief I have in the therapeutic process, incorporating recent blog entry ideas, and my experience as a therapist.
Invariably it would seem that helping a person create space for herself or himself begins the process of therapy: space for being able to take downtime from others, demands, responsibilities, what takes one away from the potential to know oneself more.
To supplement or allow this to happen as gracefully as possible, I advocate for the communication style known as assertiveness, as opposed to disrespecting oneself through passive communication, or disrespecting others through aggressive communication. Assertiveness respects oneself and others, and I am not sure as human beings that we will find a better approach for dealing with conflict, or perhaps more to the point for this blog entry, for being able to set the boundaries needed for taking space and time for oneself.
Helping to inform this process as it unfolds is the before mentioned Virgin's Promise universal story that was discovered recently in narrative structures from around the world, from stories throughout history. Once the space has been created, the boundaries set, you are beginning to embark on the opportunity for self-discovery, for furthering this process.
You are becoming more open to doing what you enjoy, what you love, what seems to be meaningful for your life, certainly what is fun, playful, does not come from a sense of need, but from a sense of wanting to do whatever you are doing.
This becomes a way of being, a way of doing in the world, informed by the Virgin's Promise story structure. For further explanation, it becomes important to share what the words "Virgin's Promise" means.
Author Kim Hudson used the word "Virgin" to describe this universal story structure, because the stories involve someone having worth and value for simply being, not for how somebody can be used, or for what they should do. Like a virgin forest, they have value without being cut down or made into a more manageable size for someone else. We have value for simply being ourselves. She uses the word "Virgin" then for describing these stories, because in them people are being themselves, and are being led and empowered by this.
The word "Promise" means the initial promise or commitment one seemingly has to one's environment, one that is limiting or constraining to oneself in some way. It also means the promise, as in potential, that one has within oneself that will undoubtedly challenge the environment, the potential that will liberate oneself from the environment's constraints. This two-fold promise means the commitment then to the limitation of the environment or community one finds oneself in, and the potential one has to be free of that particular environment's constraints, by being oneself.
The Virgin's Promise story structure, after one has created the space to discover more about oneself, maps out the potential for being oneself, for doing what one enjoys and loves, thereby empowering one to become free from past limitations and constraints, where one may find oneself at the beginning of therapy.
This potential for happiness within may continually lead one deeper, the steps of realizing one's happiness and potential continually cycling, spiraling, ever deepening, until one may touch on peak moments, which happen as one continues to explore one's happiness, setting boundaries, allowing oneself to live from a sense of love, not from a place of fear or need.
Granted, living from love purely versus from any fear, these are descriptions of two ends of a spectrum, where the love and fear fluctuate at times as motivational factors. I believe, however, we do come to maintain the gains we realize when living more from a sense of love than from fear.
This brings me to a place that, for whatever reasons, I was able to experience in a true and deep way when I was an adolescent, if not younger. I will share it as being behind the veil, behind the workings of things, the glimpse deep into the knowings beyond our regular knowings, and the preciousness and reality one finds.
I will not separate it from science, and I will use an example from science that you may have encountered before. Once you get past the structure of the atom, which most certainly, not coincidentally, is 99.9% space, and you get into its subatomic particles, those which make up the parts of the atom itself, you are looking at the limits of what our science can currently measure.
Subatomic particles, depending on how they are observed, either appear as waves of energy, or as particles of matter, and if I am recollecting correctly, these particles, whether energy or like matter, blink in and out of existence at this truly microscopic smaller-than-an-atom level. We can simply predict where they may potentially appear, as they blink in and out of appearance using our current tools of scientific measurement.
When we continue to explore ourselves then, giving ourselves the literal space to do that, whether in our time away from others or from the seemingly required commitments of life, we give ourselves the opportunity to go deeper into our potential, to see what may come up, what we may enjoy, what we may be inspired to do. The word spiritual can be used for these practices, and the experiences that come from them, when we are able to step into that space, to give ourselves that time, to be truly present with it, without distractions. It is like stepping behind the functioning of what we may expect every day, behind the seemingly solid mass of whatever we may think our lives to be.
Beyond the space of our hurried and fear-led lives then, there is another place, a place of truer space, where we do touch on a place, where love can emerge, and where we can be inspired, and understand what it is and truly means to be living our lives from our potential.
As deep as you want to go into your understanding, this journey will continue, and be more of a seeing beyond the everyday, with its ability to satisfy only to a certain extent. The journey I enjoy traveling, and traveling with others now, connects me with a belief that we are all on a journey to understand, with our own abilities to humanly measure, what lies beneath presented reality, a reality of the everyday, to an understanding that registers on a more precious level, a level full of meaning and human potential, of a tenderly and truly experienced love.
I feel I am on a threshold. On the one hand, I know the presence and commitment to the quality of presence I have in helping out others in therapy, this accesses the knowledge I have acquired or allowed to come forth from the spiritual path of my life. On the other hand, since the knowledge of walking on that path means so much to me, would there be a way to more openly work with others on their spiritual journeys? As a therapist (one of the many possible labels for the expression of my existence on this earth) I am always ready to journey into that spiritual area if someone finds that path of interest before them. A resource that I discovered as I continued to look for traditions with love and everyday experiencing as an open part of their spiritual understandings, this resource I have mentioned before. Since it seems to be a bridge between the world of the everyday, where most therapy takes places, as many think of it, and the world that touches more on a deeper level, at a depth that does not always manifest or come to be revealed in therapy, I think of it as a resource worth mentioning again. This resource happens to be a recent discovery of a universal story that establishes a completely different model for living happily in the world, and it is actually living in the world, with love being an essential part of its fulfillment.
When an attendee at a workshop on scriptwriting heard how the late 20th century American mythologist Joseph Campbell, in his pursuit of understanding myths from around the world, discovered what he called a Hero's Journey, a universal story that could be found in all stories and myths purportedly throughout history, this woman became intrigued. The therapist introducing the story structure at the workshop continued by sharing how Campbell was influenced by the early 20th century psychologist, Carl Jung.
Joseph Campbell believed in the work of Carl Jung, a therapist whose work informs mine also, not incidentally. Carl Jung discovered through his efforts in helping patients diagnosed with schizophrenia in the early part of the 20th century that people seemed to have an area unknown within themselves called the unconscious, whose presence could be inferred most strikingly from the more severe cases of those patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. In these cases, seemingly whole and intact foreign personalities or personas not previously displayed or shown by these individuals seemed to take over their conscious personalities. To put it simply, some of these personalities included larger-than-life figures, including fictional characters from stories, or historical figures from around the world. Through his discoveries made in this work, Jung conjectured that the unconscious or unknown parts of the mind within any person can access what he called archetypes or the potential for powerful behavior felt from within, whether the behavior be desirable or undesirable for the individual. These behaviors coincide with the descriptions of characters and figures from around the world, in myths and stories. When Campbell discovered the Hero's Journey then, as a single pattern or story structure found within the myths and stories of world cultures, he was discovering a very particular model of behavior, which seemed to suggest a model for living, a model of sacrificing for the good of the whole, as a way of living life while preserving one's community.
Back to the woman attending the workshop--she asked about or suggested to the guest psychologist giving the talk how the Hero's Journey seemed to describe men's lives or their behavior to follow. What about a story for women? The psychologist simply said, or suggested, that women might apply this universal story through more of a passive approach to this story structure. The attending woman, interested in this universal story structure, but believing there might be something more out there for women as well, began her pursuit of such a story structure.
If her efforts are to be believed, and I certainly believe them, author and speaker Kim Hudson identified such a structure of story in her response to that workshop's lecturer, a structure she has called the Virgin's Promise, another model for living life, a single pattern that can be found in the myths and stories from around the world. Jung always contended that the power of archetypes comes from their ability to emotionally inspire, affect, or resonate with individuals upon being exposed to them in some way. This could happen in dreams, upon hearing a story, reading one, or even in seeing one, such as in the movies of today. Star Wars, the original trilogy, was shaped consciously around many of the mythical figures Joseph Campbell identified in his research of world mythical structures.
I have read Kim's work on the Virgin's Promise, and learned about how she went to Jungian institutes, those places where therapists interested in learning more about and getting certified in Jung's approach to therapy may get training. She analyzed movies, stories from different cultures, fairy tales, myths, all of these, in addition to her continued training at Jungian institute workshops. She did come to identify another single pattern or story structure, across all of these forms of storytelling, across history. What she calls the more feminine approach to living life, as a universal story structure, in comparison to the more masculine approach identified by Joseph Campbell, this seems to be a bridge into the work I want to do, am actually doing in the world. I certainly have no problem putting it forth as a model for living now. Reading Kim's work resonated with me, as Jung no doubt would have said it would. One interviewer had the same response as I did to Kim's work, that it seemed to be a model for a healthy way of living, a way of being oneself, not just a story around which one can shape a narrative. Women reviewers of her book have echoed the same pull to meaning, the same Jungian resonance with the story Kim identified, the structure speaking to them as a way to meaningfully live their lives.
I say "Kim" versus "Hudson" in my blog entry here, as a way of referencing her in a more informal way, because I have corresponded with Kim, her having encouraged me in the work I do in therapy, and me having thanked her for the work she has done in her book. I have made use of her structured story steps as a one-page handout in therapy sessions at times, as a possible way of looking at where a person has been, and where they might be going, as a healthy and fulfilling way to live. Honestly, to me, we are all continually saturated with the message of the self-sacrificing way of living which this culture has produced, akin to Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, and thankfully, to me, the Virgin's Promise represents a truly marvelous and resonating alternative to this way of living life, for really living and fulfilling it, with the possibility of experiencing true meaning in it.
As before, I invite you to check out Kim Hudson's work on this universal story structure she found for living a more fulfilling, and yes, feminine, way of life. And yes, I do feel like, as Kim says, that the story and structure of it are for men as well as women. She identifies several movies in her work in which the male characters of all types have lived the feminine way of life, which actually describes the movie Rocky, believe it or not.
I can always share more about this work of Kim's, which I may do in the future.
Here again you can find her work, The Virgin's Promise: Amazon link.
Here also is about an hour-long interview, the one I mentioned above, in which Kim and her interviewer discuss the universal story Kim identified, and how it represents a healthy way of living, not just a meaningful way to tell a story: Film Talk interview.
When I realized the spiritual path I had been walking for most of my life discounted or perhaps unwisely discounted the everyday experiences we all go through, this came at a time when I had just finished important self-discoveries with the work I had been doing with someone, helping to guide this person spiritually, taking it as seriously and uprightly as I could, feeling a lot of love, powerful love, in fact, on a level that I sustained, more than I ever have before and since, consistently, for months on end, it would seem. Really having no placeholder for love in the traditions I knew, but knowing this was the path I was taking, openly, conscientiously, in constant dialogue with this person about, it probably should have come as no surprise that when our time together was over, the void, the absence, the bewilderment of no longer being able to find a place for this love, save for myself, uncovered the raw truth of a spiritual path devoid of the everyday, which certainly means the best of it, which is human love.
What this discovery brought me to was the realization I needed more of, if only a small fraction of, the love I had been giving at such a high level, and by this I mean at a full-bodied spiritual level, as in my whole body was like a beacon, a conduit, a very blessed vessel, having felt like that, of giving love. Surely, after I regained my sense of myself again after the transition from not giving that to someone else--surely some of this, just a little of it, for myself would not be out of the question. In fact, I felt challenged to do this, and I keep doing this. Along the way of and approaching this experience of exposure of the need for love, in traditions I had followed for my life, I came across, most thankfully, a tradition that does embrace the path of love, and the everyday, and the body, and anything, really, all phenomena.
I reluctantly share it here, but perhaps the time is right: Tantra. I am speaking of the natural giving and receiving of loving energy that I felt in my helping guide the person, and the paths in written form laid out by those who somewhat consciously follow it, and those steeped in the tradition of Tantra.
It is not opposed to any other path. It ultimately is not opposed to anything, and because at its core understandings it believes in the reality of expression and existence, as an expression from that far removed place I came to know quite well from other traditions, this path was the path I wished I had followed--because it would not have set up the lack I was starving and craving, this sense of worth as a human being, this sense of love for myself, at a very genuine and tender level. Selfishness does not exist here, at this level.
When I recall the level of love I experienced at a high spiritual level, for someone else, for their benefit alone, that was what I was desiring and craving, at a basic human level of need, for myself. After coming down from sharing that, and being able to share it no more as I had, it made complete sense to find out how love fit into the spiritual path, and not at a sentimental level.
Tantra kept showing up, keeps showing up.
I am particular about my Tantra, it being reduced to sexuality in the West, at least historically it has. That is not what I am saying when I say Tantra.
For me, to expound on elsewhere, it is about love, at a raw and real level, no illusions or boundaries, no room for anything else, but a presence, a genuineness, all the ingredients that two can experience and help unveil what is ready to be seen, a truth that embraces the rawness of reality, a sweetness, and a depth.
I am dusting off the blog again after a short hiatus during the holidays, including the new year. I am meditating more, and honoring what allows me to be happily more. More happy, more peaceful , more connected to a presence that means everything to me.
I discovered what some may consider to be the presence of the universe early on in my life in Christianity. From there the vastness of this presence, this truth, opened up in my understanding of Hinduism, which I found out later was an experience of the Buddhist understanding of emptiness.
I have recently, in the last few years, found an ancient tradition that spans millenia that incorporates the body into its approach, into spiritually living, and it is living, not removed from the daily but just about being, and not shunning anything.
Without getting into details, this tradition in many versions embraces Kali in one form or another. Blessedly, I rediscovered and remembered how Kali informs the understanding of Hinduism that has spoken to me for over half my life now. Connecting back to her through my path now and acknowledging her means so much to me, and allows my body to be more at peace as I honor a spiritual path.
I felt moved to introduce Kali, and for the first time I am personally moved to more openly connect with and honor Kali and what she brings in my life.
For those curious or interested to find out more, I recommend the book Kali, The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar found on the store portion of this site: www.kalimandir.org
I have been debating about adding a section on resources to the site, so I am doing it in the form of blog posts entitled with the first word "Resources" followed by the type of resources. They will be collected together in the Resources category on the side of the blog page, or at the bottom of the page if you are viewing the mobile device version of this page. [Update: I may just tag other posts with the Resources category that contain a resource, so they will show up when clicking on the Resources category. They may not contain the actual title "Resources" in the post title.]
Sacred Feminine Resources
Sacred Feminine Awakening: The Emergence of Compassion by Misa Hopkins
She has four books now beginning with the same first words for the title; however, this one in particular beautifully expresses perhaps what has been a lost understanding of the sacred feminine, in a way that attempts to speak to anyone, regardless of what faith or spiritual path one has.
The Virgin's Promise: Writing Stories of Feminine Creative, Spiritual, and Sexual Awakening by Kim Hudson
I am always charged with inspiration and motivation when I pick up this book. Although it has been written for screenwriters, the universal story the author has discovered about the fulfillment of life truly resonates on a fundamental level, as it no doubt should based on the author's research that went into discovering this story. The theories of Carl Jung, a therapist inspirational to me who informs my work, helped guide her in the process. He put forth the idea that we have within us universal archetypes, or patterns of potential or behavior which we can follow, which show up in stories from around the world as characters. Kim discovered these universal characters and their life paths in stories across such a diversity of cultures. What she writes about represents living a sacred feminine way of life.
As the ebbs and flows of my practice of being with others in therapy has continued over recent months and the year, I have added to my site, altered it, and now brought it back to a more simplified version.
In alignment more with my outlook which guides my life and informs my communications with others as I support them on their paths, bringing my website back to how it was earlier in the year embraces perhaps more of the being, and less of the doing, which prompted me to add to the site in the first place.
There are lessons of surrender here, trusting, and just discerning in the quiet and downtimes for what to do, or simply being with the emotions of the ebbs and flows of life.
I feel I most resonate with this version of my website right now; thus it has changed.
Resources are a new category I am adding to the side of the blog page under Categories, or at the bottom of the page if you are seeing the mobile device version of this page.
To highlight this, I will post my first separate entry in the blog about resources after this one.
I wanted to share a humorous approach to the wisdom of not identifying with our roles in life, not too seriously anyway. As deep as you go into this, an indescribable freedom and understanding emerges. Anam Thubten, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, shares his unique approach to questioning such a fundamental attachment:
A song I like to listen to this time of year, in the fall, one actually appropriate for all year round.
"Green Man" performed by Type O Negative
(c) 1997 The All Blacks B.V.
Spring has come and gone, as has summer, and without further hesitation, I feel compelled to catch a bit of fall in my writing. Not only that, I wish to let go of what perhaps needs to be let go of, the imperfections that can imperfectly snag and nag one to the point of preventing the presence of the present from being here.
Why the date as the blog post title, you might be wondering? Well, after having set aside a novel on my shelf, actually my two copies of the one novel, one being a giant-sized special edition of it, I have picked it up again after about a year, this time being the time of year when people most read this author's works. So, perhaps you can see this coming, but within the first two pages of picking up the novel again where I last left off from the previous fall, a novel which I've read numerous times now--the day the novel resumes on is, you guessed it, September 28th:
"That year the first day of fall (real fall as opposed to calendar fall) was September 28 ..."
This happened to be in the mid- to late-seventies when the novel's story takes place, but it seems strikingly dead on for fall this year, in 2017. It is also rather spooky, or synchronistic, that I pick up the novel on the exact day that I read about in the novel. Maybe I've read it so much, I knew that date was coming. Perhaps, but the sentence I quoted above is not one I'm likely to lodge in my memory, except now after blogging about it.
So I thought September 28 an apropos title for this post, and something to write about after months of hiatus.
Why the hiatus?
I think I always try and write when I have something perhaps exceptional, extraordinary, or something illuminating to share, and I am not saying I do not this time, but this is my entire point. Imperfection is a given and a reality and only needs to be said because I think we try and hang our coats on perfection, when the darn hook keeps being dragged down to the floor, not being able to take the weight of our attempts at it, what will always only be imperfection.
I have not blogged since April, until this time now this year, because I was fooled by my own interpretations of others' comments or actions. Maybe I can assess them in a way that casts the shadow on them, when it really has to do with my own self-absorbed interpretations.
This time of year, perhaps it's natural to reflect on our own shadows, seeing them mirrored and shimmying down the lane, through tunnels of trees, in the curves of leaves blowing our way. I can throw out this word, daemon, at perhaps the risk of what some others may think, but I will use the word anyway, it being a Greek idea of an intermediary between the divine and us humans, or perhaps the messenger within ourselves to spur us on to go deeper, to relinquish our cloud covering of light, to let the shadows appear to take a closer look at them, to not flinch, but to see where we might have obscured our own path.
It's not the depth and death of winter yet, but it is time to reflect, to prepare, to let go of the previous suppositions and assumptions of the year thus far.
Be gone! Whatever truths hanging there as falsities, still lingering, be gone!
A leaf here, a leaf there, just let them blow away and realize them as the phantasms that they are, back to the nothingness from whence they come.
No self-absorbed false truths to exist anymore.
A good day to let the shadows dance and come, to freely swing them, and let them fade away, releasing them back into the nothingness from whence they come.
Mark Newlon, feeling the embrace of the sacred feminine daily!
Sites of Interest