From divorce to deaths in the family, Peru to priestess school, breakups to business growth…
I don’t believe in searching for the silver lining (“Chin up! Now that your heart is broken in a million pieces on the floor, you can find someone new!”) Ugh.
I believe in finding the gold at the heart of it (“If you feel deeply, there’s a lesson in there. Sit in the silence and listen.”)
Life doesn’t go according to our plans. Thank goodness, because I can’t even fathom how boring that would be. And yet, our egos get so attached to things unfolding a certain way. Letting go of these attachments hurts, and teaches us a lot along the way.
11 HARD-EARNED LESSONS FROM THE PATH
1. Death is.
Relationships end. Businesses transition. Illusions die. People and pets die. Death simply is. And sometimes these deaths bring sadness, sometimes pain, sometimes anger, sometimes relief. Sometimes they bring all of those emotions in one hour. When we allow “deaths” to be what they are, without trying to feel differently and without contracting stories of right or wrong around them, we create space between breaths. Let it be. Death is. Let go…
2. Intimacy is the gateway to ecstasy.
Ecstasy is defined as “rapturous delight”. This is what we all want, no? Exaltation. Bliss. Mmmm…
In my early 20’s, I thought that to feel that way required psychedelics or “faking it till you make it”. Nope. Then, I figured that if I was reallllllly healthy, I would transcend my troubles. Not quite. Then, I imagined that if I was a realllllly good spiritual student – reading the right self-help books and meditating twice a day, I would find the ecstasy I craved. Uh, no. What I’ve discovered is that the gateway to ecstasy is intimacy – being with. In the moment-to-moment cultivation of empty presence, simply being with whoever and whatever is here right now, I’ve found myself more and more often at the golden gates.
3. Labels are satisfying…for the ego.
Let me begin by saying, I want my surgeons and veterinarians and pilots to have credentials. Good education and experience, and the paperwork to prove it. But we use most labels to satisfy the ego by assessing hierarchy and value, rather than simply honoring the journey it took to receive that cred. As a result, when we’re coming from the ego, we want more labels that make us feel special. Recently, I was sharing with a dear friend that I had completed a two year journey of deep archetypal work with one of my mentors. “So, are you a priestess now?”, she asked sincerely. “Well, no…and yes. I mean, one could argue that we’re born with all of it within us. But to become fully ordained in this lineage takes at least 11 more years, if not more.” In that moment, I realized that I truly didn’t care about the label – that what it’s really about is the devotion and wisdom forged through walking the path. So the question is, would you walk your path even if you received no recognition?
4. Gaia and God. We need ’em both.
Body and spirit.
Nurturance and prayer.
Feminine and masculine.
Desire and trust.
5. Nothing can replace the wisdom of your heart.
We all have mental states we can default to over and over and over again. Mine has been confusion. “What do you think I should do?” was the tape I played on a loop…until I cut myself off from asking for advice, and instead focused on receiving support to listen to my heart. Here is the truth: No one knows more than you (by the way, “you” are your soul, not your personality) what you need. No one has your answers. Once you know where you’re headed, we can strategize around the steps to get there, sure. Someone can help you touch into your innate sense of direction, yes. But ultimately, nothing can replace the wisdom of your heart.
6. There’s nothing that’s not spiritual.
Driving home from Mount Shasta last week with my friend Rochelle, I told her a story from my first trip to Peru a few years ago. On that trip, we had a beautiful despacho ceremony (Rochelle teaches how to create one, here). The shaman was adding leaves and flowers (ahh…beautiful), and then pulled out the Skittles (ummm….what?!). I was so confused in that moment, thinking that the flowers were so sacred and the Skittles were so…Skittles. I mean, they’re artificially colored balls of sugar!! But I remembered back to years before, when I attended my niece’s communion and she gleefully announced, “I’m going to go receive the body and blood of Christ!”, and I remembered that we can imbue “ordinary” things with extraordinary intention. There’s nothing that’s not spiritual. It’s all what you make it.
7. Your shadow holds a signpost to your light.
Our shadows are the the result of perceived separation – the breakdown of the truth of oneness. Our shadows have us gossip, criticize, put ourselves down, lie, fight. They are part of our expression, as much as our light, which has us celebrate, honor, adore, nurture, harmonize. Our shadow is here to embrace but not identify with – it’s not who we are. The truth is, we are not all “good” or “bad” – we are neither. We simply are. And when we are in the softness of who we are (hint: the universal light of oneness), our soul’s essence shines through. Follow your shadow into the darkness and discover the light of who you truly are.
8. “Because I know” is sometimes enough.
I was speaking with a girlfriend recently, and she said “Sometimes, I don’t know how to explain how I know something, I just know it.” And I said, “Why do you have to explain it?” Sometimes, we just know. And I’m not talking about I-want-it-to-be-this-way “knowing”, I’m talking about deep-down-in-your-soul-knowing. And that knowing needs no explaining.
9. Your soul’s imperative is to be free.
I recently devoured a gorgeous interview with Tara Brach, Buddhist meditation teacher and author of many books which I adore. In the interview, she told a story that touched my heart, about a woman on her death bed who opened her eyes and said “All this time, I thought there was something wrong with me”, then died. Our soul’s imperative is to be free, and for some of us, it happens in our final breath. Forgiveness. Truth. Disillusion. Gratitude. Grace. Isn’t it worth it, then, to soften into our innate freedom much, much sooner?
10. Money management is important.
Because money is energy, and you want your energy to be clear, intentional, focused, and aligned. If you’re being messy with your money, then your energy is scattered. And as my former coach said, “money doesn’t land in chaos.” Give money – regardless of how much there is – the respect of being cared for.
When in doubt, mental anguish, confusion, frustration, upset, overwhelm…shhhh…Listen in.
—> In the comments below, share which of these lessons touched you most, and one of the big lessons you’ve learned on the path.