This thing called soul growth is tricky. What I didn’t realize was I had to face the dark to get to the light. You have to move into the very thing you are most afraid of in order to move through it. It seems counter intuitive because who wants to do that? Think about it. How can you build intimacy without giving attention? How do you get to know someone by ignoring them? By not listening to them? By avoiding the very things that are important to them that make them who they are? To look into something, you have to get close to it. You have to be with it, look at it, smell it, taste it, listen to it, and when there aren’t any thoughts or images associated with it, you have to slow down even more and perceive it in its entire essence. This calls for even more stillness and receptivity — to listen more intently, look deeper, feel with everything you have.
Please, who are you, darkness? What is it that you are trying to tell me? What will happen to me after I invite you into my world and turn your formlessness into love? What would you say? Can we be friends? I hope so, because I’ve learned that you, my dear dark friend inside of me, are my hope. You have become my only hope to knowing myself, healing my wounds and allowing me to live without the emotional pain. In fact, now that we are getting to know each other I can’t comprehend being without you. You are my lifeline. I actually love you now. I need you. I can’t “live” without you. When I shine the light of my awareness into my own dark places, little by little, my soul comes alive.
My hope in writing this is that this will inspire you to want to know yourself more deeply, to build your own strength and security, to love yourself in a deep way by stepping up to the edge of the dark and saying: who are you, darkness?
My Story – A Spiritual Bottom
What exactly happened is not as important as the path of healing I found and can now share. It is a story of healing an inner landscape scarred from habitual ways of thinking and being modeled and crafted from an alcoholic home. We develop coping mechanisms to actually survive childhood and I had to survive mine.
My story is similar to anyone’s who grew up with alcoholism. It goes like this: don’t talk, don’t feel, be invisible, keep the family secret, pretend that everything is ok, get your dad from the bar, endure the fighting. The underlying tone is fear. This was the environment in my alcoholic home.
Alcoholism produces alcoholics. My own daily drinking began at the age of 15. There was nothing exciting about my particular journey. I was a garden variety alcoholic and drank because I was maladjusted to life. The sense of helplessness was too painful to bear, so I drank to numb the feelings. The problem was, I could never out-drink my feelings. I drank hard, worked hard, played hard, lived hard and just plain ignored my soul needs. Emotions and feelings gave way to the numbness created by the alcohol. It was, as with any addiction, a slow death wish.
My sobriety date is October 23, 1987. I was 24 years old. I got sober and stayed sober for years but never could quite negotiate the trauma that had fractured my mind. Even in sobriety, I wasn’t able to negotiate the extreme emotions. I continued to suffer from anxiety, depression and anger. Because of this, I spent most of my sober life substituting one addiction for the next: people, work, cars, houses, clothes, hairstyles. I sought solace in perpetual motion and more is better. I ignored myself for so long that I was a stranger to me. I didn’t know what I wanted, what my opinions were or what I liked. The pain inside of me kept me from being able to meditate or follow a regime leading to stillness. Whenever I slowed down to face my shadows, I was flooded with the pain of my existence. It was unbearable. I needed a path for developing a spiritual foundation to support the very core of the 12-step program I was committed to. I needed a way to heal the trauma before I could find any true peace, and it wasn’t going to be through talk therapy.
The Turning Point
On a chilly day in 2003 everything changed. I woke up in the middle of the night to let the dog out and like every trip to the back door, I checked the time on the VCR. However, this time there were two clocks. I was having double vision. Not thinking too much of it, I rubbed my eyes and headed back to bed. I had been having severe fatigue and painful headaches that woke me up in the middle of the night. However, because I never slowed down, it didn’t register that I could actually have physical health problems. The next morning the vacuum sweeper fell over on my foot and I didn’t hardly feel anything. It was time to see a doctor. After having an MRI my doctor contacted me on the exact day of my 40th birthday. The MRI showed a tumor on the left side of the brain stem. A biopsy was not possible because of the location. After visiting four of the top hospitals in the US they all agreed that it looked like brain cancer. My world came to a screeching halt.
My entire essence of being was saying to me, “We can’t take any more of you ignoring us and while we have your attention, we also can’t take any more of your self judgement!” I know now judgement was my number one self-defeating behavior. The diagnosis was eventually changed to “we don’t know, but we’ll call it MS.” Fear consumed me because no one knew what the problem was. For the next year, I would literally wake up each day and think, “Well, I’m here for another day.” Moment by moment my thoughts vacillated between, “Do I really want to be on the face of this earth?” to “I know I can heal”. I lived day to day asking, “Do I persevere or do I quit?” The universe was giving me exactly what I needed to help me move forward, a choice to say “yes”, the will for motion. We crave forward motion. At my lowest of emotional lows, a very distinct thought came to me: “No human power could help me heal”. I now saw this for what it really was, a spiritual journey, not a physical one.
By the end of 2010, I was on 11 psychotic medications. One day I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a green hue over my face. A friend I hadn’t seen since I started taking the medicine was horrified when she saw me. I saw the look on her face and knew it was time to do something different. The medicine had to go. I decided to live — not just exist. The spiritual journey was awakening.
My whole life I had known that medications weren’t for me. I also knew that your mind could heal your body. At 43 years old, sober for 23 years, Spirit won. I finally made a pact with God. It went like this. “If you let me live, I will serve you forever.” I meant it.
By the end of 2011, I was down to 3 medications—a sleeping medication and two anti-depressants. Letting go of the 3 medications would take the next 10 years. During that time, I gave western medicine a loving goodbye, staying only in contact with my very open-minded primary care physician. I took my last antidepressant on February 1, 2020.
From this point forward, many of the choices I made were not what my loved ones would have chosen for me. However, my body knew what was right physically and my soul was beginning to guide me spiritually. I began to trust the real Self that was taking charge.
This journey has been filled with everything from extreme joy to the most severe pain I’ve ever felt. When you choose to follow your soul urge, when you choose life, you are committing to a deep internal experience. You are committing to committing. You are committing to discipline and building your will. You are committing to truth and self-honesty. You are committing to staying through the storm. Sometimes you hang on and that’s all you can do. Hang on. This too shall pass, and it does. And then you grow.
Support Along the Way – Enter the School of Metaphysics
It was 2011 and over the course of the next year I began to feel better. I had changed everything I could externally: the water I drank, the food I ate, even what I was putting on my skin. At one of my healing excursions, I met Emily, a teacher and a student at the School of Metaphysics. Emily had a bright smile and a special glow. She beamed with God’s energy. It was easy for me to recognize and I was immediately attracted to her. There was something special about what she was doing.
Emily invited me to attend one of her classes which included learning how to meditate. Meditation was the last thing I wanted to do, so I politely declined but left the door open for the next invitation, just in case. At this time, my physical body had started to heal again. I was riding a bicycle and able to participate in some social events. Emily approached me about classes periodically and each time I politely declined promising to attend in the future.
Life once again came to an abrupt halt. One Friday afternoon, in rush hour traffic, I had a car accident. The wreck was just stressful enough to set me back physically, mentally and emotionally. Old fears and doubts came rushing in flooding me with emotions and feelings I had hoped were gone. I had made many external changes that helped my physical health, however I now realized I had to learn how to change my internal landscape. My thoughts, my emotions, my consciousness was still vulnerable to old fears and doubts that needed to change to cause permanent healing. I called Emily and enrolled in the next class. It was November, 2012. I committed to show up.
Little did I know my life was about to change forever, again.
Conditions at Birth
It’s a tricky thing from the beginning — incarnating into a physical body. It looks like we are victims of circumstance. In reality, we actually choose our conditions at birth. We choose our parents, siblings and grandparents. We choose our country, our friends and our circumstances. We come here because our very nature drives us to know who we are. We as souls have an urge to grow in the likeness of our creator. It’s why we enter these physical bodies and have physical experiences. Turns out, it’s the only reason we are here, to learn and evolve through experience.
If I could have, I would have requested to start in the wisdom years. Maybe it would have saved a lot of pain and thrashing. If I would have known up front that I chose my conditions at birth, it would have saved a lot of pain and resentment. However, that’s not how expansion of consciousness works. By design, you only get to know something for sure after you have given yourself the experience. Doesn’t it make sense then that we should be tearing it up here on earth, giving ourselves experiences, making so called mistakes, getting dirty, stirring it up and then learning from it? It makes sense, and I was doing that. At least most of it. Maybe I came up a little short on the learning part. What I needed was some time exercising my own mind learning how to learn. What I needed was to still my mind, so I even knew what I was thinking. I needed help to change the inner landscape: a teacher, a well thought out plan of attack, mind exercises strategically assigned and willingness to put my very large ego aside. I had to be willing to put forth the effort to do some serious inner landscaping.
In weaving my story together, I learned that we can be genetically pre-disposed to certain traits or character flaws, even beliefs, urging us to act a certain way and then later wondering why. We have attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that are so deeply engrained in us, they don’t even get to our reasoning minds. My journey had led me to Shamans, psychic healers, massage therapists and others to help identify and clear imbedded trauma. Clearing trauma was an important part of building self-trust.
So why do I have such a burning desire to tell you my story? Because I feel like I’ve found something so powerful that if 1% of people are committed to it, the world would be about love.
The Study – Mastery of Consciousness
At the School of Metaphysics (SOM) we study consciousness. We teach it, we practice it, breath it and live it every day; day in and day out. As we learn to serve and serve to learn, our pay is a new and deeper understanding of our inner landscape and how to navigate it, not money. Every minute I spend in SOM I evolve my soul and the understanding it craves and then I pass along what I’ve been given.
That little class I started back in November, 2012 turned into 7 years of blood, sweat and tears and facing the darkness in me every single day. I still can’t believe what I agree to do for my own soul evolution. Things I never believed I would do, like writing this article, teaching classes and being the Director at one of the school branches. I even accepted a position at headquarters as Treasurer helping with the financial statements and tax returns for SOM. When I started at SOM, I was running from all responsibilities because I didn’t know how to step in easy. I didn’t understand how to give myself grace in regard to anything I did. I did everything hard and criticized myself harshly even if it was the best of the best. I could and did find fault with myself and my creations. It was never enough. Now I have become more compassionate with myself. I have learned to truly love myself. I have faced the dark over and over learning to shine the light of new awareness and acceptance. I’ve stepped up to the plate and said “yes” to what’s asked of me. I have faced my shadows and moved through the pain that I now know produces soul growth. The kind of growth you get to keep and have for the next time you decide to come here to learn.
I’ve found something so pure and beautiful that I want to share it with you. I wish I could tell you how sexy this journey is. It’s not! It’s the hardest, most uncomfortable, and a lot of times the most mundane work I’ve ever done. And, did I mention painful? It’s also the most beautiful and fulfilling because as you still your mind, you can receive more. You can receive more God. You can receive more love. You can receive more you.
The essence of the entire study is committing to yourself by building your will, the only muscle of your mind. You see, the entire course is built around taming your very untamed mind, the inner landscape. By exercising your mind like you exercise your body in the gym you eventually have command of the thoughts you think and how long you think them. The results are guaranteed if you apply this yourself.
Of course, there’s more to the study than mind exercises. I can’t possibly give you everything I’ve learned since I’ve been here. However, if I make you curious, I’ve met my goal. What I’m building within myself at SOM is changing the vibration of this planet. This study has changed my life for the better. It has extended my life. I can even say it has saved my life.
The Practice – Expanding Consciousness
You could call these practices the pillars of the study: concentration, visualization, meditation and dream interpretation. The practices are an important part of the tool box of exercises you get when you embark upon this coursework. They prepare you for the dark. They give you the courage to look. They still the thoughts and quiet the soul. And then, in the stillness of a meditation or in the quiet of the night or in the busyness of your day you start to see things. You see things both inside and outside yourself that make your story start to make sense. You start to see habitual patterns that developed during childhood and you realize: oh, that’s why I still do that thing I do.
My most recent discovery was that I still believed I wasn’t welcome in this world. Recently, the darkness has come with absolutely no words or images. The feeling is of nothingness and hopelessness. The practice is in the stillness of being. When you have a still mind, you can feel the essence and what it’s trying to tell me. Sometimes I have to look a minute to find the tiny bit of light but it’s always there. And, in the tiny bit of light I get answers in the form of words and images. I see the story and then I can use my reasoning mind to imagine something better for myself.
The problem is never outside of myself. It can feel contradictory, like leaning in to milk a cow that is kicking. What a sad day that would be if the answers were truly outside of me. I would be powerless to change because the only one I can change is me.
When false stories, words and images attempt to wrap around my true God nature I have the capacity to change the image and what I’m telling myself. Most of the time it evaporates with little or no more effort on my part than calling forth an honest ego. As I practice these exercises on a daily basis, my work gets easier. I set the intention to heal and then pay attention.
I’ve tried many, many ways of facing my own darkness. Stilling my mind is by far the most productive. Little by little, day by day, painful realization by painful realization, you begin to change old habits that no longer serve you. Slowly, you awaken to the real YOU.