I listen for them and allow them, ask for them. Gifts of immeasurable wealth. By turning towards them they become increasingly more frequent and they deepen.
Clearly distinguishable from thoughts now.
Thoughts feel so different - something made actively, sharp edged- turning the cogs of my mind making it crank, move, whir and my eyes squint and focus.
Instead, inner knowing, also named ‘intuition’, is chenille pastel pink, arriving as softly as the passing velvet belly of a mole - digger of dirt.
But it takes courage to listen. Most have warned me over my short life time to be wary, to not listen. Maybe this is because they are afraid of what might be revealed? Is it the uncertainty? Perhaps change, endings, or worse death? Best to put it away in a closet and to close the door, to keep safe.
But in being still I have looked at death closely, squarely in its wild, black eyes I have seen that where there is death so too is its twin - life - sitting alongside hand in hand. It is there somewhere... in the glint of the cornea, the turn of the eye in its socket.
Knowing this brings faith and trust and belief in better places.
As intuition becomes stronger over the years sometimes ego has wanted to shout brashly “I brought you this gift- look what treasures I have brought to you – you could not have done it without me!”. But intuition knows better than that and reminds me gently whenever ego shouts too insistently.......”Sarah, intuition was not of your doing. Yes, it was an allowance made by both of us but first came the offering, remember that!”.
Three years later.......I am in a marae (a Māori meeting house in New Zealand) brought there to learn about the Māori culture. I am drawn to the square woven tukutuku panels hanging on the walls. Made of differently coloured dyed flaxes one pattern in particular catches my eye.
My intuition tells me to look more closely at this panel and its meaning, beckoning. I am a loyal servant now and do its bidding willingly. It is the end of the class and as the other midwifery students head to lunch I notice one of the Māori elders is still in the room.
I go up to him and ask “Can you please tell me the meaning behind these patterns?” Stepped like patterns climb up this tukutuku panel. I do not know this is the pattern ‘poutama’ (stairway to heaven – steps to sacred knowledge ).
“Aaaah those represent spiritual growth. Once we have advanced each step in growth then it is time to be levelled out again and knocked down so the ego doesn’t get too much opportunity to convince us we are bigger than we think we are or more special”.
Spirit has a grand sense of humour it seems but also an infinite amount of tenderness and compassion for the human condition.
Interlaced boughs, branches, leaves
Sunlight twinkling among the spaces above as wind blows
Tree trunk, solid earthy brown, rough textured bark
Lime green ants in trails, up and down, purposeful.
Nature is teaching me to be, to let go, no attachment to the deep ache in the pit of my stomach or the exquisite feeling as sun flows through the veins of the trees, through my veins. Nature is showing me a practice that has been around before the dawn of time, something innate. I do not know that therapists can teach this practice, have not yet heard the term ʹMindfulnessʼ.
I am completely in the moment. From the distance a sound, faintly audible at first, coming into consciousness.
An aboriginal man is stumbling, yelling. There is some sort of commotion. He is yelling at another man and tears are streaming down his face.
ʺIt’s a tree….. A tree!!!!!ʺ As if to say ʺYou are hurting it, do you not realise!?ʺ The tree sacred, precious, feeling.
The council man wielding the chainsaw takes a momentary glance, then continues his work. It is his job to remove errant branches that look unsafe. Unconcerned, no connection to the spirit of the tree.
Mahogany trees are shallow rooted, yet their branches heavy and vast, spreading. During cyclone season at the ʼTop Endʹ of Australia, people have been killed by their branches as they fall in ferocious winds.
The other man stumbles, lurches, back to his group sitting in a circle on the grass. Sobbing.
My lunch break is over, and I wander back, taking my time, sweat every present in this humidity.
This is it!
I yearn for the sacred, long denied. Down trodden, sunken, hollow cheeked. Soul starved, sucked dry. Succubus prey, prey to myself willingly offered.
Yet even after years of self-sacrifice soul waits for moments, especially in dark places, never lost, ever present even when a faint memory. Waiting to be reclaimed.
I am the drunken lost man, I also belong to the light. Slowly remembering.
I am years off hatching. My ego is still very much in the driving seat and I am impatient as a result. I do not realise that the simple act of turning inwards and being still will teach me how to listen and to connect with something greater than myself, to infinite wisdom. The metamorphosis soup inside the cocoon gives me the space and time to listen. Oh, but surrendering is not easy.
At this point I begin my turn to guidance with the familiar. I am like Pacman, hungrily gobbling knowledge – reading and devouring and looking for clues about how to do this massive transformation thing and to understand what it is. So, I turn to books, and the internet, and to poetry.
The books give me the guidance I am craving, and the reassurance I so sorely need. Wisdom drips out of some of the pages. I am also drawn to true life stories of spiritual transformation. The poetry soothes my soul….
Tell Me About the Stories That Changed Your Life...
Take a dive. The list is small at the moment but growing. Tell Me About the Stories That Changed Your Life...
Earlier that day I had witnessed a group of indigenous Australians carry a coffin across the tarmac of the tiny airport in Darwin….a coffin containing the body of a deceased loved one, presumably on its way back ʼhomeʼ to a nearby remote outback community.
Their sorrow and despair had been, despite my own prior personal acquaintance on many occasions with the death of loved ones, never the less unsettling and confronting. The sound of their wailing travelled in waves on the hot heavy monsoonal winds towards me. Their grief was palpable.
I may not have been (or yet still be) an eloquent poet in 2012 but today more than seven years later when I reread the words I can remember those feelings again. I am transported back instantly to a moment from many years ago, a moment when I took the first step on the never ending path to growth, authenticity, and love….. to a time when I had renewed hope for myself, when the first whispers of something long forgotten were also blowing in the wind…to a time when something inexplicable was gently stirring inside of me. I could feel its very faint fluttering…. something I imagine akin to the moment that an already long surviving cactus remembers it can bloom into flower after a long period of resting and waiting till the time is right.
The moment of a great, grand waking up had arrived completely unexpectedly with an unspectacularly humble and faint whisper.
Today it is clear that the poem was a message of encouragement to myself, a green go light. A light encouraging me to let go of the need to control the journey, to have faith and to let it unfold, much like the cactus flower unfolds, naturally without actively knowing how to yet at the same time already knowing.
The picture the beautiful cactus flower paints is seemingly in stark contrast to the harsh, prickly thorns. The thorns a vivid reminder that thorns can prick us and make us bleed.
But then…doesn’t the beauty of the flower more than make up for the pain of the thorns and the uncertainty about how many times they may prick us when we reach towards the flower?
And so I am ready, ready to begin no matter what that brings. The first stepping stone I step hesitantly onto is labelled ʼSelf Love!ʼ
Self love. Most of us have heard the saying ʺYou canʼt love others until you love yourselfʺ. Can sound cheesy at times. Trouble is….many of us have wounds we carry around, often gathered during childhood. Wounds that say things like ʺYou aren’t worthy/smart/successful/good looking… (insert whatever word feels appropriate) enoughʺ. These wounds, unless healed, can leave us with nagging doubt and a heavy dose of fear….a fear which can stop us from taking further step(s) on the path to growth and purpose and spiritual fulfillment.
Carl Jung recognised this when he wrote ʺThere is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness consciousʺ.
So it seems the path to purpose ainʼt easy … but then if it was then everybody would be doing it wouldn’t they?
This is where self-love comes in. Self love, amongst other benefits, can help us to accept that we are not perfect, and that we all have ʼflawsʼ. Self love can help us to become gentle and loving towards the things we (or others) might not at first like or accept about ourselves. Self-love reminds us that no one is above us and no one below. We are all trying to work our way through our lives the best we can. True self love gives us the strength and fortitude to weather any difficulty in life….to be your own beacon in rough seas.
And so the journey continues onwards.
Is it “yeah but the world's bigger than me I'm one of billions". Or......“What's the big deal about changing ourselves?”. Or.....”Ooh yes I get that!”.
Tolstoy wasn't the only one to express these sentiments. Rumi, a famous Sufi mystic and scholar wrote a similar quote in the 13th century “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself". And Ghandi also said “We must become the change we wish to see in the world".
Whatever your first reaction is to these quotes, this is what Unity Holistic is all about. We're about healing lives one by one and healing the planet.
So what were these world changers all getting at?
They’re all telling us not to underestimate the importance of working on ourselves. Seemingly small scale inner change and growth....well it's BIG!
Now breathe in again and still yourself.....and think about the changes you can make for yourself.
Be the beacon!
This is the first in a series of monthly blogs, in which I'll be talking about growth.
Sometimes informative, sometimes thought provoking, sometimes funny Sarah talks about change with a new topic each month.
Topics like self-love, relationships, finding purpose, spiritual growth, different types of love, what makes a great leader, enlightenment and becoming whole, and connecting inner growth with action in the outer world.
Join me on the journey!