Whenever I hear someone speak of “your Highest Self,” or “enlightenment,” or “ascension,” or “higher consciousness,” or any spiritual words that hint at a goal of one state that is in some way to be reached and then sustained, maintained, and held foeva and eva, I cringe a little.
We are more complex than that. We are not meant to be just peace and love. We are not just light. We are multilayered, multidimensional beings.
Life is cyclical, spiralic, undulating, wavy. We dance and groove and rise and fall in and out of phases. We grow out of some things. We drop deeper into others. We work through our issues. And our wounds are still our wounds. We revisit places inside ourselves. Nature moves in cycles.
What we know about the universe is very little, but we do know that up and down is not really a thing, so to speak of “higher consciousness” is a bit limited.
And we are limited.
We are and we aren’t the unlimited, expansive, infinite beings that spirituality wants to sell us as ourselves. We are part of an infinite, expansive universe. And it’s a part of us. Our bodies will break down once we die and become part of the earth. The soul becomes the soil. Some of our particles will be in the air. Maybe some will even somehow make it beyond the barrier of the atmosphere, and coalesce with other particles that will make up some other pieces of cosmic debris that will possibly one day join together with other dust and become bigger pieces of matter that will maybe even one day spin together around some other star and become a planet in a galaxy far far away. Who knows?
We are not one thing. We are many. We are one piece in a whole that continues to break itself into more pieces, and that’s what makes it itself. And we are made of so many parts, so many pieces, so many selves.
When someone speaks of the True Self, which self are they referring to? Which of yourself is not true? Do you need to peel pieces off? What do you do with the skins sheds? How do you compost the decayed versions of you? How do you integrate the parts that don’t feel you? The self is a multiplicity of being. How can we move more fluidly through the variety of selves that we are?
Every aspect of you – limited, lonely, loving, fucked up, flowering, full of shit, fabulous, committed, conditioned, cosmic, eternal, enchanted, evolved, bullshit, basic, bitchy, blessed, beautiful, boring, amazing, a lot, anti everything – every part of you is part of the fabric that makes you you.
There was a decade there, maybe a little less, maybe a little more, when I felt high on life. A bit beyond what I was conditioned to before. I experienced that ascension that spiritual teachers speak of. I felt like I could center myself and hold that center. I thought I was connected to a higher self. I was deeply committed to it.
Higher than what?
It’s tempting to think that we can keep moving in this kind of trajectory. But I felt at some point that it wasn’t healthy or authentic for me to move in only one direction. I realized that the line I was walking was just a part of a circle.
The descent into the underworld is inevitable. And if it’s inevitable, it’s probably necessary.
Some people will say that what I experienced wasn’t “the real deal.” I say that the real deal is debatable.
Our edges need to be explored. The edge is not less important than the center.
Our anxiety. Our depression. Our spacing out. Our anger. Our frustration. Our disconnection. Even our jealousy. Even guilt. And as much as I hate hate, even the feeling of hate. And you know what, I love Brene Brown’s work, and I’m on the train that trains us to let go of shame, but even shame, my friend, even shame… Every part of our human experience needs to be integrated and included. Otherwise, why is it here? We might as well make use of it!
I want to be careful of certainty, of perfection, of oneness. Because even though we are all part of one thing, oneness isn’t really one thing. Reality is fractured. Diversity is what this gorgeous universe expresses and experiences. Being too sure closes us off to learning, to discovering, to each other. Perfection is not only the killer of joy, it doesn’t actually exist. Certainty causes stagnation. And stagnation initiates decay. Which will, in fact, feed the soil and create the possibility of new life. So even certainty…
We reach versions of ourselves in life that are more cohesive and together and confident than previous versions in other phases. But that doesn’t indicate being above anything. It doesn’t mean you’re done going beneath the ground. It doesn’t mean you’re no longer going to experience aspects, versions, and qualities of yourself that you thought you were done with. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be triggered. And BTW, being triggered is how we grow.
One of the most beautiful, courageous, grounded, compassionate things we can do for ourselves and for each other is to normalize our experience. To say yes to what we’re going through, so that we can keep on going. To affirm the wholeness as an ever breaking process, and the fragmented as part of the whole. To allow the seasons to change. And to keep on changing. Repeating. Dissolving. Reemerging. Shattering. Weaving.
When we arrive at a Summer moment in what we consider as our personal evolution, we sometimes think that we’ve arrived at the fruit, and that now we’ll get to eat it, and share it with others – we’ve found the way – we know better now… Eat that fruit, baby! Share it too, of course! But don’t deny the decay that is coming. Compost needs to happen for new things to grow.
We’re at the end of Summer now, and the abundance of the land is rich. Let’s be nourished by nature’s teachings. And breathe with the changing tides. We need to feed her back. We need to become her nourishment. Fall is coming. We can feel it in the air. We can see it in the quality of light. Soon the leaves will scatter, the fruit will be too ripe, and the composting piles of our existence will smell like those old versions of self that must die in order to be reconfigured.
The Fall Equinox Somatic Ceremony is a playful, powerful way to move through the portal of the season with practice and ritual, contemplation and meditation, breath and movement, and a deep exploration of the rhythm of self, society, and earth through a mythopoetic lens. Join us on this journey. Registration is now open. Details are here.
And here’s a FREE short practice of breath and a few yoga poses to explore your cyclical nature.
Sending you love, wherever you are on your spiral, whichever season you’re in, whatever phase you’re moving through.