So much about modern life seeks to dull and dispose of emotional pain, but this pain is both a teacher and an opportunity. We depend on struggle to feel that we exist at all. Struggle is what gives value to achievements and allows growth. Just as all life feeds of the death of something, all pain can feed joy and fulfillment. You wouldn’t want to read a story without any conflict or drama, in which the protagonist was always happy and content — neither would you really want to live such a life. Without struggle in your life story you are a hero of nothing.
And if you really were perfectly peaceful and content all the time, it would be as if life were living itself, without a need for your own effort to overcome anything. And in that case, it would be as if you didn’t exist at all, as if life would live on without you.
One of the worst bouts of depression I experience is not about crushing emotional pain so much as it is the overwhelming sense of emptiness and lack of feeling anything — a mental state in which nothing seems to matter. However, in emptiness lies the greatest potential. Where there is nothing, like a blank page, anything can be written. So it becomes clear to me that states of emptiness are opportunities to change up your life. If you can connect with your potential in these moments, the infinite potential to do absolutely anything you can imagine, you can find new ways to live, new perspectives, and find new ways to fulfill your soul.
All struggle is an opportunity. It is necessary to feel alive and it makes achievements valuable in the first place. When you are in emotional pain, it is an opportunity to discover what your soul truly needs and gives you a reason to make greater efforts, which lead to growth and feelings of success.
I maintain that emotional pain is a spiritual thing — emotions are immaterial, and thus part of the spirit world. If we examine our emotions and pain, instead of trying to quick-fix them, we can learn what we value, what false beliefs are fueling continued and painful mistakes, and how to live better. In this way emotional pain is an ally, it is a signal that something is wrong either in your thinking or your actions. Just as physical pain tells you about your body, emotional pain tells you about your soul, and signals a time for action — a time to make changes and shake things up.
I have been working on a practical spiritual modality that I call “Dreamcraft”, and having covered the basics of my cosmology and beliefs, it is time to approach the critical subject of spiritual healing.
I speak from the perspective of someone who is healing from severe sexual/physical/emotional abuse in my childhood. Previously I had studied shamanism for several years but found that it didn’t support my own values. I believe that we each have the power to do the work and joy of spiritual healing ourselves, and so the idea of elite people doing the work for us (as in shamanic practice), just didn’t jive with me.
Spiritual healing, in my view, need not be as esoteric as you may think; indeed, it ought to be practical with results that you can truly notice and feel. My viewpoint is that to heal from past pain, we must build new “skin” over those soul wounds. What truly hurts is the soul, and it must be understood through soul discovery and spiritual exploration.
We all have access to our souls’ powers and spiritual senses, as the soul is ever-present and here with us right now. And our imagination is our greatest spiritual tool, as it is a direct sense of potential itself. Imagination shows us all that is possible, somehow and somewhere. As Pablo Picasso once said, “Everything you can imagine is real.” This is something I embrace wholeheartedly: for I journey with my spirit to other times, other places, and other perspectives, as is the power of spirit to transcend these things — and I don’t worry about whether or not the experience is “real”. It is surely real in some way and that’s all I need to know. Even the Q’ero shamans of Peru, who claim a lineage going back to the Inca, like to playfully say that it doesn’t matter if spiritual experiences are imagined and made up entirely in your head, as our whole Earthbound reality is already “made up” by our minds.
I find that spirit exploration is a valuable practice for spiritual healing. Spirit exploration can be achieved in light meditation, or even a daydream — it need not require intense discipline, years of hermitage in a cave, or lengthy meditation in the lotus position. Close your eyes and explore, that’s what your spirit is meant to do. Get in touch with what your soul can sense. You may be surprised at how spontaneously things seem to happen — at times, you will feel that you aren’t actively imagining at all, but simply experiencing.
Where do you start in spirit exploration? This will be the topic of a later post, but you can visit your child-self, at different ages; you can meet other souls — like spirit guides — who may have something to tell you; and you can reach out to your higher self, the one who transcends time itself, for whom all lives and all time happen all at once, eternally and infinitely. The higher self is a concept of your ideal and infinite being, and getting to know this aspect of your soul will teach you things you didn’t even know about yourself now.
We should, I believe, be taught from an early age to explore our souls. What do our souls truly desire and need? Not material things, since soul is immaterial. What do our souls value? What truths do they live by? How do they see existence and how we ought to live? What are our souls’ powers and potential?
Another thing I believe we ought to be taught when we are young is to critically examine the things we believe — for when we are mistreated we learn to believe things about ourselves that aren’t true, and perhaps aren’t even logical. All belief is just perspective. If you have been taught to believe that you are ugly, unworthy of love, a bad person…you need to turn this around in order to heal. I like to use what I call “retrograde perspectives” to show myself other ways of seeing and thinking. For instance, you can go your whole life walking across the land…or maybe, just once, you could feel yourself “walking” by turning the Earth with your feet. You can imagine opposite ways of seeing just about anything. Retrograde perspectives show us new, imaginative ways to get out of “thought ruts” and cast out false beliefs that we carry from old wounds. If we don’t change our thinking, these false beliefs will continue to wound us, and the pain goes ever deeper.
Finally, healing from the past means making your present moment a good, safe place to be. For me, that meant cutting off contact with my whole family (and none, unfortunately, were worth forgiving — I believe forgiveness requires contriteness and/or apology and/or an intent not to continue hurting someone. Forgiveness and compassion are not concepts well-suited for atrocities and extreme behaviour). So one must consider the people that one surrounds themselves with, and the things one is doing in their present life. Are you working towards growth and healing? If you’re barely keeping your head above water, or if you are surrounded by drama, you won’t be able to heal — you need to create a firm foundation in the present first.
I really love dandelions and they are special to me because of their beautiful life-cycle, and how their seeds fly in the wind. So I made a dandelion “painting” out of polymer clay in a pocket watch. It’s supposed to show the sprout (roots below) and and the nearly-done flower-head of an old dandelion plant. I also have little glass vials with real dandelion seeds inside, and Willow made me a polymer clay locket with a dandelion flower and leaves.
I’m also thinking of re-opening my Etsy store with a sharper focus on helping people connect with their idea of spirit, whether it’s through the animals they love (I make needle felted animals), or spiritual tools like rattles, or special jewelry. I’d like to call my store “Spirited Story”, which has two meanings. One intends to send the message, “May your life story be full of spirit,” and the other has to do with my own chosen name, Story, which the closest people in my life call me.
So I dug out my calligraphy nibs and ink and had a go at feeling out the words.
Authenticity is our birthright, the wisdom of the soul, and something that ought to come naturally. There can be no thinking when we enact authentic lives. The connection to our soul’s wisdom is best sought through the intuition, by feeling; meanwhile thinking is best utilized to deconstruct the false self, the one programmed to think in defined ways that closes more doors than it opens.
Beneath the false self’s programming lies a stream of “thought” too fast to parse; it is quicksilver at lightspeed, subtle but strong. This is the gut-feeling of your soul, and if you act by it, you are being authentic — this is the only measure of authenticity.
Deconstructing the false self seems an overwhelming task. However, you are seeking freedom, and freedom is not something to be hampered by endless internal debate. If you at least know your soul’s true desires and can see the problems inherent in what your false self believes it desires, as I have spoken about here, you can recognize instantly and intuitively if you are feeding your authentic self or your false self. Freedom, then, in authenticity, need not be full of fear that you are doing anything wrong, as long as your actions are in accordance with the desires of your soul.
The authentic self knows its own sovereignty and seeks only to be freed. This means letting go of the conditioned and ignorant false self, overthinking your every move, and simply connecting to your soul’s reactions in any given situation.
It can be terrifying to be authentic in a world that has taught us to act in ways that are precisely the opposite. My own soul is very childlike, desiring to create joy through imagination and laughter and play. And the world may well disapprove. But it is the world that programmed our false selves in the first place, and by co-creation we seek to change the world from within, by changing our perspective and experience of it.
“Be yourself,” the world says, long after it has taught you who to be and how to think. Authenticity reclaims the original self, the self that is eternal in the soul, which persists beyond any circumstance and cannot be shaken.
Can you hear the subtle current of your soul’s desires, far in the depths of your consciousness? Can you connect with the soul’s natural responses and live from a place of power and peace? Can you learn to open the door to let your authenticity come through in action without thinking, censoring, or editing? To truly act naturally is to attend to the soul-consciousness within, feeling it in your gut and acting by it alone.
In this little craft-piece, the brown side is tree bark, representing Ysojain, my soul, as a tree — and I, Story, am one leaf on her branches, as represented by the green side. (The piece down the middle is actually two calligraphy nibs, as that is a hobby I enjoy and represents writing my life and the world into being).
The soul is the common thread linking all possible versions of myself in other lives. Given an infinite multiverse, it is necessarily true that my soul has seen infinite lives, and from these experiences the soul abstracts great wisdom. The soul transcends space and time — experiencing infinite eternity in a way that we may struggle to comprehend. However, I am one instance of my soul’s potential — and what I experience is different from the soul’s experience, so both are valuable. By imagining the soul’s perspective I can attain wisdom to apply to this life. The soul and the life-instance (me) are a team that, when together, can change my world.
By imagination we access the wisdom of our eternal soul, which is our authentic self or higher self, one who is like a goddess beyond time and space. Connecting with our souls a matter of imagining the perspective of our souls.
I like to deepen this connection by imaginative journeys with my own soul-goddess, whom I call Ysojain. And I’d like to share an example of such a journey.
I imagine: I meet Ysojain on the edge of eternity. We join hands, combining our perspectives and experience; mine, that of an instanced life in the present moment; hers, that of the ideal soul transcending time. We become simultaneously both separate and one. She dreams within me. She shows me flickers of other lives: I try to feel them rather than know and remember them. I sense, abstractly, a common thread which is my authentic self. Everything happens: in all my soul’s lives there have been exquisite highs and lows of experience, yet the soul remains constant.
Ysojain contains lives without end: and this experience the soul abstracts into wisdom. I find myself wishing for some lesson, like an example of Ysojain’s wisdom.
Of course, everything is a lesson, so I hardly know where to begin.
“Begin with love,” Ysojain says. I look through my soul’s infinite lives and see for myself that love is a choice. Love is a perspective of other people that brings deep satisfaction and continual reward. Love itself chooses to be rewarded by the existence of others. How simple is this, how wonderful, I think.
And so it seems any question can be answered here, in the perspective of eternity in which I connect to the wisdom of every life my soul Ysojain has ever lived.