I woke up one morning and felt organic.
I felt as though I was made up of nature in every single cell of my being. Organic from within. It made me feel satisfied and smiling with curiosity to move around. Feeling my inner realms anew.
Intellectually I understand that I’m nature. I often think about how much we as a species seem to have forgotten that we’re nature. How I regularly hear the words “I hate nature” from those around me and I start to wonder how that can be when we are nature.
I have also felt the disconnect without even realizing that’s what I was feeling. Until now.
A few years ago I had an experience while standing on a subway platform in midtown Manhattan. Suddenly everyone around me was transformed into creatures. I could see the creatureness in each person – in their movements and in their eyes. In the subtleties and essence of who they were.
Nothing more. Nothing less. Purely creatures moving.
What I saw in the creatureness was such elegance and beauty in everyone around me. It felt like magic. Like a curtain had been lifted and in a suspended state of peeking behind it, I got to see something different than usual. Or different than how I usually saw the world.
Through that lens and in that moment I felt no annoyance. No judgment. Simply awe.
I’ve looked from time to time, trying to find that curtain again. I see glimpses and wonder if perhaps it was a temporary portal because it hasn’t happened since. I continue to be plagued with my lenses of perception, attaching judgment to all that I see. Constantly working to clear the lens and always finding more to clear away.
And there it was again when I awoke. My own organic creatureness.
I could feel it. Sense it. Experience it.
As I moved, I kept trying it on for size. Stretching into it. Coming more fully into the sensations. Smiling deeply.
When I think of nature, I see it as neutral. Neutral and symbiotic. Diverse and connected. It’s not always gentle or even seemingly kind and yet there’s room for it all to exist. Nature doesn’t seem to reject those parts of itself that feel prickly or “horrible”. Or judge and second guess those parts that destroy or grow anew. It doesn’t measure or count its actions. It simply is.
It feels as though even in devastation; nature is also able to be nurturing to itself.
With the Autumnal Equinox not long past and the days getting longer and darker here in the North, I’ve thought more about the balance of light and dark. The shadow and what’s stored in there and wants to emerge.
I’ve been thinking of archetypal energies – those emotions, beliefs, thoughts, and actions that become so deeply embedded in our sub and unconscious mind that they start to run us. While I might associate some sort of positive or negative quality to an archetype I’ve worked with like “the persecuted one” or “the brave one” I’m reminded that the energy itself is completely neutral.
It’s only once I’ve decided to suppress and submerge something I don’t like or don’t want to feel or am afraid of that it starts to take hold within me and begins to feel like it has a life of its own. It’s only my assigning qualities to it that allow this completely neutral energy to start to feel positive or negative when its neither.
Anything can be shoved down into the body, mind, spirit and suppressed – even happiness. Unexpressed, untrusted and supposedly hidden in the darkness. Perhaps it’s there to keep me “safe” but I can sense it. Lurking in the shadows. Waiting to pounce unpredictably and without warning.
Nothing can be contained forever. It will always surface.
I was in a workshop recently where we had two exercises to experience emotion. In one we worked with recapitulation and I had all sorts of old, stored memories and emotions come up and release. Anger, pain, resentment, isolation, sadness all rushing to the surface. The next was an exercise where I was sitting facing another person and as we stared into each other’s’ eyes, emotion again eventually flooded up. Love, painful joy, acceptance, hope, being held and nurtured all appearing. Different emotions in each case; both came seemingly out of nowhere and were strong.
Both times, I could stay present with the emotions. No matter how strong or difficult the sensations felt.
Totally surprised that from a place that felt completely calm prior to starting the exercises – with nothing threatening or worrying me or provoking me in this safe space these emotions still could spring up with such force.
I then realized that a part of me has been waiting for them to come to an end. Waiting for a time when I no longer have to struggle or argue or fight with the flood of emotions coming out of nowhere. I press them down so it can feel like they’ve ended. Like they might not come back. Never fully trusting how long that would hold and when I’d next be caught off guard.
I started to think back to when I was a teenager and flat our decided to not cry anymore and turn off all the valves. That’s when I started to separate out and split and it feels like pretty much everything got swallowed up by the shadow.
I was swallowed up by the shadow.
The shadow. That place that has a reputation of being scary or dark. Deep. Untrodden. That place where everything I don’t want to deal with goes to get locked up and kept hidden. Underground.
It’s difficult to see everything as neutral when you feel consumed by that darkness.
Did you ever play with your shadow as a kid?
I did. I would try to run with it sometimes, or try to outwit it. Mostly though, I remember gleefully happy moments of trying to jump right into it.
Jump right in and be with it.
To become part of it and to not be separate.
Yoga means union.
In tantra philosophy this also means allowing everything to flow. To expand and contract. To not deny any aspect or part of yourself.
To me, this is allowing true nature. Allowing every aspect to be in the light. Casting a light even on those shadowy parts which may be uncomfortable or unpleasant to be with. Being with them. Staying with them for a while as they arise. Not judging them. Letting them pass and not take me away with them.
To be nurturing to myself even when everything feels like it’s being completely destroyed.
Destruction is often a necessary aspect of growth. Destruction doesn’t need to be devastating.
Harmony also means “joining” or “union” and in a way I can now see the “harm” that can be implicit to harmony. Joining and union are inclusive ways of being. Not exclusive. To exclude is to cause harm.
I hadn’t played with my shadow for a long time. Truth be told, I hadn’t even looked for it on the ground or noticed it around me for ages. I had become so disconnected from it and simultaneously felt consumed by it.
Lately I see it with me in my practice. I smile as I watch it dance, changing shapes and forms beneath me. Expanding and contracting. Distorting. Evolving. Constantly shifting.
Elusive and not straightforward and always connected to me. The more we can become friends and play together, the more I can jump right into it and allow all that is there to be there, see it for what it is. I can begin to understand the neutrality of these energies and aspects of myself and release the judgments I’ve attached to that neutrality. Return it to its natural state and let it flow freely. No longer looking for the end.
The more I bring light into my shadow, the less darkness there is. I’m no longer taken away by the dark pulls of my shadow but in relationship with it. We’re in union together. Not separate. Not pushing and pulling. Not struggling to see who will win or trying to force anything to end. We’re in it together and there is so much light now.
I’m so much lighter now.
The more I can be nurturing to myself in this process of diving in, the more I can release what is weighing my shadow down and not serving anyone, the more flexibility and freedom I have. The less I have to carry.
Returning to neutral. Returning to nature.
That’s how the curtain gets lifted, the lens cleared. The judgment falls away.
I can be my natural true self.
That is the magic.