The Shadow Side Of Consciousness
This started as an open letter to all spiritual seekers… until I realized that this is an open letter to myself, to remind me of the journey, to reinforce me when I lose my way.
This is the journey of the maturation of my own spiritual growth. It’s been an almost secret quest on my part to be a more active partner with the state of the world, quietly raging in the background. It’s involved deep dives into my own issues around being a ‘savior’, cultural appropriation, racism, environmental decimation, institutional systems of oppression, policy that relies on poverty to exist and into the hypocricy of politics. Listen, if it’s a part of this world’s shadow, I’ve been diving in.
It takes a shit ton of emotional awareness and resiliency to do this kind of inner work. And yes, a lot of painful truth telling because I’ve been doing what I thought was the deep inner work for decades but it has nothing on how deep this well goes. I was living in a blissful lie that was nothing but a big spiritual bypass.
And, every day I mourn and grieve.
Every day I learn more and I feel shame, anger, sadness, disgust.
Every day I wonder why it took me so long to be this conscious of the truth in the world.
And you know what?
I never want to stop feeling that.
My heart was hurting. Around the time that we in the United States elected Donald Trump as our President, my heart was no longer functioning in it’s blissful bubble of ‘om’. It shouldn’t have been a surprise. I mean…it was a shocking result but the possibility and implication of the result shouldn’t have been shocking.
At least it shouldn’t have been shocking for someone who was paying any attention at all.
The problem was, I was only pretending to watch.
Sure I’d get outraged when something trending on Facebook caught my attention. I’d send donations to great causes. I’ve invested in Microloans for over a decade. I’d helped friends get to Africa to build water systems. And I was a coach helping people raise their vibration which in turn raised the vibration of the planet. I wrote books about energy and our own internal magic
My Karma was clean because I was involved in planetary change every day right? Who says I wasn’t paying attention?
My shock and righteous indignation told me a different story.
The world wasn’t what I thought it was and it was my fault that I didn’t know more.
Let me take you back a little because this wasn’t the first time I thought I knew what was what in the world and was shocked.
In high school I was part of the Debate Club and was President of the Mock Trial Team. I was all about arguing for the ‘little guy’. I applied for college and entered in as an International Relations major with a Legal Studies Minor. I’d decided that International Law was where I belonged and I dreamt of working closely with the United Nations in regions being mistreated and underrepresented. Since I was a little girl I always pretended to be 3 things — a lawyer, an author and a ballerina. This would enable me to truly do the first two.
Mostly, I had dreams of changing the world for the better.
The shock? What I learned about the world in high school had very little to do with what I learned about the world in college. I was ripped out of the privileged white washed history I’d been taught and was dumped into a humanitarian view of reality and suddenly I felt as if the world was a horrible messed up place that I had no hope in hell of changing. Everything I was SURE of, was wrong. Everything. There was no true right or wrong, just all these systems of institutionalized oppression woven into the very fiber of society and culture. I became so overwhelmed that I started partying harder and ended up leaving college as a Fine Arts Major. I learned to paint instead of how to fight injustice.
My privilege allowed me the ability to not look anymore, to numb up and ignore. I wish I’d done the work then. I wish I’d been able to look the truth in the face and find my way. I wish I’d known more about being emotionally and spiritually resilient but I didn’t.
I worked really hard for the rest of my life to not really dig too deep into world affairs. Faux-ignorance is actually a forced state of being.
I took a different path. Single motherhood awaited me after college, and then eventually marriage and home…and with it the demands of working and raising my family. My husband is a Republican (that feels like a confession and it is in a way). Yes, we are still happily married but with a stipulation — we don’t ever talk about politics and we very often cancel each other out in the polls. I learned a new belief that politics and happiness were mutually exclusive. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard for me to drop off of the political spectrum because I already had other beliefs about my ability to impact change created in college.
I walked away from all that ‘negativity’ and immersed myself in my spiritual growth. For decades I read self development books, took classes, went on retreats and hired coaches, mentors and spiritual guides. I wrote books, coached people from around the world, spoke on stages. I preached about the power of manifesting and light and energy and intuition. I concentrated on building my business and learning new tools. I still love my continuing education in the realm of self development and spirituality.
And at a certain point, I stopped watching the news, not that my husband and I watched it often together anyhow. But I stopped reading about it.
I got really good at writing checks to feel better about my lack of involvement in the world, to make it seem like I was making a valuable contribution. I didn’t tell myself that at the time. I was happy to use my resources for the betterment of humanity. It made me feel good…
I dove into this little bubble of feel good.
In every sense, while I was truly changing lives with my self development work, I don’t believe I was doing anything to truly change the world — at least not in the way my young self dreamed of. There was messy work to be done but I wasn’t quite ready to face it, to see my own demons waiting there for me to see the truth of what is going on around me.
While I meditated and felt all the universal goodness, there was a world that needed my help.
And while I didn’t watch the news because it was too negative, and I was too sensitive, I also talked about peace and love and being a change agent. I worked on getting the next spiritual insight.
I was pretending to be too fragile to look around at the truth of the world, committed to the idea that what we see is a reflection of who we are so if I ignored the bad, I was good.
Which meant, I was living a partial truth. I was only living half consciously and telling people that I am living a more conscious life because I was so tapped into my inner wisdom.
I’m not demeaning or undervaluaing my spirituality in anyway. It is a critical gift that I need moving forward. But I am saying that in reflection I can see now, my practice and understanding was incomplete and I was not living a life of full integrity because of it.
As my heart broke after the election of Trump I will say that for the second time in my life I was shown the truth and I had an option.
- To pretend it wasn’t happening again while having occasional outrage and making donations to causes or
- To sit my ass down and find out how my complacency contributed to the world order and to stay in front of that mirror and learn something that didn’t feel so good.
This time around I was not a naive little teenager fresh off her idealized horse, too emotionally immature to truly understand. I was a grown woman with strength and power and spiritual awareness. I chose the mirror.
Now one mirror is fine but I was suddenly in a house of mirrors.
Extinction of Species.
Pollution of Water.
Landfills and Global Warming.
and so on….
And the mirrors broke me.
Where at one point my business was my great love, I shut it down because it no longer felt like it was enough. It was surface transformation that I called deep. I went through a spiritual crisis. I started questioning everything. One meme would send me down a rabbit hole to find the truth. Again and again and again.
Of course I knew it was all happening. We all do. Let’s not lie about it.
But I couldn’t not pay attention to it any more. I required a deeper knowledge. I spent day after day digging. Learning. Reading. Crying. Grieving. Shouting. I was the opposite of what a good spiritual woman was supposed to look like. I shut down in so many ways to process decades of denying my own intellect the ability to really test itself and be of use. I felt like I was simultaneously experiencing depression, death and rebirth all at once.
And I felt very alone for the first time in a long time.
I watched from my cave as many of my peers just marched on by the mirrors like I’d done for most of my life…great spiritual women who I love and admire, who I’d learned from, who I taught. And I tried to stay there with them. I struggled. I kept writing the books I’d been working on about surrender and love and light. I kept putting together the classes and programs.
I kept on wearing the spiritual uniform I’d created even though I didn’t feel connected anymore.
An industry I loved being a leader and participant in, an industry I thought was the ENTIRE answer, turned out to be only a fraction of the whole picture.
I didn’t know who to be anymore.
I didn’t know who to be with as this new person I was becoming because of the mirrors.
I wasn’t who I was in high school.
I wasn’t who I was in college.
I wasn’t who I was as a married woman with kids.
I wasn’t who I was as a Spiritual Coach and Author.
I was CONSCIOUS for the first time an it was migraine-inducing-blinding, Parts of me were still atrophied from under-usage. And I realize that I was conscious, not in a ‘look how woke I am with my organic shirt and my recycled yoga mat with AllLivesMatter sticker on it.’ But in a, ‘I am a strong, resiliant, grown ass spiritual woman and this ridiculous inequity in the world stops here’ way.
And it was and continues to be uncomfortable as fuck.
I’m willing do to the spiritual work AND understand my role as a white woman here on this planet right now. That means truly seeing all sides, all mirrors, all of my own blind spots.
I will use the full spectrum of my emotions — my love, my joy, my passion, my anger, my sadness, my pain. I will open my eyes and look, even when I feel my heart break, especially when I feel my heart break.
I will look things straight in the face and ask why and seek out how it can be different and participate in solutions.
I will no longer pretend to be a master of anything. I know nothing. I will listen and learn. I will sit only at tables where those who are most impacted are represented. I will amplify their voices and needs over my own. I will learn to lead and follow differently, reverently.
I will balance my huge love for the planet and humanity with the action I am being asked to take. I will seek to understand that politics, systems, policies, and law are sacred institutions that can be up-leveled, disassembled, and feminized for a better global balance. I will love so much that my only option is action.
I will take responsibility for my own ignorance. I will apologize for the times I have caused harm regardless of my intentions, regardless of my ego. I will apologize for not doing this work perfectly, for being messy and unstable. I will not apologize for offending those who are not willing to do the work but I will empathize, for I too at times will resist this work as well.
And I will no longer be satisfied with being only a “good spiritual woman” and will work daily at being a “conscious global citizen”.
In order for a new world to be built, we’re going to have to tear down some buildings and come down from our clouds and SEE what is. It means that everything I have learned about Spirit and Source and Intuition now get to be put to use as weapons, moving forward as a true spiritual warrior.
The world needs us because as much as it hurts us to read that article about someone who was raped or mutilated or watching that video of a black boy being choked and killed or sitting in a landfill and smelling the despair of it… imagine the hurt the WORLD is feeling in this moment my friends. We don’t need to save anything, we need to participate in the cultural rewiring of the root causes of inequity.
As much as it hurts to understand our role in the creation of everything we see, we need to have the emotional and spiritual maturity to stand up and say I will be an active part of rewriting the systematic, cultural and institutional issues that hold humanity back from reaching that spiritual vision of peace, love and light.
The list goes on and on. And it hurts like hell that those of us who can see the vision of what God, Source, Universe, Creator means for this world to be, have to face the fact that under the light and beauty is a vision that’s crinkled up and sat upon like last week’s newspaper.
Sure, we’ve helped. And our help is so beautiful and so vital.
But let’s get real — we have a direct phone line to God and I’m pretty sure that she’d tell us that we are meant to help create the kind of fundamental changes to the world that will make a different reality in our short time here. Which means no longer wasting the bliss of our meditation for the enhancement of our own lives while those in power make decisions that are not progressive when we could be using that good juice to mediate true change.
This calling goes beyond our own development as a spiritual being. Being the change and doing the change can go hand in hand, equal and needed.
While working on our inner world is a part of the equation, and a necessary one that many of today’s world leaders are missing, can we also commit to changing the game that’s being played right now? If we want to create a conscious economy with a redistribution of wealth and resources, if we crave equity, fairness and kindness amongst all of God’s creations, if we want to see more love and light everywhere, we have to be willing to pay attention to where it is lacking.
This is the shadow work of world change.
We can redefine what it means to be truly spiritual. We can engage with our critical thinking, do the research and the inner and outer work to see all sides and THEN marry it with our intuitive caring self who truly loves everything the universe provides.
We’ve been ignoring our greatest potential in so many ways.
Listen LOA is great. Praying for miracles is a requirement. But can you have the strength to do the work to see the invisible patterns underneath the surface of the change you most wish to see in the world. Everything we do has repercussions both intentional and unintentional, especially ignoring it.
We are spiritual beings doing spiritual work. This is Spirituality.
AND we are human beings doing human work. This is Humanity.
We are both.
And this is my call to you…
We can only change the world by acting as our whole selves. Spirituality and Humanity together.
We can truly become Sacred Advocates if we are willing to sit in that mirrored room and become truly conscious.