Growing Up and Down
Trees grow by reaching for light, and sending roots into darkness.
Both are needed.
When the movie "The Secret" came out many years ago, and as I listen to all the Law of Attraction teachings that seem to be proliferating social consciousness in widening circles, I am both inspired and concerned. Inspired by the invitation to really embrace self-responsibility and to reach for the light and see the good in ourselves and others.
Concerned, because when I see the way that so many people actually live into this teaching on the ground, it often amounts to entitlement, denial of the shadows or an attempt to bypass rich unconscious content often laden with pain and trauma.
"Why would you bother to go into the painful stuff," one of my clients asked recently, "when you can just think happier thoughts and focus on good feelings?"
In our valiant efforts to "not be a victim," to "not be negative," to "not dwell on the dark things," we are often simply at risk of staying unaware and unconscious, stuck in old habits.
Every "not me" that we attach to gets sent into the shadowy soil where it works an unconscious dark magic in the patterns of our lives -more fragmented, less integrated. Our experiences constitute the soil within which we grow.
For many of us, there can be some pretty gnarly stuff in that soil. Experiences of abuse, trauma, neglect, toxic moralism, memories of shame, fear, frozen aspects of ourselves, fiery aspects of our selves, judged aspects of ourselves.
You are not your experiences.
Admitting that you are in pain, or feel vulnerable, sad or angry is not "negative" - it's real. Within each of these experiences, are treasures waiting to be discovered.
Coal turns into diamonds under pressure.
Sand turns into a pearls by irritating an oyster.
Compost fertilizes life.
Till your soil.
Some of us live in sandy soil, others in clay, others in rich fertile jungle beds. No matter what conditions you were plopped into in this lifetime, find the nutrients in that soil and reach for the light. Don't bypass the hard things in your pursuit of positivity. We all have stories that need to be told. Secrets grow darker in the shadows but dissolve in the light.
Put down roots.
Send out feelers.
Find the nutrients.
Their fuel enables you to reach for the light.
And of course, always remember to reach for the light.
First, the light within you:
Make it a daily practice to sense out the deeply universal needs that move through you - your desire for life, for learning, for connection, for play, for rest, for acceptance, for contribution, for significance. Bring your attention to the life energy within you. More consciously. More regularly.
Then, the light in everyone around you:
Remembering that everything we do is simply our best (sometimes tragic) attempt to meet our deeper needs can help to detoxify the judgments that keep us stuck in so much shame, blame and pain. See the good reasons behind why people are doing what they may be doing and start your conversations there.
Healing and empowerment happen at the intersection of polarized half-truths:
•You need to keep a positive attitude and look for the good:half-truth.
•You need to digest painful memories, trauma and anger:half-truth.
Together, they form a dance in which each fuels and informs the other .... Just like the trees, our growth is fueled by our ability to keep reaching for the light while harvesting the nutrients that lie in the darkness.