I am often contacted by people who are beating themselves up because they have not progressed on the healing and growth paths as quickly as they should. They ’should’ on themselves time and time again, frustrated by their inability to embody their highest vision for themselves after only a few years, or even months, of determined effort.
The personal journey I wrote about in Soulshaping took me six years to write and forty five years to live. From the moment I began my first wave of psychotherapy to the completion of the book was almost twenty years. And, still at the end of all that determined and genuine effort, I still have a workaholic tendency, and a very deep abandonment wound that seems impossible to shake. It seems I am not going to heal it all in this lifetime. (Yes, the ladder to heaven is made from broken rungs…)
This blog is a call to patience. Not the kind of patience that keeps us asleep (there are times when we need a karmic kick in the ass), but the kind that is compassionate and sees our efforts to expand in a broader context. When my Grandfather would see me fail, he would see me with Grandpa eyes. He would tell me that he loved me and always remind me that those things I was attempting were not even available to him when he was young. He focused on the wonder of my opportunity, the beauty of progress, rather than the simplistic question of success or failure. He recognized how extraordinary it was that I was even able to consider a quest for my ‘true-path’, only decades after he would have taken ANY path that paid the bills. This was a valuable teaching, and served me often when I developed inhuman expectations for myself. He taught me the meaning of context.
Given that most of the world is still vibrating around survivalism, the simple fact that we have formed the intention to transform our consciousness is already courageous. When we actually make a leap of fate and set out for soulful waters, we have truly embarked on a heroic journey.
And, at the same time, lets not expect too much, too fast. Even when the world around us doesn’t impede our progress, the processes of inner change will. Despite our best efforts, our defenses will arise to protect us from the unknown. After all, the collective unconscious is still gripping at the root. And at other times we will turn back to familiar harbors to ground and protect us. The fall back to habitual ways is a natural part of the journey home. Like turtles we stick our heads out until it becomes uncomfortable and then we retreat to the safety and familiarity of our shell. The time we spend under the shell can be just what we need to weave new experiences into our usual ways of being. So long as we persist in sticking our head back out a little further each time, we continue to grow: Three steps forward, two steps back is progress…
And we must also remember that REAL change takes time. TIME. Although the external world changes rapidly, the inner world moves slowly, cautiously. For example, shifting a deeply embedded pattern requires lots of soulitude and real time inside- time to feel into the pattern and identify its source, time to move the feelings and let them go, time to sit in the place of not knowing until the next way of being emerges. TIME. You can have all the peak (peek) experiences you want but the real work happens between the peaks, while laying down and integrating on the valley floor. TIME.
I remember a beautiful moment with my Grandmother before she died. She had often resisted my need to look at the past and deal with my family baggage. It probably brought up too much of her own unresolved material. She often told me that I was involved in the process for too many years-’Get on with it, Jeffrey’. But, one day, we got to talking about the progress I had made healing my heart through years of psychotherapy. She looked me in the face and said ‘You weren’t just doing this for you Jeffrey. You were also doing it for me. I couldn’t look at these things in the world I lived in. You’re healing my pain, too.’ And that said it all. Every time-consuming step I took beyond the defenses and parameters of the mundane world, actually took my whole soul pod to the next level. All the more reason to take it slow. All the more reason to get it right.
I think that we sometimes forget that we are some of the first generations to consider the possibility that how we feel inside matters more than how things look outside, to entertain the idea that there is something more to this life than survival and protection. The very fact that we are trying to heal our hearts in a world where so many have had to bury their hurt is already extraordinary. It may not seem like such a big deal, but when the energy has been moving in another direction for so many generations, it is quite a challenge to turn the tide. We are breaking new inner ground, after all. Recognizing this should translate into giving ourselves a break when we can’t quite get it perfect.
The Soulshaping journey is life-long and lives long. We come into each lifetime with what James Hilman called an ‘innate image’- an image of who we are here to become in this lifetime. That image represents the next step in our soul’s march toward wholeness. But it is only the next step. It is not EVERY step. Most of us will be back for another round. So let’s see ourselves through Grandpa eyes, and breathe..