“To breathe life into every moment To allow life to course through your every cell This one breathe This one life This one moment Confusion, stagnation, emptiness…all just another flavour of breath Love, flow, fullness…a new invitation …to breathe life …to let life breathe you wondering is there anything more magical than breathing is there anything left for us to do… but allow life to breathe allow breath to be life breath breathe life Will you let life have her way with you?”
If I were a little pencil in the hand of God writing a love letter to the world What would I say? Would I tell you that you’re more radiant than the sun? And purer than the snow Would I whisper sweet nothings in your ear to be heard in your heart?
What would I need to say for you to see your own beauty? To know that everything you’ve always ached for Is already within you That the love and belonging you seek so desperately Is right here inside this place inside your heart which isn’t a place at all
If I told you it’s Ok to lay down your battle stories Could you rest here with me? Could you allow your battle wounds to be bathed in love? Could you hear me? Could you feel me? Could you know in the deepest place in your being these words of love?
Could you let the other words and worlds fall away? As you rest into this great mystery of knowing you are loved And yet knowing you know nothing at all Could you savour the sweetness of this? Come with me, bathe in the great mystery Let your heart unravel and show you the way The way where there is no place to arrive The place where there is nowhere to be Just here and now in this beautiful mystery Come rest with me That’s what I would say Would you hear me? Would you feel me? If I were a little pencil in the hand of God writing a love letter to you?
Thank you for seeing and cherishing me as beauty For seeing the subtle ways that Shakti weaves herself through every cell of who I am Respecting the power in my gentleness and vulnerability Feeling the pull to protect and care for the openness and softness you see in me And never asking me to be stronger, or to feel less – knowing this would be like asking a flower to change it’s scent
Thank you for knowing I am a soft feminine sensual woman who has journeyed deeply in order to peel back layers of harshness to reveal this beauty. For understanding I would I not cover Her back up again even if you wanted me to be something else And for knowing the chasm between us that a request to be anything but this beauty would leave.
Thank you for seeing the depth of the journey I’ve taken to be the woman I am today and for not taking that for granted or underestimating the power that rests in this quietness. For trusting me to take responsibility for my own safety and asking for what I need And for knowing sometimes you can offer what is needed, and at other times I will step away to honour my boundaries or meet my own needs.
Thank you for taking your time before making promises For knowing what is it that you want For feeling and Knowing what you feel in yourself Knowing what it is you feel in me Knowing what it is you feel between us Remembering you are God, Source, Truth, Grace Trusting that nothing we share can ever change that And for allowing our connection to be an invitation of the greatest remembering Again and again and again
Thank you for trusting your intuition and letting your heart and soul lead you For asking for what you want and when you have my consent, taking it without apology or hesitation Hearing me when I express a limit or need Honouring this as sacred knowing that asking is my way of trusting you Knowing my heart is naturally open and trusting until it is given reason to protect
Thank you for touching me with presence, with love, with desire for union and for sharing love of this life through your fingers, mouth, lingham and words And for allowing me to touch you with tenderness, desire and care and to feel you feeling me
Thank you for being open and honest with me about doubts, reservations and resistance And for knowing that unspoken barriers and limits create a void between us that makes my heart ache and my yoni close
Thank you for owning your body, heart and mind and all the parts and wholeness of your animal and soul For embracing the love, light and power of your lingham And for no longer shaming your sexuality because this tradition or that said something about it Thank you for loving yourself exactly as you are
Thank you for trusting your self to know when you’re in integrity and not needing someone else’s rule to tell you For doing your work around the collective shame of masculine sexual energy so you don’t resent me for allowing my Shakti to flow For understanding that it is her nature to magnetise you For trusting that I won’t use this naturalness to control you And for never asking me to shut her down so that you are not tempted by her allure. Thank you for trusting yourself to say yes and no and for following your heart and mind.
I’m so grateful our connection is one of choice, freedom, love, play, eroticism and innocence. And to know that each time we show up for each other we make a conscious choice to show up fully in love.
Thank you for understanding that while these words are shared from my highest desires I do not always live in this space That I do get caught in my lower nature of fear, desire, grasping and doubt And that these are a part of who I am and I walk the path of loving, embracing and integrating all pieces of me even those that are more challenging. Thank you for trusting when I fall from the temple into the mud that I always climb the mountain to the temple once again.
Thank you for the ways that you hold up a mirror of love and acceptance when I forget to love myself, Reminding me of my commitment to love and embrace every piece of me. Thank you for knowing this is also my commitment to you.
Thank you for allowing me into your heart To love and appreciate all that you are I’m honoured and oh so grateful to walk this journey of remembering, sovereignty and togetherness with you.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
~ Maya Angelou
Don’t rush to get out of the mush sweethearts, it is intentional, it is purposeful, it is divinely timed. No external force tells the caterpillar to hurry up and finish being mush so the butterfly can reveal her beauty – it follows it’s own rhythms and cycle – yes heavily influenced by the external elements and season, but in perfect harmony, not denying it’s own rhythm.
Most of us know a caterpillar becomes a butterfly but we don’t talk so much about that process in the middle – we see the cocoon on the outside where not much is happening, but inside what’s going on? Inside the cocoon and the chrysalis there is a huge amount of activity as the caterpillar is literally becoming a whole new creature. Something that is only possible when the old structure of the caterpillar is broken down and turned into something new.
It’s kind of a gruesome process as the caterpillar literally digests itself. It becomes liquid, or MUSH. It enters the liminal – where the old has been destroyed and the new is yet to be revealed.
Starting to sound familiar to anyone? If you’re in the mush or you’ve been there you know exactly what I’m talking about. The mush in my experience is that journey into the underworld, that place of deep letting go – where there is a process of something dying and falling away – before the new can be revealed. And although we may share snippets of our journey into the darkness with loved ones, we often don’t share the depths of the darkness we journey in. And therefore we don’t always honour and acknowledge the courage and determination it takes to journey through the darkest corners of our psyche when mush is the stage of the cycle we’re in.
The female body experiences a mini mush every month – a moment where the body knows it needs to dissolve and let go. But even this mini mush is denied by the great majority of our collective. A collective that has called menstruation the curse, rags, that time of the month and treated this key part of the feminine cycle of creativity as an annoying little “Visitor of the Month’. It seems logical then that there would be fear and ignorance of the mush. An ignorance that in my opinion stems from a deeply wounded collective conscious that doesn’t value the moments in between. That doesn’t value the subtle aspects of life and evolution. That doesn’t recognise the beauty and potency of the feminine or the liminal – only that which can be seen, touched, explained and embraced as real.
The topic of being in the mush is so pertinent right now as it feels like collectively that’s where we are. As we grieve the loss of life as we know it, the loss of many lives from illness but also the loss of our everyday activities and liberties. I never imagined I would live through a time where the whole world would journey together into the mush – but here we are. And from where I sit it’s heartbreaking to feel the struggle and suffering but I see it also as the most incredible opportunity for humanity to let die the old systems and control dramas we’ve been imprisoned in, to step out of the ways we’ve given our power away and to allow our fullest most expressed selves to birth.
The butterfly to me is the budding awakening of ourselves as consciousness, of knowing ourselves to be so inextricably interconnected and linked to each other and this planet. So I see the mush as a beautiful, brave, potent place to be. But if we’ve received the message when we were young, and throughout our adult life that the only thing that mattered is when you’re achieving, doing, completing, succeeding – then the little voices inside and out of your head right now may be telling you you ‘should’ be doing more, you should be using this moment to launch yourself into success. To create something big and beautiful and inspiring. And this completely undermines and undervalues the in between that we’re in right now.
In a beautiful article about Traversing the Underworld in this time of pandemic the author writes. ‘…deeply encoded in our psyches, we may have the instructions we need for how to be human in the in-between space we’re living in. To find them, we have to know how to reach deeply into our own roots and wrap our fingers around the stories in our souls. We have to learn to speak the language of the mythopoetic; a grammar of symbols and intention, archetypes and intuition and instant knowing, dreams and secrets and great dramas played out over aeons beneath the surface of things.”
And this is where I think it gets tricky – our culture doesn’t really encourage this kind of self exploration or soul enquiry. It isn’t asking us to look inside and remember our greater connection to the whole – it’s asking us to follow the rules, do as we’re told and it’s encouraging fear and separation rather than a deeper considering of the emergent potentials (a whole other rant that needs it’s own blog!).
In Western Australia we’ve been incredibly blessed to have not experienced the immense loss of life and devastation that many other countries have and we’re moving towards a softening of social distancing rules. But to me it feels like we’ve missed half of the story and that we’re yet to fully acknowledge or feel the depth of the loss that has been experienced here and around the globe. To me it feels like we’re a little too quick to want to get out of the mush – yes I get it human nature propels us towards pleasure and away from pain – but when you start to bring consciousness into the game, there’s an invitation to let truth guide not our aversion to pain or thirst for pleasure. And yes I also get that we’re not here to only live in the inner world and self enquiry – that social engagement and economy are a part of the manifest world and they’re hugely important. But to me it becomes a question of balance – with a society so out of balance – geared towards the doing and the outward movement – what if we actually need to do less, and Be more. What if time being mush is what we need in order to restore balance to a system that is deeply broken.
In many ways this is why I teach Yin Yoga in such a ‘Yin’ (receptive, soft, gentle, still, slow) way. I get that it is out of balance because it is so much Yin with so little Yang….but when we live our lives every day in a way that really only values and encourages the movement and the doing – we need these little pockets to remember the beauty and wisdom and absolute necessity of receptivity, listening and slowness.
I don’t expect everyone to understand the value of the mush but I’m writing this for those of you who (probably the same those of you who are called to Yin) who have felt the call to mush, the pull to go deep inside and allow old stories and patterns to fall away, to create the space to hear the deeper knowing of the soul. Please keep trusting your inner knowing. Don’t let anything but your own relationship to soul and source guide you. Don’t allow the fear mongering from inside or out force you to take a single step other than the one that your heart is guiding you in.
Take this time to sit, be still, move with compassion, connect with the heart, connect with your mind – no not the mind that is telling you to do more, be more, hurry up, get there, the other mind – the higher mind – that is focussed and wise and connected to spirit. The one who knows from a place of deep intuition rather than a primal instinct that has been shaped by a past heavily influenced by fear.
And know the time spent in the mush for everyone is going to be different. We all have a nervous system with similar qualities but these delicate systems all have had their own journeys. So we’re not all going to be at the same point at the same time. Keep in mind with anything you read or hear – what each person shares may be the truth for them but the real question is – Is it true for you? For where you are right now in this moment. Take opinions as pointers but digest it and test it within your own deeper knowing.
We have schools to train us how to do pretty much anything you can imagine on this planet. But do we have schools to help us learn how to become the mush that is needed before the butterfly emerges? No, because no-one can know the exact path or process for you. Only you can enter the cocoon – you alone. But when you enter with the knowing you are part of the greater whole, that there is a golden thread of life, of love, of light that weaves it’s way through every part of your being there can be a great sense of trust that the mush is potent and essential. Remember this trust and create the space within yourself for your own knowing to emerge.
I’ve been beautifully ‘unproductive’ in the external world during these weeks, but I can tell you my inner world received orders for the most monumental of renovations….and like all good renovations it has started with an absolute complete demolition of the old. Old relationships, old stories and old control dramas that needed to be released. They’re currently all in the MUSH. I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be leaving the mush, but I’m not lost here, I’m intentionally here in the liminal – in the space of the in between. I’m mindful, I’m present, I’m connecting to love, to light, to the wisdom of my soul. I’m receiving all I need to rebuild a sense of vitality in a body and mind that had been deprived of the love and nurturing it needed. And I’m listening to all of the little synchronicities life provides to help me find my way to where I need to be.
And I know this too has been the case for many of you. Especially those who are highly sensitive, empathic, intuitive and who sense the subtleties of life. If you’re tired after a long journey of trying, don’t rush to leave the mush because others aren’t in the same space you are.
On this Full Moon in Taurus/Scorpio don’t deny the beauty and essential nature of the mud, the mush. But equally do remember the light. Allow the light of the full moon to shine her loving presence into all the dark corners of your psyche that are ready to be revealed. Remember neither dark nor light can exist without the other.
And neither the caterpillar or the butterfly would exist without the mush.
It’s no secret I love cacao. I’ve been immersed in the heart opening practice of ceremonial cacao for 7 years now. But my journey with mama cacao has changed so much over the years and particularly in the last 12 months it’s been heavily influenced by my journey into the world of embracing and stabilising my highly sensitive nervous system.
I write this piece with so much gratitude for everything that cacao has shared with me over the years and the immense amount of wisdom I’ve uncovered within my own body, mind and heart.
And while I know this may not resonate with others, it is my truth and through my work with other highly sensitive women I suspect there are at least a few of you out there that may know exactly what I’m talking about, so here is a little story about my personal journey with mama cacao.
When I first sat on the porch with Keith, (the chocolate shaman) in Guatemala he spoke to us about the work of Empaths and offered guidance on how to embrace this gift without digesting everyone else’s crap everywhere we went. Prior to this point I had absolutely no idea I was sensitive to other people’s stress or emotional experiences….so this was a huge aha moment….that has radically changed the way I live.
But it’s taken a long time for me to truly understand even a snippet of what had been shared with me then. And as my sensitivity became something I was more conscious of I realised I at times feel other people’s experiences viscerally – very much in my body, and in the way my nervous system interacts with the world. And things began making more sense – for the first time I began to realise the physical symptoms I was experiencing (fatigue, vertigo, exhaustion, dizziness, poor digestion) were signs of my highly sensitive nervous system trying to process more than it could digest (literally) and that I was caught in over-stimulation and overwhelm. This opened the door for me to truly begin to see all the aspects of my sensitivity in a far more positive light – and harness the gifts that came with it.
I’ll write more about HSP, empaths, the gifts of sensitivity and taking your power back in another blog but for now let me get back to the topic of Cacao and the Highly Sensitive Person and highly sensitive nervous system.
After cultivating a little (aka a shit ton) more self compassion for my sensitivity I acknowledged my nervous system could no longer handle big doses of anything – not even blissful or positive things including this very beautiful plant medicine that had been my sweet soulful companion for years. It had me begin to question had I been in fact contributing to the overwhelm and sensitivity pushing myself over the edge? And was it time to work with mama cacao in a new way.
And the answer was a resounding yes. I’ve been on a bit of spiritual junkie journey since 2012 trying all sorts of weird and wonderful workshops, courses, plant medicines, meditations, retreats and bodywork in the name of ‘healing’ or ‘enlightenment’. I’ve spent ummmm…..an incredible amount of money on this journey educating myself, healing, cleansing and de-conditioning. And while I know all of those experiences contribute to where I am today on reflection I can see many actually forced me into growth, rather than allowing – and pushed an already very sensitive nervous system into complete overwhelm, shutdown and discombobulation.
So this is where I share that when I first discovered cacao I was numb to pretty much everything, having long ago decided that it was safer to cover up my sensitivity, I didn’t feel very much at all.
When I began travelling my only wish to feel again.
After years of studying the intricacies of our autonomic nervous system I’d now say I lived in a permanent state of overwhelm and my system often defaulted to shutdown, freeze or disassociate. I had perfected the art of not feeling, by leaving my body because I’d long ago decided that all of the feelings that came up were just way too much for me to process and integrate.
Cacao was one of the most beautiful supports I had in the process of learning to feel again. She, along with heart & stillness based yoga and meditation bought my system back online after having been in emotional overwhelm and shutdown for a good chunk of my adult life – I saw her as a gentle hand holding mine. She, and a group of dedicated cacao lovers encouraged me to feel whatever was coming up and to let it be there, to let it be seen and loved. It was the turning point for me. A point of allowing emotions to be part of my world again.
BUT – and this is the purpose of this blog – what I didn’t understand at the time was that having an impeccable sense of Self and knowing how to ground BEFORE I started to heighten my sensitivity would have been a really bloody good idea. Instead I lost myself in transcendental practices and plant medicines that encouraged me to leave my body and empty my mind wreaking havoc with my nervous system and creating trauma that would later need to be unravelled.
For me cacao helped me to feel my heart again, to connect in with my emotional body, to understand that there were many many layers that had been built up around my heart over the years and much that I had suppressed and denied. But without the grounding practices I was unable to stay present or to notice what my system needed and I was a ticking time bomb for adrenal fatigue and PTSD.
Reality is a time came a long long time ago – where the layers around my sensitivity had been peeled back and I was no longer caught in shutdown but instead had flipped over into flight mode – running away if things got too intense. To the point that I travelled for almost 7 years, moving every 3 months – basically avoiding any emotional experience that became too intense. And yet also chasing the next ‘peak experience’ that for a moment would feel amazing but very quickly would leave me feeing overwhelmed and ungrounded. I was caught in a loop of going from overwhelmed and shutdown to feeling better and engaging more in life – to passing through my window of tolerance and straight back into the other side of overwhelm – overstimulated and with my sympathetic nervous system activated.
So while I adore cacao and the magic she helped me to uncover within myself – it’s been my story that drinking large quantities of a plant medicine that increased my sensitivity was not necessarily the wisest nor the most compassionate thing I could have done once I had reconnected to my sensitivity.
When I lived in Guatemala we would drink 40-50grams of cacao in a ceremony and I thought that was OK for me then, but despite the warnings of my teacher to always listen to what our body was telling us – I stopped listening and just kept drinking for many years to follow. Desperate to find my truth, to leave behind my suffering and to help others to do the same, I drank without knowing my nervous system was already having a lot of trouble digesting life, without understanding that what I needed was a little less sensitivity not more. I needed to take my foot off the accelerator for a moment but instead I had one foot on the accelerator while the other was also on the brake – hello burnout, adrenal fatigue and digestive destruction!
And I believe this became more of an issue when I was no longer living in an energetic vortex surrounded by pristine nature that supported my grounding and clearing. When I started living in suburbia in a modern western environment where the collective consciousness was a little different. Bombarded by stimulation 24/7 with sounds and lights, and electro magnetic fields (even when we think we’re being still our systems are being bombarded with EMF’s) – I had a mind fragmented by trauma, and a nervous system stuck in hypervigilance struggling to digest and integrate what I was experiencing.
Thankfully, after a pretty good dose of my own suffering and some wise tips from feminine teachers who guided me on my path to Embodiment I began to prioritise grounding and not engaging too deeply in the emotional chaos of the world when I was already struggling to digest.
And the amount of cacao I drank varied hugely – there would be weeks and months where I wouldn’t drink at all. And at other times I would drink a teaspoon daily with the occasional 2-3 tablespoons at other times, but always experimenting and listening to what my system needs in THIS moment. Not what someone else has told me – or what works for them, or even what has worked for me in the past….but RIGHT NOW what do I need.
With cacao ceremonies becoming more and more popular & accessible in the west I wanted to share my story especially for those with highly sensitive nervous systems, trauma or PTSD so you can be encouraged to listen to your needs….it may be your path that less is more.
Mama cacao continues to play a key part in my evolution, growth, connection to joy and acceptance of my sensitivity as a super power. And I believe she is a beautiful tool for awakening the heart. But the particular way I work with her now is as a companion – I don’t give my power over to her – I know she is simply helping me uncover pieces of God (myself) that I had forgotten. And I play with her in much smaller doses to support integration of the love, innocence, joy & playfullness she helps me to remember. I affectionately call her my antidepressant and I mostly turn to her when I feel my heart close or am needing extra support to connect to the magic and sweetness of this life. And when the world is struggling with a pandemic I’m incredibly grateful for the lightness she helps me to find within myself.
I also still wholeheartedly believe she is a gift for others journeying into sensitivity, empowerment and whole hearted living. However I understand that for the Highly Sensitive nervous system grounding into the physical body and learning how to stay with our experience even in the most intense of emotional experiences is the most important tool we will ever learn. And that sometimes the most compassionate thing you will ever do for yourself is to ease off the accelerator for a moment while you digest all that you’ve already consumed.
If you tend to experience emotions very intensely and find yourself often caught in a whirlwind of emotions, yours or others, play a little with practices that help you digest the experiences before you turn up the volume on your emotional world. Ground into your body and experiment with mindfulness or simple concentration practices to restore balance to your nervous system and trust your body knows what it needs in this moment.
On this day where people all over the world are connecting to chocolate in their own special way, take a moment to offer your gratitude for all that the spirit of cacao has offered to you and most importantly to the gift of your wise beautiful heart.
“I believe the magic of the most beautiful heart centred teachers – particularly plant medicines is to reveal to you the gifts that already lay inside of you. To help you appreciate the subtleties of this beautiful life.”
Reach out if you’d like any support or guidance on your journey with cacao or high sensitivity.
If I lay here If I just lay here Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
Forget what we’re told Before we get too old Show me a garden that’s bursting into life
~ Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol
Today I found myself thinking about all the crazy ways I’ve tried to chase Joy, in people, places & experiences – and this song by Snow Patrol came to mind…as I wondered chasing joy or chasing cars…is there really any difference? We’ve heard it often enough that one of the greatest causes of human suffering is our seeking of pleasure and aversion to pain, or joy and sorrow. This endless searching, grasping or aversion to things outside of ourself we believe will or won’t make us happy, whole, complete is a guaranteed path of suffering as we try to hold onto the impermanent.
In the busyiness of searching for Joy I overlooked the reality of the joy right here in beingness, that has never been about anything outside of myself. With a shift away from a corporate career and home ownership I celebrated no longer chasing after material possessions but it seems despite many warnings by teachers I accidentally slipped into the trap of substituting consumerism for spiritual materialism. Acquiring more and more experiences, spiritual teachings and blissful states but not really fully embodying the wisdom. I still chased after the bliss states – and foolishly labelled this as Joy. Along with the mislabelling of Joy was that anything other than those blissful states, particularly sadness, anger & confusion were relegated to the naughty corner where I demanded they be quiet and stop.
As I listened again to the Chasing Cars lyrics, what I heard was not a fairytale romance, but the immense longing that I believe we all have, not for one person – but to know intimately Love, Grace or the Beloved. To lay down and merge completely with Love. What has become so apparent to me is I don’t want to chase anything, I don’t want to try anymore.
” Do or do not, There is no Try”.
~ Master Yoda
I want to BE. What I sometimes forget is joy in it’s most simplest – the joy of being. Laying down the swords of inner & outer battle and letting go all the thoughts and ideas about what needs to happen or what needs to be done in order to belong. Instead letting energy be funnelled towards Allowing, Embracing, Accepting life exactly as it is and moving in harmony with life.
Does it mean I want to physically lay down and never move or do anything ever again – not at all – I love to do many things with many amazing people, but I’m attuning to the fact that sometimes laying down physically is in fact what feels aligned and I’m trusting that…and learning to go with it. REST is the opposite of contraction – and to me it feels that when we’re resting in our bodies it’s easier to drop into the Heart. It’s also an amazing practice to share with others, when was the last time you lay down with someone you adore and just shared that moment of laying there together in the sheer joy of just Being?
Trusting there will come a time where laying down is no longer what the moment calls for – and there will be movement – action. Can we also begin to feel the stillness in the movement, to allow the movement to come from a place of emptiness. Free of our projections, free of the ‘me’ identity we’ve worked so hard to build up, free from the should’s and should nots. And full of the – this feels authentic and aligned and REAL and is for not just my own personal benefit, but for the benefit of all beings.
“We have a fear that if we give up our person then there is nothing left to have a life. When you give up the person there is nothing left to have a life, there is just life. You are life.”
Real, raw and authentic – this seems to be my mission in life right now – what brings me alive – and the reality is this doesn’t always look like the bright chirpy version of Joy I’d hoped the journey of awakening the Heart would be. In fact real, raw & authentic means feeling everything that comes along – and it is sometimes messy. But learning to be with it all and not get lost in it has been the path of Joy.
Joy gets hijacked when I get caught up in ideas that I must do more, that I am not doing enough, or lately the most ridiculous of ever – who I’m Being is not Being enough. Or when I feel this building pressure to ‘know’ my purpose here in this crazy life. All of these things are grasping, and trying to understand with the mind – and they’re exhausting – they pull all of my energy into a black hole and away from Joy.
What if my purpose is only to Love. How exactly would I explain that to anyone. What exactly does that look like? What tangible outcomes can you see from loving? How do I justify that all day every day that’s what I feel I am here to ‘do’ and to BE.
As I typed I thought woah Lani you’re sounding a little crazy here – are you sure you want to share this with the virtual world?! And this is when I realised another old inner battle has come to an end – the battle between my belief that LOVE is my purpose and the fear that LOVE is not enough. My unconscious fear has been part of the barrier I’d built up against love.
But I can see this fear that love is not enough, isn’t real for me right now. It’s old and outdated. And as I become my own inner authority, what feels true, real, authentic, aligned – Love IS my purpose. If I am loving I am joyful and if I am joyful I am loving, the two cannot be separated.
When I feel into why I share what I share, why I offer yoga classes, meditations & cacao ceremonies the very simple truth has nothing to do with any special teachings. I simply love to love because love loves to love. My main intention with every sharing is to provide a space where people feel deeply seen, heard, received and nurtured and a space where they feel safe enough to really reveal the fullness of who they are.
So all this time I’d been looking for Joy to look a certain way, you know bubbly and hyper and maybe even a little rambunctious at times. But in my grasping at this idea what I’d missed was this beautiful sweetness that rests in the Heart when I let go, when I’m resting in Being, when I’m not needing life to be anything other than the way it is in this moment. Even if that moment comes complete with anger, grief or confusion, when these are embraced & allowed to be seen and expressed – Joy is also revealed. The Joy of Being.
The irony is that as soon as I allow Joy to look however she wants to look – the bubbly, hyper and a little rambunctious often does make her appearance, but far more than that Joy is not an emotion – it is an inner attitude. An attitude to be cultivated in Love alone. It’s not something I can describe with words but if you’re reading this and we have a chance to sit together I hope we can share a moment of this Joy as we meet in the Heart.
Ever noticed how the word NEED gets a bit of a bad wrap in spiritual circles, under the guise of Non Attachment? I’ve had friends & partners talk to me endlessly about their NEED for freedom and their repulsion to feeling needed. And I’ve struggled to marry that with my intuition that needs are a valuable and essential part of human existence. Oh the great irony of the masculine’s need for FREEDOM (fear of loss of Self) and the feminine’s need for SAFETY (fear of abandonment).
I hold both of these pieces within my self and believe that what true union or love is – is a balance between these 2 seemingly contradictory needs. As someone who has a dominant feminine essence my wounding has been predominantly around fear of abandonment, ie my need for SAFETY. A wounding magnified as a result of loss and trauma experienced when I was young and still developing emotionally and then exacerbated during my healing journey when I decided to join a high control group (aka cult) that did it’s very best to reinforce old beliefs that I must comply in order to stay safe/belong.
Thankfully my stay with the high control group was short lived – turns out I didn’t take too well to being dictated to on how to live my life. But my time with them and the self harm I experienced during this time became a catalyst for massive growth and healing. In my attempt to understand why I would abandon myself so dramatically to be with this group I began working with a therapist and together we uncovered the very young part of me who had developed a belief that if I reached out to have my needs met – no one would be there to reach back.
Through gentle exploration I discovered that over time the pain of having those needs go unmet as a young girl became too great and I decided it was safer to just stop reaching. And in time I just eventually stopped knowing I had needs because I’d gotten so good at doing it all myself, or going without. It however didn’t make those needs go away – it just pushed them further into the unconscious and had me unconsciously attempt to have them met by others.
Recently I did some intensive training around touch and consent with Betty Martin (founder of Wheel of Consent) and over 5 days our group explored the HOWs and WHYs of not asking for what we want. We looked at how humanity ends up in shadow behaviours because we’re not able to ask for what we want.
At a very simple level I see this all relating back to our ability to know our needs, AND our believing that we’re worthy of having our needs met. And it all starts with how grounded we are in our body – can we actually feel what it is that I actually want and need in this moment?
The more present we are with our own experience the more trust comes from know what I’m feeling, and from what I’m feeling I know what I need, and from knowing what I need I can use my voice to ask for what I want and to truly own my YES and my No.
So what’s the difference between Needs vs Needinesss?
NEEDS are a natural & necessary part of our human existence. They are present in everyone, they motivate us to take action when they’re not met and help us to feel content when they are. Needs are necessary to survive and thrive. In Maslow’s theory there is a basic hierarchy of needs – we’re really familiar with what we call ‘basic needs’ but there is a whole plethora of other needs that are normal and natural and a part of our evolution, growth and thriving. Our emotional needs are where we tend to struggle more with knowing our needs and having constructive, responsible ways to having them met.
If we struggle to know what our emotional needs are then the chance of us asking for what we want is pretty low. And still these needs will exist and will attempt to be met, but now they’re unconscious so we may slip into manipulation, projection, coercion.
Rather than taking responsibility and initiative for having your needs met and asking for what you want, have you ever hoped the other person would just know, or tried to convince them that they wanted the very thing you do, or maybe you actually didn’t even know what you wanted so you asked them what they wanted instead. Any of this sound familiar?
Fear of rejection, fear of being judged and not knowing what we want are huge factors in why we don’t just ask for what we want. And the sad part is when we don’t ask and our emotional needs go unmet, there is a sense of deficit or lack and we go about trying to unconsciously fill the void.
And if we don’t even know what it is that we’re trying to have met we become like a hungry ghost, where the needs become endless…enter NEEDINESS.
NEEDINESS comes from a place of lack, a sieve that tends to be empty no matter how much you put into it. Neediness is born from expectations and not leaving room for someone to say no. Neediness is when someone else is unable to voice what they want and instead demands attention in an unconscious attempt to fulfil their needs. Neediness is when I am unable to know my own needs or ask for what I want. Neediness is a contrast to having needs. Neediness often creates a sense of repulsion.
So let’s get a little more clear with the words we’re using – are we talking about NEEDS or NEEDINESS. The more we slow down long enough to identify what we’re feeling the more we’ll come into contact with what we need, and the more honest and transparent we can be in asking for what we want. And in asking for what we want we need to practice being OK with receiving a NO, to stop taking it personally and to realise our world’s don’t end when someone says no. Don’t believe me, give it a shot, it’s an amazing experiment to play with.
In my journey of self discovery and self love the first step of reclaiming my power was to first acknowledge & embrace there was a hungry little ghost/little girl in me who had a lifetime of unmet emotional needs and they were insatiable – because I was so unconscious to their existence.
Slowing down long enough to feel this, see this and viscerally experience the grief in my body of these unmet needs was something I avoided pretty intently. Until I was away on vacation in Bali taking time alone to do some creative writing…when my body realised oh finally we have space to do this…and it all began to unravel, I unravelled. The woman who in the past had travelled the world solo and needed no one felt the weight of all those unmet needs and desperately wanted to come home to be with loved ones.
I came home knowing I didn’t want to be an ‘island’ anymore, I didn’t want to be this aloof woman who practiced non attachment aka who pretended she had everything under control and could do it all herself. I wanted secure functioning relationships in my life and I wanted to offer that same security to others.
Armed with a new found commitment to knowing my needs and reaching out to others meant I now needed to practice asking for what I wanted. I knew it wasn’t graceful, I knew it was clunky, I knew I had absolutely no idea how to ask for the simplest of things. But I thought at least I’m in touch with what my needs are. Hilarious to look back and realise how little I knew at that point, and how scared I was of allowing myself to own my own needs but grateful for the unravelling that has continued over the past couple of years.
It’s a work in progress for me, but one I’m committed to in my own relationships and in offering support and guidance for the women I work with.
If you’ve had your own journey with embracing Needs or growing out of Neediness I’d love to hear from you, comment below or send me a message. Together we learn. Together we grow.
This one word, vulnerability, comes at me again and again, from every possible angle as undeniably one of the most important words I’ve ever contemplated…it walks side by side, hand in hand with Love, and Intimacy. Of course as they say, ‘where your focus goes the energy flows’ so considering I believe vulnerability is a key to human connection and exploring human connection is what this life feels to be all about…it’s probably not that surprising that it is regularly the star of the show of my life.
At one point I noticed that my social media feeds had become flooded by incredible men & women using their voice to support consciousness, wellness, mental health and suicide awareness. One campaign #itsokaytotalk highlighted suicide as one of the major killers of men around the world. I’m not going to pretend to be on top of statistics but when I started to look at the research it was pretty scary.
The reality is the cultural norm has been to rule crying or the expression of feelings or confusion as a sign of weakness, of being a ‘sissy’ – sayings like ‘dry your eyes princess’ or ‘toughen up’ are pretty common in my home town. Or fear of bringing others down, being a downer, or killing others buzz kicks in too. Tears have somehow been attached to emotional instability and along with this label a whole lot of stigma and judgement has come with it. The word vulnerability was placed in the naughty corner and has only recently started to be given permission to come back to play in all of it’s wonderful glory and power.
Now lets be super clear – this is a very real issue for women and men so I’m going to step away from the idea that we need to split this into a male or female issue. We ALL carry the burden of the unhealthy masculine within each and every one of us.
The unhealthy masculine I’m talking about here is the fear and suppression of feelings and emotions (or you could say the suppression of the feminine). Because the shadow in all of this is that just because you don’t want to feel a darkness arising within you, doesn’t mean that it goes away. It doesn’t (no matter how much you might want it to), it just becomes a part of your shadow, following you everywhere waiting for moments where it can sneak it’s expression into your life to give you a momentary release from the pressure that has built up.
A standard in our culture has formed that we shouldn’t express parts of ourselves we deemed to be ‘dark’ – emotions like fear, sadness, grief, anger and rage. I know I’ve hidden away elements I thought I would be judged for, fearing their expression would make me ultimately unsafe or unloveable. In order to hide away these parts of myself I built up a barrier around myself.
And in building that barrier, to apparently protect myself I inadvertently squashed any possibility of vulnerability. I toughened and closed myself, at least in part, to life. Vulnerability being our capacity of receiving, of being open to life and it’s complete expression, of allowing our Self to see and be seen in our wholeness.
The scary thing is when you look for the commonly accepted meaning of the word vulnerability you’ll find all sorts of descriptions like capable of wounding or injuring – or even the suggestion that vulnerability is a disease or weakness. The word comes from the latin root vulnerare – capable of wounding. Did you know that vulva (female genitals) also came from the same root….and yep I really did just make a connection between vulva and vulnerable. To show a point – capable of wounding – is that really what the vulva means to us? This meaning has been so distorted, a female’s vulva isn’t capable of wounding – it is however capable of penetration. An opening for receiving and giving of creation. It is not a disease or weakness but an incredible gift and expression of life. In the same way so is vulnerability.
Anyone else start to feel where our words have steered us down a slippery slope of misinterpreting vulnerability, and women’s sexuality, as a disease rather than its true essence, creation? The capacity of receptivity, of allowing, allowing our Self to be witnessed, penetrated by presence, to be seen and heard. Isn’t this at the very root of our capacity for human connection? To allow ourselves to be fully seen, to allow the presence or gaze of someone to penetrate through our veil of ego completely – and to allow ourselves to receive their presence and love completely.
Vulnerability is the prerequisite to intimacy – or, as I really love to hear it put in-to-me-see.
When I don’t feel the love and presence of those around me, I feel disconnected, and experience the ultimate illusion of separation. Thinking I am separate from others, when actually I’m feeling separated from myself because I’ve hidden away all of these pieces of myself I thought were not OK. At the very core it was also a separation from Source, Grace, Love that I was experiencing because by shutting down my vulnerability I’d blocked life from expressing itself in all of her divine creation.
So in my opinion it seems the very thing that we do in order to meet the collective view of what makes us strong – also keeps us from receiving fully the gifts of this human experience – connection, love and presence. To fill the void left by this lack of human connection, we turn to vices, addictions – those things that give us the momentary burst of dopamine, oxytocin, seratonin or any number of other hormones within the body that leave us feeling good and alive…sport, food, sex, social media, alcohol, drugs…even yoga & meditation. The problem is that these vices also only offer a temporary solution – we receive the burst of dopamine and oxytocin and then when that burst fades we’re again faced with the underlying feeling of disconnection.
So today I’m grateful to have met many men & women who are speaking up to support each other, saying they will no longer keep their voices quiet, no longer keep what they’re feeling locked up inside. That it’s no longer OK for us to collectively hold onto the misnomer that to be human you must hide your emotions and that to talk about the way you’re feeling somehow makes you a lesser human…or too complicated..or brings people down. IT DOES NOT. IT IS OK TO TALK. And more than that IT IS OK TO HAVE FEELINGS, AND TO NEED TO EXPRESS THEM, AND TO NEED TO BE HEARD EXPRESSING THEM.
Not only is it OK..it’s healthy, normal and natural.
The relevance of this word vulnerability, in this moment, seems palpable. To recognise the courage it takes to stand together, to use our voice. This is strength, power, beauty and for me personally, incredibly attractive to witness people opening up to the intuition of their hearts and allowing these pieces of themselves to come out and play.
Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart….Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.” ~ Brene Brown
The more we move away from viewing vulnerability as a weakness, and instead a natural consequence of expressing the Heart, of being real, of being capable of being seen, of being penetrated by the gaze, the presence and love of life, the more we move into a space where expressing our feelings and emotions can occur naturally, organically and authentically.
Maybe then we’ll stop fighting so hard to defend and hide pieces of ourselves, we’ll stop judging and fighting ourselves and each other and start loving instead.
To be vulnerable doesn’t mean to not feel the fear of being judged, it simply means allowing our absolute vitality, beauty and strength to be expressed inspite of the discomfort. And remembering that who we are at our very core, is unwoundable, unwavering, unchangeable.
“Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” ~ Brene Brown
So in the end I have no answers, only experiences which have shown me again and again and again again the moments of the sweetest connection to life, to Source, to Love – arise only in moments when I allow all of the ideas I have about myself to be penetrated. Allowing true vulnerability, revealing all of who I am so that I in all of my wholeness is able to connect with you in all of you wholeness. And together we begin to understand we are so inextricably connected.
To my highly sensitive sisters and brothers out there. I see you. I feel you.
If you’re feeling the intensity of this wild period of life…please know you’re not alone. I know many people (including myself) feel things deeply and are moving through massive periods of inner & outer change while also feeling the heartache of our country on fire.
Please remember this is not personal, you have not done anything wrong to be feeling life as deeply as you’re feeling it, and you’re not alone. Your capacity to feel and BE with your feelings is a gift. It is BEAUTIFUL. It is BRAVE. And it is what makes you so special and needed in these times of massive change. Even if others don’t feel quite like you do don’t add shame and comparison to the heart ache you’re already feeling. Research shows it is approximately 20% of the population that carry the highly sensitive trait and we serve our own unique purpose and place in this life.
GROUND in your body through belly, heart & mind. Come home to all the sensations, even if they’re intense. You’ve got this. And mother earth has you. Breath. Listen. Slow Down. We are being asked to feel our roots deeper into the earth, to remember our connection to her, to each other and to let love guide.
TRUST there is great wisdom and purpose in our willingness to feel and to not cover things up. And know there is a tribe of sensitive heart awakened souls holding your tenderness in their hearts.
CONNECT Reach out to your trusted people when being with other people feels right for you. Listen to the wisdom of your heart & body and only when it feels right gather with others who are feeling the waves of heartache. Your feelings are not a burden and compassion researchers suggest that when we gather together in times of crisis our systems can often better attune and digest traumatic experiences.
COMPASSION Offer your support and compassion when and how you can. If you’re feeling compassion fatigue (overwhelmed and as if there’s nothing you can practically do to help), stop feeding your own inner war/shame shit storm for a moment by comparing yourself to others, rest, disconnect from social media, reconnect with your heart and let self compassion be your practice for now. Trust your needs are important and that this has it’s own way of rippling out onto others. When the time is right you’ll be ready and able to extend that same compassion to others.
I choose to take this time to find quiet within myself, to be really intentional about with who and how I spend my time, I’m trusting life’s greater plan and am using my daily practices to pray for relief from suffering for all. And I write, because writing helps me make sense of the feelings that flood my system each and every day and I hope the words that flow through me may offer love and support wherever it is needed.