Many of you are noticing that, in my writings, I seem to be coloring further and further outside the lines. Some of you welcome this, while others of you find it unsettling. I can understand both reactions.
As I was walking through the snow-laden paths of Central Park at daybreak this morning, I thought about what has helped me through this transition—from seeing our world through the eyes of a typical girl raised in L.A. to someone who has started to see through its illusions. Let me start by emphasizing that it has not been easy for me; it has taken me more than ten years of rigorous focus, and of feeling my way through the dark.
Having encountered countless teachings and teachers along the way, I can count on only one hand the ones that have been truly useful. One thing they all said in common, in recognition of my busy city life, is that this work is hard to do “in the world.” They emphasized that it is advisable for people who undertake this work to go into isolation for several weeks, months even. As for most of you, that wasn’t an option for me. With a family, my projects, and my husband’s work, I would to have to be creative enough to go through this process in a Midtown Manhattan apartment.
Shifting your perspective this dramatically is a shock to the system. It requires a deep desire to grow—a desire beyond anything else in your life. If it’s not your deepest passion, it’s not going to happen for you. To put it another way, your desire to live has to be so strong it moves the mountains in your way. It also requires a daily dedication to growth. This is not like homework; it’s not merely a matter of forcing yourself to sit down for twenty minutes a day to complete a page of boring exercises. Not at all. This work should be a deep source of joy, something that helps get you out of bed in the morning. It’s that part of your day when you follow whatever lead is working best for you at the time—such as something you’re reading, like the Anastasia, Daniel Quinn, or Derrick Jensen books, or an audio recording that takes you deeper, like the Almine meditations, or simply sitting in contemplation. Devote that time to whatever you respond to best, whatever contributes most effectively to your growth.
If you miss a day, no biggie. If you spend a whole day on it, great. Do what works. No one is watching or judging you. Again, this is not homework! It’s the call of your heart, your blossoming.
Sometimes it won’t feel like you’re blossoming. Sometimes it will feel like you’re confused and stuck. That’s par for the course. You will open up again. Take a break. Read something else. Go clubbing. Whatever. Don’t worry about getting stuck. Trust your heart to lead you toward truth, and you’ll get there sooner or later.
This work is processed in cycles. There are times when you’ll take in new information and process it, and you’ll feel it very intensely. This is the time to cocoon yourself, to try to stay out of the fray. Stay home, keep warm, do those things that keep you feeling cared for. Limit your exposure to stores, crowds, and social events. Then, once you’ve absorbed what you’re capable of absorbing from that cycle and you feel energized by it, you’ll discover that you own the knowledge and no longer feel imbalanced by it. You’ll incorporate it into your worldview and lifestyle and start to really benefit from it. Then, when it’s time to take in more, you’ll go through the learning and processing cycle once again. Recognizing the differences between successive cycles and honoring what they require is essential to a smooth progression.
I used the word “shock” earlier. Shock and trauma are important to understand. They are a disturbance to both the emotional and physical body. We hold our shocks and traumas in the body, and when they are awakened they can make us shake (emotionally and physically) because they ring an incoherent energy pattern through the system, which needs to keep moving through in order to exit. If they don’t find an exit, they become a chronic disturbance.
Ours is a culture of fear—everyone is so afraid. Our fears are primal, and date back from our childhoods. We fear punishment from authorities. We fear stepping out of line, rejection from the community, looking different, being ridiculed, being alone. We fear other people’s anger, and our own. Challenging our culture means challenging the power that holds us under its thumb and wants to keep us there. We are programmed to be very afraid of this shadowy dictator, though we don’t normally think of it as such. Consider how hard it is for people to stand up to their own family members just to be able to eat vegetables instead of burgers and bread. Dietary views are the stuff of kindergarten compared to worldviews. This is why we have to take great care to work through the shifts in our worldviews at a pace we can manage. We must also anticipate the shaking that comes when the fear wells up in us.
As fears well up within us, so will the repressed traumas of the past. It’s the same awaken/release process that we go through when we physically detoxify. Expect to shake—a lot. It will pass, bit by bit. The more you shake, the more that incoherent energy pattern of fear and trauma will leave you, and the more powerful you will become. You will begin to see the world much more clearly. You will become more yourself, an effective and peaceful warrior.
When an animal in the wild has a traumatic experience—say, for example, narrowly escaping the jaws of a predator—that animal will immediately rush to a safe place and shake. It will shake until the energy connected with the trauma has been fully released. Instinctively, it knows to release it. Why? If the incoherent energy is not released, it will cling to the animal’s physical and emotional systems, acidifying its blood, organs, and cells. The animal will be compromised.
Animals that are traumatized in captivity cannot retain the internal communications that would keep its instincts intact in nature. Humans are similarly compromised in a culture that delivers too many blows to our emotional and physical bodies and blocks their means of release. They ring through the body, wrecking its integrity.
How many people have you seen whose repressed internal traumas are evident in their gaits, in the positions of their head and shoulders, in their mannerisms? If you’re at a loss, just hop on the number 6 subway train that runs through the main artery of Manhattan and you’ll see what I’m talking about. But, of course, it’s everywhere, throughout rural and urban communities alike. We should all move like happy, relaxed children—easy in our skins, light and limber. But the traumas of the world cause all living beings to morph into the shapes of our pains.
Along the way, I’ve sometimes questioned myself. I’ve wondered, am I the one that’s crazy? Is there something wrong with me to see this world as a mad place, when everyone else seems to think this is how life ought to be? As crazy as I might sound to the uninitiated, I have finally concluded, no, I am indeed seeing very, very clearly. There is nothing wrong with my vision. I stand in my peace and clarity and see the madness all around me. And I invite you to do the same every time you start to question the sanity of your heart’s deepest desire to find a better way of life.
I’m not trying to scare you with doomsday talk about the conditions of our world, our produce, and our progeny. I’m simply describing the way the natural world is responding to the trauma that our civilization is continually inflicting upon it. Personally, I find the doomsday entertainment and “end of times” dramatizations put forth by some groups and religions reviling. To me, they betray an insensitivity, a mentality of people who have fallen into the cultural trap of perceiving life as cheap and disposable.
By contrast, my purpose is to show you what is really going on—so the problems are neither vague nor overly dramatized. By understanding how the life cycles work in nature, you can see the future all by yourself. In describing the degeneration of seed, soil, and DNA, I am not trying to make you afraid, but to empower you with new vision, to make you ultimately unafraid. I want each one of us to face the truth, not sugar-coat it, so that we can begin to do the necessary work of cultivating life, of reversing the destruction of our bodies and our world before it’s entirely too late.
I realize that I do not always deliver this information in the softest, most palatable way. I hope to become better at this over time. But for now, please know that I offer it in the spirit of love. I want us all to grow together, to help each other grow in knowledge, perception, strength, beauty, and vitality. It is not an easy process, but it is ultimately as deeply joyful and fulfilling as it can sometimes be painful and shocking to the system. I am here to help you through the inevitable shivering and shaking along the way, to help guide you through the dark forest to the great clearing that awaits you.