Tag: soul

COME HOME TO YOUR SOUL SELF

COME HOME TO YOUR SOUL SELF

soul self
Night of the Mystic by Freydoon Rassouli, an Iranian-Born, American abstract surrealist and visionary artist and author.

When the world knocks you about and you feel as though you’re living in a foreign land, come home to your soul self.  It is always there, waiting for you.  You will recognize it as the place inside of you that is safe, familiar, and always sane. We all have this place . . . the core, essential, authentic place in our being.

Painful, difficult, mind-boggling events happen in our world every day.  We are shocked, dismayed, angry, disoriented confused, and afraid.  What happened to the world we once knew? we say to ourselves. Innocence lost. We do not know where or how to ground ourselves. This experience is trauma. An experience that our mind can not make sense of throws our psyche into disarray. This is the definition of trauma.

OPPORTUNITY AWAITS US

The events we experience in life, no matter how confusing or alarming, always offer us an opportunity. They elicit powerful questions when we dare to listen for them. The question that most often arises is “why is this happening to me”.  This is a trick question to divert our attention from the harder questions. It is one that has no answer but will waste our time and drive ourselves crazy as we struggle to answer it.

When we look beneath the why question, we come to the how and what questions, and the answers that will bring us home to our soul self.  For example, when we ask, “How am I to understand what is happening to me in a larger context?” or, “What can I learn about who I am and my place in the world from this experience?”, we are heading in the right direction.

Will I dwell in anger, or, live in fear? Or, will I look for the cosmic meaning and purpose for myself and the world? Will I give in to victimhood, or will I go inward and forward, by building trust and deeper, more honest connections? When we look for the choice point in this way, we are driven to ask more difficult and more important questions. Then, we offered a choice.

some home to your soul self

Each and every time we reach a choice point while taking time to listen to our inner guidance we have the opportunity to choose. Our choosing and acting upon our choice not only strengthens us but anchors us more profoundly in our soul self.  When we spend life skimming the surface, afraid to ask what we believe, instead only asking what we “think” we miss out on the vastness and the mystery that is awaiting us. It is only our fear that holds us hostage – our fear of emptiness, void, silence, nothingness, annihilation. Only… fear. Not reality. HOPE is always ours for the asking.


A DARK NIGHT BRINGS A NEW DAWN – Guest Post by Author Kathleen Pooler

A DARK NIGHT BRINGS A NEW DAWN – Guest Post by Author Kathleen Pooler

The Voices of Wisdom Series continues …

NOTE: Ten days ago Kathy had a fall and broke her wrist. She is in a cast and one-handed typing is slow. She greatly appreciates your comments but will not be able to respond at this time. Her recent post tells the story as well as memoir writing highlights from the International Women’s Writing Guild Summer Conference. READ MORE

We’re wishing you a speedy recovery Kathy!

 

How My Dark Night of the Soul Led Me to a Deeper Faith

by Kathleen Pooler

 

You necessarily have to be lost, before you’re found.”  

~ T. Scott McLeod, All That Is Unspoken

 

The “dark night of the soul “ is a term that originated with the writings of Saint John of the Cross in the 6th century. He refers to it as a journey in which “darkness represents the fact that the destination, God, is unknowable and the path is unknowable”.  He postulates that ”the mind and body with their cares have been stilled” and “the only light in this dark night is that which burns in the soul. And that is a guide more certain than the mid-day sun. This light leads the soul engaged in the mystic journey to divine union.”

We’ve all had moments, often triggered by external events, when nothing makes sense anymore. Life as we know it changes forever in a moment.

My “dark night of the soul” came to me through a series of events over a twenty-five year period that rendered me lost and despairing—single parenting after two divorces Voices of Wisdomfrom abusive marriages, a simultaneous battle of a cancer diagnosis and a teenaged son who spiraled into substance abuse.  Everything I had thought would or should happen in my life collapsed around me.

For me, my “dark night of the soul” led me to a deeper faith.

As a “cradle Catholic, I was born into and brought up with the traditions and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic faith. I have, by conscious choice and deepening desire, remained true to these beliefs and teachings, except for a brief period in my twenties when I questioned and even rejected them.

My faith did not deepen until I had to face several life-altering, as well as, life-threatening events. It was then that my religion became my faith and my spirituality, the source of comfort and meaning in my life. Gradually.

This excerpt from my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse ddescribes how the memory of  Great-Grandmother Rose Ranze, guided me through a dark night as I waited, pregnant and lonely, at the bay window for my husband. I stood wondering what condition he would be in after a night of drinking:

Sitting by the Bay Window, 1973 

My slow, rhythmic breaths echoed through the quiet darkness and steadied the anxiety bubbling up from the pit of my stomach, colliding with my view of what I wanted and needed. My thoughts drifted to my great-grandmother. 

Great Grandma Ranze, Mom’s grandmother, had been pregnant with her ninth child when her husband died at the age of thirty-three. Surely I can get through this. The memory of watching Grandma Ranze praying the rosary when I was eight-years-old warmed me as I sat at the bay window on that cold night. 

Wrapped in a pink-knitted shawl, her long white hair pulled back into a neat bun, she had prayed with such fervor I was afraid to disturb her trance. As I walked beside her bed, she opened her eyes and smiled, reaching out to hold my hand. With rosary beads dangling, she continued to murmur her prayers in a soft, soothing drone. 

“Katerina come-a-here,” she motioned while making the sign of the cross after kissing the tiny silver crucifix on the rosary beads. 

As I sat on the edge of her bed, she pulled me close, the rosary beads woven around her worn, wrinkled fingers and kissed my forehead. The rosary beads tickled the back of my neck as I melted into her embrace. 

“God-a–bless, God-a –bless,” she said. The musty scent of an old person lingered as she gently rubbed my back. Her soft, tiny hands felt smooth, like a plush leather glove. 

I felt her gaze on me now and wondered if she were here what would she say to me as I sat lonely and anxious by the window. I grabbed my rosary beads and started praying. It made me feel close to her.

***

This scenario is just one of many over the twenty-five year period of my “dark night of the soul”.  Faith is a gift given to me and nurtured in my childhood by Grandma Ranze. The visions of that tiny woman with her unwavering faith came to me in whispers and glimpses throughout my life as I faced my own challenges. She is still with me when I say my daily prayers.

“My faith became my anchor that brought me back to myself.”

God wasn’t lounging at a pool, watching a mountain sunrise or dreaming by a babbling brook. Nor was He locked up in the Tabernacle on the altar in church.  He was on the battlefield with me, guiding me back into the light.

dark nightAllowing myself to be vulnerable enabled me to accept God’s love, grace and healing. I believe He sent me many angels in the form of family, friends and caregivers on my healing journey.

Simultaneous to the cancer journey was my young son’s spiral downward into alcoholism. The cancer was easier to deal with than watching my son’s descent. At least I had options for cancer treatment and felt some control. I had no control over my son’s addiction. So I prayed and leaned on my faith in God. I learned to hand my son over to God and let go of my need for control. And I never, ever gave up hope that God would heal me and my son.

The words of Grandma Rose echoed in my ears, “God will provide” and He did. That is the miracle of faith.

Having walked through these challenges—two abusive marriages, a life-threatening illness, and terror of loving and letting go of any addicted son has forced me to dig deeper to find the treasures of my faith within.

But now that I am on the other side of these challenges, I see God everyday in the people I love, nature, all the little things in life that matter.

My journey through the “dark night of the soul” has given me the gift of perspective about what really counts in life. It is through a deepening faith that I have seen the light.


Voices of WisdomabuseKathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28, 2014 and work-in-progress sequel, The Edge of Hope (working title) are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments:  domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories. She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.

CONNECT WITH KATHLEEN:

Read her weekly blogs at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog.

Twitter @kathypooler

LinkedIn: Kathleen Pooler

Google+:Kathleen Pooler

Goodreads

Kathleen’s FB Author Page

Pinterest  

KATHLEEN’S SHORT STORIES:

“The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” by Pat LaPointe, 2012.

“Choices and Chances” is published in the  “My Gutsy Story Anthology” by Sonia Marsh, September, 2013.


If you would like to be a contributor to The Voices of Wisdom Series, please contact Dorothy via email: DSander@AgingAbundantly.com 

Writer’s Guidelines

On Loneliness

On Loneliness

 

It is … only in the state of complete abandonment and loneliness that we experience the helpful powers of our own natures. ”   Carl Jung;  Modern Man in Search of a Soul

 

Much of my life I spent locked in the cage of a deep and pervasive loneliness. It did not matter that I had friends, family or people around me. I struggled with this abiding isolation, helpless to make it go away. I berated myself for not “doing” the right thing, or “attracting” the right people into my life. Why when I married my best friend and was surrounded by children and friends that loved me was I still assailed by loneliness?

Figure at the Window by Salvador Dalí
Figure at the Window by Salvador Dalí

As I grew older, my parents died, my children left home, my husband and i were living with the consequences of a life time of destructive patterns of interaction, was I found myself in a “dark night of the soul”, as described by St. John of the Cross in his poem and treatise by that name – Dark Night of the Soul (Dover Thrift Editions). I saw nothing but endless isolation ahead, and death. I knew that I had to face my fear of being alone once and for all. I knew that I had to face it alone. That was all I knew, and it was terrifying. I believed there had to be a different answer to the problem than I had heretofore found and I became determined to find it.

Coming through a dark night is never easy, but it is always life and spirit altering. In my dark night I discovered a connection to myself and to my soul that now sustains me in a way nothing else was ever meant to do. I understand that now. One cannot escape loneliness through action or connection to others. One must heal the emptiness inside that separates us from ourselves. Only then can we gain true intimacy with others. It sounds simple, It is not.

Carl Jung discovered this as well. He discovered and articulated our need to discover the “powers of our own natures” and to live from within our own creative powers, using our own rich and magnificent resources. We have far more inside of ourselves and at our disposal than most of us ever imagine; more than most of us can even conceive, particularly when we are locked in the fear, dread and scarcity mentality of our culture. To discover our inner strength, the bubbling fountain of life energy that is ever-present to us, it is necessary to disconnect from anything that pulls us away from it and from that which draws our attention to false solutions and weak excuses. Only then, will we discover the richest part of this life we are now living.

Have you experience a “dark night of the soul”? Have you experienced deep and abiding loneliness? What did you discover there?

Unraveling Ourselves

Backwards Thinking

 

My Friend the Sea – A Meditation

My Friend the Sea – A Meditation

Meditation

I love the beach. Who doesn’t? Who in their right mind anyway *smile*.  I am so ready to get out into the wide open sunshine, and to pay a visit to my friend, the sea. I know there are some who don’t care for the sand that gets into shoes and beach bags, but I find it impossible not to get lost in the sensation of it squishing between my toes as I walk the beach, flirting with the sea as it rises and falls.

There’s a rhythm to the ocean that lulls me, calls me, rocks me gently and insistently into my soul place. I drift away without effort, getting lost in the magnitude of its ever present ebbing and flowing, rising and falling, expanding and retracting. It beckons me to meld my spirit with it, to learn what lessons it has to teach me, to grow in my understanding that I too rise and fall, expand and contract, ebb and flow.

We are not rigid, consistent, structured, orderly creatures, we human beings. So why do we try so desperately to be so? Endlessly we seem driven to tame our spirits into submission, to create a reliable, solid, predictable foundation upon which to stand, immobile, unflinching. In doing so we contradict our very life force, a force that must breathe, must rise and fall, must know loud expression and silence, bold action and inaction, dancing wildly and praying softly. Our spirit must be allowed to soar to the highest heights and fade away into nothingness. When we remember that we are like the sea we become more flexible in our dealings with life, more resilient, more graceful, more soul driven, buoyed by our connection to all that is, resting in the knowledge that we are not alone.

A MEDITATION: Close your eyes and imagine the sea. Smell the salty air, the breeze on your face as it cools your skin, the sound of the waves as they roll closer and closer, reaching, stretching, longing to touch your toes; then…listen to the release as each wave relents in its effort to come to shore, falling away, the sound growing fainter and fainter until it is gone.  Are the waves sorrowful when they do not reach you? Do you yearn to run after them, to reach out and take hold of their force and power? Just notice what you are feeling. Don’t think. Continue to breathe in with the rise of each wave and breathe out as they fall. Feel your body swell like the waves with each inhale. Then, release your breath. Allow the air as it is released to co-mingle with each receding wave. Notice your breath as it ebbs and flows. Release your stress, your sadness, your striving, give it over to the receding wave and feel it wash out into the sea. Release what does not serve you, give it over to the tides. Lean into the ebb and flow of your imaginary ocean. Notice that you hold the same expansiveness within you, the same ability to release and let go. Take in, let go. Take in and let go.

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Unraveling Ourselves

Unraveling Ourselves

“Unraveling external selves and coming home to our real identity is the true meaning of soul work.”

Sue Monk Kidd3c15e6af5a296dd861c2bd8ba93aa29e

There is so much to be done in the unraveling department. The good news is that once true unraveling begins, one starts to feel lighter and lighter. The heavy weight of pain and confusion begins to lift and the challenges one faces are laced with hope. Feeling one’s real and honest identity become interconnected with one’s soul is both energizing and life affirming.

If anyone had told me years ago that I would feel younger, happier and freer at sixty-three than I had ever felt at any other time in my life, I would have been convinced they were smoking something. I lived pretty much most of fifty something years under a black cloud, fighting, struggling, despairing…suffering inside in a way I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I was dedicated and earnest in my pursuit of self-understanding from a very early age. I was drawn to the spiritual life, like a magnet. I understand the human need and desire for a connection with the divine, implicitly. What I didn’t understand was my pain in the world. I didn’t understand how the world and the divine spoke to one another. The divine was speaking, but no one was listening.

Repeatedly throughout my life, I moved toward God and then fell away. I moved toward spiritual teachers and an understanding of an inner life, but when I attempted to carry it into the world I felt frustrated and alone. I did not know how to put words to any of what I knew to be true in a way that would convey to others.

The symbolic language I found and used to describe such things no longer worked in my practical, modern surroundings. I desperately wanted to find a connection between the two. I did not want to leave the world behind and go to a mountain top, although at times I wish I had. It could not have been more painful to be alone with God than it was to be alone in the world.

Now all these years later I’m beginning to see more clearly what happened. A product of my times, I found nowhere to go with my spiritual yearnings. Even seminary was an environment that was decidedly pragmatic in its approach to spirituality. One believed in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, even questioned and discussed them with other believers, but when all was said and done it was understood that the ultimate goal was to bring our faith and belief to others in the context of the church setting. What about bringing it into the world at large? Why must we put it into a box only to be brought out on Sunday morning in a pre-programmed environment? I couldn’t buy into any of it.

To my way of thinking what was always wrong with the “church” was what is still wrong with organized religion. It’s religion in a box. It’s not about spiritual listening and learning and becoming. It’s not about looking for God in the everyday world of board meetings and while making peanut butter sandwiches for your kids. We paid lip service to that, but there really was no support structure for such a lifestyle.  Religious traditions are too small, too narrow, too limiting for what I believe God to be and the spiritual life to require.

When “religion” didn’t answer my questions or satisfy my yearnings I didn’t abandon the Divine that lived in my heart. I just stopped paying attention to her voice. She was still there, calling to me, needling me, tormenting me. I chose instead to turn my back on my soul and sought refuge instead in the psychological realm. Therapy. Medication. Pain. More therapy. More pain.More medication.

I learned much about the human psyche, but it did not help me grow in self-esteem or  value the gift of life, because at my core I remained disconnected from my essential myself, my soul self. I was ignoring that place from which all real self-esteem comes. If we are not listening to our deep, inner voice and hearing the messages and guidance of our soul, we will never find peace. We will never understand who we are or what we have to offer the world. We will never trust that we are valuable, or that we matter, no matter what. No therapist, no religion, no worldly structure  or construct can ever teach us that.

We Cannot Ignore the Cry

We Cannot Ignore the Cry

embersWe dig beneath the surface of our pain not only to eliminate the pain, but to grow into and beyond it; to discover who we are in the corner of our heart left unattended as life passed by. We grow weary of living on the surface, of trying to catch up with the cultural ego or our own, of trying to be something we are not.

The pain is a reminder. It teaches and instructs us. It tells us where to look, what needs our attention. An ember burns within each of us, a smoldering, glowing energy that calls to us, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a scream. It speaks our name. It knows us. It understands us, and it will not abandon us.

We can ignore its cry. We can drown out its voice with the loud, crashing sound of a carefully constructed external reality. We can numb it with each and every one of a myriad of addictive behaviors…both small and large…dampen it, drive it down, imagine it is gone as we turn our heads away to binge on cookies, or computers, or anger, or work, or fear, or exercise, or friends, or talking, or worrying, or…..we run away. Like children, we put our fingers in our ears or hide under the dining room table.

Or…or until…we rise up, shake off  the shackles of denial, of fear and open our arms and our hearts to that great something…and with each breath we take, we breathe the breath of life into it, watching the flame grow and burn once again or for the first time…hot and fierce forging strength and courage and a boldness we never knew we had.

We dig beneath the surface of our pain not only to eliminate the pain, but to grow strong and bold and wise, and fully present to that we value.