Week Six: Patterning the Shadows


Fear makes come true that which one is afraid of.”
~ Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Numb the dark and you numb the light.”

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
~ Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

In Week Five you were tracking the times, places and ways you connected with the sacred: the times, places and ways you were “whole”…

Similarly as we feel whole, in peace and grounded when we are fully connected, disconnection brings the opposite: anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, imbalance and non-alignment with our core values that may end showing up as depression, dysfunctional relationships and life choices, procrastination, self-sabotage, risk-avoidance (or unrealistic risk-taking), addictions and even physical symptoms manifested as chronic or acute illnesses and in worse cases, terminal illnesses.

I believe that human beings have two main (unfulfilled by this culture) needs: the need of connecting deeply with another human being/animal/plant/landscape through an emotional/mental/spiritual bond or communication and the need to be touched and cared for physically by another (human or otherwise) being. These two are the origin of the need for life coaches, counsellors and psychologists, priests, guides, mentors or gurus and the need for physical services from massages, Reiki and even paid sex. In a well-balanced community, all these needs are fulfilled by family and community members in healthy ways, as well as by deep connections with nature and the sacred (spiritual/soul and mystery worlds).

Jon Young (8 Shields Institute) says in the “Renewal of the Creative Path” that we are “surrounded by systems and structures that manifest disconnection” and that we “tend to develop habits from this immersion in disconnection”.

Disconnection also creates the “Big Sort” Brene Brown quotes from Bill Bishop’s book of same name: the sorting out of ourselves (and others) into groups and subgroups, categories and labels. This creates isolation and divisiveness and block our capacity not only for being authentic (with our lights and shadows, our paradoxes and opposed ways of being), but also blocks our capacity for embracing diversity in others, and our ability to see the lies and myths, the assumptions and structures that have created and keep re-creating this isolation, divisiveness and hierarchies, the abuses and oppression to ourselves, others and Nature.

These patterns or habits become obstacles to connecting with ourselves, others and nature. Says Young: “some of these obstacles may be self-limiting patterns of our own minds, habits and emotions (and they can be both conscious and unconscious)…some of these patterns may be wounds. Some may be simply lack of understanding of this process”

This week’s exercise will be then tracking the moments, places and ways we are blocked from connecting (with ourselves, others and nature)….some of these patterns may manifest as:

  • Distraction: what are the ways you distract yourself? With what or whom? When does this happen? Where does this happen? What is present? How do you feel when it happens?
  • Disconnection habits (you may have never been modeled to or exposed to how being connected looks like): how has this been to you in regards to nature, yourself and others?
  • Longings story: what are your longings with respect to connection with yourself, nature and others that have not been fulfilled?

Ask yourself the following questions (adapted partially from RoCP by Jon Young at 8 Shields Institute and added my own practice):

  • What is happening here with respect to blocks to my/our connections to self, nature and others?
  • What patterns am I/we learning from this?
  • What is this teaching me? How is this helping me? How is this helping me to help others?
  • What are these assumptions that create isolation, separation, hierarchy and the “permission” to abuse, oppress or ignore others’ needs and pleas, including those from Nature and its inhabitants? Where are those assumptions coming from? How do they manifest? (through children’s books, songs, institutions, systemic structures, TV shows, culture rituals or celebrations, laws, language, jokes, your own behaviour?

Remember: for all these exercises and questions, set aside some quiet time and place and plan to not to be disturbed. You can journal or use art to express your findings.

In all moments, breathe in the support from plants and the planet and breathe out all the negativity to be transformed by them.

Leave judgement and blaming aside, these are exercises for you and your loved ones, there is no place for finding culprits or regretting and there is plenty of place for compassion, grounding in that’s what bigger than us and loving acceptance.

There is a time to fight and a time to listen and observe, you can’t fight without first understanding, and you can’t understand without first listening and observing…otherwise whatever changes you create will be created from the same foundation they are trying to fight.

Those (observation, listening, compassive understanding of patterns and assumptions) are the foundations for any meaningful change: at the personal, relational or community/global levels.

Enjoy the down time after the holidays and the renewal of the path growing in you…

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