I’ve been thinking lately about therapy and spirituality. And the intersection of the two.
Therapy asks us to dive deep. Expose and examine. Find out all the reasons why we struggle. Why we are triggered. All that shadow shit.
And spirituality says, oh dear you are so much more than your experiences; you are a pure soul, above and beyond all that you think defines you.
And me—being well…me, I usually swing the pendulum between the extremes of beating my primal chest with the wounds of infancy, feeling broken and irreparably wounded and far too messed up to face the day and blissing out on we are all one, all is one, all is love…
But neither extreme is satisfying in the long-term. I get tired of my own repetitive thought-loop or find the we are one mantra ill-equipped to hold my life’s experiences.
And really, if I’m really honest with myself, all I really want is for the pain to end. I don’t care what it takes—wheat grass, tree pose, acupuncture or holding my breath. Just make the pain go away. But it doesn’t. Forever at least.
So, maybe there is another way…
A middle way, one that honors the fragile and precarious experience that is this life, that honors the wounds and soothes the scars, that names the abusers and bad partners and bullies, and one that also sees the soul, the pure innocent soul, what Mark Epstein calls the innocence before experience.
This way says yes to all emotion. This way recognizes that all the self-sabotage—the addictive behaviors, the shame, the toxic inner critic—comes from anger turned inward. The self-violence so many of us are prone to ignites when we hate ourselves for making our lives so hard, when we blame ourselves for not getting over it already, and for burdening those around us. This way says no more inner-violence. It makes room for unexplainable emotions. And it says, you’re not alone. Because life is hard.
And this way also says, oh gorgeous one, you are so beautiful, and so pure and so much bigger than all this. As are all the actors in your life drama. And sometimes we feel this. Sometimes, for no reason at all, we can be zapped with this truth right in the middle of the grocery store, while doing dishes or taking a long walk, and we just know deep within. That everything will be ok. That we are ok.
But it never lasts. Because nothing lasts. Even these beautiful truths.
So maybe this way stops looking for some unobtainable static state. Maybe this way recognizes the pendulum and the messiness and the bliss and the past and the timelessness and says hey—you are doing an amazing job. But, don’t go it alone. ‘Cuz you can’t. You need people to remind you when you’re in pain, that you’ll be okay; and others will need you to remind them.
As Mark Nepo beautifully writes, No one can do any of this alone. It’s letting each other in that can distribute the weight of suffering, which no one can escape. It’s holding each other in our pain that can invoke the resting place of being that always surprises us. Our walk in the world is always precarious, as we find our way between burden and grace, falling down and getting up as many times as necessary.
Writing, for me, is one way I find my middle way. And good friends and family. And puppy kisses. Those are the best.
And speaking of not doing it alone, the above drawing comes courtesy of my amazing art student daughter.
Blessings fellow-journey people. You are loved.