Updated: Jan 3
But don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth, without complicated explanation, so everyone will understand the passage, We have opened you.
Start walking toward Shams. Your legs will get heavy and tired. Then comes a moment of feeling the wings you’ve grown, lifting.
This is a story of the reclamation of self. I'm not here to bullshit you. I have reclaimed the empath that I truly am, and I am here to do everything I can to help others see and heal their deep emotional suffering.
You are not your pain; you are not your past; you are not your programming. Reality is much more intensely beautiful and occupies a much more expansive landscape than can be perceived by the limited receiver that is the human instrument. I choose to show up in the full truth of my being and share my experiences in expanded perception, of non-conventional knowledge, in the hope that it will also bring others joyous liberation.
I looked at him and said, "I'm free." We fell into each other, both of us half-laughing and half-crying. Nothing else needed to be said; it was beyond the capacity of words. I was silent for our long walk by the lake that followed. The joy washes everything else out so deeply that shared feelings and looks and silent smiles seem to best serve the space. Words simply do not come; they seem to be of no use.
In the week that followed, it felt as though my intuition woke up. It is more accurate to say, though, that my intuition — and the very truth of who I was — had just been buried, deeply. I could not possibly process this at the time, and simply enjoyed the experience in playful, child-like way. I was so blissed-out that there wasn't space for processing or even questioning. It was the most fun I've ever had. (I'll explain the deeper processing that occurred in other posts.) Gaining a sense of intuition after it had being locked away for decades was incredible; everyday life was joyous, freeing, and fun. I floated. I felt as if I wasn't even walking, that another force, like a wind — something that I had never before experienced — was carrying me along on the journey. My every move was effortlessly guided by it. It was as if I playfully danced with everything outside of my body, and the lines we perceive as concrete delineations between objects blurred. The scale of reality had been readjusted: the quantum-level particle interactions between me and everything else had been adjusted to a scale that I could perceive, not through sight, but through knowing, through feeling, through a sense of shared being.
My intuition guided me through subtle pushes. Sometimes these would feel like soft echoes of thought arriving in my mind, completely without context or external prompt. Without intellectualizing the process, without even considering for a moment that I could or should, I followed every flash of "do this now" right away, as if instinctually. It always led me to something wonderful: a revelation; an incredibly unlikely synchronicity; the delight of navigating my way to a store without directions or prior knowledge of its location.
When I would hear "now's the time", I would get up from my chair, float outside and into the yard, and go into an immediate state of calm, clear-headed bliss. I was not meditating, intentionally, at least. I had never been even interested in meditation before. I was not doing anything intentionally. I just was. It's just that simple. But I was not being me. I was just being.
I would sometimes experience being the trees that were in the yard, with them. Once, I was one of the leaves of a tree for some time, soaking in the sunlight, drifting back-and-forth slowly as the wind blew intermittently. With another tree, I was strong and tall and stiff for a very long time, and I felt the nutrients rise deep from the mycelium network at the roots. This is where my communication with trees started. It developed later into something I could intellectualize, but in the beginning, as I refer to this time, it was a purely somatic experience. I certainly recognize that it is not rational to say that I was the tree, as though we shared spacetime. But, thankfully, at this time, it was as if I was newly born to this earth; I did not attempt to rationalize anything. I took it for exactly what it was. The being was so rich, so full, there was no space for being concerned with putting the tree in its tree box, and keeping me in my human box. It simply didn't occur to me that I needed to do that. So, I did whatever was presented to me, and some of that was sharing the being with the trees.
Lions's Head, Ontario
That was the first week after a profound spiritual awakening. There is so much more to say and share about these experiences, but I feel that the most important thing to say at this time is this: I had realized that everything that had ever been told to me, and that I had told to myself, was a lie. Those things did not accurately reflect reality.
That was three years ago as of this writing. It has been quite a journey. I had thrown myself completely into this new landscape of reality that had opened to me. But, I had to go back and face so many shadows to process the incongruence of the new, true reality and the false reality, the false me version of me that had been formed through internalized externalities.
After the first few weeks of living in this landscape, I wasn't ready to be put back into the box that I had been taught was the only correct configuration of "me" and "reality".
I have been gifted experiences that confirm my philosophical suspicions: that my culture has imprisoned me in a much smaller self and a much narrower world where much less is possible and where truth is confined to a very tight ghetto.
- Charles Eisenstein
But, in my complete awe, wonder, and enthusiasm of this new reality, I was eager to share the experiences with a close friend. The details burst out of me (as, at the time, I did not have the wisdom of boundaries). I was so excited to share these incredible states of being. Yet, they were ineffable. I rambled. I babbled excitedly. Surely I appeared as though I had lost my grip on reason and rationality. This friend was a fellow scientist. It has taken years to process and heal from what was reflected back to me about myself in what she said to me that day, and how she held this vulnerable, newly-born creature. Yet, I have nothing but compassion and understanding for her response to me. Just weeks before, I would have said the same thing, and I wouldn't have been nice or kind about it; I would have been intentionally condescending. She explained to me that everything I was feeling could be easily explained as nothing more than sensations in the body, and while they might be strange, there was no need to assign any metaphysical cause. After all, Western science represents the proud apex of knowledge accumulated by humanity, and those who do not see it as the natural, neutral methodical explicator of all things real are simply gullible, in grave error, or most horrifyingly to me: dumb. During the incredible period of awakening in the weeks prior, I felt so high on joy that it simply did not occur to me how this would be viewed by other scientists. In that moment, though, as my friend spoke those dismissive words to me, I was pulled straight down from the out-of-body joy and firmly grounded in the awareness that I now was talking like the spiritualists that I had before contemptuously scorned. I now know why Bayo Akomolafe has said of Western science, "it is already a closed cultural activity, replete with ideologies and philosophies and implicit bias." But at that time, my internalized definition of self was too tightly woven with the threads of "rational scientist" to see that intellectual architecture for anything less than the gatekeeper of reason.
It has taken me three years to talk about the somatic experiences of this spiritual awakening, to even attempt to articulate them. I have had experiences in the past three years that before this time, I would not have been able to accept. I was not seeking them. I didn't do psychedelics or read any self-help books or seek any gurus on a journey to find myself. As Lori Gottlieb described, it is the process of "unknowning" oneself; Alan Watts described it in a way that is dear to my heart, "becoming in a very special sense, stupid".
I am sharing about these experiences and my personal myth now for a few reasons. I wish to spread and imprint lightness, joy, and a path to loving kindness and compassion. I feel deeply that the world needs authenticity. We are all being called to show up exactly as we are and to demand the hard work from ourselves and each other. So, here I am, invulnerable because of complete vulnerability.
Second, one thing I have to offer in this world is my process. The real me that has been awakened was too expansive and alive and joyful to ever be contained again; that's a box that cannot ever be closed once opened. Yet, my shadows, the dark stories held deep within my subconscious were parts of me that needed to be seen and heard and loved in order to process and release. I realized through this process that there truly isn't a "finding" of oneself, but it is only about accepting. For me, this includes reclaiming my voice and my power, and rewriting my own story instead of giving others — even friends to whom I had once felt close, and invalidating fellow scientists — the power to decide what my story is and how I am defined. I choose to see the reflection of my subconscious darkness in the perception of victimhood (as appropriate). I continue to choose myself. I choose to heal and be whole. I choose to release my fears of showing myself and of being seen (...as these are truly only fears about me accepting myself, completely). I choose to take back my truth, and the knowledge that there is no right nor wrong on being oneself. Indeed, this is my power. If anyone might connect with my process of healing and find it helpful, I certainly choose that over the fear of vulnerability. I'm showing up to tell you that it is possible to experience real freedom. It is possible to heal physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain and suffering. It is possible to be pure joy in the wonder of being alive, of connecting with everything else that is.
Also, the trees told me to.
Potrero Chico, Mexico
This is what I have to offer: how I organically — and apparently, in an unorthodox and unique way — perceive, express, feel, and think. I offer personal truths that I did not and could not learn from others, or learn through the common pathway of societal domestication that represents our collective amassed intellectual pursuits, but in a field beyond knowledge. This is a place of inexplicable wisdom and clarity, and a state of welcomed, long-awaited calm and settled satisfaction. Most fundamentally for me, it is deep connection and belonging. It is a wash of relief that flows again and again and again. It is a place — for me, it is with the trees — where I am always welcomed for healing, and I always receive what I need when I go with a heart full of humility.
What precipitated these events? Certainly, I don't understand the complexities of my self and my weave through the interconnected web of all things, past and present, known and unknown, human and more-than-human, to begin to truly understand that question. Though, what a wellspring of awe and wonder and gratitude: the unknowable dance with all things that is life. The experiential learning on this path and its beginnings are difficult to formulate into words and coherent narratives, but perhaps it is worthwhile to expound the idea that suffering is a prerequisite to spiritual awakening. In the interest of brevity, and to circle back to the events described at the beginning of this writing, I'll simply offer a bit of my background.
When I was young, trauma from domestic violence fundamentally changed by physiology: given the right set of triggers, my fight-or-flight response became switched on powerfully and permanently, from that time on. I was eight years old at this time, and so, I did not have a chance to develop an awareness of who I was and my actual chosen experience outside of these fear responses. As I grew into adolescence and began to claim my own personal sovereignty as all pre-teens do, the emotional damage flowed into the culmination of “self” that I was developing. This was all I knew. Along with it came intense self-hate. My lack of emotional control was a deep source of shame. I had no tools or guidance to help me sort these difficult emotions, so I assumed that this way of being was my nature, my fate. As a further block to the discernment of self or self-realization on any level was the depression and anxiety that plagued me from the age of eight until my late teen years, when the normal distractions and self-abuse that teens commonly experiment with provided an adequate distraction from the emotional pain.
As a young adult, I could no longer avoid the realities of my childhood. The vague, unexamined unease of all that buried trauma came creeping up from my subconscious like a terrifying, animated skeleton scratching incessantly at a thin and weak basement door. The anxiety was coming for me. All it had to do was reach the light of day, and I would be returned to the hell on earth that was the anxiety: the walking dead plodding along in the world, yet not truly living in it. I tried many times to go see a therapist. I made many appointments that I did not have the courage to go to.
It wasn’t until in my mid-thirties that I was moved to (although find it quite difficult for me to leave it at that, so simply, but I will for now) finally see myself clearly and welcome the skeleton into my life, no matter the outcome. This was the profound spiritual awakening — an incredibly unlikely change of my level of conscious experience that the past “me” would have deemed absolutely preposterous. Yet, this awakening was a force that could not be stopped. It was an upwelling that my body could not contain and that finally broke through that door I had long kept as a shield.
And I was okay. I was much, much more than okay. I was stronger than I ever had given myself credit for. I could now see that I had been culturally imprisoned on many levels, and stories and patterns had kept me constricted to a version of myself that was in perpetual victimhood, and without autonomy nor taking up personal responsibility for who I was in this world. Simply, I has been freed to actually be. I was finally free to choose and create my everyday reality. I could finally start to heal, start to see reality instead of all the lies my mind and body had been holding on to. I could finally start to get to know, accept, and deeply love my true self.
Maria Popova's 'Midweek pick-me-up' newsletter is always stunning. In the entry entitled: The Courage to Be Yourself, she writes:
“No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,”wrote the thirty-year-old Nietzsche. “The true and durable path into and through experience,” Nobel-winning poet Seamus Heaney counseled the young more than a century later in his magnificent commencement address, “involves being true … to your own solitude, true to your own secret knowledge.”
In posts to follow, I will share my process of inquiry, methods, and any other wisdom and seemingly inexplicable experiences that I have been gifted on my journey thus far.