Many times when shadow illuminator Black Eyed Susan shows up for me I feel a tinge of dread, like how much darkness within can one individual explore?
The answer is (of course) lots!
As beings of light, we are also beings of shadow, and shadow work (which is actually shining the light of love and compassion on all aspects of ourselves AND each other) is never complete.
Our inner worlds, like the dark depths of the ocean, are vast, unconscious and largely unexplored.
So in the past, when I worked with Black Eyed Susan, I found myself asked to explore my emotions and behaviors, as well as my outer way of being in the world.
The invitation from her this moon cycle however was to consciously shine a light on my physical body—to open a dialogue with my body as I would speak to a trusted friend (or a plant)—to RECOGNIZE my body as THE special ambassador that she is, a gift from Mother Earth herself, and to really tune in to her unique inner language.
Taking a deep breath and “tuning in” I instantly felt joy as I recognized the feeling of my body's recognition of my full presence!
This is going to be simple I thought…
Reality, however, was not at all simple.
Consider… How do you react to the irritations of life, the triggers? Or rather how does your body react?
When faced with taxing relationships, stressful situations, divisive social media, manipulative marketing, the frightening news, general annoyances and the seemingly endless barrage of life’s challenges and difficulties… How do you feel?
Well, right away, I realized that I spend a good deal of my energy attempting to avoid such confronting situations. A homebody, I prefer the solitude of my gardens, intimate conversations and a quiet social life.
No matter. The lessons found me anyway… as they always do.
In one personal text conversation, when I was surprised with a difference of perception, I literally felt as if I had been punched in the stomach.
Completely triggered, and as a conscious witness of my own experience, I observed my shortness of breath, became aware of tension in my shoulders and held space for my racing heart contracting with anxiety and… fear?
It was definitely fear.
Fear of confrontation, fear of sharing my perception and speaking my truth…
I sat with the uncomfortable situation without reaction. I allowed it all. The question that arose deep within me was, why?
Why did my body react that way?
Over the next few days I literally hashed this conversation over and over, trying to figure things out…trying to fix things.. trying to make myself feel less uncomfortable. On reflection I actually spent very little time listening to the messages that my body, my “figure”, was attempting to convey and rather more time in my mind… thinking.
So, when a similar thing happened again, (different person, different situation, same physical reaction), it became crystal clear that while our bodies actually do the feeling it is our minds that interpret the feelings. And more often than not, our mind's interpretation is based on past experiences, cultural and family conditioning, deeply held beliefs and a myriad of old stories.
In other words we recapitulate the past over and over and over… different details, same energetic pattern.
“No need to wrap your head around what is happening,” Black Eyed Susan piped up. “You need to wrap your heart around it.”
It was then that I had the full body realization that triggers show us parts of ourselves that we have yet to reclaim. Parts that need our love, our compassion, our light.
Our bodies aren’t trying to hurt us, they are trying to help us.
I discovered that my triggers aren’t necessarily something to avoid but that they are actually messengers from my body, reminding me of the body/mind/spirit connection and that healing, or recognition, is required.
How else can our bodies speak to us? How else can they tell us something needs attention if it’s not through intense feeling?
Through continued compassionate witnessing of my felt experiences, and supported by Black Eyed Susan and the light of the full moon, I was finally able to see the underlying fear story in a whole new light.
I asked myself who was feeling the fear and why?
What I discovered was a little girl who was afraid of being judged unfairly, and who deeply believed that if she didn’t do/say/be all the “right” things, she would lose the love and attention of those around her.
Fear of abandonment.
When I felt triggered it was because the “other” was able to express their truth while I felt inhibited and fearful. And from my body’s loving and truthful perspective, I was reliving this deeply held belief over and over until my mind could finally see the unhealed wound I was avoiding.
“When we are faced with the other we are stepping on holy ground.”—Erin Schrader
All the pieces fell into place.
My parents divorce when I was so young, the broken family scattered around the world, the challenging relationships with my step parents who I felt didn’t really want me around, miming the words in choir so no one could hear my singing voice, the betrayal of “friends” gossiping about me, and on and on…
I felt the deep, gnawing feeling of not belonging in this world churning in my stomach.
I felt the weight and responsibility of trying to please everyone heavy on my shoulders
I felt the shame and embarrassment of trying to fit in racing in my tender heart.
ALL OF IT..
All of my past, all of my stories, held in the cellular memory of my body and felt (triggered) over and over through the unfolding of my daily experiences.
Recognizing the underlying belief that I am somehow unlovable won’t heal the wound immediately, but the radical compassion and love I feel for my own humanity and my own inner child that just wants to be seen and heard and loved for who she is… just wants to BE WHO SHE IS… that is the gift.
I recognize that the healing power now available to me didn’t come from futile attempts to control my external experiences, it flowed directly from my open, compassionate heart.
And, as I continue to practice being a compassionate witness to myself, I know I have an even greater capacity to offer the same courtesy to all the players and experiences of my life triggering me to embody the love that I am.
Conscious love in action rather than unconscious fear reaction.
Furthermore, I recognize that my body actually responds to the narrative I am creating in my mind rather than what is actually happening. This in turn shapes how I react and the energies I emanate which in turn creates the world I experience/manifest.
It’s like a crazy hamster wheel, or some sort of universal confirmation bias, reflecting back at us what we need to heal within ourselves.
We are creating and running a personal and collective algorithm in real time!
Simply, if we continue to create from our past, unhealed, unrecognized traumas, that is what we will continue to create and experience.
Black Eyed Susan wants us to RECOGNIZE that we are the powerful creators of our shared human story.
What is going on in your body? What are you feeling reading this?
Where are you feeling the triggers and what stories are they connected to?
What are your beliefs/stories that you may be unconsciously perpetuating? In other words, what wound lies beneath?
Only when we recognize the old patterns can we shine the healing light of compassion on them and begin to create a new embodied story led by our courageous and open hearts.
And of course, Hawthorn (COURAGE) is my dance partner for the next moon cycle…
I will let you know how that goes.
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Each flower is a mirror that reflects back at me something that I have forgotten, or something I need to remember, about my essential nature, my true Nature. All relationships are mirrors.
Growth and understanding and change can not always be understood in material form, although we can perceive it more readily that way. Instead it is more of an inside job. It happens in the dark. In other words, growth is not necessarily just about getting bigger it can also be about feeling better. Feeling more like myself.