Five Different Pathways to Enlightenment: Part III: Dreamwork & Psychotherapy – ‘Boat’

boat

Boats sail on the water. We evolved from single-celled organisms that began their existence in water before moving out onto the land. Our blue planet is over two-thirds water. Our oceans are the most fascinating and mysterious places of habitation on Earth, populated by millions of different fishes, aquatic plant life, mammals, and all sorts of unusual forms of life we know next to nothing about, and it all happens deep down underneath the surface. What goes on down there? As with the ocean, so with the unconscious. I have decided that to reach enlightenment by undertaking an intensive therapeutic process such as psychotherapy (often using your dreams as an entry point as in Jungian analysis) is like travelling back to Nirvana, getting back to Source; or reaching the final goal, by boat.

We are 90% unconscious and only 10% conscious. That’s right, all the thinking, processing, weighing-up of things mentally, wishing, hoping, day-dreaming, talking to ourselves, what we think, and then what we decide to say to others (honestly now, how often do we really say what we think?!), not to mention the decisions we make and the actions we undertake in accordance make up only 1/10 of our existence. The other 9/10 is subconscious, or even unconscious.

We are being guided by a deeper force.

Jungian analysis refers to the uncovering of this ‘deeper force’ within us as the process of individuation.

jung

As well as being only 1/10 conscious and 9/10 unconscious we are, despite our biological sex and gender, made up of a balance (or often an imbalance) of BOTH masculine and feminine energies. These are archetypal energies permeate everything in the known universe: we could also use the dualities of yin/yang; soul/spirit or being/doing to describe them. When I think of the positive masculine I think: doing, reliable, strong, forward-motion, provider, stable, inspirational, sun, energetic, electric, uplifting, passionate, focused, intellectual, spirited. But there is no light without shadow, when I think of the negative masculine the words that come to mind are: ego-driven, bull-dozing, forceful, exhausting, burn-out, greed, violence, cruelty, abuse. Yikes, not so nice. For the positive feminine the words that move through me are: being, deep, creative, soft, moon, fertile, fluctuating, wisdom, connection, earth, nature, embodied, nurturing, receptive, sacred, soul. And again, for the shadow: cowering in fear, helpless, overwhelmed, nervous-wreck, breakdown, barren, empty, neglected, starved, dis-honoured, disrespected, madness. Pretty scary stuff. We are in the dying throes of centuries of a patriarchy, eons in fact, where there has been a HUGE collective imbalance of the masculine and feminine energies, and in many senses there still is. It has veered dangerously into the negative, on the individual, collective and planetary levels- our all-pervasive ‘doing’ culture forces us to work-hard, climb that career ladder for material gain, external success and world domination…. and our poor feminine is dying – battered, neglected, silenced, overwhelmed, driven mad. The masculine has been in service to the ego, and not to the soul – and this only leads to: self-destruction; addictions; self-neglect; neglect of others, abuse of others; and the neglect and abuse of our planet, which right now on many levels has come to be in a very real state of peril… The time has come for a resurgence of the values of the sacred feminine, and in its wake, the rise of the sacred masculine. And it is happening. We are, at this point in history, effecting an ENORMOUS shift to redress the balance – (YAY!) We are realising that in order to survive: as individuals, as a species, as a planet – we need to learn to be again, to connect, to listen deeply, to slow down; to return to nature; to nurture ourselves, and others, and our planet; to bring love and compassion back to the very centre of our existence where they belong: masculine and feminine in BALANCE, and the ego in service to the SOUL. In the process of individuation we start by balancing our internal masculine and feminine energies. Our goal is the ‘sacred marriage’ between our own inner masculine and feminine. And the microcosm IS the macrocosm; as within so without, as above so below.

But we have to start where we are. It ain’t easy, that’s for sure. It is a painful process of transformation and self-realisation; it is the journey of the soul to recognise itself, to call itself home, to remember who/what it really is: in other words, to become enlightened. It is the breakdown of the ego (the construct of the separate self) and the recognition of the true nature of reality, and of our identity, as an embodiment of the soul: seemingly separate but never actually so. It is learning to dance with the masculine and feminine energies, constantly shifting, moving, either towards union, alignment (and enlightenment), or (if we are ignoring the needs of the soul), away from it and towards separation, self-destruction and chaos. To be enlightened means to live in a non-reactive, fully awakened state of presence where our thoughts, words, and actions are in complete alignment and we think, speak, act and live in service to the soul, and as such in service to all beings and planet – universe in fact. We say what we mean, we mean what we say, and we are TRUE to ourselves. We live in the NOW. This takes WORK. We need to do the work.  We need to dive into those remaining 9/10 of our existence and figure out who we are: Spirit and soul, with a mind, living in a body. (The 9/10 are ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING by the way, and in this article I intend to share some of my own with you.)

The past is history. This is absolutely true, but we can only put the past firmly where it belongs when we’ve fully made our peace with it. If we haven’t, it could very well be having its way with us, hijacking our life and veering us dangerously off-course, maybe even taking us into some very treacherous waters. The extent to which we are aware of, and in alignment with our soul is the extent to which we have the ability to steer our own ship, rather than have it driven by the demons of our own shadow, whatever they may be. The more familiar we are with our own story: with the wounds we carry; and below that the unchanging, infinite and untouchable nature of our own eternal soul, the more we will gain insight into the twists and turns, ups and downs, and highs and lows of our lives, and be able to live, love and enjoy the present. When we gain entry into the transcendental realms, it is this awareness that will allow us to influence the future course of our lives, and to manifest the life of our dreams.

So what do we need to do to get there?: We’ll we’ve got to learn to swim, and we’ve got to learn how to sail.

shipwreck

We have wounded egos. We have our personal wounds and we have our collective wounds as a species, and we each have our own unique remote control, its buttons pushed by other people/or when certain situations arise: we get triggered; we flare up, we react and get angry; or we retreat into fear and victimhood, we withdraw; or bulldoze- depending on our own unique set of complexes. (If we’re only aware of the 1/10 of ourselves and not delving into the other 9/10 of who we are, our overactive ego-fuelled minds can drive us crazy and we can be walking minefields of triggers and complexes.) We are like the ocean, we all have uncharted depths, and, also like our oceans, we are more often than not in areas polluted by oil spills, littered with plastic, and maybe even with one or two unexplored ship wrecks down there with some trapped souls that desperately need our assistance to escape. We have to learn to sail the oceans safely, and we have to commit to cleaning them up: for ourselves, for others, for the collective. If we are out of alignment, if there is unprocessed stuff in our unconscious, it could very well be calling the shots, damaging us from the inside out and harming others in the process. We need to push our boat out from the harbour into the unknown, and we have to take back the steering wheel from our out of control complexes.

We can’t afford to be afraid of the water, we have to dive right in.

We all have our own boat. When we decide to go out onto the water and start the clean up we can call upon a captain to join our crew. They steer the ship on the water for you, making sure you don’t crash into any icebergs, rocks, or completely run aground (and if it’s unavoidable and you do bash into those rocks, and it’s painful, well they will be there to help clean up the mess, and you.) The captain is -you guessed it- your therapist. They are experienced, they know the waters, and if they’re worth their salt as a captain they’ve traversed the hair-raising territory themselves before, and after coming back alive have gone on to help many others find safe passage over their years. Although they know the waters, they are not in charge, they are just there to help you along on your journey. The diver is the real captain of this ship: you are the diver. The diver is the one who is brave enough to throw himself in and clean up the oil spill, who will remove the plastic from the seabirds’ habitats, and who will dare to go and commune will the drowned souls of the shipwreck.  She has to be fearless and willing to leave the safety of the boat and dive down into the deepest watery depths of the unconscious to find out what’s really going on down there. We all have our own boat, our own territory, and our own shipwrecks: no one else can do it for you. The diver will have to go into the dark, she may have to face off threatening sharks, poisonous jellyfish and piercing stingrays, but if she persists in shining her torch into the darkness of the shipwreck then she will find the buried treasure, and she will return back to the surface, no longer afraid of the ocean.

I hail from a long line of fishermen on both sides of my family and despite this I have always had an irrational fear of the water. I was afraid to swim in open water because I couldn’t see what was down there, I was afraid that something that was living beneath my kicking legs would swoop up and pull me under. When I was a little girl I even feared that snakes were going to slither up through the water pipes from the sea, and jump up and bite my bottom when I was sitting on the toilet! (Absolutely mental, I know, but funnily enough I realised later that this fear, although undoubtedly crazy irrational, was in fact a foreshadowing of the awakening of my Kundalini- see Part I: ‘Train’ of this series of articles for how to become enlightened by awakening your Kundalini- and come to my workshops!). So yes, I had a mother and a father who both descended from families of fishermen, and my father is a former kayak instructor who swims outside in open water every single month of the year without a wetsuit in the freezing temperatures in the North of Scotland, and I was afraid of water.

I wasn’t afraid of water. I was afraid of my own unconscious.

ocean

We are creatures with a shared mythology and collective unconscious. Myths and symbols are deeply embedded within our psyches. Water is strongly symbolic of delving into the unconscious; diving into the mysterious and irrational depths of the – often very traumatised – psyche. Although for many years on the surface I appeared to be successful and like I had my shit together, I had a very traumatised psyche. I paddled as hard as I could but there was no avoiding the fact that I was eventually going to be swept under- I came down with a crippling chronic illness that stopped my life in its tracks and threw me into the cold waves, fighting to stay afloat.

My ship had crashed spectacularly against some rocks and If I was going to survive I had to learn how to swim, and I had to learn to love the water.

When I began my therapeutic process I attended a dream group with a few other people. I was very unwell at this point, rarely out of bed and almost never without a painful migraine. Making the journey to attend was quite an undertaking, but I had been having the most vivid dreams. I was writing them down every morning when I woke up, and was reading every book I could get my hands on by the mother of dream work and Jungian analysis for troubled young women: Marion Woodman (check out her amazing books here). Over and over in dreams I saw over-spilling toilets (I had to sort out my shit) or I was in staggeringly high heels, descending down the steepest staircases (to where I did not know), or mountain-biking down perilously dangerous sloping inclines in complex cave systems right to the centre of the Earth… I was being called down into the basement of my unconscious to sort that shit out, and it was a hell of a precarious journey to get down there. Before the meeting I had gone through my journal, highlighting several dreams I might be able to present, not sure what level of ‘crazy’ I would be comfortable to share.

The dream I decided to share with the group that day was one where I was at a swimming pool. It was a huge building made up of many pools and I was walking around the corridors, opening and closing doors, sticking my head in, trying to find the right one; the one I wanted to swim in. Some of them were filthy, and small, and overcrowded: not for me. Others were too chaotic, too loud, too much jumping and dive-bombing (my brain is remembering the signs they used to have up in swimming pools telling you all the sorts of behaviour that were banned: no diving in the shallow end, no dive-bombing, no shouting, no heavy-petting, heavy-petting, ha ha.) Anyway, I was definitely not in the mood for a pool where there would be even the slightest chance of heavy petting. Marion Woodman in her analysis of the young woman’s journey of individuation: from darkness to light; from unconsciousness to consciousness, writes of there being a natural period of celibacy while she goes on her journey down through the abyss of the unconscious – (for me it turned out to be 2 years). She also writes about how it is exactly those young women who seem to have it all together on the outside, who by society’s ‘negative masculine’ standards are successful high-achievers, but who are bending over backwards in so many areas of their lives, sacrificing themselves for external success, that they have lost touch with their own essence all that is true and are in fact addicted to perfection, and as such are headed for disaster. Their control-freak ego has hi-jacked their existence and they are unconsciously on a mission to self-destruct as they are so out of alignment with their souls. Before I learned how to sail this was where I was at. On the outside I may have looked like a cruise-ship, formal: sleek and well presented, but on the inside I was a cesspit, I was sinking, it was only a matter of time.

In the dream, the pool I finally decided was the one for me was exclusively being used by women, and it was quiet, and although it was not in perfect order; order was in the process of being established (this was the good kind of order, not the bad kind of overly controlling behaviour that had hijacked my life, catapulting me into complete chaos. No, this was a guiding light out of the chaos.) Three women had stepped up to take the responsibility of bringing a system into place in the pool so that everyone there could enjoy their swim. There was an older woman, a young girl, and a young woman in the middle; I was the woman in the middle. The older woman volunteered to take charge: I was more than happy for her to do so. I was aware that somehow she was a role model for me, and although one day I would step into her shoes, I was definitely not ready for that yet, and that for now I could swim safely, knowing that she was monitoring the lanes, to make sure that no one would bump into one another. There was a palpable feeling of fear that if someone was not monitoring the pool it might descend back into chaos, but I felt completely safe under the watchful eye of my older female role model. I got in the water and started to swim. The parameters had been set.

When I shared this dream with the group, the leader whom I’d come to connect with by a series of unexpected and fortunate coincidences (or as Jung would say, divinely orchestrated synchronicities) was to become my therapist – with whom I’ve just completed an incredible journey of 3 years. On that day, upon hearing my dream she pointed out to me to the symbolic importance of water as standing for the unconscious. Traversing down the stairs into the shadowy basement of the unconscious was the same as diving into the murky waters of the darkest depths of the psyche. She said that it was a very promising dream, as the very first dream she had concerning water (when she had begun her own therapeutic journey decades earlier) had been one of almost drowning in a terrifying whirlpool. A few months earlier no doubt I too would have been drowning, I had been held under the water for sometime before I had found the strength to start seeking possible survival routes. Having already embarked upon therapy (I had started seeing another therapist a few months earlier) I was already committed to diving. But this ‘normal’ therapist just wasn’t for me (like the pools I decided were not for me to swim in). I wanted to explore the deepest, most uncharted territory, beyond the personal into the impersonal, and cosmic, and for that I needed a really good captain, one who was really worth their salt – who’d been whale-hunting and had traversed the most challenging waters there are. And there she was, in life, and also in the dream – the older woman who was willing to lay out the lanes so that I could swim safely and uninterrupted. Also within the dream was the awareness that I had already started the work for myself before my first encounter with her- I was already the middle woman and no longer the young girl, (who perhaps would have drowned in the water without a float) I had been initiated to a point already by my own dream-work, research, therapy and commitment up to that point. So this was the very first dream I brought to my therapist.

I went from dipping my toe in the water to diving right in.

One day I brought to my therapist a powerful shamanic journey I had been on (see Part II: Shamanic Journeying for becoming enlightened this way). In the journey I was immediately transported to a bathroom, I was a little girl sitting on the toilet seat (lid closed, no danger of snakes) and my alcoholic grandmother was lying in the bath, a bottle of vodka on the side, and it felt like she was deciding whether or not to drown herself. I remember my mum had once said to me that ‘you know, you can drown in a cup of tea’, something that had somehow simultaneously puzzled, frightened and fascinated me. And in the journey I was sitting on the side of this bath, feeling this sad, suicidal energy of quiet desperation emanating from my grandmother with this ‘you can drown in a cup of tea‘ spinning round and round in my head. I could hear the tap drip, and I could feel the steam of the hot bath. And I could feel that this beautiful, sensitive soul had somehow become so overwhelmed by this world and its cruelties (which she had tried to escape from with vodka, submerging herself deep into the unconsciousness of addiction) and now was numbed out completely, maybe on the edge of slipping into irreversible unconsciousness, to ‘drown in a cup of tea’, in vodka, in the bath…

drowning

Then the scene changed: I was on a beach. I was older now, it was night-time, and windy, and the waves were crashing up against the shore and I was watching a woman with long hair in a patterned dress walk into the sea, it was clear she intended to drown herself. She was, like my grandmother before, at her wits end, overwhelmed, silently desperate and somehow resigned, the world too much for her sensitive soul: she could see no other way out. I didn’t know who this woman was but I knew she was also an ancestor of mine. I could not simply stand on the shore. I could not watch either of these women give in to drowning, and I was certainly NOT going to follow in their footsteps (although I could clearly see the ways in which I could have ended up exactly where they were now had I descended further into my own addictions and self-destruction). I called the woman back from the waves. So startled to find that anyone else was even there (when she thought she was completely alone in the world), she came, and I took her hand. My grandmother appeared on the beach and I took her hand in my other hand, the sky brightened and we danced, all three of us hand in hand, bare-feet, in patterned dresses and with wild hair, all over the beach. The sadness transformed into unencumbered joy and we were running wild, free and ALIVE. Playful and conspiratorial as cheeky children, we spotted the men’s fishing boat, docked in the harbour – always used for work, we rushed to it and bounded onto it with glee and set sail, women alone, out onto the ocean, it was completely exhilarating! We were beyond happy, grinning ear to ear, successfully crossing the open ocean the three of us on the boat, we were ALIVE! As the journey came to an end and we touched down on a nirvanic desert island the words that resounded over and over again in my head: ‘I want to live, I want to live, I want to LIVE!’

desert island

I was going to break that pattern.

Through learning to read the powerful symbolic images my unconscious was bringing up for me to look at I was healing myself.

My commitment to living meant that I had could not avoid diving down to survey the shipwreck that had haunted me for the best part of a decade, but that I had kept firmly below the surface, not knowing that in trying to keep a lid on the chaos of my unconscious, it was demonically controlling me and leading me to all the self-destructive behaviours. I made a promise to my soul to bring them to an end, once and for all. I had a scarring sexual trauma to process, and I had to unpick all the knots I’d tied myself up into over the years in its wake: the addictions, depression and all the neurosis from trying to bury the trauma.

Again, the process I was going through was revealed to me in many dreams, the dream I share with you is just one example. In this dream I had woken up the morning after the night before, I was hungover, I had memory black outs and a hollow emptiness in the pit of my stomach which led me to believe I had got myself into a bad situation the night before, I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew it wasn’t good. (In the years before my illness, before sobriety, before celibacy, before therapy, I had a number of those mornings). In the dream I was having flashbacks to the night before, seeing myself dancing in a club, sometimes with a female friend, but sometimes just me alone with unknown men. I needed to find out what had happened. I set about contacting the friend I thought I was with, fearful that I might find textual evidence or phonecalls in my phone that might bring knowledge to the sense of dischord in my gut, but found nothing. I went through to my flatmates bedroom and asked her if she knew what had happened to me the night before. She’d not been out, she didn’t know. She looked so pure and innocent, reading in her bed. I felt sordid in comparison. She said I could use the photocopier that was in her room to photocopy the flowers that were sitting on top of her chest of drawers and then I could examine them, and maybe they would give me some answers (yes, dreamworld, remember!). I thought this was very kind of her and I set about photocopying the flowers, feeling soothed by the activity, and what the photocopier printed was not flowers at all, but instead, an object (turns out this was a 3D printer!) It was a miniature maypole – wooden, with several thick golden threads coming off it at different points, it looked like the threads were supposed to be smooth and so they could beautifully swing around the maypole as designed and create lovely patterns and displays, but they were all knotted up, there were several knots in each thread. I knew that I needed to work to untangle all the knots, and once I’d untangled all the knots, I would be ok, not just in relation to the night before, but in relation to my traumatised relationship to my own sexuality.

This was a potent dream symbol.

Following the advice of my therapist I made that sculpture from a few wooden sticks and yellow wool. (It was the closest to golden thread I had lying around) and as I made my way through my healing process, facing every aspect of my sexual trauma and everything that transpired in the decade of its repression- I took the skeletons out of the closet one by one, and once I’d accepted each one, forgiven it (for myself and others), danced with it, sent it love and laid it to rest: I released it. Whatever it was; for each thing I untied one knot. I took me a whole year, and the biggest and ugliest knot was saved for last, but I did it. (And all these ‘ugly’ knots – they don’t seem so ugly any more, in fact, the awareness and wisdom that has come to me having gone through these things and now understanding them: they’re flowers, they’re blessings.)

So I did an awful lot of exploring the unconscious 9/10…. but of course it wasn’t all dreams and shamanic journeys – far from it.

When you go through an intensive therapeutic process it is highly, highly likely that you will need to examine your childhood in minute detail – it’s where we are formed in so many ways.  Let’s shift back out to the universal to talk about this. We have to process all the complexes, destructive patterns and triggers we may have picked up throughout our childhoods and adolescence- passed by so many parents unwittingly down through generation after generation, parent to child, society to inhabitant, damaged human to damaged human. No-one is to blame – hurt people hurt people. 

We need to learn to reconnect to our True state of unconditional love. We need to reconnect to the True values of sacred masculinity and sacred femininity that are rightfully ours.

So where do our ideas of masculinity and femininity come from? In large part, for each of us, these come from our parents – the man and woman we have the most contact with while we are forming our identities as human beings on planet Earth. Were your parents able to be healthy examples of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman? Were their masculine and feminine energies in balance? (Considering our entire planet has been completely out of balance for centuries, eons, it is the absolute norm if they were not!) In therapy, for many of us we have to face up to the fact that we have grown up to have a very skewed understanding of what TRUE masculinity and what TRUE femininity is, and we have to unlearn all the skewed stuff, and start learning again from scratch. This is a painful, but essential process.

When we begin therapy we may think our childhood was ‘normal’, and that we love our parents very much (of course, fundamentally this is, and will always be True). But what is ‘normal?’ and what is ‘love’? It’s unavoidable. If we had issues growing up, in order to heal we have to look at all the ways in which we felt wounded and unloved during our childhoods. I honestly love my parents dearly, and I wish I didn’t need to write this, but I have to say it: There will most likely be a period during therapy where you blame your parents for everything. And it’s okay! In fact it’s a good thing that is moving you closer to love! All the repressed fear, anger, rage, and yes, hatred, has to be allowed to come to the surface. You have to find that damaged inner child and find out what made him retreat, what made him close off to love, what were the traumatising experiences that caused him to shut down?

We all have the same wound (experiences where we were not loved unconditionally), but we all have different triggers.

We need to find out what our own personal triggers are so that we can disarm them. It is only once we have worked through, and brought to consciousness ALL of our own personal complexes and triggers: accepting, forgiving and releasing each one, that we can then begin to stop reacting and start detaching enough to see the bigger picture. WE can then begin to see through the eyes of unconditional love and compassion, and learn to live from this place, we can teach ourselves- and we realise: 

Everyone’s just doing the best they can with the knowledge they have at the time. Our parents loved us as best they could with the awareness they had at the time.

We learn to love unconditionally and have compassion for ourselves, for our inner child with their wounds, with who we are now and who we will be in the future, for our wounded masculine and our wounded feminine who we can now consciously coax back to life and start to consciously work towards embodying the positive aspects instead of the negative, and commit to that dance of bringing them into balance. And we learn to unconditionally love and have compassion for our parents again! (YAY!) REAL love this time. We forgive ourselves, we forgive them, we forgive anyone who might have ever hurt us: (most importantly we realise there is absolutely nothing to forgive in the first place: the soul is pure, infinite and untouched, and THAT is what we are.). We learn to LOVE: our life, everyone, everything, this planet, even in its troubled state. We are healing the wounds not just of ourselves, but of the collective, the planet, same wound, different people; same wound, same healing: LOVE.

When become enlightened: we see beyond the individual – we see the SOUL that we are all a part of – Source. Our parents are just souls traversing the gauntlet of human existence the same as we are, we’re all trying to heal from the same wound, we’re simply all at different levels of bringing the unconscious to consciousness and remembering who we really are. To become enlightened is not simply to learn how to love, but to experience once and for all that love is not simply something we do, give, or act in service to, it is what we ARE. WE ARE LOVE (SOURCE IS LOVE), and so of course it HURTS when we enter into this world and as an innocent child have experiences where we are treated as if we are NOT that, and as if the people we share our lives with are NOT that. It’s SO confusing! The soul in its pure, true state knows ‘I am love, and you are love, why are you not being who you are?! How could you have forgotten?!’ Trauma, triggers, patterns and complexes are born when others are in this deep state of forgetting – that has saturated the planet for centuries, eons, act AGAINST what they are (love) towards us/towards themselves, and then – as we have to learn to navigate this plane of existence –  WE then go on to copy this behaviour and WE act against that which we truly are, in relation to ourselves, and then to others.

Oh what a confusing, damaging cycle! But it’s not the Truth.

In therapy I dived down so deep that I hit the very bottom of the ocean, and in truth, there’s only one thing at the bottom of the ocean: unconditional love.

The microcosm is the macrocosm. The ocean is made up of millions upon millions of individual drops of water, but the drop IS the ocean, the entirety of the ocean is contained in a single drop of water.

Consciousness is love. We ARE love.

In fully dedicating myself to diving down to the very depths of my unconscious to find the hidden treasure, and not only that, but by salvaging the shipwreck from the bottom of the ocean and bringing it up and out onto the land, piece by piece, I re-built my boat, from the inside out, and now it is completely water-tight and fully functioning on the inside, and starting to look pretty sleek on the outside again too- and sails me to Nirvana every day (ok, most days, I am still a work in progress, aren’t we all.)

God bless her and all who sail in her!

I had to take all the time I needed to rebuild my boat so that when I set sail I wasn’t going to sink again. I had a couple of test runs, and when I returned, my captain and I would look over the damage and set about fixing the areas where there were still holes – quite literally we often used my ‘re-building my boat’ as a metaphor for my recovery…

I’ll leave you with this happy ending: Almost 2 years ago now, well into my therapeutic journey, when we had emerged mostly unscathed from the deepest, darkest and most treacherous waters, I attended a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation retreat. I was going back to a centre I’d sat a course at once before – which itself had been a baptism of fire – a deep, wonderful and life-altering initiation which had catalysed the beginning of my entire healing journey. To go back there was quite a test for my boat at that time, a long journey and an intensive process – travel is hard for a boat in mid-construction. On the course I meditated for 10 days straight, 10 hours a day, complete silence of body, speech and mind, and complete segregation of the sexes; and I did some MAJOR WORK. (Keep an eye out for the final part of this series ‘Part V: ‘On Foot’: Meditation’ to read about my journey with Vipassana meditation and how I have come to see meditation as the most effective form of self-induced therapy there is, not to mention my personal fave path to enlightenment!)

Anyway, towards the end of this retreat the most INCREDIBLE thing happened, it affected every single cell of my entire physical-psychic-spiritual-past-present-future being and it is very hard to describe, but if I were to put the experience simply into words it would be: as you know we are all built up from a balance of masculine and feminine energies and collectively, the negative masculine had been dominating the feminine, also negative, for centuries, eons: my internal masculine made a vow to step fully into its positive and sacred masculine – to stay in the body and to honour and protect my feminine and be all he can be – he asked for her hand in marriage – and she accepted – she had already integrated her own positive and sacred aspects and this union was what she had been yearning for – for well, centuries, for eons! in other words my ego and spirit (Divine Masculine) agreed to stay in the body, and to live through it in service to the soul (Divine Feminine): for the first time through this union I had become soul enfleshed; spirit embodied; the Divine incarnate; in Jungian terms I had become individuated. I had enacted the sacred internal marriage of masculine and feminine within my own being. (This was such a huge shift on the level of my entire cellular being that I could barely move for 24 hours as the initial integration took place.) 

But it didn’t end there! Time really speeds up in high-vibrational environments of meditation centres such as this, and in the immediate wake of my own internal feminine and masculine getting married, on the very day the course finished (and when the barriers were taken down between the male and female sides) – as within so without, as above, so below – I met and fell in love with the man who is now my partner, my twin soul: the most incredible example of the Divine Masculine I have ever met and whose capacity for unconditional love amazes me every single day. Or I should say re-met (we’d first met around a year and a half earlier on the train to that same retreat centre when I’d gone for the very first time and had had the most exhilarating conversation – immediate soul to soul connection). But we were both on our own journeys, and had 10 days meditating in silence and segregation to get on with. We didn’t cross paths again, and I had forgotten his name, and all about it… apart from in the year following I began to write a book about the retreat as it was so mind-blowing (see Part V!) and due to our conversation on the train that day he ended up being a character. As I couldn’t remember his name I called him ‘Train Friend’. Around 200 different people pass through that retreat centre every 10 days from all over the world, retreats run all year round, it was incredibly unlikely that our paths would ever cross again – but the universe evidently had other ideas for Train Friend and I… I thought the reason we ended up there together again was so I could tell him about my book and get his details to send him a copy when it was finished (it’s still in process fyi). But after some pretty cosmic and channeled conversation standing at the central divide between the designated male and female areas (segregation!) when the vow of body, speech and mind was lifted sparks flew (thousands of words were flying out of my mouth about sacred relationships and sexuality and I had absolutely no control over them) and the morning we left the centre the universe orchestrated for us to spend the day together as trains back up to Scotland were cancelled due to bad weather. In between incredible soul-to-soul conversations we went so I could buy myself a wedding ring – for my internal marriage to me… as within, so without… watch this space! Was our meeting a co-incidence? No, there are no coincidences in the universe, this was 100% divinely orchestrated synchronicty. As it turned out, in the interim between us first meeting and our union Train Friend had also been deconstructing and rebuilding his own boat, which was now in much better shape to sail. By the time I had left the next morning it was understood that we were already in a committed relationship, and we hadn’t even kissed. And we sailed off in to the sunset…. ha ha ha, but really: When we return to love within ourselves – as within so without, as above so below, the external will shift to match the internal – that is the way the universe works. We will attract towards us the mirror of how much we love ourselves as we are all ONE.

And so we keep on sailing on and on and on and on – Happily ever after.

As we all know, despite what the fairytales tell us: marriage is not the end, it is only the beginning: this balancing of the masculine and feminine energies – within ourselves, and then without in our relationships, and our relationship to the world – is a dance that keeps on going for our entire lives. In every arena of our lives we have to learn to balance our own internal masculine and feminine energies; our ‘doing’ and ‘being’ selves; our interior and exterior; our soul and spirit. As we move further along the road to enlightenment we learn to dance better, we become more nimble, sure-footed, able to fox-trot, tango and salsa, and life becomes more fascinating and joyful and full of synchronicity than we could ever have possibly imagined!

We are individual drops of the same ocean. Get sailing. Dive in. Your soul is calling you; THE soul is calling you. And remember as within so without, so when you heal yourself, you heal everyone and everything; The entire PLANET is dancing this dance. Go on, take that boat back to the island.

ocean light

And look out for the penultimate ‘pathway to enlightenment’ coming next – Part IV: Plane – Drugs and Psychedelics, it will be one hell of a ride!

Love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Read ‘Five Different Pathways to Enlightenment: Part I : ‘Train’ – Kundalini Yoga‘ here

and ‘Five Different Pathways to Enlightenment Part II : ‘Car’ – Shamanic Journeying‘ here

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