Through The Looking Glass

“The new midlife is where you realize that even your failures make you more beautiful and are turned spiritually into success if you became a better person because of them. You became a more humble person. You became a more merciful and compassionate person.” ~ Marianne Williamson

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 I was reading a post on a friends social media, where she was going through a deep internal struggle related to the sequence of her entire life. Since I have been going through a similar internal conflict, I felt a sense of understanding, empathy and respect for the process.

What I found interesting, was that many of the comments were obviously trying to uplift her mood by stating profound spiritual truths and teachings. I found this such an intriguing circumstance of how we project all these highly idealistic perceptions of how we must face this inner process; through being in the moment and choosing to be happy right here, right now.

After reading all the very similar comments, I realize that unless one has been down this dark corridor, there is little to no comprehension of the process. The process of transformation, often can be very deep and excruciatingly painful. Even though you realize that some level of mental and emotional upliftment would be beneficial in this moment; often it’s not there to be found.

“Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful…How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural – you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.” Thich Nhat Hanh

The process of having the outer ego removed and stripped away often provokes a disenchanting series of feelings. The person you were previously has radically shifted and the life you were striving to live, does not exist.

The axis of transformation is steep and can be something that is akin to a deep exfoliating of your skin, leaving it red and painful. It takes time for the new growth to take place and can not be ‘solved’, by some theoretical commentary.

We live in a society that does not allow or fully accept such inner transitions. There is a collective rule of having to continuously present a false sense of happy all the time, rather than show the deep suffering going on in that moment. If you are attempting to live life with greater awareness, you are doing your practice and allowing the process to flow.  Despite the fact your mind finds the content of the experience to be of a painful nature; it’s often necessary to facilitate the change that is needed.

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” Rumi

Transformation does not have to be difficult or even painful, however most people walking this path find that it often will fall more into a painful category, rather than joyful. Of course, the after affect of such transition is a greater sense of peace and happiness due to having to fight with some aspect of our sense of expectation; having to eventually let it go.

When challenges comes, there is always a lesson to learned and eventually some shift in our perspective in life. Hence, if we never suffer in our own lives, how can be truly embody empathy towards others suffering.

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The Disillusioned

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” Rumi

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The romantic notion of transformation is so prevalent in the current homogenous cultural context, as a joyous and exuberantly positive mystical experience. However, the reality and truth of this process resembles the opposite, appearing more reminiscent of some type of suffering; painfully letting go of our outdated notions of who we have been and a feeling of extreme disillusionment and dispassion with the nature of our surrounding reality.

Historically, throughout the world, within  indigenous cultures there have been numerous rituals of passage into various spheres of life. These rites of passage had many functions, yet the main purpose was to shed the previous ‘self’, which is necessary to embody a deeper sense of empowerment and shift positionally within the cultural framework appropriate to the individual. Since, we no longer have such rituals or acknowledgment of personal transformation into a more wise, empowered, and mature version of ourselves, we are on our own in terms of going through the liminality of transformation.

It has been my personal experience of going through a liminal period of deep and painful transformation that the process began when I came to the end of a cycle that I had been going for a long time of  continuous education and working at a job that did not utilize my skills or creativity. All of the education was necessary, yet I was not on the path that I needed to be on in life. Therefore, as transformation occurs numerous things radically changed in my life without me having to do anything. Everything that did not support my growth suddenly fell away, creating a large space for me to begin the work that I am now doing. However, through the duration of this process, I felt severely disillusioned, to such a degree that the only word that comes to my mind is severe ‘dispassion’. 

Throughout my life I have been an optimist, so when I say that I have reached this point of perception, there is a massive transitional movement occurring within my inner world. I am painfully letting go of the person I used to be, with all the ideals, dreams, fear, uncertainty, sensitivity, and vulnerabilities that were so wide open and unprotected.

I realize I am much stronger than I can even fathom, even though I  have felt this energy throughout my life, now I know it’s there for me to use whenever I need it. I am coming into my sense of deeper self empowerment and self understanding of who I am at a much deeper level; than the person I used to be who lived mostly on the outside of my ‘being’, rather than deep inside.

One of the main characteristics of undergoing deep transformation, is an extreme difficulty that acts as a catalyst. Its when your entire life starts falling apart, everything starts to change, things and people are pulled away. Through such a disconcerting experience, our inner feeling of ‘self’ begins to dramatically changed. In my experience, even thought this process can be very disorienting to our sense of security with who we have associated ourselves to be, thus often leaving us feeling less than we used to be in some ways. However, the end result most often leaves us feeling so much deeper, wiser, and richer in so many other ways. I personally feel much stronger to be who I am fully and completely. 

For me, this transformation was necessary for me to fully embody who I really am in this life, to allow myself to emanate as myself, and to feel fully self empowered in my unique and reflexive approach to life. I feel committed to this journey where I can fully embrace who I am, I can fully live my life to the greatest potential that I have wanted to pursue for the entirety of my life. I am allowed to be me, the person that I am right now, without any compromise, without any excuses, without any explanation. 

To feel this extreme emancipation of freedom to be the person you really are and live it with ease and joy, there is no greater power, expansiveness, or liberation that I have thus far felt in my life, that can even come close. Its a very small form of awakening, to be who you are in this one moment, to be free to exist as this very person with all the glaring beauty of life. To have the grace to be free enough to contribute to the world in the way that I wish to contribute, is also a great gift.

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