Pathwork

Wake-Up Calls: Taking Your Life In Soulful, New Directions

Our shared culture is like a sleeping spell that disconnects us from our Deep Self that holds our true beauty, unique essence and authentic humanity. As children, we’re not asleep; we naturally, innocently express our true beauty and inclinations. And then slowly, relentlessly, the forces of culture — through our families, school, the media and countless other aspects of our shared outer reality  —  domesticate our free spirits and lull us to sleep by telling us, over and over,  how we’re meant to believe, think and live our life. By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have lost our roots in our Deep Self and are fast asleep within cultural-defined reality.

A wake-up call is an unexpected, often startling event and profound gift that prods us to remember who we truly are and take our life in soulful, new directions.

Artist: Igor Morski

Yet our soul longs for an authentic life, where our outer existence is a natural expression of our Deep Self. Though our waking mind may be asleep to these things, our soul remembers who we are and the life we long for. It speaks to us through our most secret, cherished desires, the things that give us joy and satisfaction, and in a restless hunger for something missing from our life that we can sense but often not name.

From the midst of these opposing energies, wake-up calls emerge.

A wake-up call is an unexpected, often startling event that prods us to remember who we truly are and to take our life in soulful, new directions.

It can take on many forms: from something as dramatic as an accident or illness, to something more subtle, like a gnawing, brewing discontent that just won’t go away. Big or small, direct or subtle, drawn from the familiar or the wildly unexpected, wake-up calls are profound gifts that offer healing and transformative change.

Recognizing Wake-Up Calls

The intention of this exercise is to heighten your awareness of the presence and impact of wake-up calls in your life transitions. With this awareness, you can become more attuned to the small and large ways your Deep Self and the powers of life work together to shake you awake and steer you in a more positive, soulful direction.

Wake-ups calls are typically best understood in retrospect. With this in mind, this exercise will focus on a life-changing event from your past.

1. Consider a time when your life made a significant change in direction, positive or negative.

How did your life change direction at this time? What did this change look like?

Think back to the circumstances surrounding this change in direction. What was happening at this time that was shaking up your life?  Identify a specific event, positive or negative, that initiated this change process.

What was this event? How did it impact you? What did you learn? How did this specific event initiate a change in direction for you?

2. If this first approach doesn’t work for you, consider a time when you were experiencing a dramatic event in your life, either positive or negative.

Name and remember the details of this event. What happened? How did it impact your life circumstances?

What did you learn from this event?

What happened after the event? What changes did you initiate? How did you take your life in a new direction?

3. Compare your life before and after the change in direction or dramatic event that you discovered in Step 1 or Step 2.

What key parts of your life changed? What new insights and experiences came to you? How did these things shift your self-awareness, beliefs, values and life choices? What did you discover about the things that matter most to you, and that give you joy and satisfaction?

As you answer these questions, dig beneath the surface, seeking out the voice and longings of your soul within these life changes.

You may have to work harder to root out your soul’s voice if your life made a negative change in direction, but it’s there. Where there’s a big life shift, you’ll find the presence and longings of soul.

4. Embrace the notion that the event you’ve named and explored in these life transitions is indeed a wake-up call.

When you embrace the notion of wake-up calls, you acknowledge that the events of your life have deeper meaning and purpose.  Life isn’t something that happens to you; instead it’s a purposeful journey with events and situations to further your healing and personal growth.

For this exercise, witness and honor the gift of your wake-up call as the impetus for learning, growth and taking your life in a new, soulful direction.

The self-awareness focus in this exercise can be used not only for big, life-changing events but also for the whispers of your soul in the smaller, more subtle impetuses to take your life in new directions.

The more you can heed these whispers and increase the fluidity of your responses, the less you’ll need big dramas and consequences to drive your healing and pathwork process —  because every moment is really a wake-up call to rub the sleep from your eyes that blurs your vision and blocks you from a full, beautiful life of soul.

Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.

Enlightenment as a Verb: The Process of Becoming Lighter

I know enlightenment as a verb is grammatically incorrect. Enlightenment is a noun that, in a spiritual context, indicates an egoless, awakened end state. It is an ideal attained by the very few, the masters, mystics and gurus in our midst. Therein lies its problem.

Re-vision your spiritual work as a process of lighten your soul’s load, becoming enlightened, through little steps of clearing the inner debris that weighs you down.

Enlightenment as a noun is beyond the reach of most of us who travel a sincere path of spiritual healing and evolution. If we think we have reached a state of enlightenment, the very act of naming and claiming it indicates the presence of ego, and ego is the antithesis of enlightenment. If we want to reach this state but can’t get there, we are probably short changing our spiritual accomplishments.

Either way enlightenment can inflate or deflate your spiritual process.

Though this may sound like blasphemy, I think enlightenment is a red herring that can distract us from the very important business of healing our own soul. Each of us comes into this life with soul work to do. For the vast majority, this work is to heal and to grow. For the very, very few, it is to achieve the rarified state of enlightenment. All of this spiritual work is essential to the greater healing of our humanity, and the only piece we can claim is our own.

This brings us back to enlightenment as a verb. My suggestion is that you think of enlightenment, or its verb form of enlighten, as the process of becoming lighter.

Imagine your soul being buried under the accumulated debris of your old stories and habituations of beliefs, thoughts and life choices. What your soul fervently desires is a free-flowing alignment between your deep inner self and your outer life. But this is only possible if you lighten your soul’s load by cleaning out and healing the debris that weighs you down.

An Exercise in Re-Visioning Your Spiritual Work

For this exercise, I invite you to re-vision your spiritual work as a process of becoming lighter/enlightened through little steps and small moments of cleaning out and healing those things that weigh you down, and allowing your soul to shine forth in your everyday life.

1. Start with a small event or exchange in the recent past where you were challenged or you experienced positive change.

Look for instances where you acted with courage or shifted something inside of you. It doesn’t have to be anything momentous or even visible from an outside perspective. Maybe it was allowing yourself to feel something you usually repress, or to speak your truth, or to seek out help, or to stop doing a negative behavior, or to say yes to something new, or no to something that doesn’t serve you.

Journal the details of what happened and how you dealt with it.

2. Consider the roots of this small event or exchange.

What deeper issue or part of your personal story is present in this situation? How did your actions and choices shift this deeper issue or story piece? Did you unblock, heal or clean out anything that has gotten in the way of your personal pathwork or of living from your best, soul-based qualities?

How did you become lighter?

Even if you felt stuck or made choices that you are not happy with, leave your self-judgment behind and look for the positive. What did you learn from this situation? How did it wake you up to things that you would like to heal and change in yourself and your life? What did it teach you about the other person(s) or your external environment? How will these lessons and insights affect your future behavior?

How can you use this situation to unblock yourself, become lighter, rather than continuing to re-enforce your old stories, behaviors and choices?

3. Select a longer period of time or a bigger event or exchange from the recent past where you experienced a greater degree of challenge and change, positive or negative.

Go through the same process and questions as you did for the smaller event/exchange. Keep your attention at the micro-level of individual incidents and exchanges that are part of the bigger situation. And also look for the connection or domino effect between these individual incidents.

A Little Steps Journey of Becoming Lighter 

The importance of this exercise is to realize that small events and little shifts matter, even when considering a longer period of time or a bigger, more complex situation. We don’t go from a wounded state to an evolved, healed state in one leap. We take little steps and make little changes. These shifts and changes can happen in a negative or positive situation, and when we handle things well or badly. As long as we are paying attention and looking for our healing and unblocking lessons, change will happen.

Over time these little things can add up to big leaps. Or a big leap may seem to come out of nowhere, but if you look closely, you will be able to see all the little things that came before. You get lighter, enlightened, a bit at the time.

Perhaps in this soul work, you will have moments of crystal clear awareness, an enlightened glimpse into the most profound secrets of life and the Universe. Perhaps you will step beyond the bounds of ego and self into an awakened state that we have collectively named enlightenment. Perhaps this will be for a moment, or forever. But do not look for this, or cling to this notion. Whatever comes to you is your journey of soul, not to be compared with outside constructs or the soul work of others.

And perhaps a master, guru or mystic, an enlightened one in its traditional definition, will be a source of wondrous of information and insight along your way. But you can be equally inspired and guided by the everyday people in your life who face their hardships with humor, grace, love and presence, and who bravely choose to live bigger, more fulfilling lives — people who are becoming lighter and more soulful in the course of the ordinary events of life.

So put aside your ideas of what your spiritual journey is supposed to look like and any idealized end state you are trying to achieve.

Instead of judging yourself when you make a mess of something or seem to be resisting rather than embracing change, take a deep breath and let yourself know this is a learning moment. Your awareness and willingness to shift your perspective make this an enlightening opportunity.

Step by step, issue by issue, you clean out the debris that weighs you down, and you naturally become more present, more powerful, more aware, more beautiful and more soulful. You become lighter, or enlightened, and in this new lightness of being, your soul shines through a little bit brighter and you bring new light into this world.

Honor and celebrate every bit of yourself you heal and reclaim on your journey of becoming lighter. Enlightenment is the journey itself.

Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.

Artwork by: Tatiana Plakhova

Your Sovereign Leadership: Discovering Your Inner Beauty and Power

Don’t look outside of yourself to understand and source leadership and power, look within. Every one of us is a leader when we tap into the inner sovereignty of our unique configuration of beauty and power.  To be a leader is to take full ownership for your best qualities and abilities, and gift them to the greater world through your presence and actions.

With a vision of sovereign leadership, there’s no top or bottom of the pile, no better or worse, just infinite configurations of soul-sourced beauty and power.

As a young woman, I was hungry for power and influence. From my middle school years onward, I was a consummate leader. My siblings, school mates and later my co-workers would most likely have told you I was bossy, competitive and a compulsive overachiever, but my mother knew different.

She sensed I was a gifted, high energy person adapting to the cultural options available to me for power and leadership.  She steered me into a business education and corporate career, and couldn’t have been prouder when I graduated top of my MBA class and lined myself up for a prestigious consulting career.

Pivotal events conspired to rewire my understanding of power and leadership: the lightning flash of insight that my material, achievement-driven life was bereft of soul; my refusal to follow a career that required me to operate as a man in my woman’s body; and waking up to the mean-spirited, abusive underbelly of my culturally inherited, hierarchical model of leadership.

In this leadership model, leaders stand out from the crowd by being better or more than their competition: more brainy, more skilled, more charismatic, more influential, more connected, more aggressive, more of whatever attributes are lauded in a particular environment. Power is to be hoarded and shared among the limited, most worthy few.

A Sovereign Vision of Leadership

Even after I had become a spiritual person following the egalitarian, life-affirming ways of the Goddess and sacred feminine, I still coveted ‘better than the competition’ leadership status in my new spiritual circles.

Then one painful, life-changing day, a dear friend made me shamefully aware that my conception of power and leadership, with its ‘better-than’ ethos, was predicated on negating the innate worth and soul beauty of others. As in most of my turning points, I was gifted with a dream vision that completely rewired my understanding of power and leadership.

In this vision, I am sitting on a throne, bearing the full regalia of a queen: crown, ring, scepter and royal robe. When I look around, I am surrounded by infinite thrones, interconnected by a web of silver, shimmering threads, one for every person, creature and life form on the Earth. And I know that when you approach my throne, you must bend and kiss my ring in recognition of my unique beauty and gifts, and when I approach your throne I must do the same for you.

There is no top or bottom of the pile, no better or worse, just infinite configurations of beauty and power.  Your true leadership shines forth when you fully claim the inner sovereignty of your soul-based Deep Self and honor the same in others.

Discovering Your Sovereign Leadership

In this sovereign vision of leadership, you seek out your personal power by turning your awareness inward. You become the leader you are meant to be when you claim and live from your unique configuration of beauty, gifts and best qualities.

To do this essential pathwork, you have to step aside of your habituation of thought and action that tells you who you are and what your place is in the outer world, and turn your attention to your inner voice, the one connected to your soul-based Deep Self and true beauty.

Here is a simple, potent exercise to begin this pathwork.

1. Quiet your mind and center yourself in your inner landscape.

Find a private space in your home where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes. Take several slow, full breaths, focusing on the movements and sounds of your breath and body. Let go of your thoughts and any stress or tension you may be holding. Make yourself as empty and open as you possibly can.

2. Turn your awareness inward. Look to your past and select one incident when you felt authentic and powerful, either by yourself or in the company of others.

Open to this incident. Remember the details. Feel the experience in your body. Let it speak to you and teach you about the beauty and gifts that are yours to live and share with others. Really take this information in. Let it infuse and fill you up with a felt sense of your personal power and best qualities.

3. Visualize your inner throne room and claim this space as your own.

The incident you are remembering arises from your inner sovereignty, a place inside of you that holds your unique configuration of beauty, gifts and best qualities.

Use your imagination to create this inner space. It can be a throne room, or a garden, or whatever symbolic space speaks to your inner sovereignty and personal power.

Settle into this room. Fill it up with everything you know about your beauty, gifts and best qualities.

Set the intention to continue to visit and learn about this inner space, and the secrets it holds for you on your path of reclaiming your sovereign leadership.

4. Bring this exercise to a close.

Place your hands on your solar plexus and know that this sovereign space exists inside of you, in your core, and you can return to it at any time.

Then use your breath to bring your focus back to your physical body and your waking, everyday consciousness.  Pat your body and say your name out loud.

This exercise is not a one-time practice, but a continuous focus of your Path of She pathwork. When you do this kind of deep, introspection work and set the intention to learn more, life will bring new lessons, insights and experiences your way to help you truly know and reclaim your beautiful, powerful sovereign leadership.

Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.

Artist Unknown

Pagan Dreamer: Storytellers and Stewards of Her Beauty

Our primal, natural place in the great weaving of life on this planet is not dominion, but sacred communion and protection. Of all of the Earth’s life forms, we have been given the gift of creative expression to give voice to the beauty and wonders of this world.

Open to Nature. See what speaks to your wonder. Give this communion your complete attention. You’re the storyteller and steward of Her beauty, the Earth, our home.

Artist: Lucy Campbell

This is what my deep dreaming tells me.

I wake up in the early hours of the morning, still half in my dreamscape. In my dream, I am writing about the country walk I had taken with my partner the night before.

I record the sensual minutia of the natural world: the slow track of a jet-black snail, with a thin band of shiny, silver slime marking its passage; the nuanced scents of the surrounding forest and farmland with hints of resin, flowers, and sun-warmed earth; the gun-smoke gray of the twilight sky juxtaposed against the rich chestnut of a horse’s coat; and a weighty silence that marks the fading of day into night.

As I slowly emerge from this dreaming, I bring with me a fierce, full-body love and awe that speak to my primal communion with the living landscape, and inspire the writing flowing from my heart onto the blank page.

And I see, with the soulful clarity that sometimes slips through from the dreaming to the waking world, that we humans are the storytellers and stewards of the beauty and wonder of this place, the Earth, we call home.

I invite you into my dream world to experience this fierce, full-body truth for yourself.

Go for a walk or spend a quiet hour in a favorite natural setting close to your home. This can be a park, trail, or green space in an urban setting — anywhere you feel a strong heart connection to Nature.

Bring a journal or sketchbook with you, whichever is your preferred form of creative expression.

Anchor yourself in your body with a few deep, full breathes. Quiet your mind and be fully present to the landscape around you. Take in the sensual details of the wild world: the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of Nature. See what draws your attention and speaks to your wonder. Give this communion your complete attention.

You are sacred witness and storyteller to this moment. The wild world is gifting you with its beauty. Show your gratitude for this gift by expressing and recording what is before you.

Widen your awareness, open your heart and your body, and then write, draw, or record, in whatever way is free-flowing for you, the beauty before you.

Keep your mind and interpretations out of this. This moment is not about you, but about your capacity to storytell, in words or images, the beauty and wonders of this living, breathing Earth.

When this communion feels complete, put down your journal or sketchbook. Let go of words and images. Sink into your energetic connection to the natural world, your living body to its living body. Take in the sensations and emotions that arise in you, the raw love, joy, and awe that infuse your primal communion with the beauty and wonders of this world.

Breathe this connection into your body; imprint it in your memories; let it change you.

You are the storyteller and steward of Her beauty, the Earth, our home.

Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.

Riding the Edge of Transformative Change: Making an Ally of Your Fears

An edge marks a jumping off point, a cliff’s edge, or a moment of irreversible change.  It’s also a border place, where one thing ends and another begins.

Transformative change is an edge where your soul’s desires intersect with your fears; it’s a place of power, if you know how to navigate its conflicting directives.

Transformative change is an edge. When you heed your soul’s desire to heal and grow in alignment with your deep, beautiful Self, you awaken powerful forces that will take your life in new, empowering directions.

It’s like jumping off a cliff, leaving behind the things that you know and opening yourself to what else is true and possible. And once you wake up to your soul’s desire and make this jump, you can never go back to sleep.

This edge of transformative change can be messy and confusing. The jump you make is really a leap of faith into a border place where the new has yet to take form and the old still has a hold on you. The very desires that push you to change also activate potent fears that want to freeze you in your tracks.

Your soul’s desire knows the parts of your beauty and wounding that are the keys to your deepest healing and evolution. They hold your secret longings that push you to claim a life in alignment with your deep, beautiful Self, and your best gifts and qualities.

Your fears are experts on your trigger buttons, and the inner and outer voices that order and control your life. From this mastery, they can deliver well-targeted, ‘what if’ poison darts that can paralyze your impulses to take your life in new directions: what if I lose my job?; my partner?; my sanity?; what if my mother never talks to me again?.

The push and pull of these competing forces may make you feel crazy, and cast doubts on your commitment and ability to heal and change your life. But the opposite is actually true. Strong fears indicate that you are truly riding your edge of transformative change, and getting somewhere new. This is a place of immense power if you know how to navigate its conflicting directives.

The trick is to listen to both of these forces, desire and fear, and to make an ally of your fear. Your desires show you how to change your life. Your fears tell you why this is a bad idea, inadvertently sharing essential information that can help you wisely and successfully bring positive transformation to your life.

These ideas are best understood by trying them out for yourself. Here is what that process can look like.

Making an Ally of Your Fears

For this exercise, work with something from your own transformative edge: what do you want to change in your life right now?

Choose something that is substantive and important to you, rather than a more surface level change.  Then follow these steps:

1. Turn your awareness to your soul’s desire.

What is it your soul desires? What changes are being asked of you? What would this change look like in your life? What would be your first steps?

2. Turn your awareness to your fears.

What fears and resistance do these changes trigger? Get specific: what exactly in your life is threatened by these changes?; what ominous consequences is your fear suggesting; and, what issues and sensitivities are coming up for you?.

Engage your fears as if they are a valuable source of information, without necessarily believing in what they are saying. Think of them as focusing your attention on key aspects of your life related to the changes, rather than revealing absolute truths.

Your fears can show you: sensitive, challenge situations and personal hurts that need loving attention as part of your change process; outer roadblocks that need to be resolved; and practical consideration to help you make wise, balanced choices.

3. Consider both your desires and fears in relation to what you want to change in your life right now.

What would a wise, balanced version of this change look like? What actions will help facilitate this change? What resources do you need in place? What personal healing and development do you need to address? What roadblocks and issues do you need to proactively deal with?

What are your next steps? How do these steps offer a balance between your desires and fears? How have your fears positively contributed to this balanced approach to change?

Remember that whenever you choose to change your life in substantive, transformative ways, you are riding a powerful edge where your soul’s desire will naturally call up your fears.

Know that this is a border place, where the new and old, and your desires and fears collide. And it is this very collision of such potent, opposing forces that can give rise to brand-new, never-imagined options for healing and transforming your life.

Expect this process to be messy and uncomfortable, that’s why it’s called an edge. Open to your soul’s desire and make your fear your ally. Let both of these powerful forces guide your way to the life you are longing for.

Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store