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Posts Tagged ‘enlightenment’

I decided to read some old diaries, from years back. I had expectations: I would see how much I had evolved over the last year, how truly different I had become after all of my spiritual experiences, and I would feel compassion for the Kirsten of yesterday, pre-Spiritual Awakening. Perhaps, I pondered, I could hold a ceremony for that poor woman shredded by anxiety and beaten down by depression; a ‘soul healing’ for who I used to be.

I read avidly, looking for all the signs that I had, indeed, achieved Enlightenment. The more I read, the more my spirits fell. Something’s wrong. I did not see much difference. I poured over diary after diary, hoping that I would see how much I had transformed. I didn’t see it. Instead, I saw that I was the same. THE SAME. After a year of dazzling and shocking revelations, wild visions, intense talks with God and the Universe, countless hours of meditation, regular experiences in states of altered consciousness, a total spiritual breakdown, trance states, taking to the dead, reading people’s minds, channeling, you freakin’ name it, nothing fundamental was different about me.

I read back through Soulbank, hoping that I would see evidence of my progress there. Nope. What I wrote in 2009 followed the same–or similar– themes as now. I poured over everything I wrote over the last year, looking for huge shifts in my Ascension Process. Nope. I had revelations, forgot about them, had them again; I would swear something was new and shocking, but actually it was an understanding I had arrived at years prior. This was something similar to my Nine Churches in Six Years journey, which led me from the Catholic Church to the Episcopal Church to community churches to something called New Thought. I arrived at the end where I had started out: confused. Angry. “Why,” I thought, “am I not getting anywhere?”

I ask the same question now: “WHY am I not getting anywhere?” The answer is quite plain and simple: there is nowhere to go. There is no final, spiritual destination. There is no correct path, no best way to Get There. There is, actually, no path at all. I always thought that a moment would come when you knew that you had arrived: you were happy, almost all the time, and everything–all the Big Mysteries–would be solved. You would have found peace and radiate love. Children and animals would naturally gravitate towards you, because they sensed that you contained a Buddha or Jesus-like radiance. Dammit. I was gonna be HOLY.

I started reading about monks who had spent 20 years meditating and found that they were still angry, judgmental, fearful, and confused. Sometimes they were happy and calm; sometimes they hated everything and everybody. That made no sense to me–isn’t the point of all these experiences that we come to peace with ourselves and our God? And isn’t that peace that ‘surpasses all understanding’ supposed to be permanent? What’s going on here?

I myself was very judgmental for quite some time regarding paranormal investigating. It was a pseudo science, it was pointless, it was providing no solid evidence for life after death, and so on. At some point over the last year, it hit me: just as there is no right way to figure out reality and God and the Universe and the nature of consciousness, there is no WRONG way to figure it all out, either. If the Ghost Radar and weird audio are leading you somewhere you want and need to go, then that is just as valid as attending Mass, meditating for hours, praying, chanting, spinning, or eating strange berries that make you see serpents in the clouds. Who was I, or anyone, to judge what method was best for finding yourself or discovering the secrets of the Cosmos?

Last January, I went through hell. I had traumatic memories surface, I had odd and scary thoughts that I couldn’t control, I experienced emotions that terrified me and made no sense. I truly thought that I was losing my mind. I felt energy run through my body like I was some kind of live wire or mega-charged battery. I couldn’t sleep, I felt dizzy and spacey, and I was sure that I was losing my grip on reality. I dutifully trundled off to therapy, meditated, prayed, and attended support groups for such things as Spiritual Emergencies, Kundalini rising, Spiritual Awakenings, Ascension, Light Workers, and so on and so forth. I howled at the moon and found my spirit animal. I took classes on mediumship. I pondered becoming a shaman (HA! Nobody should want to be a shaman) or at least, a spiritual guide for the nether worlds of the soul. I meditated until I entered trances and had visions. It faded away after school started in February and used up all my energy.

But my research had just begun. What had I gone through? I read thousands of pages on Kundalini openings, yoga, and other spiritual practices that scared the crap out of me–they had dire warnings about Kundalini energy making people insane or suicidal. That, of course, kicked off my anxiety. Then, I found out that menopause has the SAME SYMPTOM LIST. Yup. Perhaps everything that I experienced and labeled as deep, spiritual transformations was simply the result of hormones dropping and rising precipitously and messing with my neurotransmitters. That realization was quite sobering and more than a tad depressing. Was any of what I experienced real in any sense at all?

There are many articles that link menopause to spiritual enlightenment or Kundalini rising. For those of you who don’t know, Kundalini energy is supposedly stored at the base of your spine and rises up through the seven chakras. At least, I THINK that there are seven chakras. If you block the rising energy, it will negatively affect one of your chakras and cause physical symptoms. It is often experienced as heat spreading up the torso. If you have ever had a hot flash, assuming you’re a woman of a certain age, that’s EXACTLY what Kundalini energy is supposed to feel like. “Menopause is Enlightenment,” one website affirms. If this is Enlightenment, it kind of sucks.

I couldn’t, of course, figure out whether or not menopause was the Ultimate Cause of the difficult emotions and upsetting thoughts that plagued me for several weeks. In fact, nothing really explained it to my satisfaction: too many life situations could have caused it, and the explanations ran the gamut from psychological issues to hormonal imbalance to spiritual emergence. In the end, there was no way to define or pigeon hole it; it was weird, it was unexpected, it was inexplicable. However, I did learn one thing: the thoughts, feelings, and crazy energies were NOT the problem. My reaction to them was the problem. I panicked; I freaked out; I spent endless hours online trying to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with me.

As usual, anxiety was the villain in my story. It always is. It always has been. I could have chosen to simply let it go, observe it all, find it curious but pay it no undue attention. My need to label it, to find a box to stick it in, created pain and confusion. It has taken me a very long time to figure this out, but here it is: you don’t need to label every experience or rank it as desirable or terrible. Spirituality is a very vague concept, indeed. Everything we do and are is ‘spiritual’, if you believe that there is more to us than meat. All roads lead to Rome, if you have a sincere desire to learn and commit yourself to loving yourself and others as part of your search. Stay off the Internet. Trust me, it leads nowhere. Even therapy was mostly unhelpful, as every individual has her own take on what it is you are experiencing, and that could end up confusing or upsetting you. Don’t let other people define the experiences you are having–and don’t worry that you don’t know if your lightheadedness is the start of an Out of Body Experience or just PMS. Any experience can be interpreted as spiritual, physical, or psychological. You can convince yourself that you are going crazy in a thousand ways–that’s how anxiety works.

There is no Path. There is no destination. There is nowhere that you are supposed to end up, spiritually speaking. You are already where you need to be. You are already spiritually developed and have been since birth. The mere fact of your existence and your conscious experience is enough to prove that you ARE the mystery and the answer to the mystery. There is nothing you are missing, need to find, or have to track down. Sometimes, we remember who we really are and think that we’ll never lose that revelation. Then we forget. Life is a cycle of remembering our divinity and falling back asleep. There is no achievement, just an awareness.

I don’t even call any of this a Spiritual Awakening anymore. It’s more like a Remembering and a Forgetting. The fact that I remembered some extraordinary events from another lifetime does not mean anything in and of itself. What mattered is how I reacted and responded to the memories flooding back into my consciousness from past lives and this life. The physical effects of this old reality coming back online were quite real and often astounding–I was frequently distracted by my visions and new perceptions. But ┬áit was simply my body adjusting to the realignment of energies flowing through me. That energy might be called Kundalini or perhaps simply Spirit; in any case, we all experience this to one degree or another during transformative moments.

Spirit doesn’t change who you are. It reminds you who you are. Spirit wakes you up; it doesn’t ‘choose’ you, or confer special powers to you. You might change your circumstances, but you’re still who you always were. That’s the moment of realization: the search leads you back to yourself. The Path goes from Point A to Point A. It’s both liberating and depressing: liberating because you can engage in any spiritual practice you choose without worrying that it’s not the ‘right’ one, and depressing if you were hoping that you would be a different person after all the Experiences die down. Nope. You are always you. Always have been, always will be.

Understanding that the Universe loves you for who you are right now, is cause for celebration. That is the true spiritual epiphany.

 

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Bowie Major Tom

The year started with my hero vanishing into space. Others followed, creating a vacuum where my teenage soul used to be. I defined myself with “Major Tom” and every song on Purple Rain. When people die, my beliefs tell me that they are still ‘here,’ just on the other side of a thin veil. I didn’t know them, of course; it wasn’t their physical demise that slammed me into shock. It was the past that disappeared. The past was always already gone, so what do I mourn? I’m not sure. I don’t know.

The news in 2016 just got worse and worse. Syria. Trump. Russian hacking. Climate changing faster and faster. Cancer diagnosis in the family. Depression and other issues surfacing like dead fish in a pond. It seemed as if the downturn in my mood paralleled the swirling misery of the election and the general feeling of anxiety that permeates everything concerning human affairs.

There were the highlights, as well: I became the Project MATCH Faculty Coordinator and was able to assist in the training of some very talented and smart interns. I felt that I was making some real progress towards the betterment of education for the students in the LA Community College District. It was the best summer in a long time. We were finally able to buy a house, up in the mountains of Santa Susana. In the morning, I no longer hear the 101 Freeway blaring through the windows. I hear an anemic rooster, toads and owls hooting in the distance. I feel protected by the giant boulders and ancient oak trees. The spirits around this area are powerful and very, very old. This has allowed me peace of mind, even as the world falls into pieces.

This is where the knot is. I have a peaceful environment in which to contemplate all the things I didn’t understand as a younger version of myself. My bubble of ignorance burst three times: in 1997, 2002 and 2012. I was told I was going to die from a progressive disease in ’97 (that turned out to be a misdiagnosis, but I lived with it for almost a year), my ex husband moved out and divorced me in 2002 and in 2012 my kid had some serious issues which I am not at liberty to discuss in detail. After 2012, we moved three times in three years. The idea that things get easier and more understandable as you get older is bullshit. I understand less now and everything is more confusing and complicated than it was at any other time in my past.

My nickname in Middle School was “Polly Pure”. I was always told how naive I was, how easy to dupe and fool. I assumed everybody was nice and good, and that the world was always moving towards a better, more perfect state. I believed in constant spiritual progression: all things were destined to achieve perfection. I was such an idiot that I actually thought I had achieved enlightenment, somewhere around 2010 or 2011. I truly believed that I was on the fast track to Paradise, Oneness with the Brahma, the Source, whatever. I resent the fact that the world showed me otherwise.

The world showed me that I was (and am) a spiritual infant, and the state of affairs on our planet is regressing. Not only are we not moving forward, we are traveling backwards, undoing what little good we had managed to accomplish. As for people: nope, they are not inherently good. They are propelled by insecurities and fears that drive them to do terrible things to themselves and others, all in the name of protecting fragile egos. My entire world view was based on progress and enlightenment, and that paradigm has been shot to hell. Therefore, my view of time has been turned upside down. The arrow of time from now into the future is pure illusion, along with the idea of future perfection. We go in circles, falling backwards, struggling to break out of the present only to fall into the past and repeat, repeat, repeat.

All progress is individual, I fear. And it is not necessarily accomplished in this life. The arc of progress is LONG and requires so much more time than I thought, if such an idea exists at all. I would like to think that there is ultimate transformation after X number of lives wind themselves down, but I don’t know. I just don’t know. Maybe it’s two steps forward, one step back, and I’m in the middle of the one step back. One thing I do know:

Polly Pure was beaten with a barbed-wire covered bat and lies bleeding and dying in the ashes of her naive dreams for the world. I am waiting for Major Tom and Prince’s elevator to take her up, to be saved from her mistakes and her lost hopes.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PWH

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