Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Anima/Animus: The Archetype of Contrasexuality December 22, 2015

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Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. Carl Jung. “The Philosophical Tree” (1945). In CW 13: Alchemical Studies. P.335

So far in this series about the five major players in every psyche, I’ve written about the ego, our center of consciousness; the persona, our social mask;  and the shadow, our disowned qualities.  The remaining players are buried much deeper in our unconscious, and can only be accessed after we’ve learned about, and come to terms with, the very real and potentially toxic powers of our shadows.  Until this happens, we will not reach the fourth level of the psyche or mature self-knowledge.

To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. Once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the self. Anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle.  Carl Jung. “Good and Evil in Analytical Psychology” (1959). In CW 10. Civilization in Transition. P.872

Getting in the middle is good!  Seeing ourselves from two sides—i.e. conscious and unconscious, good and evil—frees us to discover our full individuality.  We do this by meeting and coming to terms with the anima/animus archetype of contrasexuality. This pair represents the two fundamental energies of the psyche.

Jung said the anima is the unconscious feminine.  He believed she is a particularly potent force in the psyche of a man, but today it might be more appropriate to say of a person whose ego identifies primarily with maleness. Historically thought of as soul, Jung associated our unconscious feminine sides with Eros, the principle of feeling and relationship.

Conversely, the animus is the unconscious masculine, a unusually powerful force in one whose ego identifies primarily with femaleness.  Historically thought of as spirit, Jung associated our unconscious masculine sides with Logos, the principle of rationality.

Until very recently, humanity has not understood that everyone contains all the qualities associated with both energies, and so has made the mistake of assigning specific and limiting roles to the genders. Even Jung tended to be confusing when writing about this issue, as he believed that every woman’s psychology is founded on the principle of Eros, and every male’s on the principle of Logos. But might he have been influenced by gender stereotypes which were so strongly imposed in his time?  For in organizing the personality types into the two opposites of Logos thinking and Eros feeling, he acknowledged that both potentials exist in every psyche. So why assign each to a gender? In other words, even this great psychological pioneer had difficulty being clear about this issue.

Anumus Anima, Why? Wendy Stark, YouTube

Credits: Animus Anima, Why? Wendy Stark, YouTube

I think Erich Neumann said it best when wrote in The Origins and History of Consciousness (Princeton University Press, 1954) xxii n. 7:

“…we use the terms “masculine” and “feminine” throughout the book, not as personal sex-linked characteristics, but as symbolic expressions. . . . The symbolism of “masculine” and “feminine” is archetypal and therefore transpersonal; in the various cultures concerned, it is erroneously projected upon persons as though they carried its qualities. In reality every individual is a psychological hybrid.”

There is no final word on this issue as yet, either in the Jungian community or the general public.  The stereotypes about gender that have prevailed throughout the patriarchal era (about 5,000 + years) have confused and severely constrained the psychological development of all of us. However, we are beginning to understand that the creation and evolution of every form of life, both physical and psychic, only occurs when these two complementary forms of energy merge in a reciprocal partnership. Neither form is superior or inferior to the other and nothing new can be created by either one alone.

The anima/animus archetype manifests as new potentials that most of us will only consciously develop after we’ve fulfilled the basic tasks of the first half of life:  getting an education, developing our interests and skills, proving ourselves in jobs, finding love partners, and establishing a home and family. In our dreams, our anima/animus qualities appear as unusually fascinating and influential women and men who compel us to challenge and change outmoded attitudes, thoughts and emotions. Opening our minds and reflecting on these changes spurs healthy growth;  rejecting them out of fear or stereotypical thinking stunts further growth into mature consciousness.

As I write this, it’s Dec. 21, 2015, Winter Solstice Eve, the darkest night of the year. In the following video I share my very first recorded dream. It’s very fitting that it featured my animus as an attractive, seductive man who wanted to enlighten me about love. Fortunately, I was ready to push past my fear and learn what he wanted to teach me. Please enjoy my holiday offering to you: The Dream Theatre of the Anima/Animus.  This dream brought more light into my psyche. May it do the same for you.

 

 

Confessions of a Right-Brained Writer June 9, 2015

Speaking at the 2015 IASD conference about Dream Theatres of the Soul. Don't you love my

Speaking at the 2015 IASD conference about Dream Theatres of the Soul. Don’t you love my “shadow” in the background?
Photo Credit: Walter Berry

“The last big speech I gave was a year ago this March.  What if I’m rusty?”

“I’m terrible at memorizing! I could forget something important.”

“I talk with my hands. People might find that annoying.”

“I don’t notice the physical world around me.  I could trip over an extension cord.”

“I don’t want to say ‘Um’ all the time. If I don’t practice, I’ll forget.”

“I’m not worried about talking to a big audience, but technology is really hard.  I need to be sure I know how to use the remote to my powerpoint presentation and when to click it.”

“I’m afraid I’ll leave out something important.”

These are just some of the responses I made to my husband when he asked why I was constantly revising, practicing, and generally fretting over my upcoming speech for the annual gathering of the International Association for the Study of Dreams.

Fred is a brilliant man with a photographic memory.  As a forensic economist, he can read through a 100-page file over breakfast and testify about it in a trial or deposition two hours later without forgetting one detail.

It took me a year to write my dissertation. I needed hours of uninterrupted solitude, usually at night when Fred and the kids were asleep. Even then, selecting and pulling together relevant thoughts from among the myriad impressions flooding my mind, not to mention writing them down in a logical, clear, and organized way, was a constant struggle.  The next night I spent half my writing time omitting or revising whole sections of what I wrote the night before. Initially it was hard, but by the end of that year I realized I’d never had so much fun in my life.  By then, the revising was as much fun as the creating.

In the early years of our marriage I thought there must be something wrong with him; like maybe he was lazy, or a procrastinator, or had ADD. I mean, how could he possibly be ready to defend his dissertation in a month when he’d only written fifteen pages and was constantly distracted?  Later on, I realized 20 minutes at a time was all he needed to do something it took me hours to do.  Then I thought there must be something wrong with me.

The truth is in between.  There’s nothing wrong with either of us.  We just have different ways of thinking about, processing and expressing information. His way is considered far superior to mine in our Western, academically oriented culture.  And for many years, I bought into that perspective.

Yet we were both excellent students, which tells me we each had access to both ways. Just as he can think in ways that present difficulties for me, I can think in ways that are difficult for him. My subjective perspective is associated with sensitive, receptive, reflective and inner-directed artists, advisors, sages and Queens. His objective way is associated with with tough, logical, assertive outer-directed scientists, warriors, and Kings. Is one better than the other?  Of course not!

Dinner with Fred and sister dreamer Justina Lasley the night before my speech in Virginia Beach.

Dinner with Fred and sister dreamer Justina Lasley the night before my speech in Virginia Beach.

That couldn’t have been more clear at last weekend’s IASD conference.  Fred took care of our travel arrangements and got us to the hotel easily and efficiently. When I walked out of our hotel room and turned the wrong way, he guided me in the right direction.

He found things I misplaced in our room, remembered what time breakfast was served, where the next presentation was, and when it would start.  I had to have a schedule with me at all times. He took pictures of special times with friends when I forgot to bring or use my cell phone.

Having him with me turned what could have been a frustrating ordeal into a joyous experience. Yet, he usually only sees the trees when my ability to see the forest is more helpful. And I often sense underlying currents in situations that need to be addressed when he doesn’t have a clue.

All this is to say that my presentation is over and I couldn’t be more thrilled with it. And I can’t help but compare my new pleasure and confidence in myself with earlier times when I believed his way of being was superior to mine. My months of writing and revising and practicing, plus receiving support, suggestions and assurance from friends who cared, was of infinite value.  It eased my concerns, gave me confidence, and turned what could have been an average presentation into one that received a standing ovation and more compliments than I can count.

And here’s the biggest plus:  After 51 years of marriage (as of June 15), Fred and I have more understanding, respect, and gratitude for each other than ever before—a true partnership in which we have each learned to value the differences in ourselves and each other.

Thank you, Fred, and thank you to all of you who helped and supported me. I couldn’t have done it without you.

A video of my speech will be available in a few weeks.  I’ll tell you when and where as soon as I know.  Meanwhile, here’s a recent Skype interview of me about Healing the Sacred Divide that was coincidentally published just this weekend. I hope you enjoy it.  https://youtu.be/rEvrJGknFWw

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

The Power of Your Creative Force July 29, 2014

“Did you not see that when your creative force turned to the world, how the dead things moved under it and through it, how they grew and prospered, and how your thoughts flowed in rich rivers?  If your creative force now turns to the place of the soul, you will see how your soul becomes green and how its field bears wonderful fruit.” ~ Carl Jung. The Red Book. Page 236.

When Lewis LaFontaine posted this quote on his Jung site the other day I was inspired to write about it, but unsure how to explain its importance to readers unfamiliar with this language. I knew some would wonder:  What is the power of the creative force? What did Jung mean by turning it to the world and then to the soul?  And why should I care?  What does this have to do with me and my life?

I know some people wonder about these things because there was a time when I did too.  One of the first books I read on Jungian psychology  25 years ago was The Kingdom Within by John Sanford.  I was enormously excited about the new insights I gained from it, but couldn’t understand why Sanford treated the release of creativity as a major accomplishment.  Why would I care about being creative? I just wanted to understand myself and make the pain go away. It took years of inner work to realize that creative imagination was what unlocked my true self and made the pain go away!

To create is to bring new life with exciting potential into your world.  Creative imagination eases your load and enriches your days. It makes you feel better and inspires you to be a better human being. Most amazing of all, it frees you from the prisons of fear and time and lifts you to eternity:  the sacred “zone” of the gods.

The creative force is, like the imagination which activates it, a natural capacity of every psyche. Tapping into it transforms our inner and outer lives by helping us find and express our individuality in ways that are unique to us and benefit others.

To turn our creative force “to the world” is to manifest a new idea or unique body of work that will prove our worth and improve the human condition. People with this drive become artists, designers, actors, composers, musicians, dancers, architects, inventors, photographers, poets, playwrights, writers, chefs, and anyone who loves and engages in creative work of any kind.

But Jung’s quote suggests that while turning the creative force to the world has enormous value, there comes a time when a new focus is called for. Indeed, the inability to release our attachment to the outer world and redirect our creativity toward the inner is the psychological basis for the stereotype of the tortured artist who has sold his soul to the devil for a lifetime of worldly acclaim.

Jung is saying that if we can “see” (i.e. become consciously aware of) how well the proper use of our creative force serves us during the first half of life, and if we can trust it not to abandon us if we redirect it in service to the inner life during the second, our whole life, youth and age, inside and out, can be transformed into a work of art.

To turn your creative force to the soul means to take the gift of your life seriously and make the search for healing, self-knowledge and meaning the primary focus of your creativity.  This entails three main tasks.

First, approach your physical and mental life with the attention an artist gives to her art. Immerse yourself in the details of your body’s subtle sensations, your mind’s thoughts, emotions, values, attitudes and recurring issues,  and your dreams, wishes, fantasies and intuitions—especially the ones you don’t like to admit to—until you can see them through the eyes of a lover.

Second, look beneath the surface of every form of art, especially myths, fairy tales, religions, literature and film to find the underlying similarities between these creative reflections of the human soul and the processes of your individual soul.

Third, accept all the insights you acquire, both the “bad” and the “good,” and find creative ways to integrate them into your awareness. You can do this alone, in a group, or with the help of a teacher, mentor or therapist. The important thing is to engage in healthy activities that absorb your attention, help you understand yourself, and alleviate your pain.

You probably won’t receive cultural acclaim for redirecting your creative force to your soul, but the world will benefit anyway. The creative force has the power not only to transform you into a work of art, but also to bring a healing new level of consciousness to everyone whose life is touched by your magnum opus. This is “how your soul becomes green and how its field bears wonderful fruit.”

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a Reluctant Holiday Reveler December 18, 2013

My Idea of Holiday Fun

My Idea of Holiday Fun

The holiday season is here!  Ho, Ho, Ho and Happy New Year!!  Are you feeling jolly and excited?  Not me.  In fact, I’ve been feeling uneasy since Hallowe’en.

Call me Scrooge if you must, but I’m not really a wet blanket or party-pooper. I like to laugh. I know how to have fun. It’s just that, according to the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, I’m a member of a small minority, an Introverted iNtuitive Feeling (INF) type treading water in a sea of EST’s, i.e. Extraverted Sensate Thinking. When you add my task-oriented, closure-needing Judging (J) function to the mix, the stats say that in your average gathering of a hundred people, I’m the only INFJ in the room.

There’s nothing pathological about my type.  It’s simply one of 16 normal possibilities. And it doesn’t mean I’m shy or lacking in certain kinds of confidence. In fact, when I tell people I’m an introvert they often don’t believe me because I’ve learned to handle myself perfectly well in public…as long as I don’t have to be out there more than a few hours at a time! After that, I just want to go home.

The way I’m made creates difficulties for me that others may not see or understand. For example, the batteries of extraverts run dry when deprived of human interaction for very long.  So to an extravert, staying home while everyone’s out having fun can feel downright masochistic, whereas for me it’s restorative. Then there are the sensory types for whom the physical world is a buffet of delights. These people find withdrawing from the table punishing.  I find it a relief. And thinking types who base decisions on detached logic are usually suspicious of those of us who feel life deeply while I suspect them of being thoughtless and uncaring.

Not only is the world beyond my front door swarming with happy shoppers and giddy party goers this time of year, but I also live with a husband who is an Extraverted Sensate Thinking type.  Naturally, our differences create problems for us, although working them out has given us enormous understanding and acceptance of ourselves and others.  But one thing will never change:  he feels at home in a bustling world I am reluctant to enter.  As an INFJ who also has many characteristics of a Highly Sensitive Person, I lack the protective armor that he and others take for granted. Naturally, this can make social situations challenging.

For instance, simple conversations are loaded traps. Beneath the words, my own included, I sense hidden agendas and never know whether to address the conscious or unconscious message. It can be awkward when I make the wrong choice. I’ve been accused more than once of having Foot-in-Mouth disease, and the resultant orgies of humiliation and self-recrimination just make me feel worse!

Another thing: I can see both sides of most issues and enjoy debating and discussing differences of opinion…as long as the conversation stays friendly.  But I don’t handle conflict well.  Or negativity.  In fact, heated conflicts are so distressing that I usually tune out, shut down, or blow up. Fun, huh?

Here’s one more. I love meaningful dialogues that run deeper than the surface.  But when I try to steer the average conversation that way, it’s the rare person (usually another INFJ) who wants to go there.  Inevitably I end up mentally kicking myself for trying.

These and other traits make for a somewhat burdensome inner life.  Don’t worry, I’m pretty tough, and I happily accept the personality I was given as the price for an abundance of blessings. But I think you can understand why I’m drawn to the solitary, contemplative life.  And I want you to know this:  Like all human beings, I need the comforts and solace of loving families and friends.  I especially love private conversations with close friends, and I derive great pleasure from communicating with like-minded people.

So I’ll attend a few holiday parties, schmooze with the guests, and be glad I went. But most of the time I’ll be home reading, writing, or having a glass of wine by the fire with my husband while we listen to my favorite Anne Murray Christmas album.  Trust me.  I’ll be enjoying myself very much.

Happy Holidays to all. May your stockings overflow with warmth, comfort and love.

My books can be found at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Diesel Ebooks and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Insights from Ireland: Cooking Possum Stew May 21, 2013

mother and babyAfter I wrote my associations to the symbols in my Ireland dream, I started on its message. The biggest clues to a dream’s meaning are recent waking life experiences and how you responded to them. I was aware of some issues, thoughts and feelings in the days before the dream, but which were relevant and which were not? In the month since then I’ve pursued several dead ends but feel close to the core now. Here’s how my thinking has evolved.

Act I: It’s obvious that my psyche (mansion) is undergoing some kind of alchemical transformation (golden urn). I get it that my animus envisions a nourishing (dining room) change that would unite the vessel and its contents. But what is the nature of this change? I don’t know.

Act II: I understand that my ego wants to maintain a smooth and shiny persona (pinboard). As a “J” personality type, (see this site for an explanation), I like keeping the outer aspects of my life orderly and organized. But what less-obvious parts of my persona (covered pin holes and scraps of paper) still need work? And why doesn’t X want me to expose them? Is he afraid people will see that he’s/I’m not always smart, confident, in control, or right? Could be. New situations like this do bring out this concern. Maybe he’s my overly self-conscious perfectionist who fears I’ll say or do something thoughtless or annoying?

Act III: Another aspect of my animus (my thinker/spiritual striver/writer?) thinks some valuable old (as in inherited or acquired at an early age) qualities should be openly displayed. This could refer to personality traits that have been helpful in my inner and outer work, and also to the fact that I’m comfortable with aging. But what’s this primitive instinct (possum) hidden beneath the externalities that I don’t want in the house of my psyche? Which of my five instincts—nurturance, activity, reflection, sex or creativity—does it represent?

The mention of the dining room suggests the instinct for nurturance. Physical survival has never been an issue, but what is problematic is my emotional need for approval and security and my resistance to admitting to these needs. This is a root chakra issue that would have begun in my infancy.

possummotherSomeone at the conference noted that possums play dead when they’re frightened; hence, the phrase, “playing possum.” Another said that baby possums cling to the mother’s fur when they ride on her back. These associations felt important then and still do. There’s a frightened young possum in me that didn’t get all the mothering she needed and somehow plays dead as a result. But how does this show up in waking life?

Here’s what was going on with me. We left Orlando on Thursday and arrived at the conference site on Sunday afternoon. The pre-trip packing, airport hassles, flight to Dublin and lack of sleep left me exhausted. Two days of hectic touring in a new city reduced my normally low tolerance for excessive stimulation to zero tolerance for practically everything and everyone! Then we left the Dublin hotel, took a taxi to a meeting point, had a long bus ride to Cromleach Lodge, checked in, unpacked and organized luggage. Then there were 37 new people to meet.

Maybe these things aren’t problematic for some personalities, but for people like me, they’re challenging. Why? Partly because I’m an Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging Type. Partly because I was fully conscious of my feelings and didn’t like them. Stoic as usual, I was doing a pretty good job of containing my emotions (playing dead), (Fred told me later he had no idea how stressed I was), but, perfectionist that I am, I considered them unworthy. Inwardly I was shaming myself and my self-criticism was dragging me down. I couldn’t forgive myself for being human!

Next time, the big “Aha!”

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon site and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Meet a Highly Sensitive Person December 4, 2012

My friends: I recently came across a post titled “What Everyone Needs to Know About the Highly Sensitive Person”  from the blog Taming the Invisible Dragon by Sloan Rawlins.  With a shock of recognition, I discovered that Sloan, whom I’ve never met, has written a description of herself….and me!  Until now, I had no idea there is a name for people like us.  It is with great pleasure and a deep sense of gratitude that I share this guest blogger’s post with you.  Thank you, Sloan, for shedding light on yet one more of my inner mysteries.

Chances are that many of you are not familiar with the term “Highly Sensitive Person.”  It is very likely, however, that you will (or already have) come into close contact with or developed an interpersonal relationship with a Highly Sensitive Person.  You may even be an HSP yourself and have yet to realize it.

It is my firm belief that understanding is one of the fundamental components of compassion.  And what the world needs today, at least as I see it, is a lot more compassion.  The better we understand ourselves and each other, the better chance we have of living in a world that is a little more tolerant and a lot less difficult. That being the case, let me (an HSP of the highest order) take this opportunity to share with you what I know about this gift that is not always a gift.

Highly sensitive people are very conscientious, hard working, and meticulous.  They have rich, deep inner lives and are often very spiritual.  They are extraordinarily intuitive and, often, highly empathic (able to detect other people’s emotions).  Creative, intelligent, and well-organized are other adjectives that commonly apply to the HSP.

Along with these characteristics, however, come the “less desirable” aspects of being an HSP.  Highly sensitive people are bothered by intense stimuli, including loud noises and too much activity in their environment.  They are extremely uncomfortable with chaos and disorder.  Those who are highly empathic often feel overwhelmed by emotion (their own and that of people around them); and they process information on such a deep level that their response time to a particular situation is often delayed.  When subjected to trauma and/or severe chronic stress, HSPs are much more likely to develop neurological disorders, including P.T.S.D. and Fibromyalgia.

Dr. Carl Jung, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, and Eleanor Roosevelt are just a few of the more famous people in history who researchers say demonstrated signs of the high sensitivity trait.  I refer to it as a “trait” because, according to Dr. Elaine Aron—author of The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You— and other researchers like her, high sensitivity is an innate trait (one present at birth) that comprises 15 to 20 percent of the population (50 million in the U.S. alone).

That is the academic description of what is meant by the term Highly Sensitive Person.  Now, let’s get personal.

For 43 years, I have lived in a world that constantly overwhelms me.  Not understanding why I am “so sensitive” and repeatedly pushing myself to prove that I could handle anything anyone else could handle (and even do it better) was my undoing.  As it turns out, I needed to be undone because the life I was living was not much of a life at all.

I have been told many times, by many people, that I am “too sensitive” and “too emotional,” that I “care too much,” and that I “think too much.”  Ironically, most of the people who have said those words to me have turned to me (time and time again) when they needed a shoulder to lean on or advice in dealing with their own problems and emotions.

In short, it has generally been the case that people love to be around me and to soak up all that insight, compassion, and sensitivity I have to offer . . . but only for brief periods of time.  It seems that my particular brand of “sweet” makes me appear too fragile or weak and it makes people (even some of those who love me) very uncomfortable, at times.

Those who really know me, however, know that I am anything but weak.  I have fallen down many times; but I have also found the strength and courage to stand back up more times than most people could have managed.  Yes, I am emotional; but I am also resilient.  I can always find the good in anyone I meet and most people find me particularly accepting and nonjudgmental.  I try my best to see every side of any situation as objectively as I may and try very hard to always be fair.  It is relatively easy for me to take other people’s feelings into account before I speak or act (even when I am hurt or angry); and I do.

None of this makes me a saint.  It just means I am . . . (yes, say it with me) SENSITIVE.  While it is not easy living in the world today as an HSP, I do not begrudge it.

I see things many others cannot see.  I feel things many others have grown numb to.  I care and I love in ways that many people long for.  Because of these aspects of my Being, I know what it means to truly be Alive.  To paraphrase a lyric from one of my favorite Jimmy Buffet songs — while some of it’s tragic and some of its magic, I live a good life all the way.

The purpose of sharing these very personal aspects of myself with you is not to invoke sympathy on your part for me but to help you understand what it feels like to be on this side of the HSP trait.  And, if you are an HSP yourself, to let you know that you are not alone, you are just as valuable and lovable as anyone else on the planet, and you can bring a lot to the table in just about any relationship you enter into.

If there is a chance that you or someone in your life is a Highly Sensitive Person, I encourage you to learn more about the trait.  In addition to Dr. Aron’s book, I recommend you visit the following sites for more information (including a self-test).

http://www.highlysensitivepeople.com/

http://www.hsperson.com/pages/test.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highly_sensitive_person

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=highly+sensitve+person

 

What I Expected: What I Got September 25, 2012

Now that my new book is formally launched, I’m starting to promote it. I’ve just returned home after being away for four days during which I had three book-signings. I had two others the week before.  These were amazing learning experiences. Here are some early examples.

What I expected:  That after a few days my dominant introverted side would rebel against a tight schedule involving much extraverted speaking and intense interaction with people, combined with very little solitary down time.

What I got:  A big surprise! I was energized by the speaking and loved talking with everyone! People were really nice and it was lots of fun. In fact, I got a sort of high from it, and I was extremely grateful to have friends with me three out of those five times with whom to talk about it afterwards! It’s true that initially after a couple of hours of this I got a headache, but I quickly figured out the antidote:  take an extra-strength Excedrin an hour ahead of time! I think the headaches were more about eye-strain (from wearing my contacts for longer periods than usual) than mental strain. In fact, the only thing that tired me out was the stress of traveling! In the two legs of flight between the Leon, Mexico airport, the Dallas airport, and Orlando we had three gate changes, one time change, and a two-hour delay.  All this with no dinner until 10 p.m. That was a real Bear!

Conclusions:  I’m not as much of an introvert as I thought. In fact, my dear cousin Hugh who attended my two Atlanta signings told me he sees me as very much of an extravert! But I think this only applies when I’m in the company of generous-spirited people who like me and are truly interested in what I have to say!

What I expected:  That someone might challenge my unorthodox views, especially about religion, and that my conflict-anxiety would kick in to the point that I’d lose my confidence and come off as a babbling idiot.

What I got:  No one exhibited any resistance to anything I said. To the contrary, a bunch of people came up afterwards and told me how grateful they were! One woman thanked me with tears in her eyes for what I said about dysfunctional God-images. A physics professor told me she resonated powerfully with everything I said. Her very words:  “You have your finger exactly on the pulse of our times!”  This time I was the one in tears.  Two middle-aged men thanked me for sharing my Kundalini experience. A middle-aged woman said my reference to my nine-year “Dark Night” had emboldened her to be more open about sharing her similar experience with people who might be relieved to know they’re not alone and that Dark Nights are survivable! And a friend told me that a mutual friend leaned over and whispered, “She has real courage!”

Astonished Conclusions:  I’m helping, even if only a tiny bit!  And I have courage!!! And all this time I’ve been afraid I was a yellow-bellied coward. When did courage sneak in and stand alongside my copious fears and self-doubt?  I don’t know.  I never saw it coming.

The past two weeks reinforced something I’ve known in my gut for quite a while but rarely heard about from others:  no matter how damaged the soul, the rewards of committed inner work are powerful, permanent, and a blessing to all. A sincere thank-you to the kind souls who are reminding me that my struggles have not been in vain.  So now I”m wondering: what benefits have your inner work brought?

Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at www.Amazon.com or www.larsonpublications.com.

 

 
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