Last week, I stood at a pair of shiny gates. They were large and brass. They were closed.
Beyond the gates looked like Mount Olympus. I saw cotton-candy clouds and a glimmering palace decked in gold. Everything felt radiant, good, powerful.
I was flooded with knowing. But I sensed two contradictory things:
(1) This next step was so easy! All I had to do to was walk through the gates, and I would enter a new, beautiful life.
(2) Were I to do this, there would be extreme, earth-shattering danger and pain.
Suddenly, everything felt dark and smokey. The storm cloud of fear.
The truth was, my skin was too thin, my lungs too earthly to breathe in the new air. If I crossed into Olympus, I would disintegrate into nothing.
I wasn't "good enough" for this new atmosphere, this new altitude. I wouldn't be able to survive at a higher level.
As I hesitated I turned to my right and noticed a large figure. An ogre-type being who I was knew was there to pummel me to death if I tried to walk up the stairs and open the brass latch. He was a kind of security figure, a heavenly bouncer.
On some level I knew he wasn't trying to hurt me. He was trying to protect me from pain.
Why should I go somewhere I wasn't meant to go? There had to be consequences.
It was then I knew the source of my fear. It was fear of pain -- total evaporation into disappointment, hurt, confusion, and the pressure of a new reality.
So I stood there.
And I stand there now.
This Is A Metaphor, Obvi!
-- but I didn't just make it up to be poetic or to illustrate a point. :)
This was an actual "scene" that came to me during a meditation, directly from my subconscious mind.
In a state I can best describe as "waking dreaming," I witnessed this during one of my "investigative meditations" last week (more on this below).
Basically: I sat down, set an intention to understand my fear, and this is what came up.
And when I consider where I am now in my life -- moving forward meaningfully with my music and artistic career -- this scene is a perfect, direct representation of my current consciousness and emotional landscape.
Meditate to Explore Yourself vs. Dissociate From Yourself
One falsehood about meditation is that the goal is always to completely "clear your mind of all thought."
Sure, you CAN do this -- it can be a very beautiful, rewarding practice that yields great anxiety-reducing results -- HOWEVER, it's just ONE type of meditation.
You can also meditate other ways, with other intentions.
My favorite type of meditating is the NON-mind-clearing kind.
This is a kind of meditation where you relax into your subconscious, let thoughts and imagery come up, and you scope out your internal reality to gain clarity.
WTF does that mean, procedurally?
There's a lot to say here. But basically --
You close your eyes and breathe. You allow thoughts, images, ideas to surface (in your head). You don't move away from whatever pops up. You instead allow your mind's eye to move naturally from one topic or image to another.
As this happens, you will find it dredges up feeling (in your body). Instead of dismissing that feeling, you sink into it. You pursue the sore spots.
You are the Indiana Jones of your internal reality.
Doing this, with practice, creates compelling internal "movies" -- much like the "standing at the gates" story I began this email with.
It's rad and scary and illuminating and everything in between.
Does this idea make you squirm? :-)
Make no mistake, it's intimidating!! When you sit down to do this type of meditating, you are going INTO YOURSELF and INTO YOUR FEELINGS -- willing to shine a flashlight on all the hairy insecurities and fears that lie within.
"Traditional meditation" says: "don't pay attention to your thoughts."
"Investigative meditation" (as I'll call it) says: "Pay attention. Don't run. What are your thoughts telling you about your internal world? How about your feelings? When you ride those waves, what do you see?"
Thoughts -- even though they may originate from confusing, false, or negative sources -- are not actually randomly "attacking" you. I believe they arise from buried feelings we have yet to process, but have acquired throughout our life. These feelings are often too hidden to really understand at first, unless you take time to explore.
Know that nothing is going to hurt you, not even a large ogre-type bogey man. It's all your internal reality, no matter how scary or vivid it gets.
Are You Waiting To Walk Through the Gates With Me?
This image of "standing at the gates".....
Are you there, too?
Please let me know.
Is your new, beautiful reality so close you can taste it, but do you carry the weight of an ogre who threatens to bring you down? Perhaps a story from your past? Your old self-concept? An emotional memory of never feeling like you belong?
I believe we all collectively face these type of challenges, so I wanted to know how you're doing -- and reassure you that you're not alone.
The good news is....
We are so close!
Not only can I see the gates themselves, but I can see what lies beyond!
In my career and creative path, I feel on fire. I have hired musical collaborators to co-produce my album. I am seriously working on my singing, every day. I am writing new music, vibrating with possibility, learning to honor new artistic impulses and not second-guess myself.
I am so close. So very close.
The day will come. In a matter of weeks, I'm thinking, when I can step through the gates, truly, and let go of old ideas of who I am. In the meantime, I intend and commit to further investigation, coupled with slow and steady action.
I will not walk through until I can make peace with the parts of me that still fear moving forward...
But I have hope that soon we will be able to shift our perceptions.
Our skin is not thin, but glimmering. Our lungs breathe air with strength, allowing us to sing with power and enthusiasm.
I'll speak with the ogre, too. Maybe he's just trying to help me after all.
P.S. Book Recommendation for Those Who Relate to This Struggle
To provide a resource and framework for you, if you are struggling with frustration, confusion, or if you wish to gain a better understanding of cloudy, conflicting emotion:
I highly recommend the book The Completion Process by Teal Swan. This book has been instrumental in helping me turn my life around, get in touch with who I am, and approach my future as someone who feels whole.
If you feel like there are often "internal battles" going on within you, this book is for you.
Note: When you meditate using The Completion Process, or even if you're just simply doing "investigative meditation" as I described, gentleness is key. Do not force, do not judge, be open.
Much like pressing "play" on a movie you've never seen before, you never know how things will turn out. The key is patience, relaxation, and feeling much more like you are in the backseat, versus driving at the wheel.
It gets easier with practice. We can do this.
Sending love to you as you unlatch those gates.....
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