Why Psychological Health Requires a Spiritual Connection

Why Psychological Health Requires a Spiritual Connection

Without a spiritual connection, there can be no authentic psychological stability. A connection to something beyond our egos is the tether that creates a space of ok-ness. If all we identify with is the perception of self, and the mind's dialogue, when that space turns dark, we ARE the chaos. There is no separation. And this can ultimately lead to delusion and madness. 

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Death is Our Soul's Shadow, and It's Breathtaking

Carl Jung understood the shadow-side of humanity better than anyone I've ever encountered. He is still considered a foremost authority on understanding our darkness. This is one of my favorite quotes of his about our shadows:

Taking it in its deepest sense, the shadow is the invisible saurian tail that man still drags behind him. Carefully amputated, it becomes the healing serpent of the mysteries. Only monkeys parade with it.

I propose that death itself is the source of our shadow, and the key culprit of any latent fears. We do with death the same thing we do with our darkness - we repress it. Avoid it. Spread glitter on the edges so we can distract ourselves and forget it's even there.

Aptly named, our shadow follows us, regardless of our awareness. Just as death does. It's a mystery that is always there, beckoning us to look deeper. To understand it's gift and message.

Psychologists have taught us that the only way to dismantle our fears is to dive directly to the core of them. 

The only way out is through.

Death is exactly the same. But how do we dive deep into death while we are still alive?

It starts with inquiry. It starts with silent time, sitting with yourself and your mortality. Asking yourself what you really think and feel regarding death. Have your experiences served to increase your fears, or have they shown intangible truths about what might be waiting? 

Even when we are blessed to be with a loved one in their final days and hours, we hardly ever really look at death. We instead ask them to cling to life. Yet if you're lucky enough to be around someone who has accepted their impending transition, there is an unmistakable lightness. A profoundly deep and honest surrender. Rarely have I ever encountered someone at the end of their journey who is fearful and resistant. Why? Because they dared to look - mainly out of necessity - at who they are beyond their bodies. They had to swaddle up and make friends with the greatest nemesis we perceive - Mr. Grim Reaper himself.

While we are alive, Jung's shadow wisdom can be incapsulated to include an inquiry and examination of death. Perhaps that's our very reason for being here at all; to evolve past the point of attachment (to life) and resistance (to death) so we are able to uncover the truth about who we are. 

Our shadow holds the secrets we seek in the light. And death holds the truth about who we are. Within every ending, there is a luscious, thrilling, mysterious, and beautiful beginning.

Halloween: The Celebration of Death

Halloween is such a sacred, wonderful holiday. It's really one of the only days we're encouraged to have a whimsical perspective on death. It's so bloody freeing and fun we throw candy at ghoulish wee ones to reward their daring personas. 

Halloween is rumored to have started back in ancient celtic times. Cultures have always revered the turning of the seasons, and this time of year represents the harvest and the dropping temperatures. Winter is the earth's death, as she transitions into night and freezing temps to rebuild her energy and reserves. That's why it began as a holiday - Halloween straddles polarities. Darkness and light. Warmth and cold. Death and life. And those deserve our reverence and celebration.

It's moments like these that I see us all dancing in the truth of existence, with or without awareness. The truth is, we can smile and welcome death. We can smack on a Snickers as the grim reaper comes knocking. It's just another part of the journey. The planet transitions every year. We all go through our mini-deaths each year too. Shedding skin, pounds, tears, hair, emotions, money, relationships, jobs - the list is long. Very, very long. 

So let these playful hours remind us there is nothing to fear, nothing to resist. Death is just as sweet as any other part of our paths. Sure, it rots our teeth, but that's a small price to pay for the joy of the experience. 

Why Do We Fear Death So Damn Much?

Maybe this seems like an obvious question. Ruminating about why just about everyone freaks the OMG out over the prospect of passing on. But do you ever stop to think about WHY you might fear death?

For starters, our individual beliefs are obviously crucial. If you believe this is it, life is finite, when you die it's ovah, then obviously that's a horrible fate. Unless you're just not digging it here. If you believe there's life after death but you really really love it here and you're the type to never finish a book because endings suck, then yes, you're going to resist the exit.

I'm fascinated by the spiritual lot of us that braggadociously wax poetic about the afterlife, and yet secretly writhe in terror when faced with mortality. That's because we can never be too sure now, can we? What if we're wrong about this spiritual truism? What if all we do is curl up and become ant food? There's no way to no for sure.

Unless you die before you die.

The lucky ones scattered throughout our world have touched the truth not out of reading it on an awesome and insightful blog <cough> but by experiencing death themselves. Some people call these near death experiences, or NDEs, but there are really two types of deaths that we get to live to tell about.

1) The traditional NDE. What that tends to be is the body itself stops cold and then kickstarts again. That sets the soul free to be a consciousness without a body for a period of time. Not everyone who has their body shut down gets to come back with memories, but there are thousands and thousands of cases where folks remember unequivocally what happens without a body. I'm sure you know already that many of the details in these accounts are crazy similar. THAT is wonderfully assuring.

2) Then there's the ego death. Those are definitely #notfun yet reveal many, if not all, of the same truths. These experiences wholly convince the you that is your ego that a death has occurred. And mind you (pun intended), sometimes it's a one-two punch and it HAS. But often the body is right there, ticking away without an issue, and yet the ego has just up and croaked. But then something magical happens. Just like those who remember a traditional NDE, they find THEY'RE STILL THERE. A consciousness remains. And if you can bring back that experience once the ego wakes up to realize it ISN'T dead (or, more accurately, it was never alive to begin with), you get to walk in the world as a lucky soul who knows, unequivocally, that life does not stop when we leave these beautiful bodies.

I am the luckiest girl in the world. I've experience both scenarios. My body once shutdown from a very traumatic asthma / breathing attack, and I found myself in that proverbial "floating above my body" state. It was incredibly liberating and surreal. And because I've drank boatloads of Ayahuasca (I'm over 1,000 ceremonies in to date), I've had several of those fabulous ego deaths. 

And that right there is why I'm lucky enough to have a love affair with death.

So the moral of the story is simple: Beliefs are empty air. They may shape our opinions and anxieties and internal thoughts and emotions, but they aren't experiential. To really know the truth about the great beyond, the space that cannot be spoken about, you have to go there. You have to experience it yourself to quell all doubts.

Actually, a quick caveat here - you probably won't ever quell ALL doubts. The ego itself isn't real in the way we think they are, and in that, there IS mortality.  So there is a definite loss. And as long as we have egos, we have the ability to doubt even the most quintessential experiences. Minds are powerful beasts. This means even those of us who have died and returned still can have oodles of fears and questions. Was my experience real? Did I just dream it all up? What if what if what if?

Of course, I revert to the space that knows the truth whenever these questions come on. I take a deep breath, hit my meditation pillow, and go within. I return to the space where mind ends and soul begins. There is a knowing so deep and palpable there, it has the power to shatter all chatter, all fear. At least for that moment. And that is priceless.

Our Dirty Little Death Secret

I am profoundly moved today to talk about something many of us feel, but are afraid to admit.

No matter how much we may fear death (or not), no matter how much we may love life (or not), some of us yearn to get off this crazy planet and get some down time. Yes, some of us secretly want to die.

That doesn't make us suicidal; that's a very different, destructive energy. One which we'll talk about at a later date. What most of us desire in those moments is simply a time out. 

Life is insanely intense. The more conscious we become, the more we feel the entire spectrum of emotion. Feeling is fucking hard. Holding space for the energy of the entire multiverse is literally mind blowing (by design). And even the most graceful, joyful, uber-aware among us wish for an exit so we can, oddly enough, breathe.

I was deep on Ayahuasca one night, begging for a break. Internally, I ran in every direction trying to escape the unbelievable force that had taken over me. I wanted out. I NEEDED out. And Aya, ever the wise, motherly sage, whispered to me:

You can't escape infinity.

Instead, she helped me feel more grounded. She helped me trust myself. She helped me see that the resistance I was feeling came directly from the stories in my head. If I could find a way to stop obsessing about how hard things were, how much I didn't want to feel, it actually wasn't so bloody difficult. 

Easier said than done. And no, I didn't succeed.

But I did survive. It's like the last few minutes of an intense workout. Those times you want to quit are when the most amount of work can be accomplished. The same is true for our emotional and spiritual journeys. We can't know what we're made of until we push the edges of what we think we can handle.

At the same time, it's totally OK that sometimes we hit a breaking point. It's totally normal that sometimes we see death as a time for rest and escape - and that sounds goddamn precious in those moments. Making space for that resistance is a beautiful thing. Loving the part of yourself mired in that chaos is part of the healing.

So the next time you're longing for a cosmic time out, sit with it. Own it. And then dare to stare through those thoughts and feel the truth. There is no escaping infinity. And you CAN handle it all. Self care is the cure all for that space - spoil yourself with healthy food, relaxation, and whatever relief you can muster. This too shall pass. And death will find us soon enough.

 

You Take You With You When You're Gone

In nearly every ancient and esoteric religion, death is seen as a rite of passage. It's a pivotal ending that most importantly commences a new beginning as well. As such, the state of consciousness of the departing soul has always been deemed as hyper-critical.

Think about it this way - when you exit a relationship gracefully, with a positive mindset and gratitude for the lessons it gave you, you're far more likely to enter into the next union with joy and acceptance. If you end a bond in a dramatic huff, writing stories that all men/women act as your now estranged ex did, you have rooted yourself in conflict that you are likely to repeat.

Death is no different. If you hold that it is not a finality, and believe that something, ANYthing awaits, your state of consciousness as you enter that space is obviously crucial. Leave your body with fear, resistance, anger, or remorse, and you will take it with you. Of course, the reverse it true too.

We say "You can't take it with you when you're gone." What we should say is "You take you with you when you're gone."

Your soul is the unique energetic thumbprint that makes up all that you are. It has chosen your body as an appropriate home for the duration of your life. When your soul knows it's time to leave, you still have the freewill to choose how you will receive this transition. 

That's why I am spending my life making friends with death. Because she really is our very, very best friend. Most of us avoid delving deep into our mortality out of fear and denial. Of course, that doesn't stop death from knocking. Instead, this refusal to stare into the shadows nearly guarantees we will leave unconsciously, or worse still, surrounded in fear.  And that energy has no choice but to follow us to the other side. Wherever you go, there you are.

But it is never, ever too late to prepare yourself to surrender with a smile. There are countless reports of people who died willingly, joyfully, with a gigantic and welcoming grin. This is just as possible for you as it was for them.

How do you get there? 

It starts with asking death to show herself to you. It involves feeling rather than thinking. Trusting the thousands and thousands of accounts of the afterlife. And most importantly, trusting that deep down gut feeling you have that there IS more than just this tangible space. That YOU are more than just skin and bones. 

The divine will unravel the mysteries to you in a way only you can hear, so I can't tell you what the actual signs are. I can help you know where, and how, to look for them. To learn to trust your intuition, and not the critic in your head. The reality is, you already know the truth. We all do. It's our birthright, engrained in our DNA. But cleverly hidden beneath the layers of what if, I'm scared, that can't be - and all the various attachments we have to this materialistic world. 

Our culture doesn't teach us to trust the intangible. To know ourselves as immortal. So we have to seek it. Death is the Chairman of the biggest mystery school there is. But seek and ye shall find. The knowledge of what this process is, and isn't, is the greatest education you will ever, ever receive. And as a soul, you get to learn it countless times. How masterful and amazing is consciousness?

That moment we all get to experience is on your horizon, however distant. My advice - prepare for it now with excitement and wonder. Look closely at the shadows ahead and have the courage to ask what lies there. Because if you leave with a smile, your next phase starts in that same surrendered bliss. The way the story ends is the way the story begins. Give it a happy ending. You deserve to know more joy.

This is How I Know I Did Awful Things in Past Lives

I have lived long enough to know I'm absolutely burning through some intense karma in this lifetime. Part of my journey here has been insanely blessed, but the internal process is sheer terror at times. I have been at the edge of suicide more times than Madonna's had a hit single. I've been bulimic, depressed, a functioning but committed alcoholic, a drug abuser, an abused mate, and all manner of dysfunctional attributes. I know the darkside. I used to fear I was addicted to her. 

Now I know I just needed to make friends. To re-remember what the darkness really means.

Yet all this intensity also tells me I was fated to feel it. To experience horrendously dark emotions. Yes, part of that is because we all must face this side of consciousness. At some point, we all have to know that which we spend lifetimes avoiding. If we want to know All, that's obviously included. 

The other side of this is my deep awareness that I am paying for past decisions and actions. Karma isn't good or bad; it's actually just like physics. For every action there is an equal reaction. Make a choice to harm another human being, and that emotion and retribution will come due. The mystery is how or when, not if.

There's no shame in burning through your karma. In fact, it's a ridiculous honor, because once you do, you're free. I've had to tell myself that a million times these last 10 very conscious years, but that's OK - this is the hardest thing we ever take on. Even Mother Theresa had past lives where she abused the shit out of people. None of us get away without playing all roles. Victim, perpetrator, and everything in between. Consciousness doesn't discern - it just wants us to all evolve. And we plow through darkness to get through the light. That's the hero's journey - that begins, and returns to, the villain, again and again. They are one in the same.

So if this is a hard stretch for you, trust with all that you have that it's a gift. It will not last forever - nothing does. Ever. We really do trek from darkness to light - so you know how the story ends. You will be liberated. You will be free of suffering and pain. And you are hardly alone -- every last tribe member is making the same journey. 

Join me in choosing wisely as we formulate our next steps in this world. Resist that urge to join mass consciousness in hatred and fear. That will only perpetuate more of the same. The hardest choice is to choose love, but even if you're the only one choosing it, you will be rewarded. You will burn through the choices of your past. And no matter what happens externally, you will be a giggling fool as all this comes to light. 

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” 
― Eckhart Tolle