Sunday, March 28, 2010

Broke Through the Dome of Fear

After walking the dogs this morning we went to the beach to read

It's funny because it was so awesome, I had a lot more fun than I look like

This book makes me so happy!

As you know from my previous post, I have been kind of freaking out. Don't get me wrong, I am amazed and in awe of the beauty all around me. There have been moments of wonder as I drive by the beautiful beaches or gaze at the magnificent mountains in the distance and I think "I live    here!!! When we first got here I was so happy, happy that we did it, happy that we all made it safely and happy that we were finally here. The business of moving in, repurchasing everything and thinking about an income slowly built up walls of fear. Fear that a shark might eat me, fear that I wouldn't make money, fear that we would get hurt, that we wouldn't make any friends. Isolation and loneliness slowly seeped into my bones until I was manic about getting Kauaian Fresh off the ground and exhausted from lack of sleep. Dan and I flip flopped. He became more at ease while I became more anxious. In his ever present love for me he listened, consoled and loved me through it. Gently pointing out where I was over thinking or teasing me about my high voltage energy levels. I forgot that this is our path, that everything is going to be ok. My meditation class sparked that memory. After a short meditation this morning, we walked the dogs. The meditation calmed me, soothed my soul and made me feel like playing. The words soul play came into my mind and I set the intention to let my soul play today. While we were walking the dogs, I felt free and happy. Watching Baxter and Lucy joyfully and passionately explore familiar terrain,  I literally felt like I was breaking out of the dome of fear that was slowly encasing me in misery. 

I promised myself and Dan that I would slow down, digest. I craved reading one of my yoga books yearning for the 5000 year old philosophy of self discovery. Sitting on the couch, birdsong drifting in through the open windows and the cool breeze refreshing my warm skin, I read. I suddenly got the urgent impulse to read at the beach. I got up and got dressed telling Dan I was going to the beach to read and he decided to join me. 

The constant gale of the trade winds was almost cold on my skin, just shy of giving me goose bumps. But I didn't care. The pounding surf and salty mist captivated me and I stayed put, riveted to my chair. The book was speaking to me, it was my life before coming here right there on the page. Affirming that we are indeed on the right course and that I need to take time and let life unfold as it should. Surrender.

An excerpt from Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope

...Slowly, Paula began to reveal another side of herself. Under the surface of her successful corporate career, she felt a sense of desperation. Her job had always been a pressure cooker, she said, but now she seemed less able to tolerate it. For the past year, she'd regularly had panic attacks on Sunday nights as she contemplated going back to work after the weekend. Work nights, she would often go to bed early, hoping for a refreshing nights sleep, only to sit bolt upright at 2AM with her mind racing: deadlines, pressure to perform, competition with a rising star who was, as Paula put it, "younger and hungrier than I am." "You know, I truly don't remember why I am doing this work," she lamented "I don't really care about it anymore. If I am going to pour out my energy the way I do in that job, I want to be doing something that matters." 

My head was spinning and my heart was throbbing. The words echoing round and round in  my head. I don't even know how many times I thought that let alone said it! I eagerly read on.

...Midway through life, Paula and I were facing a serious crisis of meaning---mine triggered by a devastating disappointment in love, hers by a bewildering disappointment in a career in which she was outwardly quite successful. Our crises were, of course, not at all unusual. But they were serious. We were both suffering painful symptoms---anxiety, depression and a difficult sense of internal disorganization and fragmentation. But as we would come to understand much later, our crisis each contained the seed of a magnificent gift. We were both forced, by pain, to look under the surface of things. To investigate deeper into the nature of our human-beingness---its impermanence, its lack of continuity, its disappointment, its suffering...

...As I looked more carefully at the dilemmas of my friends like Paula...and at my own dilemmas of my own midlife, I discovered that for many of us, the developmental tasks of the second half of life are primarily spiritual. Carl Jung had come to the same conclusion 50 years before:

Among my patients in the second half of life---that is to say, over 35---there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a spiritual outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost what the living religions of every age have given to their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his spiritual outlook. 

Jung believed that at midlife, most of us have refined out external selves, what he called the persona, the mask we wear to assure some stable, ongoing sense of identity. In his view, the persona represents only one limited aspect of the personality, and by mid life most of us are outgrowing it. At some point during the middle years, Jung said, "the glowing coals of consciousness buried deep within the personality begin to break into flames." When this occurs, the hitherto repressed and hidden aspects of the self may seem to overwhelm the conscious self, initiating a difficult period of disorganization of the personality.

The developmental demands of this newly awakening self are enormous, but they are mostly overlooked in our culture. While the awakenings of early adulthood, which are mostly about identity, are culturally supported with rituals and celebrations---weddings, graduations, ordinations, baptisms---the more subtle spiritual awakenings of the middle years are culturally invisible. Jung was outraged by this.

Are there not colleges for forty-year-olds which prepare them for their coming life and its demands as the ordinary colleges introduce our young people to a knowledge of the world? No, thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the afternoon of life; worse still, we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life's morning; for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening become a lie. 

Somewhere in the middle years of life, ...Paula and I were ready for a deep new pilgrimage to the center to find what Jung called "the whole self". And for each of us in our own way, the return to the center of the self was inextricably linked with the return to God. Jung believed that the symbols for the self are indistinguishable from the symbols for God, and that the journey to the center of the self and the journey to God are one and the same. But in order to find this center it was necessary for each of us, in our own way, to deliberately enter the darkness of the unconscious, to begin what Jung called the "night sea journey." This entry into the unknown began, for each of us, a period of disorganization and metamorphosis that would eventually allow us to accomplish the goals of the second half of life---the integration of opposites, bringing into awareness all the banished aspects of the self. 

This comforts me in a strange ways. One, I am not alone in this quest. Two, I am on the right path.