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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. November's Theme: "Escape"
Volume 10 Issue 1 ISSN# 1708-3265

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The Desperate Urge to Flee
by Julie Hoyle

Often, when we start out on our spiritual journey, it can feel like a wild, roller coaster ride. In my case, I barely knew what had hit me. One minute I would find myself in expansive bliss-filled states; the next I was back to the old me feeling limited, contracted and small.

'In bliss' life was wonderful. In addition to feeling ecstatic, I would be anchored in profound peace, with delightful access to a source of energy that had an 'other-worldly' quality and appeared never to diminish.

However, when 'out' of the blissful state; I was miserable. I would skulk about like a bear with a sore head, relentlessly trying to claw my way back in. My desperate attempts to maintain the heady states of bliss I so craved included:

  • Meditating for extended periods
  • Chanting for two hours every morning
  • Maintaining silence-even though it was often impractical
  • Fasting-even though I barely weighed 110 pounds
  • Doing relentless japa — repetition of a mantra — even during meetings at work when I really needed to be paying attention
  • Refusing to read anything other than spiritual autobiographies

When done in moderation these practices are beneficial and can be an important aspect of the inner journey. However, I took them to the extreme. I was obsessive to put it mildly, creating my own spiritual boot camp with no reprieve or days off.

Another thing I was convinced I 'should' do is find work in a field I believed was 'spiritual.' This notion sent me off in a frenzied search for programs and courses that I figured could offer a 'better' alternative to what I was currently doing.

While teaching art to high school students, I would fantasize about having a private healing practice. I was convinced that this scenario would be a wonderful and relaxing antidote to the stress I was currently dealing with.

The point I'm getting to, which took a long time to figure out is this: both the obsessive practices and the manic attempts to find 'spiritual work' were forms of self-denial. I was trying to 'escape', rather than take ownership of what was right in front of me, reflecting the deep-seated fear and discontent that was lurking like a dark, terrifying monster just below the surface.

Taking ownership of all aspects of who we are, in particular our pain, is a necessity. Yet, we can spend years adopting various forms of avoidance. One popular escape route comes in the guise of hope, which we often believe in so strongly, we ferociously cling to.

The problem with hope is that there is a caveat. The shadow side of hope is fear. Hope and fear are two sides of the same coin.

In her book, When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Difficult Times, Buddhist monk Pema Chodron expresses this perfectly when she says,

"Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can't simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what is going on, but that there is something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world."

Looking back, I can see that it was impossible for me to relax. I wouldn't allow myself to. Instead, I kept striving for bliss and the dream of finding new work in the hope of attaining enlightenment. However, the shadow side was the fear that I would never attain anything and would always be stuck with feeling bad.

Thankfully, my wrong understanding began being ironed out soon after I arrived in India in the early months of 2001. In particular, an epiphany shone through one mind-numbingly hot and humid afternoon.

I had arranged to meet with my friend Dr. Hetty Rodenburg who at the time was the ashram physician. Hetty had trained and worked with Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and had her own private practice in New Zealand.

The focus of Hetty's work was grief counseling and in particular, taking care of people diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. This meant that Hetty had developed a strong b.s. detector. She intuitively knew when people were running away from their pain and she had a way of pointing straight to it.

I turned up with several of my paintings. For some reason I had wanted to show Hetty what I had been working on. Hetty was charming, patient and attentive. Then she nonchalantly said, There's so much light in your work!

The way she said, "so much light," hit home. In that moment, I began waking up to the realization that I was always trying to capture the light and never wanted to include the shadows.

There and then I began to see that the shadow aspects of who I was needed to be included, brought to the surface and expressed. It was time to stop running.

As a consequence of committing to the shadow work and in the years since, I have adopted a simple, yet powerful practice. If a 'hope' thought comes creeping in; I take a direct look at the fear hiding behind it.

I immediately ask, "What am I afraid of in this situation?" Usually the answers are eye-opening and deeply insightful.

Seeing both sides of the coin tasks me to be honest with myself. Then through this direct form of self-inquiry, I am able to chip away at the subconscious desire to flee from what might be creating discomfort or discontent.

Try it and you will find that the delicious outcome is the gift of being brought home, back to centre. Here, in this moment we can be authentic. We can also relax and gratefully accept everything the present moment so sweetly and patiently has to offer.

Julie is a natural intuitive, writer, artist and transpersonal hypnotherapist who lives on Grand Bahama Island. Her profound spiritual awakening and the unfolding of unity consciousness is detailed in her book, 'An Awakened Life - A Journey of Transformation'. To claim a free copy and for information about online courses, soul purpose readings and energy retrieval go to: www.truealignment.org

You can also connect with Julie via:

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