I’ve been wanting to write more posts and getting stuck because I’ve been in such transition I wasn’t sure what I was trying to do anymore. The time since the beginning of February 2018 has been a roller coaster, a clearing out. An old part of me still cringes at the indisputably profound progress in healing that was opened to me in this last year by the accident that fractured my right tibia.
Even though I know by now that there’s always the next thing that will come along and knock me off balance, I am also getting more and more familiar and comfortable with the new expansion that reliably follows. I think the destabilization of the contraction periods is also getting smaller and shorter (1 day derailed, vs days or weeks).
These most recent times, though, after nearly 6 years of my own intensely focused (somatic) trauma work, it seems abundantly clear that I am closer than ever before to what I or others might call “normal”. It has NOT been a straight line. It’s been fits and starts, tears and anger and fear and frustration, and discoveries galore, mixed with joy, love and deep gratitude for my being and the being of others.
I more recently have a sense of my body as a squishy living thing full of organs and other parts that speak to me when they are unhappy. I discovered how deep is my conditioned belief of not having inherent worth, and had brief glimpses of the experience of relationship without that baggage. My digestion is working better than it ever has in my whole life. I am starting to have a bit of a daily routine for myself – something I’ve tried to execute for over 40 years without a bit of success – based on my own natural timing, that includes significant space to create. I am working on the fears and blocks around creating or even considering myself artistic. I am getting closer to knowing what turns me on, makes me go, makes my heart sing, and working on the shame and fear that blocks moving toward that. I feel so much more ability to sort through the advice of well meaning authority figures for what I need, and just let the rest of it go. I’m shedding old labels, and simultaneously not needing to rigidly obliterate them all.
In addition, I’m feeling less freaked out by the state of the world, more ready to take action on things I care about, and clearer than ever about what matters. I have new courage to be with others in whatever comes up. In short, ready to be an advocate for truth, with greater capacity to examine myself and pass through wild territory in myself and with others. I do not know yet where this will take me, and that fact no longer terrifies me.
I cannot tell you what a relief it is to start to feel like a real live person. It’s like the difference between Flat Stanley and 3D.
Part of my “reconstruction” has included thinking about what I am doing as a healer, helper, and professional. I hope to start soon sharing the reconstruction under my own name at cynthiaclingan.com, which I’ve had for 3 years but hadn’t been able to begin yet.
I find that the basic foundation of my goals has remained the same: to be a support for those working through trauma and/or awakening processes, and especially for those needing support for integration of the new awareness and all that it brings forward. I had to discover this myself, and managed to find a (very) few others noticing the same thing and working to follow truth in the face of many loud opposing voices. Many nondual and well meaning spiritual teachings point to elevated states, freedom, and bliss as the expected outcome of spiritual seeking and other practices, such as meditation. Very few however, point to the inevitable crash landing back to earth that can leave one wondering why they lost the bliss, and how to get it back as quickly as possible.
While waking up at all levels is pretty life changing, there is a certain Shakabuku in the visceral (not just intellectual) discovery of your true identity as awareness that alters your view of everything after that point. That’s been my experience, anyway. Nothing that I experienced after that discovery, which I jokingly refer to as my real birthday, could be taken as seriously – not depression, not pain, none of my stories or anyone else’s – was ever the same again. It has enabled me to be connected to something real as I walked through what came next.
Spoiler alert: profound awakening did not obliterate all of my trauma (aka: conditioning, karma, baggage, beliefs, bad shit that happened to me).
All in all, my own crash landing was more of a thud. What I’ve experienced since the “birthday” July 14 2011, started as a growing connection to life, with moments of bliss, some forced and others spontaneous, peppered with great gobs of misery and despair. No big travel plans or “walking away from it all” to start over as an enlightened version of myself. Constantly on the verge of resignation that perhaps what I’d been expecting all this time was just BS and I should get over it and figure out what to make out of my life. I still could no longer experience depression as I formerly knew it. Though my profound shift didn’t immediately change my life circumstances, it made everything that came after it more possible. Still no guarantees coming from anywhere, all I could do was keep going.
That birthday shift DID enable me to discover, and by degrees, connect with the reality of my trauma, and gave me a new ability to come gradually into contact with the experience of myself and reestablish the broken connections. I suppose this is what I really want others to know – so-called enlightenment is only the first hurdle. I now think it was actually the easier one. Addressing my trauma was crucial for sustainable happiness and ease as a fully embodied human.
My spiritual awakening was a disappointment for a while, because I just didn’t understand that the lack of color, vitality, joy, spontaneity, deep connection was due to the layers of adaptation my body had made for me to cope with unbearable circumstances. The repeated bracing and constriction in my diaphragm, shoulders and jaw, creating patterns of energy, tension, and expression that helped me contain my experiences, also prevented me from fully living and experiencing life with the only vehicle available to do so – my bodynind. It took 2 years after waking up to realize the connection between my self-protection mechanisms (unconscious, for the most part!) and the lack of vitality, safety and connection I experienced in my life even after so-called enlightenment.
I saw the last half of a Mister Rogers documentary the other night, in which one of the things he said when interviewed was, (and I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find a reference) “the most important thing we should be teaching children today, is to value to the unseen”. It struck me right to my core as truth.
I believe he is right. Nothing really compares to the real. Rogers has been lambasted for suggesting that every child, woman and man has inherent value. It’s at odds with a culture built upon the idea that you have to prove yourself, make something of yourself, never rest, in order to have value. The false belief that we lack value come from cultural underpinnings rooted in fear and trauma. The fear says, if we don’t keep a tight reign on ourselves, it will be bad news. However, every single time I ask someone what it might be like for them if they could feel they were ok no matter what, they report they would have so much more energy for life. When I then ask what they might do with all that extra energy, they all inevitably cite work productivity, social connection, service, and creative endeavors. This has been my own experience as well. My increased energy from trauma resolution has not led to greater personal material enrichment plans, but to a focus on service, creativity, self care, and stewardship. I used to dream late at night about what I might do in the world, and wake up to a pipe dream feeling in the morning. It finally seems real and possible in the light of day, but it has taken on a different flavor now – it feels now more like the dreams are of what I might do FOR the world. It’s so exciting to watch this organic shifting away from safety as my primary concern and energy expenditure!
Being yourself, following truth, valuing the unseen over tangible “stuff”, truly is a revolutionary path.
Doing the work of shedding layers of trauma and untruths after awakening is the real nitty gritty of the work. It’s messy and not always fun, but so worth every bit of the discomfort. Wishing you comfort and courage to stay the course, dear Bodhisattvas, embracing the mess until you reach your truly alive selves. Endeavoring from my end, to support that process for anyone, anywhere I can, with my story or the skills I’ve acquired along the way, or who knows maybe even resources someday. Just wanting you to know that it really is possible, and I’m here rooting for you. Don’t stop now!