Feel the connect
It tells you who you are
Your Soul is a time traveller who chose this moment, this place
for you to know

I’ve been reflecting on the Soul’s journey through any given lifetime (yes, I believe in one Soul, many lives). We humans are accustomed to live in our minds. If, for whatever reason, we’ve begun to wake from the slumber of consuming our limited days in  activities we don’t love, stuff we think we’ve got to do, indulging in the mild anesthetic of TV watching and endless Facebook browsing, shopping, cleaning our homes obsessively (as I used to do, no crumb on floor nor kitchen worktop was safe from my OCD tendencies in the 1990s), then perhaps we start to think more about the path of our life. We might one day find ourselves asking, more often than feels comfortable, ‘What am I doing with this time on Earth I’ve got? Whatever I’m doing, is it enough? Am I doing what I came here to do?’

And, it seems to me, that however it was prompted, once the first such thought has surfaced to persist in our consciousness, it cannot be ignored or removed. Our Soul has led us into ‘the next room’ of awareness. The door to what we once thought of as a ‘normal’ life has vanished and we are stuck in an unfamiliar and quite scary place. We become a kind of prisoner, until we solve the puzzle of how to make the doorway into the next room of meaning appear. I remember playing one of the first ever computer games on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1982, The Hobbit. You were on a quest to find ‘the ring’ and each time you solved the riddle, you’d be into the next ‘level’, or at least that is how I remember it. I think I got to the same moderate place of power over and over and over again, every time perishing at the hands of vicious goblins or trolls. Before I could ever crack the higher-level challenges and win the game, the ZX Spectrum kind of died, made way for the XBox and the next generation of gaming hardware.

And now, in my life, I feel in some middle-earth place of awareness with some big puzzles to solve, but this time the stakes are greater. How far will I get on the Quest for meaning and purpose, before the ‘hardware’ my Soul currently inhabits expires, and no life choices are left? And I see that my OCD tendencies are still there. Now though, they are focused on the discovery of crumbs of Truth, glimpses of what my Soul wants me to do next.

I first ‘woke up’ in 2006, because of an unexpected life event that led to a complete crumbling of all the ‘safe’ familiar structures in my world. I had to rebuild, and for the first time I got ‘the call’ to follow my heart not my habits. At first I wasn’t thinking about the meaning of life, just that there might be more to living than I’d previously thought… adventure, travel, other parts of the world. And even though I was terrified of all of it, I acted anyway, pushed my boundaries, bought plane tickets, learned new languages, embraced new cultures. I felt happier, freer, more authentic, and I thought, ‘This is it. Listen to your heart, do what you love, seek joy. The meaning of life is joy.’ That is what I believed, and I thought that all I had to do was follow my passions (dance and write and have adventures) and I would maintain the balance of joy over less pleasant states. It kind of worked for a while. ‘Seek the joy in everything’ was a motto of mine. I almost wrote a book about it, ‘The Happy Hearts Quest: 26 Tasks to put more joy in your life’. The reason I never finished it? My mum died ‘too soon’ and in the shock of it all, I woke up a little bit more. Maybe I was pushed through to the next ‘room’ or the next level of the game, and I discovered that it was a far less joyful place to be, even armed with the beginnings of awareness and a kit bag of ‘how to be happier’ strategies.

I observed two new things.

One, that when faced with grim circumstances that were completely out of my control over a period of years, I lost my desire to use the new strategies for joy seeking I had once so prized; they seemed like something of a sticking plaster that could not heal my deepest wounds.

And, two, that sadness and darkness and pain and suffering are inevitable parts of being human that cannot be avoided… watching my mum die of horrible oral cancer taught me that. The shitty ugly stuff can’t be ignored or pushed away or buried; in the end it always emerges somehow. Her death, including the fact that she lost her voice for a while during her illness, was part of her Soul journey and I believe it was also part of mine. In the struggle for her life and the dying and in the years afterwards I saw things I never thought I’d see. Learned things about myself I never imagined I’d know. At first I felt quite bright and optimistic about it all, but later as my adrenalin for the fight for joy-seeing fell away, I became terrified of any uncertainty, insecurity or potential loss, I leaned back towards old familiar structures and thought patterns, and fear set in. I lost my motivation for life (in spite of the occasional smiley Facebook pic suggesting that all was well). But, and it was a huge but for me, instead of heading for the Citalopram prescription* as I had done in other similar times,  I opted to sit with the anxiety as long as I possibly could, to find out more about who I really was. That was about eighteen months ago, and I’m still here, medication-free and a little less anxious, transforming shadows to chinks of light, sometimes.

No mud, no lotus’ says Thich Nhat Hanh, I heard the words in a Roshi Joan Halifax (Ram Dass conference) talk yesterday and they helped me. I feel a lot of the time lately as if in the mud. I know the lotus is there too, always within reach (and maybe the lotus is joy or peace or freedom or love or whatever prize you desire), but when you’re in the brown icky stuff it’s hard to see through the meniscus to the white beauty of the petals beyond. You can plot and plan and try to swim with familiar limbs, towards the light you hope is there, but the mud can be very thick and the effort may weaken you, so that you begin to believe you will never arrive and consider giving up. You can lay completely still and hope to eventually float to the surface, though you may grow impatient and frustrated while you wait, and you might drown. Or perhaps you can just see and accept the ‘ickiness’ outside and in, realise your whole being is more juicy and rich than you ever imagined, merge with the silt itself, and so simply, without even trying, become part of the lotus too… aha, yes, what a relief… the mud and the lotus, they are all part of the whole. Me, you, ‘we’, humanity.

Uncertainty. Insecurity. Fear. Doubt. Guilt. Anger. Impatience. Sadness. Death. Loss. Weakness. Error. Failure. Pain. Grief. Embarrassment. Shame. Desperation… insert yours here… Maybe they are the dark veins in pale petals, the shadows beneath swollen blooms, the contrast that gives shape to the things we describe as joyful or wonderful, the experiences we humans find more palatable. Or maybe they are actually the molecules of beauty, or the seeds of creation, or the stuff that propels us into doing or being what we were born for. I don’t know yet. But, I’m seeing what happens to them if I start to love them as much as I do my ‘nicer’ aspects, because they are all an inevitable part of being human too. That’s why I bring them into the light here. I think inspiration is not just about offering answers. It’s about acknowledging our experience of the most difficult ‘unanswerable’ questions too.

Lately, I’ve known I need to make a fresh effort to stop wasting hours living on autopilot, to make space for new awareness and knowing. To be honest, my search for meaning can sometimes feel like an inescapable sickness, but I’d rather die of that than apathy. My Soul drove me to try to communicate here, I am certain. My mind probably envisaged weekly, upbeat, instructional posts about how to live authentically accompanied by bright colourful ‘Soul paintings’ full of clarity and hope. Well, so far the paintings are quite colourful… but, other than that, what I seem to have uncovered is a lot of ‘mud’, struggles to speak my truth, fear of being judged because I’m writing about ‘Souls’, a need (behind the scenes of the blog and these writings) to face up to the reality of slippery, slithery, muddy me. How it will all turn out I’ve no idea. But for some reason I am compelled to keep going. It’s a Soul journey I’m on. There is no going back into the previous room. Know what I mean?

I don’t know if this piece goes with the painting you see here or not. You’ll have to decide. I’m not going to say much else about the painting, except that it came from a different starting point and there is Soul music in it. Take my image or take my words or take everything together. Make mud or lotus or both. What you read here or what you see here will be little to do with me anyway, it will really only be a reflection of who you are and where you are at right now.

Whoever you are, whatever you connect with,
wherever you are in time, space and reality,
I’m certain your Soul has led you here to this moment,
for you to know.

Connect with your Soul
An original SALchemy painting, born 2015.
Acrylic and graphite pencil on oil paper 41x51cm.

I’ll be super-happy if you share my work. Please use short quotes from the piece if you like and do share the images, but always always link back here
http://www.sallytownsendblake.com/2015/05/04/connect-with-your-soul/

For any other use, please ask me first.
Share the love <3.
© Sally Townsend Blake 2015

*I’m not saying that prescription meds for depression are right or wrong for any individual in any given moment, we each have to follow our own path to survival with whatever help we need.