In spirituality, healing has so far focused on the individual. It is almost always written from the perspective of healing our own traumas, fears, and blocks to our greater self.
Rarely is spirituality seen as something that should be used to bring us together. Although we know there are wounds and divides happening all around us, we have yet to turn our attention to healing as a group concept.
At the same time, we know that an essential part of healing is overcoming a concept of separation. In healing, we return to wholeness with our Higher Self, the Universe, our Higher Power, and with the parts of our selves that we shut out and blocked. Despite this awareness that separation is a source of pain, we never ask ourselves how we can heal separation on a larger scale.
We have yet to ask how separation in our communities can be healed. We have yet to ask why overcoming the divisions that cause us to fear and judge each other is so important. And we have yet to ask how, by healing our social and communal wounds, we will find the true meaning of healing.
Until we see healing as a thing for the collective, rather than a thing for the individual, we will never truly heal.
This concept of coming together and connecting is something I have only recently begun to explore myself. As I open myself up to it, I find my consciousness taking on a new form. I must unlearn the singular perspective I was raised with and begin to learn a new, more comprehensive way of being.
One thing that has profoundly helped me with this is the documentary The Color of Fear. It was recommended to me by a friend, and I now know why she felt it was important I see it. Although done in 1994, it's as relevant today as ever. What this documentary does, is it shows the power of healing when we bring different types of people together and get them talking.
So often, we discredit listening to another person as an essential human experience. We think that people who are experiencing social injustices need so much more. And because we know there is social injustice happening all around us, we feel daunted, overwhelmed, depressed and eventually powerless. We do nothing, because we feel nothing can be done.
However, no one person is being asked to heal all that's happening right now. In fact, believing we can or should is often an action of the ego. We may even discredit listening because it requires us to step back, to release the need to make ourselves the hero of someone else's story.
Instead, listening asks us to empower the other person so they can heal themselves.
Listening asks us to hear and understand that the experiences we have are not the experiences other people are having. And for white people, like myself, listening asks us to stop making oppression a problem for everyone else. We, who stand in a position of privilege, must become active participants in change. And the first action step we can take is listening.
By listening, we shine a light on all the corners where racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and all other forms of prejudice hide. We learn, through people's own words, what they need. We stop projecting onto them what we think they need or what we think we would need if we were them.
For more on this, I cannot recommend The Color of Fear enough. To try and express what happens in this documentary in a blog post would do a disservice to it. Go check it out, and afterwards, come back and share your thoughts with me.
Exploring division, social injustice and oppression is an ongoing thing for me. If you would like to recommend a book, podcast, or movie, leave it in the comments. I promise I will check it out!
I recently led a discussion over the book Siddhartha with a small group of people. I was nervous about doing this, as I've always been a participant in events and never a leader. A few days before the event, I woke up feeling the first pangs of nervous energy creeping into my body. I could feel them pulsing through me, ready to build bigger, to turn into anxiety, and then full blown panic.
As I sat with this feeling, I first felt its familiarity. Any sort of public speaking, of any size, has always caused me great amounts of anguish. I have become so accustomed to associating this kind of experience with anxiety that I have never even questioned if I could change it. I just see it as a part of my identity. A core building block in the essence of who I am.
But the longer I sat with it, the more I realized it's not a fixed part of who I am. It's just a familiar part. There's a common thing with us humans where we like to hold onto the familiar, even when we know it's not in our best interest.
It can be even harder to challenge these things when they feel like they're a part of our identity. When we isolate a part of ourselves as unhealthy or in need of change, our gut reaction might be to feel as if we're rejecting a part of ourselves. Rejection always feels painful, and so rather than look at this part and say, "I think you have to go," we hold onto it tighter. This comes from a misguided sense of self-love, from the part of our self that wants to protect us from pain.
It's as if letting this one part go will pull a thread that will unravel our entire sense of self.
And maybe it will. Maybe that's what all the fear is about. It's the fear that if we let these things go that define us that we'll somehow cease to exist.
In a way, this fear is not completely irrational. If we let go of our core, defining attributes then in a way we will cease to exist. We will no longer exist as the person we were. The old self will die and a new self will be reborn in its place.
As the book group gathering grew closer, I felt myself pressed up against this dilemma. If I didn't let go of Nervous Melissa she was going to lead the meeting, and I would experience all the things that make public speaking feel dreadful. If I did let go, I would create a new reality for myself. One that was foreign and unfamiliar, but full of potential and new possibility.
On the morning I woke up full of nerves, I began to feel into my thoughts. I remembered that my thoughts create my reality, and I was thinking thoughts that created these nervous feelings. It surprised me how unconscious I was of my own nervous thinking.
I then reminded myself of what I know of anxiety - it doesn't begin in the body, it begins in the brain. Unless I am thinking things that make me anxious, I will not be anxious.
I have tried changing these nervous thoughts before. I approached them in every way, from gentle and loving to aggressive and hostile. I've told them I love them. I've told them I hate them. I've reassured them. I've breathed into them and visualized white light in them. I did everything I could to get them to stop wreaking havoc on my nervous system.
The only thing I hadn't tried was refusing to acknowledge them. Knowing I could never change them, I went with the only other option: create new thoughts. I had to think new things and let those take over until the old thoughts died off on their own.
I began focusing in on this, breathing into my desire to create a new reality. I began asking myself what it was I wanted to create, and then repeated that over and over. I repeated it until my conviction grew and the thoughts began to flow on their own.
I choose to create feelings of confidence. I choose to see myself as capable and worth listening to. I choose to believe in myself. I choose to see I have good ideas. I choose to see myself as a leader. I choose to be self-assured. I choose to be relaxed and in the flow.
I choose to create a new reality for myself.
Throughout the day, I kept shifting my focus to this new reality. I reminded myself that as I focused on these thoughts, new pathways of neurons were being laid in my brain. I was creating a new automatic flow for my thoughts. I also reminded myself that the less I fed the old thoughts, the sooner the old pathways would dissolve.
By the end of the day, I was feeling like a new person. I felt I'd finally broken myself of the habit of fighting with my own thoughts. I felt the lightness of not spiraling down in old, exhausting patterns.
Over the next few days, I continued to do this. I also used my visualization for empowered speaking, which really helped me to take this in and become one with it. By the time the book meeting arrived, I felt confident and ready. It ended up being a great time, and I'm now looking forward to the next one.
Whatever reality you're living now, you can always create a new one.
Sometimes it's as simple as deciding to do it. I wish you much love as you go forward. And remember, change is hard. Be kind to yourself and give yourself space to change in your own way, and in your own time.
Just for today, I will radiate success with my whole being. Not tomorrow, not next week, and not someday. But today.
What makes me feel successful today will change tomorrow. And each day after that it will change, as I change and evolve my idea of what success even is. I know that today I am further than I was yesterday. I'm a little wiser. A little stronger. A little more centered.
Today is the day that I won't just believe, but I will know, I am successful. It doesn't matter if I haven't achieved the thing I set out to achieve. It doesn't matter if I'm not holding the results of my dreams within my hands.
What matters is that I valued those dreams and gave them space to breathe and grow. What matters is that I dared to believe in the value of my own ideas. I am successful because I took the first shaky steps in realizing my full potential. I am successful because I am here, learning, growing, facing my fears, embracing my fears, embracing me, and becoming one with all that I am, in all ways.
What makes me successful is personal to me.
No one knows where I started. No one knows what I went through just to get to this moment. No one knows the mountains I climbed and the valleys I traversed just to show up today and say, "Here I am day. Bring it on."
Today I will celebrate my own personal idea of success. I will look back and realize that I have overcome a lot. I have achieved a lot. I have done things that shook me to my core. I have changed in ways no one will understand the impact of but me. I have even torn down my idea of self, questioning the very nature of who I am and what's possible for me, without any idea of how I would land safely on my feet.
What makes me successful is not always even success.
Sometimes I fail, and in that failure, I know I succeeded because I tried something. I dared to step outside what was familiar and known and tested the boundaries of my world. My failure is the seed from which my dreams will take root and grow.
And when I fail, I allow myself to be one with my disappointment and insecurity. I remember that success is not always about winning and being the best. Sometimes, success is about honoring where I am, nurturing my wounds, and taking time to rest before picking myself up and trying again.
No matter where I am at, or where I'm trying to go, today is the day I believe in my success.
Today, I am successful because I refuse to let other people project their fears and limiting ideas onto me. Today, I believe in my own idea of success, and I don't need anyone's approval in order to declare, "I am successful!"
Even if no one sees it but me, I will value and cherish my success. I will nourish it with my love, and I will guard it from the judgement of others.
And by the end of the day, if I no longer feel successful, if I feel down and defeated, that's okay. This is only for today, and tomorrow will be a new day, full of new opportunities, new people, new ideas, and new energy. I will wake up tomorrow and tell myself, "Yesterday I tried my best. And for that reason, I am successful."
But tomorrow isn't here. There is only now, and so for today, and only for today, I will believe fully in my success.
Below are my all time favorite books for adventurous spiritual seekers. These are the ones that truly changed my life and stayed with me long after I'd finished them. Many I've read more than once. I tried to cover the main areas of spiritual interest and divided the books into four categories. If you've read one of these books or you have a book you think I should read, drop a line in the comments!
The Nature of Personal Reality
by Jane Roberts
If you only read one book on this list, let it be this one. This is the book that cracked open my mind and turned me into a sponge for spiritual knowledge. It's mystical, beautifully written, and will leave you feeling like you are a vital part of the masterpiece that is the Universe. I recommend this book to everyone and have read it multiple times myself.
by Hermen Hesse
As you read this book, you will feel as if you are walking side by side with Siddhartha. You will go on an incredible journey of courage, loneliness, awakening, connection, love, loss, and enlightenment. This book captures the wild roller coaster of emotions and experiences as one awakens spiritually. When you get to the end, you will have a new perspective on your own life and this mysterious journey between birth and death.