Dancing Down the River of Life
by Nan Joy, M.A. Ed.
As human beings, we have a deep need for meaning and connection in our lives, and often we sense that this lies with our relationship to our higher power. Our yearning for a meaningful connection to a higher power brings us to many different practices and approaches. Essentially, the need to be connected reflects our desire to travel in the divine flow, trusting the bumps and rocks and curves in the river of life.
This ultimate letting go and trusting requires a tremendous sense of security; its not easily gained by reading a book or joining a group. It will only be achieved by developing and sustaining a loving and "best friend" relationship with our self. I have discovered three elements to establishing and maintaining a strong relationship to Spirit: establishing a baseline for daily self-care, listening to the wisdom of the body, and treating myself like my own favorite child.
An acquaintance of mine recently mentioned that he decided to find his baseline for self-care. What he meant was that he wondered just how much time he needed to spend each day or week to take care of himself so that he experienced a true present all of the time. What he discovered was that it took a pretty serious chunk of time writing in his journal, talking to friends with whom he could be authentic, attending 12-step meetings, meditating, getting exercise to simply maintain his center.
I decided to try it for myself. I discovered that to establish and maintain an inner sense of calmness and security, I had to write in my journal for about thirty minutes each day, meditate (breathe deeply) for at least ten minutes each day, say prayers and affirmations each morning and evening, and work out for thirty minutes at least three days per week. This recipe is my baseline for minimum self-care. I know that if I go below this line, I wont be as present, in my body, conscious, or centered as I could be.
I must be centered to communicate with my higher power. If I am not, then the clutter in my mind, the worries and obsessions that I experience, and the problems that ensue take up my creative energy and leave no room for a meaningful chat with Spirit. This baseline will look different for different people. Start small and listen to your intuition. I have a friend that puts on music and dances every morning before she starts her day. Another friend lists five things she is grateful for each night, and another friend chants every morning. How does your self-care dance look?
The second element to establishing and maintaining a fluid and dynamic relationship with yourself, thus your higher power, is staying in tune with your body. The body is an amazing instrument of memory and intelligence. Recent studies point to the fact that the brain is not the only organ that holds information and experience. In his landmark 1991 book called The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot asserts that the body is holographic and thus, each part reflects the whole.
The body is always letting us know how we are feeling.
He relays a story of being upset with his spleen. Evidently, after visualizing his distressed spleen as healthy, he became impatient at its slow recovery and yelled at it. A while later he went to a psychic who knew nothing of his condition. She sensed his spleen was upset and asked whether he had been yelling at it.
In my work with clients in trance states, a body part will frequently tense in response to a particular issue. When people are guided to explore what the body is telling them, they will inevitably receive valuable information. In a recent session, a client said her throat had tensed. When she asked it why it had tensed, it told her that she was afraid to tell her partner her true feelings, fearing he would get mad and reject her. It was a major breakthrough in the session, and gave her the information she needed to take care of herself.
The other day, I was driving with a friend who was lecturing me on a political matter. All of a sudden, I got a pain in my stomach. He asked me what was wrong. I told him I had a pain in my stomach and I thought that it meant that I was feeling pressured to agree with him. As soon as I said that, the pain went away. The body is always letting us know how we are feeling. All we need to do is listen and ask. Listening and being guided by our bodys knowledge continues to create a clear vessel for us to receive messages from higher power, thus enabling us to enter the flow and jitterbug in the dance of life.
The final key to a meaningful relationship with Spirit is treating yourself like your favorite child. Angeles Arrien, a cross-cultural anthropologist, asserts that we in the West are stuck in the wounded child paradigm. She suggests that we have to remember that we all have an enchanted child within us, a child that was never wounded by any abuse or dysfunction, a child that yearns to laugh and play and be wildly free and silly.
Have you contacted your enchanted child lately and taken her or him on a date? Better yet, have him or her take you on a date. The bigger point is to begin to develop the ability to be internally referenced. That is, to ask yourself (and only yourself) how you feel and what you want and who you are. It is only through developing a sense of your life as a precious being, silly and smart and fallible and learning and sad and angry and all of who you are, that you will begin to dialogue in a meaningful way with yourself as spirit.
Another key is developing the ability to detach and be the loving parent to your sub-personalities. The other day something triggered a fear I had, and I was in a state of panic for two days. That is a classic example of a sub-personality taking over. Once I finally saw this, I shrunk that part of myself until my "coordinator" self was once again leading the dance.
If you are overwhelmed in any way, or repeating a pattern that seems out of control to you, then you have a sub-personality that is power-tripping your coordinator self. The part of you that is reading this article and could be characterized as the "neutral" part of you is your coordinator. Make sure he or she is in charge, because that voice, vision, and feeling is the channel that God speaks through. Its that part of you who is responsible for loving, nurturing, and caring for yourself (parenting yourself). If this voice is crowded out by wounded sub-personalities, then chances are that no matter how loud higher power is trying to guide your dance steps, youll be stumbling solo.
It is only through having a close and meaningful relationship with yourself that you begin to have an authentic relationship to your higher power. By establishing a baseline for your self-care, listening to and honoring the wisdom of your body, and treating yourself like your favorite child, you will receive Spirits guidance. It is through this co-creative process that we become one with the flow. Once that occurs, hold on for the dance of a lifetime!