E M P O W E R E D C H A N G E
Uncovering The Light Within
There are threshold times in ones life that herald change. Following a week long seminar last spring, not far from the Golden Gate Bridge, I returned to Florida with a deep inner calling that was a catalyst for change in my life . . . returning to live on the West Coast. This was not a frivolous decision as I loved living in Florida and had no real reason to leave my adopted home state. However I was also looking deeply, at this time, at my soul's journey on this planet and was feeling the urge to take the next step. I share my story with you now only as a means of illustration as your own life story will most certainly be different in many ways. Even though our individual stories differ greatly in their outward manifestations, our inner experiences are often very similar. This is the reason myth and legends are created - to share the inner journey. Etain, the goddess for whom this segment and my workshops are named, not only symbolizes the strength of the human spirit in the face of radical change, but she is also an archetypal aspect of our inner being and we can call on her, metaphorically, to share this journey with us, helping to illuminate the darkness and reminding us that the light is always within.
Change can be wonderful and exciting, but all change, even when anticipated and expected, can evoke a sense of loss or a wish for a return to familiarity. We expect to feel a certain dissonance when we experience unexpected, painful changes in our lives, but we are often surprised at the depth of despair that can be felt during a period of what is supposed to be a joyful time of celebration such as a wedding or the birth of a child. Even change that is recognized as "Spirit led" can cause feelings of disharmony seemingly incompatible with the apparent guidance received. That's what happened to me after my move to San Francisco.
This cross-country migration was much anticipated as the next step in my soul-journey and because I was following my inner guidance with a real sense of trust experienced little anxiety about a choice that others saw as frightening and, perhaps, a bit fool-hardy. Within a week of moving to San Francisco I found a job that was, though temporary, fulfilling and consistent with my desire to learn and write about about environmental issues. Even more amazing, within two weeks I had found a lovely, wonderful room to rent, a feat nearly unheard of here in San Francisco where finding a home is often equated with rites of passage. Everything seemed to be falling into place quickly and effortlessly just as I had expected yet, I was not happy.
At the most unexpected moments, feelings of homesickness, deep sadness, and isolation would overcome me. I felt as if I were plunging headlong in a freefall of loss and dark despair. Adjusting to life in a big city was much tougher than I had thought it would be, and even the weather proved a huge challenge - I was cold and damp to the very core of my being. I found myself questioning the decision to move here and, even worse, began making judgments - about myself and about my ability to handle change. I didn't realize that what I was experiencing was a normal and even healthy response to the losses that had been incurred in moving thousands of miles from everyone and everything dear to me.
My shift in consciousness began when I finally recognized the symptoms of grief and allowed myself to feel the hidden anger that was associated with that grief. Even though "unwarranted" I had to see the anger that I felt toward my friends and family for "letting" me move away, at Spirit for "tricking" me into coming here, and at myself for being so gullible. Once the anger was acknowledged, it began to dissipate and compassion began to fill its void. It became easier to be kinder and gentler with myself, looking for ways to show self-love, and to be as supportive and nurturing of me as I might be of a grieving friend.
As my anger diminished, I began to find ways to enjoy my new foggy, chilly West Coast home. I began to see the beauty in my life and once again experienced joy and wonder in new discoveries - in the world and within myself. Love of self requires an unconditional acceptance of self, including our emotions. Even so-called negative emotions such as anger can serve as agents of healing when used intentionally for that purpose. Without the recognition and acceptance of my anger I would not have been capable of the level of compassion that was necessary to comfort the me who was grieving so deeply and to keep me from getting lost in that suffering.
Whatever the changes we are experiencing and the sense of loss that change elicits, a period of grief is not only common, but may be essential for moving into the next phase of our lives. It is important to grieve, but as a structure for letting go, not as a means of holding on to the past. When we can allow our grief, but not become entangled in it, we can move through the process more quickly and come out on the other side whole and healthy.
ACTION: Ritual, like myth, can bring us to a closer connection with those archetypal aspects of self that provide support and healing. As you move through change, it may be helpful to create a personal ritual or ceremony expressing and acknowledging your intention. It is important that the ritual you create for yourself be personally meaningful for you. My own re-emergence into abundant life occurred in conjunction with the Autumnal Equinox. I celebrated with a ceremony of gratitude and affirmation. The ritual that evolved was simple and yet profound, creating a tangible and deeply meaningful catalyst for positive change.
On the evening of the Equinox, I set up a small circular altar on the floor in front of a large full-length mirror. Borrowing from the traditions of Native American teachings, each point of the circle represented one of the four directions as well as one of the corresponding seasons of the year, and thus, the natural flow of life. At each point I placed an object representing the essential element (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) symbolizing that direction and season. Thus, in the East (Spring, Air) I placed a feather, which had been given to me by a very dear friend; in the South (Summer, Fire), a box of matches (which I used to light the center candle); in the West (Autumn, Water), a small bowl of water (which I would later drink); and in the North (Winter, Earth), I placed a beautiful crystal, also a gift from very loving friends. In the center of the circle was a tall, white candle symbolizing the essence of love, our life-force energy.
The altar was set up in front of the full-length mirror so I could participate as both the giver and the gift, the two sides of true abundance. One cannot fully give until one has also learned to receive. I began the ceremony very simply, lighting the center candle as a symbol of the life-giving light within. Sitting cross-legged on the floor and looking deeply, meditatively into my own eyes, I made a promise to cultivate a deep, abiding love of self - not the ego self, but the true self, the light within. Consummating this promise, I drank the water, reminding myself that even in the darkest moments when I forget who I am, the light, the Etain aspect of self, is still there. It is my - our - true essence.
I sat for some time in quiet meditation and then jotted down my thoughts and feelings of the moment in a journal, which was at my side. Although the ritual lasted no longer than 15 minutes, its effect on my life, in my ability to handle unexpected challenges and to face my deepest fears, has been immeasurable.
Writer and Editor
© Linda Maree 2000