There comes a time, in every spiritual practice, when your own gunk (or ‘shit’ as we sometimes call it) begins to come up.
When I wrote Morning Pages (a practice developed by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way), there came a time when, after sitting down and writing three full pages of what was in my head, I realized it was all ugly stuff.
Anger at my mother.
Frustration with my job.
Turmoil at home.
Those themes, and others, filled my pages for weeks and weeks.
Not knowing what was happening, I quit writing Morning Pages.
Several years later, as I began to meditate regularly and with consistency over time, the same shit would come up while I sat.
I’d breathe in and then breathe out.
And then I’d get all pissed off at my mother.
Or the state of the world and how poorly we treat each other.
Sometimes fears or frustrations would rear up.
Having been down this road once before, I decided to get curious, rather than getting freaked out.
I found several good resources and writers who informed me: this is the way of the spiritual path.
When you enter into practices that help you calm down, connect with yourself, and become reflective, eventually your shit shows up.
And it shows up because you have created the time and space to work with it.
Which seems a bit ironic to the newly initiated: “Awesome! I’m getting all spiritual! And calm! And accepting! But, wait, ’cause…fuuuuuuuck! All my shit is chasing me! How does that work?!?”
This stuff that shows up in your spiritual time- it’s the stuff your spirit needs to work with.
It is the work your soul needs to do to heal or to be free.
You can avoid working with it- you can quit the practice, you can quit spiritual development, you can find another practice (over and over again) to avoid getting in the dirt with yourself. You can stay pristinely spiritual for as long as you want. (Your whole life, if you like.)
But if you want to get anywhere- if you want to grow- you will eventually have to confront the ugly that comes up.
Today in my ecstatic dance practice, for the first time, the ugly started to come up.
When I dance I often close my eyes and see colors. (It is ecstatic!)
Today, on one side of me, was a beautiful light. It was an oatmeal sort of color, beigey-white. But it was lovely and warm and actual light (not opaque like real oatmeal).
On the other side of me was a blue light. Deep navy. It was more opaque, but also filled with light. Like a navy blue curtain with the full sun behind it.
As I began to dance and turn towards the oatmeal-colored light, I started to sob.
I don’t know why. I only know that there was a deep sadness brought up by the light and how my body moved in that moment. The twist of my body, the color of the light; the tears flooded.
And so I kept dancing and crying.
My logical mind tried to pin it down:
Did it have an old memory tied to it?
Was there a person associated with it?
Was someone else feeling this?
There were no answers. There was only the fact that I felt this light and needed to cry my eyes out.
If anything, this need to cry felt very old and deep.
It was wordless. And it was a part of my holy practice.
It was something utterly sacred that needed to be expressed and experienced.
And it had no words.
It had no form, other than my body and my crying.
And it was holy.
This experience reminded of another reason why sex is sacred: there are so many moments in the midst of lovemaking when our body needs to move a certain way, or we crave a particular touch, stroke, or sensation. We desire to move and to be touched in a way in which our logical mind does not understand.
The spirit is asking for release.
There are times when a lover touches us in a certain way and we want to cry, or laugh, or howl, or surrender- and there is no reason for it. It is something energetic – perhaps our spirit – finding its way out.
I think this kind of experience might be especially true and poignant for men. We women, so connected to our bodies, given so many words for our feelings- we have other ways to let things out. But men, they have limited avenues for expression. Their body is a container for so many things, hidden. And in sex they can relax the mind out of its logical stance. They can twist the body and have it touched – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – in ways that allow for true release and expression.
That is the holy of holies.
After dancing and crying today- crying about what, I am not sure; just something that need to be cried- I was kind to myself. I went and laid on the bed and finished crying. I let my body go as soft as I could and just breathed.
I let it be, in the quiet.
I don’t know what happened, only that it felt finished.
There came a moment when it felt finished, and I let that be, as well.
I finished my practice, went about my day, and wrote this to you.
Perhaps it will help someone. Perhaps you.