Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice.
- Rebecca Solnit
With my book, Amazon Wisdom Keeper, strapped under Brooke Warner's skilled editorial scalpel for a few weeks now, I've had some time to reflect and anticipate what my soul's sacred story may require for a speedy recovery before it - let's hope not covered with bloody marks and in need of major organ transplants - is returned to me, any day now.
What am I doing to facilitate its smooth delivery into the hands of readers that are, I pray, as eager, patient, and kind as you? For starters, I enrolled in a second, three-month Tracking Wonder series of online ArtMark modules for creative entrepeneurs, writers, and artists to finesse and streamline my book's storyline and my brand's centerline, the Sacred Healing Well - Ancient Wisdom for Modern Living and Thriving - with even greater clarity and focus. This time around, I'm equipped with both a wide-angle and a telephoto lens to filter what's unique about my sacred story and healing style, yet timely and universal enough to captivate a bright and receptive audience like you.
My two minute elevator pitch so far? We live in a stale, 21st century modern world of empty achievements and irrelevant concerns that shun our soul's cries for deeper connection, meaning, and mystery. At the Sacred Healing Well, I catalyze the peak potential and potent impact of yearning healers, visionaries, seekers, and revolutionaries like you, by excavating the scattered shards of your innate humanness and self-healing wisdom. With the help of ancient and archetypal mind-body-soul integrative guidance, I deeply listen and revive your creative dream-paths, inner sanctuaries, and sacred quests - as I did in Amazon Wisdom Keeper - so that you can become compassionate and committed advocates of your own inspiring stories in service of personal well-being and global consciousness.
Not bad, huh? It only took 103 iterations. I'm still nitpicking and open to suggestions, but I hope that my paragraph of carefully sieved word-nuggets is so far hearing your soul yearnings and contrasting them against a faltering psychospiritual and sociocultural context. The three magical lines above are super important, because they capture, in ArtMark language, my pet gripe with the broken world, i.e. my distilled assessment of the primary Problem, followed by my signature antidote and Premise, and lastly, my unique Promise for a solution. These are, of course, far from new and unique, but for branding and book pitching purposes, I need to craft and claim my own fresh perspectives to age-old dilemmas so that my distinct value and key ideals stand out to potential readers, clients, and buyers.
So here goes - Our Western, industrialized, rational minds tend to polarize many, if not most, of our experiences into good or bad, pain or pleasure, light or dark, order or chaos, and other mutually exclusive, either-or dichotomies, trumping transcendent, subtle views of reality and life's paradoxical mysteries. Eastern philosophers call this formless, non-absolute, dynamic flow of vital energy the Tao.
Because of our tech-savvy, results-oriented focus, nowadays in both the Western and far Eastern parts of the world, it's become even easier to numb and widen our estrangement from our complex, multidimensional nature with mindless distractions, depleting addictions, and insatiable consumerism - divide-and-conquer tactics of our shadow parts that are steadily overtaking our integrity and whole self. Because we have made pain the enemy, we often deepen the wedges and rifts between our mind, body, heart, and soul by unwittingly blaming, shaming, and shushing disheartened pleas, such as the ones below, that every so often rise out of a collective dark pit of desperation:
Man is a part of nature and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.
- Rachel Carson
If you try to break the laws of nature, they will break you. It's not a break-even. You will lose.
- Gabriel Stevens
You may be wondering - How can we possibly ignore a war against ourselves that we are losing? Are we really so checked out that we no longer notice red flags and painful warning signs when we are in danger? We don't ignore physical pain caused by a fire or a forceful assault. Why then do we treat symptoms and the emotional pain caused by depression, anxiety, and mental "dis-orders" differently? What if they are the most sane, intuitively ordered, and truth-speaking parts of our soul, able to decipher what's hurting us, what we're really aching for, and what we need to get rid of? What will it take for us to consider dis-eases of the mind, body, heart, and soul as our best bet in guiding us back to our original vitality, visceral clarity, and natural health?
It takes tremendous courage. When bombarded with pills and many other quick-fix solutions, we feel inadequate in accessing our deepest truth and desires and don't trust that they are still throbbing underneath our heavy armor - armor that clearly doesn't protect us from the calamities of modern life.
The goal of life is to make you heartbeat match the beat of the universe,
to match your nature with Nature.
- Joseph Campbell
It also takes a great deal of courage these days to align our natural, true self to the laws of Nature because we have become very attached to our false selves and fragmented stories. We are willing to defend them with our lives, like toddlers going to bat for their safety blankies, no matter how filthy, and full of holes and tears these may be. We may be a lot older now, but rewriting our beloved, familiar stories is still a lot like letting go of our very first safety blanket, which we only allow if given reassuring signs that something more precious and trustworthy will take its place. Those somethings, I've discovered, are serendipitous gifts of love and omniscience from the universe, sprinkled along our path when we are truly open, eager, and empty to receive mysterious guidance, and ready to align our soul with its true Source and sourcing potential.
By carefully listening to the longings of our soul, we will naturally dive into and rewrite our own sacred stories of self-discovery, even if just to ourselves, until we've recovered enough inner strength to authentically reconnect with others.
Through synchrodestiny, you can finally become the person the universe intended you to be - as powerful as Desire, as creative as Spirit. All it takes is an eagerness to join the cosmic dance, and a willingness to seek the miracles of the soul.
- Deepak Chopra
If it weren't for synchronistic signs and precise, meaningful guidance orchestrating my path, I would not have dared to tell my story, not even to myself. Speaking up in modern times requires that we challenge powerful, rigid systems that can easily silence and squash little people, like us. Take the field of Western psychology, where, contrary to popular belief, splits and factions are heavily guarded and defended by their masters. Leaders of different schools of thought sometimes battle for years to stake out their theories of human potential and clinical interventions. I mistakenly assumed that these ideas were consistent with my notions of healing and wholeness, but could not have been further from the truth.
It's common for pioneers and innovative thinkers who seek greater integration within the field of psychology to be ostracized by the loyal followers of the leading giants. These outliers and outcasts are only reclaimed along with their discoveries in the rare event that their renegade efforts paid off outside of the field, and/or they are confident and brave enough to re-enter the scene with their cutting-edge theories, as Carl Jung did after a 15 year hiatus and deep immersion in Eastern philosophy and Taoism.
Traditional universities and conservative, research-based clinical programs, such as my graduate training program (between 1994-1999), generally steer away from controversial provocateurs in favor of teaching conventional and classical theory. My exposure to Jungian analysis was very limited and mocked for its arbitrary use of metaphors and lack of academic and scientific rigor, which almost caused my curious, but vulnerable, self-doubting rookie self to hide in the shadows of oblivion.
Clare Graves, another shunned "Lone Eagle" like Jung, was ostracized by many of his colleagues in the 1960's and beyond. When asked at an interview why his ideas had provoked such strong abreaction, particularly from psychologists, he replied, "Probably because I went up against Abe Maslow's view of the self-actualizing human. The biggest surprise of my life was the day in 1959 when I realized that some of the people I'd been testing were claiming that they had moved beyond self-actualization. One day they were saying that Abe Maslow's description fit their idea of maturity perfectly. And another day, they were telling me, 'No, that's the way I used to think. But that's not the way it is any more.'"
Graves said there was a vast, open-ended developmental space for us humans, out beyond the pinnacle of Maslow's famed "peak performance," the end point on his linear trajectory and rising pyramid of human needs, that was as immense as the cosmos. Graves went further: he said that his research data had captured almost the precise moment in time when human beings managed to "rewire" their brain, to reprogram themselves, and move on into this New Universe of Effective Possibility, this new kind of self. "A momentous leap," he called it, "A jump forward to new capabilities and outlooks highly useful in dealing, for example, with a marketplace exploding with change, complexity and colliding expectations."
Graves' theory of human development is circular, not linear, claiming that we grow in a spiral pattern, as do the stars in the Milky way, conch shells, fern leaves, hair growth at the crown of our head, and fingerprints.
The psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating,
spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order
behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as man's existential problems change.
- Clare Graves
The progressive sub-ordination of older, lower order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems describes what's hardest and heroic about aligning the heartbeats of our artificially split parts (by existential social problems) with the heartbeat of Nature. In our disconnected state, our distorted sense of mastery severely clouds our judgment, and the thought of sub-ordinating and surrendering our ego-will is aversive and unnerving. We aid and exploit our own fragmented demise by fooling ourselves that we are doing what's necessary to ensure our survival, security, and success by climbing to the top of the pyramid with a select group of supporters who fiercely egg us on. We don't bother to ask how this affects our whole self, or explore what's really possible for all of humanity, even if our answers can at first only be practiced on a small scale or privately.
Asking these hard questions requires entering into our own inner sanctuary alone, conscious that we are always All-One, and daring to scrutinize our body, heart, mind, and soul for cracks and shadow parts that will have personal as well as global significance. Unexamined split and shadow parts of ourselves, no matter how logically sound and easily justified within a modern context, will eventually boomerang back to us in mysterious ways.
Having access to Graves' theories as a student in the late 1990's would have saved me the headache and heartache of needing to search for answers in total darkness. I hope that sharing my travails and discoveries will shine some light on the big picture, and empower the next generation of upcoming, sensitive and holistic brave-hearts and leaders to trust their sane symptoms and intense resistance to being indoctrinated by our broken systems. Being able to draw from my memories of being surrounded by pristine Amazon rainforest reassured me that I couldn't lose what mattered most to me, my true nature, no matter what happened upon my heroic quest.
I learned that story could serve as the architectural blueprint of anyone's inner sanctuary, offering respite and clarity along the most harrowing journeys, as long as we are at least 1 degree more invested in our true nature than in the encroaching and intruding illusions of our broken worlds.
Could it be that simple, that by aligning with your true nature,
most of your worries are taken care of?
- Louis Koster
Simple, yes. Easy, no. None of us can escape the impact of our broken world, and all of us are called to action in one way or another to mend the broken pieces within and around us. When we challenge the status quo, being able to anchor within our divine nature and safe inner sanctuary will prevent us from getting consumed and engulfed by harmful illusions of reality while we figure out how to climb out of the muck. Accessing the "end" state of our full potential - non-attached and mindful wholeness - anytime, at will, sends a bold message out to the universe that our consciousness is more aligned with our true nature than our split parts.
My final suggestions to hone your peak potential and potent impact? Think in paradoxical terms and live and breathe paradox to optimally tap in the ancient secrets of the Tao. That means entertaining the idea that you are perfectly imperfect, that you are seeking and have found, that you are straying and are centered, that you are unique and united, good and bad, broken and whole, self and other, simultaneously, in this moment and all the time. When we understand that our broken world is just a game board that aids us in deepening our self awareness, our soul's true nature, and our potent potential, we are paradoxically rewarded with abundant creativity, synchronistic guidance, and timeless insight that will enlighten and enliven our sacred story of liberation. As soon as we take the game seriously and lose connection with our inner sanctuary of respite and truth, we are mired back into brokenness, trapped by all the miserable and crushed shards of the world to prove to us that our version of reality is right.