Love is all about coming home. It can't be found "out there." Have the courage to look within.
In 1981, out of a desire to help others find a way to remember their true nature, I created a method called Heartwork, a process of letting go, with awareness, into the truth of one's being-in-the-moment. It is essentially a very simple process, kind of like falling asleep, except that in Heartwork, you fall awake.
It is not easy, but it is simple. All you have to do is find that place in your being that yearns to be free, whole, connected and fully alive. When you come to know who and what you are and let go into it, it can take you back home to your authentic, true self.
It is difficult because letting go into unfamiliar places is scary. We are used to controlling our emotions, our lives, other people, our environment and anything else we think we need to control. Surrender takes true courage.
Most people think they're afraid of the unknown. Actually, that's not true because it's not possible. What we fear is what we think we might encounter on our journey inward: anger, pain—the things that were too much to feel when it happened, so we walled it off from our consciousness.
These things or "threats" could include negative self-images and beliefs, aloneness, emptiness, nothingness, existential angst, or even the much-talked-about dark night of the soul. We usually have to go through all of these to come home to ourselves.
When we split our consciousness off from our feelings, we disconect from ourselves, others, the universe and God. We cannot let love in or out; we cannot appreciate the exquisite beauty and awe of life. We feel, as A. E. Housman once suggested, alone and afraid in a world we never made.
For most people who take on the challenge of real Heartwork, life has become unbearably painful, difficult, and/or unsatisfying. And at that point, there are two options: either take the journey inward or medicate with prescription drugs or other addictions to deaden themselves. (This is not to say that psychopharmacologic medications are never appropriate and necessary for one's journey; but the reality is that we frequently use them to avoid issues rather than use them as supportive tools to aid in working with those issues.)
Picture a funnel. Our true nature is a single point at the bottom of the funnel, whole and undivided. We split from this wholeness when we believe that we are a self separate from others and the universe/God. This split is the formation of the ego. My Zen teacher said we split from wholeness, so that we can experience the joy of coming back home to ourselves! With the formation of the ego, we move one layer up the funnel away from our true nature.
With the ego comes the notions of space and time. We perceive space because now we see an inside (the ego, or the "I") and an outside (the universe), whereas before it was all one thing. We perceive time because while the universe will seemingly go on forever, the self will not.
And because it is untenable to live in the awareness of our ultimate demise, we split from ourselves once again and tell ourselves that while our bodies will die, our mind/consciousness, our soul, or our spirit, or who we convince ourselves we really are, will not. We split further and separate our physical selves from our soul or our spirit and move farther up the funnel away from our true nature.
Now to make matters worse, certain parts of our mind or soul or spirit are unacceptable to our parents and our culture. We have four fundamental emotions: joy/love, sorrow/pain, fear (the movement away from sorrow/pain), and anger (fear or pain projected outward because we are unwilling to feel those more vulnerable emotions).
Of these, only joy/love is truly acceptable in society. But, when we cut off the other three feelings, we cut off joy. Without pain, you cannot feel joy. It's not surprising that we see so few truly joyous human beings in our culture beyond the age of 2 or 3.
We also judge as unacceptable certain desires (such as greed, lust, and envy) and even certain out-of-the-ordinary states of awareness (such as ESP, intuition, channeling, and psychosis).
And so we split again into what Carl Jung called the persona: those parts of ourselves that we believe are acceptable to our culture and that we are willing to express publicly, and the shadow: those parts we believe are unacceptable to others and that we consequently try to hide from the world as well as from ourselves.
Now, the problem with the shadow is that it has to somehow find expression or life. After all, it is called the shadow because it sticks to us wherever we go, yet it remains hidden and dark. Because we won't let it breathe fresh air, it sneaks out in some other way, unconsciously, hurting others and ourselves.
To make matters even worse, certain things happen to us that are just too painful or too frightening to fully experience at the time. So, we wall these experiences off in our unconscious mind, where we store those events and aspects of our being that we protect ourselves from experiencing. Thus, we move deeper into the funnel to the point where we are living our lives on the upper rim.
Here's the good news. For some of us, it becomes apparent that we are suffering and cannot find a way out of it, not through drugs and alcohol, sex, money, power, success, religion, or any of the other addictions or distractions with which we try to fill this nagging emptiness inside ourselves.
Our deepest yearning is to regain our lost wholeness and connectedness. In its great wisdom, our unconscious mind repeatedly creates situations that remind us of the places where we originally split from ourselves. It does this to get our attention so that we can stop running away from those parts of ourselves from which we have split.
If we are willing to face ourselves, we can then "take the hit" and feel those feelings we've repressed. We can find our way back to the original pain and fear, so we can heal the wound at its source. As my dear friend Cis Dickson has embroidered on the back of her Crooked Back Ranch caps, our choice is simple: "Go Within or Go Without."
When we get to this, it is actually easier to let go into the yearning than to keep running away from the fear of facing what lies within. With that, the journey homeward begins! The primary tool that opened for me in the development of Heartwork is one I call Guided Heartwork.
I am including the process here so that those readers who wish to take the opportunity to journey down the funnel back home to their true nature, opening their hearts to Love in the process can. The process is described in detail below on my Heartwork website.
May your path be blessed with Grace!
More advice on how to deal with depression on YourTango:
- 5 Ways You Can Help Yourself Deal With Depression
- How To Deal With Depression: 4 Simple Solutions
- How To Be Happy: It's A Process