Our true nature is vast and deep, alive and awake, joyous and peaceful, with infinite capacity to hold our experience. I have found that to realize this truth fully it takes both awakening and embodiment. Awakening is timeless; it's an insight or recognition that happens in an instant, yet is always present thereafter. It doesn't take time, but it lasts....forever. Embodiment, on the other hand, unfolds through time and experience. This can be likened to the marriage of heaven and earth: awakening is the recognition of our Divine, heavenly nature; embodiment is how we bring it down to earth and live it.
Since everything is light-filled perfection in heaven, it makes sense that awakening is the "easy" part. There are many things that support or encourage awakening, including sitting with an awakened being, or applying self inquiry. Since we are already "that", it's actually very accessible, and many people are awakening now. The experience of recognizing true nature is usually wonderful. It often brings a sense of freedom, expansion, joy, and everyone celebrates your good fortune. Embodiment is more of a slog. Once the honeymoon of awakening starts to pale, the real work begins, and work it is.
In my experience, it's pretty tough work, and definitely not for the faint of heart. As Carl Jung said, "There is no coming to consciousness without pain". The good news is, there are some hints that can dramatically ease the way. I'll share the main one here, and more in a future blog. Although I would say embodiment is infinite - after all, what we are is infinite - you really just need to get over the hump (more on that later) and then it gets fun. Mostly.
The hump is essentially everything that is out of balance, repressed, denied or disowned (i.e., shadow stuff). Embodiment requires the reintegration of the shadow, as it is a return to our natural state of wholeness. All of you has to get included back into being. Unless and until we return to the state of wholeness, we aren't able to fully rest in being and freely express our uniqueness.
If you're pretty sane and balanced, embodiment tends to go along much more smoothly, and you might wonder what I'm gong on about. In my case, I had a lot of shadow material, so there were a few rough patches along the way. If I had known then what I know now, getting over the hump would have been much less challenging.
Here's the key (otherwise known as the shortcut): What is required to return to wholeness is to fully feel all that has been denied or repressed. This means to be with whatever arises, as the aware presence you are, without moving away from the experience. No escape; no analysis; just being with or holding the experience. And everything will arise, though fortunately not all at once, as awareness wants to bring everything back home. At times it can be painful and uncomfortable, but as the saying goes, to feel is to heal. And the benefits are immense. The more we hold our experience consciously, the more peace, joy and freedom we experience, and the greater we discover our capacity to be. We truly are bigger than anything that arises, and by embracing it, we experience this directly, non conceptually. This brings about a stabilization of the awakened awareness which is another way of describing embodiment.
Our very presence is our own best medicine. When we bring that feeling/attention to anything that arises, it acts like magic. It is the most potent healing power there is. And since this presence is infinitely intelligent, it knows exactly what is required to return to wholeness. So you can trust your experience, you only have to be willing to fully have it without resistance. Since the ego is resistance, it's old machinations may surface in the form of distractions, avoidance, denials. Just hold that, too, and it will only deepen your knowing of your unshakable being.
Another important note is that the awakening/embodying process is cyclical, not linear. Each insight into true nature will become embodied in our experience. So wherever you are in the process, this is all relevant. We are all awakening and embodying more of ourselves in each moment.
To support your embodiment process, I have a few free meditations on my Audio page. For practice being with what arises, check out the Hug Yourself meditation. When facing a more intense emotion, the Heart Embrace meditation can be very helpful. The Inner Body Meditation is useful for bringing awareness more fully into the body and awakening the fire of presence. If you'd like to explore embodiment more deeply, I'm offering a teleclass called Embodied Wholeness to support moving into this state of being and becoming fully integrated. The next class starts November 2; for details, see the Schedule page of my website. I hope you'll join us as we experience and celebrate our ever present wholeness.
On the journey to wholeness, longing can serve as an obstacle or an ally; it's all in how you look at it. What I've found through my own investigation is when longing is embraced, it becomes a doorway into the experience of greater fulfillment and peace.
How I discovered this was through an experience of restlessness that arose one day a number of years ago. I met it with curiosity instead of resistance. The curiosity brought a warm, welcoming energy which allowed the longing to unfold and reveal it's deeper nature. I gently inquired within using the question "What am I really longing for"? What came was that I was longing for an intimate relationship. I brought more warm curiosity to the feeling and asked a deeper question: "What will that give me"? What came was that it was actually a longing for comfort. Somehow the association had been made, through previous experience, that comfort is found in intimate relating.
Rather than trying to take action to create an external change, I instead moved more fully into my experience of the present moment to see if the sense of comfort was already here. Starting with the physical, I became aware of the softness of the chair I was sitting on and the warmth of my favourite shawl around my shoulders. Then I felt the steadiness of the rhythm of my heartbeat and relaxed into the waves of breath moving through my body. In just a few moments, I was in an experience of comfort and peace, and the longing dissolved.
What I realized was the mind, through associating comfort as only coming through relationship with other, had completely overlooked the nourishing, delicious comforting embrace that was all the while present and available. Over the next few months, I used the same approach with every longing or craving that arose. I discovered that every longing at its core was always about a felt state rather than an external object. I started thinking about this process as leading a horse to water: I would lead every longing to the experience of its fulfillment.
After doing this practice for a while, I found a much deeper internal rest and contentment, and many conditioned patterns that previously created dissatisfaction came to rest. The delicious state of fullness became the norm instead of the exception.
If you would like to experiment with this approach you can try out this guided process as a starting point. Please feel free to share your results. I'd love to hear from you