Unbecoming everything you thought you were

What if the journey of life wasn’t about becoming anything. What if the real path is actually unearthing and then unbecoming everything that isn’t really you? What if the true course was to unravel so we could be who we were meant to be in the first place?

It’s a beautiful and awe-some thought isn’t it? Do you feel it too? It’s so compelling.

Last week I had a short psychic message offered to me, in which the reader interpreted an image that didn’t feel quite right. When we investigated further he said he’d seen a rope fraying or unravelling. We agreed, that while it could very well mean I was mentally unravelling, which is highly probable given where my head is at right now, we were comfortable (and relieved) it was something different. It was, we discovered, about unravelling from old, long-held behaviours, beliefs and routines that had defined me for much of my life. Beliefs, behaviours and actions that I had allowed to define me based on expectations of others, circumstances I was in, and roles I had held. The image of the unravelling rope was about letting go, loosening up and unbinding.

There was a deep realisation that we’d hit on the truth of what was happening for me. There came not only a realisation but a joy in the freedom and liberation this new stage of my life held for me. There was also a respectful gratitude for the possibilities and a cautious excitement at what I might find once the unravelling was done.

Then, quite randomly, several days later I came across the quote above and the synergy of the two fit perfectly, like a hand and glove and I so wanted to share my rambling thoughts with you.

The beauty in the symbolism and essence of these two signs have captivated me. I wonder if they speak to you too.

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Delightful synchronicity

I woke early, eager to read the one word prompt that would focus my writing attention for the day. The word — synchronise — conjured images of elegant swimmers with noses  pinched, swanning about impossibly blue pools.  I thought fleetingly of time too and bronze cogs revolving in an elegant dance.

I put aside my thoughts to meditate a little, after which I drew an oracle card. My intention was for a message to shine a light on my day.  After shuffling, and before selecting a card I offered up a few words—”Blessed be“.  When I turned the card a delighted chuckle rose from my throat and into the crisp morning air.

My card was ‘The bee‘, with a much needed and timely message.

Synchronicity, the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection, was at play.

The great human endeavour

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You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.  Albert Camus

Have you noticed a preoccupation with discovering the meaning of life? Meaning making is a great human endeavour. We witness people go on soul journeys, sea changes or pilgrimages to discover themselves and their place in the world, to seek answers and meaning.  We hunger to be part of something. There exists a gnawing unrelenting need when we lack community, a sense of belonging and purpose. The sense that life is meaningless could be the most desolate of thoughts. Desolate is the one who finds themselves alone, unattached, adrift in life.

This phenomenon, I imagine, has always existed though there seems to me to be an intensification in recent times, a swell of seekers.  My limited view and observations lead me to believe this is a side effect borne mainly by those in western cultures. Could it be due to a lack of traditions, of ritual, of religion, of an intimacy and belief in story and myth? Professor of sociology, John Carroll suggests there is an emerging poverty in western cultures due to a move away from myth.

Myths have been central to all cultures. I recently listened to Saga Land, a radio podcast by Richard Fidler, about the Icelandic sagas. These stories have endured for centuries and link the people to their ancestors and heritage. My childhood was full of the stories of the Australian Dreamtime. The stories, songs and dance of the traditional owners of the country I call home still captivate and educate me.  I was educated in catholic schools and am familiar with many Christian myths.

Why are myths important? Why might a lack of myth in our life affect us so very much?

Myths are enduring, they are rich with metaphorical weight.  Myths give us a sense of ourselves in relation to others. Hugh Mackay, author and social researcher, deduces that myth and story help us identify where we place our faith and that faith unites us and equips us to live with doubt and uncertainty. Through his research he has found that humans yearn something beyond the material, something other than themselves to use as a reference point to draw strength from, something that inspires them.

Religion and attending church used to fill that yearning, satisfy the hunger, give us something to inspire us and provide a sense of community. The role of religion has been to provide potent narratives to guide us along our journey to discover meaning. Interestingly only 8% of Australians are regular church goers. Why have so many turned away from the church? Perhaps it’s because the myths and narratives are served up as doctrine and often expected to be swallowed whole. For me, my move away from the church was the incongruence between doctrine and the behaviours of those most strongly advocating it. Mackay has found that dogma definitely divides us. He advocates faith beyond dogma.

I can attest that faith can exist without a literal adherence to dogma.  I can also attest to the desire for community. While my faith is strong I do not worship in a church and I do at times crave to be part of a community.  For a time I found it in a group of like-minded souls. We learned together, we practiced ritual, we communed and we grew individually and as a group. It was quenching. It was so deeply satisfying I wanted for nothing more. We eventually drifted apart, each to go their own way to continue our individual journeys. I miss that gathering of minds and souls. I miss the kinship.

It’s fascinating this hardwired need in humans to have a story that keeps the darkness at bay and to satisfy our longing to belong.  It is, I believe, the impetus for the great human endeavour – to seek meaning and purpose in life.

Begin with the end in mind

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I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dropped it carelessly, Ah! I didn’t know, I held opportunity. ~Hazel Lee

Beginning with the end in mind is a concept I encourage teachers to use regularly. Consider the assessment, what is it you want young people to demonstrate that they know and can do? Backward map from this to identify the facts you’ll teach and the processes or skills you will unpack for them. Then, identify the thinking processes involved; do they need to compare, analyse, deduct? From there develop learning goals and the sequence of delivery. This process ensures our young people are prepared and equipped to demonstrate their knowledge in the given task or piece of assessment. It’s also an opportunity for teachers to be clear about learning intentions and focuses their teaching.

I was recently presented with a sobering assignment of my own. I was challenged to write my own obituary (It’s a long story but it was part of an ongoing spiritual development process, that I’m really enjoying). Did I say this was sobering? As I was writing I became aware of the similarities to the above process.  Writing my obituary; how I’d like to be remembered, the qualities I’d like to stand out, the kind of person I wanted to be, the achievements I’d reached and so forth, made me realise the power in the process.

I don’t necessarily want, nor do I need, a gushing obituary (I certainly won’t be around to hear it at any rate) and I doubt there will be a huge crowd gathered around my grave to bid me farewell but what this task did for me was to shine a very strong spot light on my current behaviours, attitudes and perceptions. It made me realise how special life is, how relatively short it is, yet also, how many opportunities I have to make a difference, to change the way I do things for better results and how I can grow each day. I realised, not for the first time, the wonderful gift I have been given. We don’t just live once. We die once, we have a chance to live everyday.

Starting with the end in mind brings a focus to the now. Each action, thought and choice has power. Each moment we are presented with opportunity. Each day we get to create our lives anew; to be more, do more, love more, laugh more, help more.

Starting from the end in mind is confronting and it’s also a beautiful reminder of the preciousness of life. This task, writing my own obituary, might just be something I incorporate each year into my New Year’s Day ritual.

If you started with the end in mind, how would it shape your life?

Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending. ~Author Unknown

 

Winter Dreaming

The dreaming or the dreamtime indicates a psychic state in which or during which contact is made with ancestral spirits or the Law, or that special period of the beginning.
Mudrooroo

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While on a short break at the beach this week a friend commented that I seemed to be in my element. She was right. I was. There are two places in Australia I feel most at home; the beach and the bush. I feel a strong connection to spirit, to nature and to my own inner being when in these places.

While it’s winter here in Australia it is my favourite time to be at the beach. Okay, it’s not so great for swimming but it is a joy to walk the stretch of sandy shore without the crowds that summer brings. There is a calmness associated with watching the few keen surfers, zipped into their wetsuits, paddle out into the vast blue depths to catch frothy white waves into the shallows. I enjoy peering into the buckets of wadder-clad fisherfolk who line the shore morning and evening, lines held aloft, in eager anticipation of the catch of the day.  I love seeing families, rugged up against the cold, come down to play a ball game or to build sand castles as reminders of their time in the warm winter sun.

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Images of bronzed bodies on gorgeous Australian beaches abound in summertime though Winter, for me, is the best time to visit.  I love the way the sun warms and thaws my cold core. I love the sound of the squeaky white sand beneath my feet.  The cacophony of crashing waves and the daring and courage it takes to wade into their icy maws are all part of the winter beach experience. What really makes my heart sing is the seasonal beauty and atmosphere of the seaside. The light is different, it’s gentler, milder somehow. It’s hard to explain, it’s just different in so many ways.

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There is magic and healing energy in this landscape. The boundless sea takes my breath away yet also brings balance and renewal while the wildlife are messengers of great wisdom.

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Relaxing on the deck of our beach shack I was visited by a plethora of birds, among which was a gorgeous, curious Willie Wagtail that lifted my spirits and reminded me to seek things that brighten my mood and bring cheer into my life. Twice, a flock of Black Cockatoos screeched overhead heralding a time of liberation and freedom to come. Black Cockatoo is also, for me, a strong symbol of inner strength and spirit.

Image by Alfred Schultie

Image by Alfred Schultie

An Osprey, circling overhead, was a powerful reminder of trusting my own wisdom and freeing my spirit to enjoy life more.

Of course the boundless ocean brought gifts as well. Of not only gorgeous tokens to treasure and patterns in the sand but also whale and dolphin.

imageimage Every day I was witness to the majesty of dolphins at play and whales migrating for the winter. At times the whales were breaching, at others simply rolling around or squirting water through their blowholes. One windy afternoon I watched in awe as a whale made a great show of slapping its flukes. These encounters were at times at a distance and at others, quite close to shore. It is a great honour and privilege to witness whales and for me there is great emotional healing involved. Whales encourage me to seek a deeper awareness and consciousness, they remind me to keep evolving and not to stagnate.

Source if image unknown

Source of  image unknown

Our dolphin friends with their playful ways always lead me to focus on my breath and remind me that, while introspection and self development are good, bonding with others is also a meaningful part of life.

I don’t know about you but the beach is my place to recharge and to get back into balance by listening to the whispers of nature. It’s my dreaming.

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Clearing the dead wood

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When we burn away the dross in life the way forward becomes clearer.

The forest near my home has recently been back-burnt. Back-burning is a controlled practice that occurs here in Australia in the cooler months of the year to reduce fuel build up as a preventive measure against serious fires in the summer period. The forest takes on a whole new look when the grasses and weeds and smaller sticks have been burnt away.

As I wandered through the forest on a recent outing I was struck by how easy it was to identify paths where the understory used to be. Where the weeds and grasses and fallen branches had blocked or hidden the way. I realised I was seeing an analogy for life. When we too clear away the rubbish and the dross our path becomes clearer. Our way forward is uncovered. Our path back to our true selves is revealed.

Perhaps, like the forestry department, we too need to take up the practice of controlled burning in our lives so we can liberate ourselves from the damage excess baggage, attachments, negative people, assumptions and beliefs have on us. Regular attention given to burning away the dross would increase our productivity, our flow and our joy in life.

What do you think? Is it time to be mindfully ruthless and ditch the stuff holding you back?

Shameless magical thinking

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I was greeted by the universe to morning and I revelled in the warmth of the moment. And so my day began with a smile and the lingering feeling of having been wrapped in a gigantic hug.

What do I mean? Well, I woke at exactly 4:44. For me the numbers 444 and 333 are significant. Whenever I see them I take note, I feel like a friend has just called to say “I’m thinking of you”.

My relationship with these special triple numbers began many years ago when I was experiencing some mighty physical, mental and emotional battles.  I would wake regularly at either 3:33 am or 4:44 am. I then started to see these numbers everywhere. On billboards, signs, in telephone numbers I was dialling, in statistics and tallies I was working with and on car number plates. Therein began my exploration into the metaphysical or the world of magic and miracles.

For me triple numbers are call signs from the universe.  Sometimes they appear to let me know I’m on track, other times it’s simply to let me know I’m not alone and that I am supported and loved.  It’s heartening and encouraging, especially when things get a little blurry in life.

I cannot tell you how many times in the last month I have woken at exactly 4:44 am or walked into the house, or glanced at the clock in my car at exactly 4:44pm or 3:33 pm.  Last week I walked by a house, that I walk by quite regularly, and saw the bin on the footpath sporting the house number. Yep, you guessed it – 444.  I’d never seen it before.  Today, after rising and meditating I took to the streets for my morning walk and was literally bombarded by triple threes and triple fours.

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What is the meaning of all this you might wonder? I had a focus for my meditation this morning. The topic was something important to me that I’d let wane for a while and I was seeking confirmation and clarity around whether I should continue to pursue it or not.  I guess the answer is pretty clear. I’m being told to “go for it”.

‘Coincidence’ you might say. Yeah, could be. ‘Delusional’ too, you might think.  Maybe. But it’s a nice place to be. The joy and surety in life comes for me in belief and faith. I’ve mentioned before I do not follow any particular religion but have identified for myself a spiritual belief system that supports and nourishes me.  But not all my signs are as ‘random’ as triple numbers repeating themselves.

This week I attended a talk here in Brisbane by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love. My friend invited me and initially I had reservations as it was on the same night as my yoga class. When I weighed up the opportunity to hear an accomplished author who’d travelled across the world to be here with skipping one yoga class for the year, I  attended with a great sense of anticipation and excitement. I might mention also, I rarely go out at night these days, particularly week nights. The topic for the night was on the creative process. Imagine my surprise when Ms Gilbert began talking about magic, about ideas coming to her in dreams and  being gifted to her as if by magic.  Imagine my surprise too when she told the audience how she doesn’t remember  writing a particular piece as ‘they’ simply told her what to write.

If I wasn’t sure that the triple numbers I’d seen today, and over the last month, were encouraging me, I definitely know, as a result of attending that hour conversation with Elizabeth Gilbert that I’m being given the nod, gently pushed to follow my path and  strongly encouraged by the universe to go for gold.

Are you open to the signs around you? I’d love to hear your stories.

Shamelessly yours in the magic and wonder of the universe,
Shannyn