What’s Next?

What’s Next?

Recently I wrote blog posts about releasing old stories we tell ourselves. Part 1 and Part 2 were about our individual, familial, and cultural stories that keep us stuck with a limited definition of who we are. The big question is, what’s next?

We do the hard work of recognizing those abusive stories and clearing them but what happens next? As life generally provides the answer, it came for me during yoga teacher training.

We were discussing archetypes that yoga teachers exhibit and it touched something within me that had been hidden for a while. A long while. I came out of the training remembering my fascination and admiration for Carl Jung, the psychoanalyst who first wrote about archetypes. In graduate school, his psychological theory was the one that deeply spoke to me, so some of that profound explanation of the human psyche returned as I mulled over the class.

Jungian archetypes are universal symbols that originate in the collective unconscious. Archetype means original pattern. I like to think of archetypes as containers holding patterns of being. Jung defined twelve primary types and suggested that each of us has one that dominates our personality but others might also have influence.

The twelve and what they seek are: Ruler–Control; Artist–Innovation; Sage–Knowledge; Innocent–Safety; Explorer–Freedom; Rebel–Liberation; Hero–Mastery; Wizard–Power; Jester–Pleasure; Everyman–Belonging; Lover–Intimacy; Caregiver–Service.

While we might resonate with one more than others, chances are that we find many of these archetypes manifesting within our psyche in some way.

So, back to the yoga teaching training…we had a wonderful discussion about archetypes and the qualities that define them. We took turns leading our group in short meditations like teachers use for opening and closing a class and I led the one at the end of our morning discussion on archetypes. 

As I closed my eyes and listened for guidance on what to say, I found myself in a beautiful place of openness and listening to the group energy of our class. What followed was a guided meditation on embodying an archetype that spoke to each person and a way to bring that forth into the world as our gift.

One of the instructors, at the end of the meditation, suggested an entire class could be done with the archetype meditation so the following morning that’s what I did…for myself, my personal practice.

During that time I realized how much space had been cleared by allowing the old storylines to fall away and that now I was able to open to and play with different aspects of my psyche. One of the most amazing surprises that resulted from the practice was realization that the many years of study and participation with a group from the UK that works with the Qabalah was preparing me for work in the world. It wasn’t just a spiritual study to learn. It was a spiritual study to experience and put into practice in the world.

Having more inner space allowed me to clearly see the skills that have been honed through many years of meditation, study and ritual. And to realize those skills learned were not just about study, personal power or personal mastery.  The skills gained were leading me to a deeper ability to bring the work of my soul through into physical manifestation with clarity, humility, love and deep compassion.

Without doubt, this was the second most powerful yoga practice I’ve ever done. (The first one was when I was with humpback whales 90 miles off the coast of the Dominican Republic and they led me through a purple fire of initiation…you can read about that in Cosmic Whales: Mystical Stories from the Sea). 

As I have worked diligently on releasing the old stories over the past month…oh, let’s be honest–I’ve been working on this for decades….the recent clearing has opened the way to embody powerful archetypes that come directly from the collective unconscious. And the key is to embody and learn from these symbols and be flexible, non-grasping. Allow the power to come through but don’t become attached to it. Learn from it, use it to help manifest whatever your soul mission is, and then be open and flexible for other archetypes to teach us as we open to embody them.

So we clear the old stories and realize our families rarely are what we think we need and often are the sources of great pain as we push against them to grow into our full potential. Yet a friend of mine reminded me many years ago: the family you chose before you incarnated is here to help you grow into your potential…they offer you resistance, something to push against so your growth is more rapid, deeper. And so even though we might grieve what we thought we never had, perhaps we had something even better…other souls willing to challenge us to become more fully who we truly are. 

We learn self-care, we learn how to nurture and love ourselves and we learn to refuse to allow further abuse to ourselves–from our self or others– all with appreciation and gratitude for the lessons learned. And we walk forward knowing that as we open to the inner space, our ability to embody who we truly are grows with every old storyline we drop, even the one about being an orphan surrounded by a complete family.

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