Radical Mysticism through Relationship

Transformation Card from the Universal Tarot by M. Miller
Transformation Card from the Universal Tarot by M. Miller

“Intimate relationship is arguably the twenty-first century’s ashram. It’s not, however, a retreat or refuge from everyday life, but a transformational growth center located in the very midst of it, offering experiential courses in whatever generates and deepens intimacy, courses uniquely fitting for those entering its domain.

Its goal is not transcendence, but full-spectrum intimacy, not only with your partner, but also with all that you are — dark and light, high and low, petty and noble, deep and shallow.

If you are seeking transformation, you need look no further than doing what it takes to fully be in such relationship. This is a great undertaking that asks much of us, and gives back more than we can imagine.

The path isn’t neatly laid out, because we, with our partner{s}, are cocreating it as we deepen our intimacy, stepping into and embracing a trailblazing mutuality, without having to know where we’re going.

Implicit in this is a rare trust, an ongoing, shared willingness to bring not only our very best to the relationship, but also to expose our worst — not to be acted out or otherwise indulged in, but to be faced and integrated and related to in ways that serve our relationship. Nothing in us gets left out — it’s all part of our relationship. This is more than possible when — through our work on ourselves — our relationship becomes both sanctuary and crucible, a place of deep healing, care, life-enhancing challenge, and a love that pervades all that we are.” Robert Augustus Masters

Intimate relationship has always been one of my primary interests in life. I started reading Leo Buscaglia’s Love books when I was 15. While I spent years in unhealthy relationship patterns due to the environment I was raised in, I was always motivated by a desire to experience deep, healthy, abiding love with others. Not just with one life partner, but with family and friends as well. Community relationship. I could feel the potential in love that went well beyond our infatuations, romances, and attractions; beyond our traumas, dramas, and defensive patterns; beyond everything our culture says is intimate relationship in the 21st century.

I also felt relationship could be a spiritual, healing practice. However, while every relationship I had gave me opportunities to grow and heal, many of them also came with a hell of a lot of hurt. Often I was in the crucible, trying to heal, and my partners were in the shallows, interested more in fun, sex and comfort than conscious evolution. They provided the burn for my refinement, but they did not desire to go through the refinement process with me in order to refine themselves or the relationship.

Until Camille and Jen, my partners in the Impropriety Society. Although they were business partners, they were willing to work to get to the love, with each other and with others in the community. Our partnership refined all of us in profound ways, and built the foundation for this precious family we’re nurturing.

Then I discovered the jewel in the heart of my fiance, Eros, and he showed me his willingness to work to get to the love. We have healed significant aspects of our ourselves within the crucible of our relationship, especially through the pregnancy and adoption. We have grown immensely as individuals, and grown our relationship into something neither of us really believed was possible.

I now strive to approach all of my relationships as a mystical experience, as a way to dance with God. Instead of looking for God in an ashram, temple or church, I look for God in the people I love.  And I’m striving to look for God in everyone I interact with, directly or indirectly. Perhaps you could say the world is my temple and the 7+ billion people on it are my teachers.

The God of Life, the Spark that connects All That Is, is innate in all of us. It’s the sparkle in our atoms that communicate with each other. It’s the consciousness that animates life in ways we have yet to understand. And maybe we never will. Maybe that’s part of the experience we’re here to have, faith in the unseen. Maybe if we figured it all out we’d be bored and have no where else to go with our evolution as part of this ever expanding, increasingly complex Universe.

Whatever God really looks like, it’s finding this meaning in my experiences that keeps me resilient. I’ve had more than my fair share of traumas that could have broken me. It’s my experience of God, no matter what shape it’s taken (the Father of Christianity, the Mother of Paganism, the Consciousness of the Universe, my Beloved), that has allowed me to turn every trauma into something beautiful. It’s my work in psycho-spiritual development that has created the emotional health, joy and peace I now experience nearly all the time.

The Gift of Adaptability

I am grateful that one of the tools I was born with is adaptability. Change is rarely difficult for me. I do not fight it. I do not suffer because of it. I adapt to new information and new situations very quickly. It can actually be a source of frustration for those close to me, because sometimes my mind changes on the spot and they’re still reacting to where I was a minute ago.

The gift in adaptability is less resistance to what is, which equates to less suffering. If I don’t resist change, then I don’t suffer. That doesn’t mean change isn’t painful. It often is. But there is a difference between pain and suffering. While I may have to live with pain, I do not have to create suffering out of it by resisting change, fighting what is, or wishing things were different.

Today I am adapting to new ideas about where Radical Mystic is headed. While I’ve had frustration with my lack of writing lately, I have also experienced multiple epiphanies regarding my next creative project over the past few weeks. I realize now that I am in a state of pregnancy – forming something new that has yet to take its full shape. It takes time, patience, and a lot of work in the unseen to birth something new into the world.

I believed I wanted to write a memoir, yet I’ve been struggling with getting into the nitty gritty of planning a book. I thought I was merely experiencing typical resistance. However, now I believe I’m in incubation and a bigger idea is just starting to take a distinct shape in it’s development.

When I was a young University student, even though writing was my primary form of expression at the time, I always desired to do something more complex. To combine styles and forms and create in multiple dimensions. To bring writing and theater together in performance art. To bring theater and visual art together in a community art experience. All of my former projects were multi-dimensional. The Yoni Endeavor was sculptures, digital paintings, web design, poetry, essays, creative non-fiction and blogging. The Conspiracy of Blessings was multi-media art, blogging, and community building. The Impropriety Society was multi-media art, graphics and web design, writing, blogging, event production, leadership, and community building. After these years away from actively creating something other than a child and family, I needed to remember that I am turned on by complexity.

Another factor I needed to remember – I’ve always been an immediate gratification artist. I enjoy creating a collection of small creative projects that take hours or days each, leading to a larger creation based on the cohesion of the pieces. The idea of taking months or years to produce one object is really rather horrifying to me.

So the idea of writing a book – words only, crafted over months or years of time – does not ignite a fire inside of me. But planning a project – designing a website and graphics, writing content in a variety of styles, discovering the possibilities of video and audio and collaboration with others, all with an on-going production schedule – this ignites me. The last few days have seen pages of development notes, full of inspirations from nearly everything and everyone I engage with.

Developing a project, in real time online, without a direct intention to make money from it, is also in line with my super power of Creative Generosity. I have never and will never create with the intent of getting paid. I can’t. That’s just not how I work. That doesn’t mean I won’t develop ideas for exchange or accept money for creative work that I do; it just means that I operate from generosity first. I create and give away what I create because it makes me happy to do so. Generosity is both my bliss and my rebellion, a significant aspect of my radical mysticism.

I am rediscovering and following my passions. In response, I feel the Universe dancing with me through serendipity. In adapting to the Divine’s lead in our dance, I am experiencing the magical support so many teachers have claimed is out there, waiting for us when we get clear on our creative desires. It’s been a long time since I felt this way and it feels fantastic.

Next step: my own domain name.

Living With Integrity

I am embarrassed to admit that I have utterly failed at establishing a regular writing practice. While I have good reasons, like giving most of my energy daily to holding a dear friend in grief and transition the past four weeks, I have failed to align my actions with my words. Which is why this post is about integrity. I need to find my way to integrity in regards to writing; which I say – in my heart and with my lips – is really important to me for a multitude of reasons. Yet I am letting resistance and lack of discipline win.

On the other hand, I am a finalist in a position with the Department of Integrity at Oregon Health and Science University. I feel a lot of potential in this particular position and it’s rather incredible how it lines up with my pursuit of integrity in my personal and professional lives. Despite occasionally feeling fearful about survival and my dependence on the Mamas, I have maintained my integrity in my search for work, only pursuing non-profit and education positions that align with my core values. I am grateful that my family supports my integrity in this way. No one has pressured me to broaden my search just so we have more money coming in or can get into a house sooner.

A focus of my evolution in recent years has been moving towards living with complete integrity; agreement between my words, my actions and my values in all areas of my life. If I claim to be eco-conscious, then I need to make my choices based on that value rather than convenience. If I claim to prioritize meaning over money and doing good over ambition, then I need to find work that reflects those values rather than going where the money or prestige is. If I claim to love myself, then I need to make choices that keep me from emotional harm rather than carelessly put me in the midst of it.

In my professional life, integrity became the theme of my last position. Integrity was one of the core values of the company. As the Operations and HR manager for a behavioral health clinic, it was my job to maintain our division’s integrity with our funders, our corporate office, our families, and our team members. It was also my job to enforce integrity, in that I had to coach and sometimes discipline when team members were not following the policies and/or procedures they were responsible for. I strove to do so with kindness and a generous spirit, while at the same time treating everyone equally in enforcement of the rules.  This is why working for a Department of Integrity seems perfect for me at this point in my professional evolution. I imagine my conscious pursuit of integrity would be an asset to their work.

Now I need to find a sustained writing practice that brings me in alignment with my integrity around writing. I know writing improves my emotional health, exercises my brain, and feeds my soul. I know that I am being called to write, to share my/our story, and to deepen the concept of a Radical Mystic. Though I haven’t been writing, I have been struck with epiphanies and inspirations regarding both the book and community building. Though it’s been mostly internal, there has been significant forward movement, including identifying the specific message that takes my memoir from personal to universal.

I am doing my best to trust the process and uproot the fears that feed the impulse to resist. I’ll continue to work toward establishing a disciplined writing practice, but I’m letting go of the idea of posting a certain number of posts in a certain amount of time. While that strategy seems to work for others, it did not work for me. What’s new? A lifetime pattern, one that I mostly appreciate, is that I have to find my own way of doing everything. The Rebel archetype is strong in me. And I can only find my way to integrity by being true to myself.

Day 12: Going Numb & the Unheralded Effort to Return

“That we go numb along the way is to be expected. Even the bravest among us, who give their lives to care for others, go numb with fatigue, when the heart can take in no more, when we need time to digest all we meet. Overloaded and overwhelmed, we start to pull back from the world, so we can internalize what the world keeps giving us.

Perhaps the noblest private act is the unheralded effort to return: to open our hearts once they’ve closed, to open our souls once they’ve shied away, to soften our minds once they’ve been hardened by the storms of our day.” ―Mark Nepo

A friend of mine posted this quote to my wall on Facebook a few weeks ago because it made her think of me. I imagine she thought of me because I went numb with fatigue, pulling back from nearly every thing and everyone in my world two years ago.  And I hope because shenow sees how I am opening my heart again.

Fall 2012. The D/s relationship ended that took me on a dangerous trip with demons and addictions in the driver’s seat. I saw Daddy’s addiction to taboo sex early, one of the red flags I chose to ignore,but I didn’t realize I was addicted to the havoc his sadism wreaked in my heart. It wasn’t until I found myself on my knees on my living room floor in the middle of the night, sobbing because he only gave me 5 minutes of his attention that night and I was desperate for more. I would have done nearly anything for more. It was a few days after that night that he ended it and something in me broke.

I stopped writing. I stopped talking. I stopped spending time with people, or when I did spend time I wasn’t as intimate, affectionate and open as I had been. Friendships suffered. My relationship with Chris suffered.

I suffered from too much pain, both emotionally and physically. The Fibro was flaring up for the first time, taking away my sleep andmy physical and mental capacities. More significantly, my heart was battered and bruised from a series of challenging relationships that ended badly, the one with Daddy being the final straw. I hit bottom in my addiction to masochism and playing the martyr. I was giving myself to people who used me, neglected me, and treated me carelessly. I used a quest for spiritual evolution through vulnerability as justification to put myself in harm’s way. While I can’t accuse anyone else of outright abuse during that time, I abused myself by making myself vulnerable to people who took advantage of the gifts I offered and treated me badly.

The withdrawal started just before the news of my pregnancy. Then I withdrew further into myself in order to give our baby the optimal conditions for life. The combination of Fibro and pregnancy wasn’t aschallenging as I feared it would be, but it was far from easy. And the emotional roller coaster of giving our baby for legal adoption (not yet knowing how beautifully we would become co-parents) took allof my emotional resources to process. It took everything in me – my strength, my grace, my patience, my love for the baby – to care for myself both physically and emotionally so as to keep the baby from experiencing too much stress. I could only allow bits of feeling at a time in fear that my heart would be crushed if I let it all in at once.

It took 5 months after Lake was born for me to stop feeling the heaviness of grief. There were many ways I felt numb and hardened, unsure that I could be, or even wanted to be, vulnerable to anyone again. But that time was also a time of deep healing. In the months I had off from work I processed everything. I found the gifts and meaning in my experiences. I recognized my addiction to masochism and decidedto make different choices for myself. I also experienced tremendous gifts of love and friendship during the pregnancy, birth and after. Ilearned that I don’t have to suffer or hurt to grow. That I don’t have to work or serve to earn love. That relationships don’t have to be boxing matches between each other’s wounded places.

The biggest surprise in my unheralded effort to return is falling so deeply in love with Chris. Our relationship changed and deepened withthe birth of our baby and the process of orienting to this new familywe’ve co-created. Somehow our time apart the last few months has brought us even closer, deepening our desire and commitment. With his love as a foundation, I am opening my heart.

Now I am here, making myself vulnerable again. The walls are coming down as time goes on. I am practicing how to reach out with affection. I am letting the right people back into my heart and learning how to set boundaries. I am learning to manage my energy instead of giving my power away and moving at everyone else’s whims. And I am writing.

I feel strong and brave and rooted in love. It’s a grand place to be.

Day 11: I Am

“To run with the wolf was to run in the shadows, the dark ray of life, survival and instinct. A fierceness that was both proud and lonely, a tearing, a howling, a hunger and thirst. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst. A strength that would die fighting, kicking, screaming, that wouldn’t stop until the last breath had been wrung from its body. The will to take one’s place in the world. To say ‘I am here.’ To say ‘I am.” ― O.R. Melling

This week’s writing exercise for the Heart Manifesto workshop I am participating in (I was gifted entry!) is to write out everything that I believe “I am” without inhibition…

I am here. I am wild. I am fierce. I am emotional. I am contradictory. I am serious. I am generous. I am a Mother. I am Amma. I am Friend. I am Heart-Sister. I am heart. I am Water Brother. I am water. I am fire. I am stardust. I am a bright light. I am full of shadows. I am a family nurturer and community builder. I am non-violent. I am an advocate for social justice. I am a writer/poet. I am an artist. I am a singer. I am tired. I am in pain. I am enduring. I am thriving. I am loved.  I am Lover and Beloved.  I am a radical mystic. I am a believer in the heart. I am intellectual. I am a phoenix rising from the ashes. I am transparent. I am present. I am holding space. I am happy. I am missing my Man. I am held. I am supported. I am abundant.

I am a professional nonprofit and community leader. I am in the right place and right time to find the perfect work opportunity for myself and my family in Portland. I am patient…most of the time. I am frustrated with the Universe and its timing…some of the time. I am paradox. I am tentative to trust and I am deeply faithful.

I am a child dancing in wildflowers, blowing bubbles and giggling.

I am a teenager unwilling to accept the status quo in how I look or how I think.

I am a young adult experiencing my freedom for the first time in my life.

I am an Amma learning how to share parenthood with others. I am learning how to be someone other than Mommy.

I am matriarch in a tribe grown from love and the deep work of intimacy rather than blood.

I am an empath that feels the emotional experience of those I love in my heart.

I am a mystic, a priestess, a Divine Child. I am head over heels in love with the Universe.

I am bruised and scarred but never broken.

I am vulnerable.

I am open.

I am wide open, reaching deeper and further into the possibilities of who I am and who we are.

Ubuntu – I am because we are.