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The alchemy of crisis

In Insight and Experience, Meditation and Mindfulness, Mind and Movement by LivingNowLeave a Comment

“A crisis is an opportunity riding the dangerous wind “
–    Chinese proverb


When I saw the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, it made me cry. I am sure you felt the same. So many people involved in needless religious wars, so much hatred being sown that will only reap more hatred. Never-ending violence and religious rage is even spreading fear to those of us who have nothing to do with this distorted way of seeing the world.

Combined with the breakdown of many so-called secure banking systems worldwide, so much insecurity is being created in us all. Fear of losing your house, your job and your possessions creates tensions and anxiety. Shaky times. But … at the same time this breakdown is a great possibility for breakthrough.

What are we to learn from this? What does all this suffering outside have to do with me?

On one hand, listening to Eckart Tolle on Oprah’s Soul Series Show, I see many more in the process of awakening – millions of people hearing about meditation, about how to let go of the attachment to the ego, learning to become silent, to live from essence, many perhaps for the first time. It looks like there is a new wave of consciousness arising, a new era of enlightened intelligence. A man with charisma and humility, Barack Obama has won the US election. It seems like a pivotal turning point. The cry of “Yes we can” has a universal resonance. We want to believe it.

At the same time the old conscience, the ancient and crusty structures, are fighting desperately for survival. The good and the bad do battle – Darth Vader against Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter against Lord Voldemort – but just like Harry Potter discovers he has Voldemort inside him, we too have to face our own darkness and terror inside.

Facing ourselves – facing crisis

If you actually take the challenge and use the crisis to grow, you will find a part in yourself that is already whole that can actually survive any difficulty – that can rise out of the ashes like a phoenix.

Many years ago, when my husband suddenly died, I was left in such a crisis. That crisis changed and transformed my life. Losing a loved one sent me spiralling suddenly into my darkest grief and loss. Who was I without him, and why did I stop loving when I lost my beloved? Is love always connected to the other? Many questions that brought me to deep work on myself.

And something deeply transformed inside by facing this darkness. Today I can say I am not the same person. My heart was broken open and through that a new being emerged. Through the help of a spiritual master, a very loving community and meditation, I grew into a profoundly different person. Since then I teach about growth and transformation. Only by facing our deepest hidden pain can the shells of our hearts open and a new being emerge.

Is there any way out?

The only transformation possible is from the inside. The change we want others to manifest has to happen inside each individual first. That is the challenge, and we need to take risks to face it. To try to change the outer world is easy compared to the courage we need to disempower our inner demons – terror, righteousness and darkness. We learn from early childhood to split from these parts of ourselves, to be ‘nice’ and ‘low maintenance’ rather than deal with feelings that we might not like, feelings and behaviours that our parents or schoolteachers don’t want to acknowledge or deal with.

We split the dark and uncomfortable anger off, and then, in order to survive, we project it onto others. And this creates war outside – because we have war inside. We have terror inside, and we suppress it and project it out. There is negativity in all of us: self-hatred, sharp judgment and criticism that might even destroy us. And while we don’t deal with it, we create trouble around us energetically if not directly.

Taking responsibility

We have to first take responsibility and not always throw it onto others. Even if I have a grain of fighting, self-hatred or even judgment inside of me, it creates conflict inside and outside. This conflict creates tension and war. So, the first step is to look at your own zones of conflict inside and take them back, take responsibility for them. “This is my darkness”. “This is my own inner conflict!” Instead of projecting it, I take it on as ‘my own business’ and clean up my own house.

This first step is already an amazing step. And just like Byron Katie always says, there is my business, your business and God’s business. I cannot change you, I certainly cannot mess with God’s business, but I can change and work on my own business.

We might not act out that violence and hatred, but we certainly all have it inside of us, and facing it is a first step into a tremendous transformation.

An experiment

For one week, see if you can drop ‘blaming’. Be it yourself (by being critical), others (by being demanding or attacking or controlling) or blaming the weather, politics, etc. And see where it leaves you. If you feel tensions it will be your own inner conflict, your own inner way not to be in peace with yourself.

Acceptance of our darkness and unconscious parts

The next step is to own that darkness inside and learn to accept it, without conditions and reservation. The only way is to learn to accept yourself in totality with all the parts that you love, but also with all the parts that you don’t love – and maybe even deny or hate. Bring all these hidden and lost parts back to yourself, so you can embody them all in a conscious and mature way, instead of acting out unconsciously. Maybe you feel confused, withdrawn or angry in a given moment – we all do – but instead of trying to get rid of the feeling find a moment when you can just sit with it, and welcome those feelings and uncomfortable parts of yourself. Breathe.

You might need some help from a friend. It can become a practice you do together, holding presence for each other. Learn to love these neglected parts of yourself, to welcome them one by one. Once seen and accepted they can be brought into the light, where they can heal. If you keep them hidden, they become like festering sores that eat you up from the inside. Acceptance and awareness heals. It can be that simple, and you’ve heard it before – so why don’t you do it?

Cleaning the dust from the mirror of your heart, your inner light can shine

Having a human heart is a very unsafe and dangerous business. It’s the source of great joy and happiness and yet at the same time can be the source of immense pain and anguish. It is obvious that we can be more effective and real when our hearts are open, more authentic and less reactive. However, as long as we are in reaction, we are caught up creating even more entanglement and mess – no matter how good our intentions might be. It is hard to stay open when life challenges you with so many painful experiences.

What actually disconnects us from our heart and from our being?

We get wounded and betrayed mostly in relationships and with friends and family. We get broken open. In order to avoid this seemingly unbearable pain we would rather isolate and protect ourselves than feel it, and unconsciously we shut down and dissociate.

What is driving us to keep running away from that pain? So much in our lives is about avoiding that deep and unbearable pain of separation. It becomes evident in so many different ways. It might show up as avoiding the wound of rejection by trying to create the opposite – wanting desperately to belong and thus covering up the pain of not belonging and being abandoned. It might show up as pleasing everybody, so you feel accepted and liked by everybody, so you don’t have to feel the pain of rejection. It might show up as an attitude of ‘fuck you’, I don’t need anybody – because I don’t want to face the pain of feeling so utterly helpless and dependant. It might show up as the need to be successful so people can admire and acknowledge you, so you don’t have to feel the pain of not being seen – the excruciating pain of humiliation. It might show up in being a workaholic, so you don’t have to feel the pain of not being loved for who you really are – and in its place you are only being loved and seen if you generate excellent achievements. Or it might show up by being ‘powerful’, and in turn becoming angry, violent and hateful.

We’ll do anything to avoid that pain. It reminds us of a state of helplessness when we were small babies, powerless in the times when nobody was there for us. It was too much to bear the hurt when our needs were not met. That inner pain of being neglected as a small being often creates a disconnection from love and the safety and nurturing of the holding environment and thus, in the extreme, it is the breeding ground for fanatic terrorism and a darkness and coldness that has a life of its own. Our ego and personality structure came into existence and created strategies to avoid that pain. And nobody is alone in this – we all have the same pain.

Key: feel your feelings

And here is one of the keys to your inner treasure: the access to oneness and peace is through accepting and feeling that pain of separation. Even more surprising, once you dare to let yourself feel it, you will find in the centre of that pain there is timeless eternal unconditional love waiting for you. The more you hide the pain and compensate for it, the more confused and lost you will feel. The way out is in. Allow yourself to experience your feelings and then slowly learn to share those feelings in a responsible way.

Dare to be authentic in your expression. Once you start, it is not so difficult to continue this process.

A meditation

I often just sit for 15 minutes and put my hand on my heart and allow myself to open up to my feelings. I give myself permission for any feelings to arise, not only the ‘good’ ones. Without effort or pressure, slowly my heart and its sensations and feelings start to reveal themselves. In time I have learnt to really trust my feelings and see that they are not as threatening as I thought, and I have learnt to deal with them gracefully.

I can see that this approach to challenges has changed my life, and transformed me. I am more open to my feelings and less blaming of others. The more I am in touch with my own heart the more I can feel the hearts of others. This creates peace instead of polarisation. Once our heart awakens we can experience a greater power and a knowing of our infinite potential.

This is the time! Like never before so many people are waking up and preparing for this enormous collective shift. Use the crises in your life as an alchemist would use the various base elements to create ‘gold’. The gold is your own unique being, your vibrant soul, enriched by the living heart, alive and in wonder. This is the time; now is the moment.

Turiya Hanover is a spiritual activist and the leader of the Path Of Love process in Australia and worldwide. She has 35 years’ experience in a range of healing modalities.

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