There is such great comfort when your life reflects the story your mind is telling. Even if this is a comfortable illusion, the harmony between the story and the perceived reality is a type of peace of mind. It is the root of the old adage “ignorance is bliss.”
But oh the anguish when Reality arrives as truth — a truth markedly different from the story our mind has been telling. There is an intensity to the arrival of Reality. This is why most mystics call it “waking up”. It’s jarring. A cold ice bath, a bright light, a shaking. How tempting it is to tighten the blankets and drift back into the dream.
The mind will treat this abrupt change as a threat. It will become obsessed with returning to the illusion of harmony. It will fixate on creating a different condition than present reality. Why? Because the mind is wired to keep us alive. It does not know to process things like a spiritual awakening, a tragedy or even what it means to truly love. The mind is a perfectly designed survival multi-tool made up of problem-solving, righting wrongs, telling stories and pursuing goals. All of these are not inherently bad or wrong. However, to accomplish any of these, the mind will attempt to close the heart. Again, I don’t judge this. It makes sense. It sees current conditions as a threat to survival so it is just doing its job.
I’m reminded again and again how essential it is to return to my center in these times. Combined with faith and heart-mindedness, being centered grounds me in the present experience. Faith reminds me that everything is at should be (even if I don’t like it) and heart-mindedness reminds me that thinking is a survival instinct — and there’s no survival required in matters of soul and love.
As I wrote about in last week’s essay, at the center of ourselves is where we find unconditional love. It is being fully in our centers and in the present experience where we begin to truly understand the ever-prevailing power of love — and what it means to live and love from a pure heart. From this place of pureness of heart, we can look at an awakening, a heart-break, a situation, a crisis and operate from a brightly different perspective.
We can see that love and reality are meant to co-exist and co-create.
We can see our own core selves and the core selves of others.
We can see true injustice in the world — rather than our own perceived slights and rejections.
We can see that the present moment truly does contain everything we need.
We can see that when the mind controls, the heart closes.
My point to all of this is that being in the experience of any intense thing puts the mind and the soul in conflict with each other. When the mind is in control, the soul is often just a whisper that we shush or ignore. I did this for many years related to avoiding pain, denying that I needed healing, accepting what I truly believe and much more. In these past few months of massive life changes, I’ve found myself on an almost daily basis trying to mediate the power struggle between mind and soul, as well as mind and heart. I recognize that I arrived at this point of life by primarily thinking. I trusted my intellect. I trusted my intelligence. And for many years, I was skeptical of my heart and my soul. Now, the reverse is true. I trust my soul. I trust my heart. I am grateful for my mind, but it is a mostly useless tool in matters of consciousness. It is when I begin to listen to my mind that I begin to doubt; I begin to drift my center. I go back to trying to mix thinking with a pure heart — only to find again and again that a pure heart is one devoid of thinking.
As this Season of Waiting continues, I continue to learn. I have realized that my role in all of this is to be somewhat of the Wim Hof of spiritual experiences. To sit in the frigid waters of the deepest feelings and learn how to not let the mind take over — then share those learnings with you. Some recent learnings include a fresh understanding that:
- Feelings are not problems to solve (unless you are in an actual crisis situation, then you can do what Emily says and “feel it later.”). Just be in the feeling. Don’t think about the feeling. Feel the feeling.
- Other people’s choices are not wrongs to right (unless their choices are truly harmful to themselves, you or others). Let people be. Love and freedom are inextricably linked.
- Goals are good — until they become attachments, expectations, obsessions. This comes down to context and intention. I am fully certain that heart-based goals/desires are always met eventually — even if they arrive in a form you didn’t necessarily ask for.
- The true story of Reality is simply the soul co-creating the story with the Divine — not your mind. Participate in the co-creation of the true story through contemplation, acceptance, curiosity, imagination, honesty.
To repurpose an overused adage, if you can’t handle the ice bath, get out of the awakening. But if you do that, you miss all of its lessons. You miss the opportunity to evolve. You slip back into the warm bath of illusion. Yeah, it’s cold in the ice bath but it is Reality. And Reality is where love is the strongest.f