Life continues to teach me there are great gifts to be received from stepping outside my comfort zone. Finding the courage to follow my own path, learning to heed my soul’s calling, and dance with my fears has opened new possibilities and allowed grace to flow in.
Becoming more aware of my life experiences on not just personal level, but also a universal-symbolic level, has helped me to transform my own perceptions, seeing how interconnected we are as human beings through our struggles, triumphs, and everything in between. Getting out of my own way, so the soul can lead, has been the key to inner growth and expansion. In a world where there are forces striving to contract our energy, it is liberating to know we can choose to raise our consciousness and in doing so shift our experience.
Excerpt from In Rhythm With Your Soul. . .
The Proverbial Fork in the Road
How have I tirelessly kept my commitment to dance? During a seven year gap, I had cut myself adrift. When I let my dance training lapse while doing my Honours B.A. at the University of Toronto, my spirit floundered. I was attempting to navigate my life not so much by the stars’ wisdom, but by the size of the waves and the ever-shifting weather conditions – and without an anchor to see me through the next storm. Go figure, I even wrote my boating license exam without a boat in sight. That was how adrift I was. Sure, I had heard, “Be true to yourself,” and “Follow your dream.” However, it was the time away from my regular training that elevated these words above nice sentiments and impressed them on my consciousness.
Looking back, I am struck by how award-winning neuroscientist and spiritual teacher Julia Mossbridge talks about this ‘fork in the road’ we all face sooner or later, even multiple times at different junctures during our life. She calls this the “splintered path”. Mossbridge explains:
we create splintered paths when we want to avoid painful or difficult steps on our soul’s path. We see that if we branch out and create a new path, we can get closer to our goal [or so it seems] without doing the work the soul asks us to do. We decide that it’s okay to split off a piece of ourselves . . . and make it into a path in its own right.[i]
Like so many young girls, I had dreamt of becoming a professional ballet dancer. This passion for dance consumed me. It ran so deep that even before I was aware I had a soul path to follow, I sensed it was my soul urging me on.
When I wasn’t able to manifest the dream I had envisioned, imagine my state of mind and heart. Instead of embracing the grieving I needed to do, like so many I splintered off that part of myself and set it adrift for seven years. I studied English, Art History, and Education at university, got married, and bought a house – all the things I believed would satisfy my picture of a complete life. But by leaving dance behind in the surf, I could never be happy with these other aspects of my life, as a key part of me was missing. I had yet to learn that I acted on these choices from a need to compensate for the loss I had not fully grieved. Making such life-altering decisions from a place of lack and fear, rather than from a feeling of wholeness, rather than from really knowing myself, was not the way to fulfill that unacknowledged part still aching within.
As I soon found out, most everything I had created in my life from that moment forward was tinged with sadness for the disowned part of myself lost somewhere at sea. The marriage, the house, the career could have been experienced differently if I had brought all of myself to them. Instead, I had turned my choice for them into an ‘either/or’ scenario. Whenever I look back on this time, Mossbridge’s words resonate. She states:
As we follow this splintered path, we can become seduced by it. For a time we actually move closer to our destination, and we feel vindicated. We think maybe we’re on the right track after all. Our splintered path feels easy, and the real work of our soul seems more and more difficult to do. As we move farther on our splintered paths, we start to forget that there is any other way to move at all. None of this would be a problem, except for the fact that by creating and moving on a splintered path, we lose ourselves.[ii]
On a deep level, I sensed this splintering effect, although I was not conscious of such a concept at that point in my life. I just believed I was making a sober adult decision to let go of the things not turning out as they should. Since I perceived these callings to be not so highly valued by society, more and more I began to undervalue them for myself.
Written in the fine print of my life’s choice, which I glossed over as most twenty-somethings are wont to do, were seemingly small monthly and annual deductions from my overall energy and enthusiasm for life, which seemed negligible for quite some time. Eventually, though, the constant withdrawals became more apparent, and the missed chances of finding my splintered self sank me deeper into a lingering depression. Mossbridge articulates the experience of the splintered path so well when she explains:
You know you’re on a splintered path when you feel cut off from yourself. You become less and less conscious of where you are and what you are feeling. You do too much and wonder if all your effort is worth it. As a result you may become sick, depressed, or lonely.[iii]
Like the infamous fish that got away, part of our self too can swim out of sight when we are distracted by the “important matters of living”. The more we splinter ourselves off, the more aimless and purposeless we feel.
Although my marriage finally hit the rocks, thankfully soon after a golden ray of sunlight struck me: life doesn’t have to just happen to us; we can do more than merely survive. Everyone faces difficult times and loss, yet as Mossbridge says, we can take all the so-called broken pieces and rejoin them through a loving act of self-gathering, just as the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis patiently gathered up the body of Osiris from the Nile. When we go deeper, to the mythic and archetypal level of our journey, and open our minds and hearts to this dimension of living, we can see the order in the disorder. We understand that many have walked where we have. We see that when the mundane world of the five senses becomes an anchor for our spirit, it allows us to live in many more realities. We need not limit ourselves to merely the third dimensional world, which only appears to be the most real.
In retrospect, I see how dance has been a personal archetype for exploring my innermost dramas and heated conflicts. When I step back, I understand how the key issues relating to these challenges have been polarities, and I can avoid being sucked into their either/or perception of duality. With her Wheel of Twelve model, Barbara Hand Clow describes twelve major categories of polarities. She stresses how important it is to balance such polarities as self/other, grounding/letting go, and creating/giving,[iv] as they can show what we are dealing with is neither good, nor bad. It is simply a range of possibilities that helps us sense where we want to place our energy and focus. When we direct our attention in this way, we are co-creating our reality from the place of the witness. We are opening to our multidimensional experience of being human. Being other than a professional dancer, I realized, was not a “bad” thing, just as being one was not necessarily a “good” thing either. Fighting against the current of my life had swept me up in struggle – even struggle I denied, pushing it down further into my body, away from my consciousness – and created pain from perceiving my life as lacking. Grasping for the proverbial carrot that dangled just out of reach in the dreaded past or in the imminent future had kept me swatting at air and swinging between polarities. What an energy drain! Learning to be more fully aware in the present centered me in the paradoxical nature of the moment. Now I could admit complex feelings, chew on them, then digest them, and maintain an equilibrium from which the eternal present can open and flow.
As I did more than just tread water, life began to move along swimmingly. Previously, I had swum circles around my grieving because of dualistic thinking. The belief that my life had to be this or that unintentionally guaranteed a feeling of loss. Now it was clear: my expectations of being a professional ballet dancer not being met were indeed a gift. They were the first inkling that there was something more to explore. Like a tiny drop onto the water’s surface, it rippled outward, gradually expanding as vast as the ocean. I realized that the desire to be a dancer was my soul yearning to be heard.
I had resisted dance because of lingering fear encircling me like sharks. But when I moved through this fear and surrendered to my passion, life changed for the better – and the sharks shape-shifted into dolphins. Recognizing friendly waters where all earth’s creatures could swim together, I found the courage to dive deeper within, rather than just float safely on the surface. The ripples of my childhood dream of becoming a dancer were my soul’s unique way of urging me to gently, patiently equalize the water’s pressure, while focusing on the unexplored realms of energetic truth that flowed within and around me. Gradually descending deeper, I could explore a reconnection with a new wholeness.
After having tossed and turned through a great blue abyss when dance seemed thrown overboard in my life, only to have it resurface, my heart aches with empathy when someone says, “I would love to dance, but I have two left feet,” or “no rhythm”. To stop inspiration from manifesting itself is akin to cutting off a limb. One senses there could be more, but glimpses only the ghost of an energetic structure, unborn yet hopeful with potential. As quickly as people let their heart speak, the reasoning mind blocks the opportunity to stretch themselves and discover the vast possibilities within.
Does any of what I have just shared resonate with you? Then here is my wish: may you open and reach beyond your comfort zone, and ultimately, reunite the aspects of yourself you long to bring back into wholeness. A humble guide, I will happily walk beside you and offer support and encouragement. May the journey take you through hesitation, uncertainty, and even fear, to uncover the inner truth that your soul is tugging on your heart strings to listen to and honor.
[i] Julia Mossbridge, Unfolding: The Perpetual Science of Your Soul’s Work (Novato, California: New World Library, 2002) 56.
[ii] Mossbridge 57.
[iii] Mossbridge 57.
[iv] Barbara Hand Clow, with Gerry Clow, Alchemy of Nine Dimensions: The 2011/2012 Prophecies and Nine Dimensions of Consciousness (Charlottesville, Virginia: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., 2010) 41.