Have you ever felt something was not right, but you couldn’t really put your finger on it? I had that feeling recently. I was going through some intense ups and downs and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why. I just felt I was missing a piece that would allow me to understand and resolve this. So I decided to use a powerful exercise I created and used to lift myself out of one of the lowest points of my life some years ago. I drew the piece I felt I was missing on my notepad (it came out like a piece of a puzzle, purple with black dots), I drew around it all the things I felt would come with it. I decided to trust that that piece will fall into its place in the next 2 months. What depended on me was to prepare for its coming. Under my painting I wrote just that – ‘prepare’ – and sketched what would be the changes I’d do to my life and approach so that when the piece comes, I am ready to welcome it as a dear guest.
It took a week for magic to start happening. A couple of friends reminded me of an author whose books I’d intended to pick up for a long time. His name kept popping up until I was like ‘Alright, alright, I got it. I need to read this’. So I got one of his books – Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin. In it I found the clues that led to what feels like the coming of the piece I asked for thanks to his framework about the 3 layers of the self – the ego, the spirit and the soul.
– The Ego: this is our middle layer where we have our normal consciousness that goes through life and makes sure we survive and do what it takes to feel good, safe and supported in the physical reality. This part of us does its best to answer all the little practical questions of everyday life plus some bigger ones like ‘How do I find a partner?’, ‘How do I get along with them?’, ‘How do I make a living?’, ‘How do I deal with conflicts and my own emotions’ etc. Working in that level involves reading personal development books, coaching, therapy, mastermind sessions and any kind of activity that allows us to do better in the practical sense.
– The Spirit: the layer above the ego is concerned with elevating ourselves beyond the practicalities of daily life. It’s about coming to a space of full presence where the mind chatter stops and we can remain in a calm peaceful state, feeling our oneness with the universe and its expression in our bodies. In its highest expressions, we can feel the bliss as we experience the oneness and lose sense of our individual body and mind. In the West we are starting to associate this with happiness as we start sensing that success in the material world is not enough. We look to the East to learn how to do it. We read books like ‘The power of Now’ and ‘Inner Engineering’, we pick up different kinds of meditation like Vipassana, we do yoga, etc.
– The Soul: the layer below the ego is related to our core essence, to that specific unique gift we carry inside and are here to bring to the world. It’s the part of us that brings a sense of meaning and purpose and it goes in exactly the opposite direction of the spirit – we have to dig down inside of us to figure that one out. In order to to that, we need to go through layers of conditioning that have created our present lives and identities. As we start sensing more and more of our purpose, we need to make major changes that can go from losing a couple of friends, through losing our partner, making a sharp career shift, all the way to dropping everything we know to head out into the world in search for ourselves. It’s a difficult and painful process, because on top of sadness for losing things we used to hold dear, we have to face the unknown and trust that it has something better for us. I’ve done this kind of work over the last years and have used shamanic drum journeying, vision quests, nature explorations, long solitary travels, authentic relating, dance and all kinds of intuitive approaches to address it.
Which brings me to the piece I feel I received from Bill Plotkin’s book. It was a powerful reminder that came with lots of goosebumps and tears and all kinds of strange experiences, all pointing to the fact that I need to stop hiding behind the safety of coaching and workshops oriented towards resolving the needs of the ego. That in order to embody my core essence and gift for this world, I need to allow myself to use my experience on all layers of the self in my service to others. This relates especially to soul work. I’ve travelled a long way and know from experience how painful and difficult it can be. Which is why I never allowed myself to share it fully – I was afraid to be a trigger of discomfort, negative emotions and major shifts in people’s lives. I heard a couple of spiritual leaders sharing recently about the possibility of breakthrough without breakdown. And I feel that’s not just bullshit, I believe it’s harmful, because it brings the wrong expectations and slows down the personal transformation that aligns people to their core.
So what next? As I pull up my sleeves and dig into creating a new approach aligned with this realisation, I’d like to invite you to do the same. Check with yourself – on which layer do you feel you want to focus more attention at this point of your life?
Let me know what you think about all this – drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org! If you enjoy my videos, subscribe to my youtube channel and be the first to know when I release a new one. And if you are interested in coaching to facilitate a transformation you feel you need in your professional or personal life, learn more and book your session here.
About Lessons in Paradise
I believe we already are in paradise, regardless of where we are and what’s going on in our lives. I believe life is a journey towards becoming aware of this and enjoying as much of it as we can in the limited amount of time we have here. The ‘Lessons in Paradise’ vlog is the space where I share my process of shedding patterns and beliefs that obstruct our view in order to replace them with presence, awe and wonder. It’s also my invitation to you – an invitation to connect and journey together by sharing what we are going through and helping each other see through to the greatest expression of ourselves.