The Holy Relationship Between Creativity and the Shadow

The Holy Relationship Between Creativity and the Shadow

A prevalent aspect of Christian and New Age thinking is that we must only consume or attach ourselves to that which nourishes us – this practice and concept extends to every area of life such as which people you associate yourself with, the food you eat, your personal belief systems which can either be empowering or dis-empowering.

Nonetheless, I will be focusing solely on the creative aspect of this belief – either, creating, making, watching, listening to reading or experiencing any type of art.

With regards to this, the idea is that we should only consume that which ‘uplifts’ us so instead of listening to SlipKnot, opt for a more uplifting type of music such as, Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People. After all they have ultra spiritual lyrics such as the one’s illustrated in the video below: (*Just by the way I actually like Nahko Bear – this is just to make a point)

A very personal and extreme experience I had with this was during High School when a not-so-shy Christian teacher told me to not read the Harry Potter books because they’re evil.

Now although I do see the value in this and feel that it can help one to a certain extent, I do think there is a paradox here we need to take into consideration and to learn how to ‘dance with’.

By only filling ourselves up and expressing ‘positive’ creativity, we run the risk of repressing the Shadow, and when you do that, it can unconsciously come out in nasty and toxic variations.

It’s been a few years since I studied philosophy but I am pretty sure Nietzsche or some other philosopher said something along the lines of creativity being the greatest portal of which to express our darkness through. For one, you aren’t truly hurting anyone in the strictest since of the word and if you are, in my view, it’s more of an invitation for your Shadow or darkness to find a portal within which to express itself rather than an actual hurt – and I say this within reason and caution.

I remember my first Ayahuasca ceremony. I was shown my own darkness and the collective darkness of the whole world. I was shown that I have the capacity to be as evil as Hitler and so does anyone else.

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The funny thing was that I was shown, once again that the best way to deal with this part of ourselves, or at the very least for me, was to express it through art.

I think ‘Metal Heads’ are a great model for what I am trying to say here. I have read some articles, (admittedly I didn’t have the time to find the value of these sources or search for the amount of peer reviews) which claim that these wonderful human specimens are among-st the kindest, happiest and calmest of men – and women – and whatever gender you classify as.

In my own personal experience, having known quite a few of these amazing individuals in my life, is that despite the stereotyping, the Metal Heads I have met and befriended have literally been on my top ten list of the kindest, warmest, relaxed people I’ve known and know.

My theory, and it is simply a theory, is that this could be because they express their Shadow Side through the music they listen to and through the energy at the concerts they attend. No one gets hurt (Okay so that might not be completely true considering mosh pits), and they end up walking out of these concerts with their shadow expressed, not to be unconsciously thrown around and all they have left is being fucking awesome.

Okay so it’s not such a tight-knit theory but nevertheless, what I am trying to get at is that creativity is seemingly the one portal where we can express our darkest desires so that they don’t lash out in more harmful ways and that although being mindful of what type of art you take in is important to a certain extent, I think it’s equally as paramount to find space within creativity where one can be free to express our secret devils. After all, aren’t both creativity and freedom intimately intertwined?

Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individuals conscious life, the blacker and denser it is – Carl Jung

Sansa Stark, Little Birds and My Personal Path towards Redemption

Sansa Stark, Little Birds and My Personal Path towards Redemption

*WARNING (PLEASE READ THIS FIRST): This article dives into topics relative to my own personal experience with depression, anxiety and using them as a source of comfort. I do not want to invalidate anyone’s experience with mental illness or put forward the notion that everyone uses their problems with mental health in this manner. If you are struggling, please seek professional help immediately. This article is also not a permission slip to blame abuse victims for what they experienced by the hand of their abuser/abusers, or to refute the difficulty and real challenges that come about with mental health issues….Also GoT spoilers ahead!!!

We all like to think of ourselves as ‘Good’ people. I mean, that one time you may have said something less than endearing to that guy in the car next to you, but, generally, you’re a good person, right? You care for your family right? You choose not to drink from plastic straws …Right?

 

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Well, in the past few months, having come out of a relationship and really, for the first time in my life, finding the means, the strength and non- judgmental support, that I will forever be grateful for, I have found that to a certain extent I am NOT such a good person, especially when it comes to using my ‘pain’ or, to be more specific, ‘numbness’ as a source of comfort, irresponsibility and refusing to step into personal power, which I had been running away from for years, and still sometimes do.

For a long time, following an amalgamation of traumas and one specifically abusive relationship, I developed a codependency on men and long-term relationships. I knew this was wrong but no matter how much will power I summoned up, no matter how many Ayahuasca ceremonies I went to and no matter how many friends I spoke to, I could not seem to leave. I became a prisoner of my own trauma, in a sense, unwillingly punishing other people for the hurt someone else had inflicted on me.

Eventually, I realised I needed REAL help. I needed a mentor to walk me step by step through the whole process of breaking this pattern as I could not do this by my self. This was difficult for me to accept. I had overcome everything in my life with will power but for some reason I could not overcome this simply through the force of my mind and determination. I thought I was weak, but as any addict eventually learns, this is a battle you can not fight on your own.

When I finally admitted that to myself, it was the first step towards becoming free and redeeming myself, but once I really began this incredibly difficult journey of individuation and was single for a  good while, I realised, that I was my own captor and simply leaving these relationships, which had been my main focus throughout the years, had not taken away this underlying addiction to being numb.

I use the word ‘numbness’ over ‘pain’ for a particular reason. When you step out of your comfort zone, when you work towards goals that truly fulfill you, you will definitely come up against some challenges and pain along the way. Nothing changes if you don’t step out of your comfort zone, you can not find TRUE happiness and for all the adventurous free-spirited nature I embody as well as my ambivalence towards mediocrity, I found it quite astounding that I had built a cage of comfort around myself in order to avoid facing the world.

Comfort Zones Are for Resting in – Not Living in

You see, I’ve always been an incredibly sensitive person with my head in the clouds. Since I was younger I could not stand seeing others in pain or dealing with difficult situations; it hurt me to the core of my being. This led me to being labelled and labeling myself an ’empath’.Screenshot (96857)

Now I am not too clued up whether this generalisation has an plausible grounding in reality, but either way, it helped me understand myself and my sensitive nature.

Being sensitive in and of itself it not a weakness. In fact, if used properly, it can be my greatest strength; it has given me courage to stand up for those in vulnerable positions, it has led me to being a friend that is non-judgmental and, with the exception of manipulation, tends to stick with my people through the darkest of times, it has been given to me in order to follow my purpose as an up-and-coming life coach and it has allowed me to experience the incredibly beautiful depths of this life; the lows but also the exhilarating highs.

Seeing someone happy, seeing someone growing, seeing someone realise how valuable they are and stepping into their full and glorious power are all genuinely my favourite experiences in the world. Beyond this, music, emotional moments of ecstasy, food, art, adventure and yes, sex, touch me on a deep and beautiful level.

However, this sensitivity can be used in the wrong way, and unless you’e very discerning about when and where you use it, many can take advantage of this delicate awareness.

I have allowed my sensitivity to enable me to ignore red flags, helping individuals that were simply trying to manipulate me. I have hidden in the comfort of my past relationships, depression, anxiety, past traumas, my ‘New Cage’ spirituality (thanks Jeff Brown for that term) and many other aspects of life, hurting myself and others along the way, in order to avoid the searing pain that comes with this hyper-receptivity of the deeper emotions of those around me.

The problem was, not only was I hurting people, but I was avoiding true happiness by using these dark aspects of my life to swirl me around in a pattern that was harder and harder to get out of  the more I kept doing it.  It was if I had been walking in a circle on the ground for six years (or maybe my whole life-I’m not sure at this point) and I had consequently dug a never-ending looping hole, forgetting to look up at the light.

I can understand how the concept of hiding yourself in your depression, traumas, anxiety and unfulfilling relationships doesn’t sound very legitimate. Why the hell would anyone want to lay around there?

Well, because, no matter how bad it was, it’s what I was used to. It helped me numb and escape from this reality, instead of taking the challenges on and walking through the pain that needed to be felt in order for me to heal and to step into my own power, which, through a few Aya ceremonies, I realised was what I was really scared of.

“The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost

I want to make it clear that this is not an attack on anyone. Some people with anxiety and depression simply and really can NOT get out bed, just as someone with a broken legs can’t walk, some people who have suffered from trauma struggle with PTSD and/or C-PTSD and even if it does not impact them on that level, it is incredibly difficult to function when your brain has been bludgeoned by these past experiences and lastly, abuse victims are NOT and NEVER to blame for what they went through. If you have never experienced these things, I implore you to educate yourself and withhold judgment.

However, in my case, the broken leg became my comfort zone. In a non-literal sense, I could lie in bed all day, eat junk and have my mother bring me food while i lay around watching Adventure Time; mmmmmm a perfect cocoon of comfort and escapism. In other words, because I identified with these apparent aspects of myself, I could not recognize that I was able to buy a wheelchair and maybe get a job.

(That being said, I have been fortunate enough to have the privilege of access to mental health resources and I am planning on writing an article at some point in the future on this heinous accessibility gap.)

At the end of day though, beating myself up, refusing to accept my weaknesses and ask for professional help just encouraged the pattern; leading to more hurt for me and many around me. What I actually needed to do was learn how to forgive myself, get the help I needed, ask for forgiveness with no expectations and be gentle with myself and others.

This journey of redemption isn’t over. Everyday I struggle with my ‘comfort-compulsion’, but at the same time and funnily enough, my sensitivity is the aspect of myself which has opened my eyes up to my purpose, has led me to find the strength to take on this compulsion on one step at a time and hopefully, one day, become a much better person in this area of my life as well as assist in building a better world for myself and others.

One of my most favourite aspects of George RR Martin’s writing is that, his characters, (Well until D&D took over), were never really Simpy good or bad. I think Jaime is the first person that springs to mind when we think of a very in depth, grey character with a supposed redemption arc (Although they completely blew up his arc in the end – just saying) but, even though I projected my own trauma’s onto the character Sansa, she eventually ended up being one of my all-time favourites.

This is not because I think she needed a redemption arc or to be redeemed for what she went through. She did nothing wrong, She was a sensitive and naive child trying to survive tormenting levels of grief and abuse.

Rather I relate to her because, in many ways, she reminds me so much of myself – especially when I was younger; shy, sensitive, head in the clouds – with a slightly bitchy and arrogant undertone. I was unable to see that not everyone has the best intentions, hiding through my spirituality and dreams of – well okay I don’t want to marry a prince and have golden-haired Lannister children, but you get what I’m saying.

Image result for Sansa Stark - I'm a stupid little girl with stupid dreams

I know Sansa is not everyone’s favourite GoT character and to be honest, I think a lot of that has to do with victim-blaming, but that is for another time.

From my point of view, her ability to take her traumas and rather then eventually becoming someone who hides their head in the clouds and runs away from the world, she used what these experiences had taught her for her and the North’s benefit.  I have learnt many lessons from my own negative experiences, that, for me personally, have been the greatest and most unexpected gifts I couldn’t have ever dreamed of asking for.

Sansa became a leader, one that cares about the people on the ground, wondering where they would get food for the winter with all of Deanery’s troops and dragons coming along for the White-Walker escapade. She claimed that the troops needed to rest before they run back into battle. In essence, she learnt to use her sensitivity in a positive and empowering way.

On the other hand, from those who abused and betrayed her, she quietly took on their lessons and she used those abhorrent experiences to become a leader that is not only honourable and cares for the people but, on top of that, and unfortunately unlike her father, had the ability to understand how the game works. Her distrust in Deanery’s proved to be spot on and I think we would all be lying if we didn’t at least have a bit of a YASS QUEEN! moment when she had Little Finger killed.

Image result for Thank you lord Baelish for all your lessons

Now I have not experienced the level of atrocities this character went through in the books and movies but I can relate to her journey and how she became able to find her purpose as a leader by keeping her sensitivity when needed, but also putting down the God damn law when the time was right.

Instead of allowing her past traumas to defeat her and running away from the world through fantasies, as she did when she was younger, she made the choice to rather learn from these terrible events and as a result, she, and I, are no longer little birds anymore.

little birds

Gratitude: A Portal to Abundance

Gratitude: A Portal to Abundance

Many of us are no strangers to the benefits that come with practicing gratitude. It helps us to see the good in our lives instead of focusing on the bad but of course, a million dollars isn’t going to fall into your lap as soon as you shout, “Thank you for this lovely day!”  Sorrrry – but no. That would be nice wouldn’t it? Alas, I am no Abraham Hicks, making promises of piles of money through the mere practice of positivity ( I wanted to use alliteration-leave me alone.)

What I do know is that gratitude can help you train yourself to see opportunities that weren’t there before instead of all the ways in which you can fail. I think it may even act as a medicine for the negativity bias in the brain.

We all have a negativity bias. From the little I understand and to the best of my knowledge, this bias stems from when our ancestors had to survive in a much more brutal environment. Their brains had to adapt to thinking up the worst scenario that could happen in order to avoid getting killed.

Fortunately, for the most part ,and for many of us, we don’t have to worry about being eaten by a lion around every corner -or bush I guess, so this, as I understand it, is where anxiety comes from; An overuse of a monkey mind in a modern world.

Gratitude, in my experience, seems to train our brains to look for opportunities rather than negative outcomes. If you are consistently in a negative bias mindset, you may miss  opportunities that are staring you right in the face, opportunities that could lead you to paths full of joy and abundance.

That being said, beyond recognising these portals towards abundance, gratitude can assist you in feeling like you’re abundant already. You stop comparing yourself to others and start developing a mindset that wonders at the privilege, abundance and grace of your life no matter what the surroundings. You may not have a million dollars, but you may certainly feel like a million dollars (Although could someone maybe give me a million dollars as well? Pretty please? I’ll be really grateful.).

This takes away that existential dread of consistently working long hours towards moments of achievement thats’ ecstasy tends to waver away, usually in a few minutes at the most, wherein you start rolling that ball up the hill again, wishing for that millisecond of joy at the top to last a lifetime. Thanks for the piece of paper. A degree in Philosophy. YAAAAAAY…Shit I can’t find a job. (Hint: That’s not always true if you’re smart enough.)

With gratitude, you can enjoy the climb. You can think, ‘Wow, look at all the beautiful flowers on this hill’, appreciate the friends who helped you when you fell down and took rests with you under the waterfalls along the way as the cool air massaged your face on a beautiful spring day.

Now, I know this may rub some people the wrong way. I will not deny that in some contexts, suffering is a given, and sometimes you may still suffer in areas of privilege. It is a part of life.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that gratitude takes the edge off, makes things a little easier to handle in tough situations and, in some cases, beautifies your life with nothing but what was already there – except that you just had your eyes shut. In a sense, gratitude is a way towards awakening to the grace and beauty of our own existence and it denotes a certain level of responsibility for the space you find yourself in.

I, myself, used to get annoyed with the concept of gratitude. A practice always preached by my mother until this day and what I used to think of as naive and escapist way of navigating through the world.

I realise now, as I begrudgingly do more and more these days, that my beautiful mom is much more wise then she lets on. Gratitude, as I have said, is not closing your eyes to the suffering and negatives in the world but choosing to look at the beauty of is as well.

I can just hear my mom saying, ‘I told you so,’ and then going on to recite her favourite poem that is stuck in my head like ‘Let it go’ by Frozen but, nonetheless, represents the seemingly simple, yet deeply complex wisdom of appreciating your life as it is, right here right now.

Image result for Do you think that I have ever seen something as lovely as a tree

(Joyce is lying. My mom wrote it. She told me when I was little.)

The Workaholic’s Greatest Fear as Faith

The Workaholic’s Greatest Fear as Faith
I am not under any illusion that simply thinking positively and visualizing an abundant, joy-filled future are the only ingredients towards success. Work is needed. Inspired action is even better although not always practical. Furthermore, spiritual bypassing, I think many of us can agree, is a recipe for escapism, dogmatism and utter disaster in our personal lives.
 
On the other hand, working ourselves into the literal grave isn’t going to help either. We may eventually burn out, having all the success we acquired crumble before us as we struggle to live up to the ridiculous standards that we have set up around ourselves in order to live what we have usually been conditioned to perceive as the stereotypical version of  “success”.
 
However, beyond these earthly repercussions, the tendency to work too hard can point towards a lack of faith in the divine, God, the universe, the jumbo jet or whatever you want to call it. Not allowing ourselves rest and empty spaces within our lives, not only leaves us feeling exhausted but it does not allow for divine intervention or, if you’re more inclined towards the atheistic side, sparks of ideas, creativity, innovation and strategy that may allow your life to blossom as a more fulfilled, flowing experience, rather than a constant battle to that ever elusive hill top. Let me know if you ever meet the fool (for the Beatles fans *wink*)
 
In those empty, silent spaces; the home of the divine resides and if you never allow yourself to walk into that home, your home,  you never allow yourself to surrender to the conversations you could have with it, the miracles that could arise from it.
 
Rather, the constant push to work 24/7 denotes a controlling, fearful behaviour; thinking that if one does not work and push themselves every hour, minute and second, they will never achieve their goals or create the life they would love to live all the whilst hating every second of their current existence for some self-created prophecy that they think will bring them happiness; Thinking that they are the only purveyors of power in their lives, but forgetting the fact that if they took those moments to remember their divinity,  treasured those moments of nothingness and emptiness, miracles could arise and unimaginable futures could manifest with more grace, flow and fulfillment.
 
Yes. Work. It’s important that one takes responsibility for their lives but our lives are incomplete with the grace and miraculousness that could grow from the empty spaces that our ego’s fear to dwell in.
 
Dear beautiful workaholic, I know you, I was you, sometimes I still am you; the truth is you do not need my permission to rest but here I am giving you that for I feel deeply in my heart we are always being held in life’s fearless, brutal and loving grace. Just for a moment, take a deep breathe and let yourself be taken. You may be surprised.

Please step aside, I’m not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Please step aside, I’m not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl

So maybe I’m a bit late to the party, but I’ve recently become obsessed with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope and its negative affect on the way men perceive women and women perceive themselves.

The more I learnt about it the more angry I became but as this anger slowly faded away; the realisation came over me that on some unconscious level I’ve always tried to emulate this trope, on some subconscious level I was conditioned to believe this was the only way to get a man to fall in love with me – on some unconscious level I thought that this was the only way I could be happy.

Through this, I attracted men into my life that needed healing. Most of them wanted to “Become alive again!” or were going through some identity crisis which on some unconscious level they made my responsibility but as these relationships grew deeper, I would start to feel a sense of discomfort and disconnection. I didn’t feel seen by these men, and every time I tried to step out of this role, I was either punished by anger, silence or just pure misunderstanding – “You – you mean to say that you’re an individual with your own thoughts and needs?” Shocker.

A lot of the men I attracted into my life seemed to be attracted to my impassivity and recklessness which weren’t actually very healthy for anyone. A lot of them were bored and felt stuck in their lives and the trope I carried out had them convinced that they were in love with me – but they were in love with an illusion.

Sadly for them,  I spend most of my weekends alone watching terrible TV and stuffing myself with junk food. Illusion shattered.

I now realise why I was so unhappy in those relationships. I didn’t feel seen, and the thing is I can’t really be that angry at these guys either because how was anyone supposed to see me if I hadn’t learned how to see my real self?

From a very young age I was told how pretty I was, how all the boys would be running after me, how many hearts I would break and then sometimes they would say as an add on an, “Oh and you’re really smart as well!”

This made me feel like my intrinsic value lay in men’s perceptions of me. Instead of looking inside for my value I placed it onto the “male gaze” as they would say. There was also this constant cognitive dissonance in me to prove to myself that I wasn’t just a pretty face. It was this constant pull between manic pixie dream girl and a reactionary identity where I wanted to grow my legs hairs out and burn my bra. Neither of those people are me.

To be honest, I’m still figuring it out, and beyond the Manic Pixie and male gaze jargon, at the end of the day, it seems like most of those men didn’t fall in love with the real me but rather a person I thought I was supposed to be.

I’m beginning to try and look inside myself and find out who I really am. I am not a healthy person when it comes to relationships or really a person who someone should be dating, I’m a love addict and I have many toxic and slight borderline traits. I care about people deeply but I can be really cruel when I’m deeply hurt.  I jump from people pleaser to crazy bitch in a second. I can be really moody and distant.

I am far from perfect. I am aware of this and I’m not ready for a relationship so please, my apparently endearing eccentricities are not an invitation for your wounded masculinity to find refuge.

At the end of the day “I’m just a fucked up girl who’s looking for my own peace of mind.”

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Why I’m breaking up with meditation

Why I’m breaking up with meditation

Meditation is basically akin to the bible in the spiritual community. I won’t be surprised if in a few years they start telling us we are going straight to the fiery pits if we don’t do our daily breath work.

That being said, I. fucking. hate. meditating.  Seriously- I hate it.

I know I know what you’ re going to say. “It’s always difficult in the beginning”; “Start with only ten minutes a day and work your way up”; “focus on a candle”; “Eat a slice of kangaroo and go f**k yourself ” – my own little add-on.

Believe me.  I have tried it all for about the past nine years and every still, aching, moment makes me wonder why I keep trying to torture myself?

I understand the power of presence but what I also understand is that that kind of power doesn’t only stem from meditating. You can try yoga, shamanic drumming, dancing, Tai chi, rock climbing, and the list goes on!

What I am saying, is stop getting attached to this idea that you have to meditate or else you’re not spiritual. Actually, it’s dangerous to get attached to any specific notion of what the word “spiritual” means because at the end of the day it has nothing else to do with anything except connecting with that divine inner light in a way that serves you and in some rare cases, without excruciating leg cramps.

So that’s it. I’m breaking up with meditation. As with any relationship, if it isn’t serving you, let that shit go.

 

Why I took the blue pill: My experience in the Matrix

Why I took the blue pill: My experience in the Matrix

So I take the blue pill- Every day at about 8:00 and wow does it make my life easier! 

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As with everything in his crazy human society, people tend to jump to two extremes of an argument. In this case, some believe that psychiatric medication is either the best thing since that time an American dude walked on the moon, whilst, on the other side, we have the ultra hippies who basically see psychiatric medication as akin to the blue pill from the matrix.

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Well, I’d like to introduce all of you to something called ‘The Grey Area’. Don’t be afraid. It’s only constant uncertainty. Reach into the void.

You see, since about the age of sixteen, I have been trying to avoid these medications. Honestly, at a certain point, I thought that it was a way for the Illuminati to suppress my awakening. Do with that information what you will.

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(Woo wee woo wee  *Illuminati music*)

That being said, after years of trying to ‘fight the system man’, I walked into my doctor’s office and said, ‘Givitome doc’ and luckily he knew I was talking about medication ’cause no one actually wants to be stuck in a bad porn movie…right?

The point is that this medication has changed my life- and I’m not even on anything too strong. Just Adult ADHD medication but all of a sudden, 99% of my problems are gone. I can actually concentrate. I can actually remember things. My anxiety is not that bad.  It’s great. It’s so great I could actually sing a song.

That being said, the times when I do come off of the medications I am much more creative, filled with ideas and energetic but ask me to sit down for about three hours and I might just kick you in the face – and then give you a kiss afterwards because abuse is so funny haha.

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So at least in my experience, there are pros and cons to taking psychiatric medication. Right now, I need it, but I am working towards a more holistic lifestyle where my spontaneous, creative self can run wild. WILD!

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The point is, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for doing what you need to do in order to assist your mental health. If you need to take psychiatric medication, that’s more than okay- you are not a slave to the matrix, you are not weak and don’t let anyone tell you anything different.

That being said, if a cuppa Aya is your preferred method of self-development than hop on the dragon and fllllly b***h!

Personally, I prefer both (not together of course!) but at the end of the day, what works for you, works for you and no one can tell you how to deal with your own spiritual or self-evolution.

Why take the red pill or the blue pill when you can just take both? At least it won’t be a boring trip.