Monday, October 22, 2012

Lessons in Gratitude

For those of you who read my blog for badass give no fucks Spirit shit, I'm sorry that I keep making touchy-feely posts. But they're going to go on for a little.

Because plenty of us talk about what we DO--but I have this need to talk to you about what I FEEL. Because Shadow Work is the foundation of my practice. The nasty, horrific, feeling-heavy, emotional, intuitive, baggage-heavy Work that decides how I live and what I do. I am completely different than I was 3 or 4 months ago.

I had graduated college and was looking for a career job. If you told me then "Dusken, in 4 months time, you will realize you haven't been happy in a long, long time. You will lose everything, and you'll completely transform yourself from the inside. You think you want a job, you think you want all of these things. But in 4 months, you will feel grateful. Endlessly, really grateful, for not having a job. You will feel grateful everything ended for you at once. You will emerge from your coffin realizing what you felt pretty much all the time, besides nothing, was anger. You were angry at everything, which is why there was no space left for anything else. You knew what you wanted, but not what you needed. In 4 months you will understand the difference."

I attended a Hindu fire ceremony on Friday night. It was part of the Navatrai, also known as the Nine Nights, which is festival for Durga widely celebrated in India. It was a beautiful and moving ceremony, and during, the woman told us to write down, on two slips of paper, indentically, a wish that we wanted to pass. She said it could be anything, like "I want to talk to my brother again, because we haven't spoken for many years."

Funny story--I knew I wanted to go to the Ceremony. But I didn't know if I could afford it. Then, the week of, I got an email. Because I am a member at my yoga studio, I would be going free. I like to think I'm not an idiot and took this as a sign. GET YOUR ASS TO THIS FIRE CEREMONY, YOU NEED TO DO THIS.

Anyway. The woman conducting the ceremony also said "Write as if it's already happening now. Write "I am excited and happy because for 5 hours me and my brother spoke today, and we cleared many things up and re-established our relationship." Then, she said, "But think closely on what you will write. The Universe will give you what you NEED; not necessarily what you WANT. You might want a Mercedes Benz, but maybe what you need is a tiny used car to get you on your life path. Asking the Divine like this is a lot like placing an order in a catalog. You can say oh I want this, this, and this--but things happen. Items get lost in transport, sometimes you get the wrong order and you have to send it back. You can place an order, but when and how it happens is not for you to decide. But know that what you need is coming to you."

I stared down at my blank slips of paper, and it really hit home for me, the lessons I have been learned in the past months since I graduated school. During the ceremony, I realized I was grateful. I thought I wanted a job, a life, to move, to get out. The Universe said, firmly, no. No job, no movement. Forced stillness. Forced psychological one on one time with myself. I can't blame the Universe. I am guilty of always running around like the rest of the Western world. I lost myself somewhere along the way. I lost myself in friendships, in work, in relationships, and in looking to the future and how to get there. All the time.

I thought I wanted wealth. A career. A relationship. I thought I wanted to move out, to get on with what I thought was out there for me. What I got was living with my parents, slowly building my practice and my crafts, fallout in the area of friends and everything else. I got 2 weeks straight of weeping, like clock work, curling into the fetal position and losing it. I got fights with my guide (repeatedly), fights with my parents, and a job in retail. I got anger, and misery, and resentment, and hate, and all of these emotions--and then, above all, peace. Standing on the other side of these hard months of shadow work, I feel again. I feel peace. I feel gratitude. For once, I realize I was masking all of these things because I saw WEAKNESS. FEAR. NEED. So I filled my psyche with anger. With concern for others. And one day I woke up feeling nothing. And for a long, long time, I felt nothing. But I was so used to the Nothing I forgot there was something else. I was so used to hating myself all the time, to improving myself, to being perfect for myself and others, that I forgot a pyramid without a foundation crumbles into dust.

I am Feeling again. I am regaining the sense of connectedness I had when I was small, and all by being completely alone in my own head. For once.

When I tossed my slips into the fire, it was a message of gratitude. Of thankfulness. Of realization. And what I wrote was completely different from what I would have written before the Universe forced my hand.

During Thanksgiving, or Mabon, or Samhain, I would sit there and wonder what to give thanks for. I never could muster anything. I didn't really feel greatful for anything. Not because I was trying to be a dick, just because I couldn't feel thankful. It was really beyond my capacity. How could I be thankful for what I had when internally I was so miserable, all the time? (And I firmly think everybody has a threshold for suffering. I thought I knew what mine was, then I realized it could go deeper than I thought possible. ) Only through very conscious work with self-love, and self-worth, and all those things I scoffed at in those stupid feely self-help books years ago, am I beginning to externally feel. All those books aren't lying. It really does start from the inside and bleed out. You really can't love things right without thinking you're worthy to do it. It's the pyramid analogy again. Self-work and worth informs the power of everything else, and everyone else.

I guess what I'm saying is: though when the Tower happens, it sucks. When your pyramid crumbles you're going to feel like you're losing everything. But sometime, it will end. Really. I promise. And when you stand on the other side of that canyon, watching your old self on the other side, and you smile and wave, and turn to go, you will suddenly realize why you needed this. And then you'll wake up one day realizing you finally understand.

And thanks to the wise Hindu woman at that ceremony, for placing the final cap on my thoughts on my Shadow Work.


  1. "For once, I realize I was masking all of these things because I saw WEAKNESS. FEAR. NEED. So I filled my psyche with anger." much like I am, right now. You have given me food for though. As much as I enjoy your sassy posts, this kind is important too. I am glad you have rediscovered your center.

    1. ...Food for thought, not "though." I knew I was missing something.