I apologize for the suppression and rejection that you have endured since time immemorial. I am mortified by the myriad ways that you have been bullied and violated. I apologize for the savage and brutal acts of violence you have suffered. These malevolent acts are unforgivable. There is no excuse, no justification, no point of redemption. At the same time, I am confident that they represent the archaic place that we have been, and not the authentic place we are going. In poet Susan Frybort’s words: “HATE is the abomination, not sexual orientation.” In the awakening world that we are co-creating, we are slowly coming to know the difference. I stand firmly beside you as you continue to fight for your right to the light in a still hateful collective. And I invite all other awakening humans to stand beside you, too. Please accept this apology from all of us. Please let my voice speak for the many of us who haven’t found our voice yet.
I apologize for the countless ways that you have been denied equal rights throughout these dark ages. I am sorry that your rights have been buried beneath a bushel of blame and shame. We had no right to deny you access to jobs you were qualified for, to the adoption of children, to marriage with your beloved, to innate human rights and freedoms. We had no right to censor, stifle and suppress your voice. Your right to equality is inherent in your very existence. Providence already granted you that when you were born.
I apologize for those who have assaulted you in the name of God. The moment someone attacks in God’s name, their actions are no longer sourced in divinity. They are motivated by hate, and they will not be shielded or excused by Providence. If only within their own hearts, they have sentenced themselves to a lifetime of perpetual damnation. Any religion that condones such acts is not a religion—it is hateism, and inherently Godless. There can be no peace for those who believe otherwise. None at all. They have forgotten the most fundamental requirement for a Godly life—compassion for their fellow humans. By exchanging compassion for hatred, they have given up their bridge to God. That bridge is one built from the girders of human connectedness. If there is anything to pray TO, it is everyone’s right to love who they love.
I apologize for my personal contribution to your suffering. As a teenager, I mocked and assaulted boys who were not traditionally masculine. I stood outside the St. Charles tavern in Toronto, and cheered on those who gathered for the annual Halloween egg-throwing at gay men. I used the word ‘faggot’ with scathing abandon, and often wrote it on the lockers of students who I had labeled as gay. Rooted in my own confusion about my father’s sexuality, my macho conditioning, and the misplaced aggression from a bullying family, it didn’t occur to me that I was persecuting you just as I had been persecuted in my own childhood home. I felt like I was confirming my own ‘normality,’ my own ‘not differentness,’ my own worthiness, after years spent on the periphery of society. I claimed my stake to something blindly called ‘normal,’ at your expense. I am sorry for channeling my self-hatred towards you—it wasn’t yours to carry. I had no right to dim your natural-born light.
I apologize for the ways in which you have been made a scapegoat throughout time. Like so many trailblazers who have brought evolution to our doorstep, you have been wrongfully targeted and vilified for things you are not responsible for. When some people cannot face their own self-hatred, they pass it onto others. When they cannot own their desires, they mask them with violence. Let’s make no mistake—many of these scapegoaters are not ‘homophobic.’ They are not afraid of the LGBTQ community any more than they are afraid of any other paradigm-shifting community. They are heartphobic—cowards afraid of living from an open heart. They have shackled their own hearts, sentencing them to a life behind bars. Their fear is manifest as hatred; hate that is both rooted in what they have been taught by like-minded others, and in their fundamental fear of opening their hearts to love. It’s too vulnerable for them, too courageous, too genuine. It’s easier to hide behind the armor of their conditioned hatred than courageously peel the layers and embrace humanity. Little do they realize that those they enslave, actually hold the keys to their liberation. By not embracing them, they have locked themselves inside of their own fragmentation.
I apologize for not being more invested in your struggle for liberation. I know something about being shamed and alienated—in my home, at school, as a Jew in the culture at large and yet I saw your struggle as somehow distinct from my own. But how could it be? Not a single being among us has not had an experience of feeling alienated in one way or another. Not a single being among us has not been shamed at some point in this lifetime. Yet we turn away from those who struggle for their own emancipation, as though their experience is different from ours. This just perpetuates everyone’s isolation— one back turned, leads to another back turned, leads to a disconnected, fractured collective. It’s time to recognize that all forms of rightful liberation are a shared human experience. When we liberate one group of us, we further liberate ourselves. Until each and every one of us rises into fullness, the collective cannot actualize its wholeness. I am sorry that I turned my back on your struggle. It was my struggle, too.
I am deeply sorry about those members of your community who left us by their own hand, because it was too difficult to remain here, under inhumane conditions. I am particularly saddened by those who left us before revealing and fully exploring their innate sexual orientation. Condemnation and absence of societal support forced many to bury and hide their desires, leaving them alone to live tormented and isolated lives. I especially apologize for the loss of the many young teens who felt they had to repress and deny their sexual impulses during the very vulnerable stage of adolescence. So many vital young lives lost, for no good reason. I have heard some of them referenced as cowards, ironically, by those cowards who made their lives so painful. It is the height of arrogance and insensitivity to imagine ourselves judges over a person’s decision to stay or to go. Only the individual knows what trauma they are carrying, what darkness blankets their inner world, what courage it has taken to stay even this long. Only the individual soul knows what path they have had to walk, and when their time has come.
I am grateful that you had the courage to own and display your truth, despite the overwhelming challenges that you faced. Your brave insistence on standing in your authenticity has changed this world, a world in dire need of transformation. Not only have you trailblazed a more inclusive perspective, you have set the stage for the next steps in human development. Without your contribution, we were affixed to the lifeless shackles of convention. Locked into archaic gender and sexual identifications, we could not even begin to glimpse the breadth of human possibility. You have offered us the ways to explore, embody and expand ourselves that we have been unknowingly desperate for. Thank you for championing a more expanded vision of possibility for all of us. If anything, society should bow down before you and thank you for supporting our emancipation. The real question is, how can we prove ourselves worthy of you, after dishonoring you for centuries… How can we regain your respect?
Gratitude for the ways that you have proudly liberated human sexuality from its closeted confines. It was much too tight in there for all of us. Thank you for expanding the field of expressive possibility so wide that it can accommodate everyone’s sexuality. You have not only blessed your own community— you have also planted seeds of awakening for evolving heterosexuals, who can now feel more comfortable exploring their outer edges without shame or self-hatred. By shattering traditional sexual mores, you have also invited us to explore intimacy with greater imagination. So many creative and spiritual doorways open when the body is free to explore and express itself sexually. Without true and complete sexual freedom, our entire species is held back from the next stages of becoming. And by celebrating everyone’s right to love who they love, you have created an opening for each human heart to find its rightful home.
I applaud your courage to walk hand-in-hand, man-to-man, woman-to-woman. I applaud your courage to share a kiss or a hug with your beloved in a public park, just as man and woman do freely. When society closed its doors on you, I applaud your efforts to open up new doors to your community—creating safe spaces to dance, connect, imbibe, celebrate, and enjoy one another’s uniqueness. I recognize that the battle is not over, but you have given us a basis for hope as we co-create a world that lovingly accommodates everyone’s individual truth.
Thank you for the courageous, pioneering work you have done to challenge traditional gender identifications. You have given us permission to break the fetters of our conditioning and imagine ourselves whole. I saw you beaten on the streets of Malaga. I saw you chased down the alleys of New York. And yet you returned the next day, to show your beautiful face. By doing so, you have carved a trail for those who wish to shed their conditioned disguises, and embody their true gender. You have set the stage for those who long to transcend gender altogether. And you have created room to roam for those who feel congruent with their gender identity, but wish to explore an alternative way of being. I admire you for boldly and courageously displaying your innermost gender on the outside, even if it is different from your biological form. By making our experience of gender more fluid, you have made us more emotionally, energetically and creatively fluid. The more fluid we are, the greater our opportunities for awakening and moving together towards wholeness.
I am grateful for your bravery. Bravery is a curious thing. There are two forms of courage in this world. One demands that we jump into life with our armor on. The other demands that we bare ourselves before the world. You have modeled both to us—fighting for your right to the light, and baring your vulnerable tender hearts for all to see. This is the mark of a true champion. Champions are not just sport stars and athletes. They are the ones who stand in the fires of their authenticity and remind us that we are all worth fighting for.
Tremendous gratitude for the ways that you have helped expose the cracks in the relational capacity of those who oppose you. In many ways, their greatest failing is a spiritual one, for they fail to understand that true love is sourced in divinity and entirely unconcerned with sexual orientation and gender. When you have had the highest form of intimate encounter—one that is soul-sourced and soul-driven—you immediately recognize that gender is entirely irrelevant. The soul doesn’t care about body parts. It has no interest in the form our earthsuit takes. It simply loves what it loves. The ultimate form is polyphrenic, an inclusive embracing of all archetypes and energies. The perfectly blended juice of divinity. Drink from love and see as God sees. And God comes in every possible shape and form.
Until we truly respect and honor everyone’s right to be who they are, there is no hope for this world. We will never actualize the divine magnificence that lives at the heart of each and every birth if we cannot explore all of our many facets. This begins with a deep regard for the uniqueness of each soul’s journey, for the individuated path that each needs to walk. You have modeled this with your support for each other, and in the ways that you have fought determinedly to express and embody your truths. I know it has been a tremendously challenging journey, but your courageous insistence on standing in your truth represents one of the most significant and luminous points of transformation since the beginning of time. It is my greatest hope that we follow your lead, as we move to the next stages of our human evolution.
I have a deep faith in humanity, despite all the reasons not to. It’s all too easy to give up, to stop believing, to turn away from the light. There is evidence everywhere that the darkness will prevail. But I am not persuaded. Even though we are so bloody mixed up, so blind to our wondrous nature, so afraid of the love that sources our existence, I can’t stop believing in us. We may only see glimpses of our divinity at this stage of development, but they are a harbinger of things to come. The way we overcome, the way we find our voice, the way we craft light in the darkest of tunnels, is a reflection of our true nature. This human spirit is unstoppable. Such a majestic species.
I look forward to the day when we can all meet one another in our true nakedness, stripped free of misplaced aggression, unresolved emotions, pain-induced projections, and the distortions of duality. For too long we have been on opposite sides of the river, the bridge between our hearts washed away by a flood of pain. But the time has come to construct a new bridge, one that comes into being with each step we take, one that is fortified with benevolent intentions and genuine self-revealing. As we walk toward one another, our emotional armor falls to the ground, transforming into the light at its source. And when we are ready, we walk right into the Godself at the center of the bridge, puzzled that we ever imagined ourselves separate. We are not just here together to keep each other company. We are here together to show each other God. And we show each other God by opening our hearts. The portal is each other.
To fully arrive, there is much work to be done. The transition from survivalism to authenticity as a way of being is fraught with perils and vested interests that seek to hold humanity back. We must be tenacious in our efforts. We must be perpetually vigilant. We must stand our ground and assert our rights with vigor. And we must fight—time and again—to re-define ‘normality’, as you have so bravely demonstrated. Normal is a relative concept. What is normal to a fear-ruled survivalist is a too tiny cage to someone moving from truth. As we move towards the outer edges of human possibility, our ideas of normal exponentially transform to accommodate our next stage of expansion. This is the nature of an awakening world—to continually stretch the canvas of normal until it artfully encompasses all the shades and colors of the human rainbow.
In support of this intention, I call on everyone who is seeking to usher in new, more expansive ways of being. Those who are endeavoring to test the edges of convention and break through the shackles of misidentification. I call on all of you to actively support one another in our collective efforts. It doesn’t matter if you can relate to another’s unique quest or form of expression—what matters is that we walk beside each other on the trailways of transformation in service of a more authentic world. Our unified efforts are the key to sustainable change.
I call on everyone to support YOU, our brave pioneers, our burning trailblazers, our Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgender Queer, Questioning, & Curious community. Through your valiant efforts we have witnessed tremendous progress and profound triumphs. Yet there are still those endarkened corners of our collective consciousness that are waiting for the light. Do not give up your commitment to boldly embody who you are. One by one, these dark corners will continue to unfurl to the light. As awakening humans, regardless of our sexual orientation, let us stand in front, beside, and amongst you—honoring who you are in its authentic expression. As awakening humans, let us honor your right to fully shine as who you are, in all its glory, and let us celebrate that you are symbols of the freedom we all seek from limiting identifications. We march beside you, uniting our steps towards a more connective and enheartened vision of human possibility. Deep bows to your courage. Deep bows.
A former criminal lawyer and psychotherapist, Jeff Brown is the author of Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation, and Ascending with Both Feet on the Ground; a collection of Jeff’s most popular spiritual graffiti. He is also the author of the viral blog “Apologies to the Divine Feminine (from a warrior in transition)” and the producer and key journeyer in the award winning spiritual documentary, Karmageddon. His third book, Love it Forward, was published on Valentine’s day, 2014. He is also the owner of a growing publishing house -Enrealment Press- and the creator of a new online school, Soulshaping Institute. His higher consciousness love story, An Uncommon Bond, was published in May 2016 and quickly reached #1 in Sacred Sexuality on Amazon. His most recent book of quotes – aptly named Spiritual Graffiti – was published in December 2015, to rave reviews. He is currently working on a new book, one that hearticulates his perspective on an embodied spirituality and speaks to the perils of the ‘New Cage’ movement. You can connect with his work at www.soulshaping.com, and www.soulshapinginstitute.com.
My Mother passed away this summer. I always imagined that there would be more time for us to heal the rifts. I was wrong. She died at 76, in the same harsh way that she lived- dizzily falling to the ground and banging her head, while alone in her apartment. She was a remarkable woman, both in her capacity for overcoming and in her absolute refusal to be awakened by her challenging life experiences. She fought for her right to live with a tremendous ferocity, and then put all of her energy into self-distraction after claiming victory. If she had channeled the energy that she used to uphold her emotional armor into personal transformation, her awakened consciousness would have lit up the world. She was that powerful.
I did tremendous amounts of therapeutic work on the relationship over the years. I somehow knew that I had to, both because the emotional debris was obstructing my path, and because I didn’t want the impossible nature of the connection to haunt me. And yet, despite my most genuine efforts, I fell prey to the most common occurrence after losing a parent: self-blame. Death gives us new eyes, and sometimes the lens is hazy. It’s always amazing to me how quickly we can forget the reasons that we were not close to someone, after they have died. Suddenly they were saints, suddenly we didn’t try enough, suddenly it was all our fault. If only we had called them more, if only we had sent them gifts, if only we had forgiven their actions, if only we had taken them to that one medical specialist that would have saved them from themselves. On and on it goes, yet another opportunity to shame ourselves, as though we alone were responsible for the state of the relationship, as though we alone were the crafters of their pain and misfortune, as though their issues and patterns did not exist before we came into being. It’s quite a thing the way that ancestral shame finds a way to perpetuate itself. It’s quite a thing.
I spent the summer inside of this inner narrative, paying attention, trying to understand where it comes from within me. The most obvious answer- internalized guilt from a shaming family- didn’t quite explain it. I had done enough work around the relationship to know its impossibilities, to know that I had done my best. It had to be something else. And so I stayed with the narrative, and then it dawned on me. My mother is no longer in her body-suit. She is no longer emotionally threatening. She is no longer difficult to relate to. She is more vulnerable than I have ever known her. And through these eyes, it’s easy to glorify her. It’s easy to feel safe with her. She feels saintly, kind and accessible. She feels like someone I could easily love and connect with. And it is therefore easy to blame myself for ‘neglecting’ her. After all, she is non-threatening and harmless. She is finally quiet. But it isn’t real- not even close. Because when we were both in these body-suits at the same time, a deeply loving relationship wasn’t possible. There was too much pain in the way, too many issues and differences. And her armor was still intact, armor that she had developed through her life to shield her from emotional risk. In fact, our real-time relationship was a true reflection of its inherent impossibilities. There really was no way in.
It’s important to remember this after someone close to us goes, particularly someone we had challenges with… There was a whole world of events, experiences and choices that led to the state of the relationship. All deeply real. All embedded in our cells as memory. All in the way of healthy connection. As glorious as we may imagine them after they have gone, that was simply not the way they were when they were struggling down here on Mother Earth. They were human, and so were we.
Until you lose a parent, you are somewhat asleep on the path to awakening. Trust me on this. It’s a whole different world after they go. This is true whether you are close to them, or not. The preparation work you do before they go, may be the most important inner work you ever do. Left to its own devices, the shame game postscript will obstruct and distort a real healing—a healing that is rooted in the reality of the dynamic itself. Better to do real work around this before the parent dies, if there is anything that is unresolved in the dynamic itself. Clearly, there is no perfect preparation- I will continue to work through these issues for years- but there are ways to soften the blows. I offer these suggestions, in the hope that they will be of service to you…
CONNECTING WITH THE DIFFICULT PARENT
If one or more difficult parent is still alive, and if there is enough safety to bridge to them, do all that you can to connect to work through and express anything you are holding. This includes unhealed grief, unexpressed anger, unresolved experiences. Anything that feels incomplete or unsaid. Leave no stone unturned in your efforts to heal and come to terms with the past. If you can bring them into therapy to deepen the process, do so. If not, find any way that is available to you to express what is true for you. Anything that will help you to understand the dynamic and to be liberated from the toxic aspects of the relationship. The focus of this process is not on forgiving them for their actions. It may well happen organically, but the focus here is on healing your own heart and coming to terms with what you have been through. To make sense of the effects that their messaging, availability, and ways of relating may have had on your ways of moving through the world. And, if necessary, forgiving yourself for anything that you mistakenly blame yourself for within the dynamic.
Of particular importance is doing anything possible to humanize your lens on the difficult parent. To see them for who they really are. To walk inside their shoes. Again, you don’t do this for them. You do this for yourself, both as part of a valuable healing, and so that you will be less likely to glorify them after they are gone. The more you see them in their humanness, the less likely you are to forget what you were dealing with later. The more you understand where they come from, the less likely you are to blame yourself for the limitations of the connection. One of the great ironies of our relationships with difficult parents is that they can be held on a kind of primal pedestal, often more elevated than loving parents who gave their children what they needed to individuate and become adults. Through a healthier lens, loved children can often see their parent(s) more clearly. But those of us with a difficult parent are often trapped at an earlier stage in our development, still waiting for the elevated parent to reach down, pick us up and give us what we need. There is an aloofness and confusion in the dynamic that can keep them somewhat elevated, and this projection can become a recipe for our own self-abuse after they die. Because we don’t really know them, we carry forward the childhood belief that we must be to blame for all that happened or, at the least, that they would have loved us if we were worthy. To avoid this shame trip, do all that you can to see them for who they really are while you have the chance, so that you are less likely to up-frame and mischaracterize them later. This includes understanding the context they emerged from, the choices they made with respect to their own path, their patterns with respect to connection and vulnerability, their unactualized dreams and unresolved memories. The bridge from stagnation and self-blame to empowerment and self-love lies in our ability to see the parent(s) for who they really are; to take them off their primal pedestal and recognize their human limitations. This is certainly not easy- the hungry child-self clings to fantasies- but it is so very necessary.
HEALING IN THE ABSENCE OF THE DIFFICULT PARENT
If the difficult parent is not available or open to a healing process, then work on the relationship nonetheless. We don’t need a willing counterpart to work through the effects of a connection. If you can afford it, work with a therapist on the many ways that the relationship has landed within you. Clear emotional debris. Become conscious of the connection between their hurtful words and actions and your own issues and beliefs. Work determinedly to shed any internalized negativities, patterns of self-blame, ancestral shame. Confront and fully name the ways in which the dynamic has lived itself out in your daily life. Centuries of survivalist conditioning have made it difficult for many parents to live up to a healthy standard with respect to their children. As a result, many of us are left with a negative imprint of their unconsciousness, carrying it forward often without realizing it. Fully confront and name those imprints, in an effort to liberate yourself from the parental ties that bind. Of particular value are body-centered psychotherapies, both because they allow you to connect in more deeply with the repressed emotions, and because they have developed techniques that are effective at moving them. Talk therapy can be very effective, but it can also concretize our issues and challenges if the process becomes too cerebral. In other words, excessive analysis perpetuates emotional paralysis. Whatever you do, be sure that your therapeutic process supports the excavation and release of the feelings held in the body itself. This will lead to a more thorough, sustainable transformation.
Because the parent is not available for process, it may be more difficult to develop a deeper understanding of who they are and the context they emerge from. To help with this, do all that you can to dialogue with their friends or other family members. Anyone who can help you to understand the pressures they faced, the childhood they experienced, the messages they internalized. And look at old pictures if they are available. Work with them in an effort to clarify your lens. In addition, devote some time to studying the era that they lived in. All too often, we forget that the ways that a parent behaved were consistent with their times. Like us, they were embedded in and influenced by particular ideas of gender, child-rearing, duty and obligation, religious perspective. It can be especially helpful to spend some time watching films, reading old newspapers and magazines, to develop a richer understanding of the limitations and relational patterns of their generation. You don’t do this in an effort to excuse their behavior- you do this in an effort to understand their context. Again, the more you can understand where they were coming from in their relationship with you, the less likely you are to personalize the state of the connection after they die. We go back in time, in order to move forward more freely.
RESOLUTION DOESN’T HAVE TO LOOK A CERTAIN WAY
Whether you are doing this preparation work in the presence or the absence of the difficult parent, it is important to remember that resolution of the relationship is not always possible or even desired. The bridge between you may be destroyed, or you may be dealing with an impossible person, one who is simply incapable of doing the reflection work necessary to heal the rifts. If the latter is the case, accept this without continuing to come back for more disappointment. I have a cousin who hated his father, but went back every day and sat with him for hours, hoping and waiting to finally get the attention he craved from early life. He never got it, and by looking for it in all the wrong places, actually perpetuated his own stalled development. Only after his father died did he begin to look for it in those who actually valued him and to begin the work of learning how to validate himself from the inside out. Until we accept the limitations of those who cannot love us, we cannot embrace the willingness of those who can.
In addition, it is also important to remember that resolution doesn’t always look a certain way. Sometimes it is soft and kind. Sometimes it is choppy and erratic. Sometimes accepting the impossibility of the connection is the resolution. And sometimes the resolution is accepting that it was perfect, despite its impossibilities and challenges, because it carries us to the shores of our own empowerment. I think about my relationship with my Mother. She was a difficult person, but she gave me great gifts, somehow balancing the just right tension between worthy adversary and protective mother. For many years, I bought into the idea that we had to find our way to a perpetual peace, that our ultimate resolution had to be smooth and tender. But why is that? Why must resolution look a certain way? Perhaps the connection was exactly as it was meant to be, in order to bring me through to this awareness, this form of expression, this balance of vigilance and tenderness. Perhaps she gave me the exact gift she came to bring, and that is the resolution right there. Perhaps…
However we look at it, it is clear that the more deeply we can work the material around the relationship, the less likely it is that we will beat ourselves up after the difficult parent is gone. The more likely we will be able to grieve our loss healthily, without obstructing our own process. And, in this way, we break the cycle of shame and abuse that has carried forward from one generation to the next. We set the stage for a new way of being. We heal humanity forward. And perhaps we heal it backwards, as well. With every clearing of our emotional debris, with every foray into a kinder way of being, we heal the collective heart. So many of our familial and karmic ancestors had little opportunity to heal their pains. They just carried them with them, not realizing that there was any other way. When we heal, their spirits surely breathe a sigh of relief. We heal them backwards, while healing ourselves forward. We heal in unison. That healing begins in the trenches of our own transformation.
A former criminal lawyer and psychotherapist, Jeff Brown is the author of Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation, and Ascending with Both Feet on the Ground. Endorsed by authors Elizabeth Lesser, Oriah Mountain Dreamer and Katherine Woodward Thomas, “Ascending” is a collection of Jeff’s most popular spiritual graffiti — quotes, soul-bytes and aphorisms frequently shared in social media. He is also the author of the viral blog Apologies to the Divine Feminine (from a warrior in transition) and the producer and key journeyer in the award winning spiritual documentary, Karmageddon, which also stars Ram Dass, Seane Corn, David Life, Deva Premal and Miten. He has written a series of inspirations for ABC’s Good Morning America and appeared on over 200 radio shows. His third book, Love it Forward, was published on Valentine’s day, 2014. His 4th book, a higher consciousness love story called An Uncommon Bond, began opening hearts in the spring of 2015. His next book- Spiritual Graffiti- will be published in December, 2015. He is also the owner of Enrealment Press and the creator of a new online school, Soulshaping Institute, which launched in February, 2015.
To download his INNER CHILD HEALING Course, click here...
The EMPATHY PROCESS (A healing technique) ™
Empathy was not part of my early life experience. I grew up in a house of horrors, one where everyone was too intensely consumed with their individual survival to see or empathize with another. There was no space to attune to each other’s internal experience, no interest in holding the space for each other’s feelings. We were blind to each other’s inner landscape, strangers sharing the same physical space, simply trying to stay alive.
In my late twenties, something shifted. I became more conscious of empathy as both a healing tool, and a way of being in the world. It served me in my efforts to stop personalizing the behaviors of others. If I could get inside their journey, I could see where they were coming from and stop making it about me. And it served me in my efforts to be understood by others. After an early life riddled with hateful judgments, I relished the feeling that someone was taking in my experience with an open and receptive heart. No I wasn’t a devil. I was human, after all. And being accepted and received in my humanness was remarkably transformative.
Recently, I took empathy to the next level. As a result of an unprecedented combination of misinterpreted communications, personal losses and triggers, my dearest friend and I fell into a dark, disconnected place in 2013. We stopped talking altogether until making the mutual decision to attempt a healing and re-connection in the autumn of 2014. When we first got back together, it was clear that there were many unresolved feelings and assumptions in the field between us. Talking was helpful, but it didn’t seem to cut to the heart of the matter. We couldn’t see one another, nor could we stop projecting our assumptions onto each other. We couldn’t heal the rifts.
We needed something else- something more than a back and forth dialogue where each person tries to convince the other of their perspective. We needed a technique that would allow us to get out of our own stuff and deeply see and hear one another. We needed a healing modality. Building on a technique I employed when I was doing therapeutic work around my family dynamics, I crafted a process for us to work with. I now call it, quite simply, The Empathy Process. After two sessions employing this technique, we were able to drop considerable amounts of emotional armor, and see one another’s actions independent of our own own projections and assumptions. We were able to heal much of the pain that existed in the field between us, and remember why we had been best friends for over twenty years. This is not to say that every element of the connection was worked through, but it is to say that, this process has worked wonders.
Simply put, this simple technique can transform relationship. And I do not believe that it has any limit with respect to its application. It can be utilized with friends, lovers, family members, employees and employers/fellow employees, conflicting nations and agendas, even courtrooms. It can be practiced in diads and groups. It can be woven into our school system, so that children have an experience of empathy at an early age, particularly helpful for those who are not having that experience in their family environment. In a world where conflict is often sourced in our inability to truly walk in the other’s shoes, The empathy process can pierce through the veils of relational blindness and change our world. It can be utilized over and over in the most challenging situations, until the expressor feels truly empathized with. And, it can also be of tremendous benefit in situations where there has been no conflict. In a world where so many of us never feel seen or attuned to, this process can transform lives even when it is experienced between strangers. In fact, one has to wonder if the concept of unity consciousness will ever land in real time if we do not develop a protocol for empathizing with seeming strangers. If we can practice empathic response with everyone (“Take me inside of what that feels like for you”), we will surely pierce the veil of our seeming differences and remember that we are all here, together- walking hand in hand down the trailways of transformation. Just when you thought you were all alone with your challenges, you do an Empathy Process and realize that you aren’t.
For the purposes of this process, I define empathy as the experience of walking in another’s shoes. That is, the ability to experience what the other person is or was experiencing at a particular moment in time. It’s a getting inside their journey so that you can feel some or all of what they went through. It is not simply being compassionate, not simply feeling for them. It is a feeling into their experience, as though it is or was happening to you.
The Empathic Expressor (EE) is the individual who is sharing their experience. The Empathic Receiver (ER) is the individual who is empathically receiving their transmission. *Note- although the following description primarily applies to a Diad (a one-on-one sharing), this process can also be done in larger setting- with one EE and more than one ER. If so, modify the instructions accordingly.
The Empathy Process is as follows:
The process begins with a vow from the ER to the EE. The wording can be modified, depending on the context, and with particular regard for what the EE needs to hear before they will feel comfortable fully sharing their experience. Given how poorly many of our sharings have been received in this world, it is especially important that the EE knows that the ER will hold the space for their sharing with kindness, presence and an assurance of confidentiality. It is a very vulnerable thing to share our experience with others. We don’t want people to be re-traumatized and brought back to their memories of feeling unseen and unheard.
‘As one you have blessed with the opportunity to receive your sharing, I promise that I will hold the space with as much kindness, genuineness and openness as I can. This process is not about me. It is about my receiving your experience. It is about my empathizing and walking in your shoes. I will do my best to remove any biases, hard feelings and projections from the field so that I can be fully present for your experience. I will not attempt to re-frame your experience, nor will I judge you for it. And I promise you that I will not share any of the details of your sharing with others, without your express permission. This is your process. It is safe here.’
If you are the EE, the ER either sits in front of you, or lays down comfortably, and you do the same, getting yourself in the state you need to in order to transmit your experience most authentically. Be sure the environment itself is appropriately soothing and comforting, if that will help. You decide if you want the ER to have their eyes opened (and to look at you, or to look away), or to have their eyes closed. It depends on how you want to be received. You also decide if you want your own eyes opened or closed. Also, you direct the ER as to whether you want them to move and express as you do- that is, to mirror reflect your experience- or simply to sit/lay in stillness and silence while you move into the experience. In addition, there can be a pre-determined time limit on each sharing, if that serves you (if so, it may serve you to set an alarm). Or, it can be left open. Either way, it is best to express that before you begin.
Then you begin to share your felt experience with the ER. That is, you speak/sound/hearticulate/emote whatever it is you want the ER to empathize with (memories, events, experiences, perspectives). You begin to share, in as vivid a detail as you can, using words, sounds, tears, anger, movement to fully embody and express yourself. Whatever is required. It can be as articulate or inarticulate as necessary. It can be confined to a specific event/memory, or more (*Note- Be careful not to flood the ER with too many events/memories at a time. Better to focus on one or a small number in each Empathy Process, so you can feel fully received). The idea is that the ER is there to both witness your experience, but also to feel it fully. To empathize. To share in. TO EMBODY. To really feel into what you have been through so you know you have been heard and felt and connected with by a receptive human. The important thing is that you stay in the process of expression for as long as you can, going as deeply as you can, so that you feel fully expressed. When you feel complete, you have a number of choices. You can ask them to leave the space, you can ask them to hug you if that’s appropriate, you can ask them to come to silence with you, or you can ask them to reflect back in words and/or movements what you shared. If you simply need to know someone witnessed you, then you may not need that, but if you need the feeling that someone really FELT and attuned to your experience, then a deeper reflection can be helpful. Many of us go through our whole lives never feeling heard and supported, so simply hearing another reflect back our experience can help to create new pathways of possibility around authentic support and attunement. If your Empathy Process originates in a conflict between you and another, you can follow the process with a dialogue about what you went through together, now through a more broadened and empathic lens.
I have been complimenting strangers for years: street passer-bys, drive through cashiers, fellow subway riders, the dude who services my car. Few have escaped my complimenting gaze, even those that pissed me off. In fact, I make a point of complimenting people who piss me off. Not all the time, but often. It’s amazing how the energy changes when a compliment enters the room.
It’s an interesting word ‘strangers’. Pre-compliment, a lot of people feel estranged from me, separate, sometimes even alien. But when a compliment enters the field, something happens. It’s like an invisible bridge forms between our hearts and we walk toward one another, meeting in our shared humanness. Seeing the ‘other’, attuning to the ‘other’, appreciating ‘the other’ makes the other less other. In Sanskrit ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ means ‘I am that, too’. I am that, too.
Compliments saved me as a child. I grew up in a difficult, diminishing environment. My parents were expert shamers, carrying forward the shame that they had internalized from their early lives. I took that shame to heart, imagining myself insignificant, worthless, unwelcome on mother earth. At the same time, I had wonderful, elevating grandparents, who reminded me of my value whenever they could. Those words landed within me, bolstering my sagging spirits, giving me a reason to believe in my value until I could escape my family prison. If not for them, I may not have made it out.
After I got out, my life was a mess, ruled by unresolved emotional issues. At the heart of it was a deep, dark well of self-hatred. Emptying that well took many years and many steps, but one of the things that helped me the most was the kindness of strangers. Their validating comments “you have beautiful eyes”, “you are an attractive person”, “you are so soulful”, “your energy is so infectious”, “your mind is so sharp” were like healing balms for my spirit. Every time they said something affirming, they reached into my wound space and dabbed my pain body with hope. I so needed it. I so needed to believe in my own value, and I didn’t yet have the tools to find that belief on my own. I had been wounded by humanity, and I needed humanity’s help to heal.
So many of us wander the planet overwhelmed with shame and self-doubt, beating ourselves up for our seeming imperfections, never recognizing our inherent magnificence and beauty. Our shame shackles weigh us down, and prevent us from owning and honoring our gifts and our callings. It is a tragic loss of life force and possibility. This self-diminishment is perpetuated by the ungrounded spirituality movement, which desacralizes the ego in its entirety in their own efforts to bypass their unresolved self-hood. But they are deeply misguided. In the words of Ram Dass, “you have to become something before you become nothing”. That is, you need to fully possess your own value and worth, before you can move onto the next stage of consciousness. It is essential to remember that there is a meaningful distinction between the healthy and the unhealthy ego. The healthy ego is essential to healthy functioning. The unhealthy ego undermines it. Our work is to find the sacred balance between unity consciousness and our own individual place in it; that is, to find our individual droplet of meaning in the vast ocean of essence. Finding our place demands that we value our voice, our contribution, our worth. Shame is not to be confused with Humility.
Last week, I wrote the following on my Facebook fan page:
“One day, I want to hire a team of compliment-ers, whose daily work is to wander the world complimenting others and reminding them of their worth. Given how much shame many of us carry, a daily reminder of our value can only be a good thing. I think I will call them the ‘Elevators’- souls heaven bent on elevating the spirits of humanity. I might just do this in Toronto this fall- a bunch of us can gather together on a weekend and wander the streets telling others that we see their light and inherent beauty. And we can film it and start a worldwide compliment movement. Sounds like a Go(o)d idea, don’t you think? How about we all do it in the same weekend, in different parts of the world. Shall we?”
Much to my surprise, I was overwhelmed with responses from around the world: https://www.facebook.com/SOULSHAPING/posts/10152743879100982 Emails have been pouring in since. People who want to create a day every year (and ultimately as part of every day!) where we gather and compliment others. In our homes, in our work environments, in coffee houses, at street corners, everywhere! And so we shall.
I have selected Sunday, November 16, 2014 for our first COMPLIMENT DAY. I will be gathering with other Complimenteers in Toronto at noon (location to be posted on my Fan page at www.facebook.com/soulshaping) to spend the afternoon validating and connecting with humanity. And I invite you do to the same- on a small or large scale, in your town or city, in your apartment complex, anywhere that serves you. If we can gather in groups, it will make an even bolder statement to the collective shame body. I also encourage you to film it, if you desire, and I will put the videos up on my Soulshaping channel on You tube (www.youtube.com/soulshaping) and, ultimately, on a Complimenteers website we will develop thereafter!
The compliments can come in any form, so long as they are sincere and connective: “You exude such great warmth”, “You have fantastic energy”, “You make me feel hopeful”, “You feel like someone who has a lot to offer” etc. And they can have a physical element to them, so long as they are not said in an objectifying manner: “You have beautiful hair”, “You have such soulful eyes”. Because many of us feel great disdain for our body temples and need to be reminded of their intrinsic beauty. And sometimes the compliment can simply be our presence, sitting down to connect with a fellow human, listening to their story, validating them by acknowledging the courage it took to get this far on their life journey. Anything that reminds others of their inherent value and worth is a compliment worth giving.
To be sure, we will be met with doubt and cynicism. And we may also have to confront our own triggers around expressing positivity, particularly if we did not receive many compliments growing up. But that’s all part of the healing. We can’t let that stop us.
While writing this blog, a man next to me let me know that he is saving the table between us for a friend. I said “no worries, and by the way, you have a fantastic smile”. He lit up like a Christmas tree, and then I told him that I am starting a compliments movement. He said “that’s a fantastic idea, because we don’t trust the compliment. We don’t know what to do with it because we have so much self-doubt”. And so it is- we are these magnificent God-seeds walking around riddled with self-hatred. What a tragedy! We need to make efforts, on every level, to combat and to heal the shame we all carry. We carry it alone, we carry it as a collective, and we need each other’s help to transform it into healthy self-regard.
So many live their lives feeling unloved, unseen, unrecognized, unappreciated. So very many. You may not know who they are because we are all conditioned to hide our truth below a bushel of shame. But they are everywhere. When you make an effort to share your love, you don’t always know where it will land. But be sure that it does. Sometimes it lights a torch for others to follow. Sometimes it gives them reason to believe that there is a better life waiting for them after a lifetime of disappointment. Sometimes it builds spirits and sometimes it actually saves lives. We just have to keep giving the love wherever and whenever we can. You never know how far it will travel.
Please join us on November 16! And check out and share the Facebook event link if you feel inspired to… https://www.facebook.com/events/275307632667734/
It is finally our time. To heal these mortal rifts. To remember each other. We couldn’t do it until now. Liberated from your pain riddled earth-suit, I can feel you again. I am no longer afraid to get close. I know you won’t hurt me now. You have freed me to love you again. In fact, I feel you protecting me. Already. That purple sunset, that’s you right? That strengthening I feel inside- that’s you too, yes? You are speaking to me, through me. You are hearticulating your love. You have much to share. I understand- it was hard to say it then, with all that mortal pain between. But I can hear you, Papa. There’s nothing in the way now. No more hatred, no more misidentification, no more fear of showing our love. Nothing to hide, nowhere to hide it. Here we are, on the bridge between our hearts, beginning the healing. We have work to do. Lots of it. This is only our first purple sunset.
It’s an odd thing. I was sure I would abuse myself for being so distant for so long. I should have done this, or that, I should have visited more. But something has happened. I am treasuring myself. Suddenly the shame game looks ridiculous. Something more infinite is infiltrating my lens. Is that you, too? You are sending waves of kindness my way? It’s you, isn’t it? Your anger is gone- all I feel is your compassionate heart. You are speaking through me: “You must love yourself, my son. You must embody your magnificence. There is no need to doubt it. I am sorry that I shamed you”.
I need your support now. I have much left to do in my earth suit. I hope you will clear the path. I hope you will keep the dark forces at bay. Your call to write lives on in me. It was never lost. You loved it forward. I will write for you, too. The world didn’t know what greatness you are made of. But I do.
Please hold me safe until it is my time to join you, Dad. One day I will meet you there, in the wordless wonder. One day we will heal it all, in the ever knowing. One day we will ride together on the wings of our love. In the meantime, rest in love, Albert Ronald Brown. I am holding your spirit safe, too.
I apologize for beating you with my fists and feet when you were small and vulnerable. I apologize for wounding your body temple. I apologize for burning your hands, breaking your finger, scarring your flesh. I simply couldn’t see you, laying there in a pool of blood and sorrow. Blinded my own repressed rage, I saw an easy mark for my aggression. I saw a new host for my pain. I now understand that my abusiveness was a smokescreen for my own woundedness. A habit entrenched early in life, it felt easier to repeat the abuse than to heal it. And, in many ways, your aliveness reminded me of my own deadness- I had to shut you down so I could remain asleep. Below it all, I had so much love for you, my sweet child. I just couldn’t manifest it. I don’t ask for your forgiveness- you must be true to your own process first- but I do ask that you grant yourself permission to heal and to live a life that is liberated from my effects.
I apologize for attempting to dim your beautiful light. It was so bright that it threatened my own unmet need for attention- who would notice me, in your enlivened presence? Although I was chronologically older than you when we had you, I was actually emotionally regressed, trapped in an unhealed primal consciousness that ruled my behavior. I had grown up in a family of love starved narcissists, each of us clamoring to see our individual reflections in a too tiny pool of validation. With our lights hidden under a bushel of shame, no one ever felt seen. Stealing other people’s light became my misguided path of self-elevation, a misplaced attempt at boosting my diminished self-concept. I am so sorry for this attack on the integrity of your being. You had every right to embody your magnificence with dignity. You had every right to shine.
I apologize for vilifying and scapegoating you. I am sorry that I actively blamed you for my own misery. I couldn’t hold my self-hatred any longer- I needed to pass it on to someone else. You were the perfect recipient for my frustration- you couldn’t defend yourself. And, I remember the worst of it- telling you that my life would have been better if you had died instead of the daughter I lost. As I read these words, I find myself almost turning away from your picture- it is too much to imagine that I could leave you with that- but I stay and face your image. I face it not because I can change what I have done, but because I owe it to you to stay in the fire of my own regret.
I apologize for mocking you and repeatedly calling you names. I should have known the scars that insults leave on a vulnerable being- mockery was fundamental to my family dynamics. In the heat of desperate survivalism, insulting each other was a momentary relief from our chronic state of hopelessness. I am sorry for perpetuating that pattern at your expense. I only wish I could reach inside of you and take back the words I left there. I know that you internalized many of those insults and believed them to be true. I know that it shaped your lens. Please know that my message was entirely my own stuff. Please know that you are beautiful in my eyes. And, more importantly, please know that you are beautiful through your own eyes. Please heal the remnants of my madness.
I apologize for turning others against you and pitting you against your siblings. Lodged in a competitive world view, my reality was divided into territories- threats and protections, enemies and friends, them and us. The demons of duality- ne’er the twain shall meet. Through this fearful lens, differences were equated with threats to survival rather than opportunities for learning. Like snorting animals on the prowl, if you didn’t behave like us, you were the enemy. Because you were so different from the rest of us, I identified you as an enemy. I forgot our biological connection, our shared humanness, our karmic engagement. I forgot the bridge that existed between our hearts.
I am so deeply sorry that I left you alone in your developing years. I apologize for abandoning you when you needed me most. I remember your cries for contact, your tireless efforts to connect, your tearful eyes through the living room window as I drove away. I looked away, but I still felt you. I just couldn’t do anything about it. In many ways, I confused you with the bad marriage that produced you, a marriage that I longed to escape from so desperately. When I had you, I was so emotionally immature. There was so little space inside me for another person’s needs. As I grow into my real adulthood, I am able to empathize with your heartbreak. In the last years, I have spent much time growing into the parent you deserved. Please know that I have taken that journey seriously.
I want you to know that I see you better now. I see the fear that I left you with. I see the ways that it impacted on your life choices, emotional availability, patterns of self-distraction. I see the ways that self-doubt prevented you from fully owning your power. Despite my madness, some part of me noticed the ways that you shut down to cope- the shallowing of your breath, the armoring of your heart, the reluctance to be seen. But I also see the ways that you overcame. I see the ways that you championed your own cause. I see the ways that you converted your fear into hope. I see how hard you worked to grow yourself. I am proud of you in ways that words can never express.
Most of the greatest achievements on the planet are unknown to others- private overcomings, silent attempts at belief, re-opening a shattered heart. The real path of champions truly lies within- the transforming of suffering into expansion, the clearing of horrifying debris, the building of a healthy self-concept without tools. The greatest achievers have found a way to believe in something good despite being traumatized and fractured on life’s battlefields. You are one of them. You overcame me. No matter what else you accomplish in your life, you are already a champion.
I am grateful that you disconnected from me many years ago instead of coming back for more abuse. You realized that I couldn’t meet your parental needs and that you had to look elsewhere. You were so very right. By choosing to protecting yourself, you also created the conditions for my own transformation. In your absence, in your determined refusal to enable my patterns, I was forced to recognize my impact. At first, I resisted the learning, but the love I felt for you penetrated my defenses and left me with no other option but to do the work. That work took me far back in time- both to our time together and to my own early life. Ah, the Power of Then- the impact of unresolved feelings on our now consciousness. Try as I did to disarm them by witnessing them, it was entirely ineffective. You cannot heal and resolve your emotional material with your mind. Your emotional material does not evaporate because you watch it. You can only heal your heart with your heart. I had no choice but to go back down the path and re-claim my feelings. In this way, you were my greatest teacher- the one who gave me back my heart.
Over the years, my own emotional armour has melted away. I have lost the energy that I once had to distract from my truth. I have grown tired of my falsity, denials and projections. And something has grown within me- a willingness to see what I have done and to acknowledge where I have failed. I don’t know if I will have another incarnation to do it better, but I want to set a loving intention before I die. I want to be living in truth when I close my eyes on this lifetime. And some part of the truth is horrifying to me. I know what I have done. I know the violence in my heart. And I know the causal factors: the desperate survivalism that plagued my family line, the shutting down of my emotional current, the build-up of resentment. But I also know that I had a choice. I could hear the voice of love calling me away during those acts of violence, but I chose to continue. I was influenced by my childhood, but I alone chose my path. Before God and before you, I am accountable for those choices.
As our society crosses the bridge from survivalism to authenticity as our way of being, I have every faith that we will one day move from love. I have done it, and I feel confident that others will follow. As part of that process, I call on all bullies to step out of their comfort zone and make determined efforts to shift their abusive paradigm. To find the courage to face the source of their rage. To break the lineage of toxic conditioning. To find constructive ways to soften their edges. To steer the collective (un)consciousness in new directions. To learn healthy ways to channel their aggression. Don’t do it only for those who you are harming. Do it for yourself as well. There is no life with a closed heart.
I do not know how God will judge me. I do not know how you will judge me. I do know that I have done all I can to own my actions and to open my heart. I am on my knees before truth. Know that I understand if you choose to remain disconnected. I truly do. You have to be true to your own process. But also know that I am here for you if ever you choose to open the gate again. Nearly 50 years late, but the way is clear.
A former criminal lawyer and psychotherapist, Jeff Brown is the author of “Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation,” and the just released “Ascending with Both Feet on the Ground”. Endorsed by authors Elizabeth Lesser, Oriah Mountain Dreamer and Katherine Woodward Thomas, “Ascending” is a collection of Jeff’s most popular spiritual graffiti—quotes, soul-bytes and aphorisms frequently shared in social media. He is also the author of “Apologies to the Divine Feminine (from a warrior in transition)” and the producer and key journeyer in the new spiritual documentary- Karmageddon- which also stars Ram Dass, Seane Corn, David Life, Deva Premal and Miten. You can connect with Jeff’s work at www.soulshaping.com.
AWAKENING MAN: A PORTRAIT OF POSSIBILITY FOR HUMANKIND
The awakening man is conscious, heartfully defined. Through his eyes, being conscious is not a cerebral construct, nor an intellectual exercise bereft of feeling. It is a felt experience, an ever-expanding awareness that moves from the heart outward. It is feeling God, not thinking God. The new man is always in process, awakening through a deepening interface with the world of feeling. He continues to strive for a more heartfelt and inclusive awareness.
The awakening man has shifted his focus from a localized and ethnocentric perspective to a world-centric framework of perception. His community is humanity. Rooted in the relational, his sense of responsibility extends well beyond his localized self and community. Where possible, his choice-making is fuelled by an expansive vision of possibility for all of humankind. Not every man for himself, but every man for humanity.
The awakening man has reverence for the divine feminine, in all her forms. He celebrates the wonder that is woman. He is respectful, honouring and gracious. He is saddened by the horrors perpetuated against women by the malevolent masculine. He holds his brothers accountable. He makes amends for his own misdeeds. He co-creates a world where all women will feel safe to move about freely, to find their voice, to actualize their inherent magnificence. He welcomes a world where women and men stand as equal partners. Humankind.
The awakening man is not externally derived. He is authentically sourced. He does not compare himself to others. He does not adapt his personality to the dictates of the crowd. He stands in his own centre, respectful of others but not defined by them. He works diligently to liberate his consciousness from the egoic ties that bind. He has become his own benchmark, valuing authenticity over image. He is the sculptor of his own reality.
The awakening man courageously works on his emotional processes. He clears his emotional debris and sheds his armour. He faces his issues and unconscious patterns heart on. He calls himself on his self-avoidant tendencies and honours the wisdom at the heart of his pain. He communicates his feelings in a way that is respectful to others. He learns and speaks the language of the heart.
The awakening man leads a purpose-full existence. He has heard the call to a deeper life. Not satisfied with survival alone, his ambitions are rooted in higher considerations- the excavation and actualization of his sacred purpose. He is energized by his purpose, not by the machinations of the unhealthy ego. He is coated in an authenticity of purpose that sees through the veils to what really matters. His purpose is his path.
The awakening man is accountable for his actions and their effects. He does not deflect responsibility. He does not sidestep or blame. He is self-admitting and emotionally honest. He admits his errors, and makes amends. He works diligently in the deep within, crafting a more clarified awareness with every lesson.
The awakening man moves from the inside out. More interested in inner expansion than outer achievement, he cultivates and honours his intuition. He explores and develops his inner geography. He adventures deep within, integrating the treasures he excavates into his way of being. He seeks congruity between his inner life and his outer manifestation.
The awakening man seeks wholeness. He is not satisfied with a fragmented way of being. He has no attachment to archaic, linear notions of masculinity. He seeks a sacred balance between the healthy masculine and the healthy feminine. He seeks an inclusive way of being, one that reflects all of his archetypal aspects. He is role flexible, comfortable moving through life in many different ways.
The awakening man embodies the highest standard of integrity in his words and deeds. He makes a sustained effort to work through anything that is not integrity within him. His framework of integrity is never convenient or self-serving. He honours his word, even at his own expense. He moves from a value system that is unwaveringly incorruptible. He recognizes that success without integrity is karmically unsound and meaningless.
The awakening man prioritizes conscious relationship. He values authentic co-creation. He honours relationship as spiritual practice. He seeks physical intimacy that is deeply vulnerable and heartfully connective. He is attuned, engaged and healthily boundaried. When relational challenges arise, he courageously works through any obstructions to intimacy. He stands in the heartfire.
The awakening man is a warrior of the heart. He has taken his clarifying sword inward, cutting away everything that is not compassionate. After too many lifetimes with weapon in hand, a benevolent warrior is being birthed at the core of his being. He honours the warrior capacity for assertiveness, but he is not arbitrarily aggressive. He moves from love and compassion.
The awakening man endeavours to live in a state of perpetual gratitude. He is grateful for the gift of life. He is grateful for those ancestors who built the foundation that his expansion relies upon. He is grateful for those who encouraged him before he could encourage himself. He is grateful for those who stand beside him in this lifetime. He knows that he does not stand alone.
The awakening man is comfortable in his vulnerability. He participates in his own revealing. He is not afraid to surrender- to reality, to love, to truth. This is not a weakened form of surrender, but one that is emblazoned with courage. It takes more courage to surrender than to numb. He openly explores his capacities for receptivity and tenderness. He does not identify these capacities as distinctly feminine, but as whole human. He is strong enough at the core to live in a vast array of emotions.
The awakening man moves through the marketplace responsibly, with a vigilant eye to the ways of the unhealthy ego. He is not opportunistic in a vacuum. He does not compete for competition’s sake. He does not accumulate for the sake of accumulation. In charting his course, he is mindful of his impact on humanity. He is empowered but he does not exploit power. He derives his power from his connection to source, not from power over others. Where possible, he shares the abundance, gifting back to humanity. He works hard to bridge the world as it is with a world of divine possibility.
The awakening man has reverence for Mother Earth. He has reverence for animals. He never imagines himself superior or distinct from the natural world. He understands the interconnected and interdependent nature of reality. He knows that if he does damage to the environment, he does damage to himself. He walks carefully, with awareness, consciousness and appreciation.
The awakening man has no claims on God. His spirituality is tolerant, inclusive, respectful. He honours all paths to God, so long they are respectful of others. He accepts those who believe, and those who don’t. He condemns any path that uses religious differences as a justification for destruction.
The awakening man brings forward many of the qualities of the healthy masculine of old. He is noble. He is responsible. He is productive. He is kind-hearted. He is protective. He is unswervingly honourable. He is down to earth. He is sturdy. He is flexible. He is realistic. He is hopeful. He is sensitive, not fragile. He is healthily egoic, not self-centred. He is both practical and heightened at the same time. He ascends with both feet on the ground. He is really here.
A former criminal lawyer and psychotherapist, Jeff Brown is the author of “Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation,” recently published by North Atlantic Books. Endorsed by authors Elizabeth Lesser and Ram Dass, “Soulshaping” is Brown’s autobiography — an inner travelogue of his journey from archetypal male warrior to a more surrendered path. He is also the author of “Apologies to the Divine Feminine (from a warrior in transition). You can connect with his work at www.soulshaping.com.
THE AWAKENING WOMAN: A PORTRAIT OF POSSIBILITY FOR HUMANKIND
The Awakening Woman is consciously aware of herself and strives to be intimate with all facets of her being. She is her own person as well as relational. She nurtures and honors the relationship with herself as well as with others. She is actively awakening and supports the awakening of those around her. Her devotion to herself allows her devotion to others to be genuine and nourishing. She is sincere, authentic, vulnerable and strong. She is protective, and accepts and values protection from others when appropriate. She establishes healthy boundaries while keeping an open heart.
The Awakening Woman is intimate with her painbody and the feminine wound. She does not deny her pain, but turns towards it for healing. She knows that the dysfunctional views and oppression of females/femaleness is nothing she caused, but acknowledges the ways in which she has participated or was complacent in the unjust treatment of women and the roles that support it, and chooses to no longer participate.
The Awakening Woman does not objectify herself. She stands against the objectification of girls and women. She does not support or consent to those things that degrade or exploit what is female or feminine as well as what is male or masculine.
The Awakening Woman fights for equality at every turn and asks people to take a stand for woman’s issues and gender equality, knowing that this is foundational to all other forms of equality. She will not allow deflection or take the blame for her own victimhood, but will not over-identify with it or over-dramatize it to where it immobilizes her or stunts her own growth.
The Awakening Woman does not use sex or her femininity to manipulate or get what she wants. She ceases to engage in love-making without heart, but rather chooses love-making that is connected, organic, fully mutual, and from the healthy ego. She will not allow sex to be used as a substitute for true intimacy, or a distraction from unresolved wounds. She is not afraid to be called a prude or a slut for making her own conscious decisions around sex. She does not let patriarchy, religion, politics, the media, or the unhealthy male ego define sex, beauty, or relationship for her. Her relationship to sex is her own and comes from within, not from what has been dictated to her all her life by a culture that doesn’t value healthy sexuality. She does not placate or sell herself out to gain male approval, nor does she compete with or sell her sisters out for male attention.
The Awakening Woman speaks her truth. She speaks up when things don’t feel good to her. She values her intuition over others’ intellect. She seeks to be empowered through the divine essence of her being coupled with the cultivation of a healthy ego, and not from external sources and adoration. She uses direct communication and knows how to ask for what she needs. She does not let the good qualities in another overshadow what isn’t working in a relationship. She knows when to walk away and gives up control of trying to change people who do not meet her where she is. The Awakening Woman moves on.
The Awakening Woman distinguishes between the healthy masculine and unhealthy masculine. She has compassion and empathy for the masculine wound and reverence for the healthy masculine. She seeks union and equality with the masculine and acknowledges and expresses gratitude for those times she’s had to call on the male warrior or masculine energies in her life. She sees the masculine and feminine energies as complimentary and necessary to the co-creative force that will bring balance to herself, her relationships and to the planet.
The Awakening Woman is self-parenting and protects the little girl inside. She does not tolerate emotional or physical abuse. She knows how to openly give and receive love, without losing herself in another. She is moving away from the ‘people pleaser’ model. She uses NO as a complete sentence and doesn’t feel the need to over-justify herself or pacify others for the sake of being ‘comfortable.’
The Awakening Woman knows her value even when she’s not giving to or doing for others. She does not let outside influences overshadow or dominate her inner voice and knowing. She does not dim herself down to be liked and accepted. She is willing to be alone in truth over being in dishonest company, and accepts that being alone may be a part of her awakening journey.
The Awakening Woman acknowledges and learns from her past mistakes, patterns and unhealthy behaviors. Instead of letting guilt and shame keep her from actualizing her highest self, she makes a conscious and concerted effort to not repeat these things that have caused her and others discord. She works at shedding the parts of her ego that are no longer serving her or others, while developing the parts that do serve.
The Awakening Woman loves and honors her body and is endlessly grateful for it and how it provides for her. She smiles at the lines in her face, knowing that’s how they got there to begin with. She embraces her humor and laughs from her belly. She also cries and rages from her belly. She lets her belly expand naturally. She puts self care before self image and looks deeply at her conditioning around her external image.
The Awakening Woman is emotionally literate. She can identify and process her feelings and takes responsibility for her emotions. She does not apologize for her feelings and expresses them healthily towards herself and others. She refrains from displacing her anger or other emotions. She walks her talk and admits and corrects it when she falters. She knows how to give a healthy apology for any misstep. She is actively identifying and integrating the disowned parts of herself and does not project her happiness or discontent, positive or negative qualities, onto others.
The Awakening Woman does not carry others’ emotions for them, but holds a loving, compassionate space for them when possible. She asks for others to be responsible with and for their emotions so as to not engender co-dependency. The Awakening Woman will not settle for a love partner who is not her equal and him/herself awakening.
The Awakening Woman works to come from a place of abundance rather than scarcity. She is intimate with her fear, knowing when to let it guide her and when to confront and move through it; she uses it and other emotions as sacred keys to unlock the depths of her soul. She goes to her edge, yet honors her limitations without judgment or shame. She makes it a priority to find some refuge in a world that can feel unsafe to her.
The Awakening Woman is connected to nature and knows her own wonder. She knows how to DO and how to BE. She does not succumb to materialism and unconscious consumerism. She creates more than she consumes; and does both responsibly – mindfully choosing what is nourishing and not harmful.
The Awakening Woman has integrity within herself and with others. She is accountable, self actualizing and above all, works to cultivate a loving relationship with herself instead of relying on others to define her value or worth. She is finding ways to answer the callings of her life’s purpose and continues to expand into it.
The Awakening Woman is enough.
The Awakening Woman is a role model for humanity; the embodied potential of the divine as expressed through human form. She is here, right now; and though she often goes unnoticed, she is helping to guide us home.
© Jessica Bahr. Author in process. She can be reached at: Relationshifting@gmail.com
*This piece is a companion piece to a blog Jeff Brown wrote in 2011 called ‘The Awakening Man: A Portrait of Possibility for Humankind, which you can read at http://www.spiritofmaat.com/jul11/the_awakening_man.html
APOLOGIES TO MY (SWEET) BODY (from a head-tripper in transition)
I apologize for hiding from you in my mind. I was a head-tripper extraordinaire, preferring the seeming safety of my thoughts to the often savage world of feeling. Although I was frequently called ‘absent-minded’, I was actually ‘absent-bodied’, living far outside the walls of the body temple. I grew up in a hateful family, and feeling into my body meant feeling into the horrible memories held in my tissues. Surviving by my wits allowed me to think my way through challenging circumstances and shielded me from pain. But my headiness came at a price- excessive analysis perpetuates emotional paralysis. My coping strategy became my blueprint for reality, alienating me from my real life. But I want to stop watching you from afar. I want to open the gate and come back in now.
I apologize for abusing you with toxic food, over-eating, workaholism. I wanted you drained and deadened so that I couldn’t feel you. If I enlivened you, I felt my emotions more strongly and my pain emerged. If I numbed you, my memories remained buried. Yet another self-distraction technique. I am sorry for those acts of misplaced aggression. I couldn’t hold you safe because I had never been held safe. I had to first forge self-love in the fires of life.
I apologize for shaming you, loathing you, hiding you, feeling embarrassed about you. I am sorry that I judged your seeming imperfections as oddities rather than reflections of the Godself. My attitude was a direct reflection of my own self-hatred, the internalized remnants of a shamed and vilified inner world. They told me I was ugly and I believed them. Characterized as the black sheep throughout my childhood, I took that message to heart, often perpetuating the shameathon at my own expense. As I work to bring my light out from under its bushel of shame, I see the wonder that is you shining through. Such a majestic temple, a living prayer to the Godself. If we don’t honour the temple, there will be no place to pray.
I apologize for looking for my spiritual life independent from you, as though God is a disembodied construct and not a felt experience. Like a good little head-tripper, I wanted to think God, rather than feel God. And so I looked for God on the skyways of detachment, mistaking self-avoidance for enlightenment itself. I went down this path for some time, seemingly calm on the outside, but a bubbling cauldron of unresolved feelings in the deep within. In truth, the closest I ever came to an inclusive consciousness were in those moments when I surrendered to you completely, blemishes and all. It is no accident that we are here in physical form- God is IN the people. I apologize for looking for God outside the temple walls.
I apologize for weighing you down with physical and emotional armour: rigid musculature, congealed rage, shallowed breath, a hardened heart. Perfectly conditioned as a lone-wolf male warrior, I preferred solidity to fluidity, weaponry to warmth. A slave to survival, I was built to move along the path like a machine, postponing rest and pleasure for a day that seldom came. With my armour intact, nothing and no one could touch me. But I was borrowing energy from my future. I was killing myself. Even now, I am under no illusion that I will shift this way of being easily. It is deep in me, deep in my memories of overcoming. But I will try, one shedding at a time. I will try.
I apologize for subjecting you to objectified, heart-severed sexuality. You are built for intimacy that is depth-full, unifying, indistinguishable from the God-self. Anything less is a perversion of your divine nature. But I all too often wanted it shallow and Godless. I wanted no bridge between my heart and genitals, my heart and hers. Even when I was going through my ‘tantra’ phases, I was still abusing you, because I was using my genitals as a bliss seeking missile and not a bridge to the divine. I was using sexuality to escape the moment rather than to deepen in connection. I am sorry that I abused you in this way. I am committed to enheartening my sexuality. I am committed to building the heart-genital highway within.
I am grateful for the so many ways that you kept me going even when my waking consciousness was completely alienated from you. If I had been ruled by my thoughts alone, I would be long dead, bouncing as I was from one heady tree-top to another. But you never failed me, never forgot me, never lost sight of where I really lived. You kept breathing me when I acted against you, when I shamed you, when I disowned you. You kept loving me, calling me back, keeping me afloat until I could meet myself. Such devotion. Deep bows..
I am particularly grateful that you carried me through the most destructive life stages. You healed the wounds and broken bones of early life. You shielded me from violence with your fists and feet. You got me out of bed when grief was immobilizing my spirit. You pulled me out of the fires of childhood hell, even when I re-created them throughout adulthood. You warmed me up, as I knocked on thousands of doors to sell windows in Canadian winters. You kept me awake through a sleepless trial law apprenticeship. You endured 3 decades of workaholism and over-compensation, with little rest. Dearest friend, how can I best honour you?
Thank you for being my authenticity-mometer, my temple of truth. How beautifully you carried my sacred purpose until I was ready for the hand-off. You reminded me with truth-chills whenever I walked in the right direction. You tripped me up with truth-aches whenever I dared to walk in someone else’s shoes. What is so remarkable is that you never failed to communicate with me when I was living a lie. I may not have been ready to listen, but you never abandoned your faith in my possibilities. I now know that my true-path is encoded in the bones of my being. Not a temple that I visit, but one that I am.
I look forward to the day when humanity fully embraces your divinity and recognizes the unity at the heart of creation. A unified consciousness still exists outside of our habitual awareness, but it sings to us from deep within, a symphony of God-music that is calling us home. Where body, mind and spirit appear to be flowing in disparate directions, they will soon be revealed as inextricable branches of the same waterway. On the river of Essence, everything flows in the same direction —towards the ocean of wholeness.
As we move closer to a unified consciousness, may we recognize the heart of the matter- our enheartened body temple. Enlightenment is not a head trip- it’s a heart trip, gusts of God blowing through the portal of the heart, the aortic love valve merging with the love that courses through the universal vein. As it turns out, it isn’t beginner’s mind we seek. Its’ beginner’s heart- the freshness of appreciation that flows through the open heart. If we want to expand our spiritual consciousness, we have to shake our heart tree often. Opening the heart unlocks the heart of the universe, and we see what is always before us. May we be committed to shedding the armour around our heart a little more with every breath.
I am writing you by the banks of a small river, watching Canadian Geese land, resting and readying for the next leg of their journey south. I watch them, settling into a body they never left, truly here. Time to surrender, sing the birds of pray. Then, when their body is ready, they rise again, rising on the wings of their love. I hear them, calling out to each other. Surrender! they cry, as they fly God home for the winter.
One day, I won’t write you as though you are independent of my waking consciousness. One day, I will pray to you, as you. One day, I too will fly to God without leaving the temple. Until then, please continue to hold me safe.
A former criminal lawyer and psychotherapist, Jeff Brown is the author of “Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation,” recently published by North Atlantic Books. Endorsed by authors Elizabeth Lesser and Ram Dass, “Soulshaping” is Brown’s autobiography — an inner travelogue of his journey from archetypal male warrior to a more surrendered path. He is also the author of “Apologies to the Divine Feminine (from a warrior in transition).” You can connect with his work at www.soulshaping.com
As the battle between the authentic and the inauthentic intensifies, we need to be mindful of where we focus our gaze. This is a key moment in the burgeoning battle for truth, and we must be grounded and clear in our focus, lest we fall prey to misguided reactivities and manipulations that do not serve our ultimate destination- an awakened, enheartened society.
As protestors rightfully gather around unconscionable corporations and stock markets, I want to also focus our gaze on the unconscious elements of the media. I appreciate that these systems all work together to serve their selfish ends, but media trickery often seems to fly under the radar, almost too obvious to be detected. And it is devastating in its impact. I am not speaking of the members of the media who are kind and benevolent in their intentions. We applaud their efforts.I am talking about those media outlets and individuals who work our anxiety for their own economic benefit. Enemies of the sacred, their effectiveness at stoking our fears, panic buttons and survivalist energies is so brilliant that they can cause stock markets to crash, tremendous anxiety and suffering, illness and death. We the people need to gather together to fight against them, and legislation needs to be enacted that assertively contains their manipulations.
On the morning of 9-1-1, my grandmother called me to share her experience. She knew she should turn the television off, but she couldn’t. She was hooked into the repeated images of the planes hitting the buildings, the people falling to their death, the alarmism and terror. Like so many of us on this planet, she had grown up with perpetual anxiety around safety and survival, and it didn’t take much to trigger her back into a state of terror. She was getting severe palpitations, but she couldn’t turn it off, as the images of horror triggered her root chakra anxieties back to the surface. She could easily have died watching those images. I wonder how many people did.
The unconscious elements in the media prey on the vulnerable. They are concerned with nothing more than advertising revenues, and understand, deeply, that the best way to hook people into them is through negative imagery and alarmism. Imagine waking up every day, excited at the possibility of sharing horrifying things with humanity. Thats their gig. They recognize that most of the collective consciousness is still vibrating around survivalism and fear, and that the best way to get us addicted to their news is to trigger our root chakra anxieties. Though my grandmother had no real economic worries in her senior years, childhood memories of poverty and war resided in the bones of her being. Most of us carry survivalist anxieties, in form or another.
I cannot even begin to imagine how many people have gotten ill, and died, because of the immunological and economic effects of the unconscious media. How many have suffered emotional and psychological problems. How many who struggle to find a reason to believe in life have been discouraged and derailed. There are studies that need to be done.
In service of their ends, the unconscious media work the dark side. They exaggerate negative weather reports, overwhelm us with negative business news, startle us with images of terror, unnerve us with that alarmist music that accompanies quick news flashes. They work the panic button time and time again until we have nothing left to buffer us. It is my view that the now ridiculously over-reactive stock markets were largely caused by the unconscious media’s effectiveness during the economic crisis in 2008. They hit our panic button so hard that we are now interpreting reality through the lens of our root-chakra anxiety, so sure that the world is falling apart that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tell a nervous public that there is a recession often enough, it becomes a recession. It is that simple. They have us by the genitals now, and they know it. We have to get our genitals back.
And what is worse is that they now have more ways to get to us. It is not just the newspapers, or the 11 p.m. news. It’s on the television screens at the bars, airport luggage racks, shopping malls. It is right there when we open the internet. It is everywhere we look.
We will never get away from anxiety as our organizing principle, if we don’t fight back. I suggest 5 steps in particular:
(1) Conscious, legal, non-violent protests at all unconscious media outlets world-wide. This means at any newspaper, radio or television station, or news source that uses the principles of fear-mongering and exaggerated negativity to draw our attention. It is one thing to report tragedies and injustices, but it is quite another to misrepresent the reality of world events. There are far more positive things happening in the world every day than negative. We must protest until the news becomes more representative of reality. We want it to reach a stage where every journalist knows to check in with themselves to ensure that they are propagating information that will actually enhance humanity. The minimum standard must be world betterment and the promotion of human connectiveness.
(2) Civil litigation (law-suits) against media individuals and outlets whose negative news presentation has caused undue suffering and harm to the physical, psychological and economic well-being of humanity. Class-action suits would be most effective, as they will strike at the heart of their economic power and may cause the unconscious media to re-think their approach. They, are, after all, primarily motivated by economic considerations.
(3) Make real efforts to have criminal charges laid against the unconscious media. In law, an act is deemed criminal if two elements are present at one time: (1) Mens rea- guilty mind; that is an intention to do harm, or an intention that is so reckless or negligent as to the harm caused that it is still deemed culpable; (2) actus reas- guilty act; that is, an act that causes harm to others. It is my view that the unconscious media- individuals and corporations- demonstrate both mens rea and actus reas when they misrepresent the news in an effort to trigger our alarm button and get our attention. They surely have an unconscionable intention, and they do real physical harm- stress hormones are triggered into action, immunological and physical damage results etc. It is an assault, one that only appears inobvious until we open our eyes and see the depth of the damage caused.
(4) Do your best to not watch, listen to or read the unconscious media. They are motivated by money, so if we stop colluding, they will get the message and make the shift. Some call it a “news fast”. Only support those media individuals and outlets that are in integrity and in balance in their presentation of the news.
(5) In depth and firmly backed legislation must be put into place to ensure that the media is moving from benevolence and not exploiting our anxieties to serve their own ends. There should be legislation in every jurisdiction, with watchdogs in place who will act vigilantly to protect humanity. There are those that say that the free market should work this out on its own terms, but I do not agree with that. Perhaps that will one day be the case in the world as it ought to be, but not in the world as it currently is. Again, the collective unconscious still holds a tremendous degree of fear. Survivalist anxieties are so close to the surface of everyday consciousness. Until we reach a stage where the collective has been far removed from these anxieties for many generations, we need systemic protection against those misery mongers and purveyors of doom who seek to perpetuate our fears. They truly are enemies of the sacred.
We're on the cusp of a Revolution of the Receptive, a time when we welcome the heart to open, when surrender and sensitivity are honoured as gateways to the moment, when those who have the courage to live from their hearts are recognized as the true warriors on Mother Earth. The era of the malevolent warrior is coming to a close. It is time for the Benevolent Warrior, for the ones who allow their hearts to speak its truth. The benevolent warrior has shifted his focus from a localized and ethnocentric perspective to a world-centric framework of perception. Her community is humanity. Rooted in the relational, his sense of responsibility extends well beyond his localized self and community. Where possible, her choice-making is fuelled by an expansive vision of possibility for all of humankind. Not every man for himself, but every man for humanity. As we move toward a more enheartened world, we must stand our ground against those individuals and systems that seek to imprison us behind constricting walls of fear. We must fight for our right to the light.
I hear all the doomsayers, but I believe we've entered into a time of great promise. Although things appear to be falling apart, they are actually coming together as false structures are tumbling down, melting in the face of truth and genuine self-revealing. I don't believe the world will dissolve in 2012 or that we're facing ultimate financial collapse. We'll have challenges, but we'll work them out. I believe that sacred activists are more necessary now, not because tragedy is upon us, but because we're moving beyond survivalism as a guiding principle. We are moving, side by side, heart in heart, towards authenticity as our shared way of being. Of course it is going to get noisy as egoic walls come tumbling down, of course the energy is going to intensify and frighten us. It comes with the territory. This is a time of radical change, an up-draft of heartfelt proportions. But we will make it through, we just will. We're brilliantly adaptive, and on the deepest truest levels, we all want to lay down our arms, and move through life from the heart outward. We may be able to endure most anything, but we are built to love. That is where we are headed. We just have to fight a few more battles on the road home. The Unconscious Media is one of them.
© Jeff Brown, Author- Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation (www.soulshaping.com)