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  • Writer's picturecpasseromft

A Tale of Awakening

Updated: Mar 23


You 

Alone

Have 

The

Fullness

Of

My

Heart. 

It 

Lies 

Beating

In

The

Palm

Of 

Your 

Hand 

One cool evening around the Spring Equinox, 1995, while lying in a hot tub under a dark, clear and star-riddled northern CA sky, I was gently pulled into a spontaneous process (uninvited and not orchestrated by me) throughout which I was entirely lucid; a process that I eventually understood as an initiation into the heart of the Goddess/Earth-Based Tradition. Having had no experience with this tradition before this fateful evening, I lacked any internal point of reference for it. Simultaneously, I was aware, from the beginning, that it fell into the category of the mystical, of this I was clear.


Through this initial experience in the hot tub (details for another post perhaps) and the arduous teachings that followed, I learned to turn inside for solace and freedom from the tortures that the mental body is so adept at creating. Going inside, I quickly learned, would become the critical piece in surviving this kind of initiation. The comfort, the salve for my suffering, was (and is) found by turning inward and required great willingness on my part to surrender to the emotional, psychic, psychological and spiritual processes that were pulling me there.


In the next nearly four years I became quite familiar with and even comforted by the cycles of mystical initiation into the way of the Goddess: Birth, Growth, Death, and Regeneration. Over time I learned to move into and through these cycles as they presented themselves to me in a variety of contexts. It wasn't long before I figured out that to resist was futile; this kind of awakening is a gift, not something to be discarded or ignored (as if that was even possible.) Through ritual and ceremony, writing, sitting, wailing, drawing, moving my body, and spending countless hours with the Pacific ocean, I supported myself and lent a loose structure to an otherwise amorphous and profound experience that unfolded within me without any guidance or direction from me.


Those first years of this new relationship were identified by a concentrated and nearly unyielding process where I was rather consumed with all that was changing within me; at times utterly torn up about what I was being called to release. It became clear that there were no external answers or paths outward that would even come close to the healing and learning that was taking place. The jig was up; the answers aren't out there in a job or a person or financial bracket. They're not in a substance or a particular role or idea or relationship. Because of my willingness to stay with these challenging processes as they came up, I moved them, one by one, to the point of resolution. As the inner material came up (birth) I was able to engage it, explore it, experience it (growth) then release it (death) and settle into the eventual peaceful and ecstatic states that would follow (regeneration.) 


When I would drop in, the container sometimes felt endless beyond my comfort, as if I could never 'get that big' to meet it. My breath was central to meeting the anxiety that came up when I was invited to fill such a spacious field with my own consciousness. It was as if I was stretching into my grander, bigger self a little bit at a time and using my breath as the vehicle for this process never failed me. If I could get out of my own way I would expand into this space and experience the seemingly limitlessness of my own being. Even still, if I play with my breath or interact with a place of tension in my body (allowing a fuller breath to meet that tension) the 'space' into which I can energetically drop opens up and I experience the expansive self. My capacity for being in my depth and breadth has grown over the years. It has become clear to me that the only limit to the depth of this wild and wonderful internal expanse is oneself. 


The initial days became weeks, then months and eventually years (and now decades.) While lucid and tracking all of it and in my effort to understand what was happening to me, I wrote. These writings provided the structure I needed to be with and integrate what was unfolding within me. The structures I had created over my lifetime were the purview of my personality and social constructs; small and limited by definition. They were not useful in understanding a mystical awakening and were therefore falling away.) Writing became the external expression of the wild and often tumultuous processes I was faced with and drawn into and compelled toward, and it helped me to continue living my life amidst these grand and often unexplainable internal movements that would require my tending. What began as a gentle rebirthing in that hot tub, became years of undoing and remaking; shapeshifting of a sort. Anything I identified with that wasn't reflective of my true nature, eg., my self beyond this personality, was up for grabs and eventual dissolution. My identity was shifting radically as the structures and ideas I had come to live by just didn't have the seduction they once had. Don't get me wrong, it was terrifying, at times, to feel my identity dissolving in this way before I had clarity for what was coming to replace it. I became quite comfortable with living in a liminal state much of the time.


Had I not had the ego strength, eg., a strong and centered sense of self and sense of my personality and personhood, this awakening could have resulted in a psychotic break. It looked a little like one to a few people around me but in my lucidity, I was able to assure them as best I could, that I was okay. Better than okay. I was coming home. I was deeply embedded in this sacred relationship and because I so instinctively trusted it, I was able to subjectively give myself to it entirely until I began to have experiences where I lived in the expansive state much of the time, not just at the altar or on my zafu or in ritual. It began to be the main point of reference for how I lived and how I understood life and being.

Rather than being thrust into a psychosis, I was consistently bathed in this well of loving kindness, "a mother's true heart" I wrote in 1996 and I welcomed her most comforting and elegant container. I came to rely on this place as steady and indestructible; my emerging home. The unwavering presence that gave me the motivation to carry on and allow my known identity and limited thinking to fall away over and over was becoming my comfort zone.

 

Driven to track and follow this unfolding, amidst my fears and grief for all that I was called to release, I returned again and again to the seemingly endless well of love and utter safety. While in this liminal space, I traversed love and terror as a matter of course. Over time, as I felt the reliability of this safe and loving container, the fear diminished, thankfully, and love took its place over and over again. As I settled into this greater understanding and experience, the more at home I felt. I was writing consistently as a way of remaining anchored in my human life while doing my best to integrate all that was happening.

While I still occasionally write and currently feel a returning of that itch, much of what poured through my pen about this experience did so then, in those initial years. All of it was dictated from the deepest place within me and expressed poetically the nature of what I was experiencing. 


It was a homecoming to a place I never want to leave. My place. Your place, too. For us all...familiar to me as ancient echoes calling me home. Home, a place that, until that period in my life, I didn't even know existed. I was the scribe for much of it; fully engaged in it while also witnessing and writing about it; a dual awareness as it were. And the prose and poetry that came out of me at that time served to bring structure to the otherwise watery and boundless experience I was having of my life and myself. 


Why is this important and how is it related to my work?

Somewhere along the way, as my life has unfolded, it has become clear to me that I am inspired by transformation on a mass scale and am driven toward this more than any other impulse I've witnessed in myself. The human condition interests me greatly and how we each 'do life' is fascinating. The personal myths; the meaning-making each of us draw on to explain our lives and relationships are as varied and unique as each of us is. We learn to make sense of things based on the storylines that have their genesis in the people and events that defined and shaped our early lives. 

Life is often hard. Our beginnings can be full of great suffering and sometimes it seems there is no route to healing. Having had this initiation experience and being called to drop in more deeply than I ever had up to that point, I was faced with gripping fear that I never knew was within me. Thankfully, I had the container of my beloved to 'hold the space' for me as I allowed myself to engage these processes to their 'finish' resulting in freeing me from their grip. This level of release and liberation, the continuous unfolding into the truth of who I am, saved me from the trappings of my mind and from the emotional contractions embedded within me. This immense and limitless container has allowed me to go into my own suffering with the steady hand of my internal guide; always there, consistently loving and accepting me even when I struggled greatly to do that for myself. Shame, terror, anxiety were all there. And every single time I did the work to move through the debris of my own thinking and limited understanding, I was eventually met with states of ecstasy, peace, and the truth of my own expansive nature. 


I began to identify a deep empathy within me for myself and also for you in the recognition that we have become so utterly separated from this place; our home and our birthright. The grief around this separation is immense. It was for me, anyway. In my experience of all of this was (and is) the recognition that this place within me, this expansive and liberated haven, beyond the stories I had woven and those woven for me, beneath the entanglements of personality and the misunderstandings by which I was living--THIS place in me is also your place within you. It doesn't make sense that it's only true for me or for a select few who have these mystical experiences. What we have in common is much more significant here than what makes us different.


So while it is highly likely you won't hear me talk about this personal experience much, it informs me as a person, a therapist, a singer, a mother, an educator and I am rarely without this awareness in me. While I draw on it inevitably, I don't lead with it overtly.

Why does this awareness matter? Because the mass disconnect from this place inside, from this self beyond all selves is the cause of all the suffering we see around us, I'm sure of it. And it is in this repair, this return to identification of and experience of our true nature, that we will, collectively, heal. 


I learned over the years that it's all about identity; where we 'hang our hat' so to speak. Where we anchor in our awareness of self has everything to do with how we feel in our lives and how our lives feel to us. What this means for me is that while the stories of my life matter, greatly even, they are not reflective of who I am, ultimately, in this way that I am describing here. This understanding allows me to move with greater fluidity in and out of the conflicts or challenges, designed by the personality and  present in my living at any given time. There is less of a need to defend. Less need to control. More acceptance. Less self-criticism. More impulse toward acceptance and allowing as a way of welcoming my experiences. This is liberation! And I am committed to continuing to cultivate and deepen this ability in me (and in anyone interested) for the rest of my life while I meet and go beyond my various emotional processes, remembering who I actually am rather than thinking that I am my constructed personality. None of that is true. I know this now and can welcome and cultivate this place while I live the various roles of my life and heal the various wounds of my past and present whenever they show up.


If this place is alive in me as the only real resource that has met and healed my wounding and limited understanding, it is also accessible to and alive in you. 


I'll leave you with this piece I wrote in 1998 or 1999 that reflects the outcome of the arduous and blissful journey that exemplified those concentrated four years of initiation. My heart to yours, as a blessing:


This is a relationship of collaboration.


She provides the deep calling and

A mother’s true heart.

And we provide the surrender and the willingness.


She provides the direction and momentum.

And we provide the surrender and the willingness.


She provides the steady encouragement

And unwavering grace.

And we provide the surrender and the willingness.


She provides the rapture 

And unyielding compassion.

And we provide the surrender and the willingness.


She is the call. 

We are the yes.

She is the force.

We are the spinning. 

She is the compass.

We are the footsteps.


Yes, a relationship of collaboration, this one. 

In my living, I give myself to it. 


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