This is the fourth entry in the Life As An Initiate At SoulFullHeart Sanctuary Blog Series. Go here to read the third one.
The old photographs in front of me in digital form are, for parts of me, evidence of an old life and an old me. An attachment to them lives on inside me though I have looked at them a thousand times, and I feel reactions rise up yet again to my body, my outbound energy, and my self-loathing (that may be too strong of a term to use, but at times it does feel I have harbored that strong of a feeling about myself inside parts of me). Photos of a “me” in university studying Theatre, of a “me” exploring freelance modeling and the sexual messiness that came with that at times, and ultimately a “me” that felt most times worthless, incapable and even, yes, “stupid”, “ugly”, “fat”, etc.
It feels tender to let these feelings rise up again and yet for another part of me it feels useless…why let part of me obsess over the past? What is this part looking for…more suffering? These are unanswered questions in the moment, yet there is something about what I was living through that I feel connects directly to my process today.
I remember well the thought pattern I fell into and couldn’t get out of, starting around age 12. Puberty had begun to set in and my body began to develop the shape that I now have. My social world was getting tougher with hormones arising along with an emerging desire to have a boyfriend, while watching other girls my age draw what seemed to part of me like “all of the attention.” Immediately another part came in with messages of needing to find ways to compete but also with messages of my “incompetence” to do so.
On the other hand, I also remember being a “good Catholic girl”. Part of me leaned into church and the feeling of being with “God”. I realize now that this was my first experience of something bigger than me holding me, even if I wasn’t sure how to picture it exactly. I feel with some tears in the moment that this is what held me more than I realized at the time and kept me going through these tough years where I had parts developing like crazy to cover over my porosity and sensitivity as much as possible, to make life feel doable and less insane-feeling. Yes, it was in a Catholic framework, but the Divine is still the Divine and I have had many lifetimes of leaning into an inexplicable energy that comforts, challenges, and ultimately helps me grow somehow.
To me this all demonstrates the beginnings of what would become my own “Spirit/Matter Split”, which is easily one of the greatest themes at work in my life and perhaps for all of us on a global scale. Only recently have I begun to feel how big of a deal it would be if the biggest thing I do in this life is learn to bridge Spirit and Matter instead of feeling them as separate entities. As I go on I will illuminate what I mean.
What I wrote in the beginning illustrates the deep self-punishment pattern parts of me were in. Aspects of this included an obsession about how I looked and what my body weight was. It also included adopting many different “medications” in an attempt to quell this voice inside me but also to lift me up from the heaviness of what most people call “real life”. I remember there being a dense dreariness in my field about how life was supposed to be and how it would inevitably turn out. At times I still have this and I am now working with it consciously in order to feel and heal the parts that still hold it as Truth. This is a piece of family and cultural legacy. No amount of positive affirmations or reframing of my thinking could penetrate this voice and heal these wounds long-term.
So far, I can feel that…
Matter is the density of the material world, both energetically and physically. It is the churning of machines in our industrial factories. It is the ground on which we walk, run, cycle or drive. It is our physical bodies that we tend to obsess over, hold contempt for, and blame for so much. It is “is-ness”.
Spirit is the abstract. It is our feelings and our intuitions, which both can come with such an intangibility that they either pass through us unnoticed or are deliberately ignored/buried. It is life force itself. It is often an experience and a flow that cannot be put into words, it just IS. In a way it is “is-ness” too, but more so in the sense that it is literally All That Is, all at once.
See? One I can talk about more directly, while one needs to be described poetically in order to do it justice in human/Matter terms. Matter is meant to be temporary, fleeting, in the moment, tangible and dense, while Spirit is meant to be ever-lasting, enduring, unbreakable…and though it is mostly energy, it is what we can count on to always be there and it is what our hearts and souls long for more of, consciously or unconsciously.
There is no good vs. evil here. There is not even a real comparison between the two concepts. They are ultimately One; we have just created a duality perhaps to make parts of us feel better. There is a definite, bittersweet pain that comes with feeling Divine connection while there is still so much life to live, especially during this phase of life on this planet. But what could/would it mean if we integrated our daily life experience and our spiritual experiences and indeed didn’t have to define or compartmentalize either one from the other? What if the whole idea behind Matter is that it is a conduit and holding space for Spirit to play in? And what if we are the ones meant to link the two?
What if I am one of the ones called to be a bridge and lead others in this during my lifetime?
What if you are meant to come with me?
I’m realizing now how little experience I have had with nonduality in this life. I am looking forward to being able to let in some tastes of it as this dualistic experience of life continues to heal inside me. For parts of me, being able to be in a strictly human life with abandon has been comforting for short phases, though it has never really brought me satisfaction or deep joy. Perhaps as my parts begin to realize that they finally will get their deepest needs met while leaning into Spirit and taking practical life steps at the same time, I will become more ready to let the Nondual in and therefore let in my essential essence and more tones of my soul and of the Divine than I have ever let in yet.
Well, if life’s Matter is the playground I’m beginning to feel it is, then what have I got to lose in exploring this theme of bridging Spirit with it, except old patterns of being in life that my parts and I are tired of anyways? What could/would shift in my life if I can integrate the two?
I suspect that I, and my life, will change in more ways than I count.
Sounds pretty good to me!
Kathleen Calder is an initiate at the SoulFullHeart Sanctuary and you can read more of her writing here on this blog. Please visit SoulFullHeart Sanctuary for more information about staying with us and virtual sessions.