Not only do we live in a living universe, but the living universe lives within us.
— Duane Elgin
The truth is that each of us is a wondrous miracle worthy of celebration. As Charles Eisenstein succinctly puts it: "Each person you interact with is an entire universe unto themselves, a Divine Being, unspeakably precious."
However, many of us have a critical voice in our heads that says harsh and false things, obscuring this fundamental truth. Incorrectly believing ourselves to be fatally flawed, unloveable, or unwanted, we can have difficulty accessing the joy, confidence, and generosity that are our birthright.
Below you'll find a kind of poetic invocation, a chant, a soul tonic to help counteract self-negating tendencies, and to seed a radical, empowering reset of how you may think about yourself.
I've included an audio recording of me reading it.... so you can just close your eyes and receive these words, letting them seep deeply into your bones and imagination!
Note: if you see a black bar that says "download file", click on it and a new window will open where you can listen to the audio file (you don't actually need to download anything).
You Are Not a Problem to be Fixed
Do you get tired of the constant chatter in your mind and it's conflicting messages? Are you wanting to feel more grounded and access the wisdom and nourishment you need right now?
During a recent a Trillium Awakening group I spontaneously decided to offer the participants a guided meditation to help us get out of the noise in our heads and to access a deeper level of wisdom.
The meditation begins with a luxurious exploration of our senses, bringing us deeply into our bodies and out of the over activity of the mind. From this deeply relaxed, grounded place, I use the senses to expand awareness into increasingly subtle realms.
This expansion then leads to an imaginal encounter with our inner wisdom and receive highly attuned guidance.
Use this meditation any time you need to take a break from the speed and noise of daily life to access soul-level support and healing.
(One of the most loving things we can do for ourselves is take time to listen to what's really true inside. In the Trillium Awakening path we call this practice "greenlighting," and is defined as:
"A radical acceptance of whatever is currently arising in order to bring it fully into conscious awareness, thus freeing greater amounts of energy and attention to facilitate deepening awakening. This principle does not mean uninhibited behavioral expression without consideration of its impact on self and others."
I've found that adding a whiff of love, compassion, or kindness to the practice of greenlighting can make a huge difference. Especially for those of us who struggle with powerful inner critics!
Awakened activists need to be able to self-nurture and hand ourselves the critical "oxygen mask" of self-love, so that we are well-resourced and able to respond to the world more clearly and thoughtfully.
In addition, deeply listening to the tender (and often very young) places within allows them to come out of exile and back into harmony with our whole being, and reduces the tension and energy drain of inner conflict.
I hope you enjoy my 13-minute guided meditation, "Stop, Drop, Listen, and Love"!
Appleblossom Orchid photo by Margit Bantowsky
For those of us oriented towards service and helping others, it can be a real challenge to take our own needs into consideration. When there's so much suffering in the world, so much at stake, and so much to do, it can seem selfish and indulgent to slow down, rest, cook a decent meal, take a bath, or take a walk outside.
Also, when our energy and attention is devoted to survival and just making it through each day, self-care can feel completely out of reach.
Radical self-care involves the capacity to fundamentally value ourselves, to sense deeply and know what our true needs are, and then to take steps and advocate for ourselves.
It also involves having radical trust that it's OK if we include ourselves in the bigger equation. Knowing that not only is our well-being OK, but that our well-being is necessary for the well-being of the whole.
What, then, gets in the way of doing radical self-care for ourselves?
That's the question I posed in my recent All Hearts on Deck sitting for Trillium Awakening practitioners, and which was the heart of the guided meditation "Radical Self-Care".
I say "radical" because the meditation goes deeper into what's really in the way of nourishing ourselves - usually unconscious fears and beliefs imprinted from our earliest years.
Some of the radical/ root blocks to self-care we discovered included:
You may relate to one or all of these undercurrents, I know I do!
Would like to experience a shift in one of your blocks to radical self-care?
If so, I invite you to listen to my 18-minute guided meditation.
Here's someone's recent experience of the meditation:
"This meditation helped me see that what was in the way of self-care was my anxiety about "the person in authority" not believing that my experiences are real. I also saw how I was worried that "I'm not the expert" and was doubting myself.
The meditation helped me realize that actually I do know - I'm more intimate with my body these days and I do know what's true for me. It became clear that I just need to speak my truth and go from there. I gained clarity around what I needed to do, instead of being stuck in worrying about others' responses."
~ K.L., Trillium Awakening practitioner, and recent "All Hearts on Deck" participant
I hope this meditation helps you unwind old, unconscious patterns so that you have a better sense of what you truly want and need, and more ability to take action accordingly.
Remember - growth and healing are like peeling layers of an onion, and many incremental steps eventually do add up to substantive changes in our lives... so feel free to do this meditation multiple times.
Whenever you notice that you're not taking good care of yourself, would be a great time to do this guided meditation!
I hope someday
Oak Tree photo by Margit Bantowsky
At a recent All Hearts on Deck sitting, a group of Trillium Awakening practitioners and I contemplated the topic of beauty.
We began with a meditation - first settling deeply within ourselves, then widening our attention to include broad, open perception, and from this silent, spacious, embodied space we invited a memory of a recent experience of beauty to come forward.
After allowing, amplifying, and saturating ourselves into this recent experience of beauty, we looked at how things shifted inside...how it affected our sense of:
Participants shared how they felt more relaxed, open, and connected with everything. They reported feeling more compassion and kindness towards themselves and others. There was also a sense of wonder and curiosity.
We then widened our inner gaze to include painful things in our lives - and on the planet - while still remaining connected with beauty.
We noticed that there was a "bittersweet" flavor to the heartbreak and sadness, that there was beauty in pain, and that beauty and pain were inextricably related, like that undulating edge bisecting the two halves of the Yin-Yang symbol.
We also noticed that beauty can be a path to joy, although it is distinct from joy. And that beauty can be a path, in and of itself.
Here are some questions to further this inquiry:
I was recently interviewed by my dear friend and colleague, Eric Grace, who gave me an opportunity to share my story about how I got into spiritual awakening and awakened activism. Below is the full 2 1/2 hour audio recording (there is no video of the interview).
We covered a lot of ground - from childhood, to graduate school, to my "time of unraveling," to finding Waking Down in Mutuality and Trillium Awakening, and finally becoming a Trillium teacher.
The first hour focuses on my background and journey, and the remaining time is a very juicy Q/A session with the audience. The topic of awakened activism is sprinkled throughout the Q/A section.
ps - unfortunately, due to technical issues Eric's audio is much quieter than mine... sorry for the volume imbalance between our voices :-(
pps - if you're interested in Eric Grace's offerings, check out his house, "The Wholly Human," in the Clubhouse App (he's got a library of recordings of previous interviews), and be sure to visit his website:
ppps - if you want to listen and watch the recording on the Clubhouse App, use this link: https://www.clubhouse.com/room/MwoDjYNB?utm_medium=ch_room_xerc&utm_campaign=WbgimASwYNYv0zxXOhKISQ-605643
Collage by Margit Bantowsky
Until we are anchored in the profound, fundamental trust in Life and in Self that embodied consciousness awakening can bless us with, our activism can be motivated not only by fear, but also guilt and shame. These drivers often push us beyond our limits resulting in cynicism and burn-out. Conversely, guilt and shame can immobilize our energy and cause us to feel stuck and ineffective. Even when we're initially motivated by love and compassion, these "darker" impulses can impede sustainable action in response to the world.
In and of themselves, neither guilt nor shame are a bad thing - they are normal human emotions. Diving deeper, we discover that they contain wisdom. Instead of eliminating or powering through them, there are ways to embrace and transmute them so we're liberated to participate in joyful and authentic ways.
In the spirit of exploration, here are three journal questions for you:
Guilt and shame are emotions that arise in relationship with others. My sense of guilt is that it's an emotional signal informing me that my actions have harmed someone or something. Arising from my capacity for empathy, something in my gut "feels off" and lets me know I'm out of integrity. Thus, for me, guilt is part of my moral intelligence and is an invitation to reach out and tend to the relationship because of an action I took that caused harm (whether intentionally or not).
Shame is a response to being seen by others as lacking, flawed, wrong. I experience shame as a downcast gaze, breaking off relationship with the other, and then turning away from myself inwardly. Instead of staying at the level of action/ behavior, shame denigrates our personhood. I feel exiled and unwanted because something is bad, wrong, or fundamentally flawed in my being.
Activism can become distorted when we try to do things in the outer world in order to minimize or avoid feeling the discomfort of guilt and shame.
But powering over, ploughing through, won't resolve these feelings. We can't metabolize them through our minds alone. We must use our awareness, our bodies, and our hearts in order to transmute guilt and shame and find our deeper compass of integrity.
In the video below, I offer:
Consciously engaging guilt allows us to sense our innate integrity and stay in relationship with others. Healing old shame patterns gives us a deeper ground in our value and fundamental innocence, allowing us to be less defended and more curious.
By transmuting guilt and shame, we can become more free to be of service in ways that genuinely nourish us and others. We can experience more energy, connection, and love, and engage with less defensiveness and more fluidity. We can also enjoy healthy self-responsibility - not taking on too much of the world's burden, but also not too dissociated, imploded, or blaming. It becomes easier to honor passions and limits, and to choose actions that are a really good fit for us, and thus more sustainable in the long run.
Guilt is a profoundly conservative emotion and as such is not particularly useful for bringing about change. From a position of insecurity and guilt, people do not change or inspire others to change.” ~~ Michael Kaufman
photo by Margit Bantowsky
Awakened activism invites us to bring forward our authentic self in service to and celebration of the wellness of all beings…and authenticity invites consideration of integrity.
In the Trillium path, our emphasis on mutuality is one way to bring ourselves into integrity with others – acting with kindness and courage while being open to hearing how our actions impact others, and making appropriate amends.
Another level of integrity involves our relationship with ourselves – noticing whether we are acting in accord with our nature, our values, and/or our intentions.
As a result, integrity requires me to be honest with myself, and honest with others, to the best of my ability. Perhaps most deeply, then, integrity hinges on my authenticity and knowing what my needs and wants, and my limits and longings are.
These things are hard to know if I'm not in touch with my body's intelligence - emotions as well as sensations. Dissociation breaks the bridge with my embodied, felt-sense of when things are "off" or "aligned," or a felt-sense of my "yes" and "no."
Once I know what is really true for me, the next challenge is to respect my truth and to speak and act on its behalf. As you probably know all to well, this is often easier said than done! And the converse is also true - respecting other people's truths could be seen as a form of social integrity.
Commitment plays a role in integrity as well. Following through on commitments I make with myself and others helps me live in alignment with my word and intentions, and honors the trust others extend to me.
A generous way to view integrity is through a developmental lens. This capacity usually grows naturally as we mature out of our youthful self-centeredness into a more generative orientation. However, we all know examples where this hasn't happened. Integrity becomes more accessible as we gradually reduce the dissociation and soften distortions caused by trauma and cultural conditioning by diligently doing our shadow work.
The guided inquiry on this video explores some of the nuances of integrity, what it requires of us, and what gets in the way of accessing it. To take full advantage of the depth of this offering, be sure to have a pen and paper handy for journaling!
They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.
Photo by Margit Bantowsky
Awakened activism inevitably evokes contemplation of the relationship between being and doing. Because who and how we are being has such an enormous impact on others, it is appropriate to devote considerable attention on our inner workings and integrating our shadow.
On the other hand, after awakening and integration we may be called to show up and participate even more fully in life. In addition, it’s important to honor how different temperaments naturally express different forms of participation, and that there’s a wide range of activity – from subtle to gross – that can be aimed at the wellness of all beings.
In this video I guide us through a series of penetrating questions to illuminate the relationship between being and doing.
I also offer conceptual framing around what I call the "Ecology of Being and Doing," and point to the possibility of a seamlessness of being/doing which is profoundly embedded within the Flow of Life.
Wherever we are
It is often said in Trillium Awakening circles that our individual shadow work serves both personal and collective healing. This is because the conditioning (and trauma) that caused us to protect and hide our authenticity came through our primary caregivers who, in turn, were deeply conditioned by their families and culture. This conditioning goes back countless generations, and now we finally have the understanding, tools, and capacity to consciously integrate what our ancestors were unable to. Lucky us, right?!
Renowned spiritual teacher, Thomas Hübl, talks about cultural trauma – patterns of psychological disruption that characterize an entire group of people. He points out that one of the key features of trauma is what he calls “the absence of sensing and seeing,” and this happens not only individually, but with collectives.
Our Western industrialized culture harbors patches of collective trauma – massive blind spots – which make it difficult to sense and see things clearly, and to access empathy. These absences of sensing and seeing deeply affect our capacity for mutuality. In embodied, spiritual awakening we recognize that our wholeness depends on deep reciprocity with others and with all of life.
In this the below video inquiry, we’ll explore what it means and how it feels to have socially-related “absences of seeing and sensing.” I draw from the powerful trauma-informed somatic abolitionist work by Resmaa Menakem to illuminate how collective trauma impacts our capacity for compassionate mutuality.
Note: This inquiry is for White-Bodied people
Some of the questions we contemplate include:
We have been born into the fragmentation of our former generations, so we don’t know a world without trauma. Which means that we make trauma normal.
Margit Bantowksy, MA, is an artist, coach, teacher and facilitator.