Last week I wrote about how torn I felt about not going to the sweatlodge and it was one of those blogs which hit a chord with a number of women.
Thank you to those of you who replied because those conversations and email exchanges have helped me think about this some more. Thank you to Lucy for appreciating ‘ staying with the tornness. It’s okayness and not-okayness…’ and for sharing with me that ‘Eileen Caddy (co-founder of Findhorn Foundation) notoriously left 4 (or was it 5?) children to be with Peter Caddy and fufill her spiritual mission.’
Whilst Findhorn is a remarkable place and institution which is undoubtedly a force for love and light in the world, for me there seems to be an incongruence with setting out to to build that whilst depriving your own children of you presence and the focus of your love. I notice that there is some judgement in me about Caddy for leaving her children to follow her path.
When I dive into that judgement more deeply and I see that some of it is that Caddy leapt – she made a choice to leap across the tear; tearing away from her family into a spiritual life. There is part of me that is envious of her courage and there is part of me that thinks she took the easy way out.
I have (in life BC, Before Children) sat in the Himalayas, near the Dalai Lama’s home of Dharamsala in a Tibetan Buddhist retreat center meditating all day. I would walk from the village, through the green woods (avoiding marauding monkeys) up to the beautiful and serene center run by safron robed monks to sit in silence with other meditators in a splendid hall filled with incense. During our lunch and break times I would look out at the white tops of the Himalayas against the clear blue sky. I would scan my eye across the golden terraces of corn and I would watch the eagles saw over head.
Believe me..even the busiest of minds, the most troubled of spirits would have settled some in that place. Being up a mountain top for me was easy…coming down the mountain, into the cities, into our families, our lives, our work..that’s the hard bit..now try and find peace, acceptance and serenity!
Coming down from the mountain
It is much harder to live within the tear, of living with our feeling of being torn in our roles, our obligations and the demands on our lives.
Indeed, as I have thought about this week and meditated on it (with the dogs chasing round, in the drizzle) I see that for those of us with families, maybe the answer is to dive into the tear rather than try and sew it up, or leap across it or to pull it apart completely.
Society is torn
When I have explored my feeling of ‘torn’ I see that this ‘tear’ is created by external forces. It is our society that has created the separation between home and work (think Industrial Revolution). Society has drawn us into the cities for work and away from nature. Many of us live away from our family support structure because of work, because of the demands to achieve a certain level of life style.
We are alienated from the food we eat; so many of the kids I have taught over the years wouldn’t know what time of year strawberries grow and they certainly would never pick blackberries from the hedgerow.
We are increasingly separated from our sexuality by the imagery of porn and advertising, turning sex into another commodity, another acquisition or performance rather than a heart/spirit/body connection between 2 people.
We don’t even have ownership of our health; we devolve responsibility for that to the over stretched doctors and hospitals, we smoke and yet expect cancer treatment, we over eat and get a gastric band, we drink too much and when we are injured in a fight or a crash we know that someone else will patch us up.
In some many ways are we divided from ourselves, have we parceled bits of our needs and our responsibilities off and handed them to anonymous strangers.
So no wonder then that we are torn from our spiritual life. When the Church created an institution, a power structure, a book, a ‘right’ way of thinking and living then instead of finding those ways of living for ourselves, from our inner wisdom, we gave away our power to other people, to institutions (still predominantly male) and we let them take charge of our spiritual life, just as we let the dentist fill our teeth after we have eaten too much sugar.
As a child the neighbours took me to church. I went largely because there was a youth group and as a shy teenager, it seemed like somewhere I would make friends ( I didn’t). One of the reasons I could never reconcile myself with church was that I would listen to the sermons about loving thy neighbour and honouring your husband or wife, but then what I saw was not that. I saw people snubbing other people, I knew one neighbour who had a stash of porn in his loft and would get way to close to teenage girls, I knew people who bitched and backstabbed and yet went to church on Sunday. It didn’t add up to me.
But what they were doing was buying the quick fix; ‘I go to church so that even if I cheat, or bitch or deceive I’m going to be OK’. Church was their insurance policy. As my (un-church-going) mum used to say ‘you can do what you like if all you have to do is confess it in secret later and get forgiven’.
This is what happens when we tear ourselves and give parts away: I go to church so the church can take care of my values, morals and inner life. I go to the doctor so s/he can take care of my health. I go the supermarket so they can feed me.
Embracing the tear
Our sense of feeling torn is born because we have refused to tear our life in 2. Living with the tear means we dive into the duality of modern life, we refuse to accept it, we refuse to give away our spiritual life or our motherhood or our health or our family.
When I stepped into the tear this week I found that being inside the tear is exactly where I want to be because I absolutely refuse to live a life of duality where I split bits of myself off and give parts of myself away.
I WILL NOT do that.
Leap into the tear
When we leap into the tear we are in the process of integration, we are in the process of connecting, of unifying, of synthesising. It is in the struggle of the tear, of the discomfort of feeling torn that the world and we can be healed.
Because it really is all connected, our health affects our family, our work affects our health, our family affects our spiritual life, our sex life is part of our health and our spirit. Jumping into the tear is where the real work is; it is where a life of health, love and connecting can be found and I would argue that it is only here, in the tear, in the midst and muddle of feeling torn, it is only here that we will find our answers.
Because all the time we devolve our spiritual life to others there will be conflict over which religion is right. Because all the time we devolve our health to doctors we will be sick. Every time we devolve the way we live out life to government ministers we will feel poorer and more alienated from our society. Every time we buy and eat a ready meal we are one more step away from the true vitality of the nature’s produce and our connection with the land.
Unification and integration
Our feeling of being torn is to be celebrated not avoided. Feeling torn tells us that we are refusing to be divided and compartmentalised. When we feel torn we know we are walking into the tear to find our authentic path through it, to look at how we can integrate the opposing forces at play in our own lives to make us more whole.
This, I realise, is my path. Not as the swami suggested ‘motherhood is the path’. NO, that’s still dualistic, either/ or; mother OR spiritual. NO. mother AND spiritual AND working AND sexy AND healthy AND, AND, AND.
Last week I wanted to not feel torn, I didn’t like it. This week, I can feel such and excitement, such an exhilaration at the realisation that the torness is an indicator that I’m on the right path, that I’m on my own torn path, integrating, synthesising and unifying as I go and getting it wrong and getting it right and knowing that the only thing is to be on this torn path.
Thank you for your replies..I wouldn’t have had these thoughts and realisations without them, we really ARE all connected and we really all are walking our paths alone, together.
Love to you
If you live in the Oswestry area you might like to join our first sharing circle on Tuesday at 730-1030 pm. Sharing circles are spaces where you can speak your truth and tune into your inner wisdom safe in the knowledge that you will be heard without interruption or comment. If you’d like to come let me know by replying to this email and I’ll send you the details. This first Circle is free. I have some people interested in joining a live, on-line circle to again reply to this email if you’d like to know more about that if you live further away.
I’m also running a workshop for peri or menopausal women who want to tune into their inner wisdom. It’s at Oswestry Library on Saturday 24th September 0915-1015 and again on Wednesday 28th September 130-230. You can book through the library who will charge you £2.50! Again, if you would be interested in a live online version please let me know.
Ps Free Ebooks for anyone who needs them (just click on the links)
- How to be LessStressed: From Survive and Strive to Revive and Thrive
- Getting over the End of a Relationship: Relationship Recovery
- Domestic Abuse: how to get support for people living with it
Ps..here are other places you can read my stuff
- Psychologies Magazine LifeLabs
- For teachers and schools: SecEd, Innovate Your School, SchoolWell and Staffrm