In the Presence of Beauty

She was stunningly beautiful. Like someone you’d see on a magazine cover, except this was real life, without fancy camera angles, perfect lighting and airbrushing. Even though I am hetero, I had a difficult time keeping my eyes off of her. She was poised, beautiful and exuded a sense of calm. Yet, her proximity to me triggered my sense of ugly, unworthy and it frustrated me to some degree, showing me where I still felt incomplete.

While I am the most comfortable that I’ve ever been “in my own skin,” this woman rattled my own sense of self. It was curious more than alarming, as I understood that the trigger was the symptom of an unloved part within showing up to be loved. This was a new tac for me; prevailing curiosity over alarm.

It was also somewhat humorous, given that I felt as if I were in one of those awkward teen movies set in the 80’s. “Pretty in Pink” comes to mind, maybe because of the title; although neither of us was wearing pink. While I didn’t have braces, I did have those awkward teeth straightening trays that I needed to remove and replace… more ugly! (Don’t worry friends, there’s a plot twist up ahead…)

Later that evening, I was reading through a chapter in The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford which helped explain to me what I had experienced. I was “light shadow projecting.” By focusing on the stunning beauty of this woman, I was giving away my own right to be beautiful. I was then able to see where I was disowning my “light” and projecting it onto her. Anything we suppress or disown in ourselves we keep in our shadows; whether the trait is considered positive or negative. 

In reading further, I uncovered 80 (yes, 80) positive traits that I have not been able to accept about myself. Over the next 27 days, I have chosen to affirm and use EFT Tapping on 3 traits/day (am doing beautiful twice, for good measure). I’ve set reminders in my calendar to help keep me focused and on track (now just to be sure I stick to it and follow through…).

In case you’re curious, these were the 80 traits I found difficult to accept about myself:

connected, alive, satisfied, powerful, cherished, secure, affluent, gentle, supported, enlightened, wanted, loved, realized, extravagant, lovable, brilliant, decisive, sensual, successful, irresistible, radiant, worthy, calm, delicious, open, carefree, cheerful, compassionate, easy going, joyful, peaceful, patient, sexy, famous, just, forgiving, disciplined, acknowledged, alive, responsible, adored, fulfilled, happy, content, energetic, desirable, playful, confident, beautiful, credible, accepting, blissful, vivacious, flexible, courageous, fearless, whole, precious, wonderful, healthy, vulnerable, superstar, talented, radiant, choice-maker, capable, magnificent, rich, wise, attractive, simple, honored, whole, adored, venerated, complete, talented, holy, centered, poised.

So if I ever see her again, I’ll be more accepting of myself and the beauty within my own skin.

May we each find peace within the fullness of our own light; avoiding projecting our best (and worst) onto others. May we see our own unique qualities as the gifts they are, and the gifts that we are, to this World – and in so doing, may we make the world a better place by accepting our own unique greatness; expressing it freely gives others the freedom to do the same.

Namaste

New Series & Cleaning House for Clarity with Tiffany’s Epiphanies

The dark night was showing me where I did not love myself and where I was repeatedly choosing suffering over my own happiness and joy.

Prologue
Just for a moment, I encourage you to reflect on the course of your life over the past few years. We can have such a strong tendency to jump from one life event to the next that we forget how far we’ve traveled. Right now, I am seeing how this has been such an amazing journey; yet there’s still so much to experience and explore.

Today (Tuesday) I’m also launching a series called “Tiffany’s Epiphanies,” a term that has been coined by several people who have worked closely with me over the years. My goal is to post these epiphanies on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at least once a week. We’ll see how well my creativity will flow with this goal! 

Spiritually-Cleaning-House: The Dark Night of the Soul and The Breakdown
Sunday night, I was deeply triggered by something I saw that lead to what I now consider to be one of my toughest “dark nights of the soul.” These dark nights feel like death as the emotions feel physically eviscerating. There can be grief like no other.

In fact, I believe it is a mourning process for there is a sort of death for the part of us that needs to be let go, much like the caterpillar must die for the butterfly to be born. Think, too, of how many life transformations have ceremonies… it is to recognize the movement of life from one form to another. So this dark night of the soul is the death of what no longer serves us and, if allowed, it is the movement out of the darkness and into a new light. Which again brings to mind the caterpillar and the butterfly.

Overnight, I was incredibly restless and easily awakened by visceral pangs as the energy shifted (and no, it wasn’t food poisoning). My solace? Self-love meditations (via Insight Timer app) and The Ho’Oponopono Prayer: “I Love You. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” The person I was saying this to? Myself. The dark night was showing me where I did not love myself and where I was repeatedly choosing suffering over my own happiness and joy. I repeated this prayer overnight and into the next day whenever my emotions rose up. Also, as I typed notes at work, I listened to Heart Chakra Crystal Bowls on the Insight Timer App to support being more heart-centered and calm.

Physically-Cleaning-House: The breakdown leads to the breakthrough.
Once back at home, I literally cleaned house with a new fervor. As I scrubbed the tub, and the baseboards (don’t ask how long it’s been for either), an epiphany hit me square in the face (well, not literally). “If another human had treated your children the way this person had treated you, you’d be mother-bear furious. You’d support your child in getting the eff away. So why are you still entertaining these thoughts about this person?!” BOOM! Done. Mission: Accomplished. Heart UNbroken. AND WHOA! All that self-love really paid off!

There is another tool that I used this day, after I listened to this TED Talk about getting over heartbreak. The speaker, Guy Winch, suggests writing out a list of all of the things that someone you’re heartbroken over did not do well, and referring to that list when we begin to pine over that person. This is important for breaking the cycle of idolizing the person and our relationship with them so that we may heal. 

Epilogue
This week marks 3 years since my divorce was final; always a little bittersweet, especially in the midst of the winter holidays. Yet it also marks for me the beginning of a new journey, through self-discovery, self-love and sharing my experiences to help others through blogging; that journey being well over 4 years long now. 

Namaste

Keep Going

When in the shadows 

All can seem lost. 

Just as the sun rises,

There is light beyond the dark.

Keep stepping. 

Keep going.

Allow the dark to show you

Your courage,

Your strength,

Your truth.

For it is in the darkness

That we can learn the most. 

Namaste 

(C) 2017 Tiffany Cara

Accepting Others

It is within our ability to accept all aspects of ourselves, the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly, that allows us to more fully accept and appreciate others. Compassion begins within. 

(C) 2017 Tiffany Cara

For How Long Do You Suffer?

The keys to our freedom are in our hands. Yet so often we ignore them, brush them off, put them to the side or outright deny them. The keys to our freedom rest in our willingness to walk into and sit with the paradox of our dilemmas. We have been taught to avoid our own shadows, our fears, the things that go bump in the night and wake us up. Yet it is in the darkness that we have the potential for growth. Seeds sprout and take root in the dark. Our creativity is also borne out of our willingness to take a walk on our own dark sides.

So for how long will you suffer your fears? Carrying them around on your back, on your chest, weighing you down and keeping you from your greatness?

It is through walking into the pain that releases it and allows us to grow into something greater. The release is in the surrender; in the trust that we will survive our emotions, our inner conflicts and paradoxes.

One of the great cosmic jokes is that in embracing our pain, we are finally able to be free of it.

Images: google

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The Holy Grail Hidden Within Duality

 

The Vesica Pisces is a common visual presence across many world religions. In Italian it is called a mandalora (almond), similar to the Indian Mandala. Within the center of each of these religious symbols balance is achieved. Most importantly, one reaches this center through the synthesis of the two edges of Duality. It is in this space that a new consciousness is born. 


This concept is so simple that it may just be unbelievable and thus easily dismissed. At the same time, the work required is not always so easy as it may initially sound. For how does one merge two opposites? 


Yet the key to our release from suffering is found by allowing without judgment the simultaneous existence of two opposites. It is in the center of these two overlapping circles that we can transcend Duality. This is not a compromise. Instead it is a synthesis and if permitted to fully unfold, it is transcendent.  I call this moment of synthesis The God Moment.

The journey to the God moment can be a most painful process when we walk through the valleys of the shadows of death. Yet at other times such as during sex, the joining of two opposites can be incredibly erotic…and hopefully pleasurable. 


It now makes so much sense as to why many of us seek these edges. In seeking the highs, and often unintentially the lows, we are seeking something greater than ourselves. Yet it is often during these times that we turn to distractions and addictions that prevent us from fully experiencing and marrying the edges of Duality. Thus we miss the God moment and we miss the opportunity to become transcendent.

Allowing the dual existence of two opposites is the key to our release from our suffering, yet this surrender can seem to tear us apart and is why so many of us stop the process just prior to its full fruition. It is our faith and our ability to breathe through the process that allows us to pass through the valley – and transcend it. We must believe that our thoughts, beliefs and emotions cannot kill us. Yet we have been taught to fear our shadow and the baggage that it brings, so it can be challenging to walk with these aspects and this prevents us from being able to transcend them. Walking with our shadows means we must acknowledge them; things we were taught to avoid at all costs.

On a very basic level, transcendence is sexual. The merging of two opposite energies is how new life can be created. For with each aspect of Duality that we transcend, we are born again and see life in a new way. Are you excited yet?!  

Furthermore it is in these moments of synthesis that we touch and are touched by something greater than ourselves: God. The more we can merge these edges, the more we merge heaven and earth. 

Sadly, just as with sex, eventually we also return to our experience of Duality. With each action of life we produce both light and shadow. Thus the shadow emerges to give us repeated opportunities to heal and transcend through another synthesis and another rebirth. No wonder the Vesica Pisces has such a vulvar look to it, or maybe it’s just me? 

An intentionally repeated image. The other images I’d like to have used here would be considered pornographic…sadly

Now I plan to investigate the use of Sex as a means of transcendence. I have a strong sense that this use of sexual energies requires foundational work that goes beyond casual sex. I’ve read some about tantra and have a feeling I’ll find more answers there…if you’ve read anything along these lines, feel free to share sources in the comments section or gmail me at tiffanybeingfree. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with various images of the Vesica Pisces or mandalora. 

Mother Mary depicted within the Mandalora, the space between Duality.

The fish symbol of Christianity is a variation of the Vesica Pisces.
The Vesica Pisces is also the basic pattern for the seed -, tree – and flower of life. 

The flower of life

While I’ve written about this synthesis of duality within the Owning Your Own Shadow series, based on readings from the book by Robert A. Johnson, today brings an entirely new level of understanding. Healing is about sex: the merging of two opposites.  

More on Sacred Geometry 

A mandala my children recently helped me to color.

Namaste 

Shake It Out

It can be a real struggle to move out of grief during this time of year when the overarching myth is that everyone should be happy and celebrating. 
Wednesday, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, changes the tide from outgoing to incoming light. Today, we have the opportunity to look into our own darkness to find our lights, for it is only in the darkness that we can most fully appreciate the stars.

Personally, the holidays have become a reminder for me of what was. Interesting to look back and see where I have painted Pre-divorce winter holidays in a golden light that is only partial truth. In elevating the past, I devalue the present. Now I’m changing the tide by allowing myself to feel gratitude for all of the beauty I do have in my life. This gives the present moment a greater sense of wholeness.

So please join me, “shake it out” so that we can all more fully appreciate who we are and what we do have, even when we believe more is never enough, when we celebrate what we do have we open ourselves more and more to love. In the presence of gratitude the closed heart opens what grief has “stolen.” Let’s shake it out! 

Our Deepest Fear is Our Greatness

According to psychoanalyst Carl Jung, it is easier to get someone’s skeletons out of the closet than it is to get the “gold out of the shadow.” At first glance this may seem counterintuitive. However in digging deeper into the book “Owning Your Own Shadow,” Robert Johnson gives the analogy of the ego (the persona: the parts of ourselves we choose to show others) as wearing clothing. To unveil our shadow, or the parts we wish to hide, would involve being naked and vulnerable. The shadow we try to mask hides society’s outliers on both ends of the spectrum: the gold and the darkness.

This quote by Marianne Williamson might help to illuminate the reasons and issues behind masking our greatness:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The Birth of Duality & The Shadow

We play small when we fear our greatness because to accept the vastness that we are means that we must stand out. To fit into society as school-aged children we learned to suppress the yearnings of our soul. In this process, we divided our lives into what we could show and what we needed to keep hidden. Duality was born out of meeting the needs of society. For if we all acted out every whim, society would quickly become non-existent.

Shadow Accumulation 

The challenge with this superimposed duality is that due to society’s influence    “the light” is honored and “the dark” is suppressed within each one of us. The shadows then accumulate and can erupt if not given an outlet. 

To refuse the dark side of One’s nature is to store up or accumulate the darkness; this is later expressed as a black mood, psychosomatic illness, or … accidents… War, economic chaos and racial intolerance are the fall out of worshipping the light while refusing the dark. 

~Robert Johnson 

Counter-balance through Creative Expression

All systems seek balance. It is the conscious counterbalance of our ego that keeps us from erupting on others and from self-destructing. The arts help us to connect to that inner development through acts of quiet creation. 

The only alternative to torture is art. ~Bernard Shaw

Meditation, dream analysis, active imagination, and creative expression through: martial arts, dance, and fine arts all help us to connect to our shadows, the parts of us which we so vehemently deny: our inner gold and our shame. 

Shadow Projection

When we fail to take responsibility for our own shadows, we project those aspects onto others. This is true for both our greatness and our darkness. Just as mentioned in Romantic Love’s Faulty Mirror, we can project our Divinity or Greatness onto others just as we project our darkness. Outside of relationship, we often project our greatness onto our heroes, which is another way in which we fail to recognize ourselves. When we push our own greatness onto others, there is then no reason to own them ourselves. In this way, we fail to accept ourselves as whole beings. 

The Shadow is more genuine than the Ego

At some point the ego seems to take on a life of its own, believing it is the individual. As such the ego begins to act in its own defense. This defense is often fear-based. To keep us in fear, the Ego presides over the kingdom. How better to remain in control than to have the individual fear One’s greatness?

Synthesis through Compromise

When we hold the shadow in opposition to the ego we can become paralyzed or betray part of ourselves. Johnson suggests that when we feel these opposing forces pull on us that if we can take a moment and sit with both aspects that we can come to a synthesis that may be better than A) the ego or B) the shadow. 

Our Greatness is Our Fitness

When we hide the best parts of ourselves in fear of success, everyone loses. It is allowing our greatness to express itself that gives others permission to do the same. So truly, what is holding you back? 


Further Reading by Robert A. Johnson

  • Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche
  • Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth

This is part of the Owning Your Own Shadow Series, based on the book by the same name by Robert Johnson. This series is an investigation into seeing and integrating all aspects within to recover inner peace. Only with loving ourselves can we be the change we wish to see in this world.

TED Talk “The Art of Being Yourself” by Caroline McHugh


Honoring the Virgin & Vixen Within

All systems seek balance including our inner and outer selves. We often become unbalanced when we suppress the expression of our hidden, or shadow, aspects. This suppression is learned during the process of being raised, as we are taught to deny parts of ourselves to fit into society. We cut ourselves off from our truest expression of self as a sacrifice for the safety of others (imagine society if everyone acted on every urge felt). However, the complete suppression of our shadows creates an imbalance in our lives until we choose to look within and honor these hidden aspects; even if only symbolically. This series will be about returning to a place of balance within by uncovering our hidden and at times golden facets.

Background

Based on the work of Carl Jung, each person is a microcosm and thus represents each aspect of the macrocosm. Rumi reflects this in his quote, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” In other words, each of us contains all aspects of the whole, we are NOT parts of the whole…instead we are whole. The reason each of us has a different persona (personality) with requisite shadows (hidden aspects), is that we each have the same archetypes (personality traits) yet in different proportions. 

To heal and become whole, it is imperative that we accept and allow each aspect of our personas and shadows to express themselves; even if only privately. As such, this does NOT necessarily mean that we act on each impulse. Instead, we can allow for the unique expression of our aspects through techniques such as active imagination, dreams, fantasy, and creative projects such as writing, painting, sculpting, dancing and acting. These are examples of how we can honor the aspects of ourselves that each need a voice and unique vehicle of expression.

Robert A. Johnson, psychologist and Jungian analyst, states that ego cannot tell the difference between fanstasies/dreams and reality. To the ego, all is reality. This reminds me of a conversation in The Matrix between Morpheus and Neo:

Morpheus: Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream, Neo? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world? 

Enter the Virgin (pun intentional)

Yesterday, in seeing my resistance to and desire to slow down and control the pace at which sex was being introduced into a new relationship, I saw where I have not honored the virgin aspect of myself. Today, I am sorting through ways that I can honor her. She is part of who I am regardless of how much I may want to be able to express myself as a vixen, without honoring the Virgin I cannot fully access the Vixen within.

There may be many reasons that the Virgin aspect is stronger for me than many of my same-aged counterparts. Years of sexual abuse, the “Church of Christ” influences in my household growing up (think Southern Baptist plus a standard deviation or two to the right), and even my birth sign of Virgo – which was named after the Virgin Mary whose birthday fell within the Virgo timeframe. 

I find that when I feel rushed into sex that my body is slow to respond and does what it can to block the process. It can be frustrating for me and now I see a path of potential healing. Now to find how I can honor this aspect of myself. For to continue to fight against her is not helpful. In general, the more I am pushed, just like a river, the more I push back; even and especially against myself. One cannot kick a tree without it kicking back. 

Reflection

What aspects of yourself do you find you fight against? What are some ways that you can honor this part of yourself in healthy and non-harmful ways? The word holy reflects the wholeness (completedness) that we each wish to have, for it is in accepting ourselves completely and wholly (holy) that we regain access to our own happiness and inner peace. 

Pressing Deeper

In the book pictured below, Johnson speaks to the synthesis of our extremes to bring about the ability to rise above duality. It is, it seems to indicate, the path to enlightenment to allow each aspect of ourselves to exist – even if it means at the extremes. To disqualify any aspect of ourselves also disqualifies that aspect in others. We then project our judgments and insecurities outwardly onto others. Our lack of individual inner peace is then reflected in the collective. To heal the world, it is imperative that we become the change we wish to see. 

Namaste 

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