I feel like I am being restored. Three years ago when I wrote A Rooted Body I had a positive view of the world. A Rooted Body is about living your life’s purpose and coming into a life of freedom, awakening and fulfillment. It’s a book about manifesting your biggest dreams. I was in a very good place when I wrote it, because the message of the book is that we are fully supported in living our calling even though it is the hardest thing we’ll ever do to actually achieve it. The day I finished A Rooted Body is the day my life took a turn for the worse. I was suddenly destitute. And I had just written a book on manifestation in the new consciousness! I rose back up for a time with a lot of hard work, then in March of 2018 my life took on the path of devastation. It’s been hell since then and my friend says I am a trauma survivor. That is true. The trauma that I have been through is unnameable really. But today I feel like something in me is being reinvented. Something old is rising up to meet something new. I survived it. And I feel like one day I might thrive from it. That is what is being restored in me. I remember being content and shiny. I remember being a light for others. I remember sitting in my days with grace joining me and I remember taking bold risks, doing what I had to do for my soul’s purpose. Maybe I am not among the lost and broken anymore, Maybe I am on my way someplace new. That’s what it feels like. I have climbed out of hell now. That means something. It all means something. I mean something. Here’s to a new trajectory. One of hope and gratitude for every single blessing big or tiny. I have certainly seen the other side of things. And I know deep in my bones what suffering is. From the largest to the smallest. And just lately, just now I am feeling in my bones something else arising. And that something is my essence. The one that can’t be annihilated. No matter how the world tries. No matter what I do I can’t see too far ahead. But it doesn’t really bother me. All my basic needs are met. And that hasn’t been true for a long, long time. But it is now. And there are surprising treasures in life. An iced coffee. Papaya. The apple crisp I am going to make. Hawk coming to see me when I venture outside or calling so I can hear her from my bed. I am building, building. I am venturing out onto the stairway of grace. Let that be enough.
Chapter 13- Sacred Listener
If you have been called mentally ill, then you are a sacred listener. This means you listen closely to the heartbeat of the world. You hear everything. Every breath, every motion and every cry for help. Those of us who listen have always been called the crazy ones. It is the sacred act of listening that makes us who we are.
We know how to listen to the wind. Do the trees speak to you as they speak to me? Do hawks swoop in front of you with a silence that feeds your soul? Do you hear the songs of whales in your heart when you sing to your children at night? Are you a follower of the rhythms of the moon? Perhaps you have been called a lunatic. Like I have. Like we all have.
You might be a follower of the rhythms of the cosmos, but you are not a lunatic. You are something else entirely. You are the reason the cosmos exists. It’s people that listen that make the world spin on its axis. Don’t be ashamed of listening anymore. You have nothing to apologize for.
You have a friend in the sacred. The divine light that moves through everything moves through you. For a long time, I did a group called Roots and Visions. It went something like this: Do you have voices, visions, unusual beliefs or other extraordinary experiences that have been shut down by the world around you? Join us in a safe, supportive environment to explore these experiences in a way that makes sense to you. That group opened my eyes to the magic that can happen when people are allowed to heal in their own way.
That is what we are denied when we are called mentally ill. We are denied our right to make sense of our own experiences. We are told that we cannot be having them at all. And what are they? What are voices and visions and beliefs that we have about the world that no one seems to share?
They are our own personal way of listening. They are our genius, our birthright as human beings. They are windows into the mystery. We cannot contain the mystery. Nor are we to be contained by people who try to keep us in small boxes that deny the breadth and beauty of human consciousness.
There is a movement across the world called the Hearing Voices movement. It is an activist movement. People in it say that they have the right to their own experience where they can find ways to make sense of what has happened to them that is considered beyond the ordinary. They find support with each other.
Often, they identify their experiences with the pain and suffering of trauma. I have found that trauma definitely exists among people whose consciousness leaves the ordinary. Which is every person on the planet, by the way. People would come to me and say, “I don’t hear voices.” But I didn’t find one person who doesn’t have a deceased grandmother that talks to him in his dreams or some other “unusual” experience of the breadth of our sacred souls.
Trauma is very prevalent among sacred listeners. Often, we have been abused and brutalized. Our trauma doesn’t begin the moment we come into the mental health system (although mine did). The system only exacerbates our trauma and freezes our hearts and minds. The reason we get into trouble at all is because of the brutality of the world. We simply hear. We hear the ancestors and the animals and the souls of other wounded ones crying. We hear them so loudly we get depressed or anxious or what is called psychotic.
It is a simple truth that being a listener means we hear everything. And the world has been such that there is far too much pain for one person to hear. But in my experience with lots of sacred listeners I have found that we also hear something else. We hear the voice of God. We hear the voice of goodness. We have angels and grandmothers and special friends. I certainly have my friends the elephants and the whales and the hawks. Grandfather tree sends his roots deep into me whenever I ask him.
To listen is to understand the world. How do you understand the world? Do you understand it only through the lens of your trauma? Or do you understand it through the lens of your magnificence?
I am going out on a limb here. And I am saying be free. I just spent five months on a long-term ward of a state mental hospital. There are people that I care about that are still there. Lots and lots of people. The scope of it is staggering. To be thrown away like that. I explained over and over that I was simply listening. And no one believed me. No one believed me at all. They said I had no right. They said I had no rights. They said I was nothing.
I can’t listen to them. And you can’t either. I am fresh from the ward and I am writing this book. Which you are now reading. Are you fresh from the ward of your own pain? I have $40 and a whole list of nothing. I was released to absolute devastation in my life. As I write this it is still not over. But as you read this obviously it is.
No one had the right. No one had the right to keep me, to throw me away, to tell me I am not sacred. But they did it anyway. I had to be there because NO ONE has to. It is my calling, my purpose to be a freedom fighter. When I was in the system, I did not do nothing. I participated in the healing of the world. I worked with the Dalai Lama in the sight.
For the sight is the place of the sacred listeners. We all have the sight. The sight was painful for me because I was in the soul place with people that I loved and everyone around me was in the ordinary world. That happens for sacred healers. Often in Roots and Visions we would talk about how to navigate the bridge between what happens to us in the sight, or the soul place and what we know when we return to ordinary life.
My life will never return to ordinary again. I went as far into the sight as a person can go and I healed it all the way in my own soul. Now the Dalai Lama writes the afterwards to my books.
He is the keeper of the sight. And so am I. And so, maybe are you. What does that mean to you? Are you familiar with the soul place? Do the words the sight resonate with you? Do you listen to things no one else seems to ever understand?
If so, then take heart. This book is here to free you, mind and soul. There is the brutality of what happens to us in the world when we are sacred healers and sacred listeners. They have no right. And those of us who have been brutalized will make sure that they do not continue their bad work of keeping us small and throwing us away.
But there is so much more to us than anything they can do to confine us. There is our magnificence. What do you say about that? Now that you have come beyond the place where you can be thrown away what do you throw yourself into?
I throw myself into my work as a writer. I sit here, still in confinement and I write. I write to you. And I write for myself. And I write for the sacred that moves through me. I have been told over and over again that I am small. I have been completely dismissed as a human being of value.
For a long time, I was very well respected in my circles. I was seen as an advocate, a healer, a writer, a gifted person. And in truth, I was. And I had a lot of success in my life. And then I was taken back into the darkness. This time I was taken back into the darkest part of the world that calls itself a system of care for people that it is obvious no one really cares about.
Are you one of those people? Does no one care about you? Are you ostracized, are you disempowered, do you have no job, no car, no life outside being a “consumer” of the system? Does your family identify you as the broken one? So many are like you. Or have you risen one step above to be a “peer” where you work at a low paying job with a little respect from your colleagues but not that much because you are only the one with “lived experience” but not the expert?
I go out on another limb here. To say, “Enough!” That might seem radical because it is. What we need is radical. A radical shift in the way we hold the sacred in our world. Have we agreed that we are sacred? If not, then why not? Why is listening such a crime? Why is hearing the world as it really is the thing that makes us broken?
Are we really broken, or do we allow ourselves to be absconded with at every turn? Why can’t we rise above that which wants to keep us small? Why can’t we acknowledge who we are in our most magnificent hearts and minds and souls?
Who are we, really? I would propose that we are the very answer we seek. When we stop denying ourselves the world will no longer have the opportunity to deny us. We do not need a system that “cares” for us by denying who we are and telling us who to be. We do not need to be denied our basic human rights to our own beliefs and the permission to do as we will with our own person. If we have differing beliefs than the doctors or the other ones in power so be it. Why does that mean that we need to be subjected to forced treatment, to confinement and to complete dismissal of our basic rights as humans?
I met no one in the long-term ward or on the shorter term wards who was dangerous. I met people who were broken down by the brutality of being confined with no place to go and no one who cares about them. I met people that are extraordinarily compliant in every way. They wait patiently in long lines for their medication, for their terrible food. They sleep quietly in uncomfortable beds and they sit for hours in mind numbing groups about nothing at all.
They are kind to each other. They complain hardly at all. They are trapped. Completely and wholly trapped. Why is this so? A lot of people benefit from their existence in those trapped wards. There are lots of people who make their living off of keeping other people confined. It is economical to keep people prisoner. They are there for no good reason other than that the system wants it to be so.
Freedom fighting comes at a cost. Are you a freedom fighter? Are you an activist? Are you a sacred healer? Do you want better, for yourself and for all of the beautiful people in the world that get trapped by complacency and greed and complete lack of respect for human dignity?
Are you sacred? It is time now. We must be sacred together. We must now fight for our freedom. The time of The Rooted Mind is here. We must grow our roots. We must stop allowing ourselves to be seen as lost and broken. We must stand together and have one voice. We must give voice to what we listen to.
Listen closely, now. What is the sacred whispering inside your soul? You know about the sight. You know about the soul place. You may not yet have made sense of all of your experiences from the world of the unseen, but it is not as hard as you think. You just need a guide. Others can guide you. Others have been through it, too. There is all kinds of support once we start talking to one another.
Let us stop being silent about our experiences of the other worlds that we can hear so clearly. All we are is human. We are just simply humans. And that means we have a part of us that is a soul. And that means we have the sight. And that means we can talk. We can talk to other souls. And we can hear the others talking back. And that means we can listen.
If you were to stop now and listen closely to your magnificence what would it say to you? Would it say write? Would it say teach? Would it say paint? Would is say sing? What would you do if you could do anything? Who would you love? Would you love yourself? Would you finally, finally step outside of the broken places in your own mind and heart and love yourself and the world the way you are meant to?
Once I knew a person who said he didn’t believe in anything. He said he never felt safe. And then he said he believed in his favorite sweatshirt. And that when he wore it he felt okay. And then he said he believed in eagles.
The window into our own soul is in what we love. You love. I know that you love. You have stuck with me this far. That means you love. Find love. Find the thing that you most want to listen to. It may surprise you and it may not. Then let the rest go.
Find other people to process your trauma with if you have it. Find ways to make sense inside yourself about what you have heard. You have all of the answers inside of you. I always say the things we hear don’t have to make literal sense in the way that science does. Sometimes things can make sense in the way of dreams. Sometimes we as sacred listeners have the gift and the task of walking through the world as dreamers that are awake.
You have a sense of what you need to find your own rooted mind. You have an understanding of who you are and what you have been through that is the direct pathway to your own healing. And when you are healed there is no telling what you are capable of.
You may have been one of the ones that were thrown away completely and told that you are beyond lost and broken. You may have been told like I just was that you are nothing at all. Or you may be one that lives in the normal world and passes through unnoticed. You may only be lost and broken in your own mind and heart.
Your soul is not and never has been broken. You are a sacred healer and a sacred listener. Now do me a favor. Listen to the song the moon is singing to you. It might be lunacy, or it might just be lunar. You decide for yourself.
eat rice have faith in women
what I don’t know now I can still learn
if i am alone now I will be with them later
if I am weak now I can become strong
slowly slowly if I can learn I can teach others
if others learn first they will come back and teach me
they will not go away to the country of their knowledge
slowly we begin giving back what was taken away
our right to the control of our bodies
knowledge of how to fight and build
food that nourishes
medicine that heals
songs that remind us of ourselves
and make us want to keep on with what matters to us
eat rice have faith in women
what I don’t know now I can still learn
slowly slowly I can teach others
if others learn first they will come back and teach me
There has been something wrong for so long now it feels weird to be in the zone of being able to begin building our house for joy. But that’s what spring does. Especially this spring. 2018 was a year of total and complete hell for me. Now I find myself at a new beginning. And I trust in that which is holding me. And I trust in that which is holding our beautiful green world. The manatees are giving birth to a new season of life that we can all participate in. I no longer believe in waiting and stagnation. It’s time for the primal dance. Perhaps things will start to crumble outwardly that have been holding us in their dark grip for far too long. I know my own spirit can not be quenched any longer. I just have to shine. I just have to keep moving now. And it starts with reclaiming back what was ripped from me. And then it gently unwinds into making space for the new. I have the beautiful spacious bones of my house of joy already intact. I need the walls and the furnishings. I am ready, oh gracious hawk that blesses me with your flight. I am ready world. I am completely ready.
The power of your soul is unleashed. What does that feel like? Does it resonate as true? Your soul’s power is infinite. It is bold and beautiful and it is thrumming with life. And yet, it requires something for it to be unleashed. It requires patience. I am working on patience. I am virtuous in all kinds of ways but in my patience quota I am almost always lost. What’s it like to be a wild thing that is aching to be released from the thing that is most confining us? It feels like a trap. A trap of our own inability to be free. Yes, I follow my soul’s calling. Yes, I listen deeply to my inner yearnings. Yes, I do everything there is that I know to do. And yes, I still take too many naps just to get through the tedium of my unanswered soul’s call. I sit with my books already written. I sit with my heart knowing everything there is to know about who I am and what I am capable of. And yet I find myself needing to be patient. I did an oracle card reading today on this exact issue. Should I be doing something? Anything, anything I can think of to propel myself forcefully in the world? Where is my publisher, dammit? Where is my tribe? I know what I am. I have done that work. And I have read the books on how to make it happen. I never have the money to do the programs that are supposed to catapult you into your right life. I never have the resources to do anything that catapults me anywhere. I have myself. And my deep inner knowing. I have my soul’s calling shouting at me day in and day out. And I have lots and lots of time on my hands with no structure for what I love and for who I am in my core self. The oracle card reading said I had destiny and duality. That I have a purpose that is grand. And that I live in the world where I have to make things happen. But really, that ultimately, I need to trust in God. That God has my purpose in her hands. So, I am back to patience. My soul’s power is unleashed. Give me strength to stand inside my own grace. Give me opportunity to shine my light. And give me endless patience for the perfect timing that is out of my hands. My hands hold so much. But they don’t hold my soul’s power. Not really. My soul’s power is an alive thing. It is as wild as the wolf at the edge of the forest. It is as free in and of itself as the hawk in the tall oak. It must arise in the world through stillness, not movement. It must take its own time and be that which only it can be. And it must be held by the infinite as all things powerful are. So, our soul’s power is unleashed. It is free and it is doing its thing. It is doing it in perfect harmony with our soul’s calling. And it is making us wait. Still.
When it comes to wellness, things get real personal, real fast. You might not have realized this, at least not in a powerful way, because so much of what we think about wellness is external. We’ve all heard it, a thousand times. Eat less. Move More. Practice mindfulness. Go running. Take a walk. Reduce your cholesterol. Lose weight. Join a gym. Start a yoga practice. Meditate. When we hear it, we know it sounds like a good idea. We know we’d like to be able to do all those things that the experts say will make us well. Sometimes we make a valiant effort to begin it: the new gym membership, the books on mindfulness stacked and ready on the bedside table, the diet we are sure will change everything. Inevitably, life intervenes and when we wake up in the morning six months later we still find ourselves, well… not well. As least not as well as we would like to be. And not as well as we know we are capable of being. The reason for this isn’t because you are a failure and you never do what you set out to do, or any of the other myriad of stories you can find to beat yourself up for not feeling like you want to feel. The reason for this is because you started off looking in the wrong places. You started off your commitment to wellness by looking outward. You based it on what you should do, according to the doctor, or your wife, or the article on the internet, or even your own ideas of what “wellness” looks like to people looking in. You, in fact, are the expert on your own wellness. And anything you do that does not honor your own personal version of what wellness feels like, as opposed to what wellness looks like, will end up leading you further away from what you already know is possible for yourself, a life where you feel good inside your own skin. You know this is possible, or you would never buy the book, or join the gym, or listen to the guy on youtube. Your dedication and effort is not what is in question. It’s your orientation that keeps you from going precisely where you want to go. Once you realize this, you have what you need to begin. And if you change your orientation about wellness from the external to the internal you will also have what you want. In six months, you will feel more well. We each have our own gateways into wellness. For some it is the gym. For some it is yoga. For some it is meditation. For some it is running. For some it is eating certain types of foods. There is no way that is better than the other. And within each path there are many variations, the only variation you need to concern yourself with is the one that speaks directly to you. This requires trust. Trust on what your inner experience tells you. Your longing to be well is a part of your reason for being here. You need it, you deserve it, it is your own. You already know the way into your own wellness. Your body knows, your heart knows, your mind knows, your soul knows. You just have to move towards it, and it will take you everywhere you need to go. To move towards it, you must make a commitment to yourself to follow your inner voice, the one that comes from deep within your core. You can find its message in the experience of joy. What feels good? What feels so good you would pay to do it every chance you got? What do you crave most? A long run in the forest with your headphones in? An hour of sitting in deep stillness? Twenty minutes of walking up the biggest hill you can find at top speed? Nourishing yourself with food that delights both your senses and your environmental consciousness? Yoga that makes your body dizzy with satisfaction and puts you at your edge every time? The more you honor your inner pull towards wellness the more wellness will come into your being. It doesn’t have to be hard. It shouldn’t be hard. It should be satisfying, and challenging if you like to be challenged, and comforting if what you need is comfort, and spacious if you need space, and it should have room to change and grow and blossom as you do. For that’s what you are: a changing, blossoming, growing thing, and your pull towards wellness is your pull towards yourself. Honor that pull, listen closely to its call, and you will find yourself where you want and need to be. Where you need to be is at peace inside your own self. Your inner wellness expert has arrived on the scene. Listen to her with your whole heart. She knows exactly where you belong.
There is this discontent that has been rising and rising for a very long time. Perhaps you feel it in the marrow of your bones and in the tightness of your jaw whenever you are faced with the sheer frustration of it all. By it all I mean everything that is happening in the world that is just feeling, well…unbearable. It has to do with the wrong thing. You know and you know and you know what the right thing is and you choose it over and over and over again and the wrong thing just keeps coming back at you and never letting up its control over you. I find myself growing more and more intolerant of the wrong thing. When I am faced with anyone or anything at all that is using power in the wrong way I can barely bear it. I find myself walking away and choosing not to participate. It might be a story on the news, or it might be a conversation that just feels wrong, but I am finding that I can no longer remain present for that which all of my instincts tell me is the wrong thing. People in spiritual circles used to say that there is no right or wrong, but that seems less and less true as our world veers chaotically around us. Things are becoming more and more simple on the inside as they continue to escalate in complexity on the outside. Whatever is happening around us is now either something we can say “yes” to, or it triggers within us a violent “no!” and we must move away as silently and as quickly as we can. I don’t feel like fighting with the wrong thing. I don’t feel like giving it any attention at all. I don’t feel like I need to speak out, or use my voice in a grand way, or try to fix it. I just simply want to turn away. And when I turn away I turn inward, to the silence inside of me and to all that I love that holds me. Because when I act simply and when I let the silence fill the places that might have been before filled with righteous outrage something happens to the discontent. It just dissolves. It has no hold over who I am or where I am going. I will continue to do the right thing. I will continue to know and know and know and I will continue to choose the right thing again and again and again. And inside the silence of my knowing and my intention I will find peace. And somehow I know that is what all the discontent is for. The discontent is pointing us to the stillness, And inside the stillness the right thing is born into the world in a way that makes the wrong thing transform. Find your stillness and be that transformation. Your heart knows the way.
How do you respond to hate other than with love? Hate showed its brutal face this weekend in my beloved home town of Charlottesville, Virginia. And it came not from the inside, but from the outside. People who champion hate gathered together in solidarity on our streets. And the world took notice at the violence that ensued. I know what our response will be. I know the people who will feel called and moved to act. I know deeply the fabric of our community. They are my friends and my neighbors. Many of them showed up at the heart of the battle to stand for peace. Many of them are searching their hearts right now for what is their’s to do, now that this ugliness has chosen our streets to show itself upon. They will not remain silent. It is impossible for them to do so. And I know that the world is watching us. I feel blessed and honored today to be a part of the love that I know will blossom from this darkness. I feel grateful for my friends and neighbors that are gathering together in their own form of solidarity. I feel it in my bones, this grace that lights up our town. I know that whatever happens now will shine its light on love. Because I know we are capable of nothing less. All of our choices of remaining silent and separate have been taken from us. Now we rise as one voice, one message, one heart. May all who were hurt be healed. And may love have the final say.
Lots of stuff happening in the world, huh? How are you holding up? I’ve been pretty quiet lately as far as writing goes, because, honestly, I haven’t known what to say. But today I saw something and I wanted to share it with you. The last few months and weeks have brought to the surface all kinds of things, some of them quite frightening and even ugly. It seemed for a while that everything that many of us care about was being destroyed. It might still seem like that. It’s like the world has been set on fire and the only way to move forward is to rise from the ashes in a new and more authentic form. The death of the way we have been is upon us, both collectively and individually. What is happening now has never happened in the memory of this world, and yet its roots are in the ancient substance of all that has come before. We are being born again into a new substance of who we really are that has previously been unknowable. Throughout my life, I have often thought of Theodore Roethke’s line in The Waking, “I wake to sleep and take my waking slow.” It’s apparent that the time of waking to sleep is over. None of us have that option anymore. We must wake to the truth of who we are now, and that waking is taking each one of us into places we never expected to go. We still don’t know where this is all taking us. But surely, we can feel in our bones when we tune into the breath that runs through everything that we are going somewhere. We are going somewhere we have never been before in our time together on earth. We are waking up to a new evolution of humanity. And what I realized today about who I am in this awakening is true about all of us. I realized that I have a role. We each do. When I meditate, or feel myself deep in my core, I know what that role is. I know full well what I am capable of. But often I look for my role inside the filter of my circumstances. That is a part of living in the world, right? We go through our day to day lives and try to make sense of things by what is happening to us. For a long time, my circumstances have appeared to limit me. I know that I am capable of much more than has been showing up for me to do. I also know that I am completely and wholly willing. So why have I been stopped in getting where I know I am meant to go? I have been aware for at least a year that I am not moving alone, I am moving with the cosmos. But I have been filled with questions. “Will I do my part? Am I who I need to be? Will I have the life I want and need to have? Is there purpose, and even joy waiting for me when I get through this place of unknowing?” I would feel my light, my truth, I would know in my heart exactly who I am and then I’d look at my circumstances that still didn’t match what I want them to be and it was like I turned a switch and my light went out. But today I realized that I am in my role exactly as I need to be. And so are you. I don’t have to turn my light out anymore by thinking that I am not where I should be or that I will never get where I want to be. I am just as fully in my role as my mentors or my teachers that seem to have better lives than I do. In fact, my circumstances are a necessary part of the awakening of the planet. As a collective, we are transmuting the world into a new form. Everything is changing and shifting. The transmutation of our individual lives is actually the transmutation of the whole world. We are rising from the ashes and taking a new shape. We are all in this together and we each have a unique role that is necessary to the whole. Our awakening can not be rushed. It is perfectly designed to carry us home. Right now, it matters very little what our circumstances look like. We can not be separated from our roles and neither can anyone in our lives. The truth is, we will have everything, we will have fabulous lives and there is no way that we won’t live our full purpose. Everything we have now is enough for now, and the rest is happening, too. We can be fully present to the truth of who we are without question, without limit or ego. That’s waking to being awake. And that’s the new consciousness.