Liberation: Setting Myself Free

It’s been one year since I’ve written a blogpost.

I’ve been aware of this fact for several months and while I’ve had the intention of wanting to write, I haven’t been able to bring myself to do so.   I’m not entirely sure why but I have my suspicions.

The last post I wrote was about The Temple of Kali/Hugo at Kiwiburn 2013 – the temple that Bruce built which was dedicated to my dad who passed away in August 2012.   The depth of the emotions that surfaced during my dad’s illness and passing were quite heart-opening, making me raw and vulnerable. I think about him often and almost every time the tears come as I remember the journey that his death took us on.   I will forever be grateful for all the people I met and the experiences I had during those few months – several of which have been life-changing and leading me down a path on which I didn’t expect to go.

Which leads to Peru

Bruce and I have been to Peru twice, in each October of 2012 and 2013. We went with the same group, The Art of Being, facilitated by Teri Gilfilen and Ruben Orellana. Both are practitioners of the Andean healing arts and the trips center around visiting sacred sites, learning to connect with the earth/Pachamama, and ceremonial work with local shaman which often incorporates working with the sacred plant medicines — all of which helps one to heal and reconnect with the self.

My 50th birthday occurred on the second day of the October 2013 trip and I had what one could only call a healing crisis on that day.   I’m not sure I can explain it well with words, but it was as if my body had a long-standing plan of it’s own and just took my mind along for the ride – my mid-section exploded with pain that I’ve never felt before. Teri took a ‘look’ and said I had a giant mass stuck in my abdomen which I needed to ‘energetically’ push out, and thus began an eight hour ordeal where I had to work on myself, using what I had in my tool-kit, to energetically and physically move through the pain and remove the obstacle blocking my way back to health and another layer of freedom.

The next day I was perfectly fine and I carried on and had a most amazing time in the following three weeks. I had a huge breakthrough working with the plant medicines; one Amazonian session took me on a journey far out into the cosmos, away from the mind, to a place where words are not used to communicate – I found myself with a deeper understanding of the world, the interconnectedness of it all and an appreciation for the light beings that we all truly are.   My father did not suffer during this death and I knew that he ‘saw’ the place he was going and was not afraid.   The experience was so profound and enjoyable that I didn’t want to come back to my earth body, but of course, one must, and since then I have frequently pondered the meaning of what I saw and encountered during my time in Peru.

Which leads to further self-exploration and the desire for self-liberation

My catchphrase for the last year has been “I need to liberate myself from myself”.   We are our own worst enemy, often getting in our own way due to the attachments we have towards things, people, places. We cause our own suffering.   More and more I become aware of my repeated patterns of behaviour and how they negatively impact my delicate psyche and my relationships.   I want to break free of these chains that bind me!

So I’ve been questing. I’m striving to do 25 minutes of daily meditation, do more yoga, and attend talks/workshops.   I’ve been to two yoga/philosophy intensives – one was a weekend with Carlos Pomeda discussing the Bhagavad Gita and the other with internationally renowned yoga teacher Donna Farhi who led a 5-day intensive called The Heart Aroused. Bruce too continues with his work with Jill Purce in the UK having just come back from another mandala workshop focusing on Yellow Tara.

Through all of these pursuits, we both peel off another onion layer of our selves, often with tears, but each time gaining a deeper understanding of our true nature.   It’s a wild ride and not always rosy – often there is pain which we work hard to transform as we march on towards the attainment of the big E (enlightenment).   I like this article which talks about attachment and liberation and this passage “we develop our enlightened qualities and exercise them in the world here and now for the sake of others and for the purpose of positively transforming society. The true nature of our lives at this moment is one of expansive freedom and possibility.”

Which leads to Birdsong and life in New Zealand

My turning fifty has impacted me in thought provoking ways – my life is certainly half over, am I doing what I want to be doing?   When I pondered that question, often the answer was ‘no’.   Also, this mid-stage of life brings about hormonal changes and I am finding that my emotional states take me on lightening speed roller coaster rides where I can’t get off until the ride is over.   I’m in awe of how quickly I can pass through states of anger, frustration, and happiness, yet it can be exhausting.   So it’s been a time to nurture myself, withdraw a little bit, and implement changes to get back on a path of centeredness that ultimately leads me to happiness.

I’ve been long overdue for leaving Kiwiburn (and Bruce too) – after seven years of dedicated service on the executive committee as Chairperson and Treasurer, both of us are in the last stages of stepping down and away from Kiwiburn. It’s been a very emotional journey as our lives here in New Zealand have been synonymous with being involved with Kiwiburn, but we’ve had a good run with it and now it’s time to look towards other pursuits.

Living between two homes has worn out its appeal.   The constant loading of the van with our luggage and stuff to go back and forth between the two houses is tiring.   Last year, in our desire to bring in some money, we decided to turn the Christchurch house into a short-term accommodation rental (called Thorneleigh Cottage), taking advantage of the current environment where thousands of people’s homes are still undergoing earthquake repairs and they need places to live while their own homes are being fixed.   We have spent the better part of a year purging and de-cluttering and moving all our personal belongings to Wainui.  In February we had our first five-week tenants – neighbors from a few doors down.   It seems that 90% of the homes in our neighborhood are undergoing repairs and another set of neighbors moved in today for ten weeks.   This is a good first step to grounding and centering at home in Wainui.

Which leads to art and creative expression

Part of the self-nurturing I need is creative expression.   The idea of developing Birdsong Retreat, something that has been in the back of my mind for years, has surfaced again.   Birdsong, the name of the Wainui property, is ready to sing it’s song.   In the recent Donna Farhi workshop, she asked ‘what would you if you knew you couldn’t fail’ and one of my answers was to launch Birdsong.   What I want to do is provide a space for people to come and co-create wellness – to feel good, to educate people on nutrition and growing food, to provide comfort and a place to relax, rejuvenate, and play.   My website is going through an upgrade (thanks Kat!) and I’m networking with yoga teachers and artists to try and schedule a day-long workshop for spring. We have an amazing community hall here in Wainui, right at the beach which is rarely used – it would be the perfect space to hold classes.   So stay tuned to see where we go with this next incarnation of our property!

The desire for collaging and painting is surfacing again too. When I was in Florida, I did a series of collages for my family after dad passed away, but I never made a collage for myself.   I have a small box of dad’s trinkets, sitting on a shelf, just waiting, waiting for a moment of inspiration and space to allow for the creative juices to flow.

For the last few years since the earthquakes, my friend Kathy Kise (K2) and I (K1) have talked about the need for art therapy for healing; four years post-quakes in a city that is still very much broken and slowly being mended, people continue to battle depression, anxiety, and the daily trials of living in a less-than-stellar environment.   People need something to make them feel good and a recent one day intuitive art class which sold out within hours demonstrated to us that there is an opportunity to offer such services ourselves.

K2 is a wonderful artist; me, I’m a novice.   A recent e-newsletter from Flora Bowley, an inspirational artist that I’ve been following for a few years offered up ten free spots in her upcoming five week e-course on intuitive painting; however, to enter, one had to be nominated.   K2 nominated me and I am very excited to say that I won one of the spots (437 nominations; 24 free spots). Class started this week and I’ve been frantically gathering my supplies, doing happy dances, and feeling really excited to spend time with myself for the next few weeks painting and creating!

A new dawn has come, a new chapter of life is emerging – it is time to write again.