Ten years ago, as I sat talking with my then energy healer before a session, I told her I felt I had a resistance to Life. I knew I had, could feel it like an enormous anchor I was dragging around with me; like an invisible membrane I had to push through to do anything at all. She said something very important, reminding me that I was there, sitting with her; reminding me too of all the other actions I was taking which demonstrated my considerable coping skills. I hadn’t thought of that as I dragged myself around, trying to survive the death of my best friend Dolores, which had been followed on six months later by the death of my husband. I was devastated, not only by the loss of two such great friends and soulmates, but also by the suffering I had witnessed, in particular that of my beautiful Kieran, who endured extreme pain for two and a half years before moving on, as I helped as best I could, while feeling helpless.
Throughout that time of relentless suffering, other things were happening, which I can only describe as Divine Intervention, through which we both received enormous strength; strength I also witnessed in Dolores who proved to be a great spiritual teacher to me. I was in awe of both of them, people I simply loved, hung out with, who, when faced with circumstances which caused them unbearable suffering exhibited such immense tolerance and consideration, such grace.
After they transformed, (death is the usual term we employ, but I now know for sure that death, as we understand it, is impossible) one of the gifts of grace I received from the adventure and trial we shared was to experience God, firsthand. Even now I don’t actually like to use the term God to name my experience. God, as a concept has become so distorted and misused, so misrepresented. What I experienced was pure, unconditional Love, whole and vast beyond measure. I cried with gratitude and bliss at a time I expected to cry in agony; was held in light as every cell of my body vibrated and I understood that this state of Total Love is my home, and each of our birthright; that all of us are returning to this state of complete wholeness and no one can miss that path – all roads lead home and there is no if, however, it is up to each of us to determine when. We are all called, we are all sustained.
I felt immensely privileged and immensely humbled.
Since that experience, I have become more and more aware of the help available to every one of us and have also become aware of the struggle at hand. Following on from such bliss, I entered the Dark Night* of The Soul, where, having been brought to the top of the mountain and presented with the view, I now had to enter the abyss and make my own way back up. (*For Night, Read Dark Decade of the Soul! Don’t let that put you off though – the journey is worth it, and, you know what they say, “If you’re going through Hell - keep going!!!”)
What I have had to struggle with is my own distorted beliefs and deceptive thinking. I wrote elsewhere on this blog recently, that I’ve realized, as Spirits undertaking a human experience (which lasts lifetimes) we undertake to experience the entire spectrum of human emotions. These emotions are not ours and can be let go of, once we realize we are misidentifying with them. What I experience is not me, it’s simply something I’m experiencing which is part of this planet, this dimension, and Humanity. The feelings we undergo appear very real, feel very real, however, there is a Reality which outshines any fleeting emotion we experience, instantly and gratefully recognized as true Reality when we are privileged to merge with it, that which is our One Self.
(Even great writers fail to express the profound elegance of the ineffable Being and I’m certainly not managing here!)
Externally, my life appears relatively unchanged. Some would say they notice I’m now laughing more. Internally, I have altered immeasurably and am still transforming, beautifully. Along with the rest of humanity, I still dialogue with myself and have to negotiate my self-imposed fears, or rather, the fears which are part and parcel of this dimension. Throughout, I have been aided by both ‘invisible’ and visible helpers, by friends and teachers, disincarnate and incarnate.
As an avid reader, (and now writer(-ish!)), as a person seeking to evolve, I love books in which others share their authentic experiences of being human in order to add their support to the well of voices which speak for the Light. I love when people open their hearts to connect directly with the hearts of others, as this inspires all of us to trust ourselves and our own process. To know that it is a noble and shared endeavour we undertake which bestows real rewards.
One of the books which provides savvy insight into Resistance, and eloquent support to the rest of us in our daily struggle is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield:
“Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it.
Master that fear and we conquer Resistance.
Resistance obstructs movement only from a lower sphere to a higher. It kicks in when we seek to pursue a calling in the arts, launch an innovative enterprise, or evolve to a higher station morally, ethically, or spiritually.
So if you’re in Calcutta working with the Mother Theresa Foundation and you’re thinking of bolting to launch a career in telemarketing…relax. Resistance will give you a free pass.”[i]
Having commented on Steven’s blog, his assistant Callie emailed to say that Steven is reaching out to other bloggers and invited me to engage in a Q&A session with him. Steven kindly provided honest and heartfelt answers to the following three questions I posed to him:
1. What do you think is occurring when one is trying to move to a higher sphere - who or what is resisting and what is being resisted?
I'm only speculating, Gillian, but just as we can feel a force in nature that calls us to evolve to a higher level (otherwise why are we so uplifted, to the point of tears and beyond, by "inspiring" stories), so also do we feel a negative force that's trying to hold us earthbound. I wish I had some great wisdom here, to identify what these forces are. Good and evil? In The War of Art, I suggest that what's holding us back is the Little Self, the Ego, whose existence and usefulness is limited to this material dimension, the dimension that knows death and suffering, in which each individual is seen as apart from every other, and in which fear is the predominant emotion. What is calling us to evolve is our Higher Self, our Big Self, what Jung called simply the Self and what others have called Cosmic Consciousness, the All, or God. That Greater Self has its primary being, I'm speculating, on planes higher than this one--where death is not real, where each individual is united to every other, and where love and not fear is the predominant emotion.
Our Higher Self is calling us to evolve to a loftier level. It is being resisted by our Earthbound Self that wants us to stay here on lower planes.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
2. What benefits have you received/shared when overcoming resistance?
If I hadn't learned how to overcome Resistance, I would never have been able to write any of the stuff I've written. I wouldn't have met the great people I've met, felt my own soul evolve beyond prior limited self-conceptions, I wouldn't be who am I today but would instead be stuck in some lower, self-limiting incarnation. I wouldn't have been able to help the people I've helped or contributed whatever I've been able to contribute. I'd be a mess!
3. Have you had to be incredibly selfish/made sacrifices to progress your aims?
Yes. But I think that is in the nature of the game. When we as artists or entrepreneurs make the decision that we are going to pursue a calling rather than just sell out our time in exchange for money, we also accept the consequences. We have to give up a lot. We decide that it's worth it. We decide that we want to do work we love and not work that somebody else tells us we have to do; we decide that it's more important to do work that fulfills our soul's calling--and we're willing to pay the price.
In my case, one price is that I haven't had kids. I could have, many times along the way, but I knew it wouldn't be right for me--or for the kids. That's not nothing. I could have had more money, more material gain, I could've married certain women, enjoyed certain perks, I could've saved myself a lot of heartache and loneliness if I'd stayed at certain jobs, you know the tune. But I made the decision that it was more important to me to follow what gave me joy and made me feel like me. I don't regret it. The things that one might say I have "given up" are not real things for me and for my particular calling. Some sacrifices simply must be made. To believe that you can live your own authentic life and not make those sacrifices is a delusion.
As Telamon of Arcadia once said, "It is one thing to study war, and another to live the warrior's life."
That's it, Gillian. Hope that helps!
[i] The War of Art. Steven Pressfield. Grand Central Publishing. 2003.
Steven Pressfield is the author of the following books together with numerous film scripts and various other projects.