My journey towards wholeness, like everyone else’s on this meandering, scrubby track, is a ‘work-in-progress’. In my dark moments I fall into self-judgment and feel like a Swiss cheddar cheese, filled with the gutted holes of negativity that I have sought unconsciously to fill with distracting activities, ‘higher’ thoughts and naïve aspirations. It is difficult to recognise our brokeness and understand and accept it, and see it as part of our journey of wholeness.
I realise that the felt tension between acknowledging my brokenness and the often unsatisfactory reflex of distracting (filling in the holes) reflects my unconscious yearning for wholeness. It is a yearning competing with the habitual programs of my perception of who I am, and subsequent thoughts and behaviours.
So what is this ‘wholeness’ concept? According to various dictionaries, wholeness is defined as becoming a unified, harmonious whole, a state of being unbroken or undamaged. Seemingly contradictory, it seems to be both a state of becoming and a state of being. I enjoy contradictions when they are not.
Its like the 19th century drawing image of the young lady with hat that is also the old crone, its in the eye of the beholder to which polarity they gravitate towards. In your awakening being the polarities seemingly blur, become extras in your lived theatre of living, more background than foreground. In your awakening there is the becoming but in the experience of becoming is the integration with and re-aligning to your Being. This process is not contradictory, at least in my experience.
You experience wholeness in the becoming – when you consciously strive to understand and assimilate the broken, fragmented, ‘damaged’ parts of your being, your life back into a greater, more integrated and compassionate sense of being that is ‘mates’ with your Being/Self. The wholeness journey of becoming is a conscious reassertion of your original wholeness back into your life. It is the key to the portal of remembrance of our true natures.
You were born as an undivided consciousness, an emerging, amorphous self-awareness knowing only wholeness, particularly in early days with mother. As a baby and toddler you began the long journey of selfing, of developing your own unique sense of self, an identity in which the wholeness was infused with the threads of individuality. An unbroken wholeness that was an integral quality of your emerging self despite its growing experience of separation via independence. Yet as you lived through adolescence and adulthood, you imperceptibly lost this intuitive awareness of wholeness into the unexplored recesses of your unconsciousness.
As you became fragmented by inner doubts, self-judgment, tumultuous or traumatic experiences, disconnect in its various contexts, destructive criticisms from influential peers and family, little holes formed within your psyche, recesses of inadequacy, insufficiency, lack of self-love and disconnect that ate away at your inherent wholeness. In losing your wholeness, or rather forgetting your experience of it, you shutdown to the possibility of being much more than your persona, broken or otherwise.
Your sense of self was defined by what you represented to key others, to your roles and responsibilities and who you aspired to become. Within this enculturated milieu you became a self of your genetic and social makings rather than a self of intuited wholeness. The self that I was and still am to a lesser degree was based on the ego-building early to mid-adult years, the one seeking to establish its role and place in its world, to exert control over its life. But in my mid-age legacy aware stage of life, I recognise that this focus went many years ago. I now know that I need to surrender dependency on the limited ego self and enter into a more authentic relationship with my soul.
In this sense I see living in this superficial, amnesic, ego-based society as part of our Great Forgetting and our often descent into the consciousness of disconnection. As the ego develops and dominates, it is so easy to forget not just our spiritual, Divine roots but our inherent wholeness. At some point this leads to an unconscious tension for some greater meaning for existing but particularly a desire for self-knowing beyond the self of day-to-day life. It is often in the dark moments of anxiety, depression, disillusionment, sadness or confusion that we become conscious of the tension and recognise our fragmented, broken inner world.
It has taken reflecting upon and accepting my brokenness, my frustrations, guilt and inadequacy, my feelings of anger and disillusionment to recognise the tension and profound disconnect. The ensuing sense of dis-ease that unfolds and enfolds me was a wake-up call, an ill-at-ease felt experience that motivated me towards staying open and curious, despite the allure of the peace of shutting down and withdrawal. I have seen people, close ones, retreat into their own suffering, an unconscious hibernation away from the overwhelm of actual and potential hurting. They barely function and barely live fully. This is one example of dieing before our time has really come.
This is, at least for me, the moment when I consciously realised that my journey was much more than just having spiritual experiences or connectedness, reading wisdom and intellectual insights from others, as helpful as they were, they were habits of mind that filled in some holes. All of this intellectual and spiritual curiosity, sometimes intellectual masturbation was NOT about living and breathing into the grander process of wholeness. When we sense the tension of inauthenticity, of feeling broken AND act upon this, experience the longing for belonging, our journey broadens and deepens into wholeness.
During your journey to wholeness you are more conscious of the inner and outer forces that fragment your thinking, your sense of self, and you move towards mindfully acknowledging, understanding and letting them go. While they may have scarred you, bought into their self-limiting meanings, they do not define you. The future self of wholeness can be envisioned and experienced in the present moment…no need to focus on the negative emotions of past experiences, just to breathe in the energies of imagined emotions and feelings that align and support your journey…love, care, gratitude, forgiveness, surrender.
We are all on our own unique life journey. Some are fully conscious of this drive for wholeness, many others are fumbling around with aspects of it and the majority I would hazard a guess on are not. While for the few they are more in the Being than the becoming, for most of us it is a day-to-day, week-to-week experience of progress, regress and gradual unfolding. While we have an ego and mind, both necessary in our physical lives, we will always face obstacles in our journey. I found similar sentiments in an article by a Sufi master, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (sorry not referenced) so I will quote his insight about ego and mind:
“The ego and the mind are necessary to live in this world, and yet they are the two greatest obstacles on the mystical journey. The mind, with its constant chatter and recycling patterns of thought, cuts us off from the direct experience of the higher levels of reality. The ego—with its illusory sense of a separate self, and all of its patterns of identity—isolates us from experiencing our divine nature, our oneness with God. In the words of an early Sufi, “Between you and I there lingers an ‘it is I.’ Oh God, through Thy mercy, lift this ‘it is I’ from between us both.”
The graphic provided beneath can be viewed as a simplified representation of the wholeness journey. The branches of the tree indicate the qualities or characteristics of wholeness while the roots indicate the five different but interlinked aspects of our physical natures that we work with to become and experience wholeness. The NatureConnect Program I practice and offer to others is my personality congruent framework for living into my wholeness. Then along the sides of the tree we have the shifts required in consciousness and connecting associated with wholeness. Connection is fundamental to wholeness: to others, to Nature, to the preferred future self, to higher Self and connecting the dots to see the path ahead, to understand why we are who we are and why we are becoming.
In essence, wholeness is a challenging, critical and often meandering journey towards self-transformation, a shift from a self-ego oriented approach to living towards the consciousness of oneness in conscious relationship with spirit and the Divine. Given that it is an inner journey, it is not dependent on external life conditions being ideal or otherwise. Often it is in the times of difficulty or darkness that we see the inner light of longing and hope that allows us to tap into our hidden courage. Courage is needed to move us through the challenges that threaten to hurt and overwhelm. It cannot be forced, it can only be received through the inner and outer work of our day-to-day lives.
Hence the importance of nourishing your journey, day-in-day-out, with perseverance and self-compassion and deep connectedness, into the wholeness of your Being. All of us on this journey need to have practices, rituals or connections that facilitate the growth of our wholeness. Nature connectedness, meditation and reflections are mine, yours are?