The Soul is a veiled light, neglect it, and it will dim and die. Fuel it with the sacred oil of love and it will burn with an immortal flame”. (Sung at the Temples of Ammon-Ra). This quote emblazoned on my conscsiousness,found on the LP “White Winds” by Andreas Vollenweider in the early ‘80s.

 Statue of the God Amun-Ra – Temples at Karnak, Eqypt

I have now seen and understood what my work really is in this life. My life is not about giving another back to themselves. That is their task. Their choice. My work is not to illicit, to push or encourage others, to reframe their experience of themselves, nor to rewrite their stories. Even though I may be given the gift of insight, the gift of seeing and feeling into another’s’ pain, joy, misgivings, faults, weaknesses, that gift is for me to see, to feel, to change, to reframe, to rewrite. What I see in another, as we know, is a mirror of ourselves.

The Egyptian God Ra – with Hawk & Sun Disk

My work is opening myself honestly to this pattern, this trait in my behaviour, which has dogged me in my life, stemming from a place of fear, of always wanting or needing to be right, of needing to be in control, of needing to be right (“I know what your problem is” with a sense of authority and self-righteousness), of being heard, having always been made wrong. It is not my work to show the other was I cannot see in myself. As Sri Poonjaji would say “Turn the mirror back to face itself”.

We know that our habitual patterns of behaviour, our conditioning, over decades, lifetimes even, knit themselves so tightly into the ‘sweater of self’. So to begin the process of unpicking, is indeed a very daunting and arduous process, one which we must consciously choose. We first have to find the sweater! However, once the choice is made, and as we begin to pull the thread, the unpicking begins. There is no turning back. Cast the sweater aside, half unpicked, and it becomes a mangled mess, collecting dust and debris. 

We may see the thread of the patterns running through our lives, through the relationships, friendships and bonds that we’ve made. Those that have come and gone. To those we love or have loved, and those we believe(d) love(d) us. Those we’ve shared love with, at any level, is still love, regardless of the dependence and dysfunctionality in that moment. It is the reality of our perception, at any given time.

VIbrant Sunset (courtesy of Simon Wild friend on Facebook) July 2020

Through deep introspection, meditation, spiritual practices, therapy, I have become aware, that even when I started teaching yoga, I remember internally saying, with frustration, “why don’t they get it” (“it” being the teachings, the wisdom). I heard the inner voice say, “Don’t worry about them, you’re the one that needs to get it”. A turning point. However, the pattern was ingrained from very early years. I remember clearly and see the ‘gestalt’, to this day, of a time in Paris, never suspected or knowing I had an issues. It was everyone else!! Came down with a bang, from that one. Eventually.

However, letting go of the wider sphere of folk, in my close relationships the pattern still continued. Of course, we know, it is always within the significant other relationships or the very, very, close family/caregivers of origin, that all of this arises. How challenging, difficult and painful, consciously moving through years of dysfunctional love relationships, friendships and personal triangles for myself and potentially for the other, as I attempted to navigate those rocky waters.

As I have begun to forgive myself and forgive others, without retaliation, I feel a softening within. A glimpse of the feminine. And others too have softened. And yet I consciously tread gently again, avoiding reactive patterns emerging on both sides.

Collusion was also part of the dysfunctionality, to avoid further wounding, pain, to gain favour, and now I know, to protect the other from themselves, to keep the status quo of the uncomfortable familiar.

As a child, an adolescent and as a young woman, my voice was never heard. It was silenced. That’s why I sang. I felt I had a “third arm”. I never told anyone about the abuse that happened. I never knew I could. I would be blamed, found guilty, deemed bad, spoilt, damaged goods. I never knew that I had emotions. I did not know what anger really was, never really naming it until decades later in therapy. I felt this deep, cavernous demon within, sitting there in her cave. She wanted out. No one came when she cried for help. No one. The silent voice holding secrets of the forbidden.

 Figure 4 Broomfield Park, London.

Instead, I excelled at humour, clowning, theatre, singing, hosting numerous parties, events, music weekends. I loved it. And yet deep down, so much terror, sadness, pain, loneliness. So much un-loved-ness.

As I have grown into love with myself, my close ones have also begun to open. I was recently listening to Brené Brown, and also reading her book “Daring Greatly” about vulnerability and risking. When we love we open ourselves out – like a flowering from within. We feel transported, elevated. When we begin to feel love in the place of fear, we inevitably become more vulnerable, as we risk opening our hearts more, our soft underbelly begins to appear. However, that does not mean that the ingrained, instinctual, habitual patterns stuck in that sweater of stuff instantly evaporates.

Through the medium of the love we share with another, through deepening in trust and kindness, we are invited to skilfully negotiate between the two, until such time as we really let go into ourselves and embrace the love that is within us. The love that we are fully, without expectation, demands or conditions from the other.

Today I am grateful. I have learnt a very telling lesson, that my ability to forgive and to take those beings back into my life, into my soul and into my heart, has not necessarily always paid off. Forgiveness does not mean condoning behaviour, nor having contact with those who have hurt us. They were repeats of past lessons unlearned. It was a necessary task and today, the lesson has been learnt well this time. I do not suffer this. I simply state during these early morning hours, that sometimes, when I try to be heard, I am overridden and become embroiled, in those toxic patterns of old-times, the body like a fire ablaze, the voice high in the chest, pitch and tone rising, the reactivity, the inflammation, the heat, the inevitable, uncontrolled anger. All through the mirror of the other. Sound familiar?

So, I now set myself the intention to remember and remember very well, that whatever another says, does, feels or acts, those elements belong to them. They have nothing to do with me, other than reflecting back to me my own deeper, shadow self, when I recognize something which touches me.

The practice is to listen, to feel inside my body, for any reaction which may come up, based in my own experience, my perception of what they say, think and feel. I remember that all interaction is of course relational, all thoughts, words, feelings, actions are perceived through the filters of our own mind, our own experiences, our own perceived reality. It is not a pure direct felt experience at the core of our being of what truly IS.

I listen, I breathe, I feel in my body. I do not react. I simply Be with the other person. That is my resolution, my practice. So through the intermediary of two beings in my life today, I am brought back to myself. Thank you for the trust of our connections. You have trusted enough and shown me your own pains, your own deep fears of love and opening. I have witnessed them. You have seen and witnessed mine. I have been able to open to love, and as I have softened, risked and dared greatly, the other softened. Some have retracted and retreated, fearful of any deep, meaningful, intimate connection. The heart closes again.

We all know this all too familiar comfort place. Yet, the two are not separate. We are invited to look at the fear and mistrust go hand in hand. To look at how our hearts shutdown and how our bodies contract with tension and pain. We are invited to look at how we feel when we are with another.

All of this process needs to be based on an inner trust, a deep knowing, that all is well, within me. And then, yes, there is a space for a voice. A voice to be heard. There is a space for anger. And if there is real love, holding and mutual respect, then all can be shared, discussed openly, the relationship remaining undisturbed, and growing more in safety and truth.

Roses from the South

If we’re stuck in an old pattern that is lived out, not by one person, but several people in parallel relationships, there is a reinforcement of the patterns which branch out further like a web. If we have an eye for intimacy – in-to-me-see -, we then have a light into ourselves. For a lighthouse in the dark shows the way home. If the light goes out, there is no light to bring us back to the heart of ourselves. There is no coming home. Drifting only in the ocean of illusion, delusion or fantasy is our only continuing reality.

It is never too late, whatever age we are, wherever we find ourselves, alone, together, family, hermit, yogi, to find love, truth and harmony. We are here in this body, for this lifetime.

When I am able to resonate with that which is true within me, THIS’is me, this body, this mind, these feelings, these emotions, I can connect with others. And I can also know that the longing, the deep yearning, the deep feelings, that I have, the insights within and without, is that my mind, my heart, my soul, will surrender to ‘THAT’ which is greater than myself. Then, and only then, will I be brought home. To be able to know that ‘THIS’ – the embodied soul – needs attention, requires watering like the plants and trees of the earth, for those unwanted energies to rise to the surface, to be honoured, to be thanked, to be released.

And in the dissolving of the old “arisings” there is a space for feeling who we really are. ‘THAT”

Sacred Lake at Karnak Egypt

Mohini Chatlani