On the Path of She, our desired outcome is the healing of our soul and the living of our Deep Self. This is not something we do all at once, but in incremental steps, some small, some huge, based on our unique configuration of beauty and wounding, and the pieces of our inner and outer life that are ready for healing and growth.
Though the content of our personal healing and growth differs, the Path of She process for structuring and guiding our pathwork is the same. This process is analogous to breath. We activate our pathwork by sinking deep into our inner landscape, like an in-breath. We engage our pathwork by sending it out into the world, like an out-breath, and then show up to whatever outer insights and experiences come to us. To complete this process, we call our pathwork back to ourselves and ingest what we have learned and experienced, like a return in-breath.
This week we are focusing on the in-breath, activation part of this process.
Activation is the step of focusing inward to anchor in and source from your Deep Self when seeking guidance on your emerging pathwork. This helps you to step aside of your ego self and thinking-mind understanding of things, and to engage your innermost truths and mysteries.
Start with the Deep Self meditation in the Opening to Deep Self post. Set the intention of connecting with your Deep Self to source and activate the pathwork that is right for you at this time.
As you track the movements and sounds of your breath, imagine on every in-breath that you are sinking deeper and deeper into your inner landscape and the knowing of your Deep Self. When it feels right, let go of your focus on your in-breath, and open yourself to whatever sensations, insights and information await you (which may or may not included specific words and content) that can activate and illuminate your emerging pathwork.
To complete this process, focus once more on your breath. Let the in and out movements of your breath, particularly your out-breath, draw you back into physical reality and your body. When you feel fully back, take a few more deep breaths, slowly open your eyes and then stretch and move your body.
Take some time to journal what you have experienced. Let the words and insights flow, with little effort or mental intervention on your part. If your preferred mode of expression is
another creative art form, such as dance or painting, that will work as well. The idea is to get what you have experienced down on a blank page, and to affirm your connection and communication with your Deep Self and emerging pathwork.
As with all your Path of She work, things come to you in their own time and at their own pace. If you are new to meditation and spiritual work, be patient with yourself. Enjoy and relish these new experiences, and understand that they, in themselves, are healing and transforming your life.
It’s one thing to meditate quietly by yourself in a dark room and quite another to achieve the same state of empty, open awareness while directly engaging the world around you. In my Vipassana meditation retreats we did this through walking meditation, in karate we practiced abdominal koshi breathing, and in my Reclaiming Wiccan tradition we learned an exercise called dropped and open attention.
This week, to the best of your ability, try taking a walk with your Deep Self in your home or backyard, using the exercise below.
Start with a few deep, slow breaths and focus your attention as you did in the breath exercise from this week’s inner pathwork post. When your mind begins to quiet, imagine drawing your attention into a tight, golden ball in the center of your skull. Visualize it swirling around, gathering all extraneous thoughts and distractions to it, and concentrating your awareness in its glowing, condensed center.
Then imagine this ball, and your focused awareness, dropping down through your throat, your chest, your belly and then centering in your hip cradle. Begin to breath in and out from this center of awareness, feeling the breath moving inward and outward within your lower torso and back, where your hip bones cradle your inner softness.
When you settle into this breath pattern, open your eyes and start to walk with slow and steady steps. Begin by focusing on the lifting and placing of your foot with each step, and then broaden your awareness, from your lower belly and back outward into the space around you. Do not imagine or put meaning onto this experience, just pay attention to anything that comes to you from the space around you: words, images or sensations, and especially sense-based data such as smell, sound, touch and sight. Notice how this experience is different than your normal, waking reality engagement of the world. But do not attach to or analyze your experiences; watch them rise and then fall away, in a state of not knowing and of open curiosity.
When you feel done with this experience or it is time to return to your waking life, stop walking and place your hands on your lower belly. Feel your breath move in and out against your hands for a few moments, and then imagine your attention moving back up through your belly, your chest, your throat and into the center of your head. Slowly return to your normal breathing pattern, and let your awareness settle to its everyday, normal focus. Ease into whatever activity follows your walking meditation.
The ability to drop into the open and aware inner state of Deep Self while engaging your outer landscape is an extremely powerful spiritual skill. Practice this walking meditation as a means of deepening your conscious engagement of the world and mysteries that surround you.
Related Post:The True North of Deep Self
I started my spiritual life studying Vipassana Buddhism where I learned to mediate and settle into the vast, fertile silence of my inner landscape. Even after years of spiritual practice, and becoming adept at a wide variety of advanced magical and trance-dreaming skills, I always return to this basic, profound skill as the cornerstone of my magical tool kit.
To follow the Path of She and the ways of the sacred feminine, you need to be able to step to one side of your ego, mind-based understanding of things, and open to the silence and profundity of your Deep Self. This skill develops your capacity to be empty and let the unknown, both inside and outside of you, become your teacher and guide in recovering and reclaiming that which has been lost, repressed and distorted in your conscious reality.
Whether you are an advanced practitioner or new to spirituality, make a commitment to yourself to develop and strengthen your ability to anchor in and open to your Deep Self. This week try the Opening to Deep Self exercise below, or any mediation, anchoring, grounding or related spiritual practice that works for you.
Opening to Deep Self:
Start with a breath meditation. Find a quiet place where no one will disturb you. Whether you sit in a chair or on a cushion on the floor, make sure your posture is good: straight back, shoulders relaxed, chest open, head level, hands palm up and loose in your lap. Close your eyes and focus your awareness on your breath — the rising and falling of your chest and belly, and the sounds and sensations of air moving through your body — slow breath in, your belly rounds outward – slow breath out, your belly flattens. If thoughts arise in your mind, let them go and return your focus to your breath.
When you reach a state where your mind is quiet, shift your focus from your breath to your inner landscape; settle deep into the core of your being. Do not put meaning onto this experience, just relax and remain open to your inner stillness and emptiness. Pay attention to anything that naturally arises in this space: words, memories, images or sensations. But do not attach to them; let them rise and then fall away, in a state of not knowing and of open curiosity.
When you feel done with this experience or it is time to return to your waking life, focus once more on your breath. Let the in and out movements of your breath draw your attention to your physical body. After several deep, full breaths, slowly open your eyes and then stretch and move your body. Ease yourself to a standing position, and then back into whatever activity follows your meditation.
Set the intention to make this practice part of your basic magical tool kit, and then do the consistent work of developing strength and mastery in this essential skill.
Related Post:The True North of Deep Self
When my son was a wee baby, we were having dinner at a favorite local restaurant. A stranger introduced himself and spoke lovely words about our beloved child. Then he got up and left. When we went to pay the bill, he had covered it, leaving a message about what a pleasure it had been to meet such a beautiful child. My heart ached with the sweetness of this simple, loving gesture. Several months later, when we returned to this restaurant, I told a new waitress the story. She knew all about it. This one act of goodness had become a part of the storytelling of this place.
We hunger for goodness in our world. Pope Francis feeds the homeless. One of my good friends gave a young mother, with a babe and child in tow, a twenty dollar gift certificate for groceries when she saw the meager purchases in the woman’s basket. Recently a stranger gave me his seat on a crowded bus when I was clearly not well. These acts, small and large, make my heart ache. In part from sweet joy, and in part because I know how desperate our world is for acts of simple goodness.
The holiday season is a time of goodwill. This week do one simple act of goodness for another human being. It can be for someone you know in need, or a spontaneously act for a complete stranger. Goodness can be a smile, a word of acknowledgement, a gift, a dinner, a helping hand, or any kind act that fits the individual and the moment.
Pay attention to how this goodness exchange feels in your own heart and in the reaction of the other person. Drink in this goodness, for whether you are giving or receiving, the cup of kindness and goodwill feeds us all.
Related Post: Meet Me in the Good
In our midst are very special people that I call the golden hearts, who exude a natural, effortless generosity and honoring of others, not tainted by jealousy, greed, distrust or other such shadowy aspects of our human nature. The golden hearts I know aren’t saints; they have edges and flaws, like everyone else, nor are they naive, goody two-shoes. It is more that despite what life tosses their way, they choose love and gifting their best to those that cross their path. Golden hearts naturally meet us in the good.
We all have golden hearts, but vary in the degree to which we let them shine forth. There is no judgment in these words. Most of us have been bruised by life in ways that leave its mark in non-loving, self-protecting behaviors that shut our hearts down, not open them wider to others.
This week pull out your golden-heart impulses and give them a polish. In whatever way feels comfortable to you, open your heart a little bit wider and see what goodness wants to come out to bless your life, and the lives of those around you. Maybe it is giving positive feedback to someone you admire, helping out someone who could use a hand or making a family member his/her most special meal. In big or small ways, we can brush another person with the golden goodness of our love and goodwill.
Equally important, pay attention to the parts of you that restrain or taint your golden-heart impulses. Instead of judging or pushing away these parts, also give them your golden-heart attention. Tending to your own deep needs and personal hurts, from a place of love and your best instincts, is part of the healing work of polishing your golden heart, and strengthening your ability to meet yourself and others in the good.
Related Post: Meet Me in the Good