There are times in all of our lives when we can greatly alter our future, forever changing our destiny.
Harry Potter has this type of experience when he has to put on the Sorting Hat, which intuitively knows which boarding school house Harry is destined to be in. He talks to the hat, who is thinking of placing him in Slytherin where “cunning folks use any means to achieve their ends.”
Harry fiercely responds, “No!”, hoping with every bone in his body that the hat will place him in Gryffindor. The hat responds to Harry’s hopes and places him in Gryffindor, “where dwell the brave of heart.”
Harry and the Sorting Hat is a fun, magical metaphor for listening to our intuition.
That fierceness inside him that told this ancient, wise hat “no” was his heart talking through him. Many of us do have a powerful voice inside us that helps guide us but for some of us a tempting choice with the promise of “doing well” lures us.
Alas, we are disconnected from our hearts, and forever hungry for something else, something that can’t be replaced, no matter how much money we make, how much attention we get, how much power, fame or fortune we accumulate.
Bitterness sets in.
I was in such a position when I was 18 and getting ready to head to Chicago to attend college. As I was sitting on the beach with my family, staring out into the ocean, it occurred to me that something was wrong.
The path I was heading towards was a path not made by me and not desired by me, and something inside me said no. I breathed it aloud. My dad was smoking a cigarette and staring out at the ocean, my mom reading the paper, my sisters chatting with one another, and that’s when I said it: “I’m not going. I’m not going to college.”
My dad pulled on his cigarette a big stronger then usual, my mom squinted at me and my sisters gave each other a look.
Amazingly enough, two weeks later, rather than packing for snow, wind and four more years in a classroom, I found myself preparing to go to India.
There I would spend four months meditating and doing yoga, hiking in the Himalayas, caring for elderly women at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying, sipping chai on the Ganges with Israeli hippies who would tell me stories of being forced into the army and who themselves had come to India seeking peace.
It was then, at the ripe and confusing age of 18, that I learned that people are multi-layered and at our core is a spark of unimaginable beauty, depth and peace waiting to be shared with the world.
That spark is spirit.
This spark, or flame never goes out, nor does it flicker. But the layers that have been put on us (and those we’ve put on ourselves) block the light from shining its fullest.
When we are tested, we either pick up the sword and face our own dragon or we put the sword down, surrender and go to sleep. The great American mythologist and writer, Joseph Campbell coined it “the dark night of the soul,” and it is a sacred gift.
Before going to India, I had been suffering from depression and would spend hours curled up on the floor sobbing, staring and hearing a hopeless voice inside of me that would whisper that my life was purposeless.
Going to India helped me develop a meditation practice and later learning about Jungian psychology, I realized that that hopeless voice was bullshit. Those feelings of depression were simply layers in the process of moving towards the light, back to the happy, playful, creative child I had once been.
The mornings after dreadful nights like these, I would wake up and know that was the dark night of the soul. And I made it through. Everything was brighter, clearer and full of inspiration.
It is because of nights like these—and trusting that nights like these are part of our individual process—that so much of my happiness, gratitude and love for my life and myself exists now.
There is real truth, beauty and wisdom in embracing the difficult moments of life alone.
Instead of distracting ourselves or blaming our state of being on people or circumstances, when we confront this inner dragon we not only begin to feel better knowing that all those terrible things it told us weren’t true, but we realize that our disowned parts need love too. We don’t just use our sword to slay the dragon, we use it to command the dragon and embrace him with unconditional love.
This is something we all have to do to evolve spiritually. We must follow our intuition that speaks to us from a place of love—not anger, insecurity or fear. We need to do the deep work and begin to make our minds safe places of beauty, love, kindness, peace and gratitude; without knowing our own dragons it is not possible to do this.
This world doesn’t need any more fighting or judgment. It doesn’t need anymore ego. The world needs all of us to take a good, long look in the mirror and let us tear ourselves down one moment at a time so that we may reach a place between the madness of our minds and the grips of our emotions.
This is where we find our breath, and we find gratitude in every fiber of our being.
We look up and marvel at the stars until finally we sigh a deep exhale and vibrate a deep Om that lights up our moment in time with that radiant spark we were born with—that radiant spark that shines from the middle of our chest and tells us that everything is going to be okay, always has been and always will be.
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Assistant Editor: Michelle Margaret/Editor: Bryonie Wise