What happens to a person in your presence is more a matter of who you are than what you know
Veritas, the Roman Goddess of Truth is said to be difficult to find. She is elusive and hides at the bottom of a holy well. She is the daughter of Saturn, the God of Time, and Virtus, the Goddess of Bravery. Veritas can be likened to the truth of who we are; our True Nature or authentic self, by nature, elusive. It requires time, bravery, courage, and hard work to first uncover and live from this part of ourselves, a veritable life’s work.
The season of harvest can also be a time for making a commitment to ‘harvest’ our authentic self. This form of inner work is what Carl Jung termed ‘individuation’. It is the most important, powerful, and meaningful work in our lives to which we must consciously attend. I believe it is singularly why we are alive, and the only process that can make our lives intrinsically luminous and meaningful.
In our society, we have confused the superficiality of our persona for who we really are. We have confused our identity with our roles, jobs, possessions, and friends. When any of this falls away we may feel stressed, depressed, or anxious. In fact, every part of our lives except our authenticity is fleeting. If we are not aligned with this, we are faced with the threat of experiencing continual anguish due to the fleeting nature of our external reality.
Every time we cross a threshold that marks the life/death/life process, such as a birthday, graduation, relocation, marriage, empty-nest, retirement, loss, sickness, or death we are passing through a portal for individuation.
Our culture does not have a context to mark these thresholds in more than a superficial way. Although we celebrate them, we do not assimilate the depth of their meaning into the fabric of our being. This is one of the reasons why people are lonely in our society, and why there is a disconnected feeling in our collective consciousness. We lack the consciousness of acknowledging the potential for transformation that these thresholds can facilitate. Each is an opportunity for aligning with our authentic selves.
In the past year, many of my patients have suffered extreme losses. The deaths of loved ones have been the most painful. Their sorrow has been compounded by the fact that they have had to travel the grief spiral alone. They were left alone in their sorrow, overwhelmed by their emotions. I believe they needed to be held by others in their time of loss (as we all do). They were seeking context and meaning through these thresholds. Attempting to search for this alone can be overwhelming.
The danger in not having a context or container through thresholds is getting stuck in grief. It can be replete with anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, anger, hopelessness, or addictive behaviors. A prescription drug cannot provide the comfort of another human being or a context for meaning. In fact, it can actually stunt our process and arrest the possibility of transforming through the threshold. Sadly, it is one of the only solutions that traditional medicine offers while grieving. We all know that this solution does not work, but it’s unfortunately normalized. It is a meaningless substitute for the power of community and compassion.
Facebook and other social media (1) platforms have become global ways to show snippets of our persona. We are flooded by these snippets every day and think these snippets reflect who people really are. Others seem better, luckier, more blessed, and wealthier than us. This trances us into confusing persona from authenticity. Social media can be a platform to share the truth, but this is not what is happening (2). It is actually isolating people further from each other. It is debasing what is truly important and adding superficiality to our collective consciousness.
Individuation is hard work. It feels like a death because the act of discriminating who we really are requires a death of who we think we are. Sometimes we are so vested in the latter, (our conditioned or adapted self) that we fight against transforming. Many organize their lives around the adapted self. It often takes a crisis to create the portal for breakthrough.
It is time for us to create a container to offer assistance through the thresholds of life. Our greatest impediment to not acknowledging the need to individuate is how we are conditioned to normalize the value we place on the persona. The truth of our True Nature, our authentic self, is elusive like the goddess Veritas. Eastern wisdom acknowledges the importance of living from here, and in midlife, we feel an urgency to seek a way back to this place within. Sometimes this is catalyzed by what we call a ‘midlife crisis’ when an illness, a loss, a divorce, or a trauma changes us unalterably and activates the seeker in us who seeks only for what is meaningful. We must follow the truth that lives inside of us, beneath the expectations and projections of society. Living from here is also where our integrity lies.
The process of individuation may be the precise antidote for our ailing time.
When we recognize the value of becoming authentic, we become seekers of our truth. We look for signs, recognize synchronicities (3) and look for guidance. We begin to live consciously in a state of ‘awakeness’. We slough off toxic relationships, meaningless jobs, attachments to materialism, and begin to live from joy, contentment, and meaning. We also become authentically available to each other. This has intrinsic value. It is a powerful buffer from stress and evokes resilience. To access this authentic place requires consciousness. It serves as a bridge between our egoic self and our True Nature.
So next time you feel overwhelmed by the state of the world, or stressed by events that lack intrinsic meaning, bring consciousness to who and what you authentically are and create an intention to align with your authentic self.
Discovering your True Nature will be your harvest and I promise you, you will never feel alone, or leave another alone again in their life’s journey.
©Sept 2017 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Website: www.ommanicenter.com Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife. 2011, 2014 Medial Press