Writings

Migration to Muir Beach

I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for a while.

Some of you know this already but for some of you it will be news:

I am moving.

Or, more accurately, I am migrating to the ocean. Muir Beach, California. To return to the Mother for a while. To listen, and write, and pray, and teach, and see clients, and walk on the coast. And to let the whales dream me into the next phase of my life.

Moving implies conscious choice. And although it has taken a lot of personal will and effort to set the ball in motion for this move, the impulse to return to the ocean came from somewhere deeper than choice. It was and is a Soul call.

I moved to Boulder 20 years ago to attend Naropa. I arrived on my 25th Birthday. I knew no one. I had been living in a Zen Center in Muir Beach before I moved out here. A part of me wanted to stay at the Zen Center and be a monk for the rest of my life. I loved the quiet, the green, and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore while I meditated in the zendo. And I loved the clear simplicity of my sitting practice. But I knew that the world was calling. It was not mine, in this lifetime, to be a monk. I was meant to be in the world and to find my dharma. So I left the quiet and the black robes and my teacher to come to Boulder and get an MFA in poetry and see what I could offer the world through the vehicle of my creativity.

That first summer was stressful. I tumbled right into the chaos of the Summer Writing Program at Naropa. It was insane—loud, busy, so many words—the opposite of the Zen Center. I longed for the ocean. “It is so dry here,” I kept saying. My lips cracked and I missed the redwoods and the eucalyptus and banana slugs. I thought for sure that I’d move right back to California after my MFA was over. But Boulder, sweet Boulder, had other plans for me.

I started teaching poetry at afterschool programs and at the Boulder Public Library. I created my first grant-funded program—Writes of Passage—a 10-week writing and expressive arts workshop for elder women and teenage girls. I graduated from Naropa and got hired to direct an afterschool arts and prevention program for teens (BreakThrough Arts) and did so for four years, helping hundreds of young people to find their power, passion, and creativity. I became a mentor for teen girls through Vive. I led backpacking trips. I dove deep into my own healing through Hakomi, wilderness work, dance (thank you Melissa Michaels), energy work, qigong, and more. I studied Soulcraft with the Animas Valley Institute in Durango and began the training to become an Animas guide. And then I got sick.

Most of you know that part of my story—I was guided by dreams to go down to Peru so I quit my job, studied with Shamans, picked up a parasite, came back to Boulder and got very, very ill. I spent four years nearly housebound and then emerged (by the skin of my teeth) out of the underworld with more capacity as a healer than I had known before. I called my underworld dive “the path of initiation.” I learned later that academia had a term for it as well, “Post Traumatic Growth.”

Post Traumatic Growth became the focus of my life—how our deepest challenges can be catalysts for our most profound spiritual transformation. I studied it (even got a PhD in it), taught it, created a podcast about it, studied trauma work, offered it, met my teaching partner, Katie Asmus, created trainings, grew a thriving private practice, began to specialize in working with healers, and Courting Your Medicine was born. I was fulfilling my purpose. Living my dharma into the world as I had intended so many years before.

This past May after I defended my dissertation, I took a 10-day Soul wander in California. I had no agenda other than to put down my thinking mind and rekindle my connection to soul. I followed intuition for the entire wander. “Where do I want to go right now?” I’d ask myself. “Should I turn right or left at this stop sign?” “Do I feel called to this beach, or that…?” It was magical, synchronistic, and deeply aligned.

A few days after I returned to Boulder from that trip I knew I was moving. I pulled into my driveway after a full day of clients. It may have been raining, I don’t remember. I sat in my car for a moment staring into the darkness and said out loud to no one in particular, “Shit, I think I’m moving.” It wasn’t a choice; it was something I was realizing as if it were already in motion. I then got the intuitive hit to look for an online oracle card on my phone. I found my way to a virtual deck, tapped the screen to pick a card, and then stared at the phone with my jaw slack. The oracle card had one word on it, “Moving.”

 

 

In some ways it was not a surprise at all. I am happiest at the Pacific Ocean—expanded, joy-filled, child-like, sensual, soft, surrendered, and deeply in my feminine. I may be part Selkie. I love the rugged rocks, the wild views, the rhythm, the changeability, the call of the ocean. My ex-partner and dear friend reminded me yesterday that when he and I met 19 years ago at Naropa I told him I was moving back to California. It just took a while. I had life to live, gifts to give, and healing to be initiated into.

Completing my dissertation on Post Traumatic Growth was a turning of the wheel of my life. This phase of my dharma is coming to completion. Another is calling me to it. I don’t yet know exactly what it is. I have hints, and hopes, but there is more unknown then known. I am trusting. Following my soul to the edge of the ocean.

And, yes, I am terrified. I’ve built a deeply rooted life here. I have profound community, love, friendship, a home, amazing clients and students, an incredible teaching partner. And I’m letting all of that go (or letting some of it go, as I’ll be back in Boulder next year many times to teach and see clients).

It’s hard to leave when I am in the full harvest of abundance. I am not retreating; I am listening. I am moving towards something, a whisper from my Soul.

I am migrating.

On a practical note, I am not now nor will I ever be abandoning Boulder. I love it here and am and always will be deeply connected. I’ll be travelling back to Boulder six-times next year to teach, see clients, and offer Courting Your Medicine at the Starhouse. Katie Asmus and I will continue our teaching partnership, and will likely offer some version of Bridging Soma & Soul in 2019. We may offer Sacred Facilitation Skills in 2019 as well. And I will continue to see many of my Boulder clients at a distance through the miracle of technology from my little home overlooking the ocean and will host those that feel called in in-person intensives by the sea.

The physicality of pulling up roots after 20 years in Boulder has been intense. There’s more to say on that—the power of going through every file folder, every paper I’ve written, every feedback form I’ve received for every workshop I’ve ever offered. Of selling all my furniture and hosting a garage sale and watching my previously held treasures be scooped up by strangers. It’s been a gift. A shedding. It is practical. And freeing. And scary. And wild. Although I have tremendous capacity and this move is right, it is also deeply unsettling. As my massage therapist and Soul brother named the other day, “You are like an old tree being transported. Don’t be surprised if you have some root shock.”

 

Some days I feel connection to the inspiration that began this process—I catch a glimpse in my mind of Point Reyes National Sea Shore, or smell the ocean in the air, or flash on a memory of the coastal trails, and smile. Other days I’m buried in what my friend’s father who is a builder calls “the fuzzy middle.” The fuzzy middle is that impossible phase of a building project where you look around at the chaos and the falling apart and can’t remember why you started the project in the first place, but somehow have the faith to keep moving, to keep seeing it through until something new comes into form.

I have a house to finish packing, items left to sell, and a car to figure out how to get to the ocean. I have a renter to find for my sweet 3-bedroom sanctuary on Shanahan Ridge, clients to say goodbye to, and friends to love, all in the next few weeks. And it will happen. Somehow. Because it always does. And if it doesn’t, that’s ok too. Sometimes things will be left undone. Life is messy. Moving is messy. And I am human.

The most touching part of this migration is taking time to reflect on the matrix of love I have been embedded in here in Boulder. I moved here not knowing a soul. And now I love and am loved by many. The depth of connection I have here is overwhelming. I feel like I’m in a post-death life review right now. I sob often. I am so blessed to have had the privilege of offering my gifts, to have had the privilege of being a part of an 8-year women’s group, to have had the privilege of this much love. There’s nothing I can do now but cry, pack, and bow.

I’ll be having a gathering in the middle room at the Integral Center on Tuesday, November 7 from 6-9 pm to more formally say goodbye (for now) to Boulder. I may move back in a year, or twenty, or I may stay at the ocean for the rest of my life. I don’t know. But regardless of how long I’m gone for I know I want to say goodbye and honor my connection to this initiatory town of healing that has served me so deeply. Join me if you can. And if not, feel free to post below. Words cannot express my profound gratitude for the ways in which this town has shaped me. So to those of you who have been a part of that, thank you, thank you, thank you. May my Soul call inspire you to follow your own, whatever that may be.

 

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About Sweigh Emily Spilkin

Sweigh Emily Spilkin, MA, CHT, PhD (cand.) is passionate about helping people transform challenge into soul-centered growth. She is the founder of Thresholds Healing, through which she offers Body-Centered Psychotherapy, Somatic Soul Retrieval, and workshops and classes for therapists, healers, and other individuals ready to cross the Threshold into the full embodiment of who they really are.

6 Comment(s)

  1. Anita Hauenstein
    November 2, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

    Blessings on your journey Sweigh. I am grateful to have met you for a “moment.” So grateful you are continuing to shine your beautiful light wherever you are led.

    • Sweigh Emily Spilkin
      November 6, 2017 at 8:52 pm #

      Thank you, Anita!

  2. Lara Henderson
    November 3, 2017 at 4:13 am #

    I was one that took a poetry class with you at Naropa, it was 2005. I was starting a new chapter in my life and actually met my husband during that time. I remember sharing my writing with him at the tender beginnings of new love, and how perfect it felt at that time to be supported and nurtured in my writing all while closing old doors and opening new ones. Thank you for creating that space. Best wishes to you on this grand door you are opening for yourself- I can relate to your love of the Pacific Ocean. I look forward to hearing about your next phase in your beautiful writing. xo
    Lara H

    • Sweigh Emily Spilkin
      November 6, 2017 at 8:52 pm #

      Hi Lara. Oh goodness, what a long time ago that was <3. Thanks for saying hello and for the well wishes! Are you still writing? Sending blessings your way!

  3. Shelly Rondeau Heller
    November 6, 2017 at 5:13 pm #

    Sweigh: Wow! Exciting! A beautifully written piece that hit home for me. My husband and I were also called back to the West Coast 2 years ago and although it was tough to leave Boulder after 18 years, it has been a totally soul-satisfying move. (There’s something about the Pacific Ocean, isn’t there?) We’re now in Camarillo, CA. We wish you a safe journey and welcome you back to California!! P.S., I recommend driving your car here. I found the roadtrip helped me connect the dots and reminded me that Boulder is just 3 tanks of gas away.

    • Sweigh Emily Spilkin
      November 6, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

      Hi Shelly! Oh that’s wonderful, I had no idea you had moved back to California. Congratulations, and thanks for the recommendation. <3.

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