Upside Down

I captured this photo up on Katie Asmus’s land after teaching our Soul Medicine Mastery group last week. It seemed like everyone, including me, was falling apart that day.

Sometimes I think of it as sacred disorientation–when nothing seems to make sense anymore and everything feels upside down. Most of the time, I just think of it as humbling.

Years ago, when I first learned the Medicine Wheel, I found myself in a kiva in Utah, staying up all night and praying to the 7 directions. Sometime in the night I earnestly pledged myself to serve what I thought was the North–in this map a representation of adulthood, and coming into one’s true purpose. In the morning I realized that I had built the wheel upside down, and instead of committing myself to my purpose, I had committed myself to the South, and the healing of my heart. I didn’t take me long to realize they were the same thing. Or at least that the latter was the path to the former. I had been tricked by the universe into loving myself.

I’m there again right now, upsidown and invited into a deeper level of self-love than I have known. What I thought I was orienting to in the outer world–a particular dream of my future–has fallen away. There is deep, deep grief with this, and also relief. The shoulds that I unconsciously drove myself by are falling away as well. I am learning to let others have their stories about me, even when they feel hurtful. To keep coming back to myself over and over again and to stay with my inner knowing, even when I’m not sure if I know anything. I have so little energy to fit myself into other’s expectations of me anymore. I don’t know if it is right or wrong, helpful or hurtful, but it’s all I’ve got.

It’s raw, and messy, and frightening, and oh so human to stay in the present moment and in my body and feel my pain instead of trying to change others’ views of me so that I’ll feel ok. But at 43, and with a lot of somatic training underneath me, I am finally learning to be myself and let the fear ripple through.

If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have said that I “knew all this” already, and maybe, on some level, I did. But knowing is a whole different thing than living. Sometimes it takes life to turn us upside a few times and shake things loose for a deeper knowing, an unknowing, to have its way with us.



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About Sweigh Emily Spilkin

Sweigh Emily Spilkin, MA, CHT, PhD 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.

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