Transformation of the Self: when life has lost its juice

buddha face

Beloveds,

Have you ever woken up one day to find your interest in life lackluster? Have you looked around and found the feeling that there is nothing worth living for? No passion to do anything, no life force left to fight, a numbness blanketing everything and a burning question of what and why is this happening to me again?

Personal development isn’t always the bright light we find at the end of the journey. Often the biggest changes and growth come through the pain of resistance. We long for a change to come, even understanding sometimes what is blocked, but for the strangest reason some piece of our being just won’t let go and move into love. I have always been interested in this process because it affects me so often and somehow I never remember what’s happening to me until I remember what’s happening. I hope you may benefit by my experience, sparking a remembering and alignment, in your time of need.

Pressure. Overwhelming pressure. Blocked. Strained. Drained. Resistance. Lethargy. Lost. Up, down, and sideways. Confusion. Depressed. Feeling no juice in life and that it may never be bright again. No reason or energy to do anything. Just plain dead, before death. Hopeless.

Take a deep breath, you have been through this before and even though it feels like the first time, like it won’t end, like you will never find anything worth living for, you still know, at least intellectually, that it will pass and you will be better for it. The feeling however is very real and no self talk, cheering up or distractions are going to fix this immediately. To quote rumi:

“Hold me in the fire,
And although I die,

I know for whom and why”

This is the physical transformation experience. After the decision to change was made deep inside. After the conceptual ideas and feelings about change happened. We have reached the last step, the slowest and most dense plane, the physical body, which now must catch up with the faster energetic plane. These changes may have been from months ago which explains the disconnect from your thoughts and the physical changes taking place. The need for the mind to understand what is happening is so strong, but so useless, that we fight this process to the bitter end and wonder why this misery has befallen us.

This is the epitome of spiritual practice, and a perfect time, in light of this formidable resistance, to discover more about yourself and your ability to transform. This is the moment when all those spiritual self help books and blogs are needed most, but least likely to be heard. The question is “can I embrace and make friends (become neutral, resistance free, dis-identified) with this pressure, this anxiety, this fear, and ultimately a feeling I don’t want to be experiencing?”

This is time for trust, for patience, for deep breathing. Ultimately this is out of your control, like a roller coaster that just crested the top of the main climb, there is no turning back; only how much you want to fight the ride. Once you realize you are on a ride, at least you can stop wondering whats going on. Try to find that comforting, because at least you are no longer lost.  Like birth, you decided many months ago to bear a child and now on one day this incredible pressure and feeling is in you. You must finish this decision for there is no turning back. In an instant a transformation of self will be and everything will change. You will give birth to your new self, but you must go through the trial first.

It is this very trail by fire we call suffering. Human nature is to suffer, but we don’t have to get upset about it. Once this process has happened a few times, it is likely that you know at some point it will pass, as all things must, but of course the immediate feeling is something we humans dislike greatly and depending on your inner level of calmness, perhaps hate and rage against. You can literally fight this transformation process until it finally finishes and suffer greatly or in an instant of true realization help the transformation take place and viola! You pop through the other side.

The steps for this process are generally similar, starting with your inner awareness and communication. The feeling that shows up is generally the same but a different scenario each time and thus confuses us greatly until we identify what is happening. The first few days something just feels off. Perhaps less energy, an un-explainable lethargy while feeling physically fine, accompanied by a growing desire to know and figure out just “what” about this feeling is off. If you are coming up with continual new ideas of what It could be and not settling on one, it is probable you are in the middle of a transformation process. Another signal could be a slight nagging somewhere in your body with a sore point, like an ache, to which no physical counterpart actually exists. This signal is often the clearest yet most misunderstood device. Something from your unconscious depths is rising to the surface looking for the light of day. Often a knot in your back, shoulders, chest or neck, although it can show up anywhere. You may rub this point as much as you like but it never eases the source. At this point you can begin to make the connection. This is energetic, something trapped inside is ready to release and is climbing the metaphorical hill to ride the roller coaster. Whether you catch on here or when you crest the hill, you will only realize when you realize this transformation process is what’s happening to you.

The next step is to acknowledge the pressure, energy, stuck-ness, and make friends with it. This is where all the spiritual self help comes in handy. How to see this unwanted feeling and be friendly with it? We don’t question joy when it visits us; asking why has it come and when it will kindly be on its way. But for pain and suffering this is the only question we repeat over and over. What did I do, why is this happening, how can I fix this, how do I get rid of this, okay if you go away I’ll do this, if I could just figure this out ill be okay! But none of these questions will ever resolve it, but only make it stick around because it is not a question and there is no answer. You are fighting with your self, your ego, and that is a circle that can continue for as long as you have energy to fight. We have become so identified with the physical feeling that we have forgotten a simple truth: we are not this feeling. We are the inner awareness that is watching this feeling and process unfold. Being friendly means stepping back into our centered awareness and just watching the feeling be there until it leaves on its own; rather than madly questioning why we have become this overwhelming feeling.

“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”  – Rumi

A different approach must be taken. This is tricky because human beings want to be cunning and cleaver at this moment. We devise some method of bargaining to alleviate the pain. A this for that strategy which is really telling your unconscious I don’t have any power, but please be merciful as I still fight you. We have one recourse, friendliness, non attachment, neutrality, let go, compassion for the self. These are all the same thing in respect to this phenomenon so choose what feels best. We acknowledge that this feeling is present. Perhaps with playfulness say “Oh, isn’t that interesting. Look what showed up today”. Tell it that it is a welcome guest as long as it likes and to do whatever it needs, because we know at the end of their stay our life and feeling will be better for it. To do this truthfully is the only thing you ever need to learn. This is the same knack in every spiritual practice on earth. To honestly befriend the reality of life with no restraint, no cunningness, no bargaining and just let it be there with you. To watch with awareness while not becoming identified with the feeling. In that exact moment, a switch flips and you are on the other side. Pressure gone or on its way out. You are transformed.

Learning how to truly let go, to be honest, is very difficult and yet the simplest thing. It happens all the time, but to participate with it knowingly is a different task altogether. You can’t deceive your own inner self. Next time you can’t just say “oh let’s be friends”, I’ve done this before and don’t have time for you now, and wonder why it didn’t resolve itself and get upset. The true let go is a subtle and fine art of embracing the suffering and even finding joy in the process because conceptually we know it’s for the best even when everything tells us we feel like we might be dying.

Even if you honestly let go early on in the process you may need to ride the metaphorical bus for the duration and reach the destination. Of course it will be an interesting ride all the same, but as we ride that bus from the beginning to the end many aspects of your inner being will try to drive the bus. I like to have my spirit as the conductor. He knows the destination and will lead me there gently and without delay. However when my fear gets a hold of the wheel, this bus be rocking left and right as fear tries to flip the bus over, turn it around, or do anything to not reach the destination. It is in this moment, when some aspect wants to hold us back that we kindly acknowledge that we have a new driver and ask our spirit, or whoever you like driving your bus of transformation, to step back in and take over. Trust once again that we are headed to a destination of our choosing and that we will reach there without that other idiot crashing the bus.

Coming out of the transformation process is a beautiful thing. Either suddenly or gradually you begin to see beauty again in the world, a passion and energy for living again. You begin to wonder why you ever felt life to be so dull and lifeless when this new thirst for feeling alive is growing. Just as you can’t see the beauty from the depths of resistance, you can’t see the dullness from the energy of being alive. We go back and forth as humans on this pendulum, unless we learn how to stop in the middle; which is enlightenment. Try at this point to remember that just recently you felt so alone, so tired, so out of juice and that life was almost not worth living anymore. So when it visits you again you know how to come out of it quicker and easier.

To truly take the time to invest in your self development, and grow your awareness of yourself around the healing/growing process is a sincere undertaking. It means putting everything aside, sometimes utterly stopping your world, to address the most important and life changing experience that is happening. Waiting is utter foolishness, for in the end, postponement is to continue to suffer. It’s often a challenge to pit the importance of our inner world against that of the outer world and it’s requirements or distractions. At the end of the day though we will still be living in our bodies and every moment given to cleaning house will lessen that anxiety and ultimately lead to a more joyful life experience. I wish upon everyone the awareness to watch this process when next it springs upon you and to traverse it with grace. Make friends with your new strange guests and they may just leave you with the greatest gifts of all.

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