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Journal

Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Tag: soulcraft

The Call of the Wild Soul

Katie Gordon

Our inner Wild is the place in us that's untouched by trauma. 
photo courtesy of  Rebelle Society

photo courtesy of Rebelle Society

Over the last few weeks I've been busily soul-storming, writing, and creating the container for Embodied Creative Self Expression: The Heroine's Journey with my wild mystic partner in crime Lindsey O'Neill. And the deeper we get into the whole process, the more I'm waking up to the fact that so many of us experience the call to soul, the call to descend and embark upon the Heroine's Journey, but don't realize that we're being called. We think we're experiencing depression, intense emotional or energetic upheaval, random accidents, traumatic events, but we don't see that it's actually a wake up call from our soul to pay attention and direct our awareness to something vital to the alchemical transformation of our Selves. So let's explore that initial call, that imperative from within, that ignites and inspires us to seek deeper connection and meaning in our human experience.

The Heroine's Journey is a deep dive exploration and transmutation of the unconscious and the forces at work within that affect the without. It's a process that some of us may embark upon multiple times in a single lifetime because we seek to wander through our inner landscapes and uncover the mysteries that are held  within our bodysoul. And each time we think we unlock something about those mysteries, we realize there are ever-deepening layers to explore.

And why do we embark upon this journey? Because we're called by a voice that we, perhaps, just barely recognize as our own. It comes from that part of ourselves that is ancient, timeless. The one that's already begun this work, walked some of these paths, and now calls on you to continue. 

The call to initiation can come in infinite ways. Depression, addiction, a sense that there HAS to be more, an accident or illness, a deep knowing that the answers you seek from life won't come from your current situation and experience. The call might come from a recurring theme in your dreams.

It rises up from deep within your bones, your blood, the midline of your subtle body to wake you up to the fact that while this may feel really scary to you, your ego, your personality, your Soul knows it's time and that you're ready. And then the Underworld opens up to you, and you leave the home you've so carefully crafted throughout your life thus far. And it feels like an unraveling, like a very particular kind of death. You know just by heeding the call, you're certain to encounter shadows, deep wounds, and then, the treasure buried deep within.

Do we have a choice in heeding this call? If so, why say yes? This is a journey of reclamation. This is the way we witness, honor, and integrate all of those contradictory aspects of ourselves that seem like they can't exist side by side, and yet they do! The underworld journey is the way we allow, surrender to, and create a container for all of those pieces of ourselves that seem incongruent but actually guide us right into our very core. 

To say yes also means embracing the masculine and feminine within each of us and understanding that it is this sacred marriage that leads to our wholeness.

And of course, we have allies along our journey. Animal totems, spirit guides, archetypal patterns, teachers who have gone before, sacred space to reconnect and come home to ourselves, creative processes, embodiment practices, forest to remind us of our place in the grander scheme of things, ocean to remind us of the water we come from. 

Why do we sometimes say no? Why do we ignore the treasure we instinctively know is buried within us? Because if we dig it up and acknowledge its existence, we'd have to make different choices. Our lives would change drastically. We'd have to be more discerning and create new boundaries. Relationships would quickly unravel. Our former identity would cease to exist. And that's really fucking scary! And we'd also come face to face with our Self. That part of us that is infinite and whole and deeply connected with all that is life.

Are you ready to heed the call? To reclaim your Soul's voice and reconnect with your sacred self-expression? Join us as we embark on the Heroine's Journey toward Embodied Creative Self Expression for 9 weeks beginning on February 23!

The benefits of being lost

Katie Gordon

In surrendering to being lost, you discover that not only do you not know how to get where you wanted to go, you also are no longer sure of the soul-level rightness of that goal. You’re able to be chosen by new standards that come not from other people or your old identity but from the depths of your soul. You’re attentive to a new and much larger guidance system.

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Paws

Katie Gordon

I've been craving the wild, deep forest.
Past the edge,
the point where you question continuing on.
The point when you begin to feel deeply the beat of your heart...
in rhythm with your feet.
Your feet turn to paws.
Ears prick up.
The outer sensory layer of your body softens to take. in. everything.
Through the threshold of maybe, potentially turning back.
Deeper and deeper until you are safe once again because you are at home.
At center.
At core.
And you find your howl once again.
Your body hasn't forgotten how to move, run, hunt.
You just had to re-member. To come back home.
Return.

An embodied look at addiction

Katie Gordon

The other day I was having a coffee date via Skype with a close friend who is also a soul sister/mentor/mystic. She has a knack for truth-telling in a most compassionate & loving way to which I can only aspire. We were talking about relationships, in particular the patterns and lessons you learn about yourself within each relationship. How much potential there is for growth within love and how intense, heart wrenching, and amazing it all is. And then she pointed out to me (again, very nonjudgmentally) my pattern of running in relationships. Or more accurately, running out of them. Since a large part of the work I've been diving into lately, what Bill Plotkin refers to as "Soulcraft," is recognizing old patterns in thought and behavior, relinquishing old identities, and giving up addictions, her observation struck me as something that obviously required my attention.

In his book Soulcraft, Plotkin dedicates a lot of time to the topic of patterns, why we have the ones we do, how they developed, why they were necessary at one point in our life, and why it's imperative that we untangle ourselves from them once we've accepted our journey of descent into soul. Addiction is one form of pattern, something we ALL fall into, whether it's addiction to a substance, food, shopping, sex, Facebook, checking our email 8000x a day, etc. And of course there are countless theories of WHY we develop certain addictions and how to treat them. I'm not even gonna go there today. It's Plotkin's opinion that many times, addictions are either attempts at self-initiation, because basically here in our western, non-nature-based society we no longer have cultural rites of initiation built into our education, OR an addiction is a distraction, a way we have of numbing ourselves because we feel unfulfilled, unsatisfied, trapped, claustrophobic, and we deeply know we're meant to do more in our lives than we're currently doing.

In my experience, and in my opinion, it's often a bit of both. I've distracted myself from fully feeling uncomfortable or intense feelings, from fully acknowledging that I'm feeling those uncomfortable and intense feelings, and then feeling guilty for not acknowledging or feeling those uncomfortable and intense feelings. (P.S. that's a lot of energy moving around without being released. It's best not to do it that way.)

I've also acknowledged that my journey into anorexia and bulimia was absolutely an attempt at self-initiation. Pushing my physical body to its limit, approaching that breaking point when it couldn't take anymore, allowing myself to almost physically and metaphorically disappear, diving deeply into that shadow side of my psyche that didn't feel valuable, loved, seen, or heard. Of course at the time I didn't know that's what I was trying to do, but at some level, I did know the reasons behind all of those behaviors were much deeper than body image and self-esteem issues. Something in me was seeking answers, meaning, and explanations of deeply rooted feelings and my purpose for being here on this Earth.

Anyway, back to my "running" story...

When my friend said that I realized I DO run many times a situation begins to feel out of my control or I don't see a pleasant way out. I have (had) an addiction to running. It was a deeply engrained pattern. Of course often the way out is working it THROUGH, which I also wasn't a huge fan of doing. However, being in a committed and healthy relationship now, one that I want to show up in and not run from, means having to wade through the unpleasant feelings that arise, the disagreements that occur, and the feelings that surface as a result. Not always fun, folks. Some of my ugliest shadows have shown themselves. Each time I feel like hiding, running, or otherwise pretending the discomfort and intensity isn't happening, I see that pattern in myself. I see my need for things to be comfortable and if they're not, to make them better by smoothing it over, even when it's not for the best of the relationship. I know whatever's coming up is at least partly a call to sit and feel, hear, see, and know my own soul deeper. And then it's a call to act in alignment with my soul.

"Be still and know..." - Psalm 46:10

Here's one thing I know for sure. When we can sit through all that intensity that exists within our own wounds, we see that's where our greatest opportunities for growth and brilliance lie. We can witness our own sacredness. We can act from our deepest truth rather than from an old, outgrown identity. We can allow those parts of us to die.

What are your favorite addictions? I invite you to consider seeing them as stemming from an attempt at awakening/stimulating ourselves out of what we've come to see as ordinary reality. Out of our everyday lives. Our small selves. Perhaps acknowledge them as your soul's call to initiation to a deeper level of consciousness, opening us up to a new layer of being seen, heard, or felt.

Evolving yoga & the bodysoul

Katie Gordon

A friend and I were walking and talking the other day about how, as teachers, both our yoga practice and the way we approach teaching has evolved. I came to yoga during college after leaving ballet. I had struggled with bulimia and anorexia for years, but even more than that, I felt mentally, emotionally, and physically rigid. I was stuck in this foreign body that I had numbed and quieted for so long, I no longer knew how to hear the voice of my soul or feel my physical body enough to even know when something was wrong. So I stumbled/dragged myself into a yoga studio around the corner from my apartment in Boston's Back Bay, started teaching awhile later, and discovered a world I saw as completely opposite from my rigid, extreme, self-loathing reality. And unlike the pain and exhaustion of ballet, I had found something that made me feel literally high afterward. Plus it's healthy (both physically and mentally), it's great exercise (they don't call it a yoga butt for nothing), and I felt good about myself as a person, justified in my somewhat-self-righteous approach to the yoga-raw food-vegan-sattvic-clean-eating lifestyle because I'm doing something "of value" and teaching people how to feel better, right? Now I see all I had done was carry that same rigidity, the same self-imposed rules into a new setting.

And then I got disillusioned with the whole thing. I got bored. I got injured. I wasn't down with paying $100 for a pair of yoga pants. I got tired of feeling burnt out after teaching SO much and struggling to pay my bills. Seriously, if you want to be a "successful" yoga teacher (and they're out there!) you gotta hustle. You gotta have passion. And I didn't. My body hurt, I could barely make rent, I didn't even have the time or energy or desire to maintain my own practice. So I said f*ck this.

I gave up trying to survive by teaching and I got a "real job." You know the whole work 9-5, wear "professional" clothes, get a paycheck every 2 weeks, have health insurance, work in an office kinda job. This was that stage in my practice when I was so happy to NOT stress out about money/survival/my-family-thinks-I'm-a-total-failure that you'll do anything for this new job. And don't get me wrong, the company I worked for is GREAT! They treat their employees better than any I've seen. The people there are wonderful. But my connection to my wild soul was fading. And my physical body was like, "How can you possibly have a job where you're sitting at a computer all day??!! Have I taught you nothing??"

During this time my practice taught me to slow down. Because of injuries, I couldn't do everything I used to be able to do. I had to be super mindful, take my time, and listen to my body in a way I never have. I felt like because I no longer had to depend on yoga to make a living, I could make it all about me. What I needed, wanted, craved in terms of movement. How my bodysoul needed to manifest herself. And through that work, it became increasingly clear that, even though I was comfortable & happy enough, I wasn't living my full truth or my soul's purpose in the world.

So when the opportunity arrived, I left. I moved to the Pacific Northwest, where I'd wanted to live since I was a kid (after watching The Goonies. Because pirate caves.) and where I could focus solely on my little business. And since Wild Grace is an extension of me, it became VERY clear that to have an abundant business, I needed to cultivate a healthier mind-body-soul connection. For me, even though I hated to admit it for awhile, the way in to that connection was through my yoga practice. It forced me to sit, breathe, be, and listen. It showed me how to deeply honor my body when I was practicing honestly and from a place of love for myself.

As I was preparing to teach a demo class in my new home town, I realized my yoga practice and what it meant to me had changed because my relationship with my body had changed. Because of the way I used to practice, always pushing myself, forcing myself further into poses, to keep going even if practicing didn't feel good or if I was hurt, my body had finally had enough and my practice HAD to change.

You're probably thinking, "Well, duh!" But really, I could finally see clearly how the way I felt in my body, the way I surrendered to my body, the way I saw it, felt it, heard it. The way I allowed it space. The way I honored the open spaces and the tense, closed, traumatized spaces had shifted in each stage of both my ego & soul growth. And because of that I was finally allowing my body to evolve rather than stay within a "safe" range of weight and shape. I was allowing my soul to expand, to be her brilliant & bright self. Where there was once a major disconnect between my soul's desire for compassion and self-love and my mind's need for some semblance of control, now there's just (for the most part) quiet, space, and a deep honoring of the way it sometimes all has to play out so that we can actually learn how to get out of our own way and meaningfully make something of ourselves.

And so I guess when you can finally let go of your opinion of the yoga industry, your fear of not being "good enough," the constant need to compare yourself as a teacher and student, and the competition for classes, all that's left is your relationship to your body (physical and energetic) and the practice of showing up each day to be with yourself.