A Journey Home, Part 2: Truth & Magic

A Journey Home, Part 2: Truth & Magic

Welcome to Part 2 of A Journey Home, an ongoing series of personal stories about awakening to inner wisdom. They’re both for me, because it brings me joy to share them with you, and for you, to take from them anything which resonates as true and helpful. In case you missed Part 1, you can read it here.
Years had passed since I woke up to my spirit, and to the spirit of nature in Peru’s Amazon jungle. I came home to Canada with my heart open, ready to live a whole new, perfect, beautiful life. But it didn’t happen, at least not in the way I imagined it would. But life has a way of cracking you open as much as it takes for you to see more deeply into its profound beauty.

In Peru, I found a place where magic was allowed to be real. Where it was palpable in the way it wove the dreamlike stories of this life into visions and moments without separation from ourselves, from nature, or from the universe. It was fluid, alive, and not only accepted but embraced by those who lived there. When I came home, my heart began to close as I realized I wasn’t able to share in that magic anymore, not like I had anyway. It was too much for people, too different, too irrational. So I shared it with nature instead. While out on walks, when no one was around, I would lay my hand on a tree and let myself feel what it felt… the warm, nourishing sun on its leaves, the maternal joy that it felt as little birds fluttered around its branches. I closed my eyes and the hypnotic drum beat of a dragonflies wings helped me sink deeper into the tree, into the complete sense of alive presence and endless connection that felt like the tree’s natural state of being. My thoughts were stilled, my heart pounded, I felt expansive, I felt the tree’s joy in sharing this moment with me, I felt my joy in sharing this moment with the tree… they were one in the same. Eventually, I heard footsteps coming and I pulled myself away. My self-conscious mind kicked in… “Don’t look like a crazy tree hugger, Abby. Be cool.” The moment was done. I smiled at the tree and carried on with my walk.

“Nature is not mute; it is man who is deaf.”
– Terence McKenna

Life can be pretty ironic. Humanity searches for intelligent life out in the universe, feeling all alone in an empty void. All while ignoring the brilliance that already surrounds it.

What if it were the belief itself, the thought “we’re all alone” that is the very thing causing us to be alone? In the western world, we speak the language of the mind; of thoughts, words, and facts. But do we speak the language of the heart? Of emotions, senses, and connection? Just beyond the walls of our mental constructs lies the pure consciousness that everything is made of. The only journey we have to go on to discover it is through that of thoughts which say things like “that is a tree, nothing more.” That thought is a dead end to discovery.

To KNOW something with absolute resolve is to cut yourself off from the EXPERIENCE of it. 

How much deeper could I have gone into experiencing that tree? The essence of its aliveness is its constantly changing state. There is no limit. As each moment is experienced the very consciousness witnessing it is also taking it to a new place. Nature is ever changing, from birth, to growth, to death and decay. Chemical processes are happening on the micro and macro level in all things at all times. To become stuck is to lose the flow of nature. To attach yourself to a thought, person, place or thing to the point where you won’t go on without it is to fight your own nature. It is to refuse yourself the greatness of evolving through new experiences.

Buddhists speak of non-attachment, and Vipassana meditators will frequently mention the Sanskrit term “anicca”, meaning “impermanence”. In the time it takes us to decide we know something, that thing has already changed into something new. When you let go of having or needing all the answers, it allows your mind to open so you can be present with an experience. And ironically enough, being present creates space for the answers to appear.

But remember that it is all anicca. From the things that feel shitty to the things that feel awesome, they will all pass to allow space for something new. It is when we try to hold on too tightly that we become stuck and fight the flow of our nature. When we try to hold on to a moment in the past, to an ideal, or to a title given to us – like successful, young, worthy, or unworthy. We hold on when we forget that we are so much more than that.

You are not a title or a role, those are just stories in a game.
You are the consciousness seeing what it feels like to play those roles.
You are evolving, and the game is here to help you.

Everything in your life is here to help you grow. It is life happening FOR you. I suffered for a long time under the belief that life was happening TO me. I believed that I was a fish out of water plunked down in a part of the world where magic wasn’t allowed to exist. And it was THAT BELIEF which made me suffer. “You don’t belong here” is a thought I’ve carried my whole life. It has been a building block to help me learn an important lesson.

A few months ago I was listening to my friend practice a talk for her conference. There was a part where we were to write down something that we felt was holding us back in life. So I wrote down the thought that felt like an old, familiar (and shitty) friend: “you don’t belong here.” Then we were to think of what we would say to a friend if they were dealing with what we had written down. Isn’t it funny how it can be so much easier to give compassion to our loved ones than to ourselves? I thought about my friend who felt like she didn’t belong here. I let myself feel love for her. What would I tell her? I allowed my mind to go blank, and after a few minutes, an answer appeared…

“You belong in your heart.”

Tears welled in my eyes and my hand moved to my heart. The beautiful simplicity of truth washed over me. It resonated in my body. It felt light and expansive. It felt true. “You don’t belong here” was a lie I had believed. It hurts to believe something that isn’t true for you, and that pain is your body’s way of telling you it isn’t true. But it can take years, even lifetimes, of identifying with thoughts before realizing they’re lies. “You don’t belong here”, “magic isn’t allowed here”, “you’re stuck here”, “you can’t be happy here”, blah blah blah. My thoughts provided a fury of reasons for why I hurt, all of them stories that weren’t true. I didn’t belong in those stories, I belonged in my heart. But at some point, I had left my heart when I agreed with the thought “you don’t belong here.”

This realization was a huge turning point, but it took time to fully let it go. And I didn’t do it alone. The thought was so big and so deep for me that I decided it was time to ask for help. I called another Shamanic Medicine Practitioner who I met and who inspired me while we treated people together in a public clinic in Vancouver. She is marvelous, but that is another story. I received two phone sessions from her and in that time she helped move through my subconscious mind to uncover and heal history that had been burdening me and affecting my thoughts, feelings, and actions most of my life. In each session, we removed another layer of an onion that had formed around a painful thought.

 It isn’t until you shed a burden that you realize how much energy it took you to carry it.

It took a long time for me to build layer upon layer of the thought “you don’t belong here”, and it took time to remove those layers piece by piece. The work I did with my friend and peer was profound and transformative, and yet I knew that I still had more work to do.

My husband is studying life coaching and it’s been fascinating to see how much of what he has been learning crosses over in the work that I do. A fragment of the thought resurfaced not long ago and I asked him to help me with it. To be more honest, my stories around the thought surfaced and I felt hurt and angry and I asked him for help. As I shared my stories of feeling like I don’t belong, he helped me find the thought “I’m not happy here”, another take on my old, familiar (and shitty) friend who says “you don’t belong here”. He asked me if I wanted to do the work on the thought, and I said yes. It was a powerful process, like a sort of self-surgery with the guidance of a trained professional showing me the way through step-by-step. It was a medicine for the mind; to hold the thought under the light of awareness and ask, once and for all, if it was true. When I did this, I realized that no, it wasn’t true. Now, was I going to allow this lie to continue hurting me? Fuck. No. I chose to let it go. To truly and entirely let it go. To thank it for its wisdom, for teaching me that there is no place outside of me that can make me happy or unhappy.

Happiness is a choice and a state of being. Happiness is living in your truth. And part of my truth is feeling that no matter where I am, when I live in my heart, I belong there.

If you enjoyed this post and you think others would too, then sharing it would be a huge honour for me. Thank you for coming along on this journey!

About Abby

Abby Taylor is a mind-body healing coach based in Calgary, Canada. She works remotely and face-to-face with people around the world to help them get unstuck and find their truth.

You can read more about her work HERE, inquire about a session HERE, or connect with her through the social links below.

How to Let the Magic In

How to Let the Magic In

I just heard some advice that I’m taking to heart. It was to relish in the magical synchronicity of life, because it makes them stronger. You know the ones I’m talking about, when you think of someone and then they call you, when you hum a song and it plays on the radio, when the setting sun hits the landscape in just such a way that it pierces through your outer shell and brings tears of joy and wonder to your eyes. These are the moments I’m talking about, and there is one such string of magic that I want to relish in and share with you.

I was on a work trip with my husband, Dave in Miami. We had some time to explore, so we did what most reasonable Canadians would do and decided to take advantage of the room temperature ocean waves and sunshine suddenly available to us in October. As we reached the waves, they seemed to instantly wash away any sense of frustration or discomfort we had, leaving us feeling open and connected to the greater forces surrounding us. As a calm feeling washed over me I started singing a tune that came into my mind… “Lady, running down to the riptide, Taken away to the dark side…” Wait, WHAT? Why am I singing this song in the ocean when I already have a phobia of riptides taking me away?! I focused intently on getting it out of my head, but then a few minutes later I’d realize I was singing it again. What the hell? I eventually gave up and let myself enjoy humming what my thoughts suspected were a subconscious invitation to meet my maker in that choppy ocean. And yet despite my thoughts, it felt so freeing and peaceful to sing that particular song in that moment. 

Fast forward two days and we’ve traded Miami’s sun-kissed beaches for Alberta’s snow-capped Rocky Mountains. We’re volunteering at a retreat and every one is sharing their first dinner together in the lodge’s cozy restaurant. People are wearing toques while chatting excitedly to each other as a fireplace crackles nearby. Someone is playing beautiful music in the room next door and I pop over with a few other enchanted guests to watch and listen. My friend, Dana asks her if she’ll join us and play for us and to our delight she says yes. Sometimes it turns out that if you want something to happen all you have to do is ask. Fortunately for all of us at the retreat, my friend Dana understands this.

The lovely musician comes in and seats herself on a chair with her ukelele in hand. Her fingers begin dancing with the strings and the rhythm weaves us all together like invisible threads moving from one heart to the next. The chatter quiets and we’re left with presence and connection. The musician’s soulful and sweet voice harmonizes with the ukelele’s song until it seems there is only the music, our hearts, and the perfection of this moment. As she sings the melody, everyone in the room softly sings with her… “Lady, running down to the riptide, Taken away to the dark side…” Many of us have tears in our eyes as the music connects us in this beautiful, perfect moment. My husband sitting next to me squeezes my leg, he remembers me singing this song in the ocean just a couple of days ago. I smile back at him and my eyes say “I know, isn’t it so magical?”

Fast forward again. It’s late and Dave and I have just finished watching the final season of the show Halt and Catch Fire, and the ending is phenomenal. Without ruining it for you, the characters each experience great personal loss in their own ways, and yet they embrace the pain of it. They welcome it into their hearts and let it show them how to love more deeply. They move forward through their lives and allow themselves to be recreated into someone new each moment. They love without holding onto the object of their love.

I sat there after it was finished and I laughed, smiled and cried for a couple of hours. I sat in wonder at the concept of loving so cleanly. To keep alive the memory of something you loved and lost because the richness of that love is so much greater than any sorrow could ever be. The object of love may no longer be there but the love itself never left. This got to me. It got to my heart. I thought of the people who’ve made a big impact in my life, many of them no longer a part of it. I realized that I loved all of them. I felt so grateful for each lesson and moment of connection I’d shared with them. Even though they were no longer in my life they were still teaching me how to love. I let the depth of the emotion and insight wash over me like a wave taking me out to see. And then I felt it. “Lady, running down to the riptide, Taken away to the dark side…” The words that sang through me were a call to surrender. To let go and feel the wave of being alive. To let myself move deeper into the infinite depths of this human experience. The ocean doesn’t want to drown me. I am the ocean. And you know what? So are you.

“The real you is not a puppet which life pushes around…
You are something that the whole universe is doing
in the same way that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing.”
– Alan Watts

 

What are some moments you’ve had when it seemed like the universe was winking at you? Take notice of them, relish in them, and share your stories in the comments!

 

Letting Go to Dream, Heal, and Become

Letting Go to Dream, Heal, and Become

It’s winter and the days are getting shorter and shorter as the sun creeps across the southern horizon. The bears have joined the trees in their long winters rest from the outer world, moving into a place beyond our waking reality. As they dream their body’s wounds will wash away with barely a scar left behind, just traces of evidence that they were ever even there.

Soon it will be solstice, the longest night of the year, and a time when I feel compelled to light candles and curl inward. I feel like dreaming too. Dreaming away the past year and letting all the mistakes I made wash away, leaving my lessons behind. It’s a time of quiet reflection. Of resting in the spaces between words. Of listening to the whispering hums and rhythms of nature. Of appreciating non-doing, just being.

It’s when I want to sink into the mysterious world of dreams. A place where I can imagine new destinations for my doing self to plot a map. It’s the time of the feminine, yin energy to sink, process, restore, and dream so that when it’s time for the masculine, yang energy to rise and take action I will know where to let the current take me. 

In a world sometimes caught up in doing, I intend to sink into and appreciate this time of non-doing; of dreaming. And when my mind feels guilty for not doing, I’ll remind it of the important work that happens in the spaces between words. I’ll remind it to honour the great power of the yin, the feminine, and the dark. For it’s the dark which forges us into who we’re meant to be.

I hope you find time to be with your dreams this winter. May they guide you home.

A Journey Home – Part 1

A Journey Home – Part 1

Welcome to part 1 of an ongoing series of personal stories. These stories are a way for you for you to get to know me and they’re a reminder for anyone who’s been through similar challenges that you’re not alone. We’re all figuring this stuff out together, and with some determination, time, and help anything can be figured out.

“You don’t belong here”.

Four words that have reverberated through my mind and body for as long as I can remember stringing sounds together. It wasn’t that “here” has been a particularly unwelcoming place. “Here” has been a peaceful country, a group of friendly people, a house, a job, a relationship. But with “here” accompanied an infinite list of stories my mind would create about whatever my current circumstances happened to be. And while the context of the story would inevitably change, four words remained unwavering: “you don’t belong here”. Each time those words rose up a ripple of pain would course through my whole being and then leave me with a paralyzing emptiness. I wanted to connect with people but it seemed impossible. I wanted someone to see me, to save me from this sea of nothingness. But how could they, when I couldn’t even see myself?

So I searched for a way out of the pain. I searched for it in liquor, in work. For moments it would mask the hurt, but I could still feel it there just below the surface, waiting for a quiet moment of reflection to attack. But I kept searching, venturing into other parts of the world. Maybe the castles of Scotland, towers of England, coral reefs of Belize, or beaches Mexico would save me? Maybe all I needed to snuff out those four words was a new “here”. And as I searched in each new place my heart would sink a little deeper, because it was never there. “I SHOULD be happy here. Why the hell aren’t I happy?!” I was unhappy and entirely pissed off about it. And with a sinking despair, I began to wonder if what I was looking for even existed. Maybe it was nowhere.

For a while, I gave up on seeking and I shifted my focus back to work, and when I wasn’t working I was with my couch and Netflix. But that time of moderate entertainment, rest and solitude somehow backfired when one I opened up a Pandora’s box of documentaries on Netflix. I learned about animal agriculture, about environmental devastation, about war, poverty, and oppression. I had already known about all of these things, having intellectually thought about how unfortunate they were. But I had never l felt them. I had never experienced them with my heart. It wasn’t until I looked deeply into the eyes of another suffering soul that I felt their suffering in my soul. And it wasn’t until I looked deeply into the body of a damaged earth I felt that damage in my own body. It was a hurt so deep and vast, and it made my heart crack wide open. The emptiness was gone, and it was replaced by a pain so unbearable that the only thing that mattered was my search for salvation. And then, as if the Universe saw me drowning, it threw me a liferaft.

I was waiting in my car outside of a store parking lot and listening to the radio when I turned to a station in mid-interview. A man was describing an image of him holding himself as a child. As he held and spoke with his inner child, he was able to hear this part of him with understanding and compassion. He was able to resolve it’s confusion and hurt and let go of a deep pain that he had been carrying for a long long time. Then he mentioned how grateful he was to have had this Ayahuasca ceremony.

Ayahuasca? What the hell was that? I began furiously googling everything I could find about Ayahuasca. There was a National Geographic article from a woman sharing her journey of overcoming her lifelong depression in an Ayahuasca ceremony. There was a mini-documentary about an artist’s journey into experiencing another world that amazed him and showed him ways that he could take better care of himself and how he now creates personal work inspired by the visions Ayahuasca shared with him. And that was it for me. I found a retreat and two weeks later I was on a plane to an Amazonian jungle in Peru. My mind didn’t have many stories as I made my way there. Instead, I felt a deep sense of peace that I was exactly where I should be.

I arrived at a retreat that felt like a little oasis, protected from the outside world with a green canopy of lush life. I found myself there with other seekers from all around the world, people who’ve come to experience this Amazonian tea and the ancient wisdom of the shamans who work with it. And whatever expectations we might have had upon arriving they would not light a candle to what unfolded. On the night of our first ceremony, my heart broke more open than I had realized possible. The seemingly infinite pain that I was holding onto began to melt into the earth. I watched memories of my life and stories from my mind come to the surface and surrender their pain. And as this happened, I started having space for something other than pain. I began to feel intense, expansive love, joy, and amazement. I could feel the moonlight washing over and nourishing me from above. I could feel myself swaying in the gentle breeze with the jungle plants. I was myself, I was the plants, and I was the moonlight. It felt profoundly and completely beautiful to be alive, to be life. I was in a world that existed beyond pain, numbness, and stories. And it was perfect.

But I couldn’t stay there forever. I had my life in Canada to come home to. And when I made it home I wanted to tell everyone about that world, about how perfect and beautiful it was. But when I tried to explain it, there wasn’t a string of relatability for anyone to grasp onto. The world I experienced there and the world here were so different, it was like explaining a dream. So I kept it to myself and over time the perfection of it faded into an echo, becoming overshadowed by the busyness of doing things and all my minds stories about things. And eventually, a faint, familiar sound started creeping back in… “you don’t belong here”. And it seemed that I had found a medicine, but not a cure.

Ayahuasca had shown me a window into what is. It was profound, beautiful and awakening. But it wasn’t my destination, not for a sustainable length of time anyway. But I realized that what I was looking for did exist. It was somewhere. And my job was to build a map to get there. A new chapter in a long journey home had begun.

Thank you for sharing in this story with me! If you’re interested in the healing practice of Chinese Energetic Medicine you can learn more about the sessions I offer HERE. If you have questions or want to reach out you can contact me HERE.