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Initiation

Kerry Jehanne-Guadalupe

 

Some initiations, like making the transition from childhood to adulthood, occur naturally as time unfolds. They are seen on the horizon, and one can prepare. Other times, life presents us with seemingly unexpected opportunities to undergo significant transformation, gain new insights, and be initiated into the next chapters of our lives. On such occasions, we might have had a deep-seated longing, whether consciously or subconsciously, for personal growth that prompted the sacred and transcendent to arrange our life experiences with opportunities for expansion, leading us to a deeper understanding of ourselves. Though our Higher Self may orchestrate an initiation, it can feel to our human self that we stumbled upon life experiences that challenge our existing beliefs, perceptions, or identity.

 

I think of initiations as part of our journeys toward wholeness. From this perspective, I view the common interpretations of the word initiation: the action of beginning something as well as the process of introducing someone into a group. The action of beginning can include our journeys of becoming more aligned with our truth or embarking upon embracing the next level of our power, freedom, voice, or connection to our spirits. As initiation relates to being introduced to a group, I think of initiations reintroducing us to a very large group, as in helping us remember/reintroduce ourselves back into unity/oneness.

 

When initiations are part of our path toward wholeness, what might be waiting for us as we embark upon our journey are any parts of ourselves that are not in alignment with the version of ourselves that lies on the other side of the threshold. Therefore, our journey through any threshold we may be invited to cross might come with facing our doubts or confronting our past and unprocessed pain. Our journey, inward and upward, may entail examining and integrating the outermost edges of our consciousness. It might even entail facing parts of ourselves that wish to remain as is, parts that might try to convince us that where we are heading, we should not go. Such journeys can often push us beyond our comfort zones, fostering resilience and self-discovery while being backbreaking, heartbreaking, and ego-breaking all in one.

 

Such can be the path of initiation.

 

We can come up against ourselves as we dance between the desire to experience something new and the pull to stay in old conditions. We may find ourselves torn between the allure of new experiences and the comfort of familiar routines. Embracing change may require confronting the aspects of ourselves that resist growth and prefer to remain untransformed. Parts of us may resist assistance in moving forward while being determined to find ways to sustain what no longer serves us; parts that want to figure out how to make what is not working any longer somehow still work. This struggle may be influenced by fear, a feeling of lack of safety and certainty in what is new.

 

Resistance can serve as a guiding light, directing us toward a profound breakthrough. For example, as we step forward in our power, subconscious beliefs may arise that it is not safe to be powerful. If our next chapter is about being seen, where we don’t feel safe in being seen may arise. In such moments, one's initiation can be about redefining safety by uncovering the beliefs their subconscious minds constructed to keep them safe.

 

Initiations are not necessarily the most stable and steady places to navigate. Any confusion and uncertainty about who we will be on the other side of the threshold we are facing can be medicine, disorienting as it is. When we are confident enough to be uncertain, to be undone, old aspects of us can be dismantled. Uncertainty can unravel us in such a good way. This rocky ground can be the place of deconstruction and emergence, a place where the inner power we access to cross the threshold is the very power that will become our new norm on the other side.  

 

For example, perhaps we believe we are not creative because we received feedback in the past that made us doubt our creative abilities. An initiation can be the process of breaking free of limiting beliefs and redefining ourselves as creative individuals. On the other side of the threshold can be an emergence of a newfound confidence in our creativity, which opens up opportunities and enriches our lives in unexpected ways.

 

Part of the beauty of initiations is that they can reveal uncharted territories of our consciousness that we have yet to explore, along with parts of our souls ready to come on board: an undoing and an emergence.

 

Approaching and Retreating

 

We may approach and retreat from a threshold several times in our life experience until we have built our capacities to delve a bit deeper and transcend a bit higher. The ‘muscle building’ process that comes with approaching and retreating can be necessary and required, especially when the threshold can initiate big questions, such as whether we are willing to give up everything we thought we were in order to know who we really are. Hence, we may approach and retreat from a threshold crossing until we are ready to let go of specific constructions of self.

 

The mind-body complex is necessarily strong enough to endure the 3rd-dimensional reality. It can have a solid grip that is utterly allergic to any threshold that challenges its existence. A part of us, our Higher Selves, may be drawn to the threshold, and our human self may be deathly allergic to any parts of itself dying. Hence, the dance of approach and retreat. External information about grander mysteries of our existence may chip away at our mind-body complex, but since it is built to withstand this dimension, the real chipping away, from my point of view, is from the inside.

 

The approach-retreat dance can feel like the energy of a fight, an inner battle playing out. Our old consciousness can be startled by our new consciousness, even suspicious of it. Even if our new consciousness is based on connectedness, unity, and thriving, it can come up against what we believe about ourselves. As our Higher Selves may lead us to a threshold, our human selves may put up a fight and lead us away.

 

Initiations can be a process of undoing more of our personalities (ego) to make more room for our Presence (essence). They can be deeply cleansing because as we embark upon our next chapters, what cannot exist on the other side of the threshold needs to be shed. Though we may approach and retreat from a threshold, every time our personality regains hold, it is not with the same tenacity or persistence of holding onto what it believes is real, meaningful, or necessary.

 

For example, there may be parts of ourselves that don’t believe we can cross a threshold. We can see many great movies based on real-life stories of people overcoming challenges and emerging anew or witness people in our lives who provide examples of initiations and transformations. Yet, we can believe, “Well, that kind of profound transformation happens for others but not for me.” It is the very examination of such beliefs that can help our personality surrender a bit. Sometimes, surrender can emerge when we are too tired to hold onto certain beliefs and behaviors any longer. What worked for us in the past might be crippling to us now. We may become exhausted by what is soon to be an ‘old’ way of being, and the exhaustion can start to break us down in a good way.

 

At the threshold, we may need to discover something 'new' within ourselves, such as an increased sense of personal power or unrealized potential. This so-called 'new' thing, which might have always been present, can be merely waiting to be unearthed and utilized as the required fuel for the threshold crossing; for us to depart from the old and enter the new.

 

No one can do this for us. People may journey with us to the threshold, but they cannot cross the threshold for us. We can walk each other home, as Ram Dass said, yet no one can carry us over the threshold of finding our inner light, accessing more of our truth, or connecting more with our personal power.

 

 

Dark Night of the Soul

 

Initiation can be an event or a period of time during which we come into a deeper experience of wholeness; a time when our human consciousness shifts dramatically and expands the way we perceive ourselves and the nature of reality. However wonderful that may sound, the beginning of an initiation can feel like a time of intense darkness. What we perceive as increased darkness may be an uncovering of what already exists: the darkness of the outskirts of our consciousness or the darkness of our shadows returning to us.

 

Such 'darkness' brings forth creation like a dark womb that fosters the development of life or a planted seed that allows for germination. Our inner shadow work can give birth to the next versions of ourselves. As an initiate, we can feel like we are going through a symbolic death and rebirth.

 

Death is an expansion of consciousness that we can do without physically dying.

 

The expansion of consciousness may start when we are able to integrate more of our shadows, old wounds, or patterns of behavior. If our resistance is strong, it might take many little deaths to break down the layers of resistance. Eventually, the death process helps us to integrate that which was disintegrated and, therefore, be in a position to expand. This is why our contextual and/or possible inner hells might be the very place we need to journey through to get to our inner heavens.

 

I do believe that there is a holiness to overcoming our personal hellish experiences; a liberation from healing trauma, from processing grief, from entering the dark places of our consciousness. It is from going to hell and back, from diving deep into our misery and transforming it, from facing the very parts of us that we are most afraid of that we can be the freest. The deep-down, wretchedly hard shadow work can bring forth an expansion we have yet to experience.

 

Darkness is a place where we can hide pieces of ourselves that are frightened, as well as parts we are too scared to face. There is sophistication and intelligence in leaving aspects of ourselves in the dark, not only for its protection but also for ours. We can face things when we are ready to meet them. We can bring them to light when it is safe for us to do so. Sometimes, it is too much for us to feel, or it is not even safe for us to feel because we have to deal with the intensity of a given moment or span of time.

 

To bury an aspect of us is not always denial; it can be survival. Yet, we can forget that we buried something. We get used to living without this part of ourselves. Then, we may see these aspects of ourselves as foreign, as part of the underworld, as something we need protection from. As these lost parts of ourselves long to come back to us, they can be lost and frightened, and we can be frightened of them. The pieces we have placed in the dark seek us; they seek the part of us that remained in the light. As we welcome these pieces, I believe we heal our hearts and become more and more whole.

 

While we may instinctively shy away from confronting our darker aspects, true completeness lies in embracing them. So, while we can actively avoid the dark, we seek it; if we seek wholeness, we seek what we left in the dark. It's paradoxical - we avoid darkness yet yearn for wholeness, which can only be achieved by integrating what we've kept hidden in the shadows.

 

I believe that bringing the darkness into wholeness is some of the highest work we can do. Our shadow can hold an ever-present mystery, urging us to delve into its essence to decipher its wisdom and significance.

 

The Illusion of No Escape

 

In times of contentment and inner balance, we might perceive our darker tendencies—like jealousy or spite—as choices we can actively reject. We recognize that we have the power to opt for kindness and positivity instead. However, when we're engulfed in difficult times, it can seem as though we're trapped in the darkness indefinitely, with no apparent route to the light. In moments of brightness, darkness can seem like a conscious decision we're capable of avoiding. Conversely, when immersed in darkness, accessing the light can feel daunting and out of reach. There can be an illusion in the darkness that there is no escape.

 

Some may feel that they will never escape/transcend if they venture into their shadow. Yet, the darkness doesn't imprison us. It's the darkness, our unconsciousness, that can liberate us, as it can connect us to our inner power and potential. That which can prevent us from crossing a threshold can be the exact fuel we need to spark our embarking upon the next versions of ourselves.

 

One could argue that when we get the slightest hint that the illusion of no escape from the darkness is not true, a glimmer of light begins to shine. Yet, to not look directly at any aspect of us that might actually pick up some dark mud and plaster where the light is shining is to deny that it is sometimes our own shadow that creates the illusion of no escape. There are endless parts of us, of our very own selves, that could be willing to pick up the mud and plaster, such as our unconscious beliefs. The key out of the darkness may be in the mud we ourselves are holding.

 

The mud, our shadow, our unconscious, our old wounds, can be untapped wisdom and the very fuel we need to jettison ourselves through a threshold. There can be much magic in learning how to dance with our shadow, to know it, to feel it in order to integrate it. I am not denying the agony one can feel from emotions and corresponding thoughts and beliefs; I am only honoring our human capacity for integration and transformation.

 

It makes sense to me that we sometimes go through our darkness to know the light, as we exist in duality, move within the essence of every contradiction, experience separation and unity. We forget then recollect. Since it is not only part of our dualistic experience but a useful one, I try my best to remember to be willing to fully immerse myself in that realm until it deconstructs me to the point where I can access what is needed to cross a threshold and initiate myself into the next chapter of my life.

 

As we approach a threshold during a process of initiation, we can connect to the vital force that feeds our dance for life. In crossing a threshold, we may find ourselves more in tune with our radiant essence, our inner power amplified. From this vantage point, we embrace the mystery of this elevated stage of existence, radiating with greater intensity until we're prepared for the next phase of growth.



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