For us at COR, the month of March is all about the importance of initiations. The last two newsletters (you can find the first here and the second here) have been about rebirth and transformation.

So here comes the tough part about this whole theme: before the rebirth comes a kind of death! Something old needs to be let go of for something new to emerge. And that often feels like something is dying.

Old unhelpful habits and unskillful survival strategies don’t let go easily! Yes, we do have breakthroughs where we “see the light” and realize how unnecessary these habits are. We are all lit up about letting them go— once and for all. Yet a few hours, days, weeks or months later something happens that we perceive as threatening or dangerous or simply very stressful, and —BANG!— rushing in, with full force, comes our old unskillful habit.

At the beginning of the journey, this can be really disheartening. We cannot believe we said that, or thought that, or behaved that old way again. Further down the path, we hopefully develop some compassion and understanding about the spiritual journey. It is not— at least not for myself or anyone I have ever met or worked with— a straight shot upward. It is about opening and closing, and remembering and forgetting, and then remembering again.

I myself have been on this journey for almost 40 years now. I started at about 15 years old. That is a lot of remembering and forgetting! And I’m going through another rite of passage in the last two months myself.

I have been experiencing ongoing more or less intense lower back pain in spite of all sorts of chiropractic and medical care. So, at this point in time, I am getting very acquainted with the experience of almost constant physical pain.

Now, my ego structure is very identified with being “strong,” both emotionally (“I can handle anything”) and physically (“I can do everything”). For the last two months those false beliefs that I took on as a survival strategy to make it through childhood, have been shaken to a whole new level!

My ego structure, which happens to be very stubborn (Also part of that same lovely package :-)) is really getting ground down. I now frequently experience what it is like to be unable to do a whole bunch of physical movements that I took for granted and never gave a second thought to before— like sitting on a chair for example. Additionally, if I get at all worked up emotionally and attempt to do any of my old rush-through-it and push-through-it behaviors, my back starts to spasm!

As I see it, my lower back is helping me to let go of those stubborn pieces that are still hanging on, leaving me basically no choice but to stop, relax and surrender to what is.

I’d like to offer you a simple practice for doing just that, surrendering into what is— called “The Welcoming Practice”:

First, identify an emotional charge, hurt or perceived offense in your life. Notice how this shows up in your body. It could be a clenched fist, a sinking feeling in the stomach, a tense neck or a pressure behind your eyes, for example. Pay attention to your body’s SENSATIONS associated with this emotional charge. Doing this keeps you from jumping into the judgmental mind and its looping stories of good/bad, win/lose, either/or.

Once you can identify the charge and feel it in your body as a sensation, welcome it. That means stop fighting it. It means stop blaming anyone, including yourself. It means welcome the grief, the anger, the fear or the anxiety as yours, and lean into it with curiosity, willingness, and even loving kindness.

This is difficult to do, and it goes directly against our ego structure, but for some reason, when we name our pain, feel it as a sensation, and welcome it, transformation can begin.

When we’re able to welcome our pain in this way, we actually consent to the “dying” to our false or conditioned self. The rebirth and transformation we keep talking about then can happen IN THE BODY. And in the body happens to be the place where all our survival strategies are stored— in our unconscious and in our nervous system.

Doing this welcoming practice is the most effective and efficient way I know to real transformation and lasting change.

I can’t promise the pain will leave easily or quickly.  But letting go and leaning in like this frees up a great amount of soul-energy that liberates a level of life you didn’t know existed. It leads you to your true self.

Trust me, I’ll be doing this right alongside you, my dear friends.

Love and blessings,