An avid reader, I always have books scattered around my space. Some have taken me months to read just once. Others I devour in a day, oblivious to everything else around me. There are a few though that I come back to again and again.
Some of the books I keep coming back to are Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, The Presence Process by Michael Brown and lately one I haven’t read for a few years, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.
Those books are the ones that rewire my thinking and train my mind to navigate life with more awareness. They are the kind of books that are like friends I’ve developed relationships with over a long period of time.
Eventually they gain my trust enough for me to truly hear what they have to say. Not only am I able to hear what they have to say, I’m able to apply the knowledge I’ve gained into real-life situations because I’ve taken the time to let their words sink down to the causal level of creative energy in me.
When I can’t sleep or my mind starts loops based on nothing in reality, these are some of the friends I connect with to gently shift my perspective. The words teach me how to move with thought and emotion rather than becoming “spellbound” by something I may be projecting or someone else may be projecting onto me. They also give me guidance on how to write about my own experience.
Estés uses mythology from a variety of cultures to explore the psychological processes of growth and the cycles that move us into and out of life. She writes of the impulse to change,“We all begin the process before we are ready, before we are strong enough, before we know enough; we begin a dialogue with thoughts and feelings that both tickle and thunder within us.”
As a writer who has filled journals since I was eight, I’ve grappled my whole life with wondering what exactly it is I wish to share and how to share it. It seems as though Estés is speaking directly to this internal tension in me when she writes, “We respond before we know how to speak the language, before we know all the answers, and before we know exactly to whom we are speaking.”
I write in the present without knowing exactly where it will take me. At one point I burned over sixty journals because I recognized all the content in them related to the implanted idea there was something inherently wrong/sinful about me. The eulogy I wrote for that book funeral was the beginning of a new cycle in exploring life through writing.
As I’ve made writing a regular practice, I’ve seen a multitude of personal experiences get processed both through the action of writing and the passage of time as I come back to the words to see them from a different angle based on new experiences.
Michael Brown writes about process in a way that helps readers start to create a new mental framework that works alongside body awareness and breath.
“Realizing what ‘process’ involves isn’t just a mental realization, but requires an integrated emotional, mental, and physical experience. Awakening to the value of process work is rare in a world of instant gratification. It powerfully impacts the quality of our experience because life in the present is an ongoing organic process,” he writes.
Much of what I’ve written so far has evolved from a purely mental perspective to one that includes the wide range of emotional response and movement inherent in being human.
A New Earth came back into my life a couple weeks ago at the recommendation of a friend who has walked with me through some of the most challenging aspects of being human. Tolle writes about some of those challenges:
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”
Using words to connect with each other can be awkward and messy. It’s easy for me to come back to a book that isn’t projecting anything onto me. The challenge of relating to life in a way that is honest and sincere lies in taking what I read and continually applying it to real-life scenarios.
I do this by continually coming back to my breath, writing about what is happening right now and allowing life to move with me and through me, bringing me people, more books and experiences that take me into deeper connection with the creative principle of the universe.
What rises out of heat generated by the creative vortex of the present moment isn’t my concern. When I forget that, I can revisit the words that train me out of dysfunctional socialization and the belief that to be successful my life must look a certain way.
As I cycle back down to the causal point of the creative process, I realize my perspective has changed since I read the words last. The new vision shows me emerging pathways both internally and externally. With the depth and patience required to stay present with the process of life, the creative force is fed and renewed for the next time through the never-ending cycle of growth.