Explore experiences and lessons learned at the intersection of family dynamics and spiritual growth during the holidays.
“If you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family” – Ram Dass
This holiday I got my ass handed to me.
It was probably the most difficult Christmas I’ve had besides the first one after the passing of my father.
With these challenges came growth and new awareness. It was hard, but I am grateful for it all.
I thought I’d share my experience and then conclude the post with some takeaways from the experience you might find helpful.
Tis The Season for Family And Spiritual Growth
My fiancee and I flew into New York to see some friends on the 21st. I don’t really drink anymore, but I love the taste of beer. It it was Christmas and I was with two of my best friends from college who like to drink so I thought I’d treat myself and get one. We had a good time, but later that night my body went into complete chaos and I basically didn’t sleep.
We got to my mom’s the next day and I struggled through the day after not having slept the night before. My awareness was on high alert knowing that my patterns were likely to be elevated at home.
Despite taking it easy, my health continued to spiral leading up to Christmas day. I felt incredibly uncomfortable in my stomach and also a bit lightheaded at times.
On Christmas day, I got into a big argument with my mom and said some hurtful things.
One of my patterns that surfaces with my parents is “don’t tell me what to do.”
I am so blessed to have loving parents and I love them very much. However, my parents thought that telling me their opinions on what to do my whole life was them being helpful. This is common in our culture as cited in the book Hunt, Gather, Parent where the author shared that it’s common for American parents to tell their kids what to do 100 times a day.
I know now they were doing the best that they could, but my unconscious inner child found this incredibly repressive. I now see there was a feeling of not being able to “just do and be me” as I tried to be a perfect little boy. All of this resulted in a lot of latent anger that was built up over the years that can now get triggered when adults try to tell me what to do. This was the real reason why there was a blow up that made me temporarily unconscious and react the way I did. Not because the content of the conversation was incredibly offensive.
Thankfully, we were able to move beyond this and have a nice rest of the day. Here is a picture of me and my fiancee at my cousins.
The day after Christmas, we traveled to my fiancee’s parents in Florida. On the way to the airport, I was feeling incredibly off and had a ton of anxiety. I usually can get into a calm relaxed state, but when we got to our gate I started to feel very disassociated. It was like I was just looking around the airport and wondering who or where I was. This lit a fire on the anxiety. I considered not boarding the plane, but sucked it up because I felt like I had already screwed up the holidays enough by getting in a fight with my mom.
The next day I was still feeling a bit disassociated and it felt like I had a 30 lb vest on my chest. We were binging Harry Potter and while sitting on the couch I started to find it a bit hard to breathe. All of these physical sensations further spurred racing thoughts on all the potential things that could be going wrong with my body. I tried to just watch the thoughts as thoughts vs. perceive them as forecasts of an imminent future. But with the presence of such pronounced physical discomfort, this was very hard. We went for a walk and I nearly passed out so we went to the ER. We were there for 6 hours and they told me everything looked fine.
I was relieved, but also concerned because I still felt immensely uncomfortable. We spent two more days at my fiancee’s parents and I tried my best to put on a happy face while enduring what felt like a mini dark night of the soul.
We got back to Austin on the 29th and my body started to quiet down. I had a very deep meditation the next day and had lots of revelation. I connected my heart to both my father and mother’s hearts and felt an immense healing.
In addition to our consciousness having patterns or imprints, our hearts do as well. To connect with your heart you simply get into a calm peaceful state, and with a quiet mind and direct intent and speak to your heart.
Using this technique, I asked “what does my father’s heart feel like” and “what does my mother’s heart feel like?” Very clear information emerged and I was able to reconcile wounds at the heart level on both sides that had yet to be examined. I felt an immense opening and lots of mucus that had been stuck in my throat came up and out my nose with some tears providing immense relief.
Later in the day, the idea of listening to a meditation a healer in Austin sent me popped into my awareness. I checked in with my inner guidance and followed the instructions to do it. The healing meditation was about being the chain breaker in your family of a particular karmic situation. During this meditation, I had flashes of memories emerge from my early childhood that were very traumatic that my consciousness had conveniently filed away for almost 30 years. A clear picture of the chain I was supposed to break emerged.
I spent about an hour accepting what had happened, releasing the energy behind it, and opening my heart to forgive the person who merely was imitating what had happened to them. This chain had probably gone on for generations. In my meditation, I could clearly see there was at least 3. Mountains of rage erupted from my body during this exercise. I just watched it as the awareness and let it all come out however it wanted to.
I felt a big opening where there had been tightness that had made my breathing hard. All sorts of connections between struggles I had been experiencing in my own physical body and the events that I now was aware of clicked perfectly. I realized like many times before, that the physical body was trying to give me clues to bring the trauma to my awareness so that I could be set free.
I now see that the intense anger, anxiety and physical duress that I had been going through the past week was probably accentuated or even catalyzed by seeing the person who had hurt me as a child. This was happening at the heart and energetic level beyond the conscious mind, I just didn’t know it at the moment. I was completely unaware until I got home and the divine was finally ready to show me what had been buried inside me for nearly 30 years.
On New Years Eve we went to a friends house for a party. Within 30 minutes, I started to get immense chest pains again and we had to leave. I was very disappointed as I again, felt like I was the buzzkill of the night. That night I finally said, “okay, whatever you want to do with this body, do it.” I truly meant it which meant facing my mortality. It was very hard, but freeing.
I then woke up in the middle of the night and with a completely blank mind, my hand starting massaging my body. It was going in circles in all the places I had been feeling discomfort. Intuitively, I knew that there was new, healthy Qi being inserted in those places and I was experiencing a healing. I also experiencing many unwinding type experiences with my hands and arms as if I had rope that had been wrapped around me that was now being undone. This went on for about 30 minutes. These type of almost “surgeries” are things I have experienced a number of times and are common in shamanic plant medicine ceremonies. I felt immense peace and joy when this was over.
This wasn’t exactly how I drew up the holidays. But I am grateful for it.
Here are some takeaways from this experience.
Use Your Reactions to Family As Your Teacher
Family And Spiritual Growth go hand in hand. It represents one of the biggest opportunities to grow spiritually. With family or loved ones, we can put our guard down. In the safety net of unconditional love our egos are not as worried about avoiding social catastrophe. This allows us to react to events without the filters we may unconsciously put in place in other situations.
Between this and lots of residual patterns built up over years being with family, there are heightened chances that you may get triggered when you are together. You can practice karma yoga by using your response of life to go inward when this happens.
My spiritual teacher would always tell me that these times with family represent pure gold for our awakening.
The Subconscious Holds The Keys
Our self preservation mechanisms do a fantastic job of burying things from our past for our perceived survival. They save us from re-experiencing the pain of past experience and any perceived demise that may come from lashing out in public. The ego and consciousness are like the watchmen of danger that does everything to run the programs in the form of behaviors that it thinks will protect it.
The only ways that I know of on how to reconnect with the subconscious is through quieting your mind in some form of stillness like meditation, interpreting dreams, or plant medicine. The content of our subconscious are the unseen drivers or our experience. It is up to us to take responsibility and have the courage to examine it so that we can move beyond the patterns and programming become the masters of our lives.
You Will Receive the Information When You Are Ready
I know I didn’t go into immense detail on the content of the trauma I realized, but what I can say is that I was equipped to handle it now in ways that I would not have been able to even a year ago.
It would have been nice to know about this earlier in life, but it also might have caused more harm than good. You must trust the divine will reveal things in your awareness in perfect timing. I know this might be hard to accept, but with trust comes peace.
One thing I struggled with a lot, was there was an intense spiritual drivenness. A desire to get enlightened as quickly as possible through effort and discipline. At a certain point, this holds you back. You must let go of this and realize that life will present itself at the pace of your readiness. With this recognition, everything is more enjoyable. There is nothing to do as all the lessons you need will be presented to you in perfect timing.
Working at the Heart Level
“The heart’s electrical field is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain. This field, measured in the form of an electrocardiogram (ECG), can be detected anywhere on the surface of the body.”
The heart is the most powerful mechanism for change we have. This is hard to understand until you begin to open up to the point where you can move beyond the thinking mind and work at the heart level…but trust me, it’s real!
Sarah Blondin You can begin to get comfortable with working with the heart by practicing it so that you can tap into the most powerful source of healing and divine inspiration.
That Which You Resist, Persists
Every time there is a thought of mastery of surrender, life finds a way to humble me.
If you are taken out of pure awareness and try to “fight” the negative thoughts arising, they are bound to persist. This can cause you to spiral which then results in all types of physical manifestations. It is much more profitable to just surrender fully to whatever is arising, even if it is incredibly scary like your mortality. As described in this youtube series, surrendering does not mean accepting a fate. It is means allowing something in the moment and only takes 30 seconds. This is a common misconceptions when discussing the practice of surrender in the context of thoughts. All you are doing is allowing for whatever is arising to be. It does not mean that by surrendering to a thought’s existence some bad thing will manifest in reality when you accept it is there. Quite the opposite actually.
Patterns (Samskaras) Can Be Passed Down Generationally
I increasingly have evidence in my own experience that energetic patterns can be passed down through your family. Many physicalists would like to claim that this is due to nurture or imitation, however, many things which I have had to face in deep states are ones that I’ve had no prior exposure to.
I don’t know that you need to go out and seek energetic signatures from your family, but it might be helpful to see if there are any commonalities expressed physically or emotionally in your ancestry. Go into a deep state and practice inquiry as to why this might be. What is the mental thought form that is driving this concept? I have heard of programs like family constellation therapy however it is not something I have done.
Your Biology Tells Yours Biography
Your consciousness drives the body. This is not only true of you what is happening in the conscious mind, but also the unconscious mind. When you hear people say mind-body connection, it is inclusive of both. Because the unconscious is less understood it largely goes unacknowledged. It reminds me of this instagram post where Cory Muscara lists out his learnings after meditating 15 hours a day for 6 months with a revered monk.
I will talk about this more in a future post, but the reason this happens is because consciousness desires to realize and experience itself. To do this, it must remove the impediments often buried in the unconsciousness that block this from occurring. The mechanism is to orchestrate reality so that this learning can occur and what must be seen, can be seen.
My hope for everyone is that they can realize this so they can heal and become authors of their bodies vs. unconscious subjects. There are many great books on this that I am listing at the end of this post.
The next time your body or health is behaving in a challenging way, I encourage you to go inward and examine what it is trying to tell you. Our bodies are here to help us in more ways than simply sustain our existence so that we can be entertained. They are here for our growth. It is the ultimate desire of consciousness which creates the body to expand and experience itself. The body plays an integral role in this process though most of western society does not yet understand this.
Pay attention to reality which is really emanating from consciousness. Talk to your body. See what it says and whether it resonates with you.
Life is a spiritual practice. Reality presents itself for your evolution, in perfect timing. Although it is not always easy, I have great reverence for it all. When we come to view the purpose of our life in this way, it makes it much easier to be grateful for whatever comes our way.
Recommended reading on mind/body connection:
- Anatomy of the Spirit
- When the body says no
- The Divided Mind
- The Encyclopedia of Ailments & Disease: How to Heal the Conflicted Feelings, Emotions, and Thoughts at the Root of Disease
- Recall Healing’s Pyramid of Health