Photo of J'aime ona Pangaia

Spend More Time With Roses

by J'aime ona Pangaia
Copyright 2014

What is it like to embark on the inner journey that Voice Dialogue leads us through?
For many, many people, it’s a very exciting process. We finally get to reconnect with parts of ourselves that we’ve pushed down and away from our everyday lives, but have often felt hints of. It’s a journey of discovery of the most intimate form. Becoming a more conscious, self-aware person begins with awareness of our selves, our sense of personal identity: who/what we believe we are. As we truly embrace the reality of these various parts of ourself, the most common reflection is that each person begins to feel an uncanny sense of more wholeness and less definiteness. This wholeness leads to a lightening up, a sense of acceptance of not only our own various inner selves, but also for those very same selves as we encounter them in other people and honor them as well. As we become less defined as being a certain way, we also feel more possibilities.

Do not sit long with a sad friend.
When you go to a garden,
do you look at thorns or flowers?
Spend more time with roses and jasmine!
~ Rumi (1207 - 1273) Sufi Mystic Poet

I am inspired by this quote of Rumi’s. There’s a simple wisdom in it: follow the ones who already carry the energy of where you aspire to be. I remember hearing from people who spoke of their psycho-spiritual development as a struggle, hard work, a fight for freedom, for recognition and acceptance. Their message was communicated with a sense of seriousness and heaviness. They were not what I would recognize as happy people, even though, they actually had much good fortune in their lives. They were locked in selves who saw life as unfair, a profound struggle and this carried over into their psycho-spiritual approach as well. For each one of us, life has thorns and blooms, and we have selves who see life as a struggle and other parts of ourselves who see it as ‘rosy.’ What if we hold all that with a light touch and simply allow what is most luminescent to guide us-whether we experience this from somewhere within ourselves or from another (person, place, being)? What too, if we trust the darkness within ourselves to also be part of the truth of wholeness? All that we deem as beautiful and all that we regard as ugly. What a profound daring it is, to aspire to wholeness.
A well known message of Hal and Sidra Stone is to honor and embrace all our inner selves - meaning both the primary ones we’re identified with and those other selves we had disowned in the past. This practice is as much about letting go of attachments as it is about redemption and reconciliation. The ‘proof’ of honoring them is paradoxically to ‘separate' from being identified with them. We differentiate from them: “I have this self yet I am not this self.” What honors them is not a self (that could be a form of narcissism), it’s the Unconditional Awareness that Is No Self that sees and allows for the relative reality of them without judgment. This is a Seer without having a center. This 'Seer' has a quality of ambience, of an ‘atmosphere of Benevolent Awareness.' Without this key differentiation from the selves, we are still simply unconsciously being it and defending them (who we think we are), demanding from others to be ‘honored.’
At times, some people will find the process of discovering their primary selves staggering and even difficult because they’ve been so unaware of them - they’re just being them! (“But, they say: *I* AM a responsible person.” ~ or ~ “Feeling connected with others IS important/ essential to *me*.” ~or ~ “*I* don’t care what other people think.") I found this true for myself. After learning Voice Dialogue almost three decades ago, first from a new student of the Stones and then on to studying directly from the Stones and also then having been facilitated many times, I was finally brought to consciousness of one of my most primary selves after about four years! This astonished me (that self). It was as if this self was in the center of a circle, busily exploring many other selves on the perimeter and it had never occurred to anyone to point out what self was in the middle of it all! This self was adamantly opposed to the idea that it was a self. Instead, it believed that it was the basis of awareness. It was me, according to this self. Until… until the awareness that shines from the heart of being saw directly and knew this self, as a self, let it just be there still, this self. In that moment, that self transformed from a ‘me’ into a means, a way of being - not who or what I was. In that moment of practicing, “I” became undefinable and and Undefinable Being still had this (self) and yet also other ways (selves) of experiencing life.
That experience also allowed me to see that self’s limitations as well, something that was previously invisible as long as I was being that self. Now, nearly 30 years later, this is still an important part of me, but I am no longer confined, in a sense, to experiencing life predominantly through that self pattern. I could make the analogy that my creative palette has gotten more diversified, and now I am more able to use and to ‘blend more colors’ of being. Luckily too, that particular self remains a rich avenue of experience for me, and at times, I can still get immersed in it for awhile. Once we ‘wake up’ to a self, we are likely still to ‘fall back asleep’ to the awareness of it. This is why Voice Dialogue is best considered as an on-going practice. We keep practicing, through the very helpful art of Voice Dialogue facilitation, and we get conditioned to waking up more frequently to those habitual selves. Each time I do this, I know more, not merely intellectually, but with that knowing that resides in the heart of being.
For some people, it’s the hope of being able to reconnect with lost potentials that attracts them to Voice Dialogue. When I started to differentiate from that primary self, it opened the doors for me to discover and incorporate other parts of me that had been discarded as too risky, too vulnerable. It’s often our disowned selves who feel the attraction to the Voice Dialogue process: whether they are the parts of us who long for more connection, or instead, for better boundaries, or for more stability, or for more adventure, etc., etc.. Those parts of us jump at the chance to express themselves and their frustration during Voice Dialogue sessions. They long for redemption and integration. However, the work begins with recognizing and separating from the parts of ourselves that we are most identified with. We (those selves) are what relentlessly and habitually holds back the greater parts of our nature from coming into timely possibility. In this case, through the Voice Dialogue process, we are removing the obstacles to our fullness, not by removing the selves that are ‘in the way’, but by releasing our identification with them.

Birth is not the beginning, Death is not the end.”
~Chuang – Tsu (399 - 295 bce) Chinese Philosopher

When we embark on a consciousness journey, it can feel like both a birth and a death. To those parts of us that hold onto the familiar, the changes that are invoked through the consciousness journey can feel like an end. And it can be an end - the end of an established and ordered way of seeing, thinking and being in the world. It’s true that there are parts of us who simply exist to prevent change by doing their best to maintain reality as they know it. With a consciousness process, we can simply see these parts of ourselves with an accepting compassion and and emergent non-attachment. To those parts of us that orient towards novelty, discovery and freedom, the consciousness journey feels like initiation, beginning, birth. Again, we can train ourselves to see, recognize and allow without becoming fixedly identified with this either. So, it is all and neither of these exclusively. The question centers on this: Are you ready to respond to the inner summons, to the calling of consciousness?

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone. As if life were a progressive and cunning crime with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely, even you, at times, have felt the grand array; the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding out your solo voice You must note the way the soap dish enables you, or the window latch grants you freedom. Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity. The stairs are your mentor of things to come, the doors have always been there to frighten you and invite you, and the tiny speaker in the phone is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation. The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last. All the birds and creatures of the world are unutterably themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

-- David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press