It’s been a fantastic time to meditate. (Yes, of course it always is!) That slowing of everything, of our metabolism, if we let it happen – it also slows our perception of reality. If we can stay present, and side step the sleepiness, that slowing lets us really awaken to the texture and delicious precious fields of insight that lie within.

Right on time, as I’ve been deepening my meditation, and stepping into the inky blackness of my own source, up surged the darkly encrusted funk of the shadowy unconscious realm. A deep pattern of conditioning emerged – pre-verbal, deep trauma of this lifetime- a pattern that has completely flavoured and curtailed vibrancy in every single aspect of my life. I was ready to heal it, and thrilled to have my friend and colleague Daisy Nokes as a guide in this work – and so here’s what I did.

I dove into it. And for one of the few times in my life, I felt absolutely no resistance at all. It was that wordless surrender, that whole self participation in feelings so raw, so uncomfortable – in any other time I would have struggled to pull away.

There is nothing more blissful than releasing to what is really true. That communion with REALITY, just as it is, is just so beautiful, even if it’s shadowy and bleak.

In the deepest healings of my life, I have had to step right into the pain. Every time, it was a moving into all the feelings I’d ever repressed, all of the hurt and anguish that laid that the pattern down in the first place. It’s like moving into each one of the contractions of my being, and seeing the world from that devastated point of view. Each little place of pain. And letting it happen, completely.

This time, all that pain came up, indeed – but there was another dimension. The more the pain feeling intensified… the more the quality of AWAKENESS increased. No safety net in this territory. No ‘what happens next’. Just with it, now. The pain, now. Awake , awake to this moment of pain fully.

I used to be depressed – for years, in fact. Anyone who has been depressed knows the twinge of dread that arises when even a shade of that depressed feeling comes up. When depression finally subsides, the relief is so immense… any trace of it returning is met with a swift tide of fear. In the past, if I felt a wave of that immutable heaviness, and I would rush to a yoga class, or go straight to my cupboard for the mood enhancing supplements to protect my wellbeing. I would react with a full tilt defense of my steady temperament, as though that feeling were the enemy.

Nowadays, on the occasions that I have those twinges of depressed feeling – it’s as though this big AWAKENESS, this deep spacious aliveness, intensifies. That depression used to feel like wanting to die – now it feels like an awakening to life. It’s so weird, and counter-intuitive. And achingly beautiful. Now I occasionally have nostalgia for that experience! Incredible.

Such were my movements through my shadows of late. And after the worst of it – a sweeping rush of freedom. Unexpected, and without design, up surged the great freedom as that pattern lifted right out of my tissues. Seeing the world without that distortion has been like seeing it for the first time. Whole new paradigms of desire and possibility have spontaneously emerged. How graceful, how graceful it all is, it seems to me.

So many of my teachers talk about the way in which the process of awakening is a death of the self. And it is experienced, so they say – and so I have felt myself – as a death.

I keep saying, when people ask how I am – that I am leading an epic life. In fact, I am dying. And it has this beautiful, epic quality, like a vast canyon. I feel more and more of me dies with each movement of healing. It really is like ‘less Leila’ in the house. It’s delicious, uncanny, surprising… and totally ordinary.

What is left as I die and die? This bright awakeness – this space for truth and life – this is what is left. Undifferentiated Light is what is left. Awake in the Shadow of whatever I have tucked away or aside, from the contracted folds of my distortions… I awaken as Light itself.

Last week, I set the intention to surrender more and more to the deep core will inside me that invites this death.

I am celebrating outwardly as well as inwardly. I am wearing black more than I have since I left the art world in my 20’s. I find myself drawn to be awake in the nighttime. I want to smear as much smudgy black stuff on my eyes as possible. I keep feeling into the endless night sky at the core of my body – and doing the practices and rites that send me into that ceaseless quiet.

So much of the New Age and current spiritual talk is around the amplification of the positive and diminishment of the negative. It’s all ‘Light, Light , Light – and create your own reality with your awesome mood…’. Fair enough. It’s good to feel good. Yet all of my teachers, since I started this path 20 years ago, have counseled me to embrace and profoundly embody all of the frequencies of life – all of the pain and anguish and negativity – everything. They have encouraged me to sit deeply with the truth of my experience, rather than trying to control reality in any way.

I truly feel I am experiencing the deep and soulful benefits of this approach. The peacefulness I feel, in the midst of everything, is unprecedented.

I am so grateful to the example these teachers have shown me into how to hold my seat even as the inner slings and arrows came my way.

I truly am leading an epic, and exquisitely beautiful life. And I am grateful to die like this – again and again.

And letting my body sleep and rest, and eating the food I need to facilitate this, and staying slow – it’s all a part of it. I know that this level of release is resting on my years of practice and experience. It’s not some leap into madness, or an excuse to self-harm in the name of healing. This path is not for everyone. Until you’re called, some other healing may be necessary. But I want to share my truth, as I always do here. And I want to ask the questions I am really curious about.

How do you plumb your own depths? What underneath the surface of your experience is calling you? Are you meeting pain anew, without resistance?

Let me know how you are doing. You know I love to hear from you.