Have you ever driven a familiar route in your car, one you drive regularly to work for example, and when you got to the destination, you couldn’t remember driving it at all? Well that’s because you were operating under the influence of a network in your brain called the ‘Default Mode Network’. This network carves out tracks in the brain from repetitive actions such as the familiar route we have just talked about when driving. When we go along these tracks in the brain and in the car, we can ‘switch off’ the brain in a sense, save energy and get to the destination without being 100% aware of the journey we took. And now is the time to be waking up up from the Default Mode Network.
This may all sound very complicated, but it is worth thinking about because many of us do, in fact, spend an enormous part of our lives in this Default Mode, which includes the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, i.e. our ego or conscious sense of self. Then one day we wake up and we think, ‘how did I get here?” or “Is this really the life I should be living?“ We were at least semi-unconscious or maybe even fully unconscious as we made important decisions and took certain paths through our lives, until at one point, we realize like the fish, we are completely surrounded by water (our habitual story of ourselves and the world) and we were complete unconscious that that was our default mode.
This doesn’t just happen on an individual level. It happens collectively too. Whole communities, societies and countries follow the general consensus or, like a pendulum they get swung in a certain direction by the energy of the collective. Just like the habitual car journey to work, they aren’t fully aware of how they got there. Then one day, a large proportion of the country are in some way triggered by an event or a person and ask themselves, “What happened?” Many of the members of that community don’t believe it was anything they did, or that they had any power over the events. They feel they are victims of the system.
I envision the year 2020 as being an exceptional and vitally important year for us as individuals and as a global community. This doesn’t mean that I see it as an easy year—far from it. Yet, I do see it as a gift. A gift to break the Default Mode that has cast a spell over us, so we can become more conscious of our lives individually and collectively.
We were all going along an unconscious path. The societies and communities we were living in and the way we were working, surviving or even thriving were, to a certain extent, never questioned. This was the way life was and that was that. Until suddenly last spring that all changed.
Remember what Hunter S. Thompson said: ‘When the going gets weird, the weird go pro.’
Lockdown, fear of death, fear of the other, face coverings, job losses, conspiracy theories, quarantine, isolation, death tolls, loss of normality, profound, unpredictable change and transformation are just some of the themes that the Covid-19 virus triggered in our homes and on the world stage.
You could say 2020 is more than weird, it is tough, and my reply to that would be “When the going gets tough, the tough go pro.”
So, what does it mean to be weird and tough enough to ‘go pro’? To me, our modern society’s view of someone as being weird is often thye are being true to themselves. When being authentic is not honored as essential and is even denigrated if it goes against the ideas and values of the system, you have to be tough to stay true to yourself.
For those of us who have been striving for self-realization and living our personal myth, being weird and tough may be commonplace and having the world blown apart by Covid has brought us out of the woodwork and invited us to go pro. As the existing signposts of what was once considered normal society crumbled, our skills in navigating the unconscious realms and our weirdness have become number one survival strategies. We are now the pros in a world that has lost its compass!!
And it goes deeper than this. I really believe in Marie-Louis Von Franz’s suggestion that, ‘the wounded healer is THE archetype of the Self.’ The torch or guiding light of an authentic life is not a society that puts money and power at the helm, but our own unconscious that leads us deep into the hidden parts of ourselves and that shows us the layers that need peeling away so we can get nearer to our essence. These layers are the skins that we have built over lifetimes to survive, to protect us from traumas, to cover our wounds. He or she who takes the path of peeling away the layers, must feel the traumas and the wounds that made those layers in the first place. The feeling is the portal. “To feel is to heal.” In the same way as it hurts when we peel a plaster off a skin wound, we are invited to feel the repressed and buried emotions as we peel off the layers that kept us from feeling our pain—This is the path of the wounded healer.
2020 has snapped us out of our Default Mode Networks. The invitation is to heal and change the perspective from one where we are stuck in the ruts of unconscious behaviors to one where a deep relationship with our Selves becomes the new torch bearer. I don’t believe we will ever be ‘getting back to business as usual.’ By changing our perspective from looking outwards to learning to be highly skilled navigators of the inner experience, we can imagine a world that resonates with a collective healing vibration that comes from each person’s individual, committed, authentic inner healing journey. Like stars in the sky, we are each one of us individually responsible for bringing our healing energy and brightness to the world, and to show up from a vulnerable but real place within. As we each shine with our own light, don’t forget the wound is the place where the light gets in. We will begin to realize that our strength is not in power over others but in the vulnerability of knowing we are wounded.
The gift in Covid, I believe, is that nature has surpassed all man-made and natural boundaries and limits to show us that humans’ behavior is pushing her out of balance. It is her nature to do whatever is needed to restore her balance. She is being gentle with Covid—she is giving us a warning. And, as with the psyche, when we get a message, we need to listen to it, whether we like it or not. Otherwise the message will get stronger and stronger until we do get it or until it is too late for us.
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