From Breakdown to Breakthrough


Turning Breakdowns into Breakthrough
Candice Schutter - theMessenger, December 2008

Sometimes a breakdown can be the beginning of a kind of breakthrough, a way of living in advance through a trauma that prepares you for a future of radical transformation.
- Cherrie Moraga

 
Life is a series of breakthroughs.
 
Consider the way in which we come into the world. Quite literally breaking through, we begin the cycle of life as we know it. We are pushed into being by a force beyond our control. What lies on the other side of the trauma that we are experiencing is unknown, and is therefore feared. Soon we learn that the same force that pushed us into the world is the essence of nourishment and safety. Nevertheless, in the moment of birth and emergence, we cry out as the light pierces the veil of darkness. Naturally, we wince at a power that exceeds comprehension.

 
We spend the rest of our life re-living this birth pattern, comforts followed by contractions. These contractions often come to us as breakdowns - some aspect of our life threatening to dissolve. Each time, life is leading us to a new emergence (greater light) so that we might experience more brilliance - of insight, of connection, of purpose. Through each and every breakdown - however dark it may seem - is the womb through which more light will emerge. Thus, each breakdown is a breakthrough - a state of emergenc-y in the truest sense.
 
If we so choose, we may reframe our approach to the emergencies of life. There is no denying that such seasons of change can be painful and confusing. The time spent in the midst of breakdown is a time of contraction requiring strength and endurance, and can be especially difficult if the light of breakthrough cannot be readily seen in the distance. A breakdown forces us from the comfort of the status quo so that we might acknowledge what we have too long denied. We have become dependent on habits that we have outgrown, and we are being forced to take our life to the next level.
 
Generally, breakdowns are met with fear. (Just look no further than current state of our financial sectors for evidence of this on a cultural level). The natural energy of fear is contraction, withdrawal, and sometimes panic. In times of breakdown, we are conditioned to feel smaller as we are faced with a force beyond our control. We may feel defeated, ill-equipped, and unsure of what is to come. In essence, we ask the same questions that we did not have words for as we emerged from the womb - where oh where could these contractions be taking us?!
 
I suggest we approach this time of contraction with consciousness, introspection, and a certain degree of trust. Activate your inner witness, and assess what is no longer in harmony with your most heartfelt desires. Ask yourself: What habits have I outgrown? How am I being asked to change? In what ways am I limiting the possibilities in my life? And, what am I most afraid of? In this way, we consciously engage with each contraction, willingly and openly breathing through the waves of challenge in the hope of greater insight.
 
Yet awareness, while most essential, is only the yin of it. In the end - and only you will know when it is time - you must be prepared to engage the yang within...to push your way out. Contractions get closer together; discomfort forces you into action...and you facilitate your own rebirth by taking courageous steps that align you with the potential you are stepping into.
 
Listening to the wisdom of breakdown, we learn from it, and thereby facilitate breakthroughs in our own lives. Keep in mind, reflection can be made easier in the company of a coach, an ally, or a dear friend. When we are held in the spirit of self-empathy, fear is transmuted into power. When navigated consciously, fear can actually be used as a wisdom that results in a more expansive you. Just as contractions enable birth, if allowed, fear enables new life. Contraction begets expansion. Breakdown begets breakthrough.
 
Keep in mind, most breakthroughs happen in stages. Each and every contraction bringing more awareness of how we must continually move and grow. Take it one step at a time, and know that the joy of a new path is emerging:
 

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERS

by Portia Nelson
 
Chapter I:
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.
 
Chapter II:
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place
but, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
 
Chapter III:
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
 
Chapter IV:
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
 
Chapter V:
I walk down another street.

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Respond to the Now, Release the How


Respond to the Now, Release the How
Candice Schutter - theMessenger, June 2008

It is choice... that determines your destiny.
- Jean Nidetch


As a coach, I come across people everyday who are in a season of transition. Often I sit with a client as she weighs her options on the various aspects of her life. Be it venturing out on a new career path, taking a relationship to the next level, or rising from a season of depression, people come looking for a container of grace in which all facets of a situation can be seen more clearly.

Through experience, I have learned to trust in the power of language as a tool for transformation. The simple act of attending to our inner dialogue has the power to change the course of our thinking...and of our lives. When teaching exercises in conscious communication, I suggest we flag certain words in order to shift the flow of energy in our minds and hearts. This creates a reset function in our minds and can be the key ingredient to shift a mental construct for good.

Make Choices vs. Decisions
When I hear a client say, “I need to decide, and I'm just not sure what to do." It is then I know that choice is the medicine of the moment. To decide in a moment of ambivalence forces a false sense of finality to the present moment. I invite us to honor the now of our reality, rather than focusing on the how (which is a function of the future, taking us out of the moment). S
ometimes when we feel pressure to make decisions (knowing how), rather than choices (knowing now), we inadvertently disempower ourselves. We make assumptions about the future and add unnecessary weight to our choices - assuming we know where each will lead us over time. We bind ourselves to a way of being that may serve us in the moment, yet not necessarily long-term. And, most of all, we rob ourselves of the freedom to experience the miracle that is a change of heart.

Choices are authentic, in-the-moment, and ever-changing... just as we are! To choose is to evoke the essence of self acceptance and allows room for growth. Choice is a privledge meant to evolve us towards more responsible expressions of who we are in the world. The highest choices are those that create more peace, love, and harmony in the world around us. We can decide to change the world, but can only happen one choice at a time.

So try this: practice presence. And if and when you feel the weight of decision upon you, choose what feels right in the moment instead. Respond to the now and release the how.

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How To Be a Woman

How To Be A Woman
May 13, 2008 by Candice Schutter
(response to
How to Be A Man by Steve Pavlina)

The Yin Warrior is an ancient archetype, and a woman of a new and enlightened world. She is the wayshower for the many who yearn for the Feminine to re-emerge as compassionate, empathic leadership.

The Order of Life for the Yin Warrior is:
Instinct: elemental connection with her environment (her physical body being the most important environment to fully embody)
Intuition: the way that life speaks to and through her through Instinct (felt sensation) as a foundation
Interdependence: how her instincts and intuitions enable her to effectively interact with others in relationships

For too long the Yin Warrior has been asleep in our culture. The Order of Life for women has been operating backwards. Relationships are often put before all else - overriding both the impulses of Instinct and Intuition. Intuition has been overshadowed by measurable truths or mistaken for mystical fantasy. And Instinct - spoken through the physical body world - has become a vehicle in which to meet desired ends, rather than a sacred space to embody as the foundation of life.

Let's re-visit The Order of Life for the Yin Warrior through some of her many tools:

INSTINCT
A woman has a visceral knowing - being one with the earth. She understands the elemental dust from which she - and all things - arise from and return to. She embraces the body in its curvaceous celebration of the cyclical nature of form. The body is her temple and instinct is the voice of the Earth itself echoing through its walls. As the space through which life enters, she is masterful at understanding energetic landscapes and the weather patterns of the life unfolding all around her. Her body speaks volumes through sensation.

Sensation
She becomes silent enough to attend to the winds within her body and its resulting rhythms. Harmony is found in nature and her connection to it. All of life around her is Nature speaking to her. She asks: Are you listening? How is the flow of the Body World supporting your desires in the moment? Is there resistance? In which direction can your steer the vessel of your life so that flow is found again? She makes choices that yield to a rhythm her body can move through with ease. She cultivates strength by befriending grace and sensation as allies. She is a master of patience in the birth of all things.

Perhaps most importantly in this time of women-against-women... she puts down her sword of judgement once and for all. The Yin Warrior wields no weapon. She shines with an Open Heart - as it is the only "protection" she needs. When anyone (including another woman!) speaks, the Yin Warrior listens with her entire body. She overrides the cultural tendency to self-compare (attire, physique, age, etc); competition is meaningless to her. Instead she hears what is being said beneath the surface of things, using her body as a fine-tuned instrument of presence and discernment so that she may re-create harmony.

Harmony
She makes her personal well-being a first priority and a felt sensation. She asks: When something "goes wrong" in your environment, where do you go to address the disharmony? Do you frantically resist your environment outside, hoping to change your internal landscapes? What does it take to restore a sense of balance in your body and heart? The Yin Warrior cultivates self-love by taking overt actions that affirm how her life matters to her.

The Yin Warrior listens to her own rhythms and instincts first and foremost. She feels no need to criticize, gossip, or complain... for she understands all impulses rippling in and around her are mirrors through which to see herself more clearly. She looks closely in such moments, and discerns how she might care for herself and the world around her more efficiently. Through self-nurturing, she re-aligns herself with the voice of her instincts (and the environment responds with harmony in accordance with her self-love). Her god-given enchantment is nurtured on a soulular level, so any measures to adorn her physical form are meant to enhance her natural radiance.

INTUITION
A woman knows without knowing how. An inner-aligment with instinct is the foundation for intuition. Tuning in - sensing the world within and without - is the grid upon which the heart rests in its knowing.

Radiant Knowledge
The knowing of the heart is radial. It encompasses all - even the unseen - in its assessment of the moment. This is why instinct coupled with sensation is the foundation of such knowledge. Without this radial awareness, instinct becomes egocentric and blind to the whole. Fearful instincts are not considered in context, and are thus mistaken for intuitive knowing. Therefore, the Yin Warrior is firmly anchored in the body world so that she may be a conduit for knowledge of another kind.

When intuition comes, it need not be accompanied by fireworks. It creeps up in the heart of a woman, and she knows not its true source. A sudden awareness emerges - through thought, word, image, or sensation. The Yin Warrior holds this knowing up against her internal compass which measures its implications on the environment around her. Only when a confirmation responds from within does she give movement to her knowledge.

Emphatic Truth
Empathy is that which makes necessary the path of the woman as a warrior archetype in our existing culture. Empathy is the tool the Yin Warrior lives her life learning to understand. A woman who embraces her inherent gifts and is in touch with the world around her may sometimes feel bombarded with information and stimulation. Sensation is heightened and can overwhelm the body. Intuition is activated and can overwhelm the heart and mind. The Yin Warrior applies her empathic abilities to balance these tendencies, as she receives from so many sources at once. Once balanced, empathy says, I sense the energy that is present while knowing that I am she who is sensing. I do not confuse myself with the energetic environment in which I live... nor that which I interact with. I do not confuse your experience with the truth of who you are. I see behind the veils of this world; and therefore, I never lose my faith in love.

In this way, truth is welcome in a new way. The Yin Warrior speaks great truth with an ease, an acceptance, a grace. She shares what is alive inside of her without becoming lost in the experience. She comes from a place of harmony... so no matter the potency of the honesty she transmits, she is understood in her intention to create connection. She is direct and clear in her communication, but never confrontational. Connection is her starting point, and her endpoint. She is truly a conduit of love through word and action.

INTERDEPENDENCE
When instinct (physical radiance) and intuition (heart radiance) are attended to, a woman is at one with her world. It is then that relationship reveals itself Whole through her.

Partner with the Beloved He
The Yin Warrior knows that the union of Her Most Sacred Heart with the Beloved He comes first. She places her body, heart, and soul in union with the force of life... and it dances her with a graceful ease. Her life is meant to service and nurture Relationship the the All of Life, first and foremost. This is the Divine Marriage through which she will find her greatest joys and sorrows (both of which she honors and treasures for their unique gifts).

The Infinite Spaceholder
The Yin Warrior holds space through which life can happen. She is the fertile soil of the land. No matter how the fields of her heart are tended, she returns to wholeness again and again. Resilience as a concept can not do her justice. Nor the concept of the Survivor, for it implies victimhood. She is no victim, regardless of circumstance. She is the ultimate power of acceptance. Divine acceptance that sees through veils of personalities, challenges, and consequence. Her choices are sacred acts of love - each a birth of life worth celebrating to fruition. And, knowing nature, she knows this... ALL will bear fruit, in due time.

The Nurturer, she pulls all of life to her bosom in order to shed light of love.
Treat all as innocent children, she whispers.
Accept this world. Love it whole in order to change it.

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Embracing Self Love


Embracing Self-Love
Candice Schutter - theMessenger, February 2008

Well-ordered self-love is right and natural.
- St. Thomas Aquinas

In recent weeks, I have become more aware than ever that I have much to learn about self-care. It's a common paradox for those of us in paths of service. Continually we encourage others to honor personal rhythms of healing, while ignoring the lights flashing in our own hearts. It's true indeed that we teach what we need to learn. I have come to notice that, quite often, in coaching sessions I am the messenger administering the medicine to us both via intuition and unexpected verbal elixirs.

It has been said before, love is an action. It is a series of choices. And so, when it comes to shining love inward, we must compassionately observe the choices that we make repeatedly throughout the day. How often are we present to what is alive in the moment? Do we sometimes override impulses to self-nurture in order to feed perceived urgencies in our environment? It takes only awareness to rewind, and re-choose.

True Self-love is hardly a singular or selfish pursuit. In actuality, it is blatantly spiritual - an act of reverence for the energy from which you came. Honor your body as a sacred temple, your mind as fertile ground for divine awareness, and your heart as a blessed antennae steadfast in rhythmic dance with all of life.

We only appreciate our good or evil
in proportion to our self-love.

François de la Rochefoucauld

It is a worthwhile practice to meditate on the quote above. It is our relationship to self-love that guides our perceptions in life. Take any event in your life and hold it inward in your awareness. If the light of self-love is dimly lit, you may see yourself as a victim of circumstances. Lack of light may taint your view of What-Simply-Is to incorporate a poor self-image, feeding inner drama and suffering. Depressing stories are built - not upon circumstances - but upon forgetfulness of the worth within.

If, however, you have access to the abundance of light inside...if you see yourself as an essential aspect of the light of goodness, suddenly the world around you looks much different. You will see that each and every response to circumstance is built upon the choice that you make in the moment. Heightened self-love results in acceptance and self-empowerment, and both are unattached to storytelling as a means to justify feeling good. Loving the light within is timeless and unconditional with practice, regardless of what happened "once upon a time."

Investing in mini-acts of self-love is the greatest gift that you can give to those around you. Over time you see that your inner light needs to be fed with awareness in order for you to give the best of you to others. So take that walk in the park in the middle of the day, feed yourself healthy perpectives, and surely it can't hurt to give yourself a hug from time-to-time. In re-igniting your bliss, you become evermore committed to passing it along.

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