April 1, 2011

The Rift: Broken Open

photo credit: Erwint

Recap: What’s The Shift?

Apologies for leaving you for a few weeks after writing Welcome to The Shift, the first in a series I’m writing to chronicle my own process of shifting and to reach others moving through what’s become known as “The Shift”.

To recap, this “Shift” is what I (among many others) define as our collective and individual evolution into higher consciousness.  Simply put, we are shifting from living life at the surface level of human ego, basic  survival and physicality into recognition of our true selves as an expression of a unified whole.  Despite outer appearances, we’re growing into an awareness of humanity as not many and separate physical beings, but rather as one collective multi-dimensional organism that is at a tipping point of either great promise or peril.

This evolution is occurring at both individual and collective levels.  That can sound confusing or contradictory, especially after I just told you we are growing into an awareness of individual players as a collective whole.  But the reality of this shift is that it is occurring on both micro and macro levels, both within the context of our individual lives and the roles we play in them (mother/father/son/daughter/boss/worker/student/teacher), as well as without, in the context of our societies and our very species.

Now, while it’s great to see strength in numbers – movements and communities of the spiritually-awakened and light workers and such springing up left and right – it is within our solitary hearts and minds that the spark of true growth and change is ignited.  The point of genesis is always the same: the self.  After all, from within the human experience we can only ever really live and know anything from a singular perspective, that being our respective individual identities, often referred to as the ego.  In using “ego” this way, I associate no negativity with it and encourage you to do likewise for the time being.  Our egos are simply our outer identities and personalities – our outer packaging – that provide interfaces to one other.  They are, however, exactly that – surface level packaging, not the package itself.

We can only authentically create and intend and manifest from within our own individual worlds.  All begins as a seed within our innermost selves, and if it is meant to blossom, grows branches or roots from there.  And so it is within this lonely inner fertile ground that we must first shift, which is why the process can bring up feelings of fear, loneliness, disorientation, obscurity, abandonment and downright meaninglessness.

If you’re feeling any of that, guess what? Me too. Yet despite appearances, if many of us are simultaneously experiencing similar feelings, by definition neither you nor I are alone or abandoned or directionless as we navigate the shift.  Even when it feels like we must walk solitary paths, we are united in spirit.  Now, doesn’t that feel better?  I don’t know about you, but it sure gives me comfort.

And comfort is exactly what I’m craving of as I pass through the fear and vulnerability brought on by another stage of the shift, which is what I want to focus on in this post.  It’s what I’ve called in the title “The Rift”, and it’s the stage at which, if it hasn’t happened already, your heart is broken open.

The Broken-Open Heart

There’s a well-known book by this name, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser, an author I admire.  It’s as suitable a metaphor as any for what’s happening so if you think it can help you by all means check it out here.

This idea of a heart breaking open isn’t about getting your heart broken in the traditional sense of shattering destruction.  Instead, as an earthquake cleaves a rift in the planet’s crust, this is a heart-opening to allow for passage, relief and better alignment rather than a heart-crushing resulting in shut-down and shielding.  The broken-open heart is vast, passionate and vulnerable so it can contain and convey more love than before, whereas a heart-break in the traditional sense often results in a withdrawal from love.

I’ve spent most of March being broken open.  Here’s how the rift happened for me.

The Voice of an Angel

Dateline: March 6, the Mos’Art Theater, Lake Park FL.  Solo performance by my daughter’s singing teacher, soprano Adriana Zabala.

My daughter has taken voice lessons from Adriana on and off for three years, since back in the fifth grade when she first began preparing to audition for Bak Middle School of the Arts which she attends now.  I knew Adriana was the gifted owner of a powerful talent, but in all this time, I’d never seen her perform.  I’d heard a snippet of song here and there as I sat waiting during my daughter’s lessons, but that was it. Finally, I’d have the chance to see Adriana in her element.

I was totally unprepared.

The floodgates opened from the moment Adriana began her favorite pieces – many not only my favorites too, but easily universal favorites – like “Ave Maria”, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” (sung with both English AND Spanish verses – beautiful), as well as selections from Puccini and Phantom of the Opera.  I wasn’t the only one crying – half the small crowd who turned out to see her was breaking out the Kleenex left and right, and these were close friends and family members – even her own parents whom I sat behind – people who presumably had been hearing Adriana sing for years.

You should know this wasn’t the first time a performance has brought me to tears.  I’m a crier at artistic performances be they dance, singing, theater, figure skating, you name it – if the performance moves me, I tear up. But for heaven’s sake, not for the whole show!  I wasn’t feeling unstable or upset about anything before the concert.  There were no extenuating circumstances or overlapping emotions I brought into it from elsewhere; just the sheer heart-rending beauty of a woman living her purpose and sharing her gift as completely as she knew how.

This was beyond feeling momentarily touched or moved.  This was an undertow.  Here was Adriana, pulling a whole group at once into her vortex.  Precious because through the divine gift of song, she broke open our hearts so that our divinity could flow into the world, and one another, as exquisitely as hers was flowing into us while she sang.

I literally cried through every song save a few lighter Julie Andrews numbers, then had to run and collect myself in the ladies room before heading over to personally congratulate the star.

I cried for the blessing of Adriana on so many levels, especially when realizing that this same love and divine talent had been flowing through her to my daughter for years.  I cried in gratitude for the gift of witnessing it, of having been invited and present in this small private audience gathered to receive the outflow of this amazing energy through song.  Because when passion and connection and talent combine into what I can only call love and it comes through on a high-speed connection like Adriana clearly has, it softens even the most guarded, hardest hearts into opening.

The Nature of The Rift: Change and Chaos Precede Peace

Why do we need to be broken open? Simply because as we shift, and view the external evidence of often chaotic or tumultuous change in the world at large, there will be immense fear, apprehension and unsettled-ness.  It’s there in spades already – just watch CNN for an hour.  We run the risk of being trapped in downward thought spirals, getting stuck trying to stay secure, or paralyzed to the point that if our hearts are not rent accessible we might never muster the courage to let our own light, our own purposes, pass through them and into the world.  Without the broken-open heart, we each run the risk of shuttering it for good.

At the moment our world needs all the light, all the love, and all the open hearts it can get.  Including and especially, yours.  So if you feel the rift, if you’re moving through life feeling broken open, I invite you to allow the superb poignancy of the process to permeate you at every level, and know that that is exactly what is supposed to happen.  It won’t level you; it will, in the end, buoy you.

You’ll find, as I did during the afternoon of Adriana’s performance, unexpected and rapidly changing circumstances swirling around your own rift.  Do not be dissuaded by these outer shows of quick transformation and chaos – they are exactly that – shows as colorful as a peacock displaying a feathery dance.  Part of the reason so many are struggling with or outright resisting the shift is that change is occurring at a pace previously unknown to us. We’re not used to it (yet) and we sure as hell aren’t comfortable with it.

It helps to remember that the natural state of the universe is to be constantly in motion, not at rest, so change rather than stability is actually the norm.  We in our limited human experience simply have never been able to perceive the constant motion, but as sure as electrons circle atomic nuclei, it is there.  Let the peacock strut its feathers if it wants, and remember, you’re here to enjoy rather than stop the show.

I invite you to adjust your expectations.  Expect more change, not less.  Learn to find comfort in uncomfortable times, or better, yet, to become comfortable or at least familiar with discomfort.  Learn to surf rather than paddle so you can effortlessly ride on rather than in the current.

Eventually, every rift abates and as happened during my afternoon with Adriana, peace does return.  In the space of her one hour performance, my emotional state ran the gamut on my insides as the weather mirrored the tumult on the outside, going from partly cloudy to micro-burst thunderstorm with gale-force winds to, very abruptly, back to partly cloudy.  As if to perfectly punctuate the calm after the storm, I was accompanied to my car by a complete rendition of “Bali Hai” on church bells from a neighboring house of worship.  South Pacific always was my favorite musical.

What or who has broken you open? How did it happen? And how did/do you feel afterward?  Tell me in comments below.

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