What is the DOWN in WDM?
By Hillary Davis
This was written for Saniel and Linda's upcoming book,"The Human Sun"
To me, Down is about feeling our connection to life. I've always been a very deep feeling person, but in my early years, and because of my particular life wounding, I would do my "feeling" alone, in private where no one could see me, as I was embarrassed to be feeling so intensely. I was both deep feeling and also quite repressed in the expression of my feeling nature.
In high school I discovered acting - this felt like a gift from heaven, as it gave me a safe place to explore and express myself. People who'd met me prior to seeing me act on the stage could not believe I was the same person. In my life I was shy and retreated but on the stage I felt powerful, big and free to be all the different parts of me. I studied theater and acting in college and after graduating, I was all set to move to NYC with a friend to try to "make it" as an actress. My friend later decided she couldn't come after all, and I became terrified at the prospect of going on my own. I was depressed and ended up flat on my back for 3 months in my parents' home with a herniated disc condition. I didn't know where to go, what to do, until my sister invited me to come out to California. This would change my life forever, for now I would embark on my spiritual quest for freedom.
I became involved with different spiritual teachers, from Insight Meditation to Osho to many advaitic teachers. I awoke to my conscious nature in '92, followed by 3 months of bliss, spaciousness and quiet mind. It was sublime. When the 4th month came around so did the return of my mind, with an intensity I'd never before experienced. It was so strong, so loud. It grabbed my full attention. I had a hard time trying to make sense of my awakening to Spaciousness with the accompanying flood of distress I was experiencing. I went to India to spend time with a spiritual teacher in the hopes that the distress would disappear. It didn't. It only grew louder, even though I had more profound spiritual experiences.
After India, I spent 2 years in and out of bed with herniated disc pain and giardia which I'd picked up from "bottled" water in India. I lay in bed, staring into the eyes of Ramana Maharshi, whose photo I had on my wall. I became absorbed in his eyes and didn't relate to the relative world, feeling it did not matter whether I lived or died. I'd realized my conscious nature and now I felt ready to die One day my phone was ringing and I waited for the answering machine to pick up the message, as I'd been doing for many months, not wanting to talk with anyone. That day, though, I heard a voice that I felt was Ramana's saying,"pick up that phone!" So I did pick it up, and that signaled my entry into relative reality again, once again having to feel the pain I had hoped would vanish in the recognition of the Absolute.
I met Saniel in '94 and he helped me begin to greenlight my humanness, especially my human emotional experience - self hatred, anger, fear, disappointment. He wanted me to know that it was ok to greenlight everything, and I dropped into a deeper permitting of my dark material, the stuff I'd been desperately running from my whole life. I feared that there was something very flawed and very wrong at my core that was shameful and could never be healed. This was the "Rot", the beginning of the descent out of continual avoidance of discomfort and into the embrace of what I'd been running from. Myself.
I met Ted in 1995, and in Feb of '97 we both came into the realization of the second birth. We married in 1998. In late 1999 everything I ever knew myself to be began to unravel. I was having a meltdown. During that time, I began a very intimate exploration of my own human suffering and trauma. I became very familiar with the realms of hell.
One night I was laying in bed and feeling incredibly disappointed about something. This was not new to me, as disappointment was one of my core issues. That night I had a major realization that really altered me. I saw that I had always been in reaction to feeling disappointment, not actually feeling it. That realization deeply shifted my reality and I was able to warmly embrace disappointment instead of being in reaction to it. When I "got" this, it changed my life, permitting further integration. Now I could just feel it, I didn't have to keep defending myself from it.
To me, the "down" piece is about opening to feeling - to feel the body, to feel the feelings, the patterning and shadow material, to feel the joy and love that is also suppressed, to live more fully as the totality of who we really are. When we're young, we think we'll die if we feel our scary feelings. So we learn to cope on top of our feelings in order to survive. We become removed from our feelings and therefore from ourselves. We lose contact with ourselves. We split off from what is too scary to feel, and when we do that, what splits off is part of our essence. After awakening, with the "container" of Consciousnesses holding us and all that Is, we can begin to invite those parts of us to come back home to wholeness. Then we begin to feel more integrated, more Here. I have been through some very dark, scary places as well as incredibly blissful and ecstatic knowings in my awakening journey, so this is the gift I offer my students. I support and hold people very deeply, to create a safe place for them to drop down into what may be previously unexplored territories. Many of my students have been people like me, who have experienced critical superegos and a lot of self loathing, people who have not felt received by more traditional spiritual schools where there is no place for emotion and deep feeling. The hypermasculine types of spirituality tend to put down those of us who are more feeling, who need a particular kind of holding and recognition in order to awaken and further integrate and deepen.
Many years ago I worked with a woman who was actually very deep feeling, but didn't know how to allow herself to live in that way, because as a child, it wasn't safe or permitted by her family. So she began living in her head with lots of mental spinning, and became very busy all the time to keep herself from having to feel. In the process of beginning to feel herself, and coming out of exclusive identification with her mind and thinking, she dropped into her second birth.
I worked with another woman, who'd previously awakened to consciousness, to help her trust that she could follow her own feeling nature. She'd had a lifetime of repression and shame, and a pattern of self negation had been built up. It took a great deal of courage for her to drop into her body, to surrender into her own flow, her own truth. When she felt supported in this place, she rapidly fell into her second birth.
I help people not have to "fit in", but to listen really deeply to who they are and empower them to live their unique truth. I work with warm acceptance, warm embracing, warm tenderness, so others can blossom so fully into who they are that they can then move on to help others do the same. I feel that all of us teaching this work are like big "permission slips", transmitting to others that they really can be who they truly are. In this way, we all pay it forward. You can truly love others because you're Here. You are in tune with yourself and others like never before, living in the Seamless reality instead of fantasy and illusion. Living the Mystery.
What is the DOWN in WDM?
Hillary on The Rot
Love, Awakening, and Intimate Relationship