The spiral is a scared nature-based image. I'm using it here as a framework for understanding how we move through higher states of consciousness by revisiting core issues.
I drew a picture (below)-- my first time trying this so it's a bit rough! This is the teaching of the spiral. We start at the bottom. The first X represents that point of feeling alone or in pain related to some core issue of the Self. In previous blogs, I've described the shape and shame. This starting point is the place of this core shape/ shame issue.
We find some way of significantly moving away from this pain. We seek out some counseling or use body-based treatments; learn meditation; work on our pain through art or writing. There is some intervention that moves us far enough away from this pain that we feel like we left it behind in some way. We may even have the relaxed experience of "ahhhh...." in the exhale of relief of our understanding. At this point in managing a core issue, we will feel like we're done. [dusts palms together] "Glad I figured that out!" (We can be a bit arrogant at this stage.)
What happens though, as you will see by reading the points on the spiral from the bottom to the top, is that we circle back into a core issue. We will feel like we're exactly where we were before-- in the pain that is represented by all the points on the left hand side of the spiral. There will be some event or interaction or relationship that will push at our core issue or move us into that shape we worked to release and we will be shocked: "How can I be here again? I solved this issue."
In fact though, we can never really return to the same point. We are always at a new place of increased consciousness and understanding Self. It will feel like a familiar misery, but it is different. The spiral shows us that we are not in a circle or a repetitive pattern if we are moving toward an increased understanding. Sure, it may feel like a continuous loop, but it likely isn't as much of one as it feels (1). Every time we circle back to the left side, we gain new understandings and insights and so move upwards toward the right. Each level of the spiral is a new level of consciousness and understanding of the Self.
Recently someone I love very much had a significant event occur. I thought I had done so much work on my own core issue: 'filling needs for others when I have my own unmet needs', but in one rug-pulled-out-from-under-me event, I felt like I was back in a place from many years ago. I couldn't see my own needs. I didn't have my own boundaries. I was a mushy mess without clarity working overtime to care for others beyond what was expected or needed.The overtime work extended beyond the person I loved and went out everywhere. I was back in my shape and reacting to the world the way I did a long time ago.
I found some trusted helpers (our own stuff is at the end of our nose; we all need trusted people to help sort it out) and I began to pull my Self back together. In the process, I was able to find my self-compassion again and s l o w down and meet my own need: to admit my struggle, show my vulnerability and express my emotions. I understood (again!) that I am the one who makes space for me. The people who love me want me to make space for my Self. It's me who, in the most pain-filled moments, will default to staying small and working on behalf of others to my detriment. I know that staying small and denying my own needs is a form of self-harm. As much as anyone, I deserve my love, care and compassion.
This latest turn around the spiral has led me to greater understandings and allowed me to take even bigger risks in being real. This is the path. We are messy imperfect humans and it's our human experience that gives us the best material for cultivating spiritual growth. It's not about avoiding pain; it's about the transformation of that pain into greater understandings and higher levels of consciousness.
(1) If your experience truly feels like a circle, then you are idling at the point of the first X- doing loops in one spot-and you haven't yet begun on the spiral. Your work is to find the first step to change-- come in for counseling and we'll get you on your way. You can also dig deep on your own and seek out others if things become too clouded-- but get off the circle and into greater understanding.