One night, about a month ago, I asked my Guides a question before bed. I’ve been intensely exploring my relationship to money, something I’ve written about quite a bit already on my other blog, from different perspectives. Whereas before I was feeling the strain of perpetual brokeness, I’m now enjoying more financial stability than I ever have in the past…and yet my old money relationship habits still crop up, and there’s a very real sense that the subconscious agenda is to bring me back down to a level of brokeness, because it feels more “comfortable.”
And so, I’ve been searching for a reframe, a new way of relating to this internal conflict that will allow me to be both financial stable and feel comfortable with that.
But back to the dream. Before bed, I asked my Guides to show me the next piece in changing my relationship to money, and here’s what happened…
In the dream, I was watching a group of people eating at a picnic table. They all had large holes in their bodies in various places, and as they ate, the food slipped right out of the holes (very similar to the concept of the hungry ghost in certain forms of Buddhism). And when one person would talk, their words would enter the hole of another person who would then turn red with rage or blue with sadness.
My Guides then began to speak, and they said, “Too often, you expend effort trying to control these universal flows of energy, like money (think of all of the self-help materials designed to help you manifest or attract what you want). This is very difficult. Instead, your efforts would be better spent increasing the strength and integrity of your container. Those universal energies don’t need your help to flow; they do that just fine on their own. Your challenge lies in how you relate to that flow, which you do, in large part, through your vessel, your container.”
This brought to mind a teaching by the Reiki Master Hiroshi Doi, speaking on the universal nature of Reiki: “The sun gives out its energy equally to all beings but not everyone benefits equally. If one believes that sunlight is bad for his health, he closes the door to refuse the sun, although the sun is still sending energy to him. If we set up limitations with ourselves, we will receive limited benefits.”
So, too, we don’t have to earn these universal energy flows, but it is possible to lock them out, and when we forget that we hold the key and have the power to open the door at any time, it’s easy to adopt a story of, “These energies are passing me by because I’m unworthy,” and then we spend all this time trying to exorcise the aspects of ourselves that we deem unworthy, only to feel even less connected to the universe, because we are disconnected within ourselves.
The Power of Your Container
My Guides went on to explain that energy, like the energy of money, will take on many of the qualities of the container it’s in, so if my container has woven into its structure an association between money and the feeling of being manipulated or the fear of manipulating others, then it’s no wonder I don’t want to contain that energy–it feels gross! And more to the point, manipulation is one of those qualities deemed unworthy by the inner judge, so I’d better not associate with it, lest I, too, be judged as unworthy.
My Guides further explained that things like learning how to budget and other practical aspects of money management are important, too, but their successful implementation still depends on those structures’ ability to contain. If they can’t contain, as soon as energy starts to flow in, those structures (e.g. the budget) get washed away.
So, what does this containment look like? In large part, it comes down to being able to sit with what is, and in this context, what we’re referring to by what is is typically feelings–being able to sit with whatever feelings arise in response to life. When we aren’t able to sit with our feelings, we do a lot of things to distract ourselves, and those things are usually the habits we’re trying so very hard to break: compulsive eating, shopping, self-criticism, judgement of others, spending hours on Facebook, you name it.
If you think about those distractions, it’s interesting that we often conceptualize them, in some form or another, as a drain on our energy. “Man, if I hadn’t spent three hours on Facebook, I could have…” or “If I could just stop tearing myself down, I’d be able to…” In a very real sense, this inability to sit with our feelings is an indication of energy flowing out in an undesirable way–in other words, of “holes” in our container.
In the month since the dream, my Guides have given me more information in meditation, dreams, conversations, and books, and the tipping point was finally reached this morning when I made the connection between this ability to contain and something else I wrote about recently: radical self-acceptance.
How do we increase the strength and integrity of our container? Through radical self-acceptance.
In that previous post, I talked about self-acceptance as a way of expanding our view of who we are. The more we accept about ourselves, the bigger our self-view becomes. Combine this with the underlying assumption that you are already whole, that you have simply forgotten that you are whole, and self-acceptance becomes a way of continually seeing more and more of your innate wholeness. A way of returning to the knowing that there’s nothing broken about you; you have been and always will be whole.
Let’s bring this together with the concept of building a strong container.
Think of one of the dream picnic goers sitting at the table with big, gaping holes in their body. Let’s think about how those holes may have gotten there. Yes, some of them may be due, in part, to the actions of other people, but I strongly believe that the greatest damages we incur are the ones we inflict on ourselves. Even when other people are involved, how we internalize their actions are more defining than the actions themselves.
So, if we focus on the holes that are self-inflicted, what might that process of hole making look like? Well, the opposite of radical self-acceptance: self-rejection.
Let’s get overly literal and imagine that there’s an aspect of yourself you don’t like, and it’s residing in your right hip. At first, you might do things to distract yourself from being aware that this aspect is there, but eventually (or quite quickly in response to more traumatic triggers, perhaps), you reject that aspect of yourself. You deny its existence. If energy flows where attention goes, this area is now cut off from your attention, and the flow of energy trickles. Is it such a leap, then, to see how, over time, this area of your energetic field could cease to exist–a hole could be formed–through continual rejection and lack of attention?
Now, this calls into question our idea that we’re already whole and that we cannot lose this state of wholeness. If that’s so, where does the energy that was once in the hole go? I think that the energy doesn’t “go away,” it simply gets pushed to another layer of reality, what, in psychological terms, we’d call the subconscious. It’s still part of our being, it’s simply residing in an area that we don’t have conscious access to, and thus we have this nagging sense that something is missing, that something is wrong with us.
As Jungian analyst June Singer writes, “Wholeness can only be achieved when nothing is left out.”
So simple, yet so mind blowing.
If we long to remember our wholeness, we don’t get to choose which parts of ourselves are acceptable. They all are.
We don’t get to choose which parts of ourselves are worthy of love. They all are.
And to respond to the common fear that self-acceptance will lead to inner anarchy, that our bad habits will simply take over and lead us to ruin, I offer this passage from a wonderful book by Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting:
“Imagine the situation: A child is yelling, obviously upset, and when she quiets down her daddy lies in bed with his arm around her and reads her a Frog and Toad story. In response, the proponent of conditional parenting exclaims, ‘No, no, no, you’re just reinforcing her bad behavior! You’re teaching her that it’s all right to be naughty!”
‘This interpretation…reflects an awfully sour view of children–and, by extension, of human nature. It assumes that, given half a chance, kids will take advantage of us. Give ’em an inch, they’ll take a mile. They will draw the worst possible lesson from an ambiguous situation (not “I’m loved anyway” but “Yay! It’s okay to make trouble!”). Acceptance without strings attached will just be interpreted as permission to act in a way that’s selfish, demanding, greedy, or inconsiderate. At least in part, then, conditional parenting is based on the deeply cynical belief that accepting kids for who they are just frees them to be bad because, well, that’s who they are.”
Trust in your innate goodness, and entertain the possibility that the aspects of yourself you have deemed “bad” are simply feeling rejected and don’t know how else to get your attention.
Rather than fearing they will overtake you if you send even the slightest bit of love and acceptance their way, explore what happens.
See for yourself. Feel for yourself.
Wholeness can only be achieved if nothing is left out.