Whenever I’ve told friends that my partner and I were separating, the overwhelming response was, “Oh my god! What happened? You guys were such a great couple!”
There’s an assumption that there had to be “something” that “broke us up”, but the truth was, after over 20 years, whether we wanted it or not, our paths had diverged.
It was the clearest moment when I knew that it was over. I wanted something. He didn’t want it. There was a passive power struggle (we were both peace-keepers). And the realization hit me that we now wanted different things in life. Twenty-two years ago, we wanted the same things in life and perhaps our paths had started separating years before. But we weren’t willing to look at the divergence because we both believe strongly in the institution of marriage.
It’s normal to have ups and downs, right? We were taught to take the good times with the bad, right? These sayings had kept these thoughts of separation at bay for a long time… But they just weren’t making sense anymore.
Note: Although I am now talking about this easily and objectively, I don’t want to pretend that it felt easy at the time. There was still sadness, anger, emotional pain, and real grief after we were actually living separately. We aren’t robots. We had been in love, emotionally connected, and pretty dependent on each other for a long time. This is no small thing to separate from.
The End of “Till Death Do You Part”
I realized that, besides not wanting to hurt my husband, it was actually my pride that was my greatest obstacle to leaving.
I was known as a spiritual teacher, I did marriage counselling, and I taught tantra. What would it look like to others if I ended my marriage? Would I be considered a failure? Would everything I taught suddenly not have merit? This was a massive hurdle for me to overcome.
As I wrestled with this, I picked the brains of people I respected. I researched writings on marriage. And I prayed a lot.
The ultimate answer that came was that separating was not a failure. It was simply the natural response to what the truth was between a couple. That’s all. The idea of “till death do you part” had nothing to do with what was real between the couple. Historically, it actually began as a financial agreement between two men for the caring of a daughter.
There was a time, in some cultures, when a young man would ask a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. If the answer was yes, the father would give land, money or some kind of dowry to the young man (because women couldn’t own anything) with the promise that the young man would take care of his daughter until his very last breath… makes sense. And then, at the wedding, it was (and still is) customary for the father to “give” his daughter away… Hmmm.
Many cultures have some version of this where a promise had to be made so that the legal and financial union must stay intact for life. On the positive side, this could have been since women were not able to work and therefore couldn’t be financially independent. Or, on a darker note, maybe it was due to a sense of ownership of each other or imposed for the need to control by the church and state.
The quality of the relationship was often not important at all. Difficulties, violence, control, cruelty, manipulation, sadness, depression, and extra-marital affairs were all normal – which makes sense – because although there might have been love in the beginning, it certainly wasn’t the quality of the love that was going to keep them together. We were legally bound for life. It wasn’t until the early twentieth century that divorce even became legal in North America. And in many cultures and religions today it still isn’t allowed.
So I soon began to realize that separating wasn’t actually a failure. The idea that the end of a marriage is a failure came from a previous time and an old system where you weren’t allowed out of the agreement. Leaving could have meant being destitute, disowned and the end of any kind of “decent” life. Being able to survive, even in an abusive relationship, definitely became a sign of strength and a real test of personal endurance.
But times are different now.
Staying Together While Separated
We chose to stay living together for a year even though we had agreed that we were separating. We had two of our own children plus four more teenagers living with us. The other teens were our kids’ friends who couldn’t live at home for many reasons and had chosen to move in with us. So, if we actually physically separated at that time, we had 6 teenagers to split between us or find homes for. Since they were all at the end of high-school and ready to leave the nest in a year, we chose to stay and enjoy our family of eight and see how it went.
During this time, I had two main goals with our separation. One, I wanted to really honour the 20 years we had together. And two, I wanted to be able to share my struggles that I hadn’t been able to share before, partially to have healing between us and because who are we kidding, I just really wanted him to know.
Honouring The Marriage
If you have ever been married or been in any kind of serious relationship, you know how easy it is to count the “bad” days. And unfortunately, in the process of deciding to end a marriage, it is adding up the “bad” days that give us the momentum to actually leave (and unfortunately, this is also what others want to hear about so that they know “what happened”.)
But the truth was, our marriage was really wonderful. We had been through so much together. We had milked cows and farmed together for 16 years. He was an incredible support for me when so many people including my mom and all my grandparents had died. We had wonderful children together. We shared the same favourite TV shows, we laughed and had more inside jokes together than we will ever remember.
Were there also things that weren’t so hot? Sure.
We all come into relationships with our “stuff”. We have patterns that we learned from our parents, past-lives, karma, “sins of the forefathers”, etc. Sometimes I think that it is such a blessing to have so much love (and passionate sex) in the beginning because it helps smooth out the difficulties of bringing so many challenges into such an intimate relationship.
Plus, we were in our early 20s when we got married. We’d never done it before and so, we truly did the best we could.
In the end, I really wanted us to remember all of the good times. I didn’t want us to forget how wonderful all those years had been too. Because if you’re going to remember anything, those are the memories worth bringing forward.
Being Honest About My Struggles
In no way do I blame my ex-husband (A term I really dislike, I wish there was a nicer word for this) because I too, came into our marriage with “stuff”.
One of my greatest issues was being an eternal peace-keeper. Of course, that is the nice way to put it. The other way to say it is that I avoided conflict at all cost. If I was angry about something and nothing got resolved, well, I just let it go. I didn’t want to stay angry. I understood where he was coming from. So, I swept it under the rug. I kind of let it go.
But after 20 years, I had swept a lot under the rug. (Or maybe I’d swept a couple of things under the rug a thousand times.) Was he a part of it? Sure. Was I a part of it? Yes. But now, since I had no reason to “keep the peace”, I was able to stand stronger about the things that had been bothering me. We had to have difficult conversations because there was no longer a rug to sweep anything under. That time had passed.
But we were as kind as possible. And truthfully, we resolved a lot. We were very lucky for the healing and closure that we got.
But You Teach Tantra. Couldn’t Tantra Heal your Relationship?
This is the million-dollar question. The answer is yes, and no.
We had explored a lot of tantra together. We had had incredible tantric intimacy and amazing healing times (lots of detail about this in my book: Tantric Intimacy). Tantra had deepened the loving connection between us. But that doesn’t mean that we were meant to still live together.
The foundation of tantra is about being fully spiritual in a very physical world. In a relationship, this directly affects the quality of the love connection between you. Both of these aspects of tantra were in full expression throughout our separation (and continues today).
During our separation, there were many days that were really hard. I didn’t want to talk about splitting the money. I didn’t want to talk about the kids. Each one of these conversations felt so painful. I would have preferred avoiding them altogether, which of course is impossible.
And so I would pray. I would meditate. I would ask inside for the kind words to broach these really hard topics. I would ask for the right timing, “would we talk about the money today? Or tomorrow? Or next week? How should we split the finances?” Etc. I sat in silence a lot, waiting for the answers to find the most loving, peaceful way through.
And the answers always came. Perhaps today was the day. And so I would ask him if we could talk about it, and the answer was yes. And the discussion would go flawlessly, not without tears, but it was smooth. And this is how all the issues were resolved.
In terms of a “tantric connection”, we simply had it. We maintained a loving connection throughout the process. Choosing to live together has nothing to do with whether we had a loving connection. We can have loving connections with thousands of people that we don’t live with. And we can always choose kindness.
Once, we had worked out how to split the finances and what it would look like with the kids, we walked over to the courthouse and asked if we could fill out the paperwork so that we could get a divorce. We were smiling and giggling and joking with each other. The woman behind the desk just stared at us.
Eventually she said that were weren’t allowed to get a divorce without lawyers because we owned properties and had children. Oh.
So, I asked around and found a lawyer who was well-known for taking care of amicable divorces. I showed her our agreement, she wrote it up, assigned a lawyer to look at it on my husband’s behalf, and very soon, the paperwork was complete. The separation and divorce was final. And we were still hanging out with our six kids at home.
It was quite a surreal time.
Today, we are still great friends. His girlfriend is a woman whom I’ve been friends with for a long time. There’s no fighting about the kids because we all just stay together for Christmas and holidays. They come to my family functions, we hang out and it’s actually really, really wonderful.
Is This Possible For Everyone?
Unfortunately, no. For the two of us, our deepest desire was to still be loving towards each other. So, that is exactly what happened.
But for many people, being loving isn’t their deepest desire. They want to hurt the other. There are power struggles. There is history to “make the other pay for”. There is no desire to be kind. The divorce is as messy as the marriage was as well– at least under the surface.
I only tell this story as a possibility. To share my struggle with feeling like I had failed – when in fact, I hadn’t.
To share a possibility of a graceful way to lovingly separate.
Of course, there are always a few couples out there who have been happily married for 65 years and their beaming faces show us just how in love they are after all these years.
This too, is a possibility. And it is certainly a success in some ways.
But it’s just one possibility. There are many kinds of success.
To be loving in all circumstances.
To be honest in each moment.
And to always choose kindness.
These are the greatest successes.
The Hero’s Adventure: What Movies Can Teach Us About Facing Our Shadow
- The Facts:
The Hero's Journey is a multi-staged adventure whereby the 'hero' grows to become a new version of themselves, one that is evolved and at a 'higher level' per se.
- Reflect On:
Movies can be viewed in many ways. Some see it as programming others as inspiration. How can we use what we see in movies in our own lives? To grow and evolve as people? To recognize our true callings vs those of Hollywood?
The hero’s adventure is a term popularised by Joseph Campbell based upon his 1949 work “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. The late Campbell was an American Professor of Literature and a philosopher who described the adventure one must embark upon to fully realise who he/she is.
A simple explanation from Campbell:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
Campbell uses the word monomyth to describe this adventure which was taken from James Joyce’s book Finnegans Wake.
According to Campbell the monomyth contains 3 stages, with 17 subsections. Not all journeys contain all sections and no two adventures are the same, yet the hero’s adventure follows a surprisingly similar pattern. The 3 stages are 1. A call to seek out some kind of adventure. 2. A trial or initiatory period where the hero must face an obstacle or series of obstacles. 3. The return back home with that which you were seeking to find. This often repeats in a number of ways, with various steps being repeated, but this is the idea.
The 17 Steps Of The Heroes Adventure:
- The call to adventure
- Refusal of the call
- Supernatural aid
- Crossing the threshold
- Belly of the whale
- The road of trials
- The meeting with the goddess
- Woman as temptress
- Atonement with the father
- The ultimate boon
- Refusal of the return
- The magic flight
- Rescue from without
- The crossing of the return threshold
- Master of two worlds
- Freedom to live
When you look to Hollywood movies and best selling fiction books they all follow the same pattern. Star Wars writer, George Lucas, was a friend of Joseph Campbell and famously said that without Campbell there would have been no Star Wars.
If you take Star Wars, it is the perfect example of the Hero’s Journey:
The Call: Luke Skywalker is living a mundane existence, and then while cleaning R2D2 he is shown a holographic recording seeking help from Princess Leia.
The Initiation: Obi-Wan becomes a mentor to Luke, and teaches him to “use the force”. Along the way he meets Han Solo, Chewbacca and other unsuspecting helpers until he completes his apprentice (which he does not know is taking place). Finally after much fighting, Luke is able to rescue Princess Leia and destroy the death star.
The Return: Then he returns home a new man where Leia awards Luke with medals for his heroism.
The Matrix is another example.
The Call: Thomas Anderson is fed up with life at a dead end job and knows there is more to his existence. He has a dream in which his computer types “follow the white rabbit” when someone comes to buy illegal computer programmes from him they ask him to join them on a night out. He declines, but when one of the group turns, she has a tattoo of a white rabbit, so he decides to follow.
The Initiation: Thomas Anderson becomes his computer alias Neo. He meets Trinity, and later Morpheus and is offered to be shown the truth in the form of the red pill (truth) or blue pill (fantasy). He opts for the truth pill and is initiated into a mysterious world where reality as he knew it is actually a computer programme. He gets to download multiple skills, thinks he is The One, but then realises he is not The One. Morpheus gets taken by the agents and he decides to save him.
The Return: Upon trying to save Morpheus he realises he is The One, saves him and defeats the agents. This is him returning with the realisation he is The One, although the return and initiation cross over a little.
This is the same structure you see in Harry Potter, The Wizard Of Oz, Alice In Wonderland, The Alchemist and just about every story based movie there is.
But how is this helpful?
This is the same story we can use as a metaphorical representation of who and where we are in our lives.
If you think life is meaningless and mundane, this means you should be on the lookout for synchronicities and clues of how to break free.
If you have just had a strong urge to go and do something very far removed from your comfort zone that has the potential to change your circumstances, then you probably should.
If you are stuck in a painful situation that seems to have no end, this means you are in an initiation. Being in an initiation does not guarantee you will pass “the test” but at some point you will be given an opportunity to break a cycle or take an opportunity.
If you have just been through an ordeal and conquered your inner (and sometimes outer) demons, bask in the glory, but remember there was 9 Star Wars movies, 4 Matrix movies and 8 Harry Potter books. Your Heroes Adventure may have many chapters, so strap in and try to enjoy the journey.
Much love, Luke.
If you would like to download my free eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control YOU CAN DO SO HERE
On Taking Life Too Seriously
- The Facts:
Much of the time in life, we allow ourselves to take situations VERY seriously. This will sometimes turn pain into suffering, or prolong the challenges we face for growth. It also stops us from truly finding peace in life.
- Reflect On:
Do you feel a constant sense of anxiety in your life? Underlying everything? Where do you notice you take life or situations too seriously? What do you do to begin connecting back to self, and taking life less seriously?
Do you go through life with constant angst? A feeling deep down that there is always a little bit of stress or a little bit of worry? I’ve been through this. And in some ways, I thought it would never go away. But I focused on self awareness and living in the heart enough to kiss those days goodbye.
We can sure take life too seriously at times can’t we? I mean it’s fair. We have stresses in life that we get caught up in, we go, go, go, go, and often forget to take a moment to breathe. In Western culture, it’s all about obsessing over goals and getting there and telling ourselves sotries about what life will be like when we do finally get there… but what often happens to us when we live this way? We step into unconsciousness. We stop taking time to FEEL.
I want to help us remember to be STILL with this.
Various experiences and events have taken place in my life that have challenged some of my deepest ideals, belief systems and concepts that I felt were a part of me. This has gone on and occurred in my entire 11 year journey of truly changing myself. Whether it had to do with the work I do, friends, the world, relationships or big decisions in life, many things were challenged. It has truly been an incredible ride.
We sometimes might think “when will all the change and ‘chaos’ end?” A good question indeed, but isn’t this what we are here for at this time? To truly look at ourselves, look at all that we hold onto and all that we define our reality with. Literally everything! If you are feeling like you are the only one out there going through this stuff and feel like everything is backwards -that things are constantly being challenged, know that what you are experiencing is perfect, and we must remember to have fun with it!
Not Just A Human Experience
We are not here at this time to simply have ‘a human experience,’ we are here to evolve the human experience. It’s different! Stop looking at the past to tell us what to do, how we should move forward, and what ‘the greats’ did in our past to figure things out. We are not in that time, and the zeitgeist of our time now is not to simply exist but to be present as we deeply evolve the way of life on this planet.
We hear a lot “but we’re human, just embrace that!” That’s all fine, but what does that mean? What is a human? How should we be? Does being human mean accepting the world as it is? Are we capable of more? Can we redefine what it means to be human and what life should look like? Why do we give up so easily on dreaming big about these things?
I used to accept MANY limitations about myself and what I could do. But eventually, I was faced with the chance to let all that go, and reimagine what was possible. Even when everyone told me I was crazy and I couldn’t do what I was trying to do, I used my connection to self and consciousness to create it. Because I believed I was capable of more, and so is everyone else. This is how Collective Evolution, the site your on, came to be.
After experiencing the many deep questions and challenges I have thus far, overcoming them and moving forward, I have one very special thing that I have reminded myself about over and over and truly understand to a deep level. We are here to play and evolve! None of what we are experiencing is as serious as we think!!
The mind and ego can make things very real, very dramatic, very frightening. I know! But the highest aspect of who we are is always clear, always neutral, and always sharing with us exactly what we need to hear because IT IS US! We are not the mind or the stories it creates that makes things so serious. They are there because that is our challenge. To go beyond the mind and the stories it creates -so we can experience this sensorial world and remember who we truly are (click to listen to my podcast on this topic.)
So let’s remember, whether it’s life choices, relationships, friends, work, family, sports, or everyday events, know that it’s just an experience! We can spend our whole lives always caught up in the drama and the intensity, saying “oh my gosh things are so tough, the world is so crazy, my life is upside down, and I’m so busy!” but where does this lead us? This is a question we must ask ourselves.
If we remain caught up in these perceptions, repetitive patterns of mind, we will continue to miss out on the entire journey we are on because we are lost and caught up in the mind. We perpetuate our so called “suffering” when we make things serious and make them a big deal. When we can see it for what it is, we allow the emotions to subside, allow back in our full potential and know how to take action forward. This is called finding true peace.
I’m not talking about simply accepting things and saying “well get over it” or “that’s how it is, so deal with it.” No. I’m talking about truly seeing things for what they are. Seeing why we color something in a particular way. Seeing the belief system behind why something is good or bad or right or wrong or even why it’s serious!
I promise you, behind every strong emotion, every serious situation, there is a belief system that makes it that way. One that is held in the mind and made real by the mind. But the mind is not YOU! See the story! Let it go and just play! You will find much peace and joy in flowing through your experience in this way.
Have You Realized The Profundity Of Our True Nature?
- The Facts:
In life, we typically move about, seeing all material for what we define it as. This makes things convenient in a way, but there is a profoundness to not only seeing beyond these definitions, but also tapping back into full potential.
- Reflect On:
Have you ever tried practicing the awareness that you are not your mind nor your body? Why do we identify so strongly with just our physical body, and is it time to begin to remember we are much more than that?
Who we really are has been staring us in the face the whole time.
Take a look at your body, but look at it from a completely impersonal perspective; free of any thought about it at all. Without labels like arms and legs; without any sense of ownership, just as it is. Look in the mirror at your face, your eyes, but look without the thinking mind. This body that you get to use and throw around the joint, is a product of the universe. Conditions were apparently perfect here on Earth for Humans to exist. A magnificent sculpture, carved from stardust, gases, cells, minerals, heat – one of the most complex arrangements of cells and energy you have ever laid your eyes upon.
There is no boundary to the human body; there is no “in here” and “out there.” The body is a constant flow of energy, never a stationary or permanent thing we could pin down. There is a constant flow of air coming in and out, molecules by our skin, bacteria breaking down food in our stomach, there is no boundary between the body and the environment. It’s like a river, never the same body of water in any two moments.
Then, how about all the stuff the body perceives. All the sounds, tastes, smells, visual images and so on. The human body makes the whole world we’re privy to. The brain selects a very narrow band of frequencies and constructs reality according to the bandwidth of what our senses relay for us. The visual spectrum is only a very narrow band, while other sentient beings select out different bands for their viewing pleasure. So reality as we know it, never exists objectively, only subjectively through the being that is observing it. Without an observer what does it exist as? Just a soup of frequencies I suppose.
I find this phenomenal! There are little reality bubbles existing wherever a sentient being is alive. Energy has coalesced into the form of a human being, a giraffe, an ant, a butterfly, a chameleon, an amoeba, and through these configurations, the universe is observing itself. It is having experiences with itself.
So essentially, the whole world that you exist in – the reality bubble that you spend your entire life in – is entirely made by the human body. Your human body. Everything, all of it. Look at the image your eyes are creating. Look at how immaculate, perfect and impeccably high the resolution is! Check out how infinite the colour palette is. Take another look in the mirror at the wonder of your eyes. Those things stuck in that head, those things that we call eyes are absolutely wondrous biological organs, composed of trillions of living cells; living in harmony, being fed by the fuel you place in your mouth. Those things are taking frequencies of energy, sending it at light speed to your brain, where trillions more cells convert it into a picture. WOW!
And while I’m on that subject: have you ever wondered how electrical signals in the brain – how realistically an infinite amount of neurons in our brain – can create the conscious experience of sound out of electrical impulses? How does something biological turn electricity into the conscious experience of smell? Into the emotion of love, of anger?
So look around you. Look what you’re part of. You’re on a planet zooming through space at hundreds of kilometres per second, circling around in a gigantic galaxy. You’re amongst animals, forests, bodies of water, lightning, rain, drought, plants and soil. You’re amongst life! You’re seeing it unfold right before your eyes, seeing life in all its animation. I don’t see why it should seem like there’s anything else to do, other than admire what we’re amongst, and create.
Just as the bus motors down the street, so too does the galaxy arms revolve around its core. A child eats breakfast, while an asteroid erupts as it passes through an atmosphere. We are as much an expression of this universe as the plants and galaxies. This universe has arranged itself in such complex ways, in such exquisite patterns, so that it may know itself through our eyes. We have become an aperture for energy to know what it inherently is.
When we look deeper into our own nature, we find that things are even more extraordinary than what exists in the physical realm of bodies, animals, plants and stars.
There is this notion of separation in our society, where we exist separately from the outside world of other stuff. We are separate from the table, our house, other people and the whole cosmos. We feel this too, because we feel that we are the human body, or the thinker somewhere in the head. But this notion is learnt, cultivated, but not all cultures prescribe to this way of being at all.
The whole world is consciousness; it all exists within, not out there somewhere. This is the worldview slowly being ushered in by quantum mechanics and eastern traditions. They’ve arrived now at the same point, but there is obvious resistance because the old system composed of survival-of-the-fittest, authority, institutions and competition rely on our illusory separateness for vitality.
Consciousness is the way in which biological functions of firing neurons in the brain are turned into a conscious experience. Consciousness is something transcendent of the physical world, and is therefore never affected by the realm of form. It is so perfect and complete already, not needing fulfillment or healing in any way.
The thing is, most of us don’t feel this way though. We still feel separate, small, incomplete and not an integrated part of the whole. We still feel like we are locked up inside a head looking out at separate stuff. But there are ways in which consciousness can shift and identify with something much deeper. The first step is usually quieting the mind through meditation. Our thoughts have run rampant, and we’ve taken this incessant internal monologue to be who we are. But if you do one session of meditation, you’ll see that the mind comes in all by itself, starts up fantasies, conversations, judgments and memories all by itself, while you are trying to focus on your breath. While you’re trying to be silent, the mind has other ideas. Meditation shows us we aren’t the thinker at all; it shows us that we are the witnessing presence OF thought.
A thought is as much a sensation as the taste of ice cream is; we’ve just placed too much emphasis and belief in thought. So rather than identifying consciousness with something superimposed upon it (the mind, the “small self”, the ego) we can shine the light back in on itself via techniques like meditation, and identify as pure consciousness itself. We become not only the witnesser of all sensation, but we merge with it, just as we did with the mind. The feeling of self shifts from the mind with all its thoughts and ideas about the world, to sensation. And sensation is essentially the universe! You become the whole universe.
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