spirituality

The Shadow Side of Living an Intentional Life

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The Shadow Side of Living an Intentional Life (for me) is this...🌓
- feeling exhausted from all your #innerwork
- seeing your unconscious tendencies for what they are
- owning your projections and stories
- taking radical responsibility for yourself, your feelings, your needs
- no more hiding or spiritual bypassing, being seen 🙈
- inviting in and sitting with all your emotions 🙇🏻‍♀️
- being honest, anxious, lonely, afraid, angry, frustrated, sad, empty
- losing your way and forgetting who you are
- working 3-10x as hard as those who took the prescribed path (not fact checked, just a feeling)
- not having enough time or energy for all the things, ever
- recognizing your limitations and that you're not in control
- constantly forgiving yourself for not being perfect
- being vulnerable, squishy, soft
- practicing love sometimes gracefully, sometimes not
- begging for mercy, surrendering to the One

The list goes on. I write this, not to create a sob story, whine or throw a pity party for myself 🥳 but rather to be real about what’s behind the mask. There’s always more to the story than what we see on social media or even when we meet face to face.

One spiritual teacher said, “if people really knew what the path of truth entailed, they wouldn’t do it”. Because it’s not all roses 🌹, there’s hella thorns. Ego death is a painful process and anyway, for me, it seems to just reassert itself and dress up in new clothes 👗👘👖. And yet as my past love said, “it’s a one way ticket to wholeness, we can take pauses along the way but this is it.”

In Buddhism, dukkha (suffering) is seen as a fundamental part of the monotony of life, it's a given, and yet I also want to paint a full picture and give it up to the great nectar of life 🍑, Divine Love 💗 in all its sweetness. Sometimes it’s hard to see but it’s always there in everything, our pain is our medicine, our triggers are our teachers, our conflicts are our healing. We are complete.

So here I am, human and divine, visible and invisible, beauty and beast, in all my imperfection, all my flaws...trying to make sense of this thing called life 🤷🏻‍♀️.

People say I’m wise but I’m not sure I have a clue...I just keep walking until I come to love my light and my shadow, my mud and my lotus, until perhaps there is no me at all 🌑.

Much love + respect for y’all on the path ✊🏽. It ain’t always easy to live in #truth #yearofdivinelove #shadow #realness #itwasalladream

Lotus

STEP 2: COMPLETING THE HERO’S JOURNEY

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia |  Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Step 2: Completing the Hero's Journey follows Step 1:  Conceiving the Heroine's Journey.

Over the past seven years I’ve gone alone. 

For my twenty-first birthday, my dream was to go to New York City to celebrate. I spent months planning the trip and invited my best friends at the time that said they were "IN". When push came to shove for many reasons whether it be money or time constraints, they couldn’t go. I was left with a choice, go alone or stay back with my friends. 

I chose to go.

I knew a couple people in New York and on my birthday itself I had planned to meet a friend of a friend. For some reason, her phone went straight to voicemail and no matter how many times I tried, she just couldn't be reached. We had planned to go to the Museum of Modern Art and by noon I finally stopped waiting. “I’m here. I’m going.” 

Through that experience and many others over the past several years, I've learned that pursuing your dreams often requires a solo journey. 

Biography drawing depicting my life in seven-year stages 0-7, 7-14, 14-28 etc.

Biography drawing depicting my life in seven-year stages 0-7, 7-14, 14-28 etc.

A psychologist friend recently took my colleagues and I through a powerful exercise called “Biographies” (above) where you chart your life in seven year stages. In each stage you record the significant events and then examine it for themes and unfolding patterns. What I discovered from looking at my "going alone" stage from twenty-one to twenty-eight is that it strongly correlates to the “Hero’s Journey”

After decades of studying ancient myths and stories, Joseph Campbell, developed the “Hero’s Journey” to describe the “monomyth” or universal storyline present in each. The general arc of this story unfolds where the hero (often male) hears a “call to adventure” and leaves the “known world” of home and family to undertake the “unknown world”. Whether alone or with the assistance of minor characters helpers, the hero conquers adversaries, obtains treasure and returns home with greater status or goods where he is welcomed and validated as a new leader and master of two worlds. 

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What Campbell also discovered through his studies is that we can apply this same storyline to our own lives and that each of us is experiencing our own hero’s journeys.

For me, my hero’s journey has been one of growth, learning, and exploring. I’ve traveled across twenty-five countries from the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia. I’ve held over twenty-four jobs ranging from serving in restaurants to managing graphic design firms to leading coworking spaces and doing global culture consulting.

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia |  Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Through these adventures, I've been blessed to meet many mentors, helpers, and friends and though it's taken many forms, I can see that the Hero's Journey is a cycle I’ve repeated over and over and over again. I answered every call. I went all in. I threw myself into the ocean and became a “Yes woman” or “Yes-mad” a digital nomad that says “Yes” to life. 

As I round out this last year working and traveling in Southeast Asia, I see my hero's journey coming to an end. While it has been an incredibly insightful and useful framework, I’ve made a new discovery.

 “The Hero’s journey is a search for one’s soul and is chronicled in mythologies and fairy tales throughout the world. This quest motif does not, however, address the archetypal journey of the heroine. For contemporary women, this involves the healing of the wounding of the feminine that exists deep within her and the culture.

In 1990, Maureen Murdock wrote The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness as a response to Joseph Campbell’s model. Murdock, a student of Campbell’s work, felt his model failed to address the specific psycho-spiritual journey of contemporary women. She developed a model describing the cyclical nature of the female experience. Campbell’s response to her model was, “Women don’t need to make the journey. In the whole mythological tradition the woman is there. All she has to do is to realize that she’s the place that people are trying to get to” (Campbell, 1981). That may be true mythologically as the hero or heroine seeks illumination but psychologically, the journey of the contemporary heroine involves different stages.

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The first part of the heroine’s journey is propelled by the mind and the second part is in response to the heart. The heroine has been working on the developmental tasks necessary to be an adult, to individuate from her parents, and to establish her identity in the outer world. However, even though she has achieved her hard-earned goals, she may experience a sense of Spiritual Aridity. Her river of creativity has dried up and she begins to ask, “What have I lost in this heroic quest?” She has achieved everything she set out to do, but it has come at great sacrifice to her soul. Her relationship with her inner world is estranged. She feels oppressed but doesn’t understand the source of her victimization. (Article: Heroine's Journey, Maureen Murdock)"

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia |  Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

The Heroine's Journey describes with absolute accuracy what I am experiencing now. I’ve achieved a “successful life”. I’m doing work that I love, traveling around the globe with the support of a community of family and friends but in the process I’ve sacrificed much of my body and soul.

Though the soul is eternal and cannot die it has still suffered and been silenced beneath the noise of my mind. Additionally, my body has struggled to do all the things I demand it to do. My inner man has been in control with lofty performance goals and ambitions to live a life rich in life experience. And while this journey has been enriching it has also left me quite exhausted.  

The body is an amazing vehicle for the soul and at a young age, I’ve found tools that allow me to heal just enough so I can keep going. That said, this isn’t sustainable. One mentor has said to me, “the biggest reason brilliant people fail is they burn out.” I know I have an inner journey of healing to surrender to do. My soul needs me to slow down, to listen. 

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia |  Jamen Percy Photography

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Though I've been offered a full-time role with an amazing innovation company in Southeast Asia, I've decided to shift my focus from "doing" to "being" by taking the next three to six months off. 

Sounds easy but keep in mind, I've built my entire identity on what I do. In making this decision my spiritual teacher asked me, "What feels like the hardest thing you would have to push yourself to do?" I replied, "Letting go. Letting go of "what I think I know" and "who I think I am" to explore my undiscovered multitudes, my "unknown unknowns" asking gently, who am I?" 

As I step into my next seven-year stage from 28 to 35, my sense is carving out space to reset the currents of my life is timely. 

“Finding out about being instead of doing is the sacred task of the feminine. Being requires accepting oneself, staying within oneself and not doing to prove oneself. It is a discipline that is accorded no applause from the outside world, it questions production for production's safe. Politically and economically it has little value, but it's simple message has wisdom. If I can accept myself as I am, and if I am in harmony with my surroundings, I have no need to produce, promote, or pollute to be happy. And being is not passive, it takes focused awareness." (The Heroine's Journey, Murdock, 1990, pg. 128)

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia |  Jamen Percy Photography

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

So here’s to the next stage, a time of going inward, of healing, recovery, and rediscovery. 

With gratitude and grace,

Kelsey Lotus Wong

SHAKTI EMBODIMENT SHIP

There is peaceful. There is wild. I am both at the same time. 
— sum

I had doubts, resistance, and endless excuses for not joining the Shamanic Shakti & Tantrika Arts Retreat with Anna Maria and Mira Dakini in Bali. The timing, the price, the work I needed to do, this, that, and the other. 

When I shared my concerns, Anna Maria listened to each one so patiently.

Rather than spend time addressing each, she took a deep inhale and said “I hear you.” Then she asked, “what is your intention, what is desire?”

“My desire is to reconnect with my body, my energy, and my spirit. To come into a State of Grace. To recover and reawaken the SHAKTI (Divine Feminine) within me.”

And then I added, “I have never been on a women’s retreat.”

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She smiled radiantly and with her all knowing mystic eyes, she peered into the ancient moonlit caves of mine. In that moment, it was as if she read my soul’s story containing the answers to my future. Then she replied, and I can’t remember if it was words or without but I felt it, “When you’re ready, I’ll be there.”

A few weeks out and I still hadn’t committed. My mind, like usual, was running the various scenarios over and over again, unable to come to a decision. 

Then in a dream, a vision came to me.

I saw Anna Maria aboard a massive wooden ship with white sails headed towards an uncharted island. Like a sorceress, she wielded a staff of pure white light. Like a goddess, her white dress billowed as the wind blew fiercely. Like a warrior, her eyes unbreakable, determined, full speed ahead. 

Then like magic, a dozen other women in all white appeared. I heard the soothing sounds of the Harmonium begin, followed by the embodied voices of these Shakti’s at sea. And then, and then! Just on the other side of Anna Maria, I saw her. I saw a woman that looked familiar but who I had never seen before. I saw a woman who was centered, clear, and true. I felt a spirit that was ready for anything. I heard the heartbeat of a whole, pure, indestructible...ME. 

It became crystal clear, “You’re going.”

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WELCOME TO THE SHIP!

What unfolded on this collective Goddessey is sacred and far more than I could ever express in words. Photos will only scratch the surface but I do want to honor, celebrate and show the world what these women are made of. 

The Shakti Embodiment Ship went full force into the wild darkness of the collective womb. 

Together...WE SANG, WE DANCE, WE SHOOK.

WE SCREAMED, WE LAUGHED, WE CRIED.

SHAKTI-TEARS

WE STORMED. WE BATTLED. WE CAME ALIVE.

WE HELD. WE RECEIVED. WE SURRENDERED.

WE RELEASED. WE MANIFESTED. WE TRANSFORMED.

WE CELEBRATED. WE HEALED. WE REMEMBERED.

WE CAME HOME TO OUR BODIES. 

WE CAME HOME TO SISTERHOOD.

WE CAME HOME TO MAMMA EARTH.

WE CAME HOME TO SPIRIT.

This experience made me feel Activated. Liberated. Reborn.

I had never gone this deep with all women before. 

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I hadn’t realized how much of the time I am “performing”
I hadn’t realized how much work it is to “keep it together” 
I hadn’t realized how little I was breathing until I could finally Exhale

I found peaceful
I found wild
I found parts of me I had lost years and maybe lifetimes ago

And while this wasn’t the end all be all and there will always be more to discover, the Shakti Embodiment Ship was “MAHA MASSIVE” as Anna Maria likes to say.

So thank you to all the YINspiring Shakti’s aboard this epic voyage of rediscovery and thank you to our brave leaders and their infinite hearts guiding the way, Anna Maria and Mira Dakini. We thank you, we love you, we are free!

AHEY SISTERS!

With gratitude & grace,
Lotus

SEE COMPLETE PHOTO ALBUM captured by Shivani Ma, Caitlin Beaver, and Raphaella Caflers.

DISCOVER UPCOMING EVENTS from Anna Maria and Mira Dakini:

::ESSENCE OF SHAKTI:: Sweden, August 14th-19th 

 ::EARTH PRIESTESS TRAINING:: Bali, Indonesia, November 17th-30th

P.S. be sure to check out Mira's Shakti Temple Yoga - yoga designed for honoring women's bodies - one of my favorite daily rituals of the whole retreat! 

THE SACRED ART OF SHIBARI 縛り癒

How does one put words to an experience as electrifying, enlivening, and elevating as Shibari 縛り癒 Healing?

The first word that comes to heart is "Yugen" a Japanese word for describing the indescribable. Yugen is a profound awareness of the universe that triggers a deep emotional response.

That's what Bodhi Zapha's Shibari Workshop gave me.

Shibari 縛り癒 Healing  | Bodhi Zapha 
"A Shibari healing session involves working with ropes and meditative states to channel energy, feelings of surrender and connection with transcendental consciousness free from the limitations of the body." — Bodhi Zapha

In this sacred art form, Bodhi is a Shamanic Alchemist transforming what was once an act of torture and suffering into an initiation into conscious healing, pure beauty, and great fun!

Shibari 縛り癒 Healing has been likened to "a hot bath for your energy body", "meeting the edge of your humanity", "touching the void", "embracing the somatic landscape of vulnerability and surrender".

Shibari 縛り癒 Healing builds a bridge between the conscious and subconscious mind, the mind and body work together to bring a state of peace to the being. In this twilight place the mind is in resonance with it's own deeper intelligence, melting into source energy, the place from whence we all derive.

The singularity, the core of existence beyond duality. To experience oneness with this core universal energy realigns the individual with his or her own true essence leading to profound self evolution and reconnection to spirit.

My first experience with Shibari 縛り癒 Healing was completely unanticipated. Through the experience of being tied and un-tied, I was swiftly transported into a state of total surrender.

In that sacred space, I felt a soul wound hidden with me unlock and slowly come undone. I dove deep and discovered that under layers and layers, I have a profound feeling of distrust. Distrust for others, distrust for self, distrust in the Divine. Like no one and nothing can truly hold me.

Opening something like that can be quite startling and unnerving but the space was held so beautifully that it allowed for a gentle unraveling. My Shibari partner remained by my side and I was able to come to a place of wholeness and willingness to release this distrust and begin to rebuild my faith. 

From that session on, every experience we shared flowed. Each moment presented a new learning, teaching, and delight. Bodhi took us through various tying techniques and fun tantra exercises like "Predator and Prey" (aka Hunter and Hunted) where you take on different masculine and feminine roles to express and explore the wildness within.

Through Bodhi's Shibari workshop, I also learned more about the Wheel of Consent, a wheel that presents the spectrum of Doing/Not Doing and Giving/Receiving where there are four main actions of: Serving, Allowing, Taking, and Accepting.

Bodhi shared that in relationships it is often that one person is giving, say for example a man is giving his partner a massage. In this case, he is giving and feels he is SERVING his partner. She feels she is ALLOWING him to do what he wants to do. But no one is RECEIVING.

We practiced each of these and it was amazing to go full on into each. Particularly with TAKING. I've never been given permission or allowed myself to fully TAKE. It's been deemed as "selfish" and "wrong" and dependent on the context it can be. But in relationship where boundaries are clear and consent is given, it can be an opportunity to step into your power in a very sexy and invigorating way. It's also really exhilirating to be taken by your partner, to see them in their full power! 

This insight alone was worth the cost of the entire workshop. I now feel in-freedomed to introduce and practice giving, receiving, allowing, and taking in future relationships.

To conclude, the Shibari 縛り癒 Healing workshop was significant. I'm stunned by how much we covered in just two days together. 

I feel tremendous respect for this healing art and immense gratitude for the opportunity to explore Shibari as a new expression of sexuality, sensuality, and spirituality. 

Thank you to Bodhi for showing us the ropes (pun intended!) and to my fellow Shibari Initiators for a most transformative experience 🙏🏽.

Join the next 2 day Instructive Shibari Healing Adventure in Koh Phangan, Thailand on August 13-14th or treat yourself to a private Shibari 縛り癒 Healing session with Bodhi directly.

AHO!

With gratitude and lots of spanks,

Lotus