Finding Deep Soul Medicine in a Moment of Transcendence

Finding Deep Soul Medicine in a Moment of Transcendence

We look to retreats, to sacred sites, to long hours meditating to move us toward transcendence—but often soul medicine is found in simply allowing yourself to slip further and further into the work of your own soul’s calling.

It was early spring, still cold enough for gloves, my breath pluming as I timed my breathing to the breathing of my horse.

Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale.

This particular horse was wild and wary. Riding him often drew a ringside crowd, gathered to watch his next inevitable bucking spree. But today he was relaxing incrementally and so was I.

Inhale. Exhale.

Figure eights are lulling, soothing even. Round and round, asking his body to flow and arc into the circular shape. Time began to do this funny thing, loosening its hold on me and slipping sideways a bit.

This is the first moment of true transcendence I can remember…

…and it hadn’t come easily.

Family myth says the first word out of my mouth was horsey (and you know my mom is dialing me right now to tell me I remember this incorrectly!). As a kid, I loved the idea of horses but the actual beasts frightened me something fierce. Still I insisted on riding lessons despite getting nauseous as we drove to the stables each Saturday morning.

The other kids in the class had long moved on to jumping and trail rides as I went around and around the enclosed ring, too fearful to do anything but walk or trot. My parents would have saved me from my own fear, finding a safer hobby to fill my weekend mornings. My riding trainers looked resigned as I dragged my tear-stained, terrified self into the saddle week after week. I was a pudgy, klutzy, terrified kid. And I was fiercely determined; I learned to ride.

Following this passion—this soul calling—crafted the woman I am today: there’s no doubt in my mind that if I had given up or given in, I’d be someone else entirely.

And it was working with horses which first triggered my empathy—my ability to feel what another was feeling. I knew terror and anger and stubbornness. What I saw in the horses reflected what I knew of myself. By the time I was a teenager I’d gone from being terrified to being one of the few people who would ride the true terrors.

The horses that gnashed and bit and stomped? They were saved for me. The horses who were scared and shying? They found their way onto my riding roster.

What the horses really taught me is that moments of transcendence don’t necessarily happen when you’re galloping across the fields or hurtling over the highest jump. Transcendence comes in the small moments, repeated over and over again until you can transcend the physical and cross the boundaries of time and space and flesh.

It's in micro-moments you can slip from your skin into another's and touch the threads of eternity. Click To Tweet

The big moments are compelling and they’re rife with myth and story. They allow you to embody an archetype: to become a goddess or heroine, a mermaid or a sage.

But it’s actually the small moments that allow you to do something far more difficult: they allow you to transcend yourself and, in doing so, find fathomless courage and profound peace.

It’s so hard to teach this. It’s so difficult to break our cultural habits of bigger and better instead of supporting the daily repetition, the seasonal cycling.

This is why I created the Medicine Keepers Collective, to support you in your daily work of finding the rhythms of self in the patterns of the larger universe. If you want support for finding your own path to transcendence, join us. Enrollment is open until November 26.


Recovering from Transcendence

Recovering from Transcendence

On my last morning in Carmel, I stood on the balcony outside my room, watching the moon set over the Pacific.

The air was thick with jasmine and pine. I pulled it deep into my lungs, trying to taste scent, to store the sensuality of this place in my mouth like a squirrel hoarding nuts for winter.

I kept thinking of a scene from Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things (which for the herby amongst us is what we call The Doctrine of Signatures). In the book there is a cave, high in the mountains on an island somewhere in the Pacific. In this cave the characters have a moment that I see in my mind as a jewel.

For those that haven’t read it, it’s a pivotal scene that I don’t want to divulge, but I’ll say it’s one of those moments where two unlikely characters end up together in a sensual, lush paradise and… go read the book.

But it’s a moment of transcendence and even as I read those paragraphs strung like lights in the darkness, I was holding my breath, wondering how these fictional people would recover, would hike down the mountain, and become mere mortals again.

As I stare at the Pacific, my mind roams ahead: 3 flights home, my half-built kitchen, the dog hair balling under the couch.

On a pad next to my computer, I keep a list of possible blog topics. A year and a half ago, when I read that passage and imagined Liz Gilbert having to write herself down from the cave, I jotted recovery from transcendence. I knew deep in my core that the success of her book hinged, not on the cave scene but on everything that came after.

The challenge is in returning from a rarified experience of grace and not getting mired in the distractions of daily life.

Home at my desk, I know that my book’s success will hinge on everything that comes after. The Carmel writing retreat was a moment of transcendence that I now need to recover from, and fast.

This process is one we all go through after every retreat, vacation, and weekend at the ashram. We have to figure out how to take what we discovered and bring it home. This bit of the journey is just as important as the more exciting moments when, for just a second, we see the spark of our own divinity.

I root through my essential oils: night-blooming jasmine and pinion pine. I breathe the scents, opening my mouth, tasting the magic.

Then I crack open Liz Gilbert’s latest book:

The fun part is when you’re actually creating something wonderful, and everything’s going great, and everyone loves it, and you’re flying high. But such instances are rare. You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments… is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living. Holding yourself together through all the phases of creation is where the real work lies.

— Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

It’s time for the real work, and I have jasmine and pine to remind me of transcendence.

Your turn. How do you recover from transcendence? Share with me!



P.S. If you are a writer and this Carmel thing is singing to you, you can follow that thread here. Be prepared for magic!