How do we stay conscious while being aware of the suffering in the world?
I wander around gazing at seeds all day,
asking them what they wish to tell me.
These seed messages have imprinted my soul
with the potential inherent in all things.
This encourages me to trust in the possible
when it appears the impossible is the only path.
These seeds are my teachers, passed to me
by the ancestors of soil, water, sun and tenderness.
How do we stay conscious
while being aware of the suffering in the world?
I have asked myself this question, and have been asked this question over the past twenty years of working with women in trauma and on the healing path through art and story. I imagine we all have our own ways of doing this as each of us is incredibly unique in how we navigate managing our energies in a world that often seems to have gone ‘to hell in a hand basket’ as Grandma was fond of saying.
This writing isn’t conclusive and isn’t even ready to publish – but I feel called to share it now as that is how the Red Thread Cafe works, I invite those who care to join me, to cafe, pull up a chair, get a cup of tea or coffee or vino and sit a spell and ponder with me…
Many of our sensitive, empathic sisters are often affronted, drained or brought down by the ‘news’ and so we can turn off from the knowing of what is really happening in the world, especially regarding our earth and our families. Turning ourselves off from what is happening, or tuning it out completely doesn’t work – it isn’t a sustainable model for transformation for our future. But what do we do? Like so many of us, I too am so impacted by what is going on in our world and yet I know I have to keep vigil with awakeness.
I am often criticized for my paradoxical view. I believe in saving the world with our love, prayer and creative actions, and I don’t know if the world can be saved. But I know we have to try. And it is who we are being when we are trying that wakes us up to who we truly are and forges us as human beings. When we are asleep to the realities of our current predicament we cannot be truly awake and therefore conscious. From my view, consciousness for all beings is our true goal as a species and planet. Only from consciousness can we act in true conscience.
Beyond politics and religion and belief,
we need to be awake, aware and able to be who we are.
If we know who we are and be who we are,
we can change the world faster than any policy or treaty.
Consciousness can transform our world. That is, if we believe most beings, once awoken, are able to move towards being inherently good as a natural state. I do believe, contrary to much of my spiritual tradition, in our inherent goodness, and that badness is often the reflection of harm caused to us as a part of our incarnation journey from the womb into early adulthood. This is why so much of my current work is focused on the incarnation wound, subsequent story, and how that continues to impact our choices, and the energy field we operate inside of.
We cannot choose both consciousness as well as ignorance about the fragility of our human condition. I choose to be intimate with the suffering of the world in my own way – having found a way to work it out. Yes, it can overwhelm and threaten my well being, but through my choice of how I relate to it and how I weave it into the fabric of my daily life – I can both know, and not be taken out by it. And yes, we all process energy differently.
I have begun making calls to the sensitives in my women’s community to move out of reaction-based experience, where we fear the impact and onslaught of the energy of others. This isn’t a fair request in some ways, since I don’t consider myself a sensitive. I can cry at the tenderness of others in a second – so it isn’t that I am not feeling it, I do feel it, deeply and truly, but instead of taking the energy into myself, I translate it into my work through writing, painting, drawing and poetry. I don’t know if this will work for you, but for many members of our community it does. We call this way of working, Intentional Creativity.
I have also asked the sensitives, if they do figure out how to ‘know’ about what is happening and not be taken down by it, to teach the rest of us. My feeling, although I don’t really know, is that we can FEEL everything, know the reality, and through our conscious choice and be able to integrate without short circuiting – by learning to work with our unique energy fields and resonances as individuals and as a collective. I also feel that the ‘fear’ of knowing and feeling is part of what keeps us asleep for longer than we ought to be.
In a way I am talking to those who are ‘well enough’ to know. If someone is in extreme suffering from heartbreak or illness, well of course it is not a time to tune into world news. And yes, there are real news sources with real reporters telling real truths – my source is WNN and WUNRN. Moderation can help, I choose to read 1-2 things a day and include them in my prayers and poetry and paintings – not all of it, but some of it. I moderate the information and I don’t allow it into my body as a whole, but through my heart, yes.
I want to take a stand for my sisters who are joining ISIS – and ask them to wake up. I don’t want to turn my face from them. This starts first with my knowing what is drawing them in, second with prayer and art, and third with action, if my heart is called to action – to act. I cannot respond in physical action to every thing coming across my path. I have to choose where to put that kind of energy – which is a different kind than knowing. We practice knowing and eventually move towards making a conscious contribution to the places in the world we feel truly called, where we are able to care.
When our Chibok sisters and school girls were kidnapped and I read each of their names in our Red Thread Circle, I sobbed to my core, wretched sobs of grief and anger. Feeling each of them as if they were my own sisters and daugthers. I thought, this time, will I be able to manage this knowing or do I need to stop knowing in order to not move into a depression? So I developed a practice where I could be with them – which is I imagine I am having tea with them in the morning and listening to them talk, and I talk to them right where they are, in a quiet imagined moment in a war zone make shift kitchen, and then I bring that experience into my paintings through strokes of prayer and justice.
Most of my ‘on the ground’ work is with women who are moving toward empowerment, as my call is to teach the teachers, serve those who are serving. This is my way. We each must find our own way to know and contribute and be a part of creating our future into the next seven generations.
Finding your way starts with choice, then a desire for consciousness. When we are conscious, we gain something, a capacity to be present to suffering without losing our own way. With both eyes and my heart open to feeling all of it, I can see it and know it without taking on the energy of it. I contribute to the weave, yet I don’t let my weave be tattered due to the weave of other people’s energy. It doesn’t always work. I protect myself, but not from a fear of being contaminated by others negativity, but because my field is literally woven from love. That is how I think of it, that love is ever present no matter what the circumstance. Therein lies the mystery of love and suffering – both are usually present at the same time and don’t cancel each other out.
I don’t have any answers really.
Just more questions.
And the one on my heart today is how to be more conscious.
Do you have a way that you stay conscious? A way to work with energy that allows us to know, and yet maintain our own energy? I would love to hear about it.
yours in red thread,
Maestra Shiloh Sophia
P.S. The painting is mine, IMPRINT (above) is being installed in the Greenbelt Museum today, along side my teacher’s work, Sue Hoys Sellars, Raising the Bar (below) and her Teacher, Lenore Thomas Strauss. We are honored to be a part of her exhibit, showing the enduring influence of Lenore and her thoughts about art and how it shapes us, as we shape it.