I had no idea why I signed up for the workshop with Sera Beak, author of The Red Book, other than the fact that I’d had dinner with her, along with sisters Leslie and Kris Carr a year and a half ago. The minute I met her, I knew Sera would become one of my spiritual teachers.
What I didn’t realize is that Sera was about to give language to an inner struggle that has plagued me on my spiritual path, one I’ve never fully understood or been able to explain.
Over the past six years, ever since my Perfect Storm cracked me wide open, I’ve been waking up from my disconnected complacency and walking a spiritual path that has brought me increasingly closer to the Divine. In many ways, this has been the biggest blessing of my life. I have felt divinely led, felt the peace and serenity of a personal relationship with a spiritual presence, learned to trust that the Universe has got my back, and become brave enough to take big, scary leaps of faith, knowing I will always land butter side up.
In other ways, stepping onto the spiritual path has been the biggest ass-kicking of my life. Waking up is not for the faint of heart.
I couldn’t be more grateful for the awakening of my spiritual side, which after an oppressive Christian upbringing that left me feeling spiritually bankrupt, and after twelve soul-sucking years of medical education, I was left feeling empty, trying to fill the void with romantic relationships, food, wine, fine fashion, travel – anything but what could really fill me.
My journey on my spiritual path has begun to fill that part of me that has been hungry for wholeness. But every time I’ve had an experience of Oneness with the Universe and All That Is, I’ve freaked out, pulled back, put up my guard, and run hightail in the opposite direction.
Resisting The Divine
I specifically remember one circumstance where I felt the Divine right in me, right there, up close and personal. Something magical was happening, something that took my breath away. And yet, as yummy as it felt, some part of me was screaming, “NO! Don’t do it! It’s a trap!”
Why? Because I was afraid of becoming “too spiritual.” That sounded boring, like black robes and bald heads and vegan food and solitude in a meditation cave. It sounded like no sex, no booze, no cussing, no bawdy jokes, no FUN.
I felt frightened that if I let myself fully embrace my spiritual side, I would have to deny essential parts of who I am. I would, in essence, have to reject my Inner Pilot Light and stop letting my freak flag fly. Part of me resisted that yummy feeling of communing with the Divine, and I didn’t really understand why.
The 2 Faces Of The Divine
But Sera helped me understand my resistance. Sera teaches about how the Divine comes with two faces. The first face is SPIRIT – the Divine masculine, God, Buddhist monks in robes, rigid yoga practices, sitting meditation, the Divine outside and above the body. Most spirituality – even New Age spiritual teachings – fall into this category. These are all good things. We wake up on our spiritual paths by getting in touch with the masculine Divine through our spirit.
But according to Sera, there is another part of the spiritual path that often gets neglected, a part we sell out in service to the first face of the Divine.
The Second Face Of The Divine
The second face is SOUL – the Divine feminine. If SPIRIT wants to shave its head and sit in silent meditation on a mountaintop, SOUL wants to twirl and dance, wear sexy red boots, connect intimately with other human beings, drink red wine, make wild passionate love, and scream F*CK just because someone told her she couldn’t. If SPIRIT is understated, serene, restrained, disciplined, and meditative, SOUL is fierce, emotional, eruptive, sensual, and unapologetic about who she is.
If Jesus is the first face of the Divine, the second face is Mary Magdalene. If SPIRIT is above the body, SOUL resides in it. If SPIRIT is church, SOUL is Mama Earth.
I Sold Out My Soul
When Sera described it this way, I felt this plunk in my belly that I only feel when something resonates as deeply true. I realized that I have been taught by spiritual teachers to repress this divinely feminine part of my spirit path, that I’ve been trained by a masculine construct to reject my feminine soul because it’s sure to get me in trouble and ultimately draw me away from the Divine.
I’ve been taught that the feminine will make me do wild, crazy things that will ruin my life, that the feminine is a siren, the part of me that will call me out to sea only to crash me into the rocks. The feminine can’t be trusted. It’s something to fight against, to steel myself to resist.
At least, that’s what I thought for much of my life.
My Soul Breathed A Sigh of Relief
I cried when I realized I sold out to the masculine in fifth grade, when I realized it would just be easier to change, rather than keep fighting against the oppressive force of a masculine culture. I grieved that I spent decades selling out my soul to get ahead in medicine, where there is no space for a feminine soul.
When I felt spiritually bankrupt in my early thirties, embracing the first face of the Divine felt like a breath of fresh air. At least I felt some connection. But it was only half the sandwich. No wonder I still felt hungry.
By selling out SOUL in service to SPIRIT, we kill a precious piece of ourselves and limit the full range of what is possible when we live a fully expanded, deeply embodied, completely authentic spiritual life. My soul breathed a sigh of relief when I listened to Sera explain that the spiritual path doesn’t require repressing the feminine. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The spiritual path insists that we experience the full range of our spiritual selves, including SPIRIT and SOUL.
Meet My Soul
We spent the rest of the weekend getting to know our souls, learning to listen to the longing and desires of the soul, naming her, committing to living her truth, even marrying her. I discovered that my soul is a risk-taker. She takes wild risks in relationships because she wants to skip straight past the posturing and positioning, the efforts we make to try to “impress” each other, so she can get straight to someone else’s soul.
She takes wild risks in her professional life, because my soul work is helping others get in touch with their souls, which I call your “Inner Pilot Light.” My soul wants to take more risks in the bedroom, though I’ve restrained her somewhat in this arena (time to stop doing that!) My soul takes creative risks but yearns to risk even more in my writing and my art. Most of all – and this was made very evident to me – my soul longs to dance. Movement is her language, how she communicates with me and the world. I made a vow to let her dance more and give her voice.