Tending the inner flame: from self-destruction to thriving

Many of us have this one thing that come up inside of us which, like a compacted volcanic rock of emotion, feels so much bigger and more fiery than the kind of circumstances that typically set it alight as a dull-ache in our chest or stomach or a full-blown inflammation in our cells. Like a red-glowing ember that suddenly flies out from the fireplace onto the rug of our lives, this “thing”sets us off over and over again, unleashing chaotic and reactionary feelings that feel like they have been with us forever. We know that if we don’t rant and rage with them, “doing something” about this thing that brought them up, we will have to bring the feeling back inside and torch ourselves or “lid” the feelings in ways that, we suspect, are detrimental to our health (and so they are). So what do we do, how do we handle this hot potato when we catch it for the umpteenth time in our lives and is there a new way we can consider?

Its a typically (though not exclusively) female thing to have these fire-emotions come up as though from nowhere and we can be sure we have been collecting them across many lifetimes in order to have this super-redhot version this time around ready for our transformation of them. And then we feel them flicker up, not just for ourselves but, on behalf of  all those in our care (or that we care about) including our “causes”, our families and our children (perhaps especially our daughters)…since the well-versed anger we carry is hinged upon our long-running experience of many many MANY scenarios of unfairness; of the odds being stacked against us, of the world being geared to favour the few and of the criteria for success being built upon the kind of “skills” (such as courting popularity for its own sake or out-and-out bitchiness and abuse) that we despise too much to cultivate in ourselves and yet, without them, we lack the currency to make a decent go of the world as it is currently set up. Oh how pissed-off we feel with it all!

These inner power-flames come up with the rhythm of our menstrual cycles and, above all, during menopause. Something tells us they must be allowed to out themselves at these times or we will “die” and yet this is the very epitome of the damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario when faced with letting loose a hell-cat of pain that can be the aforementioned grenade going off in our lives….externally (torching our marriages, our careers and more) or internally (our health). One single spark rising out of an alarmingly  commonplace set of scenarios can be enough to spark off our personal inferno and we know somehow that we are being challenged to come up with the least destructive version of that bonfire soon if we are going to survive, but what does that alternative even look like?

For me it is injustice and a sense of being made an “under-dog”, in all its forms, that sets me off; felt keenly on behalf of anyone being treated thus, hotly for all women, painfully for anyone amongst my family or friends, excruciatingly when it’s on behalf of my daughter, self-destructively when its anything to do with me since that version feels like the very inflammation in my cells that becomes PAIN and crashing health. Even now that inflammation is all-but gone from my  daily experience, a circumstantial trigger can switch it back on in an instant so I know its time I got to work on this final bastion of my healing…by tackling the very triggers themselves; but how since I can’t single-handedly change the ways of the world?

By getting to know what all versions of these triggers are in their very core essence. To me, they are the concentrated essence of any kind of situation that feels loaded by one set of people against another, any version of gross unfairness, of not being allowed to shine or have your gifts rewarded in the same way as any others that are currently in favour, of political correctness that bites the arse of those whose considerable efforts are now erased in the name of an idea of including all; and so, any sense of life being a game with the most ridiculous rules that repeatedly handicap those whose more decent values disqualify them from taking part, anything that renders us speechless or powerless in a game of life-politics that is all about manipulation and control. These triggers come dressed up in the wrapper of every-day circumstance in every aspect of life, from our playgrounds to our corporate offices and, when they go off, I have often found myself  baring scorch marks or sitting in a pile of  ashes following a short period of unleashing the kind of outspokenness that comes up in me so fast I don’t really stop to think but which I quickly come to regret.  This is not because my words or actions lack truth but because they sometimes backfire to make the situation worse, the perpetrators close rank and those I care about (including me) feel worse off than ever, even if in the most subtle of ways.  This is often to do with my own disquiet at my having to rise up like that and so become this least natural or resonant version of myself…which leave me strongly disliking this part of my own strength; which only forces it back into the kind of submission that feels like self-defeat when my very life-spark seems to go into some sort of retreat as penance for its unruly actions.

In the midst of my deepest health problems, these fiery pits took me so much deeper that I had to learn to pull back or else be destroyed …and yet owning these truths was never more important to my survival since stuffing my feelings back inside only ensured my health would capsized again a little later; and probably more destructively.  The balance was to know, to witness and to express in other ways that generated far less singe-factor; through writing or amongst trusted friends. I learned to take that long deep breath before diving into the fray; to allow my head to cool somewhat before opening my throat chakra and breathing my fire. I gave vent to my blocked energy through chakra mantras (“lam, van, ram, yam, ham, om…”) until the fire in me came out as powerfully resonant sound that grounded my power more deeply into my cells whilst connecting me to the earth and to my highest aspect, simultaneously. With mindful daily practice of everything I had come to know and love about myself, I used the kundalini process of coaxing this fire up and out of me…on my terms, to my best rhythms…to fuel my own highest evolution.

In many ways I see how this roaring lioness fire has been the very wake up call of that highest evolution and it never came up in me more strongly than when my own survival was on the line, manifesting as the rocket fuel that got me (and my “cub”since it has everything to do with the maternal instinct that connects us to Gaia) out of some extremely dire situations. When everything was on the line and I felt the odds of life were most highly stacked against me, UP came my flame of survival instinct and all the most formidable power I could muster. Yet (as I discovered) living surrounded by burning fields cannot be sustained for any length of time and my health paid tribute to that. Choosing the ultimate career of the underdog, the creative pursuits that make it nigh impossible to make a living in the current paradigm, was another way I chose to deep-dive into the practice ground of this reactionary territory (all that indignation that an art-career gives rise to); not to mention taking on the kind of health issues that almost nobody takes seriously. It seems, I really wanted to go to town on these feelings of profoundest injustice and dissatisfaction with the status quo so I could transform them, didn’t I? All of this has been my most recent decade of literal and metaphorical inflammation out of which a whole new life…and powerfl sense of self… has risen like a phoenix.

Then, after years of inner work, some of us become quite the expert at simmering down our own inner fires so that we can live more comfortably with them to face another day yet even this feels like a compromise, underpinning the endless yoyo-ing of our circumstances rather than the sustained kind of health and livelihood that gets stronger, and works with us a little more, every day. Because when the flame-thrower is still coming up inside of us on its own terms, not ours, we are never truly the captain of our own ship since our rigging may catch fire at any moment. Realising this, and just how weary you are with all fire-fighting, feels like a whole new level of evolution, one where we turn the angry red blaze that seems to want to consume everything (even us) into the cool violet-blue flame of something infinitely more creative and uplifting, not to mention transformative as its next permeation.

It was like becoming the bomb disposal team of my own health to understand how inwardly-turned fire fuelled by a sense of “the injustice of the world” was at the core of so much of my pain. I realised also that no amount of self-righteous belief justified the singeing of others as I gave vent in the heat of my moment and there were always  going to be casualties if I let loose my own considerable power in that way. I was like the lioness protecting her cubs when I got to work on these themes; and I could be vicious, formidable…but what a waste of such power to misdirect it like a circumstantial scatter gun. Instead, I learned (first) to steady it, (then) to retract it and (then) to reload it with love and undertanding…for all…instead of nails and a heat born of all the considerable friction of my disappointing past. This, of course, required that I notice those patterns over as much “time” as I have access to so that I could pluck out the trends, noticing the stuck-points where circles of behaviour keep feeding themselves, generation after generation, like a snake eating its tail.

Such a situation has  been building in relation to my daughter in recent weeks and I was noticing the prickle of it long before the full flame began to lick the sides of my heart from the solar plexus bonfire that was rapidly building just below. It has all the hallmarks of feeling like an unfairness, an injustice, an “odds stacked against her” situation and, as usual, I find I want to roar my disapproval at the system that perpetrated it yet I know to do this will probably make it much worse and won’t help her at all. Just thinking about it makes me want to claw the walls and the endless family conversations around it make me feel wildly helpless (like a tiger in a cage) in a way I generally refuse to be made to feel helpless any more and yet…what else can I do but sit back and watch the almost inevitable unfairness play out given the current “system” is so flawed. This thing played through my mind this morning as I was doing twists on my yoga mat and I suddenly felt warmth radiating off the mat like it had access to underfloor heating and then realised that was coming from me. Each time I twisted my torso in a way that wrings out my third chakra, I felt this blast of incredible heat from my lower spine that  I could touch with my hand. Was that really coming out of me? I knew it was…and, until yoga and such mindfulness, I also know I used to turn all that heat inwards on myself rather than unleash it on the world.

I could feel the emotions peppering around my throat chakra by the time I came downstairs for breakfast. All of a sudden, I was giving vent to how this situation and others like it make me feel…so helpless, so shut in my box, hands tied behind my back; hanged if I do, hanged if I don’t. I knew this tirade was the unjust outcome of so many unfair lifetimes come back for a replay through the egg crack of my morning and I had to let its golden fire-yoke flow, there were simply no more eggshell sides left to hold it in so it came pouring, accompanied by a blast of hot tears.

The night before, at the end of blazing row with my daughter over the very thing I wish I could make better, I had owned up to her how I so-often take the knocks of these situations when they arise; playing devils advocate so that she can kick against the unfairness of me rather than be unexpectedly dumped upon by an unfair world. I make myself her practice zone, preempting the hard-handling that I tend to believe awaits her. I had hardly seen this for myself until I said it outloud…but then, how many other mothers prepare their daughters for the world thus; setting them up for the endless disappointments and compromises of life to try and protect them from the hard “inevitabilities” of the world? Ceasing this complicit behaviour is the very first step of our next evolution; because when we stop buffering ourselves  and our children for the ways of a world we really don’t like, that world has the better chance of moving over for a better one to take its place.

As the penny dropped in both her understanding and mine and the hug of reconciliation took place between us, this made room for the next layer of the same theme; the point where I now see  how I locked myself up in all the low-expectations of my earliest “training”. This conditioning occurred when I was bullied so badly at school that my mother went out guns blazing to tackle the parent of the girl and the school that failed to notice, but then the girl’s nasty behaviour only became much more insidious. My mother thought that by calling out this bullying to these people in “authority”that the system would support me, everyone would see reason and the harmful behaviour would be stopped yet the opposite was true, things only became more stacked against me since I now had an outspoken parent who had dared to call people into question. A one-time warm and effusive teacher, who had known my mother through four model children, now snubbed her when they met, as did the family of the girl and their friends. Worst of all, I felt like I could no longer confide in my mother so I drew myself inwards, keeping my inner sanctum to myself and cutting myself off from an intimacy with my parent that would have helped support me through the years to come. In truth, I was angry and stopped trusting her in my affairs because all I saw was her firing up a situation that was already dire. Though we had a great relationship over the years, I remained somewhat disparaging of her fierceness, her willingness to bluntly “speak truth”all her life; and then turned that self-loathing in on myself when the same truth-urge rose up in me. At last, this morning, I received such a new layer of understanding and LOVE for my mother, who had only every wanted to so-fiercely protect me; the failure of which had, at some level, led me to abandon myself. Most of all, I received a new level of love and appreciation for myself and all the many times I have risen up to be that self-defender, against all the odds.

And so as we recognise these old wounds in ourselves, we stop pointing the gun of them inwards and we notice the alternatives (for there are now options we never even saw when we were all about the indignation of our lot). That new alternative is not to point them more at those who perpetrate unfairness in our world but to make this whole pattern of behaviour (in which we have been complicit) so transparent that we no longer choose its merry-go-round but, rather, choose to rise above it, making an alternative reality ever more concrete with the direction of our most uplifting focus. While we continue to make these unfair situations the be-all-and-end-all of our alternating anger and attempts to ignore them, we keep then lined-up in the sights of that part of us that manifests our reality via whatever we habitually focus upon. Either way – whether we look directly at what we don’t like about this world or studiously pretend its not there by denying its worst aspects – we triangulate the pinpoint of our formidable creator-powers at it, keeping it there…on and on and on in perpetuity, supported by our energy. When we both know these structures we dislike so much are there are there but also STOP giving a damn about how well we fit into them, not because we give these things all our power, allowing them to  have their way with us but because we cease marking our own score by their most ridiculous mark-schemes, we watch them dissolve into the ether. Play the game of this bizarre little world just a little by all means, if it still gives you anything back that you truly want from it (remembering life is but a game)…but don’t make it so important you are prepared to burn for it. When we know we will still be standing as intact as ever when life’s silliest structures withdraw their support from our circumstances…that’s when we know we will be more than OK, unconditionally and so our whole body relaxes into something well beyond survival mode. This is thriving in a deep and consistent way and, if we can teach this to our kids, they will be well on the way to thriving at a far earlier stage in life than we managed to get there!

Recognising how our earliest injustices became the benchmarks to our current experiences is key to unlocking the limited expectations that we have been frustrating ourselves against every since and, whilst some amount of fire can be the means to setting the transformation process in motion, there comes a time to realise  that we create most divinely from a place that isn’t having to push against those things we are in resistance to in order to get results; by constantly affirming what we do want, not what we don’t. When we simply stop defining ourselves according to systems that feel deeply unsupportive of all that truly matters to us (whether we are talking about popularity culture, corporate hierarchy or world politics and many other heavily-stacked structures in between); refraining even from saying we are “not” of these things but, rather, simply withdrawing our attention from them, these systems break down of their own accord so that we get to build something new for ourselves out of the energetic rubble. Quite literally, they stop mattering…or being the matter of which our world is constructed.

From this point, we can switch off all the inner flame-throwers and determine our own criteria for wellbeing since our life flame is now a living pilot light that only WE ever get to turn up or down rather than it being sparked into reaction by outside circumstance. This flame can be maintained as something that is all about creativity, enthusiasm, joy and our most vibrant life force – our SPARK –  not the endless cycles of pain and (self)destruction that we have been used to. What came up for me today felt like a distinct invitation to do things somewhat differently to how I have done them before and I see versions of this playing out in the circumstances of more than one person in my close circle so I presume it is a universal opportunity many more of us are facing at this juncture in our evolution. Whatever your version of it is, don’t underestimate the relevance of how you choose to approach whatever is making your flame rise up again. The way we personally respond to our most current invitation to react to old-old triggers (whatever they may be) is the way we get to individually contribute to a whole new – healing and transformative – paradigm for the whole of the world.


This video footage (click image) I filmed of a graceful swan bathed in the violet flame earlier in the week seems to be the most perfect visual I can offer for this subject.





One thought on “Tending the inner flame: from self-destruction to thriving

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s