by Julianne Kulosa
Julianne is a Spiritual Intuitive and Guide, empowering others to live a life of miracles and magic through trusting the power of love.
The challenges in our own lives are no easier or harder than any other person's. It’s natural to compare our own journey to others. Unfortunately, when we do so, we either come up short or think we’re doing better than someone else. That’s probably one reason people love reality shows. In a reality show, the actors are meant to ramp up the upset, drama, trauma and emotion. We can watch a reality show and feel better about ourselves for a moment.
One way to step out of the comparing, judging and automatic responses to our experiences is by honoring our challenges as initiations. Throughout history, different cultures created initiations for spiritual growth. The most powerful initiations were meant to have a person confront their deepest fears. You might be sent off into the woods alone on a vision quest or put into a sarcophagus or grave for days on end. By confronting your fears, inner “demons” and death itself, you literally die a spiritual death and are reborn.
In modern day, initiations aren’t so overt nor respected. Life brings these initiations regardless. Any change, especially sudden, is an initiation. The loss of a loved one, whether by death or simply ending of the relationship, the loss of a job, moving, or struggling financially are some obvious initiations we see in our lives and those of around us. We weren’t trained to embrace change, much less death. Yet this is what life brings us with the cycles of the seasons, with each sunset and each evening we close our eyes to sleep.
I never really saw my life as a series of initiations, at least not in a profound way. Why? Because the obvious ones, the ones others would acknowledge as challenges in our culture, are not the ones I personally have had the most difficulty in accepting. Living on the streets pan handling, not knowing where I was going to sleep that night, was fun. Leaving my friends and moving back home with my mother when I was pregnant was scary but felt right. The death of my brother just before the birth of my son, and then the death of my mother soon after, had me step up to care for my loved ones and myself. I loved being a single mom and was proudly grateful for welfare while finishing up college. All those date rapes were par for the course. These examples are things we were trained should be challenging, maybe even wear as a badge of honor for having survived. Yet in those experiences I thrived, not survived. At the same time, the initiations I resist most and suffer over come in the forms that others wouldn’t see as difficult.
You see, it’s so important to honor your personal challenges, especially by not comparing them to others. What throws your whole world into a tailspin might be a walk in the park for someone else. What may devastate another may feel like an easy shift for you.
Maybe you felt a little sorry for me when I gave you that list, or that I am hiding from my own feelings? No need! My most challenging initiations seem to be those that I don’t think “should” be challenges. For example, I recently realized that I have not had a go-to-the-office 40-hour-work-week kind of job in almost 25 years. Good problem to have, eh? I know how awesome my life is, however, I also like to work hard and be busy. Five years ago, I was living in an amazing community of people and felt a great desire, with no real explanation, to leave. I sensed there was something more than the busy work I was doing within the community, so my husband, son and I moved. I became a stay-at-home housewife and mom. Little did I know I was stepping into the greatest initiation in my life thus far.
In the past five years, I’ve tried to “keep busy”. I’ve done volunteer work, assisted friends in need, got my master’s degree and am always immersed in some kind of spiritual training. However, my son has also grown up completely, now age 20, and I’ve had more time on my hands then ever before. My life has been s-l-o-w.
It was just after we moved that I was clear that I wanted to live day-by-day by my heart’s desire and guidance. I knew it was time to let my soul take the driver’s seat and put my ego safely and lovingly in the carseat in back. Boy, is this the most challenging thing to do! Keeping busy, responsible and productive is a big goal of my ego. “Doing nothing” equates to laziness, selfishness and feels pointless to my ego. Any of you who have done mindfulness meditation surely know this feeling or others that arise when you simply sit and notice the breath. Ramp that up full volume when you practice life as a mindfulness meditation! Yet it is noticing the breath that brings us to the perfection of now, where all the goodies live, be it in the emptiness or fullness of the outbreath or inbreath.
Along your spiritual path, you come across the space between the breath, an initiation of the Great Void. It is here that you confront the intense emptiness mimicked by being in that pitch black space inside a coffin in ancient initiation rituals.
You might feel a lack of direction, a lack of passion, boredom, anxiety or depression. If you surrender to it, it offers the opportunity to come to peace and compassion with all your greatest fears and inner demons. If you fight it, it only stays longer. I still discover myself fighting sometimes, using the Western methods of escape like shopping, eating, television, or just unnecessary busy work. I notice when I say, “Yes!” to that emptiness instead of thinking something is wrong, stopping to simply breathe in and out that breath of life that connects us all, everything opens up. When I fight it, any feelings of stress or anxiety only increase as I try to escape.
Our personal initiations are uniquely ours alone, yet we go through them for the transformation of the entire planet. No matter how small or insignificant you might think your challenges are, they are to be honored as the powerful life-changing experiences that they truly are.
Okay, I’ll share an example of something with you that you might think is silly and insignificant. I’ve got a thing about ants. Not spiders, not bees, not snakes, but ants. We go way back. When my son was almost three, I lived in an apartment that I should have known had an ant problem, as I noticed that ants were literally painted into the counters of the kitchen when I first moved in. One evening, I went over to my adorable son as he slept and noticed a trail of ants going across his pillowcase above his head. That was the straw that broke me, and I laid in a puddle on the floor crying, calling my friend for help. She came over and couldn’t help but start laughing, saying that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.
Fast forward to our house now, where we’ve had ants take over the bathroom more than once. This past rainy season, however, I had an honest talk with the scout ants who just started coming out instead of trying to fight them. I let them know that I respect and honor that they need to live, but that if they show themselves to me, I will have to kill their queen, thus their entire colony, which I do not want to do. Did it work? Yep. The next day, the ants were gone, never to return.
When it comes to what your greatest personal challenges are, you don’t need to fight yourself or them, tell yourself to toughen up, push through or get over it. Your job is to surrender into what you are experiencing, as challenging as that is to do. It is all coming up for you to bring to light the truth of who you really are and to be inwardly transparent and authentic with your feelings, needs, fears and desires. No other person’s opinion of your personal experience matters. Share when you feel safe to do so.
You are not your experiences, nor are you your fears. You are a spark of the divine. You are the gift of the breath that wishes only to serve and remind you to breathe in life and breathe out that gift to others. Within Divine You is a love that transmutes even your greatest fears and challenges into the light.
You are being called to slow down, to notice, and to feel your experiences. This includes when your notice yourself fighting, avoiding or escaping. If you hold the intention to simply breath and bring your own compassionate care and love to what your are experiencing, I promise it will shift. Ah, but not if you are doing it with the goal to make it shift, you see? Initiations call us to surrender to them completely. The goal for them to go away as quickly as possible reflects your lack of surrender.
Look around you and within you and notice any initiations you are going through right now. Some might be obvious, while others are pretty easy to find if you simply look at what you want to get rid of, fix, fight, change, or avoid at all costs. What are you fighting or what are you feeling victimized by? You have called this experience to you - you powerful soul you, you shaman, you high priestess - to transmute it all with the power of your love and willingness to trust yourself, your process and the universe. It’s all part of the plan for your and the world’s highest and greatest good. Breathe and know that all is truly well, including when you scream that it is not!
It's not just you, my beloved. The world is transforming and we're all in this together. You are a master and expert in your unique experiences and contribution to the world. Together we'll navigate through these challenging yet oh so juicy and magical times.