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April 2, 2002
THE INNER RETREAT
"Retreat" is a fascinating word. It means to withdraw from the outside world for the sake of introspective time and self-evaluation. At the same time it means to flee for your life from enemy forces that have the weaponry, numbers, or strategy to defeat you. It is intriguing that one word can carry both of these meanings. For most of us, to say that we are going "on a retreat" implies that we are taking a "soul break," a time away from the outside world to excavate our interior and to re-establish our footing with God. But now picture an image of soldiers retreating from an enemy. In old war movies, I can recall seeing troops of soldiers following commands to run for cover in order to save their lives -- or, symbolically speaking, their souls. Combining these two definitions is the direction of this month's Salon -- the difference between entering our interior and running away from the enemy.
WHAT QUALIFIES AS "THE ENEMY"?
Who or what represents an enemy force in your life? I love this question because it demands an imaginative answer. While an enemy is almost always thought of as a human being or group, often but not always in uniform, with a little imagination you can see that anything that elicits a fearful response is worthy of that label. Traumatic memories are as much an enemy as is the fear of a recurring illness or an unresolved relationship that continues to filter into your life. And with a bit more imagination, God can become an enemy -- a force that cannot be defeated and that continually directs your life into arenas you would rather not go. As I write this, I am thinking of the many people I have met who have had to endure unbearable hardships in their lives, such as the loss of children or spouses to illness or accident or even murder, or of homes in fires and floods -- all experiences that one ultimately has to assign to the "will of God." While we may not use the word "enemy" in reference to God, at least not directly, we still view the loss of control over the tranquility of life with rage long before we accept it with grace.
I respect silence and self-observation because they form the backbone of spiritual practice. To my way of thinking, being too public about your spiritual path is an open invitation for your enemies to come to your door -- enemies again defined as inner adversaries, including an overdeveloped ego, pride, and presumption. You invite criticism for not living up to the standards you told people you keep, for instance. Why do that to yourself? What purpose does it serve to make public your relationship to God? That is what occurs in your inner retreat.
BUT WHAT IS TRUE
Inner growth does make us respond to our external world in an unaccustomed way. That is not New Age imagination or spiritual hyper-sensitivity (although it may be in some cases). You do absorb shadow vibrations that make their way into your perceptual system and manifest as a negative lens through which you view life -- producing enemies on the horizon where you should see only friends. You want to retreat from problems, from people, from stress, from your fears and insecurities, precisely when you need to walk into these psychic fields. The strength to separate from your own life in order to recognize clearly and name the energy flowing through your system is a power worth earning. That accomplishment requires that your retreat into your interior.
Retreats take many forms. Certainly there are classic directed retreats in which you work with a spiritual director to give form to your interior process. But what I have in mind to explore with you are basic practices involving self-awareness and conscious response. The purpose of a military retreat is not necessarily negative; armies retreat in order to regroup so that they can launch a counterattack -- which you could call "retreating forward." The object of an inner retreat is to recognize when you are becoming saturated with toxins that make the world, your life, and your challenges appear to be the enemy. You pull back so as to regroup your interior resources, get a better look at your adversaries, and then move forward again.
QUESTIONS FOR SELF-EXAMINATION
Do you know your own boundaries?
Boundaries here refer to your energy field or your personal sphere of power. To give yourself a physical reference point, extend your arms and turn in a circle. That, more or less, is the width of your energy field, and it runs the full length of your body like an invisible cylinder. If someone were to slip into your energy field without your seeing or hearing, you would jump from the contact of both energy fields, because you can immediately sense the merging of electrical spheres. Pay attention to your energy boundaries. Make it a practice to evaluate the balance of your energy field. To help you develop a rapport with your energy field, and get to know your own vibrations and how you should feel when your energy is "at rest," try extending your arms and turning around slowly while breathing consciously -- that is, breathing in deeply through your nose, pulling the air down into your diaphragm, and then exhaling slowly through your mouth. Then, keeping your arms extended, face your palms outward, as if feeling the walls of that cylinder of energy surrounding your body. While imagining that you are touching the interior walls of your energy sphere, establish a vision or a sense of how your interior wall should feel when it is in balance.
OBSERVE YOUR ENEMIES
From deep within yourself, your goal is to pinpoint when your energy becomes so overloaded with psychic trash that you start perceiving the world and those in it (including opportunities and creative thoughts) as "enemies" from which you need to retreat. Your attention should be focused on learning to feel or sense psychic contamination and observing how that contamination affects you.
The obvious question is, "Now that I have you all retreating into your inner self, what next?" That will be the subject of April's Salon.
I hope all of you will take even a little time to answer these questions. Play with this subject. Work with your energy field. It is fascinating to get to the point where you are so attuned to your own energy field that you can discern weaknesses in your sphere, and which particular chakra each weakness is coming from. There is just sooo much to learn.
Have a lovely next month, my friends.
To register for the Salon
We will be bringing Caroline’s Workshops on Line with streaming Video and Audio. For all those people in far away lands, Caroline will be digitally recorded for the web. This will be 6 hours of live video of some of her best workshops. Also, the live taped audio seminar’s, that are sold on myss.com, will be available on the web via streaming audio. The savings for all you long distancers is substantial. There is no shipping charge. You can be virtually anywhere where there is a computer and log on to a live video prerecorded workshop or a live taped audio seminar.