Sunday, April 17, 2016

Guardian at the Threshold

An artist agonizes before a blank canvas, not wanting to risk that first stroke of bold color. Her friend stays in a soul~numbing job long after she knows she should leave. And their neighbor avoids a difficult conversation with a loved one, denying his discontent while telling himself that all is well.
All three are stymied by what has been called The Guardian at the Threshold of Change. Something beckons, yet they are immobilized. Most of us have been there. We may have doubted our instincts, or felt unworthy to reach for what we wanted. Or perhaps we were frightened of the unforeseen ripples a step forward might set in motion.
So, we avoided. We procrastinated. Perhaps we even lied to ourselves about the truth of our need. While such responses are common and an important part of the process of growth, if we remain in this stage too long, our lives shrink and soulful experience eludes us.
So how do we not let our inner demons of fear, insecurity or complacency sap our life force and bind us to old ways that no longer serve? A clue lies in the etymology of the word demon. It comes from the Greek daemon which, surprisingly, means protective spirit or guardian. 

Is it possible that our inner demons could be transformed into helpers? Might they become allies, rather than foes blocking the gate of forward movement? They can, but only if we turn to face them. We must then quiet ourselves, listen, and trust in the guidance that will come. If we need to leap, they will tell us. If prudent planning is called for, they will aid us in determining the necessary steps. And if it is not yet time to act, we will know that, too, and wait~~not in avoidance, but in trust~~for the time to ripen.
As the artist above listens, for example, she may grow willing to let go of her ego’s need to make a great painting, and instead allow creativity to sweep her into unchartered territory. And as her friend and neighbor turn toward their fear, it might transmute into caution. They will then be better able to determine and enact the most appropriate course of action to meet their respective challenges.
There is a dynamic tension between our desire to move forward and our wish to remain with what is known. When both are respected and allowed a voice, wisdom~~the ability to discern truly what is called for~~arises.

Soulful living may be our intent, but the guardians at the threshold of change ask if we want it badly enough to respond when Spirit calls. If we do, those same guardians will no longer block our passage, but will be our partners as we pass through. Their sage counsel will have readied us to step into the unknown. And there we will find the vitality that comes from having said “Yes!” to that which gives us life and wants to continue shining through us out into the world.

I wish you each well as you face whatever demons you have been granted. May you recognize the daemon beneath the mask and work skillfully as the Guardian at the Threshold readies you for safe passage.


Leia Marie

And please check out the comments below...


Anonymous said...

How do you get past the fear? That's what holds me back. Those demons, as you so rightly call them. Help me in my unbelief...

Leia Marie said...

Great question! Of course, volumes could be written~~and have been~~about this, but today, these are my answers…

First, put your fear in context. Learning to manage fear is one of the main reasons we’re on this journey. It's EXACTLY what you are here to do. You are not frightened because you are defective, or messing up, or ‘not spiritual enough’. It is because you are a human being on an Earth walk. An accepting attitude is so important to cultivate, because anything else just adds to the burden. For more on this, including the Buddha’s teaching story on The Second Arrow, look at the essay for October 1, 2011 on the right hand column or paste the following link into your web browser~~

Second, remember the practices you’ve found that take you to inner stillness. Use them now! I haven’t found it particularly effective to listen for guidance when I’m spinning tales of catastrophe! Let go of whatever decision you need to make and be still, first and as often as needed.

Third, when you are ready, gently turn toward your fear, as you would turn toward a frightened child. Don’t yell at yourself for being afraid, or collapse into your fear, agreeing with every worry you find. Allow a part of you to stay larger than the fear…noticing, asking questions, being curious about it, offering what seems needed.

Fourth, reach out to trusted others to support you in this process. Any idea that we are to confront major difficulties on our own is a peculiarly western notion. We all need support, particularly when frightened. Get it for yourself! And don't forget the kind of support that can come from prayerful silence.

Fifth, remember the metaphor of the Guardians above. If the fear is too big, it is likely too soon to move. Await your readiness, not in avoidance but in trust. It will come in time.

I hope some of that is helpful. Grappling with these Guardians is challenging, AND part of the preparation for our next step. Try not to only see their 'demon' masks. Look deeper, to the lessons they offer, to the strength they help us grow, to wisdom they bring our way.

Blessings on your path! Thank you for reading and for writing.

Jonathan James said...

This is a great topic. As I read your essay I am strongly reminded of David Whyte's “conversation” between that which we know (and are familiar with), and the “unknown frontier” that we are drawn to. He talks about the tension that exists between taking the step that we “don't want to take,” and of the pull of that frontier that the step leads one to. He also speaks about the necessity of listening and of paying attention to the different voices in that conversation, but of also of the danger of not taking the needed step while the time of harvest is at hand. How does one know when they have listened long enough. Leia, you say that Spirit calls. I hope so. Certainly, listening is the key, otherwise even that voice will not be heard.

Leia Marie said...

Thanks for this, Jonathan. It seems it is all learning. We may listen too long or too little~~or so it might seem to us~~but we are growing our ability to negotiate this thing called life, growing through experience our ability to discern. So, it's all good, yes? Hope so!

Thanks for reading and for writing!

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Leia Marie