What do you do when you face a dark period? When your energy and reserves seem spent and there doesn’t seem to be a clear way out? For many of us, this is the time we cling tight to our resources and close off to anyone other than our immediate loved ones to weather the storm. When we face dark times our instinct is to create borders. The assumption is if we lay low, the dark time will pass and we can go back to our normal way of life. According to spirituality scholar Vera de Chalambert, it is in these times of darkness, when we hit our lows, that our spiritual awakenings often happen. And through these spiritual renewals we find a new, full, and deep source of energy and connectedness.
Vera de Chalambert is a mindfulness facilitator, spiritual storyteller and Harvard educated scholar of comparative religion. Through deep contact, conscious inquiry and holistic modalities Vera works with her clients’ energy-consciousness system to invoke wholeness, restore balance and invite deeper levels of integration and awareness to the client’s energy field, body and life. She is a graduate of the the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, and has studied nondual healing with Jason Shulman at the Institute for Nondual Healing and Awakening. Vera works with clients and gives talks and presentations on spiritual topics and was a speaker at SAND Science and Nonduality Conference in the US and Europe and Sister Giant in Washington DC. Vera holds a Master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School. In this episode Vera and I talk about the importance of letting yourself feel darkness and chaos, why strong, feminine energy is significant in the current political climate, and how to use spirituality to find strength when times are dark.
What You’ll Discover in this Episode:
- How you can change your perspective to see the low times in your life as part of your spiritual journey
- What Kali represents and how learning to recognize her in your life can help you to get through dark times
- How shedding your ideas about yourself can help you to become stronger, more independent, and more spiritually balanced
More about Vera
As we grow and discover what we’re drawn to and away from, we create stories about ourselves. We develop a sense of identity and place deep faith in the validity of the reasons that it has been formed. When this idea about ourselves gets questioned or even shattered, it shakes us to the core. According to Vera, this dark time is actually “essential for the spiritual healing and awakening process.” But that doesn’t mean it comes easily. “What we really discover very often,” she admits, “is that the spiritual life makes us into losers.” We lose our superficial ideas about ourselves and we “begin to lose our ideas of god and our old certainties.”
For Vera, this is the “process of the Kali dance.” Vera describes Kali as a dark feminine energy that shows up in nearly all spiritual doctrines. Kali is “the great mystery that envelops us when we come into contact with a quality of reality that includes life and death, birth and resurrection.” Kali is the time we associate with darkness. This time is darkness because it encompasses everything; both dark and bright times, and that sort of seeming contradiction is difficult for our minds to accept, so in our confusion we cling to the darkness. But Kali is not bad, Vera explains. While she encompasses “life and death, [she is also] birth and resurrection.”
Vera asserts that we are going through a ‘Kali dance’ right now, throughout the world. Times appear dark and hopeless, but in reality it is a process that is leading us to universally shed “so many of our false beliefs.” Vera encourages those who feel hopeless to think of this as a natural part of the cycle of life and a time of “being intimate with aliveness.” “We have one certainty in life,” she stresses, “and that’s that there will be times when things fall apart.”
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In the current political climate, it can feel that there’s a split in society. At times, we feel so divided by issues that we can’t even start a conversation with someone who disagrees with us. For Foundation for Mind Research founder and renowned spiritual leader Jean Houston, we must find those things that unite us if we want to make progress. And the things that unite us, she explains, are at the core matters of the spirit. We must be able to overlook the specific issues and remember that we are all humans with drive, compassion, and spiritual depth.
My guest on this episode is Jean Houston. Jean is a Ph.D., scholar, philosopher and researcher in Human Capacities. In 1965, along with her husband Dr. Robert Masters, Jean founded The Foundation for Mind Research. She is long regarded as one of the principal founders of the Human Potential Movement. A prolific writer, Jean is the author of 26 books including “Jump Time”, “ A Passion for the Possible”, “Search for the Beloved”, “Life Force”, and “The Possible Human.” As Advisor to UNICEF in human and cultural development, she has worked around the world helping to implement some of their extensive educational programs. In this episode Jean and I talk about the intersectionality of spirituality and politics, what we can do to use spirituality to connect in our current political climate, the importance of women coming into power, and why community is so important.
What You’ll Discover in This Episode
- How Jean is able to unite people by focusing on our similarities rather than those things that divide us
- How you can explain to others the importance of gender equality and overcome strife and create greater unity
- How you can foster a relationship with spirituality, even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly spiritual person
More About Jean
As intellectual beings, we have developed and evolved in incredibly complex and self-aware ways. One way that is sometimes overlooked, though, is the immense spiritual capacity that we all have. “We are not encapsulated bags of skin dragging around dreary little egos,” she explains. However, when we overlook this potential, we are wasting a source of power and unity and end up existing as “the flight of the alone to the alone.”
One way that Jean encourages spiritual unity is through equal treatment of the sexes. She expresses that “the rise of women to full partnership with men” is one of the largest movements of the modern world. As men and women are no longer “under the heavy thumbprint of the patriarchy,” there is more freedom for both to explore how they define their existences. She acknowledges that “the releasing of thousands of years of expectations… in a few hundred months” can lead to backlash, but as men and women discover and explore this new reality, they find more freedom and compassion.
Just as with pushback of gender equality, we must approach political conflict with compassion and understanding. She suggests that the potential for spiritual depth that exists within all of us can unify us, and help us to overlook political differences. According to Jean, “we don’t just live in the universe, the universe lives in us,” and remembering this unified existence is essential to coming together.
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