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Stepping Out of the Shadows/[Re]Connecting With
Your Life's Journey

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Awakening the Soul

By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

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Awakening: Questioning or Examining?

The truth is that all of us attain the greatest success and happiness possible in this life whenever we use our native
capacities to their greatest extent.
-Dr. Smiley Blanton

So what is it that we have become disconnected from within ourselves? What is it that we are seeking to awaken, seeking to become [re]connected to again?

As part of my own searching, I have befriended many people throughout the years. Friends who have walked their own path. Friends who know the pain of being disconnected from their life’s journey. Friends who have found their way back.

I have tried to tap into the wisdom that lives within them. Wisdom born out of their own trials and tribulations. Wisdom born out of the lessons taught when we surrender our willful, ego-based solutions for the solutions that are born from our soul.

One such friend is a mentor of mine, good ol’ Marty. Marty has worked in half-way houses for over twenty-five years. Believe me when I tell you, Marty has seen it all, whether it be the trials and tribulations of his own journey or the wrestling matches others have engaged in trying to discover how to [re]connect to their own journey.

Early on in my own searching, I had a discussion with Marty about this step, Awakening the Soul. We were both at a weekend retreat and had taken a walk in the woods. We came upon a small lake, so we sat down and talked about some ideas I had been chewing on.

Marty was chewing on a blade of grass, mindlessly tossing pebbles into the lake when he turned to me and said, “You’re absolutely right. There is an awakening that we all must experience. Whatever you call that which awakens is merely a matter of semantics.

“I think of it as my true authentic self. I believe it’s the part of me that has lived and will continue to live throughout eternity. It’s the part of me that is tapped into the collective unconscious of our universe.”

“Huh? What!” I sensed a familiar cloud of frustration and confusion coming over me. 

Marty cautioned me, “Try not to listen to me with your head. Listen for a moment with your heart. Listen with your mind’s eye, watch where my words take you. Pay attention to the  images evoked by what I am telling you. Most importantly, be patient.

“My true authentic self or soul or whatever it is that you want to call it, well I think of it as a quality of myself, ummm, how can I say this, a quality of myself that lives deep beneath the complexity of my personality.”

Marty paused for a moment and watched me. He gently placed a hand on my shoulder, trying to reassure me. He told me to close my eyes as I listened, only paying attention to my breathing. “Just let my words in. Watch how your body begins to embrace an idea long before your mind does. Watch, learn, take notice of how your body reacts to what I’m saying. You see, that’s where our awakening begins.   

"My soul, well for me, how I understand it, my soul is the part of myself  buried beneath my belief system and attitudes. Those two little buddies of mine--my beliefs and attitudes--are simply a lot of noise that goes on in my head, noise that most often drowns out the voice through which my soul speaks to me. Quite simply, my soul is like a reservoir, a reservoir of inner wisdom that guides my life.”

I was trying to digest all that he had just said. His words had been reassuring, yet at the same time, I was even more confused by it all. I began nervously throwing rocks in the lake.

          Marty let me wrestle with all of what he had just said for at least a good half-hour. He sat silently on a rock as the mist began to rise off the lake. The smell of late autumn was in the air as we took in the afternoon sun.

Finally, I returned to him and said, “You know, that’s what’s hardest for me. I see how your life is the embodiment of having embraced the spirit of what you just said, yet, I can barely make any sense out of it.”

He must have noticed the hurt etched in my face. He searched for something reassuring to say. He gave me a kind look as he said, “That’s just as it should be. We all wrestle with trying to understand when what we only need to be doing is embracing.

“My rule of thumb is if you find yourself struggling to understand, it only means you’re not ready to embrace some aspect of where you are in your journey. There is some fear or some part of your will that is holding on for dear life.”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked. I had honestly never considered that I was holding onto something I wasn’t ready to let go of.

“Can’t you see how your intellect, your insistence on understanding all that’s not immediately observable to you is merely a defense against embracing all that’s not immediately observable to you.”

“A defense against embracing it?” I was lost.

“Sure, our fears, our insecurities. All those things that insist that we understand our path before we can embrace it. All those things that insist that we understand in order for us to connect to that path. All those things that insist that the limit of our understanding must be defined by the limits of what we can perceive with our eyes or our mind.”

Marty chuckled to himself as he continued, “Let me ask you, when you’re a passenger in a car, do you let the driver drive or are you constantly telling the driver what to do? In fact, you don’t have to tell me the answer to that question, I can only imagine what you’re like.”

A self-conscious smile broke out on my face. “Heh, should I just sit there in silence if I know a better way?”

“Well, let’s see if you can get my point. The more you insist on understanding the ins and outs of your life’s journey, the more you’re like a back-seat driver in a car.

“You see, our soul is driving our lives. We’re the one’s that keep screwing the ride up. We make the journey longer than it need be, choppier than it need be, more painful than it need be. We may think we know a better direction to take but until we learn to tap into our soul, we’re merely spinning our wheels.”

“Okay, Okay, I get your point. I don’t need to figure out what all this means. But let me ask you, what do you mean by tapping into my soul?”

“We all need to learn how to access that little voice within ourselves. That little voice that we can turn to when we need to know whatever choice we are about to make is for our higher good.”

“Higher good?” I questioned him.

“Yes, higher good. Are we making choices that honor who we are or are we making choices to appease our little gods?”

“I know I’m not supposed to try and understand all of this, but what do you mean by little gods?”

“Little gods? Oh that’s just a saying I use. I simply mean the gods we pay so much honor to, the gods for which we forsake the voice of our soul. Fear. Shame. Will. Ego. Control. Prestige. Power. Self-aggrandizement. Ambivalence. Egocentricity. Caution. Taking the easy way out. Insecurity. Those are all our little gods.”

“So like anything else, awakening our soul boils down to the choices we make?”

Marty shook his head in agreement as he said, “Well, yea, I suppose so, in certain respects. Honor ourselves or appease the little gods, yea that’s a choice.

“Look at the choices we have made throughout our lives, choices that have anesthetized our soul through the use of drugs and alcohol, through the hopelessness of depression and the anxiety from our fear, through the self-loathing of shame and self-alienation, and through the pain of loneliness and despair. Anger and resentment may have so twisted our spirit that we have ceased to believe our life can be any different.”

“Just how do people climb out of that hole of despair and discouragement?” I wondered out loud.

“Just as you say, making a choice, a choice to awaken our soul is the antidote to becoming disconnected from the true purpose of our life’s journey. A purpose that leaves us connected to ourselves, our community of fellowship, and our higher power.”

We talked well into the night but finally the chill of the evening chased us inside. That night I stayed up late pondering what we had discussed. There was a rush of excitement that ran through my body. I didn’t feel like I understood anything any better but I felt like finally someone had given me something to sink my teeth into.

I felt like I finally had some direction to focus my attention. I didn’t know where it would take me but I felt a little more grounded than I had been feeling up to that point.



Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.


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