27 Aug Longing, Exposure and Prayer
There are some people for whom spiritual life has to be a passionate love affair. This tremendous love affair takes place within the heart, and is one of the greatest mysteries of being human.
On this journey love is the power that will take us Home. But this love needs to be awakened. Through the simple processes of listening to the longing of the heart, being prepared to ‘expose’ your deepest feelings in a safe environment, and being willing to surrender to the power of prayer, the mystery and unique treasure of your heart can be found.
Turiya Hanover takes a radical approach to the personal and social problems of our present time, bringing spiritual activism to a whole new level of global involvement through simple but extremely powerful principles. Co-founder of Path Retreats, she has been leading the Path Of Love process worldwide for many years, and has over 40 years experience in a range of healing modalities.
In order to awaken this love, we have three amazing tools that will provoke and assist this development. The first step is to become aware that something is missing in our life. It might be a feeling, a sense of unhappiness, or a mood of frustration. Even though you might feel on the outside that you have everything; a house, car, partner, name or fame, on the inside there is still something missing. Usually we feel this as a longing, or an ache in our hearts. Or we might realize it as anger and frustration. This longing comes from the heart and shows us where to go. It is, in a way, a tuning fork, an inner guide.
The longing in itself is the divine calling for you. Without this longing we would not move at all. Often we try to fill this longing by outer values. Many people are vying to become successful, even famous, and are hoping outer achievements will create full meaning for their lives and fill that inner hole – that feeling of emptiness.
But this inner hole is just the longing wanting to call us inside.
We all long to be loved, we all long to be nurtured, to be held, and we look for it in another; we seek a man or woman who can fulfill us.
Maybe for a while an outer lover can appear to give us the love and support we crave, but an external lover will always be limited. Only within the heart can our deepest desires, our most passionate needs, be met, totally and completely. In moments of oneness and deep intimacy with the divine we experience that taste of deep satisfaction, of unity with the world and ourselves.
The first step in awakening is to realize that this longing is a call to pull us to the divine, and that in the long term it can never be filled with outer values. What we long for is that sweet taste of feeling connected and being at home inside our heart and being.
This longing is calling us to remember! There is a treasure inside your heart. What you are looking for is within, within, only within. In our heart there are hidden mysteries, but we can only find them when we listen to the longing and recognize it as a voice of the divine.
We long for that divine taste inside of us. We long for that fire of love, that passionate intimacy with life, with love and ourselves. This is a known but oft- forgotten place inside ourselves where we are not held back by nitty-gritty ego stuff, righteousness and pride – a place that is beyond all of that. We long to burn in the fire of love until we are empty and can be filled completely with divine remembrance, with the taste of the precious intimacy of love; with that soma, the elixir of our true being, with self-love.
The Power of Exposure
So, if we all feel that inner call, that longing, why is it so difficult to turn within and open up?
We want to open up, but we are afraid to be vulnerable, and we have resistance. Over the years we enter situations and relationships and get hurt, wounded, and feel deeply misunderstood. We are abandoned and betrayed, and in order to survive, we learn from early on to shut down and hide. On one side we protect ourselves against further attacks, on the other side we close the door to the divine, and suddenly are disconnected from our most intimate treasure, the essence of our heart and being. We build walls of protection around our heart. We shut down, become numb, so that we cannot feel the pain any more. It often feels unbearable. But with this protection we also shut down all connection to our deeper jewel, our true heart – we shut down to love itself. We often have a ring of isolation, resignation and mistrust around our heart that we are holding on to as it gives us some sense of security. A security that feels safe on one side and keeps us in separation and pain on the other. You could say it is a spiritual paradox. So to be able to feel the deepest treasure of our hearts, we have to face all these feelings again and open up to them. One powerful and profound way of doing this is to learn to expose, to bring it all to the light – to awareness and consciousness. Hiding it keeps it in separation. Exposure really has a great value here. What we hold hidden will also keep smouldering inside and will keep us away from being available to real and profound love.
Opening up to love means that we have to face all these possibly very uncomfortable feelings, and expose them to another. And not only to talk about it, but also really allow ourselves to feel again, right in our bodies, from the deepest place, in a safe and supportive environment.
Opening Up To Feelings, Opening Up To Love
Allowing those feelings to open up again is a very first step. To permit ourselves to be vulnerable, to let our tears be seen by others, and to feel we have a right to show ourselves beyond our made-up persona, revealing what is really behind all that, is a huge step, a spiritual step. Layers of shame may arise, because we may have so many judgments about ourselves, about being abandoned or being somehow ‘wrong’. You may be holding some deep, dark secrets, hiding behind your mask, feeling that if you show who you really are, nobody will love you. The way out is to really let the feelings live again, out of isolation. Sharing with others in a safe environment where you are not judged or criticized, but are allowed to have your true feelings is incredibly, often magically, healing.
However difficult this process is, it is the only way to crack open the crystallized layers of being that are stuck, so that we can go beyond all these protections and start to feel love and trust again in our hearts, and on a deeper level, the connection to the divine. We all long for this unconditional love, we long for it so much, and yet we are afraid to feel the pain of it. Finally it is the pain of separation that arises – from our parents, lovers, and friends, and at the greatest depth from our own being and divine nature. As it comes to full consciousness there is an opportunity for radical healing.
This process we call the fire of love, that burns away all our attachments, all our illusions and ideas about ourselves and others; all our concepts and ideas – how life should or should not be. We let that fire purify our body, heart and being. Burn, baby burn…!
And here is where the longing will take you and give you the courage to move into the unknown, to jump and show yourself again. When you call inside “I want the truth, I long to wake up, I long to come home and be myself, and be connected to the divine.”
The only way we can wake up is by longing with every cell of our body and our mind to be one with the beloved. That longing has to be continuous; it has to go on flowing as a river in the heart.
And once we feel that deep longing within us like a cry in the heart, we can reach out again to existence and simply ask for help. Prayer here is used as a way to open up to something bigger, to the divine whatever that is for us. Once we have exposed all our old places of holding, isolation and withdrawal, we experience openness, a place of humbleness and yielding. This is what I call prayer – a calling out to the divine, asking for help. Being in a state where we have our hands open, not knowing the answers, not being able to work out and control what comes or doesn’t – a state of utter receptivity and openness. You can call this surrender. It even means that I have to give up my will, and allow “Gods will” to guide me, to take me home. All the mystics and many poets describe this state, a surrender to a higher force, surrender to the One.
What keeps us from this state of prayer, is usually that in our childhood we had to learn to be independent, to do it all by ourselves. This attitude helps us to survive practically in the world, but when we approach this place of prayer, it is what hinders us from being receptive and open to the divine presence. We traditionally associate this state of prayer with helplessness, with some intense emotional charge or memory. Having been helpless in situations where there was abuse or overwhelm makes it difficult to really ask for help. Or we may associate helplessness with hopelessness. When we can’t do anything, feeling resigned or depressed.
That’s why exposure – a willingness to open up to our feelings – is so important. Learning to accept and experience all these different layers that might prevent us from opening up to prayer. How can we receive love, if we are not open to it? How can we receive God’s grace, if we are not willing to let it in?
Prayer is deep within us, and we feel it often vague, as our mind and mistrustfulness often prevent us from listening to its powerful message. In the innermost chamber of the heart, we cry for the Beloved, and we feel the resonance of this cry as unhappiness, dissatisfaction or restlessness. In many ways we are anguished and annoyed by this call, and often try to avoid it, to run away from its intensity and sorrow. The world is full of so many distractions, the mind and ego full of so many patterns of avoidance. But gradually, we know that we have to go Home, that we have to honour our longing, that we need to bring the prayer of the heart into our consciousness.
The path of love is a journey into the unknown, into the darkness and wonder that lie within us. We are drawn into the bottomless depths of our own being, into a state of vulnerability and nakedness.
The expression of our hearts reaches out with words provoked by profound feelings: “Beloved, help me. I am so alone and I need you.” The prayer is made conscious, is expressed with our words and our bodies. In this state we are open and ready to receive, ready to allow the divine to wake us up.
This very heart, a prayer – this very body, our home.