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Chaos Before Change

Written by Joe DellaRosa

For the past several weeks, I have been in the midst of a lull in my spiritual gains.  At least that’s been my perception.  It feels like my spiritual work is going nowhere, that my mind is moving in chaotic slow motion.  And it seems like all I can do is move slowly through the chaos, searching for the change that will lead to fulfillment, being affected by the swirl of emotions as I pass through old pain, and being ushered forward by hope.   It is my hope that through writing this blog post, and reviewing my notes from my sessions with Joseph, I can at least begin to understand the lesson in what it is that I am experiencing.

I grew up in a chaotic household, so chaos is something I am intimately familiar with.  In fact, there have been times when I have thrived amidst chaos.  I have found Peace, during times of external chaos because I recognize that there may be positive changes around the corner, and I can help to influence those changes for the positive.  Lately I have been questioning how I identify myself, Joseph calls it “peeling back the onion layers,” but I have been feeling a lot of inner turmoil as a result.  I know from experience that on the other side of this turmoil, the potential spiritual reward is well worth the price of admission.  But for some reason that knowledge – or hope – makes it only slightly easier.  For times like this, Joseph has taught me techniques that have helped me to center my energy, learn more about myself, and more about how I fit in my environment.

For better or worse, the holiday season is a time where many of us see family we haven’t seen in a while.  Each year that passes brings changes to everyone, but when I am around family, it can send me right back to how I acted as a child.  This is a perfect time to practice Self-Monitoring.  Three weeks ago, I went to a festival in my grandparent’s small town where my mother’s side of the family gets together yearly for a pseudo- reunion.  For the first time, I made a conscious effort to stay objective as different family members reverted to different personalities or behaviors depending on who they were interacting with.  I watched how passive-aggressively certain family members were with one another.  I felt irritation and the pull to jump in to participate in the madness but I resisted and I watched.  How would I have normally acted in that situation given how irritated I was?  Why do I get irritated around certain family members?  Having a Teacher or Teachers is so important during this process.  Joseph asks the best questions, leading me to the door that holds the answer, but never opening it for me.  Most recently, before my one-on-one with Joseph via Skype, I explained to him that I missed exercises and that I just felt off.  At that point I was thinking that I have nothing to say and that Joseph and I will have to cut the session short, but by the end of the session, I realized that not only did I have a lot to say, but that there was a tremendous amount of opportunity to learn during this supposed “spiritual lull.”

So back to my first statement: that I am in the midst of a perceived lull in my spiritual growth.  Giving a cursory glance at the above paragraphs, I can now clearly see that I was learning and growing this whole time.  It may sometimes feel like I’m not but I am.  Sometimes it takes time before I can see the change but eventually I will.  That can get really frustrating!  And then there are the inevitable growing pains, as old hurt and energy blockages are released, or healed, or exposed.  Spiritual growth can be confusing!  It can feel like no growth is occurring and yet painful at the same time.  And change alone can be hard and uncomfortable.  It rarely seems to come easy, and when it finally does come, it’s hard to even tell right away.  There are periods of time where spiritual growth feels stagnant, doubt creeps in and makes me question whether or not I am doing the right things or if what I am doing is working.  When this happens, I now know that there is great potential for learning and growing.  I’ve learned the importance of having compassion for myself during these times, to recognize that I am human and that it’s ok to feel whatever it is that I am feeling.  I have also learned the importance of hope as I let the desire to improve myself and grow, pull me forward.  The positive changes will come if I stick with it.

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Joe DellaRosa

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  • First, lower, center, balance, breathe.

    I think everybody has periods of confusion and lulls. I know I have. Mine have been incredibly frustrating to me and I find myself feeding them with negative thoughts and images, self-defeating internal dialogues and becoming increasingly self-critical…when what I really need to do is let myself and things go, give the Universe a chance to help me get back into balance. There may be chaos going on around me and I don’t have to take part in it. In fact, if I’m able, I can increase my level of internal peace and then let it flow out to still the chaos.

    Also yes, peeling back the onion layers can be incredibly painful…and is definitely rewarding in ways that only increase the more layers I peel back. Years back these onion peelings were occurring like clockwork. Every Sunday between 9 and 11am, while we were walking our dog through a nearby forest, there would be some “major” revelation and I’d be left weak and raw for a while. Susan and I use to kid that there couldn’t be many more layers because there couldn’t be much of the onion left.

    Oh, contraire! I’m constantly amazed at how big my personal onion is. I peel off a layer only to discover what’s left is bigger than what I started with! And do I ever want to give up, pack it in, turn my back on it?

    Oh yeah, you betcha!

    But oh, the joys that grow from that pain. To know I can now do more, know more, access more than I could just a few minutes ago? Whoa! It is an aspect of The Practice that, at a certain point in training, it becomes self-sustaining.

    And an aspect of that, as many discover, is that we’re always learning and growing, even when we believe neither is happening. Even when we’ve not had a chance to actively practice, to intentionally practice.

    Which leads us to…
    Second, remember that everything everything everything is your teacher (including “down” times, times when you think nothing is happening and you’re getting nothing done), you decide what the lesson is.

    For me, the lesson is to ask myself, “What’s going on that I need this in my life right now?” Often the answer is that I need that via negativa because I didn’t realize how off center I was becoming. That down time is the Universe’s way of getting my attention and getting me back to center.

    After all, if I read your post correctly, isn’t that what happened to you?

    • Thank you so much for the reply Joseph. You are absolutely right, that’s what happened to me. I feel more centered than before, but with aches. I like your description of feeling raw after peeling back layers. Thanks to work that has been put in with The Practice, I am able to be more of an observer and less of a participant in the chaos around me. I’m still actively participating by observing, but I’m not reacting to the raw emotions and stimuli. Thanks again for your post. I need to read it again and meditate.

  • Joe, I feel your pain. It took me a while but now I look forward to finding new layers and peeling them back. It hurts, but the rewards far exceed the temporary sting.