If you are an awake and aware, spiritually-minded individual you are likely struggling to make sense of the noise, mayhem and chaos in our crazy, mixed up world, trying to understand your place in it when it doesn’t feel at all hospitable or even bearable at times – people mistreating each other, random acts of violence and our beautiful Earth being ravaged – all of it is soul-destroying.
To make matters worse, the imbalances witnessed every day in the greater world may feel similar to what is going on in your own life: chaos, the need for change, the desire for truth, “getting real”, being authentic, being of service … finding your true purpose. All of it likely has you asking the even bigger question: “what does it all mean? What do I need to do to help stop this downward spiral and find peace and hope again?”
Seeing the Bigger Picture
It is likely that you are meditating, practicing yoga, going on retreats, reading self-help books and posting positive quotes on social media, but when all is said and done that same core question isn’t really being answered – how to navigate an increasingly complicated world while still maintaining your centre.
When working with clients and students, I have found, consistently, that the missing piece is getting a clear handle on the bigger picture – the patterns, stories and symbols that give meaning and context to our lives and which have guided humankind ever since we first started asking the “big” questions … because yes, we have certainly been asking those questions and for a very long time.
Understanding the clues that are all around us and knowing they have been studied by countless wisdom traditions and truth seekers for thousands of years allows you to begin seeing order in the chaos, understand why change is necessary and discover what is needed to bring you back into balance, back to centre, back to peace and hope.
Casting a Little Light
It has been my experience that the first step in making real and lasting change, both in one’s own life and in the greater world, requires honouring what has gone before; in other words, acknowledging everything that has made you who you are today. Where you are at any given moment is always the starting point. Every step from there on is a potential new beginning.
Too often people try to move from somewhere other than where they are by jumping over steps and stages to quickly get where they think they want to go. Yet this only compounds the feeling of “lostness” or causes a detour. Think of reading a good book … if you skip forward a few chapters the ending no longer makes make sense.
Uncovering the story or myth you have been living up to this point, acknowledging what character you have been playing and determining where you currently are in the story-line or on the “map” helps you identify the imbalance or what needs to be resolved to bring your story and your journey back on track.
What you might uncover is that you need new tools to help with the next few chapters of your story. Or perhaps recognition that you already possess the tools and qualities you need but may not have fully embraced and put them to use yet. Or … it might be a completely new narrative and story-line that is required.
Uncovering any, or all, of these factors can significantly impact the quality of your life. Once “illuminated”, the bigger picture lets you see the context of your personal story within the story-line of the greater whole. Then navigating becomes much simpler and more understandable because now you have a map, a compass and other time-honoured tools to guide you. Your North Star that was once obscured in darkness becomes visible again.
A Little About My Own Journey
I know of what I speak … in 2004 I had a personal healing crisis where the story I was living had taken me down a very dark and downward spiral. Following the end of an abusive relationship, the death of my father and a soul-sucking career as a graphic designer, I eventually paid the price and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a duodenal ulcer, debilitating depression and severe repetitive stress injuries to both my hands. And I was not even in my mid-forties yet …
Life had become meaningless and destructive to my body, mind and spirit. In short, I was living in despair, severely doubting myself and had no clear direction or context for what it all meant.
Eventually though, a turning point came when two special mentors – an indigenous shaman and a Jungian counsellor – shone a light that illuminated my story, allowing me to see the bigger picture and decipher the symbols and metaphors contained within it.
Little by little, I began to pull myself out of that downward spiral and over a period of four years took four concurrent training programs that helped heal my wounded soul while at the same time revealed how I could eventually begin helping others.
My training during that time consisted of a rather unique blend of four traditional and non-traditional modalities: Spiritual Psychotherapy and Counseling (Transformational Arts College), Shamanic Practices (The 8th Fire School of Algonquin Shamanism), Therapeutic Art Facilitation (Arscura Art for Life Core Studies) and Social Service Work (Seneca College).
Paying it Forward
Since graduating from all four modalities in 2009 and opening my own studio two years later at the Alton Mill Arts Centre, I have been working with other seekers and individuals “on the path”, helping them to identify the patterns, stories and symbols in their own lives through arts-based and self-development workshops, one-on-one mentoring sessions and shamanic practices.
My passion for learning continues to this day as I avidly study psychology, art, mythology and wisdom from all sorts of ancient mystical traditions to deepen my understanding. My delight is to take that knowledge and distill and synthesize it into simpler forms and processes that can be used by others who also want to grow, heal and develop spiritually.
It is my deepest held belief that the path to a better story for humanity and for our Earth begins with each and every one of us understanding our own individual story, how it fits into the greater whole and how it contributes to the greater story of the evolution of our planet.
“Like the Moon who reflects the light of the Sun, when our stories are illuminated, what is mirrored back to us is our own power, power we can reclaim and give back to the greater cause of peace and hope for all.” ~ CJ Shelton
One of the ways you can begin finding meaning amidst chaos is to explore my website and see what resonates, whether it is my artwork, newsletter or blog, my weekly Soul Snippets or the many workshops and creative learning opportunities I offer. Or if you are drawn to having a one-on-one heartfelt conversation you can also book a consultation with me in person or via Skype.
Each will offer you a window into the world from a different vantage point – one that is deeply spiritual, celebrates Nature and honours the interconnectedness of All That Is.
May you enjoy the dance,