As I dredge up deeper and deeper “stuff” to work with on my path I’ve recently gotten into a place where I’m dealing with some of my most core issues involving relationship, money and work and addiction. The last couple of months have been difficult because I’ve noticed myself bouncing back and forth between extremes with these processes. For example with my work I seem to either be in a state where I am working very hard and making money but quickly getting burned out and exhausted by the struggle or I’m in a space where I’m overcome by lack and not really able to get much work done. With relationship this has manifested as going through intense periods of dating where I’m consumed by sexual energy and romantic feelings leaving me depleted or I avoid romantic connection all together and focus on my work and my path leaving this aspect of life ignored and relegated to the unconscious.

Both extremes are not only unsustainable but incredibly unpleasant and they seem to be opposing or incompatible. I’ve had a long standing process of experiencing an inner split where it feels like I constantly want or am drawn to things that are seeming opposites resulting in confusion. In terms of living space this has manifested as both wanting to live in community and also to have my own place and I just bounce back and forth between these viewpoints while not really being able to create what I want. There has also been quite a bit of acting out these extremes in an unconscious manner where I identify with an extreme and then adopt that extreme and set about creating it without realizing that I am playing out an extreme which means denying the other aspect of myself. This eventually crashes the process of creation because my full energy is not really behind it. Recently a friend of mine reminded me that one aspect of a shaman is the ability to step into the unconscious and fully embody it but not get stuck there, he or she is at a certain point able to step out and contemplate what was played out so as to illuminate and integrate it. The symbol of the shaman has been helpful because it feels like what I have been doing without realizing it, embodying the unconscious fully and then popping out of it and contemplating what just happened. However I had added a layer of judgement on myself for being unconscious which I now realize was preventing me from fully stepping into the shamanic role.

It has become more clear to me that what is needed is a middle path, the mid point between the opposites that integrates the key aspects of both. However finding the middle path with many of these issues has been frustrating because it seems like the energy overwhelmingly pulls me from one extreme to the other. What I’ve realized lately, with some help from friends, is that I cannot ‘figure out’ the middle path. My rational mind has been attempting to reason out how to integrate these seeming opposites and breaking down in sheer exhaustion when it is unable to do so. Rationally I am almost always able to make a logical case for both extremes, a paradox! In my practice, Jung’s concept of the Tension of the Opposites has come up as a form of guidance with what I’m struggling with. Jung has a powerful way of looking at the symbolism of the crucifixion seeing the cross as the opposites within the psyche and the act of Jesus being crucified has holding the tension of the opposites which results in the resurrection and the emergence of the Christ, or rebirth of the self into the higher or divine self. This is a powerful symbol of the healing and awakening process that so many of us are experiencing.

Far from just being some tripped out philosophical concept, I am experiencing this as guidance, something to put into practice with my own process. Holding the tension of the opposites requires surrendering, putting down the rational mind and stepping out of thought and allowing oneself to BE in the tense painful center where the opposites meet. If one can remain in that tension and fully accept it then the opposites merge and integrate and the middle path becomes clear without the influence of the mind, but only if there is true surrender and letting go in that space. Jung called this the Transcendent Function because one transcends the dualistic dilemma and steps into a higher state of being where true healing and integration have taken place. Here opposites can co-exist non-problematically on one level while one can see that there really are no opposites, it only seems that way to the minds limited perspective. To me this represents an innate healing ability inherent within our own psyches if we have the courage to enter the place of tension and fear and remain in that space without running away or trying to figure it out. It is a form of death in that a part of us that we may be quite familiar and comfortable with dies so that a new level of being can be born. My sense is that many people are experiencing this inner conflict and the dilemma of how to resolve it in these intense transformative times. This is a warrior practice that is available to all who are willing to see it through with courage.