Each of these concepts have long felt somewhat vague to me. I could understand the concepts, but at the same time, I felt unable to apply them to my own self. I’ve recently gained a great deal of clarity on essence, truth, and power. I had to delve in to the fundamental roots of each word and their definitions, but more importantly, I needed to go way deeper into my own self so that I could see what was preventing me from understanding them.
First off, I’m going to say, when I would hear coaches and healers talk about “finding your true essence,” or “being in your essence,” or “sharing your essence with the world,” my brain would shut down. It’s not that I didn’t understand the concept of essence and what it means to share it with the people, I did! But for some reason, when I was handed the work that would supposedly help me get to the “core of my essence,” I would literally blank out. I shut down. I stared at the paper, or the computer, and I was plagued with complete writer’s block. After an arduous process of remembering, and writing, and circumnavigating all parts of me and my past and my memories, I would think, “That’s it! I’ve got it now!” but so often it turned out I didn’t, because when I shared my big A-ha, no one took note. When I’d introduce a new product thinking, This is it! no one inquired. And so, back to the blank board I would go. Searching, digging, scouring, journaling, scrounging…it had to be there somewhere, right?
This was fascinating to me in a downright frustrating sort of way. I mean, I know who I am. I am all these things. A Mom, an Herbalist, a Writer, an Environmental Professional, a Doula, a Martial Artist, a Dreamer, a Climber, an Energy Worker, a Biker, a Hiker, A Homeschooling Mom, a Dog Lover, a Photographer, an Athlete, a Musician, a Dancer, a Creative, a Researcher…so, so, so many things! And that, right there, is what hung me up. I kept thinking that Essence was some sort of distillation of all these THINGS.
Essence is not things. Essence IS.
Essence is the beauty, the power, and the splendor that is the very basis and structure of who we are right down to the molecular level. Essence may contribute to what motivates or directs us to do these many varied things, but essence is not some combination of the things themselves. Essence simply is.
Over the course of the past several years, I’ve realized that one of the reasons I completely blanked out when it came to discerning the essence of who I am was that I’ve been afraid to stand in my own power. So again, we get to one of these concepts that is often touted amongst healers and coaches and entrepreneurs who want to help us to get on our soul paths so we can make the money we’re supposed to make, so that we can live the life we want to live. First, they tell us, we must find our true essence, and then we must stand in our power. It all sounds fabulous, right? Living the life you want to live simply by being your true self and being unafraid to proclaim it. Beautiful! But for me, the fog that surrounded these concepts kept me literally, in the dark. I just kept floundering and reaching towards something I didn’t yet understand.
I have spent a seriously significant amount of time envisioning the life I want to live for the rest of my life, and it’s beautiful! But for me, so often the reality of the present–earning a living, raising my daughters, homeschooling, being the taxi service, maintaining a home, and tending to all those mundane aspects of human life brings me off of Cloud Divine, and I find myself having to put my nose to the grindstone and simply get shit done. When I’m off Cloud Divine, and tending to all that my human life requires, and doing the things I don’t want to do and possibly grouching about it (or lamenting it), I am not standing in my power, and I’m not being in my essence. I’m pushing them out in front of me like an unattainable dream, and slipping back in to the ruts I work so hard to get out of.
So, my big realization surrounding standing in my power, has been slowly and steadily making its way known to me for quite some time. I realized that the manner in which I’ve taught herbal medicine over the years led me to a fear of being in my essence, and owning my power. I started leading these classes fresh out of college, and with 5 years of solid herbal education. I was motivated, passionate, and very spiritual in my own experiences with plants and herbal medicine. While my education in herbalism was founded in the botany, biochemistry, and biology of medicinal plants, my understanding of plant medicine was guided by my intuition, feeling, and experience.
When I first began leading classes, I eagerly shared my knowledge and understanding with my students, who I assumed would want to know the whole, and not just the parts. Quickly I discovered that the science-based folks who signed up for my classes, motivated more by scientific inquiry rather than holistic curiosity, wanted to learn about the cold, hard facts about medicinal plants, not the intuitive ways of knowing I felt most comfortable in. They rejected (and squirmed at!) my stories of intuitive understanding, and so I stopped sharing my intuitive wisdom, and instead tucked it all away hoping that I’d eventually find the right audience for the shamanic wisdom and knowing I wanted to share.
What was really going on, though, was a fear of rejection. I did not like feeling as though I had to justify or defend my intuitive understanding with people who simply were not likely to get it, so I stopped sharing. I was afraid that if I appeared too off the scientific line, people would not want to learn from me, or they would criticize my approach, or would come to the classes only to question or debate me. And I began to shrink away, invalidating my own knowledge and education, and choosing instead to focus on the simple and easy basics, rather than the beautiful, magical whole that is necessary to know in the practice of herbal medicine. It’s crazy! Looking back on these 25 years, I see where I started and I see where I landed, and I think, what an incredible tragedy! Not only did I let this fear of what other people think completely change the course of my passionate interest in sharing herbal wisdom, I diluted my own teachings and methods so that they became so boring and dry that even I no longer had passion for the information. Thankfully, it’s never too late to change course.
All the while, of course, I’ve diligently continued using my intuitive knowledge and understanding for my own self, and for my family, and for friends and clients that sought me out. This intuitive knowing could not, in fact, be squashed because I practiced in the safe space of my own domain. But when it came to offering this knowledge to a large public domain, I put on my science face, tucked away my intuitive wisdom, and slowly and chronically allowed my power to be crushed on the inside.
The summary? Fear of rejection, cloaking my essence, too timid to stand in my power.
For a Mama who claims to be the all-powerful, all-mighty, black-belt-intuitive-wisdom-holder, that looks pretty weak.
And we women do it all the time. We cover up who we really are to please others, to spare ourselves the potential of rejection, or to keep our head low. We don’t allow ourselves to stand out from the crowd or to do something that is controversial or risky. We stay small.
Finally, for me personally, these concepts no longer shut down my brain. I totally get them now. The reason they were shutting down my brain is because I was afraid to stand in my power. Afraid to let the real me shine through. Afraid to see the very essence of my own self. Afraid to make waves. Afraid to not do the right thing. Afraid to be big. Afraid to pave my own road. Afraid to use my voice. Afraid to experience rejection. I wanted a magic wand to make me big and bright and shiny without having to truly feel the discomfort of experiencing those things I fear.
As another example, I think that women, and mothers especially, make themselves small because we are trying so hard to do it all. We don’t see that by kicking ass and getting it done we are further reducing our own power and essence because we are simply oozing it all over the place rather than maintaining it by being true to ourselves. One of the ways this happens is by setting aside our own interests because we are “too busy taking care of our children/homes/lives”. When was the last time you read a book for pleasure, went to the movies with your girlfriends, took a spa day, or went skiing by yourself? When you care for yourself, and nourish your own interests and passions, you create space for more passion and interest in your life, as well as the lives of those around you. When you are constantly setting yourself on the back burner, you are invalidating the necessity of YOU, and, consequently, not living your fullest potential.
Just like I used to lead herbal classes that covered both science and intuitive knowing, I slowly stopped using my own voice, and instead of leading with the full passion of my heart, I allowed my own power and essence to be squashed by fear of having to defend my intuition.
So how can we tend to our beautiful families AND ourselves, without losing our power, leaving anyone out, or getting squashed by our fears?
I believe the two most fundamental things you can do are to look yourself square in the eye and say out loud what it is you are afraid of, and then say what you really want.
Don’t tiptoe around the issue. Don’t bury your real feelings underneath the burden of maternal obligation, or science, or society, or the fear of actually knowing what it is you are afraid of, or the idea that you can’t get what you want because of x, or y, or z. I know that in the past several years, I have been almost physically unable to face my fears square in the eye. I could feel them circling deep below the surface, and could almost, just barely say what they were, but then my conscious mind would change the subject, I’d get distracted, and move on to something else. I was afraid to directly acknowledge my fears because I needed to feel powerful. But oh…the paradox! Power does not come by ignoring and entombing those things you fear.
In order for me to have the courage to stand in my incredible and beautiful power, and to even see my own essence, I needed the courage to see and experience my fears first. Because I’m still working through this process, I know that I need to acknowledge them, discern each and every specific one, recognize the basis for the fear, and then find a way to clear that fear out my conscious mind so that I don’t get hung up on it again. I also discovered it doesn’t have to be a difficult or complicated process. The first challenge is to look and see what’s there.
Here’s to your beautiful essence and magnificent power! Let the truth of who you are shine!
How about you? What experiences do you have around standing in your power? Finding your true essence? Allowing your true self to shine through? Using your clear voice?
I would love to hear how you feel about these concepts, and what work you’ve had to do to understand and live them!
Many Blessings To You.