Many spiritual traditions speak about the experience of oneness as an essential step in our spiritual journey. I am sure you like me have caught glimpses of it in one way or another at some point in your path. Maybe it was during a meditation or standing on the peak of a mountain or in a moment of deep connection with an intimate other. Recently, I had the chance to experience it once more — deeper than I ever have in my path so far. And was amazed at what I found on the other side — an experience of being aware of my boundaries, also deeper than any other I’ve had before. So I thought of sharing with you about this fascinating link.
“Who am I?”
The whole story for me began when I decided to ask the question of ‘Who am I?’ in my most recent plant medicine journey. I was walking in a nearby forest when suddenly I started feeling my awareness shifting and with it — the arrival of the answer to my question. I had a strange sense that I was walking WITHIN myself. The trees around, the mountains behind, the sky above — I felt everything as if it was my own body. Everything that was surrounding me was ME. Almost like I was taking a walk inside one of my arteries or something.
I went to lie down on a friendly rock and it started raining. “Oh so that’s what it’s like when it rains inside of me?”. Then it got colder. “And that’s what it’s like when it’s cold inside of me.”. Then out of the blue, the rain stopped and the sun came out. It created one of the most beautiful plays of light across the valley that I’d ever seen. I felt drawn to stand up and dance to celebrate it. “And that’s what it’s like when the light shines inside of me.”
Inside-out or outside-in?
As I was getting out of that state of consciousness, I couldn’t help but wonder about why most spiritual practices (meditation, yoga, breathwork, shamanic journeying etc) drive the attention inwards as a way of knowing ourselves. Why was that when what I was shown was that WE ARE EVERYTHING!?!?
Then I thought about shamanic drum journeying (my main spiritual practice), in which I’d go for trips to explore what I like to call ‘The Great Within’. Suddenly, it turned out that the Great Within was also outside of this human bundle of body/spirit/mind… I could see how this deeper exploration of ‘self’ in the more commonly understood sense could unfold into that sense of a wider self. But why is that? Why not have a practice that helps us connect to nature around first? Probably, it has something to do with being grounded in the “smaller self” before venturing out… This is probably what Jung had in mind when he spoke about individuation, our becoming ‘whole’ as separate human beings, as the first important work to be done in the evolution of our consciousness. Which brings me to the next point about that ‘smaller self’ and boundaries.
Out of oneness appear… boundaries
The funniest thing happened as early as the day after my plant medicine journey. I felt compelled to drop everything and just sit there doing nothing. I suddenly had a strong urge to write down all the boundaries I needed to set in my projects and relationships with people. I took some time to see exactly where I draw the line about each thing and how I ensure it happens. To my surprise, I discovered that I could do so with greater clarity and flow than ever before. And then it dawned on me. The experience of being one with everything and the ability to set boundaries are not opposite — they are intricately connected! Just like our ability to experience happiness more intensely also means we open up to experience pain more intensely too.
Or the other way around?
I found this pretty fascinating. I’ve had many talks about oneness and separate ones about boundaries, but they never came together at the same time. One would wonder about whether there’s a right direction to come into this polarity. Or if we poke it hard enough from one end, the other will pop up eventually. I honestly don’t have an answer, but what I do know now is how closely connected they are and that’s made a world of difference.
So what can you do to explore oneness and boundaries as one?
I seriously don’t know what’s the right way for you! But here are some suggestions to throw into your mix, if you feel drawn to explore it more:
- Who are you? Is everything around you YOU? And if so, how do you know? I encourage you to let the mind be silent on this and see if you can experience it on a bodily level. For example, it’s become part of my practice these last days to allow myself to FEEL the mountain and the sky and the road as me during my walks. I trust as I do that, my ability to hold my boundaries will become stronger too.
- If you have been exploring oneness in your practice — have you looked more into boundaries? If you have been exploring boundaries — have you looked more into oneness? What can you do/be to bring those two seemingly unrelated things and practices closer together?
- If you want to go on a deeper journey around the oneness-boundaries polarity (and don’t have plant medicine at hand), I highly recommend this embodiment practice that can help to do that and see what emerges for you.
I wish you a beautiful journey into your wider and smaller selves alike.
About Lessons in Paradise
I believe we already are in paradise, regardless of where we are and what’s going on in our lives. I believe life is a journey towards becoming aware of this and enjoying as much of it as we can in the limited amount of time we have here. The Lessons in Paradise vlog is the space where I share my process of shedding patterns and beliefs that obstruct our view in order to replace them with presence, joy and wonder. It’s also my invitation to you — an invitation to connect and journey together in creative ways, as we help each other see through to the greatest expression of ourselves. I also love creating spaces for growth-oriented people to connect to their soul power and life purpose. I do that in the form of coaching, shamanic work and group sessions in the Connection Playground. Reach out if you feel curious to explore any of those with me.