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On Seeing

This is kind of a rambly post, again. Let's hope there's at least coherence.

The 6th chakra is the energetic centre that lies behind your physical eyes: the centre of seeing and knowing, of thought and understanding, and also of patterns and colour. This centre is usually called the Third Eye or the Brow Chakra, though these are not identical. For our purposes, it isn’t so important to distinguish them. At this level of the chakras, you can transcend time and space and physical reality, no problem. You can imagine anything: a different body, a different life, things that have never and may never happen… You can see things that you have no way of seeing/knowing otherwise. This is the place of clairvoyance.

Given that I live in Victoria – a hotbed of all things psychic and woo woo – this centre is often seen as the holy grail of chakras. It’s the one many people want to have open, whether that’s a desirable thing in the circumstances or not. I have heard many people declare, “I’d really like to open my Third Eye.” For years I probably made little or no reply to such a statement. Now, though, my reply is not tremendously encouraging, and possibly curt: “Great. Work on your sacral chakra first.” These two centres are intimately related, and for your third eye to open in a safe, balanced, fruitful, integral way, you need the container of the sacral. You need boundaries and the ability to contain that come from the sacral. So deal with and explore your undigested feelings and emotions, your sexual history, your ability to be your own person in relationship, your capacity to want and to create. That’s a lot of work, you might say. Yes, it is. But it is infinitely better than forcing your third eye to open without the support of the sacral. (See my blog A Ramble on Intuition.)

At the Intuitive Arts Festival in Victoria a couple of years ago there was a woman wandering around who drifted up to person after person and told them what she was “picking up” from them. Most of them looked politely interested, but also slightly confused. When she wandered over to talk to me, she told me that she was picking up owl energy in my field. Of course she was: before I enter any one else’s space with their permission to “see” for them, I see/feel myself merging with an owl – a big, beautifully ordinary, brown owl. However you choose to interpret this, that owl is on guard for me, marking my boundaries: my stuff, your stuff. That woman got a boost when I confirmed that owl energy is indeed there. But ultimately this skill was not doing anything for her or for anyone else. What am I to do with that information that I didn’t need and didn’t ask for? The answer is nothing. There is nothing for me to do with it, and I’m guessing the other people she gave information to had little use for what she said to them either. It taught me something though, about way too open, ungrounded third eyes. She likely has no container inside her for what she picks up, and she could very easily believe that she knows (said in a hushed, secretive voice) because of what she picks up, and she might then act on her assumptions more often than is good for her or those around her. Likely she will become depleted. Also notice: she was going around telling people stuff without asking their permission – neither permission to “look” nor permission to speak what she saw. That’s not okay. I did, very gently, tell her what I know about the relationship between the sacral and the third eye and suggested that she might need a stronger container…

Because the sacral and the third eye are so intimately related, damage to the sacral (and it is unfortunately easy to damage) will have some sort of repercussion in the third eye. Some of us will have such a hard time dealing with feelings (for an infinite variety of reasons) that we will pull ourselves up out of our bodies and live from the more comfortable perspective of the brow chakra. Having spent years and years in universities, I think this is a pretty typical university pattern: intellect and thought as refuge from mucky feelings and bodies, though we don’t have to be a part of a university to make logic and argument and thought a place of escape.

Some sacral patterns of coping will make it really hard for people to imagine or to dream, or to feel that their life is theirs to create. Sometimes, as with the woman at the Intuitive Arts Festival, sacral “stuff” can make it hard to close the third eye. For instance, growing up in an abusive environment where you have to be constantly “on guard” while simultaneously not being allowed to be safe or to have your own emotional space easily fucks up your ability to make good boundaries and to know what is yours and not yours and makes it hard for you to shut off the spidey senses that you need to keep you as safe as possible.

If you can’t imagine and dream, then it’s really hard to create the life that you want. Your vision for your reality is not deeply embedded in your body and in your actual lived experience. You will be easy prey for social constructs and advertising and collectively held images of what life should look like. In order for you to create your life, you need to know what you want, first. In order for your desire to be available to you, you need your sacral chakra happy and healthy. See? We go in circles here.

I like to make a distinction between imagination and fantasy. Imagination is hooked into your life and your creative body in a productive way – as in, you can see in your mind’s eye something that you desire to create and then begin to make it a reality if it is a good fit in your life. Imagination can be a large part of the process of creating your life: you can “try on” ideas, ways of life, activities, careers, etc. and imagine what your life would be like in ten years if those things were true. It doesn’t mean in any way that because you imagine it, it will be so, but it lets you taste things and make course corrections. This is one of my favourite practices, in fact, even if sometimes the things that you try on might seem nebulous.

When I was still coming out of my intense post-partum depression, I had a practice of putting my headphones on and dancing in my dark living room when my kids were asleep and my man was out playing hockey. There’s a woman singer whose voice I love and whose in-the-world persona seems so strong to me (besides that I know her and she’s a lovely, real human). I danced to her voice and imagined what my particular version of that strength would look like, and how it was that my particular creativity would appear in the world. Because I was dancing, this was a whole body, creative, imaginative experience. Some of the things that I imagined have come true. I feel like I danced them down from the imaginative realm and into mundane reality.

Fantasy, on the other hand, feels more like spinning your wheels. It’s something that isn’t real and that you don’t necessarily ever want to be real. Fantasy is super seductive and easy to get sucked into. I always say that fantasy is fun, but it doesn’t really get you anywhere. I think there’s a strong link between addiction and fantasy, as well. Addictions stem in some way from emotional damage where the addictive substance begins to stand in for the emotional connection and safety that we are lacking. But that substance can never come close to giving us the whole, deep, glorious fullness that a genuine emotional connection with self and others can. So we need more of that substance/activity. And then more still. With fantasy we can blind and trick ourselves into believing that we are getting what we need, or even simply prevent ourselves from seeing that something is an issue. Paying mindful attention to persistent fantasy though can give you good clues as to what is going on under the surface of your consciousness, which is kind of a trick of mind, right? Be mindful of your unconscious obsessions, thereby bringing them to consciousness.

{As a slight aside, I’ve been watching the rising numbers of marijuana dispensaries in Victoria with curiosity and a kind of alarm. Because, you see, I’ve noticed that marijuana is really, really good at keeping us stuck in fantasy: the mind opens to the cosmos, we have all kinds of thoughts that we don’t normally think, we feel good, or at least different from normal waking consciousness, then eventually we get hungry and sit on the couch for a while. And that’s usually it. It’s hard to DO anything under the influence of this plant the way it is used here but to watch thoughts of a grandiose nature slide by, and those thoughts are pretty hard to hold onto afterwards. Big revelations with little staying power. The transformation seems to exist transitorily in the mind and not engage the body. And if transformation can’t get into the body, it leaves very little trace. “It’s not addictive,” people say. “Horse poop,” I say. Anything can be addictive. Marijuana as a way to not be in the real, uncomfortable, boring, awful details of our actual lived experience is addictive. It is easy to become attached to being lifted out of life and ordinary thought patterns. When you find yourself eating a pot gummy every day, or doing the infamous wake ‘n’ bake to deal with life, you are probably not engaging in a clear way with your life. So, I’m not saying, “Don’t do it. Down with dispensaries!” I’m saying, “Wake up to what you are doing and why.” I guess I also wonder why it is that we all of a sudden can viably support one dispensary per 1-6 blocks in this city. These are my thoughts on this. I’m not attached to them as truth.}

What we are able to see and understand at this level is created by our belief systems, and we have some pretty pervasive ones as humans. One that I saw recently completely hampering someone’s life is the myth of “Happily Ever After.” That relationships are supposed to go a certain way combined with a history of emotional abuse had this person completely unable to see unacceptable behaviour from past partners when it was happening, making it hard to clean up after. "If it’s love, then it’s happy, and this is love, so it’s fine and I’m happy (even if I'm not)." The mind will twist the details to fit the belief system, and filter them out so some are simply not available to consciousness.

The brow chakra is where we do some parts of the complicated process of knowing. We learn here through seeing and understanding. But then we must take that knowing into the body so that it can become a part of our cells, so that we can know it in our bellies, like dancing it into the body and reality. It is hard to bring a truth that you know back out into the world if you haven’t digested it and taken it deep into your body. (This is why you don’t read me here writing about reconciliation and the effect that we Europeans have had and continue to have on the First Peoples of North America, for example, even though it matters to me a lot. I’m still trying to get it and digest it and belly know it, and it’s a huge, hard history and current reality to eat.) Undigested “truths” spin around us as rhetoric and fancy arguments of justification and can be really seductive. These are just as unhealthy to base a life on as is a diet of refined sugar. Sound bites, memes: I think many of these fall here. If it’s too tidy an image and sentiment, it’s probably only skirting the edge of a huge, complicated thing, or it’s trying to make a certain group of people feel more comfortable, or justified in their dubious behaviour or belief.

Sometimes what takes the longest in the healing process is seeing that something is even a problem in the first place, and then unraveling it into its component pieces and effects. On several occasions I’ve had people come to see me and, other than tidying a few things up that were available, my main task during that session was to point to something in that person’s life and say, “Are you even aware that this is here? This is an issue that needs your attention.” Each time that happened it felt like I was standing several miles off from the whatever-it-was, pointing with a long arm and index finger, slowly bringing that issue closer and into clearer focus. Once, my finger was pointing to certain aspects of someone’s relationship with their mother. Another time it was raising the gentlest possible suggestion that the relationship that they had just gotten out of might have been emotionally abusive and hence much more debilitating than they knew. Once seen, these issues begin to emerge into conscious awareness and then are available for transformation. Unseen is unbudgeable.

This is, of course, the centre where we get to do our flashiest 6th sense knowing. Partnered with a healthy sacral chakra and intuition, the third eye brings in so much information. If you want to work with the information that is brought in, you will need an interpretation map: a way for you to translate what you pick up back into mundane world reality and speech. I see most things in terms of landscape and geography when I’m working with people, but there are also some places in my internal landscape that I know bring me certain kinds of information (see my blog post "So, uh, what is it that you do, exactly?"). I have been developing this inner interpretation map for about 13 years. I’m good at reading my own 6th chakra landscape map and good at folding it up and putting it away when I’m done using it. I’m not good at interpreting your map because it’s yours, though I can probably help you figure out how to read it, or at the very least help you clean up your sacral chakra.

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