Today, I find myself turning the pages of another diary, this time a green one filled with white sheets, chronicling the events of my 2018. As I read the first sentence from a February entry, I'm greeted with the words, "How wondrous it is that you were born, with all that you bring. How wondrous it is that you were born." These words still carry the gentle, melodious voice that first uttered them. They transport me back to the intriguing journey that began in 2016—the beginning of my own inner rebirth process.
Insomnia grants a unique opportunity to delve into one's inner world during the hushed hours of the night, a space often concealed by the noise of the day. Yet, this journey is far from simple. In the initial throes of insomnia, I found myself entangled in the chaos of my thoughts, desires, and internal struggles. I frequently engaged in battles, taking sides, venting frustration, or attempting to justify myself and seek forgiveness. I merged with various parts of myself, often drowning in the intensity of such an existence.
Gradually I acquired new skills. I learned the art of patience, observation, and ultimately, acceptance. It wasn't a conscious choice, but rather a state that organically expanded, and began to contain more and more life experiences. I came to recognize that waiting is, in essence, a profound form of listening. In Mary Oliver's beautiful poem, "Such Silence," she poetically captures the enchantment of waiting:
“I sat on the bench, waiting for something.
An angel, perhaps.
Or dancers with the legs of goats.
No, I didn’t see either. But only, I think, because
I didn’t stay long enough.”
The magic often lies in the persistence of waiting, in allowing the stillness of the night to unfurl its secrets at its own pace. It's in those moments when we linger in the quiet, refusing to rush the process, that we are rewarded with glimpses of our inner selves that might otherwise remain hidden.
The Encounter with Death
During the summer of 2016 I was immersed in work, preparing for my final semester of my IT studies, grappling with persistent insomnia. Memories of that period are hazy, yet one moment stands out vividly. One morning, I recall walking to the Šeškinė bus stop. The sky was overcast, the sun shrouded by clouds. It seemed like an ordinary day, no different from countless others. I waited there for the bus, but on that particular morning, this waiting assumed a different form. I realized that I had been waiting for an extended period, and I could wait no longer. This awareness plunged me into the deepest and darkest recesses of my being. There was no return. No light remained. Life had lost its meaning. I stood at the nadir of existence. There are no words to adequately convey the sheer hopelessness and meaninglessness that engulfed me. Deep within, I believe that, at that very moment, I glimpsed the eyes of death. This encounter filled me with immense dread, shaking the very foundations of my existence. I must have had an extraordinary reservoir of courage and trust within me to endure such an ordeal. What a commencement to a transformative journey.
I invoke the term "commencement" with purpose. The Persian poet Rumi once wrote:
"I said: Pain and sorrow.
He said: Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you."
Rumi's verse bears witness to the notion that our profound transformations and rebirths often emerge from experiences of pain and suffering. Drawing from transpersonal psychology and Stanislav Grof's model of perinatal matrices, I venture to interpret my despair and sense of purposelessness in the light of the birth process.
The Process of Rebirth
My studies in Integrative Bodywork and Movement Therapy provided an opportunity to delve deeply into the model crafted by psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, offering a more profound comprehension of the psychodynamics of the birth process. Grof writes that there are four different stages of the birth process, or what he calls the basic perinatal matrices.
Prenatal Matrix 1 - Uterine Bliss (Stage One): This matrix represents a state of blissful oneness and security, both individually and collectively, akin to the warmth and comfort of the womb. It's a phase marked by complacency and a feeling of limitless growth potential, drawing parallels to the Garden of Eden.
Prenatal Matrix 2 - Confinement (Stage Two): In this matrix, confinement and constriction prevail, mirroring a sense of despair, depression, and hopelessness, both on an individual and societal level. It's a period when the limits of growth and the existing state become increasingly unbearable, similar to the idea of being trapped in a hellish environment.
Prenatal Matrix 3 - Struggle (Stage Three): Matrix 3 corresponds to a state of struggle, akin to the physical and psychological difficulties faced during birth. It signifies a turning point where new possibilities emerge, but the journey is marked by intense pressure and challenges. This matrix represents the transition from the old to the new, symbolized by the cervix opening and the emergence of light, offering hope and direction.
Prenatal Matrix 4 - Emergence into the Light (Stage Four): The final matrix represents emergence into a new and unimagined world, where individuals and societies attain a higher level of individuation and interconnectedness. It symbolizes the post-birth state, suggesting that the transformed society will not seek mastery over nature but rather a harmonious relationship, akin to an infant's adoration of its mother's face.
I associate my profound despair and sense of meaninglessness with the second perinatal matrix. Charles Eisenstein, an American public speaker, teacher, and author, articulates that in the realm of mysticism, this condition is referred to as the "Dark Night of the Soul." During this phase, one grapples with a deep sense of abandonment by the divine, where spirituality appears as a cruel jest, faith seems illusory, and existence feels like an empty facade. It becomes a period where life's meaninglessness becomes starkly evident. Stanislav Grof acknowledges that this can be an extremely frightening experience. However, he also posits that if we surrender to this birthing process, the fundamental quality we can experience at this stage is love.
I recall a conversation with a colleague where we explored how, at the nadir of life, people can unearth the most profound expressions of love. In our discussion, I shared an episode from the tale of "The Girl without Hands," in which a girl, following her father's pact with the devil resulting in the loss of her hands, chooses to depart her home with her severed hands bound to her back. Maja Storch, in the book "The Strong Woman's Desire for a Strong Man," contends that for the protagonist's development in this story, it is crucial for her to enter the world fully aware of her vulnerability, not concealing the pain it inflicts. The tethered severed hands seem to amplify the motif of powerlessness. Later in the story, the girl, having traversed the day without sustenance, encounters an angel who helps her to get food in a beautiful garden. The angel constitutes a miracle, an embodiment of love. In our everyday lives, it manifests as a sudden thought, a spontaneous action, a so-called coincidence that paves the way for life.
That morning, after grappling with despair and meaninglessness, I recollected a friend. A phone call led to an encounter with an extraordinary individual. Our acquaintance evolved into a profound therapeutic bond. Later, in the autumn of 2017, I embarked on a journey into somatic therapy. The study group became my second pillar of support. In November 2017, I encountered an Authentic Movement teacher named Cornelia, our enduring friendship formed the third pillar. Insomnia did not dissipate, but life began to flow anew.
The first entry in my 2018 diary continues with the words: "I reside in profound love. I created the conditions for this love to manifest, and it did. I did not create love itself, but I did facilitate its emergence."
As I continue to read, I encounter reflections on the significance of self-care, particularly in this situation. Much like an infant after the birth process, we too require optimal conditions for growth. I write, "I'm uncertain if I care for myself perfectly, but I do the best I can." In the diary's margins, I find a few additional thoughts penned: "Observing inner states and their fluctuations is crucial, especially when signals indicate something amiss. Seek assistance in regulating your inner state. The external environment may not respond immediately; it's essential to seek help in various ways, be specific, and not rely solely on one person."
The theme of death and rebirth persisted in my life. It continually surfaced in my dreams and experiences, serving as a reminder that change remains constant. Over the years, I had a recurring dream where "I find myself on a bus, chosen for a seminary, then placed on a ship. Clad in white attire, I seem to scream. Upon boarding the ship, I notice a red X marking me. The ship ventures into the sea, massive waves loom. I understand that I'm destined to die. I resist believing it, but we are compelled toward death. I see the world map, the balance of power is changing, the map is changing."
As I reflect on this journey, from the depths of despair to the embrace of love and rebirth, I'm reminded of the resilience of the human spirit. It stands as a testament to our capacity for growth and transformation, even in the darkest of hours. This process has taught me that, in our most vulnerable states, we can unearth profound truths and reveal the light that resides within us. May this journey serve as a reminder that, no matter how daunting the night may appear, dawn invariably breaks, ushering in new beginnings and boundless possibilities.
In April 2018, the lines about light graced my diary. Today, they resonate within me like an echo of the Rumi poetry previously seen:
“I see the sun
In front of me
I see the light
Ready to start your transformative journey of self-discovery and healing? Reach out to Ingrida Danyte at email@example.com, a dedicated Somatic Movement Therapist, and start embracing your path to healing today.