The shattering of old armor, both personal and collective, is obviously our grist for the mill: the basic stuff for our spiritual learning. Once we know that, we then ought to focus in upon our particular way of being in daily life situations. For it is not only in meditation and in service to others that we learn the basic lessons of self-revelation: it is in the heat of the moment, as we deal with our intimates, talk with friends, deal with our jobs, and sit alone at home. In all such situations, weaving the loom of personal life, we experience some sort of catalyst -- some sort of sensory, emotional, and/or mental process. These are our typical ways of thinking and feeling, intense or mild, pleasant or otherwise. This is the basic stuff of personality experience.

When we then add a desire for spiritual growth, we have our expand our eye-shot from not only the stuff of experience, but also, to how we relate to the stuff of experience. As I continue my counseling in the U.S. and Japan, I see time and again the truth of this principle: what we think and feel is far less important than how we relate to what we think and feel. In other words:

What we commonly call my shit, my crap, and my garbage, is, in point of fact -- if we are keen enough to see it -- the major catalyst we can use to fertilize our growth of love-wisdom.

This idea crystallized (or should we say, became well-formed) after a recent counseling session with a European woman whom I met in Japan, who happened to be visiting San Francisco. Despite her long background as a healer, she was quite stuck in her own process concerning her marriage. She and her spouse still lived together, but they hadn't had intimacy for months; and after a brief episode of infidelity on her part, the husband was still enraged. She had already acknowledged her responsibility, and now wanted reconciliation -- but she couldn't really confront the misery of her homelife and the heavy grudge still nursed by her spouse. Actually, they were both stuck.

After some back-and-forth talk in the session, a bolus of tears and sorrow welled up in her, and eyes red and bloodshot, she cursed her process:

"I thought I'd finished all this crap years ago..."

Well, I told her, "if you'd really finished it, then it wouldn't be coming up now. If you'd really healed it, you'd no longer be feeling it". In time, she agreed. And after the session, walking down the street, I saw the front page of our local weekly alternative paper, running a story entitled "Fecal Matters" (no doubt, an exposé of local corruption or the newest sexual fad in Babylon-by-the-Bay).

It was then that I put 2-and-2 together: our old encrusted emotional issues are the very stuff of self-transformation -- as they offer us head-on catalyst that we can use to love ourselves more, accept ourselves more, and understand our process more than we already do. This so-called crap is the fertilizer of love-wisdom if we know it, accept it, and understand it's generation -- then move ahead to forgive the self and others. Seen in this light, it's damn good crap! It's worth far more than its weight in gold, because unlike gold, the inner growth from this fertilizer you can take with you...

For this lady and her spouse, what her healing demanded was a commitment to self-acceptance: a conscious, deliberate choice to feel, accept, and be willing to experience completely her pain, weakness, sorrow, guilt, and despair. This decision is no less than the decision to love; which, as always, begins with self-love. This simple act of decision (simple, not easy!), would be the fastest and most direct way to ‘open' her heart-chakra further, to generate more energy in the 4th or green-ray center, and accelerate a true and real reconciliation in the situation. What she considered her "old crap" is, in fact, if applied in the heart, rich fertile fertilizer for developing love and compassion. Knowing this, the only question left is whether or not she really wanted to apply this fertilizer to her own process.

After our work together and some more of her own self-reflection, she did in fact try to welcome her emotions a little bit more. And so, she could then move on to wisdom, the 5th or blue-ray center (throat-chakra). We then looked at deeper dynamics:

"Why have you been unwilling to feel yourself,what is the state of your partnership, and what are your alternatives at this point?"

This type of inquiry requires more effort (hey, no one ever said healing is easy!), and more mental focus. We quickly plunged further: she didn't want to feel because she feared a complete nervous break-down; she fought against weakness because since she childhood, she always thought she had to be strong; and she was afraid to feel her emotional void, and thus avoided the prospect of being alone again. Exploring all these issues, we peered into the beliefs which undergird her so-called negative emotions (as almost all feelings arise from beliefs). Clear your limiting beliefs, and you'll eventually clear the painful emotions. But of course, you must first be willing to feel them.

As we looked from this angle, we saw the roots of her present paralysis (loving a man who hates her, and living in a tortured double-bind). Her somewhat masochistic behavior (keeping herself in the path of rage), was actually a form of self-punishment which fulfilled a confused desire for atonement for the act of marital infidelity. It was an example of the old méa culpa ("I'm to blame"): long-term guilt from chronic self-blame, which maintained her low self-esteem and was rooted in some very old self-doubt and negative self-valuing. These roots were complex.

Thus we came to understand the how and the why of her present condition -- as well as the mixed feelings of her spouse, who had been threatening separation for months, all the while hanging onto a pity-me role of victim-cum-torturer. Simply making the conscious direction of will needed to reflect more deeply, and thus discover these facts, is also a form of catalyst that fuels the growth of wisdom and discernment. She emerged from our sessions renewed.

As we looked at her options, we decided that the best course would be to voice the insights she made, give the relationship a time-frame, and consider the painful fact that the partnership was probably over. Having the will to face the music, as she had, is also a form of catalyst (consciously chosen) for the growth of wisdom, which can be seen in the power of a few pointed questions. Wouldn't she be better off with a man who really loved her? Wouldn't self-healing proceed a little faster if she wasn't living with a tormentor? Wouldn't she improve her self-esteem and gain some needed emotional strength by taking the risk of being alone? Isn't loneliness preferable to being coupled in a caustic union? Confronting these answers takes guts, but it also leads to the further growth of will (6th chakra activation), as well as some clearer thinking.

If she had just followed her old way -- hating the sadness, blaming herself for weakness, avoiding the massive sorrow over-hanging her self-punishing home -- she wouldn't have been able to take the next step in the process. What she first called "my old shit" was really a precious resource, but again, she had to open the eyes of self-acceptance (love) to see it that way. Once accepted in the heart, she could then move into mind and seek deeper comprehension (wisdom).

Situations like this are all around us: whenever we feel conflict there's an opportunity to realize greater self-healing through the growth of love-wisdom. Are you angry at the faults of those around you, disgusted by the greed of your ex-husband, fearful of the death of those you love, regretting your past mistakes, or fearful of striking out on your own? If so, then freedom will come only by making peace with these feelings. Accept yourself and the limitations of each situation, try to acknowledge the responsibility of all concerned without blaming anyone, then consider how and why it all came to be. A simple motto: fully conscious feeling leads to total, permanent healing. Each conflict we face in daily life can be used this way, but only if we're willing to apply the fertilizer, not keep on cursing it.