The Timeless Spot of Grace

IMG_4085Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry; an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by god. It is this spot of grace that issues peace. Psychologists call this spot the Psyche, Theologians call it the Soul, Jung calls it the Seat of Unconscious, Hindu masters call it Atman, Buddhists call it Dharma, Rilke calls it Inwardness, Sufis call it Qalb, And Jesus calls it the Center of our Love.

To know this spot of Inwardness is to know who we are, not by surface markers of identity, not by where we work or what we wear or how we like to be addressed, but by feeling our place in relation to the infinite and by inhabiting it. This is a hard lifelong task, for the nature of becoming is a constant filming over of where we begin, while the nature of being is a constant erosion of what is not essential. Each of us lives in the midst of this ongoing tension, growing tarnished or covered over, only to be worn back to that incorruptible spot of grace at our core. 

When the film is worn through, we have moments of enlightenment, moments of wholeness, moments of Satori as the Zen sages term it, moments of clear living when inner meets outer, moments of full integrity of being, moments of complete Oneness. And whether the film is a veil of culture, of memory, of mental or religious training, of trauma or sophistication, the removal of that film and the restoration of that timeless spot of grace is the goal of all therapy and education. 

Regardless of the subject matter, this is the only thing worth teaching: how to uncover that original center and how to live there once it is restored. We call the filming over a deadening of the heart, and the process of return, whether brought about through suffering or love, is how we unlearn our way back to God.”

Mark Nepo, Unlearning Back to God: Essays on Inwardness

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A client read this quote to me over the phone a few weeks ago and it took my breath away. I literally sat in silence after she finished reading and allowed the beauty and truth of these poetic words to wash over me and gently rock my heart like a boat on the currents of a warm sea. Poetry can do this: it can speak to our hearts in the language of the heart, bypassing mental constructs and structures and offering us windows into what we know truly matters.

What matters is exactly what Mark Nepo writes: how to uncover that original center and how to live there once it is restored. It’s what I seek to do in my work with clients, and in my courses and programs. It’s not easy work, as anyone who has endured the dark nights of the soul that often initiates such courageous undertakings as peeling back the layers of conditioned behavior and unloving beliefs well knows. And it’s not fast work. We open when we read words such as these and our cells spark up with a song of, “YES!” but how to live in that flow of spark and yes is another task altogether.

If we’re not saying yes to our essential nature and living from that seat of self-trust and self-love, we’re saying yes to the filmed-over self, the ego, the conditioned self who places her life in other people’s hands. It’s then that we find ourselves caring desperately what others think, comparing ourselves to others, constricted by the need for approval and guided by the quest for perfection. It’s then that we realize that our core Self has gone to sleep and we’re living a life half-lived, an externalized life where we’ve lost touch with what we think, feel, and need.

Without self-trust, making decisions becomes paralyzing. Without self-trust, we fall prey to the cultural definition of worthiness that is based entirely on externals (looks, body, clothes, paycheck, degrees, spouse, house, etc) instead of knowing that true worthiness is defined by intrinsic and sustainable qualities.

My journey into uncovering that original center began in high school. My filming over largely occurred through an educational system that taught me to become addicted to approval. Even without grades (my elementary school gave written summaries of each student’s progress), I learned very early that the “good” students received more praise, and oh, how delicious that praise felt to my tender brain. My natural love of learning was supplanted by a desire to be “the best”. This continued into my high school years until my psyche finally broke through and set my life down a more authentic course. I tell the full story of how I broke free from perfectionism and caring what others think in Trust Yourself, but for now I’d like to share that I understand first hand what is it to stray from the original center and then find one’s way back, which is probably why Mark Nepo’s words struck me so deeply.

I think, perhaps, that we all know what is it to abdicate Self and come back again, for whether the film is a veil of culture, of memory, of mental or religious training, of trauma or sophistication, the removal of that film and the restoration of that timeless spot of grace is the goal of all therapy and education. In other words, while understanding your story of why and how you filmed over is an essential first component to healing, the work cannot stop there. Healing begins with insight and continues with daily actions that ultimately result in change.

This is what I will be offering in my inaugural round of Trust Yourself:  A 30-day program to help you overcome your fear of failure, caring what others think, perfectionism, addiction to approval, difficulty making decisions, and self-doubt. I will offer pathways to insight and a roadmap for change.

There are many pathways and roadmaps, of course, and what I will be sharing is the culmination of my decades of work peeling away the film and arriving at the center of oneself. When we uncover that original center and learn how to live there, we recover self-love, self-knowledge and self-trust. We live with purpose, and we nothing stands in the way of delivering the gifts of that purpose to the world. In this sense, we do this work not only for ourselves but also for the world.

Are you ready? Take my hand and let’s begin.

16 comments to The Timeless Spot of Grace

  • Sara Emmons

    Wow, those words really spoke to me as well. You’ve spoken a lot in past blogs about being intentional about doing those things that help you connect to your Soul. After several weekends in a row of traveling I thought twice about heading out of town for the holiday weekend, but it was just what the doctor ordered. A weekend camping trip to Salida helped me connect to my true nature. We slowed down, watched the river, played in the creek, talked with my best friend and caught up on our lives, danced, laughed, and didn’t concern ourselves with externals like what outfit we would wear that day or how our hair looked. I’m always so thankful that these short retreats are only a short drive away here in Colorado!

    • Yes, we are so blessed to live in such a beautiful state. So glad you took time to turn inward, slow down, and reconnect with yourself and others.

  • Lisa

    I love this! Always so refreshing to read your articles Sheryl. I am excited to learn that it is possible to peel away the layers of falsity, go back to center AND learn to live there, a beautiful concept indeed. I recently returned home to my native NZ after 12yrs living away, to get back in touch/find the’real Me’,to live well &’just be’(still work in progress,which is why this course would be perfect) You see, I feel obligated to post on Facebook as friends & family would expect to be updated because that’s ‘normal’ & what everyone does right?!.Well, I struggle with that whole thing.. I really despise noticing/feeling the judgement/falseness/comparisons that happen on FB, I tell myself i’m being silly/sensitive/ paranoid. I often wish that I didn’t have to see half the crap on FB, to delete followers that don’t appreciate/love me for me or even better an ‘I don’t give a damn attitude’. I would love to share more exciting, inspiring & original posts on FB but I am afraid :-/

    • One of the first actions of the program is to take a Facebook fast for 30 days :) . We’d love to have you join us. It’s already turning out to be a great group of dedicated learners.

  • onedayatatime

    I joined! This is all me and there’s nothing more to say other then I feel defeated by my filmed-over self and it’s getting harder and more frustrating to live this half-lived life. What scares me (and is part of my resistance) is if I can follow through with daily action. I know this is necessary for change but I always start out with flying high intentions but feel like I fall short or didn’t do or get what I expected. I think there is also a fear in there that somehow I don’t have or don’t deserve this original core center. But I’m sure this is something I can learn to work through with this program though. Excited and nervous!

    • Yes, resistance comes up for everyone. When we can meet it with kindness and recognize it as fear, it softens and we’re able to slowly move through it. I talk about this in the beginning of the program, and how important it is to embark on any new endeavor with realistic expectations.

  • KF

    Sacred words, yours and his. I hope there’s a spot for me in your course, no partner required. ☺️

  • Ashley Chapman

    Hello Sheryl,

    I get moments where I have obscessed over my relartionship and boyfriend I am exhausted and just want to leave the relationship curl up in ball and sleep. Im so very exhausted. I have a good man but I am tired of obscessing over him and the relationship. I dont know how to handle this exhaustion. My boyfriend says that i have obscessed so much that naturally im tired. How do I move past this transition?

  • Lovefreely

    If we’re also enrolled in your course to deal with relationship anxiety, but think this also applies to ourselves, do you recommend doing this as well or would that be too much?

    • This program is designed to support and augment everything you’re learning in the e-course. At the core of relationship anxiety is lack of self-trust, so if you want to spend dedicated time addressing this core issue, while receiving support directly from me, this program is for you.

  • Kelsey

    Sheryl,
    I participated in open your heart and am wondering if this new class is geared towards relationships or just on ourselves
    … I signed up hoping to work through some of my own self trust issues that don’t relate to my relationship?

    Thank you!

  • It’s geared toward yourself and is appropriate for anyone, whether single or in a relationship.

  • Sunny

    Sheryl,
    This course sounds really interesting, but I have a question:
    When I KNOW what I really want, I don’t care so much what people think, and I don’t have self doubt or difficulty making decisions. But my problem is: I don’t know what I want. That inner voice is just so hard to detect. I don’t have any dreams, wants or any wishes that I know of. I try to ask myself what I want, but there is just this big silence. Especially when I am with my boyfriend, my inner voice is just gone and I get anxious and really confused. So I wonder – is this course mainly about getting confidence to do what you already know you want, or is it just as much about detecting that inner voice? Which of these issues do you focus the most on?

  • Suzie

    I know you don’t answer all the questions on here. But i was hoping to gain just a little feed back. I suffer from anxiety. I am in a relationship with a guy who is sweet, caring and kind. Some times when we are together it is great and i feel relaxed. Other times i feel we dont have enough to talk about, to the point where i find it hard to think about much else and in turn i find it impossible to have a normal relaxed conversation. I can feel like this for months and then it seems for some reason i can finally relax again at some point enjoy being with him. When i feel good i think “remember this” but then when the disconnection returns i think im just clinging to a something that doesnt make a relationship work. Im worried we just dont connect and that im not anxious we just dont work.

  • “So I wonder – is this course mainly about getting confidence to do what you already know you want, or is it just as much about detecting that inner voice?” It’s more about helping you detect your inner voice and then trust it.