As a nation, as a world, as individuals, we’re coming unmoored. Our familiar tethers are dissolving. Our anchors are rising to the surface. We’re in a new sea, and it’s a tumultuous one. As I wrote about when covid-19 first hit, we’re in a time of Great Transition, a dark night of the world’s soul. And like all dark nights, it’s a time of seeing what is needing to be seen so that we can heal at the next layer of growth.
Covid-19 revealed many inequities and injustices, including ways of living, relating and working that are not serving the whole of humanity and our planet. But it wasn’t enough. It took the death of George Floyd to peel back even more curtains that many of us have been living behind. Between Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, the seas are roiling with an intensity we have not seen in decades.
We’re in a time of tremendous veil-lifting. We’re being asked to examine the mindsets and systems we’ve leaned on in an attempt to feel safe and in control. Our illusions of safety and security – both individually and collectively – are falling away. The habits that we’ve clung to try to gain a foothold amidst the sea of uncertainty, as well as the systems that have served some and oppressed many, are being exposed – highlighted against the backdrop of this time of great change.
We’re being asked to dig deep, to uproot, to show up. It might feel like the world is falling apart, and in some ways it is. We have to dismantle the patriarchal systems and structures that are not serving the whole of humanity and our beautiful planet in order to grow into the next paradigm, one based on cooperation, respect, and kindness for all people and the planet herself.
In short, we are crumbling. And it’s unsettling, to say the least.
As a highly sensitive person, you know this and you feel this in your bones. As I shared recently on Instagram, highly sensitive people are lightning rods: because of our highly sensitized nervous systems, we feel the collective grief, pain, vulnerability, unrest, anger, and fear more deeply than a typically wired person. We dream for the collective. We hold the big feelings in our family systems. We walk into a grocery store and our souls take the collective emotional temperature (I feel it every time I walk into a store these days).
One of our deepest and highest tasks is to learn how to transmute the gift of being a lightning rod into serving as a lighthouse. We receive the collective pain, we take the emotional temperature of a room or a planet or a family, and just as the ancient alchemists transformed coal into gold so we, through the alchemy of our practices, can become a clear channel and a still point, thus helping to transmute the greater pain and serve as a safe harbor for others.
In order to transmute from lightning rod to lighthouse, six key elements are required:
- Contextualize What’s Happening:
One of the most potent anchors during times of upheaval is to name what’s happening through the context of transitions, which always follows three stages: letting go (separating, dying, releasing), liminal (in-between stage where we are no longer in the old but not quite in the new), and rebirth (awakening into new mindsets, habits, and systems).
Transitions remind us that just as spring always follows the death of autumn and the stillness of winter, so a new birth always follows a death. As the patriarchy crumbles and the world unravels, we can fall into despair if we believe that it will always be this way. It won’t. We’re in a Great Transition, which also means a Great Awakening.
I say this not to glorify the unbearable pain required to dismantle broken systems and create new ones – both internally and externally – but to offer a context that can ground you in real hope so that you don’t fall into despair. As a lightning rod, despair can easily slip in. Holding the context of transitions, which carries renewal at its core, can help buoy us so that we can continue to find the energy to serve.
- Feel the Emotions
As always, keeping our emotional channels open is essential to the transmutation process from lightning rod to lighthouse. When you read something profoundly upsetting in the news or on social media, let yourself feel it. Rage might erupt. Feel that rage and allow it to move through you in some way so that it doesn’t stagnate, then listen to it so that you know how to best serve.
Transitions, like life, are rarely linear, which means that we’re feeling the emotions intrinsic to all three stages.
We’re feeling the grief, fear, and vulnerability of the letting go stage.
We’re feeling unsettled, groundless, and unmoored, which characterize the liminal stage.
We’re dipping into visions of possibility, flickers of a new earth, dreams of a planet informed by respect, kindness, and gratitude. This is the awakening that laps at the edges of our psyche even amidst the stormy seas, and it’s essential to let these positive feelings in alongside the difficult ones.
I suggest carving out time each day to feel your emotions. If we don’t slow down into stillness and silence, the sound of the storm will overpower the quieter emotions that are needing to be heard. The more we can process, the less we stagnate. And the less we stagnate, the more we can show up.
- Ground Into Regular Practices
In order to transmute from lightning rod to lighthouse, we must ground into the practices that regulate the physical body and the soul body. If we hang out too long in the place of being unhinged we will not be of service to anyone. One of the most potent ways to serve as lighthouse is to anchor into your practices that connect you both to the depth of your soul and to something bigger than you. Transmuting from lightning rod to lighthouse hinges on spiritual practice.
If you have these practices but have fallen away from them, now is the time to re-commit. If you don’t have a regular spiritual practice, now is the time to create one. If you would like to be guided through a roadmap that will help you create meaningful practices that are personal and sustainable, see my Grace Through Uncertainty course. More on this below.
- Reach Out
We’re not meant to do this life alone. I can’t imagine who I would be or how I would feel if I didn’t have my very close girlfriends, the people I can call when I am unhinged and having trouble finding my way back to ground and center. There have been many times in the last few months when I’ve felt groundless, called a friend, and cried for the first ten minutes. Knowing that we’re not alone in the storm is a lifeline beyond words. A great therapist can also be life-saving, and even if you haven’t been in therapy for a while now is the time to commit to another round.
- Stay in Right Balance with the News and Social Media
As many of you know, I typically stay away from the news and social media as a way to protect my nervous system. But now is not the time to stay away completely. We’re at a watershed moment in history, and we need to know what’s happening. We cannot bury our heads in the sand. It’s important to safeguard your mental space and know when to take a screen break, and it’s essential to process the feelings as they arise. Everyone has a different threshold when it comes to news. Tune into yours, trust it, and make sure you balance news consumption with the other elements in this post.
The inner practices serve the outer action. And it’s through action that we find some ground; it’s a symbiotic relationship between the inner and the outer. If we’re only focused on doing and serving and showing up we will burn out. If we’re only focused on our inner work, we’re out of touch with what’s happening. We heal so we can serve and we serve as part of our healing.
My highly sensitive audience: You are being enlisted – not into an army for war but as a carrier of peace. Just as a lighthouse is lit by lamps that are tended to by a lighthouse keeper, so your job is to tend to your inner lamps that might help others find their way. You are teachers and parents and lawyers, nurses and therapists, coaches and friends. However you are connected to others, you can serve as a lighthouse in some way, for everyone is listening to someone. As a highly sensitive, you have a special role, and I want to encourage you to step into it.
In my opinion, a daily practice that grounds you into your soul and connects you to spirit is essential to well-being and to being able to show up and serve. The daily practices are the anchors that allow us to find our center-point and, from this place of clarity and light, help others find their way. I would not be able to do the work I do as mother, wife, friend, and therapist if I didn’t have a daily spiritual practice. I wouldn’t be able to anchor and tether amidst these roiling seas if I wasn’t able to find the still-point inside of me.
When I sit down each morning and begin my practice, I can see and feel the inner lamps being lit and charged by a light bigger than myself. Fear quiets down and often is knocked out of the way completely. Alighting this central channel is a starting point. From there, I begin my day, following the prayer that serves as my own lighthouse: Here I am. Let me be a chariot for your will, Great Mother. In short, I am here to serve, and my practices allow me to transmute from lightning rod to lighthouse so that I can show up with my full self for those who need me.
Through my course, Grace Through Uncertainty, I’ve guided hundreds of people through a roadmap that helps them bolster an existing spiritual practice or create one from the ground up. With the breakdown of organized religion, many people are left spiritually impoverished, which then leaves them prone to seeking false anchors of control by grabbing hold of the dangling vine of intrusive thoughts. This course is for anyone struggling with intrusive thoughts, health anxiety, money anxiety, career anxiety, the fear of loss, and the fear of death. And of course, as the name suggests, it’s for anyone who is longing to find more grace through these uncertain times and this uncertain life.
This is a potent time, as transitions always are. We’re being given a powerful opportunity to throw what is outdated and oppressive into the sacrificial fires that emerge during the letting go and liminal stages of a transition. What if you could heal several layers of your intrusive thoughts, obsessions, and compulsions – the false tethers that attempt to keep you safe – and create a new template, one in which you can dwell in the only true and enduring safety? What if, from this tethered and anchored place, you could show up for this aching world in the ways that you are uniquely suited to serve?