[Watch the video above on Youtube that summarises this article.]
What is Soul Alchemy? To me it means slowly, over time, transforming negativity towards your self and towards life, into creative fuel that you can use to power up your life and realise your dreams.
There are competing forces in everyone of light and dark, positivity – love and expansion, and negativity, which is basically fear in all of its different forms; fear of yourself, fear of lack, fear of others’ thoughts about you, fear of failure, fear of pain, and fear of fear, which often manifests in anxiety and depression. Our true self, or true nature is founded in love. Whenever we are in the vibration of fear and lack, we are out of alignment with our true self.
The three pillars of my Soul Alchemy process are these: Meditation, Yoga and Creative Practice. Over the past seventeen years, these three practices have formed the foundation for my own soul alchemy process, and have been very effective in moving me from states of persistent anxiety and depression (experienced when growing up, and something that I thought was normal as a young adult) to an overall baseline of being at peace with myself, and living in the present moment.
First Pillar: Meditation
The first pillar of a Soul Alchemy practice is meditation. Meditation is the process of making friends with you mind through regular, constant practice of observation. There are many different techniques of meditation, but essentially they are all similar in that the goal is mastery over the mind: to become the master and not the slave of your mind.
If you are the slave of your mind, and your mind often experiences negative states, then you will be identified with these ups and downs, and when your mind is in a negative state, you will also be in a negative state. The natural state of most people who haven’t done at least some kind of conscious practice of self development through meditation or another modality, is that they are identified with their thoughts, and so are the slaves of their minds.
As you practice meditation regularly, you start to be able to dis-identify with your mental and emotional states, so that you become the observer of your experience. You start to understand that your thoughts and the resulting feelings are temporary and they are not you, or ‘not me, not mine’ as is one popular mantra that Vipassana teachers often give to students as instruction for the practice.
Understanding this distinction between being the slave or the master of your mind is fairly straightforward. But actually moving from one state (slave) to the other (master) is far from simple, and in my experience, requires quite an extensive and ongoing meditation practice. It is true that some people seem to have a natural and inborn ability to know this truth, and these people may not require intensive practice, but in my experience, these people are few and far between.
If you want to try practicing right now, just sit quietly and watch your thoughts for five minutes. See if you are able to see them as thoughts, seperate to yourself, and dis-identify with them. Observe how difficult or easy this is for you. See if you are able to do this consistently throughout the five minutes.
As you practice meditation continuously, over time you will develop what Giovanni Diestmann calls the Four Meditation Superpowers, of Zooming In, Zooming Out, Pausing and Changing the Channel. These superpowers, developed over time, mean that you are able to consciously create your life, based on all the things you love and believe in, rather than – unconsciously creating your life based on the fears in your mind. You start to become the master not only of your mind, but of your life too.
Second Pillar: Yoga
The second pillar of my Soul Alchemy process is a yoga practice. For me, yoga brings an extra element to the meditation practice – and that is, working energetically with the physical body.
Whereas with meditation practice, we observe our thoughts and dis-identify with them, in a yoga practice, we observe our energy, and learn how to move it through our bodies so as to unblock any energetic blockages.
Energetic blockages are usually the result of emotions that are un-felt and unprocessed, like regret or resentment, that end up lodging in your body because they have not been fully felt. In a yoga practice, we are able to tune in on a very fine level to our energy body, and discover where these blockages may be.
As we get better at this practice of tuning in, we become the scientist of our energy body. We can start to identify what emotions we are holding and where, and like a precision surgeon (a surgeon of the soul!) we can then slowly allow the stuck energy to move, allow ourselves to feel whatever is unfelt, and therefor, energetically release the block through the yoga pose.
Yoga is the physical pillar of the soul alchemy process. There are many different styles of yoga, just as many, it seems, as there are yoga teachers. The key to developing an effective yoga practice lies in finding the right style fo you; for your body type, your energy levels, and for what it is that you are working on in your practice. Also, according to the cycles of the month – for both women and men go through cycles, a different kind of practice might be required. Around the new moon, where the energy is dark and inwards, we might want more of a Yin, or slower practice where we hold the poses for a longer time, and coming up the the full moon, where the Earth energy is stronger and more expansive, we might want more of a Yang or energetic practice.
Third Pillar: Creative Practice
The third pillar of the Soul Alchemy process is creativity.
I believe that everyone is creative, whether you identify as an artist of not, all of us are the creators of our lives. But tapping into creativity on a conscious level, through painting, writing or music making, can help us to open more fully to our own intuition, thus becoming more in touch with the higher guidance that is always available to us through this opening. Dedicating space and time to a creative practice is sacred work, and essentially it is the work of having a conversation with your soul’s essence.
This conversation with your soul’s essence then comes out in whatever it is that you create. Your creation, if you like, is like the answer from your soul to your own questions during the creative process.
It can be easy to allow fear to stop us being creative. This fear is often rooted in ideas of perfectionism: ie – I don’t want to create something because it will not be as good as I imagined and then I will be embarrassed. The fear also might be that ‘I am not good enough’ at whatever art that I am attempting. Both of these fears are coming from our ego, which is trying to protect us from what it sees as ‘failure’. The failure would be that my work is not as good as I imagined, or that I am not as skilled as I imagined.
But these ideas are based in the egoic idea that I need to be something in order to be worthy. I need to be ‘perfect’ or I need to be ‘skilled’ or I need to be ‘good enough’ in order to show up and do my thing and share my gifts. Working through these egoic blocks to being creative can be scary, but it always comes down to letting go of the small self – the part of you that is protecting or defending your identity (the idea of a me that needs to be perfect, good enough or skilled in a particular way) and opening to the higher self – the part of you that just accepts that you are a creative being, you are divinely inspired and that just existing as a human being on Earth is enough reason to create and share your work. This higher self part of you can let go of all the limiting beliefs around being ‘not good enough’ or ‘not skilled enough’ or not ‘perfect’ enough to do creative work.
Are you a Soul Alchemist or a Soul Alchemist in training?
If you identify as a ‘Soul Alchemist’ and would like to develop your creative pillar join my Poetry Workshop this Saturday June 19th. In this workshop I will be reading some poems by such prominent soul alchemists as Emily Dickinson, William Blake and Mary Oliver, as well as giving you some prompts and exercises for writing your own poetry.