Shaking It Off

In spring, 1999, I was living in Billings, Montana, with my parents, looking for a job, and trying to build a new life. I learned that Dr. Joan Borysenko would be giving a talk. I didn’t know who she was, and I don’t recall what the specific talk was about. Based on the promotional material, I decided to hear her speak.

During her talk, she mentioned one of her books, Fire in the Soul. That title certainly caught my attention. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, a fire had engulfed my soul and burned off quite a bit of dross of not just my own ego, but also the expectations and agendas of the people and society around me.

In 1999, the phoenix was still floundering in the ashes. In fact, she almost drowned in all the effort to put that fire out.

I enjoyed Borysenko’s presentation and made several notes as she spoke.

One concept caught my attention. She mentioned how some people go through a spiritual crisis that is very difficult, but potentially very transforming. She referenced some of the work of Carolyn Myss, who had written Anatomy of the Spirit, which I hadn’t heard of.

At some point in the presentation, Borysenko mentioned a description of a process that I believe she attribute to Carolyn Myss. She stated that during some spiritual crises, it is as though the soul tries to “shake off the trappings of this world.”

Shake off the trapping of this world.

That definitely caught my attention. That was a decent description of what parts of my experience felt like. It actually matched my experiences quite well. I didn’t realize it while I was in the process. Yet as I thought of that phrase, I agreed that my soul, the “true me,” was trying to emerge. It was trying to shake off all of the expectations of others, to shake off all of my conditioning as a people-pleaser, to shake off the manipulation of other people telling me who or what I was supposed to be.

That is the awakening, the transformation, the emergence of the soul. Beyond the collapsing ego structures. Beyond satisfying everyone around me and being the “good girl.”

Make no mistake, that shaking process is forceful, even violent.

The soul works to shake off that which no longer serves it well. That is why trying to force and “help” the person according to your own agenda is so problematic. Trying to shove, coerce, manipulate, and threaten a person to get back into that same role they were in — the same role that broke them open — is EXCEPTIONALLY VIOLENT and only adds more trauma.

Several times over the years, I have thought of that phrase: “shake off the trappings of this world.” It continues to resonate with me as a pretty decent description of that emergent process that I fell into unexpectedly.

Now, when I think of that phrase, I often smile and think, “Oh, yeah. There was a whole lot of shaking going on.”