This is a story I’ve only shared with a couple of people until today. It is quite far out there but stay with me, there are some life lessons I am keen to share…
My life changed the day I saw my first soul.
And before you think this article isn’t for you, hold the phone. I’m not some kind of witch, I’m a perfectly ‘Normal’ (or maybe ‘conventional’ would be a better word) thirty something, mum of three, who witnessed the death of her Dad.
It’s been 18 months since he died, and my life has gone upside down and then some since then. You see, I witnessed his demise, I sat with him in his last days, lay on his literal death bed, the bed he had shared with my mother, in my old bedroom in my childhood home, and I watched as the life left his body. As experiences go, it’s a pretty hard core one.
He was heroic. He had been ill for nine months and fought a valiant battle with Cancer; did the hard yards of chemo and then radio therapies none of which had any impact. So, as his final days and hours approached a sense of anticipation hung in the air- dread mixed with an unspoken relief, that soon this awful struggle for life and the agonising suffering would be over. But nothing prepared me for what would happen when he actually passed away.
As his body clung to life and he took his final breaths something miraculous and strange happened. Something my mother was too traumatised to see. I saw it though.
Something shifted within his body, something subtle and almost indescribable but something none the less. Then I saw the life leave him. The closest I can get to it is to say it was like a shimmer or a shadow that lifted momentarily and then was gone. When I looked at him again, he was different, he had gone.
But you see, he hadn’t gone, he was still breathing and his heart was beating its final coda. But to me, HE had gone. What little sense of him that had been there in the last 24 hours was no longer. His spirit, his essence, his soul was no longer in this body before me. It was a shell, a physical form that was now redundant. I didn’t need to sit with him, or say any last goodbyes, there had been time enough for all of that. But seeing this and feeling the truth of this deep inside of me I’m certain helped me to get through those moments of his death. It allowed me to talk to him calmly and reassure us all that this was it and it was over, he could stop fighting now.
So as well as grieving for my father I had now been handed this mind blowing insight that maybe souls were a real actual thing and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. This wondering, about who we are, where we are, where we go after this life has lead me on a pretty trippy journey of self discovery. It’s quite hard to make small talk anymore as the way that I see the world and how I want to live my life is utterly changed.
My background is science. I am logical and organised. I like order, rules and structure. Until 12 months ago ‘creativity’ was not something I would say I had inside of me. It was too messy, too unruly and too well unspecific. That said, I am also, in equal measure messy, intuitive, thoughtful and compassionate. So in summary I will describe myself as a ‘Spiritual Sceptic’. I am open minded but cautious and sceptical about things unproven and a little bit ‘woo woo’. It’s like being a living version of one of those optical illusion pictures, you know the one that is both an old lady and a young lady in the same image. When you first look at it you can only see the old lady, then someone points out the young lady and then you can’t see the old lady again. And then finally you see both. I see both. All the time and it is pretty cool.
Here are the pivotal points I have learnt on a journey through things all esoteric and back again, a literature review for the spirit if you like.
o Our soul is our driving force, the thing that gives us inherent direction, it’s what points us towards the things that fascinate us, the things we can’t explain but have to do, have to explore, long to experience…
o Our soul is that nagging voice, which tells us to change direction, to say yes, or to say no. Otherwise known as our gut instinct. Otherwise known as that feeling we often try to ignore and stifle…
o Our soul is the deep sense of truth, silence, peace we get when we do something we love, the hum of our own world when we can focus on just what lights us up, be that running, riding a motorbike, fishing, painting or baking. It’s there when we make a decision we KNOW is right. Sometimes we can’t put into words why, it flies in the face of all evidence to the contrary, it just is.
o It is also the voice that gets silenced by the noise of the world. The voice that gets drowned out by everyone else’s opinions, by our social media feeds, by the pressure of our family, our friends, the world at large and mostly by ourselves and the beliefs we hold about ourselves and how life should be. Our brains shout while our souls whisper.
o Our soul leads us to experience things that are really frickin’ hard. It pushes us to take that leap, leave that relationship, start that business, make that call.
o Our soul has no regard for our comfort zone. They are in fact sworn enemies.
o Our soul disregards fear.
o Our soul operates in love, growth, wholeness, trust and pushes us to do the same. To which we cynically reply – no way, that’s too simple / naive / too good to be true.
o Our soul is simple, has simple tastes and finds pleasure in specific, random and totally inexplicable things. It is our brain and our egos that make things complicated and put barriers in the way.
o As children we were in touch with our soul much more freely. The things we loved as children often still bring us deep joy as adults, when we let ourselves do them…
o Our soul rewards pushing through, push through the pain and the difficulty, work it out, talk it out, cry, dance or run it out and we will be rewarded by insight and self awareness. Self awareness is like Google for the soul. Don’t go asking everyone else what you ‘should’ do ask yourself and trust your answer.
o Many cultures believe that our souls are ancient, have lived many lives and picked up much wisdom along the way. I love the idea that our best friends and romantic partners might really have been ‘soul mates’ for lifetimes.
o Our soul has a plan for us and knows the way to get us there. Problem is we might not be on the same page.
Too many of us are totally disassociated with the true nature of ourselves, too concerned with keeping up, getting ahead, making the money, living the lifestyle. Over time this leads to living a life so built on the expectations of those around us that it no longer feels fulfilling or meaningful for us. Don’t let it take a big life event to shake you up and make you look at yourself and your life. Instead start listening to your body and take notice when you swoon with enjoyment at something. Do more of those things.
It may not mean jacking in the job and relocating, it might just mean taking back up with a hobby that you loved as a teenager, joining the footie team, singing in the band or scrapbooking over tea and biscuits. Whatever it is, do it and enjoy it. Don’t feel guilty or that you ‘should’ be using your time more ‘productively’ your life is for living and for feeling the best that you can feel. The world is in pain right now and needs more joy and more people lit up from the things that they love.
When we do the things we love, when we slow the noise and clamour of the outside world enough to hear the sound of our soul; when we physically and mentally slow down, stop rushing, pushing, doing; we remember we are actually Human Beings and not Human Doings.
The sound of your soul might only sound like a whisper at first, but listen and it will get louder. Follow it, trust it and it will become as loud if not louder than the voice of fear and comparison and expectation that we so often heed first.
For me this has meant, walking away from a professional career 20 years in the making, moving out into the countryside to find the peace that I crave, writing, and exploring yoga and meditation. When I look back on my life so far it seems like everything has been pointing me to this, I just had to be brave enough to listen and believe it.
When we really hear the song of our souls, trust it and live by it decision by decision, day by day we gradually realise we are singing along, and it is then that we realise we actually knew the words all along.