When my husband and I bought our house it was far away from my former spiritual director and I had not found a new one. My spiritual life was languishing. So in the summer of 2018 I booked a retreat at a center very near my home and that retreat included an hour with a spiritual director. I hoped she would become my new director and she did. She has helped me remember to renew myself spiritually.
This year my work with her has dovetailed with my Tidying Project in ways that have led to a great deal of internal growth. For example, she's always suggesting books for me to read, and I had discovered one way to renew myself is to listen to audiobooks as I'm driving around between visits. The news is too depressing. This past spring she suggested Dodging Energy Vampires: An Empath's Guide to Evading Relationships that Drain You and Restoring Your Health by Christiane Northrup.
Previously I had dismissed her as too New Age-y. However, I trust my spiritual director so found the audiobook and listened to it. Twice. A lot of what Northrup made sense to me so I started doing some of the meditations in her book. One of these, a Garden Meditation, helps you deal with early trauma when it is triggered.
You know something has been triggered when your reaction is out of proportion to whatever has happened. The practice is to ask yourself to think of a number whenever this triggering happens. This often turns out to be the age you were when whatever was triggered happened. This is where the garden meditation part starts.
You imagine a garden that is totally safe and staffed by angels who help keep it that way. You imagine going into the garden where you find the child you were at that age. You imagine interacting with the child, inviting them to come to you if they will. You assure them they are safe and that you will return every day for 40 days to be with them. And then you take three deep breaths and bring yourself out of your imagination into the present world.
For the first couple of weeks she was sleeping every time I entered the garden - worn out from the stress of that time and also the relief of finally being in a safe place. Later she expressed strong emotions - raging, weeping, trembling with fear. Over time she/I felt better.
By the end of the forty days "we" had a moment of integration where I (in my imagination) embraced her and she entered and became a part of me. In other words, I accepted that these things had happened to me in the past and released myself of their power over me in the present. I became more whole. It was a very powerful experience. I'm not triggered around those issues as often or as strongly. This means less stress for me and those close to me.
As part of a larger effort at spiritual growth and sustainability in my work, Tidying Up has been about much more than just creating a more orderly house. It has been about laying painful memories to rest in ways that keep them from intruding on my present life. It has helped me to sustain myself for me work and for those I love.