Tag Archives: confusion

THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL; the madness of change

When profound changes occur in life, there is a crisis which creates inner madness. Most people who come to me are in the process of change and to most of them it is as if the rug was pulled out from under their feet. We all go about our lives believing that we know what tomorrow will bring, thinking we know ourselves and we form habits and patterns to ensure us of this safety. For some people the change comes in the disguise of illness, loosing a job, death or birth. For others it is something that creeps up over time; a sense of discontent or un-fulfillment. Whatever the reason, madness occurs. Not the kind where we lose control and run screaming through the streets, though we might like to, but a silent, inner confusion where we feel that we are traveling in unknown territory without a map.

A lot of people get scared and think they are “loosing it”; they’re not. Change is profound and for this to occur all our old habits and patterns are shattered to make place for the new Self. This is the dark night of the soul (The great mystics called the dark night of the soul a gift of grace), a moment of inner death. Once you pass through this madness you can reconstruct yourself on personal and spiritual values, finding clarity within. Life-changes may be dramatic but they are necessary for personal evolution, to find the true calling in life.

The same thing happens to anybody who trains for a therapeutic profession; every student I ever trained went through this process and they had to change their lives in some manner to fit with the truths they found within. When I did my own training my whole Self was ripped to pieces and I felt confused, scared and lost (the dark night of my soul). Over time, with guidance, I found my path in life and little by little I reconstructed myself from within – as opposed to being a product of my environment.

This process will happen as sure as night follows day. Every person who works with the development of others; therapists, coaches or teachers, need to be aware of this and have some kind of plan how to help people through it. If you don’t have the knowledge yourself, make sure that you have back-up from other professionals to whom you can refer.

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SELF DEFINITION

I have listened to so many kids who say they don’t like who they are. They come from all walks of life; some have wonderful home-lives, others come from a hellish existence, still they all feel the same – it’s part of becoming who you are, part of growing up. As I said before, you can’t tell somebody what they have to do or be, they have to figure it out for themselves. How is this done? How do we know what we want to do or be in life? An adolescent lives more or less day to day, making life seem eternal and confusing. If they are in a “bad place”, how are they going to get out of it if they have no sense of future?

I listen to them; to their complaints, their tears, heart-ache, confusion and disappointment until I have a feeling of where their problems come from. Then I tune them into themselves:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you want?
  • Why do you want it?
  • How will you get it?

At this point they are usually angry or crying from confusion. Then I speak to them about Self-Definition, that we all make choices. Each individual is responsible for who they are. This will always form the base of what you receive in life, no matter where you come from. You can be nice and have nice things happen to you, or you can be nasty and have bad things happen. It is always about choices.

I hold up a mirror for the kid; showing him exactly who he is, right now, and he usually doesn’t like it. Then I ask him to think about who he wants to be. I make him aware of all the choices he has. I ask him to tell me what kind of person he wants to be and then we work with this picture, making it so real that the kid can feel it. This is the new mirror – the motivation to change – and the kid always likes this. We are emotional beings and emotion rules our choices much more than we believe.

Once this process is started it can’t be stopped, the kid will now think consciously about his actions. It doesn’t happen overnight, changes take time. Little by little the kid becomes comfortable with his new self-definition and works actively to become what he wants to be. This needs work and their are plenty of ways to do the work, it all depends on the individual. There is no need for recriminations, punishment or anger. Kids judge themselves harshly, in secret. If you add to that burden, they spiral into negativity. If you help them to define themselves and realize that they do have the power to choose and make changes, they usually will.

This, by the way, also goes for adults. Every now and then it is good to take stock of who you are and check if it fits with who you want to be.

ESSENTIAL OIL QUALITY – Ravensara/Ravintsara

ravensaraI wrote in an earlier post about an essential oil I picked up: Ravintsara (cinnamomum camphora). I couldn’t really get this oil out of my head so I have been doing some research. As usual there is plenty of misunderstandings between different oils, popular names, botanical names and the chemical properties. What continues to confuse me are the different Latin names but this is what I have found:

Ravensara, (Ravensara aromatica / Ravensara anisataLauraceae family) Is a a leafy evergreen tree 18 to 20 meters high with a reddish-grey bark indigenous to the moist forests of Madagascar, in Malagasy called Havozo. The essential oil is steam-distilled from the stem-bark (Ravensara anisata) or the leaves & branches (Ravensara aromatica)

The main chemical constituents of R. aromatica are: 1,8 cinèole (up to 49%). The main chemical constituents in R. anisata are: anethole (approx. 85%) and methyl chavicol. This makes these two oils completely different.  Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora – Lauraceae family) is steam-distilled from the leaves. It is also high in 1,8 cinèole.

The problem is that I cannot find any information on the Ravintsara (c. camphora). All info I can find reverts back to Ravensara aromatica/anisata. So the question is; Is it really the same plant? Or is it a mixup of the names? One source states: “Cinnamomum camphora is also named Ravintsara in Madagascar; hence Ravensara camphora is seen on price lists mistakenly as ravensara but no true species exist; various qualities abound”.

So you see the confusion around essential oils; this is why it is so important to make sure that the oil you buy is good quality and has a Latin (botanical) name on the label. In the case with the Ravensara, I would go for the botanical name Ravensara aromatica.

to be continued…when I have more information.