In The Yamas & Niyamas: Exlploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice, author, Deborah Adele, writes, “The path of growth is not a straight line; it does not look anything like what we think it should look like. In fact, often our belief system of what growth looks like, is the very thing that stops our growth.” In this excerpt, Adele succinctly speaks to how growth and healing are non-linear. Often, as we learn and face our own beliefs and biases, there is relapse and regression. While we hope healing to be straight-forward, it can be more of a two steps forward and two steps backward type of journey. Lately, I’ve been intrigued by the concept of healing as a spiral. As cult-survivor and author, Laura Hough, writes in her book, Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing,
“The healing process is best described as a spiral. Survivors go through the stages once, sometimes many times; sometimes in one order, sometimes in another. Each time they hit a stage again, they move up the spiral: they can integrate new information and a broader range of feelings, utilize more resources, take better care of themselves, and make deeper changes.”
Healing is a long-game, with many twists and turns, and I’ve been reminded of that this week. I’m in the midst of attending The Heart of Higher Education, presented by the Center of Courage & Renewal and The University of Denver. I listened to Parker Palmer and Laura Rendon speak about how we can remain engaged in the work of being a change agent in Higher Education and beyond.
Laura mentioned the work of Angeles Arrien, whose name I first heard of a decade ago. At that time, I was a young 20 something who went to live in an intentional community in Santa Cruz, CA. I spent a year there and later returned for another year and a half in 2018. Arrien’s concept of “The Four Fold Way,” was an undercurrent in that community and the threads have continued through my life into present day. I’m curious to know what those threads are combining with and weaving, but I won’t see the tapestry for some time.
That’s because, as Palmer said today, “the truth can’t live in the conclusions of the current conversations.” This is the nature of the slow unfolding, the spiral pattern of our learning and healing.