Transformation & Empowerment

I’ve been working in the field of personal transformation and empowerment for a few years now, and I occasionally get asked what these terms actually means. My understanding has changed and evolved over time, but I feel it’s broad enough now to share what I’ve learnt so far. So in this blogpost I’ll share some of the main ideas and insights I’ve gained about the “No Stone Unturned” approach to personal transformation and empowerment which we’ve developed during the first seven years of Sacred Pleasures.

Specifically, I’ll look at a few important questions around personal transformation and empowerment:

  1. What is aliveness and why might you want more of it in your life?
  2. What blocks us from feeling fully alive?
  3. What are the main tools we use to address the blocks?
  4. What is shadow healing and when does it come into play?
  5. What is catharsis and why are so many people into it?
  6. How do we know when we’re making progress?
  7. How can we engage with The Work?

This is the most comprehensive roadmap I’ve put together so far for these territories of personal transformation & empowerment. Please take my hand and let’s begin the journey together.

Section 1: Aliveness

Note: for the sake of brevity, I’m going to abbreviate “the work of personal transformation and empowerment” to “The Work” throughout this article.

In the mid-60s a teacher called Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh began offering a radical new approach to spiritual development, embracing progressive (some would say, outrageous) attitudes to sexuality and some pretty wild methods for opening people up. By 1974 he’d established an ashram in Pune in India, where he received many Western disciples who he initiated as seekers (neo-sannyasins). In the early 80s he brought his work, rather disastrously, to the United States, and the last bit of his story is shrouded in scandal and controversy. By the time he became Osho in 1989 he was notorious and many people still think negatively about his work; but for me he was and remains the single biggest and most important influence on The Work.

Although there was a great deal to Osho’s teachings, the thing that’s always captivated me is his focus on being deeply, truly alive. I have always been a high-energy, intense kind of person and, in the mainstream world I was simply too much. However when I first encountered Osho-inspired people (like the sannyasins at Osho Leela), I felt totally met and quite normal! As I investigated what they were into and how they approached their lives and The Work, it became clear that their focus on aliveness was at the heart of it.

So what do we mean when we say “aliveness”? For me, aliveness means allowing more of everything in and through you. In large part this is about emotions and sensations: people who are more alive feel more, sense more, experiencing life more vigorously and more acutely. The highs are higher, the lows are lower and life feels fuller than it did before. There’s an intensity that goes with being more alive: a muchness, if you like; a feeling of fullness.

In my experience, as people become more alive, they also feel their connections with other people more intensely. This was a big focus of Osho’s work: he invited people to open up to their feelings, feel their connections more deeply, get triggered more often and, through this, learn more about themselves. Although Osho advocated serial monogamy rather than polyamory, a lot of his teachings are about experiencing connections as deeply as possible so we learn the lessons they have to teach us and then move onto the next one. It sounds a bit harsh when put so baldly, but there’s a wisdom in it too, especially when viewed from the perspective of becoming more and more alive.

It’s perfectly valid to ask, why would I want to welcome more aliveness in? It might seem like a lot of hassle for little reward, to feel everything more intensely. If this is true for you, of course, then keeping things more toned down is a perfectly valid choice. If however you sense that something in you wants more, then you’re probably looking for more aliveness.

More aliveness means feeling more of everything, the good stuff and the hard stuff. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to have one without the other – as the range of possibilities increase in one direction, they automatically increase in every other direction as well. Opening to more joy means welcoming more grief, sadness and pain too. It’s like having greater emotional bandwidth: once the tube becomes wider, whatever is happening is felt and experienced more intensely.

For me, this is in line with one of my core beliefs: that we’re here to suck the marrow out of life. We’re here to engage fully with life and to live as vibrantly and intensely as we can. In this regard Osho’s ideas and teachings have always sung to me and have inspired me since I first discovered him a few years ago.

A lot of The Work is about welcoming more aliveness and removing the obstacles that stop life from flowing so strongly in us and through us. As I continue to talk about personal transformation and empowerment, it’s really worth keeping this in mind. And this leads us neatly onto the next question: how do transformation and empowerment support you to welcome more aliveness?

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