Odysseys with Wholeness

Nicola Mary Christensen-Johnson

At Home with our Art Form

Spiritual Inflation and Overwhelm

We shape our spiritual identities around the roles we take on to fulfil our longings: seekers of truth and enlightenment, hardy pilgrims walking the path of inner light, spiritual warriors restoring justice and love in a world on fire, courageous explorers embarked on an odyssey with wholeness. Framed by the great traditions, these noble pursuits usher us into worlds dispensing tantalising offerings: schools of mystery, teachings in higher consciousness and transdimensional spirituality, silent retreats to awaken the inner self, vision quests and ceremonies to unearth the hidden treasures. All share a common purpose, endearing us to come back to ourselves by letting go of the scripts played on the surface so that we may reclaim our true inner self and the one gift we are called to offer to world.

At times, the landscape of spiritual development swarms with proposals seeking to accompany us in our expansion. It then becomes all too easy to loose ourselves to forms of bewilderment that do not truthfully serve the transformations we are opening up to. We drift away in the world of easy explanations and one-sided certainties, buffeted by the turbulence of the overcrowded scene of spirituality. So, how do we fall upwards into the next dispensation of our life? How do we sail over the thresholds and tumble down the portals we come across on our odysseys? How do we realise the promise of finding ourselves by precisely losing ourselves?

The intensity of spiritual journeying is such that we will be tempted to look for short cuts in the maze of teachings and practices pertaining to lead us to the truth and the like-minded community which we can call home and where we can settle. And when we seek to precipitate transformation, we will catch ourselves running away, or defending, former patterns and habits not yet ripe for conversion. We will ponder on why we find ourselves, yet again, assaulted and besieged by the hustle and bustle of spiritual endeavours reflecting the busy and noisy surface we seek to escape from, or grow out of. Our own intense demeanour, where mindless action and actionless mind compete for our attention, should alert us as to our wise responses in the face of spiritual inflation and recurring episodes of overwhelm.

Deep Rest and Radical Simplification

Our quests, pilgrimages and odysseys yield nothing without indulging in long periods of deep rest and abiding the simple, foundational invitation to stop and stay in the present moment. Pausing so as to consciously hover on the rims on intelligibility is the only way, and the only place, where we can honestly say we don’t know, because there we truly do not know, and we are no longer cosplaying the humble seeker who believes that it is crucial to state that he or she doesn’t know in order to gain access to some illusionary inner wheel.

Resting in unadorned spaciousness, responding to the invitation to ‘wait and see’, is where something new can arise, unhindered by the previous antics of the personality anxious to fulfil the roles it has taken on so fervently. Deep rest allows a time of maturation, a hibernation of sorts. It invites us into the seasonality of listening, observing the ingestion and digestion of our inner experiences while we chew on the mystery of life. It prunes us open to seeing and understanding through our own heart, the inditing heart, and, as such, liberates us from all previous ways of perceiving reality and understanding our inner experience.

A deep sense of rest comes from the discontent and restlessness able to name not only the frustrations and disappointments we are brooding, but also the compulsive and patterned behaviours we have unknowingly dragged from the surface into our supposedly new lives. It is only when we give ourselves up to a creative undoing, and a radical simplification, that we can redeem and forgive ourselves for the flaws and weaknesses that comprise the human experience.

Our pilgrimages through silence and quietness, our wholehearted practices of gratitude, our willingness to accept and forgive the inevitable crises of life yield the revelations shepherding us into a larger, fuller, wiser and braver participation in world. We quit our former modes of involvement hoping to be revealed and discovered by the world in a new way, with the innocence and fervour of the child who knows how to unashamedly receive the blessing of world and the gift of life.

What would it take for us to finally allow all the forms of undoing we deprive ourselves of, and protect ourselves from? What would happen if we dared cross the thresholds of our troubles to embrace radical forms of simplification? Would we be blessed and truly able to shape a more open heart, open mind and open will? The only way to know is to dare put forward the questions we have avoided so far, and to sink into the deep rest from where answers arise in their own time, at their own pace.

Art Form and Inner Authority

One of the benefits of tending to places of deep rest is that the initial emptiness we might experience, soon unleashes our creativity and reveals the art form we are meant to cultivate and bring into world.

Practicing an art, in whatever form and shape, is precisely what enables us to make sense of the inner voyaging through the eye of our own heart and to grow inner authority. We learn to allow the silence, stillness and solitude to shape us, penetrate us and sweep us away to the essence of ourselves which awaits us beyond the surfaces and horizons of a previous life. There we discover the power of a language (words, music or painting) articulating the encounters between inner and outer worlds where things meet and constellate in new, astonishing and revelatory ways. Our wordsmithing, our colourful portrayals and our melodious soundscapes gently coax us to speak of, and from, the multidimensional reality we find ourselves swimming in as we expand our awareness and attain higher orders of consciousness.

Practicing an art is how we knit together the braids of knowledge and wisdom which tutor us into more expanded versions of ourselves. Our art form, exquisitely designed for us, ushers us to the mystical experience unveiling our next forms of participation in world and returns us to the generative conversations we are summoned to steward. What’s more, we can trust that the emerging conversations are stretched between a place of origin and the trajectory leading us beyond our current stage of consciousness.

Tending to our resting places

For all the above reasons, after a year of exploring the mysticism of inditing and celebrating the art of voicing from the heart, I wish to focus my next offerings on hosting resting places where we can pause, digest and savour some of the treasures gleaned on our voyages and give voice to them through the art form that most speaks to us: painting, music or/and words, for instance. The idea behind this is to nurture the virtuosity of our artistic talents until it becomes easy and natural to return to the place of origin from where all things arise and our essence shines.

These resting places take the form of monthly 4-hour online workshops offering space and time for practicing our art form. Together, we will learn to

  • Articulate what emerges on the rims of intelligibility where the frictions of paradoxes and contradictions enliven and embolden the ever-evolving complexity of life
  • Explore and refine the art form which enables us to cohere our inner experience and translate our inner understanding into outer manifestation
  • Be matured by our own art form; that is to fall apart and shed the outer restrictions and limitations that we have taken on
  • Inhabit the temple of our aloneness, a temple which is fortified when we rest there in good company
  • Remember the way we care about world and, revitalised from drinking at the source of wellbeing, to dare show more generously and compassionately how much we care for self, for each other and for the world on fire

Holding a Salon

The title of this series At Home with our Art Form rekindles the art of holding a salon in the spirit of the literary and philosophical movements of former times. Traditionally, a salon was a gathering of people held by a host. Once a week or month, regular attendees would come together to exchange ideas, present their own works, hear the works and ideas of other inspirational figures, receive and share insights, and develop capacities for critical thinking. A salon was both a place of informal education and scholarly entertainment which women in particular would frequent to pursue the forms of higher education which were denied to them.

At Home encompasses a double meaning. The first is literal since salons were held in private homes: we will be connecting our different homes to practice together, the place we call home being where we should experience deep rest. The second meaning is figurative: at home in the sense of being at ease with whatever art form we feel called to cultivate.

Salons have always been precious places of incubation and maturation. They become all the more so when we take care to leave competitiveness and comparison at the door as well as our beliefs that we will need to perform with virtuosity to be worthy of the gathering. We enter the sacred space with the sole purpose of being inspired by each other’s presence and gifts. Then we can taste the freedom and spaciousness of a true resting place which is invitational by nature, inspirational by essence, rejuvenating in its effects: the perfect counterpoint to spiritual fatigue.

Time is an essential ingredient for a rewarding salon, hence the generosity of four hours dedicated to exploring a given theme or topic.  It curtails the speed and haste with which we tend to do everything and is conducive to in-depth contemplations on great questions.

An Itinerary of Deep Rest

The 2024 programme is designed to respect the seasonality of listening starting with winter gestations, followed by spring blossoms before we move into summer fruits and autumn harvest. I will essentially be working with my own materials relating to our odysseys with wholeness. I respectfully acknowledge John O’Donohue and David Whyte’s inspirational accompaniment throughout the past year which helped me design and craft the workshops, and now the salons. Their creative presence remains with me, inspires and strengthens my own human presence in world.

In January we begin by revisiting the essence of inner voyaging and, in preparation for our odyssey with wholeness, we will draw on the elemental forces which accompanied us in 2023. We will then explore the eight pathways to selfhood tracing the story of consciousness unfolding unto itself and our expansion into wholeness. To complete the year, having walked through the pathways ushering us to higher orders of consciousness, we will be visiting the geography we inhabit on the other side of the looking-glass.

Click on the coloured cells to find out more about each online salon.

Month Theme Date & Time
January Inner Voyaging Saturday 27 January at 15.00 CET
February Choosing. The Emerging Pathway Sunday 25 February at 15.00 CET
March Consenting. The Devotional Pathway Sunday 24 March at 15.00 CET
April Expanding. The Pathway of Introspection Sunday 28 April at 15.00 CET
May Shifting. The Pathway of Metanoia Sunday 26 May at 15.00 CET
June Awakening. The Pathway of Conscious Love Sunday 30 June at 15.00 CET
July Surrendering. The Pathway of Kenosis To be determined
August Enacting. The Pathway of Essential Nature To be determined
September Inditing. The Pathway of Collective Nature To be determined
October The Temple of Aloneness To be determined
November The Shrine of Language To be determined
December The Sanctuary of Intimacy To be determined

Participation Fees

 

Please take some time to read my Terms of service: you will find out more about me and how I work.

You can also look at my Philosophy of Accompaniment which details how I accompany people on their odysseys with wholeness and oneness.