“You say enlightenment would free you from the daily pains and frustrations of living, a ticket to a life not so depressing, complicated, and unfair.
I say life is adventurous and mysterious, and embracing it wholly is the challenge with the greatest rewards.
You believe the Earth Realm is an ugly, unjust place, where only pain and rejection await.
But I say if we move on together, with Curiosa by our side, we will experience the beauty and joy of the Earth Realm, too.
You keep reaching for enlightenment.
I keep asking for embodiment.
This is what I want.
What is it that you want?”
~Serene Voyager (Keri’s soul)
Excerpt from Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness—A Memoir of New Beginnings
Coming Spring, 2020
“Learn to take a joke.”
“Don’t take it so personally.”
“Oooh, touchy are we?”
“It’s not personal, it’s business.”
“Can’t you let it go?”
“C’mon, you’re fine.”
“You need to grow a thicker skin.”
Most of us, and probably women in particular, have heard some, if not all, of the above statements. Is it any wonder we learn to hide our true selves? Disguise our emotions? Silence our inner knowing? In a culture that touts uniqueness and independence right up to the point that it threatens the status quo, is it surprising that we ignore the twisting restlessness that comes from within us, the part of us that could care less about “fitting in”—the part of us we call soul?
Unless we consciously choose differently, most of us find ways to fit in as we are taught, with women adhering to what society tells them about what it means to be a woman, and men believing what they are told about what it means to be a man. Children are taught to obey authority, stay inside the lines, and go along to get along, habits that often last far into adulthood, far into a time when these things are detrimental to not only themselves but a culture that hungers for challenge and change.
The so-called real world—the world of rules, limits, and boundaries—has also taught us since we were children that if we want to find happiness, we must reject our turbulent inner world. So, we learn to fight against or submit entirely to our emotions—anger, fear, guilt, and shame particularly—and miss the opportunity to let these emotions be worthy, if imperfect, companions. And we discount the wisdom available from our souls, the highest voice of truth and integrity we will ever know and instead brush off this subtle guidance as nonsensical or impractical. We have been told that to stay safe, we must suppress the parts of ourselves that make us most unique, and instead rely on masks, roles, labels, titles, and duties to bring us joy.
LIVING A WHOLE LIFE MEANS BEING DIFFERENT
Living this way, neither wholly expressed in our outer lives nor wholly acknowledged in our inner lives, our sense of self-worth, personal power, and integrity are stripped away.
Who could blame us for trying to keep our true self hidden? Living a whole life, one complete with our spontaneous emotions, our undomesticated souls, and our fickle human bodies, is a life bound to stick out like a fiery red crayon in a carton of muted blues.
But this safety leads only to a life lived on the surface, devoid of true meaning, joy, or fulfillment.
Yet, no matter how long we’ve denied our true selves, no matter how deeply we’ve invested in the promises of the world, there is a way to a richer life. That way begins with a conscious choice to welcome, ally with, and fully embody our souls.
By “soul,” I mean our essence, our core, our truest, most authentic self. Our souls are the part of us that existed before this human life and will exist after it. They are the part of us that has access to the divine realms and cosmic knowledge, and yet, still believed that this limited lifetime, this imperfect human body, and yes, this fraught time in history, had particular value for its own growth.
“Embodiment” means allowing our souls to be seen and heard in the Earth Realm. It means being unashamed to feel and reasonably express the full spectrum of human emotions. It means being unafraid to engage in work that most deeply satisfies us and serves the world. This embodied life is what our souls long for most of all.
LIFE IS ABOUT EVOLUTION AND GROWTH
It’s important to remember that human life was never a requirement for our souls. They are not here out of randomness. There was no accident. Our life is not a mistake; it is most certainly not a punishment or a loyalty test. Rather, our souls not only agreed to take on another human lifetime in another human skin, they said yes to this human life because they, like us, are on a journey of evolution and growth. Our souls chose to be here, and now we must choose our souls.
To embody one’s soul begins with a vow — a vow to listen to our inner voice rather than discount it, to explore, and step into our wholeness without favor for some aspects of ourselves over others, and ultimately, to remember that we are much more than an ego wrapped in human skin, but a human being held in the loving embrace of our souls.
As we embody our souls and put voice and action behind our deepest longings, we try things we might not have ordinarily tried. We leave things we might not ordinarily have dared to walk away from. We find grace and light-heartedness in our difficult moments; we find depth in our routine ones. Our life becomes an adventure, led with curiosity and courage rather than drive and ambition. And we begin to feel our lives as the rich, fulfilling adventures they were always destined to be.
Keri Mangis, on the surface, might seem a gentle yet candid introvert. But peel back a layer and you'll uncover an inquisitive explorer of the internal and external realms. Peel back yet another layer and you might see a brave visionary pioneering her own brand of spiritual revolution. She has studied and/or taught yoga, Ayurveda, herbal medicine, energy work, aromatherapy, Buddhism, Hinduism, Tantra, Christianity, and other spiritual teachings and healing modalities that have sparked her endless curiosity. She is currently a freelance writer/speaker whose work has appeared in Elephant Journal, The Good Men Project, The Sunlight Press, Grown and Flown, Rebelle Society, Literary Mama and more. Her first book, a memoir entitled Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness—A Memoir of New Beginnings, will be published in the spring of 2020. firstname.lastname@example.org www.kerimangis.com