By Lisa Meuser.
This is an excerpt from a larger piece… shared the day I graduated from a conscious leadership training. I look forward to sharing more.
An intention – which became my motto – whispered deep into my ear and into my heart as 2019 was being birthed: Be in the world and Be of Love.
Let me first say, phew. And let me second say, PHEW.
What an intention. Surely, I will be journeying to embody this for the rest of my life.
2019 was a year where 3 different learnings converged, and where I became their constant student.
Learning number one came early in the year through a BTCC (Building a Thriving Compassionate Community) think tank. Stephanie Solomon presented something she’d recently learned from a Crossroads anti-racism conference.
Stephanie shared something that stood out to her from the conference: the difference between values of dominant culture and the values of transformative culture.
The tenets of our current modern day culture are rooted in values of dominant culture: scarcity mentality, based in competitive and individual preservation, focused on outcome, either/or and us/them thinking (ie binary narratives of good, bad, right, or wrong) and a hierarchy of power which is exclusionary and immersed in secrecy. Many of the institutions that we know and love are rooted in values of dominant culture. They are our “normal.”
Then there are the tenets of transformative culture: a resonance of abundance, collaboration and shared power, transparency and accountability, both /and thinking, a focus on the process/the journey, and an inclusion of history. Transformative culture is alive with paradox. WWFaC is rooted in transformative values. In our current culture, this is the exception.
Learning number two started to drop in not too long after Stephanie’s think tank through Angeles Arrien’s The Four-Fold Way. In this book she reveals the ways of the shadow, and the ways of ancestral wisdom.
As I was reading, I discovered that the ways of the shadow often mirrored dominant culture, while the ways of ancestral wisdom often mirrored transformative culture. The overlap was remarkable.
Angeles Arrien helps us connect to these different gifts and shadows through the study of 4 archetypes – the teacher, the healer, the leader and the visionary. In short, the four archetypes invite us to:
- Show up, and choose to be present.
- Pay attention to what has heart and meaning.
- Tell the truth without blame or judgement.
- Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome.
When we lose our way, as we tend to do as humans, we find ourselves in the shadows. Willingly learning all the while, we eventually make our way / take ourselves back to sacred wisdom. And so it goes while we are engaged in the journey of conscious embodiment.
The way learnings 1 and 2 swirled amidst each other was immensely powerful for me. In their own profound ways, they both revealed various narratives we’re taught in this culture, and at the same time showed us that there is another way, if we are willing to courageously move into what’s possible. To do so truly is a radical happening in today’s culture, which encourages and rewards the status quo, and punishes and belittles those who dare to do, or even want, something different.
Throughout this year, it was constantly humbling to discover how deeply entrenched the dominant narrative and the shadow were woven into me in so many unsuspecting ways. And at the same time, it was deeply inspiring and hopeful, as there were very real tools and practices shared which could be utilized alongside other practices I already have in place. In the true nature of transformative and ancestral values, these learnings carried a spirit of compassion and spaciousness throughout them.
These two learnings were the backdrop of a third learning– the most encompassing learning I’ve ever known – Love First.
There is less to write about with this learning, because Love is an experiential happening. It’s not an emotion, and not a feeling: it’s a Presence, one which is viscerally and unquestionably Known. The first two learnings laid a profound groundwork from which I could more deeply employ Love First.
Over the course of this year I persistently asked myself questions: am I employing the dominant narrative in some way? Am I stuck in shadow territory? Am I drawing from transformative values and ancestral wisdom? Am I moving from Love First? These questions, and all their tenets, became my rubric for how I moved in the world.
I got support from trusted embodied guides as I dove into those questions. We often found deep layers of dominant narrative/shadow patterning interwoven into my personality. While my support team was instrumental in helping me reconnect with clarity, it was up to me to be willing to ask these questions, and then explore how I would participate with being in the world, as well as if that participation would be of Love.
No one could answer these questions for me. No one could give me the right answer. No one could tell me if I was in direct alignment with my intention for the year, be in the world, and be of Love. It was up to me to constantly pause, reflect, feel, and most importantly learn. It was up to me to tell the truth, first to myself, and then with those I was participating with. I stumbled over and over and over. And just as many times I found a truth that no one could sway me from because it was from a place that was between me and God, between me and Love.
These questions are now a part of who I am, and I am grateful. Thank you, Mary Ann and Beth for your wisdom and mentorship. Love First, is embodied here.
To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.
 A local organization, where I completed the consciousness leadership training.