On Sunday, I was joined by the mystic, scholar, and storyteller Sera Beak for a dialogue we titled “Only Partnering With Our Divine Soul Will Heal Our World”.
Sera brought both depth and vulnerability to our dialog in a way that led to a beautiful exploration of the particular, emerging, approach to soul work that she is championing—that of understanding soul work as a rare, profound transformative relationship to a deep, divine aspect of our own selves—and understanding soul work as proceeding out of a heartfelt invitation to our soul natures to come alive and guide us.
I started by asking what Sera means by “soul.” After all, it’s a term that has been used in myriad ways by religious and non-religious alike over the centuries. Sera sees the soul as an emanation of the Godhead or Goddesshead of one’s own being. Her experience of the soul is that it is the aspect of our Distinct Divine Being that incarnates over and over again and has multiple experiences and expressions in the universe. This relationship with her soul is sacred and dynamic and has become the fundamental practice of her life because it directly connects her with her Goddesshead and allows Her human incarnation.
Sera says that this is a deep and rather rare relationship that most people simply aren’t even aware is possible. Even most longtime spiritual practitioners haven’t consecrated this precious relationship with their soul. In fact, few people even seek it out. She describes a time in her own life when she too was without this relationship. She became aware of this during a transformational conversation with the renowned Jungian Marion Woodman, the first person Sera recognized as having truly incarnated her soul. In Marion’s profound soul-incarnated presence, Sera had the heartbreaking realization that despite all her spiritual studies and beliefs about the importance of the soul, in truth, she was disconnected from her soul and had lost her soul somewhere along her spiritual journey.
This paradigm-shattering epiphany began what Sera calls her “red night of the soul.” And even though she had a successful career as a spiritual teacher and was a published writer and recognized voice for her generation of practitioners, she was, in her words, a “spirit addict,” manifesting all the symptoms of spiritual bypassing, chasing after external teachings and traditions and yet never pausing to really listen to her soul.
And yet she says, her Soul had sent messages to her from childhood (which she says is the case with many of us), reaching out to her through dreams, art, nature, synchronicities, and dancing, none of which is emphasized in classic spiritual practice. So in the midst of all her seeking and immersion in spiritual traditions, when she tried to connect her Soul experience in a tradition, she came up empty-handed. Sera says, “I thought I must just be a narcissistic western woman, so I doubted myself, and ‘my lady’ (she calls her soul “my red lady”) and because I couldn’t see our relationship reflected outside of me in our world.”
Sera began to consciously nurture a relationship with her Soul. She pulled away from the world so that she might release the paradigms and practices that she’d absorbed. She described the process as “rigorous, humbling and terrifying. Even strange.”
It involved saying no to many things that made sense, and saying yes to some things that made no sense. It required her to wake up not just to the beauty and the delight of this sacred relationship with her soul, but also the horror of overriding, disregarding, and generally mistreating the sacred dimension of her own being all throughout her life.
I asked Sera if there were specific practices (or non-practices) that we can engage in to start to cultivate this relationship with our soul. She suggested in the beginning, making a real, honest and heartfelt invitation to your soul to “turn up its volume.” Authenticity is key. This cannot be a goal-oriented effort; after all you need to see if this reality is really in alignment with you. (It won’t happen authentically merely because you want it to be so). So she suggests you begin noticing the ache, and the yearning that every single one of us has because we are disconnected from our soul, from our sacredness. Not even a transcendent connection to God, Goddess and/or the Divine can fill the soul ache. And it is from that heartache that you extend the invitation to your Soul to become more present and active in your awareness, body and ordinary life.
Then she suggests you start paying attention. You’ll see things in your dreams and feel things in your body. Begin journaling, noticing, reflecting. Make it a continual daily practice to honor the fact that your Soul is trying to press more into your reality. And treat it like any important new relationship, and create time for it. Invite your soul for tea or for a walk. And treat it with real respect.
I asked about how such an intimate, internal and subjective soul work can really help us to serve our world and to respond to the state of our world. Sera reflected upon what Martin Luther King and Gandhi called Soul Force (or “Satyagraha.”) When we make this subjective linkup, there’s a natural influx of soul force into our body, and a direct connection is made between the human and the divine. We are actually able to hold and radiate much more life-force and Divinity when this Soul connection is flowing.
Then service to the world is not about anything we’re “supposed to” do; it’s not any kind of mission-driven obligation. Sera says we Souls are, by our very nature, here in service. Making a difference, healing the world, healing ourselves and others—these are the Soul’s natural joys and expressions.
I found this conversation with Sera illuminating, speaking to many core questions that I’ve been investigating in a very touching, catalytic and beautiful way. I hope you will listen in and enjoy!