What is it?
Wholeness is everything that is contained within, present and acknowledged to be part of or held within the space of something: a whole day, a whole book, a whole loaf, a whole life.
Wholeness includes the pieces and parts of the thing, ingredients that have come together as parts of the whole. Wholeness continues as long as the active ingredients are being experienced; as they are happening, growing, baking, becoming, creating and expressed in all ways. Parts of the whole can also fragment, break off and leave spaces that may be seen and felt, or not.
The holographic principle offers the concept of knowing that what is held within the whole is also present within the parts. As humans the parts or fragments, the brokenness is what we most commonly sense about ourselves from a very early age. Wholeness is hard to embrace because brokenness often feels more overwhelming, painful, wrong and prevalent yet brokenness is a natural state of wholeness that is not well understood.
As the goddess Akhilandeshvari teaches, it is the heart break, soul break and broken places within and without that teach us how to be whole in our humanity, to have compassion, empathy and to learn how to grow. As much as we are never not broken, we are also never not whole.
We are Never Not Whole.
We are ever so and never not…this duality is a profound source of strength when it is understood, as we learn to know and grow into our wholeness and highest expression. I sense, as humans, we are ever healing and ever wholing. This is what I know to be true of the journey and how I guide process when I work with clients. This living energy of “never not” and “ever connecting” is the journey of wholeness, healing and embracing that which is moving into the field of knowing, visibility, expression and experience.
I share about my beginning journey and the powerful tools of transformative process in my book Gathering Wholeness. I reclaimed art as a personal language during a time that my life was falling apart. I had lost track of myself over the years of living, struggling through years in a complex marriage, landing in work I did not love, raising children, navigating lack, experiencing illness and challenge within my family. I was consumed by a fierce loyalty, need to fix and protect that verged on martyrdom. I had inadvertently over many years poured my own life energy out. A serious back injury stopped me in my tracks and during the long wait for surgery, I finally had to acknowledge that I was broken and lost.
My brokenness was not new, but it was unacknowledged.
I was afraid to be broken. I saw weakness in my brokenness. I gutted my way through life and did not feel much, alternately felt too much and then judging myself harshly I turned back to the ‘shoulds’, making nice with circumstances that were tempering me, bending me, breaking me.
I did not learn to know my whole self until I could acknowledge my fragmented, shattered and unexpressed self. The broken life, the parts that were scattered to the winds, the wholeness that was buried deep needed to be known. It was in the knowing, the deep knowing of what I affectionately call the good, the bad and the ugly, that I could recognize the possibility of wholeness. This took time. It was intense delving into my shadow stories; seeking the things that helped me to reclaim, bring together parts and experience the edges of my whole self. Healing and wholing happened through a process of facing fear and developing trust, which in the beginning was in very short supply.
The writer, Louise Erdrich shares this wisdom:
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth.
You are here to risk your heart, you are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.
Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.
I did not want to feel. I did not want to taste the truth.
I was afraid of intense feelings and emotions that I was sure would show me that the sweetness of life what beyond my reach. I was so certain that my feelings would spin out of control or flood me. It required deep trust to begin experience wholeness through my ability to own, and claim, that which was broken. It required me to feel and express and taste the depth of my emotions. This JourneyCircles™ card, the imagery and the words that layer deeper meanings, “Unbearable pain, becomes its own cure” offered me a new way to approach this work. Unbelievable pain becomes its own cure, offered me a way to taste my truth and to find my way.
Brokenness is something that most of us want to avoid. Broken feels painful, shameful, bad and frightening; full of meaning that is taught to be avoided or fixed at all cost. Until we begin to embrace brokenness and understand the deeper nature of wholeness, we will want to turn away from the pain.
The broken self does all that it can to avoid pain, often inside of what feels like excruciating emotional or physical pain. The fragmented broken self yearns for what is missing yet is often afraid to trust and embrace that which is true. If there has been trauma, brokenness can feel more acute and sometimes take more time and patience to work with. Safe companioning and guiding is very important to the healing and wholing process.
Brokenness is hard to embrace, and therefore so is Wholeness.
They are a spectrum experience; one cannot exist without the other. Through accepting, trusting, feeling and expressing one, the other comes into clarity, fullness and expression. Exploring and expressing brokenness can be overwhelming and needs to have a safe holding space, likewise so does wholeness that can be equally frightening. Expressive art can be a valuable way to express and more deeply experience this kind of process. Our art makes visible that which is not known, seen or heard.
Look to your art, the images that speak to you, in order to see where your broken self is reflected and then look for the healing/wholing parts of self, life and experience that are reflected in your art. Put your art into adjacent areas and place a post-it notes with each group – naming what you sense and feel. Notice what you see then the energies are separated into two categories (oppositional energies).
Now shift the groups, placing them into the opposite position with the original post-it remaining in the space. What do you see now? Where is the wholeness in the brokenness and visa versa? Now remove the labels and place all of the art images together, intermingling them into a large mosaic pattern. What do you see reflected through the combined images. The whole self is ever healing and wholeness comes through knowing, truthtelling and creating a catalyst for change. How do explore your own art and process as a whole? How does the self knowledge you are exploring in your art serve this purpose, of embracing NEVER NOT BROKEN and EVER WHOLE, in your life?
I have come to know wholeness through my sense of brokenness, working deeply with my stories, beliefs and parts of self through transformative process and expressive arts.
JourneyCircles™ offers a beautiful way to explore the deeper narratives or stories, to see and share these energies is to activate the energy of healing and whaling. If you are interested in learning and growing your personal or professional practice, discover how JourneyCircles™ Facilitator training will support your vision!