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Guideposts For Navigating the Alchemy of Life

Alchemy, simply put is the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained. It is a transformational process. 

In ancient times alchemists used heat and pressure in order to transform one substance (coal) into another more valuable one (gold).

Life oftentimes feels like an alchemic process. When we’re in a transformative state it can feel very uncomfortable and painful. It may even feel very lonely and as if it is a terminal condition. We enter these alchemic times in a variety of ways and they usually include some sort of loss, whether the loss of a relationship, or work, or our health becomes compromised, or when we experience a change in our location as a result of a disaster or by moving to a new location. Any of these experiences will usher in overwhelming feelings that can feel as if they have engulfed us. It’s during these transformative experiences that it’s helpful to follow some guideposts along the way.

  1. Remember, You’re Not Alone – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and burdened by loss, as we have a multitude of feelings whirling around all at the same time; fear, loneliness, anger, resentment, betrayal, grief, sadness. I’m here to remind you that these feelings are all normal. You are not alone, and the state you are in is not a terminal condition.
  2. You are Responsible for Creating a Safe Container – this safe container is comprised of people that support and encourage you, that nourish our spirit and heart, and help to companion us along the way. Be wary of have nay-sayers those that are in close proximity to you during this time, they will only feed your fear, and feelings of doubt and uncertainty.
  3. Set Boundaries to Protect Your Space – this time of transformation is a good time to practice setting boundaries both for yourself and for others. Ultimately we are responsible for the amount of time and attention we devote to anyone or any project. Be mindful of surrounding yourself with people that encourage and affirm you and trust your gut. If you’re afraid to trust your gut, this is a great time to get some practice in this growing edge.
  4. Continue to Practice Self-Care – This seems pretty simple, but it’s not especially when we’re in a transformative state. These transformative states cause a lot of anxiety. They’re supposed to, it’s the anxiety that helps to fuel the movement towards that new place/activity/relationship. But be mindful to maintain your self-care practices during this time, or you’ll feel drained and exhausted.
  5. Nourish Yourself – Be mindful to nourish yourself with clean things; water, air, food, spaces; both in your home, your office, and in your relationships. Spend time in nature, go for a long walk, or sit on a bench reflecting on a tree or a cloud or at the shore of a lake or stream. Make this a daily practice. These activities will help to feed your soul.
  6. Read – Find that book in your home that you haven’t read yet, that seems to be calling you, or ask people that you admire and respect what they are reading. Reading helps to feed your imagination and spirit.
  7. Express Yourself –Go dancing, or make a sand castle, ride your horse or bike, go to a yoga class, or swim, start your Alchemic (Transformation) Journal, or get some pastels or watercolors and allow yourself the freedom to accept what comes from you. Treat all these activities with a reverence, because these are all sacred activities, as they are generated by you.
  8. Ask for Help – I know from personal experience how hard this can be, but it’s all part of the process of transformation. We will have solitary work to do on ourselves, especially as we are learning how to lean into our growing edges. But there is also work we’ll need to do to learn to ask others for help, sometimes in little ways, and sometimes in larger ways.
  9. Be of Service – Be on the lookout for opportunities to be of service to others. They’ll come around if we start to notice and pay attention. This can be as simple as turning around to open a door for a stranger carrying a lot of packages, to paying it forward at the grocery store. Service opportunities are all around us each and every day; it’s up to us to be on the look out for them.
  10. Trust Yourself – Remind yourself as often as you need to that life is not about the destination, it is ALL about the journey. Transformation, change and growth are all part of what we signed up for when we came into this world. By regularly reminding yourself that you are gifted and blessed with all the resources you’ll need, both internally and externally this alchemic state doesn’t have to be that painful, and rather becomes one of our greatest teachers.
  11. Remember, Alchemy is an Active Process – Oftentimes while in the midst of transformation and change our natural response is to resist the change, to sit back and wait it out. On the contrary, when in a transformational stage, action is needed.
  12. Trust the Process – Lastly remember that this transformational condition you are in is not a static state. This alchemic time in your life is a wonderful opportunity for you to learn a lot about yourself, to lean into your growing edges and to expand your consciousness and awareness and capacity for living an authentic life. Stay the course and trust the process.Image from Unsplash.com

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Marie has extensive experience providing psychological and behavioral treatments for drug and alcohol abuse/dependence, depression and anxiety, interpersonal relationships, divorce, grief and loss. She is also a Certified Sexual Recovery Therapist, and specializes in addictive and compulsive behaviors, and intimacy disorders. As a clinician that works extensively within the recovery community, she believes it is important to provide the necessary tools and resources to develop and maintain a balanced and healthy life, and meaningful interpersonal relationships.

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