Our personal growth journeys are individual. The lessons you are called to learn, the wounds you are called to heal, will not look like everyone else’s. As a guide, I can only help you navigate the pathway, show you the obstacles that are holding you back, and help you see the clues around you that lead to your next steps. I can hold the door open, but it’s up to you to walk through it – ultimately, the only person who can heal you is yourself.

That said, I’ve been trying to come up with better and better ways to describe the process of knowing you’re on the right path. Multiple spiritualists have said that there are two true signs that a process of enlightenment is happening: one, a feeling of peace and lightheartedness and freedom from stress and anxiety; and two, the seeing of signs and synchronicities in your everyday life. But what do you do if you’re still stressed out and anxious? And how do you know how to start looking for signs if you’re not seeing any?

One of the insidious things our trauma/wounds can do to us is that they rob us of our powers of discernment. The two polarities of trauma response are hyperarousal (a feeling that the trauma is happening or may happen at all times) and desensitization/depersonalization (an inability to feel anything, or a sense that anything that happens to you isn’t real). Both these states, as well as any hybrids of the two, make it nearly impossible for us to judge what actually feels good and what is causing us pain.

When I realized that I had fallen deeply into the second category – to the point where I didn’t feel any pain even when I broke my hand doing a parkour move – I realized that my inability to feel pain was not showing up only in the physical, but also in the emotional. I would permit people to hurt me over and over, having no sense of boundary creation to preserve myself, and only when a situation got so dire I could no longer ignore it was I able to step back and look at it, as if from afar, and ask how the hell I ended up there. I felt like a broken piece of machinery whose switches wouldn’t light up as they were supposed to.

I set an intention when I moved to LA to soften, to get back in touch with my feminine, my intuition, and to allow my emotions and sensitivity. I couldn’t know what that would be like at the time but I did it anyway.

I downloaded a mood-tracking app and I started quite literally asking the questions “how do I feel right now” and “what did I do immediately prior that contributed to my feeling this way.” I learned that classes that engaged my mind, food that nourished my body, friendships that aided my sense of connection all contributed to my sense of well-being. It sounds obvious, but I had to start from a place of “this is what I know I’m supposed┬áto be doing to feel healthy” and slowly move into an ability to feel what was working and what wasn’t. Certain communities or events left me bored or uninspired while others lit me up and kept me in a state of flow long after. Even when encountering frustration, there were certain ways of dealing that were positive and productive and certain ways that were not.

In this way, I trained my body to start feeling again. And with the ability to feel came the power of discernment. And as I was able to walk through the world better able to discern what was good for me and what was not, I was more and more able to accustom myself to feeling good, to releasing anxiety and being in a state of lightheartedness and peace.

As for the seeing of signs and synchronicities, it certainly didn’t hurt that I chose to undertake the study of synchromysticism, which is the decoding of the universal language of signs and symbology. Synchromysticism is the underlying key to dream interpretation, to spellcraft, to divination, to tarot, to unlocking a universe of archetypes. I didn’t wake up one day and think “I think I’ll study synchromysticism,” but in my intention to re-sensitize and embrace my feminine I decided to engage with the things I couldn’t measure or quantify, and the very language of esotericism I encountered was full of codes and meanings. Days of the week matched up with gods and planets, which matched up with colors, which matched up with directions on the compass, and so on and so on, until nearly anything could be read into and given meaning. Clouds could form shapes in the sky, similarities that popped up over and over again could be interpreted. The art design on a tarot or oracle card could mirror an exact situation or reference in my life, enhancing its divinatory meaning.

It was training my eye to see in this way that rendered me able to notice synchronicities pop up in my life, and to start following them down various rabbit holes. Things would grab my attention and I would feel compelled to explore them further to figure out what they were trying to tell me. As you may or may not have noticed, in the past month I’ve been on a Mary Magdalen kick, seeing her and feeling her energy everywhere (see: https://www.facebook.com/arden.leigh/posts/1653830834631644). I bought the books that called to me, watched the videos, and opened myself up to receiving the message. And sure enough, there was a teaching there for me, and what I learned both broadened and solidified my understanding of my healing process. And in the process of exploring it, I am engaged and in flow – that is, I feel excited and yet at peace. I feel a sense of purpose and connectedness.

This sense of flow lends itself to more than the overtly spiritual. Sometimes it takes the form of needing to write a new post, or a new song, or sometimes it takes the form of a book I need to read. Sometimes it’s an article with a piece of new information that makes me look at the world in a new way – like this one on trauma┬áthat inspired me to purchase and read The Body Keeps the Score, which taught me all kinds of new lessons and invited me to explore my trauma healing in multiple modalities. The idea of flow should be that you are engaged with a task, lesson, or project that is so compelling to you that almost nothing can distract you from it.

So what are the takeaways here? Everyone’s journey is unique, but here are a few of the steps that seem to me at this time to be universal things that everyone can do and learn from:

1. Set an intention. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to get there yet. Just set an intention, and keep coming back to it. Journal, meditate, ritual – choose any/all of these to keep checking back in on your intention.

2. Keep track of who/what makes you feel good and who/what makes you feel stressed or unhappy. You may have to lean into this at first – you may have to listen to your body the way a person with poor hearing (also me) has to lean in to hear.

3. Follow the things that call to you. If an idea suddenly sparks something in you, there’s a reason. Maybe it’s an article, maybe it’s something someone mentions in passing, maybe it’s a theme that just keeps coming up over and over again. But if you feel that pull, pretend it’s the first clue on a treasure hunt and now you have to figure out what comes next.

4. Do the things that keep you in flow. Whether it’s researching the grail heresy of Mary Magdalen, working on new music/art, working with a healer, going to classes, reading new books, forming a coven, launching a business, find and do the things that connect you to a sense of purpose. These things will lead you to the teachings you need to level up.

5. Integrate. When you land on that a-ha moment that means you’re leveling up, give yourself time to integrate the lesson. This may mean focusing on it for a few days, weeks, or months. It may mean for a while you see examples of it everywhere. It may mean that every problem in your life temporarily looks like it can be solved by this teaching. That’s okay, you’re just a kid with a new toy and this is normal.

6. Celebrate! You’re becoming a new version of yourself and while it might feel awkward at first, you deserve kudos for all the hard work you’re doing. Connect with friends, ask to be witnessed, share your victories. Enjoy your new sense of peace. Express gratitude to your teachers, both human and astral.

Potential Pitfalls:

1. Watch out for burnout but don’t mistake it for pain. These journeys are often fraught with difficulty, exhaustion, and the feeling of energy rapidly moving through you. But they aren’t the same kind of pain as being stuck in agony wondering why things aren’t moving. The former is the pain of training for a marathon, and the latter is the pain of being trapped in a cage. One will make you stronger, and one will just continue to keep you the victim. Don’t give up just because it’s tiring!

2. Know the difference between nourishing and numbing. Eating an entire pint of ice cream or fucking the hottest stranger at the bar might “feel good” in the moment, but in both cases you’re likely just putting out the internal fires with whatever is nearby. Nourishing is eating a delicious meal that your body feels good about or having emotionally connected intimate sex that your body also feels good about. Or petting a cat or connecting with friends. Don’t mistake numbing the pain for feeling good.

3. Be willing to let go of the old. Old friends, lovers, jobs, even family relationships may no longer mesh with your new version of self. You may find you have less tolerance for victim-playing, gossip, pettiness, or toxicity because you are no longer in that vibration. It’s okay, you can let those people fall away gently, or you can welcome them back when they are ready to join you where you are. It’s not personal.

4. Awkwardness happens. There will be a period of time when your elevator is stuck between two floors, when none of your old clothes fit but you haven’t bought new ones yet, when you’re letting go of one vine but you haven’t steadied yourself on the next one. You may feel lonely because you’ve let go of what is no longer serving you but the things that WILL serve you have yet to show up. This is normal. It’s awkward and uncomfortable but it is progress and it will pass!

5. Forgive your former self. You might feel embarrassed about your prior actions now that you’re seeing them from up a bit higher. That’s okay, they served you once, and you can see all the reasons you acted as you did. Stay in the humility long enough to incorporate the lesson but not so long that it torments you. Have self-compassion and move on.

6. If you stumble on something that is “too obvious” or “too good to be true” (a sign being presented to you, an interpretation, an idea), that is a call for you to step into your worthiness! When you think “Well, no, that’s just obvious/cheesy/that will never work/that’s stupid/etc,” that is most often a sign that your heart doesn’t yet believe you deserve it and you fear everyone will make fun of you for wanting it. But secretly it’s probably where your greatest gift and treasure lies. Trust me!!

This is what I got so far. I’m still working all of this out in my head, but I’m starting to be able to put what I’m doing into steps that others can follow, and I’m excited about that. One might even say I’m in flow!