Is the Critic Having Its Way With You?
August 7, 2012

It’s a Journey of a Lifetime

My name is Roxanne Howe-Murphy.

By way of introduction to this blog about this astonishing human journey that we are on, and how we might come into a deeper relationship with ourselves, with others, and with Reality, I wanted to share a few thoughts about my own journey.

I grew up on a small farm just on the outskirts of a small Midwestern town of about 2500 people. Although I haven’t lived on a farm since I was 18, I relish my deep connection to the land.

As a child and adolescent, I often experienced living ‘in-between’ worlds. I was neither a townie nor connected to the more rugged farm life my classmates who lived on large farms more distant from town experienced I loved the hidden grove of trees and the small creek that meandered through our land and gazing at the stars from the steps of an old building that had once been used as a “milkhouse.”

As much as I tried, I never quite accepted the belief systems that dominated the culture in which I was raised, and I lived with the gnawing sense that there was something larger or deeper or more profound happening in life. Who could I turn to in order to share my internal questioning? I felt like an outsider, though I was heavily engaged in school and after-school events. My internal and external lives didn’t match from a young age. I developed a conviction that something must have been wrong, quite wrong… with me.

From early on, I was naturally in awe of the human spirit and suspected that this life was about much more than what met the eye. But what? Who are we really? What are we doing here? I was seeking… but what? I didn’t yet have the words for naming one of life’s greatest paradoxes: that we are spiritual beings inhabiting a physical body in a material world. Of course, the skills to navigate this great mystery had not yet begun to bud. That took many years, and a long, difficult, if temporary loss of faith in my early “knowing.”

For the first few decades, I attributed my life experience—how I acted, how I felt inside, actually, how I related to most everything– to my interactions with external influences. You know these influences in your own life: parents and other sources of authority; siblings, classmates, and other peers; educational and extracurricular experiences, church experiences, economic status, racial and ethnic differences… the list goes on. I thought all these experiences had caused me to be the way I was and had caused life to look the way it did to me. The effect was to let my history define my current and future life.

This explanation of life, while commonly accepted, didn’t offer much room for growth or change. When someone or something else is assumed to be responsible for the condition of one’s life, it feels like a fait accompli… a done deal.

It wasn’t until I was in my late 30’s , after my doctoral work and while writing and teaching at the university, that my inquiry into the not so visible aspects of life was reignited. It had to be. While life was really pretty good, there clearly was something I wasn’t attending to. My interior loneliness could not be resolved, even by the love of my husband and wonderful friendships.

After a few years of working with profound spiritual teachers, I came upon a body of work that sent shock waves through what I had taken to be “me.” It seemed that I was not so alone afterall, but that an estimated one-ninth of the population had a similar orientation to life! And the other eight-ninths each had their own orientation, too. I learned that our spiritual and psychological orientation and whole neuro system were wired in specific, unique ways that gave rise to our rationale and interpretation of life and how we stood in relationship to most everything. Yes, those external influences certainly interacted with and influenced each of our lives in unique ways, but they did not cause our state of being. And they certainly do not need to determine one’s future.

With this change in understanding and perspective, my life opened up. It is still opening.

The impetus for the shockwave was being introduced to a presence-based approach to the body of wisdom called the Enneagram. Over the ensuing years, this profoundly alive system has been a part of my daily life. It informs all that I do, because it shows us both who we take ourselves to be, and are not, but also points us to the truth of our essential and free nature. I can’t imagine not having it as a foundation for my coaching, teaching and writing.

I am in awe of the human spirit, and this journey that we are all on. I sometimes weep over the suffering that is part of the human condition and I rejoice in the magnificence of every moment when I’m most awake.

I am drawn to recognizing the sacred in every part of life, and see the hunger for coming into deeper contact with oneself in most people I meet.

As a spiritually-based teacher, author and coach of life, my decades of personal and professional experience around change have led me to teach a rare, counter-intuitive and radically compassionate approach to self-knowledge and recognition. This is what I have found to make the biggest difference in the very fabric and quality of our lives. It affects how we relate to everything.

In this Deep Living blog, we’ll be exploring many intricacies of this amazing life journey. There will be material from the Enneagram, certainly, and the larger human-spiritual themes of life will be woven into our sharing.

I hope you’ll join me for this adventure. I invite your participation, your curiosity, open-mindedness, your heart, your experience, and your self-witnessing as we grow together.

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