Gratitude and belonging

church by sea (c) DK Brainard 2016Last week I came down with a strong case of the Kundalini Fever. Or the Ascension Flu. Whatever you want to call it, it was gnarly. Migraines, nausea, bizarre hot flashes, no sleep, nothing but sleep, dropping things, verbal part of brain shutting down mid-sentence and refusing to come back online. Am I cracking up? Or cracking open? 

Cracking up or cracking open?

There were a couple moments where I felt like I was cracking up. Going nutto. Or, I thought, I’ve been nuts for a long time and I’m only now realizing it!

Which reminds me of the psychology chestnut: If you’re googling, “Am I a narcissist?” then you probably are not. (A real narcissist would never even think to ask that question.)

Since the Uranus-Pluto-Black Moon Lilith T-square started really heating up last week, I’ve talked to several people who were having a similar experience to mine.

(I checked later, and each of the people who called me to say, “What the f*ck is happening?” had a personal planet in their natal chart being hit by the cardinal T-square with an orb of 1.5 degrees at most.)

Different life circumstances, same core energy. Which I would describe as: “I can’t continue living this way. But I have no idea how to get from here to where I want to be.”

Leaps of Faith

Here are my takeaways from last week:

  1. The world is changing, much faster than our ego/personality selves are prepared to deal with.
  2. Living creative, connected lives where we get to do more of what we enjoy with more people we enjoy doing it with is the desired outcome now. It’s the only valid way of changing the world in the energy of the dawning Creative Age.
  3.  The challenge, for many of us, is that we are so habituated to choosing  duty, frustration, and self-abandonment over joy that we find it very hard to believe the Universe will support us if we insist on choosing joy.
  4. There’s a leap of faith that must be taken. Soft landings are not guaranteed.

Part of the challenge for those of us who are being pinned down by this transformational accelerator beam is that we don’t have a road map. I know I’ve received a stream of assurances from my guides that it’s safe to let go and trust. That not only will I be OK, this is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life. The Universe is answering my prayers, manifesting my vision of an abundant life, setting me free.

No Road Map

I don’t have the map. Sorry. I believe what my guides and the planets are telling me. Partly because I’ve been here before and it does seem true that after each breakdown, break-up, or breakthrough episode, I always find myself in a better life. Belatedly grateful for the experience.

But I don’t know how I’m going to – or how you should – navigate what happens next. I can share some interesting synchronicity, though.

Yesterday I was talking to a dear friend who is going through a similar existential moment. He said that an awareness of Death is the one constant he can discern in the waves of fear and anxiety when they wash through him.

“I don’t know what it means, but I know it’s Death,” he said.

We talked about how this might be the egoic mind’s reaction to him contemplating finally letting go of the habitual guilt and shame that motivate most of his choices and daily actions. To the egoic mind, spiritual freedom is tantamount to death. When we crack open into the world, we no longer need those old voices of judgment and shame.

Gratitude and standing in the light

A couple hours later I went to the library to return my son’s books and pick out some new ones. My boy was supposed to go with me but I had another headache episode in the afternoon. And by the time I was ready to drive, he no longer wanted to go.

My wife had just happened to leave NPR on the car stereo. We rarely listen to the radio and I was about to turn it off and put Spotify on when I heard the interview subject saying happily, “an awareness of death in every moment, yes!” It was Dr. David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk and philosopher of gratitude.

I couldn’t stop listening to this joyful man talking about how we can choose to be grateful in every moment of our lives (a practice that has previously been quite difficult for me). Brother David went on to talk about how gratitude is really a way of perceiving that reconnects us to God, or the Creative Power that infuses all of life. Gratitude returns to us a sense of belonging, he said.

What I heard him saying, I realized later, is another form of the perspective I’ve been writing and talking about recently: Forgiveness is imagination in action. Gratitude is actually a form of forgiveness – of self, of others, of the world – because it changes the images in our mind.

[Links: listen to the interview at or see Brother David’s TED talk.]

Later that evening, I noticed an email my friend Sara had sent me on Friday. “If you haven’t already,” she instructed, “read pages 133-135.” She was referring to a luminous book she gave me for Christmas, Mark Nepo’s Seven Thousand Ways to Listen.

In the chapter, Nepo – who is suffering serious and sudden hearing loss and grappling to come to terms with his new life – talks about a trip through the forest with a neighboring woodsman. His neighbor points out that as trees in the forest mature most of their branches break off.

“It struck me squarely,” Nepo writes.

“Trees in the forest start out reaching for the light and end up standing in the light. Once standing in the light, there is much less need to reach.”

“I feel this happening to me. The ways I’ve reached into the world are dying and breaking off. I’m losing limbs. This is not sad, but developmental. After all these years, I’m reaching less and being more. Can it be that the more we stand in our being, the more the mystery comes to us?”

I don’t know about you, but for me reaching is a reflex. I do it automatically, without thinking. (Or with way too much thinking!)


Standing in the light takes some resolve. It’s easy to give in to the reflex. But the reflex is how we ended up with less of what we want in life. What I’m hearing, when I remember to be still and listen, is that we don’t need a map. We just need to be quiet and listen. And remember to be grateful for the light that is always here, in every moment.

10 thoughts on “Gratitude and belonging

  1. Mary says:

    I really love this article on so many levels. First, the Kundalini symptoms! Yes! January 3rd had an instant nauseating migraine attack and that night heavy sweats. Each of my kids has experienced one in the subsequent weeks. We’re all breaking things, and fluctuate from hyper cleanup energy and sleep, not much energy for anything else. I’ve experienced some dramatic shoves from the Universe from getting an 8-month package to leave my retail marketing job to reconnecting with some folks I was exploring work of the type that the world needs now. Somebody’s saying, “We’re not fucking around. You need to get at this now!” I have absolutely been having dreams and very specific thoughts about behaviors and beliefs that aren’t working and consciously asking my guides to take them away or at least help me observe them rather than acting from them. I too have had this sense that I want to stop grasping and start waiting and allowing. Patience and timing, plodding forward, trusting that if I allow myself to take my time and stay focused, not looking for material clues of success every second, I’ll stay on the path. Now that we’re coming out the other side, it has a lovely feel to it. Thanks as always D.K. for helping me get scientific background and guidance on what’s really going on. It’s very helpful!

    • DK Brainard says:

      Dear Mary,

      Thank you. “thoughts about behaviors and beliefs that aren’t working and consciously asking my guides to take them away…take my time and stay focused, not looking for material clues of success every second” – me too! It has been a shock to realize how often I habitually give in to the “grasping” of the egoic mind/family pattern stuff. And then get tricked into thinking that it’s either grasp/scheme/work myself to the bone OR give up hope and slide down into an abyss of scarcity and shame. One of the insights I’ve had from this latest bout of kundalini fever is seeing the extent to which either extreme is an attempt by ego-me to hang on to the illusion that I’m in control. Or even capable of being in control! I can’t wait to see how your vision manifests in the coming time. I just get that “it’s ready/you’re ready” and it’s going to be remarkably easy and fun 🙂

  2. Dix Steele says:

    DK – All can say is… Brilliant!
    All of which I am dealing with… Particularly the aspect of Death. Death, as I like to refer, Is the gift David Bowie gave us . That our understanding of death provides a liminal space, in which to create! It has been ever present with me the last 6 weeks or so (As well as the Ascension symptoms of sleep craziness) I also received deep messages about my recent creations, and that I was to trust all of this.
    My rational mind says, “What?!!! In your darkest hour of worry and need, you decide to go with THIS impulse? It’s the dichotomy inside I seem to be dealing with… In all seriousness, the timing for me is uncanny. I am on the verge of becoming a recognized, and financially sustainable artist. It seems like a part of me is dying … the part of me that got recognized for NOT being recognized.
    Who would I be if I was no longer “Unrecognized”…

    • DK Brainard says:

      “How many times does an angel fall?
      How many people lie instead of talking tall?
      He trod on sacred ground, he cried aloud into the crowd
      (I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangstar)”

      Dix – Thanks so much for sharing. I felt like the lyrics to Blackstar in particular are Bowie’s reminder to us: be WHO YOU ARE (Big Self) so when physical body Death comes, you can step out without regrets. “I can’t answer why / But I can tell you how”…

      And I totally get the feeling of a part of me dying, the part that is addicted to being unrecognized. Together we are going to let that part go and honor it for what it gave us. But it’s time!

  3. Catherine Badin says:


    “.. Migraines, nausea, bizarre hot flashes, no sleep, nothing but sleep, dropping things, verbal part of brain shutting down mid-sentence and refusing to come back online…”

    I believe this is what’s called getting older. ;P

    • DK Brainard says:

      LOL. Have you read about those people who get dementia but it manifests at first as this period of genius? If this is sudden-onset aging or something, I just hope I get that one year or two where I create a musical masterpiece and thirty amazing paintings!

  4. Sara says:

    Thank you–thank you for the life line and for helping us all try and make sense of our personal struggles and how we relate to the universe and for lighting the path. Just as an aside, I would like to reassure you that this is not early onset aging. More like your midlife crises–different angst and energy between them. You will like aging a lot better. Its gentler and more of a release and letting go instead of the clinging that midlife crises creates. But don’t rush it! There’s side affects to aging that aern’t pretty!

    • DK Brainard says:


      Thanks so much! But what if I’m having both at the same time?! Just kidding. Hoping this is my last midlife crisis. Well, unless the next one brings me the sports car and the hot young blonde. Alas, I never cared for sports cars and I tend to prefer brunettes and redheads. Love you like Vermont maple syrup.

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