The Art of Alchemy in Awakening

May 11, 2014 by Chris Grosso


The Art of Alchemy in Awakening

By Mary O’Malley

You and I are alchemists.  We have the capacity to turn unconsciousness into consciousness right as it is happening inside of us.  To learn the art of alchemy is to discover you don’t have to be at the mercy of all those uncomfortable states that show up inside of you – anger, fear, sadness, loneliness, and shame, to name a few. 

Imagine being very angry with a friend who, when you share what you are feeling, your friend tries to fix or ignore or judge you.  What would that do for your anger?  It would very likely increase, wouldn’t it?  Now imagine a second friend and instead of reacting, your friend says that he/she would really like to hear what it is that you are experiencing, and you can feel this friend’s sincerity.  You might begin speaking to your friend from anger, but you would not be able to hold onto it.  It would fizzle because a feeling that is met with spaciousness and compassion – one that is not resisted – loses its power. 

We can learn how to do this inside of ourselves.  But first we need to see that we usually do the opposite.  We have been taught to be with uncomfortable states in exactly the way our first friend did – we resist them!  We either ignore what is going on inside of us or we judge it or we endlessly try to fix it.  This may calm the feeling down for a bit, but if we are honest, it comes back again some other time and we get caught in it again. We have not been taught how to be with our immediate experience, giving it our compassionate attention like the second friend did, so the feelings can move through us like the clouds move through the sky.

Alchemy is learning how to be with what we are experiencing right here, right now.  The deepest healing we can know doesn’t come from changing anything.  It comes from the ability to see and be with what is happening right now.  This is a radically new way to be with ourselves and the amazing thing is – it works!  To learn alchemy, the first step is to develop the art of curiosity – to use our minds to be curious about what is rather than thinking about it, falling into it, or trying to run away.  Every time we are curious about what is going on right now, we strengthen our awareness.  That is why I invite you to let go of thinking about life and just notice what is right here, right now as you are living your life.  Really taste a bite of your food, hear the early morning sounds outside of your window, feel the water as it cascades down your back in the shower.  Little moments such as these sprinkled throughout the day wake us up out of our reactive selves and bring us back into life.  We can then use our strengthened awareness to be an alchemist with our feelings.

Our core compulsion is to struggle, and all of our self-sabotaging behaviors are attempts to numb out from the constant unease of struggle. However, we truly can become alchemists, learning how to see through and meet the struggling self with curiosity and compassion so that we can be fully awake and connected to ourselves and to life!

Mary O'MalleyMary O’Malley is an author, counselor, inspirational speaker, and teacher of awakening who resides in Kirkland, Washington.  She has over 30 years of experience living and teaching the art of being fully alive.  Her new book, What’s In the Way IS the Way, guides readers to heal their inner wars so they can experience a life of  peace and well-being.  Her books are endorsed by Eckhart Tolle, Stephen Levine, Jeff Foster, and Neale Donald Walsch.  You can find her at on her Facebook page.

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Chris Grosso is a public speaker, writer, recovering addict, spiritual director, and author of Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster) and Everything Mind: What I've Learned About Hard Knocks, Spiritual Awakening and the Mind-Blowing Truth of it All (Sounds True). He writes for ORIGIN Magazine, Huffington Post, and Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine, and has spoken and performed at Wanderlust Festival, Yoga Journal Conference, Sedona World Wisdom Days, Kripalu, Celebrate Your Life and more. Chris is passionate about his work with people who are in the process of healing or struggling with addictions of all kinds. He speaks and leads groups in detoxes, yoga studios, rehabs, youth centers, 12-step meetings, hospitals, conferences, and festivals worldwide. He is a member of the advisory board for Drugs over Dinner.