Communion: The Fourth Step on the Spiritual Journey
STEP ON THE JOURNEY – 4. Communion
LEVEL – Ego (bridge to Soul)
KEYWORD – Compassion
ACTIONS – Allowing, Forgiving & Accepting
BELIEFS – “I’m okay, you’re okay”
CHAKRA – Heart
JUNGIAN ARCHETYPE – The Caregiver
SIGN – Cancer
Communion and the ego
We are now coming to the final level that pertains to the development of our ego. Let’s recap briefly. At the first step, Separation we were in survival mode, learning to get by and to succeed in life. At the second step, Belonging, we learned to fit in so we could to co-exist with others (our “tribe”). Step 3 of Selfhood was all about seeking independence from that very tribe—from the beliefs, norms, and patterns of family, partners, peers, culture and society—in order to develop our own values and to cultivate a healthier self-esteem. We set out on our own. Now we reach step 4 of Communion: the bridge to the soul.
Communion is our jumping off point into the next level of the journey (steps 5-8.) Here the ego learns that its own values and beliefs can stand, freely and joyfully, side-by-side with all other beliefs and values. This is about compassion, ultimately. Black and white, right and wrong, good and bad all begin to soften. We learn to honor the values of other tribes that differ from our own. We begin to see the beauty of diversity. Seeing this beauty opens a doorway for recognizing and accepting the beauty within us as well. Communion occurs on two levels: our ego learns to commune and co-exist peacefully with others, and it also begins to learn to commune peacefully with the Inner Self, or soul.
At the core of step four is the need to forgive. We cannot move forward on our journey until we begin to release some of the blame, anger, and sorrow that we have gathered on the journey of life so far. The question of this step is, “Can I forgive those in my tribe for the past, and most importantly, can I forgive myself?” Here we open our hearts—to the world outside, and to the one within. This deeper state of acceptance and allowing is what propels us forward in our spiritual adventure.
How do you know if you are step 4, Communion?
- You notice that you are slowly becoming less judgmental of others
- You develop curiosity about things that you used to deny or judge as “wrong”, “stupid” or “impossible”
- You start to accept your friends, partners, children, family members, co-workers, etc. just as they are, and give up trying to change them, improve them, or sway them to your ways
- You’re willing to admit that you might not always be right, and honestly want to hear what others think
- Your staunch opinions about the world begin to soften, and you become more allowing of differing cultures and societies in the world
- You let go of perfection and begin to accept yourself as you are
- You are able to let go of the past and start pondering the future instead
- You start to forgive others, and yourself
- You’re able to see “the grey” instead of everything being black and white
- You gain, or regain, a sense of humor
- Your heart begins to open
The step of Communion feels like a release, a sigh, a relaxation, an opening, a softening. There is great freedom in just allowing things to be. Why does it feel like this? The ego is beginning to partner with the soul. What a relief! We don’t have to control everything, fix everything, and know everything. If we have been serious and tense, we now start to remember joy. We can laugh at things instead of getting all riled up. It’s a wonderful step where we get just a glimpse of what it means to look at the world through spiritual eyes.
Communion and spirituality
Chakras: Step four of Communion is associated with the fourth chakra, the Heart chakra. This chakra is responsible for many functions, but core among them is our capacity for compassion and love. The Heart chakra processes our beliefs about love, our heart’s desires, and giving/receiving. This chakra is also the bridge between “lower” and “higher” chakra energies. The Heart chakra invites us to recognize the higher divine energies and bring them down into fruition in our lives. How do we do this? Through the avenues of forgiveness, compassion, curiosity, and joy.
Deepak Chopra often says, “Remain childlike” and this is profound. It is more than allowing ourselves to be silly. It is about loving without judgment and living without preconceived notions. It is also about accepting and expressing our true selves. So step four of Communion is really the step of communing with our own heart. What does it mean to open our hearts? It means allowing the energy of this chakra to flow. The Heart chakra is the gateway to the soul.
Archetypes: Archetypically, Communion relates to the energy of Jung’s Caregiver. The Caregiver can manifest positively and negatively. On the positive side, the Caregiver teaches us to help others, to show compassion, and to express generosity. What is the greatest help we could ever offer another? Allowing them to be who they are. What is the most generous gift we could ever give another? Our unconditional love. This is compassion at its highest. It is the Caregiver within each of us that allows us to make a difference in the world through love.
The two main traps for our Caregiver are sacrifice and martyrdom. We must be careful not to give at the expense of our own needs by making others more worthy of our love than our own selves. This can cause us to lose the ability to say ‘no’ because we feel guilty doing so. The result can lead first to exhaustion or illness, then ultimately to resentment or martyrdom. A Caregiver who seeks empowerment through caring for others, and then making them feel guilty for it, is a wounded Caregiver: a caretaker who is unable to love themselves. We must offer our caregiving in two directions—inwardly, then outwardly. Doing so helps us avoid the Caregiver traps.
Through the Caregiver, we learn to nurture and to create opportunity for others to grow by providing a safe, nonjudgmental energy. This energy, of course, is the energy of the Heart chakra. As our soul comes more and more into play, we bring this nurturing and unconditional love beyond our immediate surroundings and out into the world—socially, environmentally, and spiritually.
Astrology: Astrologically, step four correlates to the sign of Cancer, a water sign and fourth on the wheel. This emotional sign symbolizes motherhood, healing, vulnerability, and supportiveness, to name but a few. While Gemini sought understanding by exploring the world, Cancer seeks it by exploring the heart. Cancer is our “master feeler” and teaches us compassion. To do this, we must shed our outgrown shell and, like the crab, be willing to stand defenseless, open and trusting of life. Cancer teaches us to accept all that is, just as it is. This includes other people, ourselves, and the world. The message of Cancer? “All is, indeed, well.”
To summarize, step four of Communion is all about the heart. It is about everything contained therein: compassion, forgiveness, curiosity, non-judgment, acceptance, appreciation, beauty, diversity, joy, and unconditional love. When we open our hearts we lower the drawbridge in order to cross over to the next level on the journey: the soul. Next week, we’ll begin to explore the 4 steps that comprise the realm of the soul—Sovereignty, Searching, Surrender, and Healing—beginning with Sovereignty, the return to the tribe with an opened heart.