(804) 928-3189 BethHedquist@gmail.com
Commitment: Prison or Prayer?

Commitment: Prison or Prayer?

I recently taught in the Pathwork Transformation Program at Sevenoaks Retreat Center, and we concluded the year with a Community Commitment Ceremony. This is a tradition based on the Guide’s descriptions of four stages of commitment in the Pathwork. I find it to be a beautiful, moving ceremony, and yet I am aware that just the word “commitment” can bring up a lot of reactions.    What is it about the word commitment that spooks us? Here are some of the reactions this word can trigger in me:   What if I change my mind? What if I fail to live up to my Idealized Self Image’s version of this commitment? Will I end up acting from a “should” instead of from my heart? No one tells me what to do! Will I be required to do something I don’t want to do? What will I have to give up?   If I am honest, I know these questions originate from my Lower Self, convincing me that it is not safe or desirable to commit to anything or anyone. Always leave a backdoor open for escape.   So what does commitment really mean?   In Pathwork Lecure 196, the Guide says commitment “means, above all, a one-pointedness of attention; giving the self in a wholehearted way to whatever the commitment may be. If you are committed to give your best to whatever you do, you will focus on all aspects of the subject. You will not shy away from investing all your energies, all your attention. You will use your faculties of thinking, of intuition, of meditation. In other...
Fishing For Bliss

Fishing For Bliss

Sometimes, Life is a little like a fishing trip. We find ourselves hungry for something we are missing that will fill us, we get a craving for that one meal that will finally silence the longing in our belly and leave us satisfied, content, and fulfilled.    And we decide that we are going to make it happen. We pack up our fishing pole and tackle box and head down to the river.    We often have a favorite fishing hole, that place we return to again and again in search of the fulfillment of our endless hunger.  We may never have found it there, but this time will be different.   After we bait the hook and set the line, we sit back and tend to the distractions we have brought with us, like our favorite consciousness altering beverage, or the cell phone that will serve up an endless supply of empty data, devoid of true connection. And so we pass the time, sitting and waiting for the big one to finally bite the hook.   When we become frustrated that nothing is appearing on the other end of the line, we get restless, abandon that strategy, jump in and begin swimming upstream in search of our dinner.   If patient waiting around doesn’t produce results, expend more effort! Will it harder! Find that fish and capture it with your bare hands!     I know, it doesn’t sound like the smartest way to catch a fish, but have you ever found yourself engaged in this strategy in your life? Struggling frantically to catch the only thing you believe...
To Run Where The Brave Dare Not Go….

To Run Where The Brave Dare Not Go….

Deep personal and spiritual growth work requires that we be willing to venture beyond our comfort zone.   When we wallow in our anger, fear, pride, denial or self-pity, it can be familiar and even oddly comforting. We may think we are safer this way, deeply defended in our mighty castle, fortified by walls that keep everyone at a distance. But this separation and isolation doesn’t acknowledge our hidden pain that waits to be healed, our underlying need that longs to be fulfilled, and the call of our soul that is beckoning us to follow.    We may reject our negativity, our fragility, our imperfection, but when we do so we reject our humanity. If we spend all of our time grasping for perfection or for bliss while avoiding the acknowledgment of our pain and negativity, Spirit will remain the ever elusive “other” that we can occasionally grasp but never quite hold on to. Life will remain that utopian ideal we can never fully reach.   We may try harder to keep that pain and negativity at bay, but it will inevitably creep in, affecting our relationships and our sense of peace and integrity. If we reject part of ourselves in our quest for wholeness and unity, we become caught in the vicious circle of the duality we are trying to free ourselves from. In other words, it doesn’t work.   Seriously. Take that in. It doesn’t work.   Fortunately, every so often in any lifetime we come to a crossroads, and we are presented with a choice. We can stay with what we know, stay in the comfortable,...
What Does Your Bridge Look Like?

What Does Your Bridge Look Like?

While I believe the longing for connection to something greater than our limited selves is universal, and has always existed throughout the ages and across cultures, it appears we are at a time when we are collectively suffering from the walls we have built inside ourselves, walls that separate us from our deepest nature, from our brothers and sisters, from the natural world, and from God.   As we increasingly experience the pain and frustration of these walls, it is easy to feel hopeless.   Overwhelmed with despair, it is easy to turn our backs on God, certain that religion and spirituality have lost their relevance. Or maybe we turn our backs on politics, certain that we cannot possibly make a difference in such a corrupt system. We may turn our backs on our ourselves and our own responsibility to examine how the pain we may have experienced in our childhood is affecting the life we are creating today. We may also turn our backs on each other, certain that we are facing an enemy intent on destroying us.   These voices of hopelessness and despair are not telling the truth.   They are the voices of our Lower Selves seducing us into submission and enticing us to collude with evil. They are encouraging us to betray the best in ourselves and build our walls taller and stronger. They are trying to manipulate us into justifying our defenses and our pseudo-solutions.    We don’t have to listen to these voices. They are not commands we have to follow like lemmings careening over a cliff.   There may be great...
What Does It Mean To Be A Light In The Darkness?

What Does It Mean To Be A Light In The Darkness?

As we draw closer to the longest night of the year, this precious time of preparing for and surrendering to what is waiting to be birthed, I have been reflecting on this question:   What does it mean to be a light in the darkness?   Often in the Pathwork we speak of exploring our darkness….our negativity, defenses, misconceptions, and cruelty. We learn that when we expose our darkness to the light, healing happens and unknown gifts and talents are revealed. Through the gateway of experiencing whatever we most want to hide, we find transformation, fulfillment, and joy.   And yet, there is another kind of darkness that we must walk through if we are to bring the fullness of who we are to this world.   The darkness of the unknown.   When you hear the call of Spirit to embody a new aspect of your light, it can be a bewildering, vulnerable experience. It often isn’t understood or welcomed by the ego-self. It may come as a whisper, an urging, or a half-delivered message. A road map that has the origin and destination clearly marked, but the route and mode of transportation is not so easy to discern. Sometimes we are called when even the destination is unclear.    And so we are invited to carry our light in the dark, to take that next right step without knowing where the staircase leads. It takes courage and perseverance, but along the way we grow in faith, trust, and integrity. There may be some stumbling, a few wrong turns, and various obstacles along the way, but it is...
I’m Traveling to Standing Rock. Won’t You Stand With Me?

I’m Traveling to Standing Rock. Won’t You Stand With Me?

The past couple of weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions.   As I shared in my last blog, I began by fully feeling my grief…. grief for all those in fear and pain over the election results, for those who would potentially be hurt through new laws that discriminate and reject. And for those who are currently being hurt by human rights violations.   I could feel that part of me that identifies with the victim. The one who has been subject to the cruelty and indifference of others, and hurts for those experiencing that today. The Pathwork teaches me that although I have access to the part of me that identifies with victimization, there is also another part of me that identifies with the perpetrator.   This is the part of me that defends by inflicting pain and cruelty on myself and others. So after feeling a good deal of grief, I tapped into my rage, my judgment, and my desire to attack those who are inflicting cruelty on others, and for those who hold different political views than I do.   Being honest that this lives in me is a challenging stance to take, as I have to face how I hurt others in the same way I have been hurt, and the remorse I feel for that. I know both the victim and the perpetrator in response to this political election and in my life in general.   While this kind of self-responsibility is challenging, it is also freeing. When I am willing to own both these parts in myself, I find my connection...