There are many ways to journey our way to healing.
The road is rather well marked, at least psychologically at this point. We’ve had some incredible minds and hearts attending to this complicated subject over the past twenty five years.
Yet many people still flounder. I still do.
I’m just better now at moving through those icky spots. I have better skills to navigate them.
In the last two weeks of being on retreat and then on vacation I have spent many hours “washing” my heart, purifying my heart, exploring what gets in the way of really experiencing healing.
Mostly that comes from seeing myself not in my best. That’s when life mirrors back to me the areas I have yet to clean.
I had that chance, yet again, on retreat.
Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone, being with a group of people and not liking someone? Or avoiding them?
I had the experience of that on the recent retreat I was on. There was someone there I labeled inside my head as “different.” This person wasn’t someone I was interested in having anything to do with. Without knowing anything about this person I was, almost unconsciously deciding that I didn’t want to do anything with them.
At meal times I sat with other people. When there were chances to do practice sessions or dialogues with other people, well, I choose other people, never this person.
Then the last day someone said something to me (unintentionally) that triggered me. I was immediately catapulted into old painful memories. The hurt took me to the depths of being alone, unwanted, outcast, not belonging.
Sitting with that hurt, seeing, feeling the mirror of that, I realized with tremendous sadness that I have been loading those fears on this unfortunate person. What I was seeing mirrored in this other person were actually my projections. That was what was keeping me separate.
There I was on retreat, wanting to be connected, to decrease the areas of separation that keep me from the fundamental love that binds all together. While having that lofty goal I was also keeping myself separate.
It’s so easy to do, these little ways of keeping myself “safe” by being “separate” from others I deem “different.”
Holding this in mind I thought I’d share some of what I know to be fundamental to making the journey smoother, easier to navigate, especially when we go through triggered moments. Click here for to see what can help with that!
Not wanting to oversimplify the healing path I realized I wanted to distill some of what I know, to give some direction, some markers for what helps.
Think of them as “Master Keys.”
These “keys” help open the door to healing, making it easier, simpler to move toward a more satisfying, nourishing life. This is what I’ve found to make a difference in healing.
1. Mapping out the path
It’s important to know what the road looks like. You have to have a sense of where you’re going. You need to know that there is a way out. You are not stuck. You can get through. The path is marked and incredibly accessible.
We are lucky to have innumerable resources that are mapped out the territory to heal your body, your mind, and your nervous system. The Safely Embodied bookstore has many of them. Click here to explore them.
2. Benevolent, yet radical, self-responsibility
I’ve talked about this before, this need for radical self-responsibility which urges us to use our life as a mirror, helping to shake off the old, out-dated stories that no longer serve us. Coupled with this kind of radical self-responsibility is the need to see life as a benevolent partner calling us toward all our goodness.
The purpose of taking responsibility for what happens to us is not self-flagellation but rather to see our lives with a clear perception, unfettered with the mists of the past or the fantasies of the future.
3. Motivation /Longing
This path is pretty straight forward. There are, however, two rather polarized ways to travel. The first is to be pulled forward by love and other option is to get caught in the painful gusts of winds from the past.
I’ll explore some of this below.
4. Trauma as a Doorway to Awakening
I feel old as I write this. The journey has been long. At the same time the wisdom and unfolding clarity has been invaluable.
I’ve come to know that the purpose of trauma is to awaken to our true nature.
We are not meant to suffer for no reason but to have our hearts open, opening to a heart that is greater than any we had ever though we had.
We are meant to live beyond our petty grievances, annoyances, irritations. We are meant to be so much greater than we ever dreamed we could be. As I journey on this path I am seeing that who I thought I am/was is only a small fragment of who I am possible of being. That’s true for you as well.
Knowing this is humbling and can also be motivating, especially as the path is mapped out and made clear every step of the way.
There are times in our lives when something happens that feels god-awful. Overwhelming. Our nervous system can’t bear the horrible onslaught.
When that happens we all find ways to cope. You name it, people have found the strategy that works for them: eating, sleeping, drinking, acting out, shutting down sex/diving deep into sexual niches, over-exercising ……… There are multiple ways to take a break from our internal distress.
We all have our favorite ways to cope, strategies that have helped us survive.
How do you travel on this path?
Are you secretly hopeful that life will work out? That you’ll be okay? Do you long for a world in which people are good, kind, and trustworthy?
Or are you walking forward while looking over your shoulder as your feet reluctantly take you forward? Or are you motivated by wanting to get away from the past, to have things different, to get away from those parts that make it uncomfortable?
One of the things we have to master as we heal our lives is to shift the orientation from being afraid of the horrible onslaught of the past intruding in to the present moment. We need to shore up our capacity to believe, to trust, to hope, to long for the life we have always wanted to live.
That shift in orientation allows us to transition more easily, pivoting when life throws us a curve-ball.
This capacity to move forward into a more nourishing future demands a certain concentration, a determination and focus that is crucial to navigate the painful ups and downs, the battering that comes in a normal, every day life.
Many of you have heard me say over the years that we need to drop the stories of our lives. For the purposes of this article, though, I want to suggest that there are very necessary, over-arching stories, meta-stories that help organize and support our healing.
More importantly though is to hold onto a truth about life that calls us forward, calls us to be more ourselves. I often think of these kinds of meta-stories as redemptive, they bring us face to face with our own magnificence, our own capacity for love, kindness, generosity, compassion.
We need to hold onto these life sustaining “truths” when the going gets hard – and it absolutely will, especially when the past intrudes and memories flood us, making it hard to focus on what is going on, free from distortions.
Desire / Motivation
Living within the road is about organizing your thoughts, feelings, body sensations sot they operate in harmony moving together toward a common goal.
I ended up writing a whole lot more than I intended to! It’s a subject dear to my heart. I hope it hasn’t been too much.
All of this is also the subject of a new workshop I’m putting together for the fall. If you’re interested, please let me know by clicking here.
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