In a moment of activation – when hooked into personal and collective patterns of shame, rage, and fear – two ancient pathways appear.
The first is to move quickly away, dissociate, and locate the erupting energy outside ourselves. To bail out of the body, abandon the life surging within us, and do whatever we can to stay out of the underlying vulnerability.
The other is to become flooded, drowning in the material, fusing with it and getting tangled. Here, we lose contact with the space in which the emotion is appearing, fall down the rabbit hole, and identify with the thoughts and feelings as who we are.
These pathways are not neurotic, evidence of failure, or a clear sign that something is wrong with us, but adaptive strategies which arose creatively to protect a fragile little nervous system from a plunge into fragmentation. They were our best attempt at self-care and can be honored for the role they once played.
The invitation now is to see if we still require that level of protection or if we are now in possession of capacities that were not available at an earlier time. To replace the archaic circuitry with a new way of curiosity, empathy, and attunement… to replace the urgency with slowness and to discover in an embodied way that we will never truly care for ourselves by way of self-abandonment.
To flood our immediate experience with warmth and slowly and consciously enter that very shaky, contradictory, hot, sticky, pregnant alchemical middle territory, which can appear quite groundless and disorienting until we get used to it. To practice intimacy with our thoughts, emotions, and sensations, while not becoming enmeshed in them. Intimacy without fusion. Close, but not so close we fall in. For this is where the water of life will be found.
While it may seem like moving a mountain, we can encode new circuitry, both in these miracle brains as well as into the collective, into the psyche of the culture. It is an offering that each of us can make, as a practice of compassion, one moment at a time.
The next event is The Healing Shame Retreat: Spiritual Awakening and Transforming the Core Wound of Unworthiness, April 24-29, 2019 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with co-facilitator Jeff Foster