I belong to a group on Facebook that calls and hosts sweat lodges for women. In my life, the sweat lodge has played the most powerful role in my growth and healing, and the women I meet there inspire and lift me.
Naturally, my membership in the group precipitated many friend requests. I almost never accept invitations from people I’ve not met personally. I find it disingenuous and overwhelming to suppose I have hundreds of friends. In fact, I often “cull the herd,” and end online friendships with those I may have met once, but failed to follow up the connection with another face-to-face, or even a meaningful conversation on Facebook. Often, after attending a sweat lodge where a woman is in attendance who previously sent an anonymous request, I’ll accept when I get home.
Once, such a stranger invited me to an online friendship, and “something” interested me. It’s become one of the most rewarding friendships I’ve enjoyed. It’s crazy at this point that we haven’t met! It’s been years. We have so many friends in common and connections in diverse and unrelated pursuits. I know now that Spirit was telling me to check her out.
There’s another lodge on Saturday and I think, at last, we’ll both attend. I’m so excited to meet her! She’s a healer and a bad ass. Something she wrote recently issued a challenge to me to rise above my anger, and reach across the aisle.
I’m perfectly aware of my tendency to demonize – well, Republicans, really. They threaten my safety. I’m also aware that this is the very bipartisanship I rail against, and does nothing to solve problems. But I’m so angry! Republicans created the stalemate that brought government to a grinding halt, and then reaped the rewards of a campaign that disparaged a government that doesn’t work.
Republicans are a threat to the freedom and safety of all Others.
And, of course, that’s not true. Absolutes never are (hehe). Jon Stewart was interviewed recently by Charlie Rose. He’s succinct where I am not, and made plain the flaw of vilifying the other side. I’ve been guilty myself of “creating people as a monolith,” by grouping all supporters of the President-elect as “the worst of his rhetoric.”
The only way to progress is to listen to one another, even when we disagree, and to speak with respect – not necessarily for each other, even, but with respect to the fact that most behavior is motivated by sincere belief. Our beliefs diverge, but we must not.
This friend has given me permission to print her words verbatim. I’m humbled by her response to the following experience, and frightened a little by her strength. She proves the possibilities that I’m thus far unwilling to welcome. This is the example I have to follow if I wish, not only to heal, but to retain access to my own healing gifts. I must rise above my punitive self if I’m to grow into the role I feel calling me.
Let me tell you, I can feel Saturday’s lodge already, and I am afraid. I’m grieving. I’m hurting. I’m furious! I’m angry that it’s on me to be the bigger person. I’m so sick of being the bigger person! I want to be nasty and bitter. I want to SCREAM!
So I will. With a plea to the ancestors to make my anger useful, productive, motivating, and to release me from it when it no longer serves me or my goals.
Aho Mitakuye Oyasin
The Story of A Healer:
“The day after the election, I began receiving a flood of calls from (mostly) women in need of healing work. Immediately, I noticed a pattern in that nearly all of them were reporting pain in their jaw. From a craniosacral, bone energetic perspective, the mandible is the place in which we store much of our repressed anger and aggression. It’s where all the masks have been placed to hide our true feelings for every time we’ve been shut up, shut down, cut off at the throat, belittled, abused, beheaded….you get the idea. It’s our voice. It’s extremely powerful and primal and needs to move, talk, scream, roar, sing, kiss, laugh, express itself. As all life does.
“Yesterday began my sessions with woman after woman after woman. Jaws locked. Clearly stressed, triggered and fearful. Afraid if they actually express how they really feel, something extremely bad will happen. What were they angry about? The election. But as we moved deeper into the session it became obvious that their anger is about far more than Donald Trump. It’s about all that he represents and the ancient shadows he is triggering in them. In me. He mirrors the hatred and persecution Women have been horribly subjected to for centuries. I began to see how we can actually thank this man for bringing up the repressed shadows of our own hatred and anger that stems back thousands of years, with our heads being cut off for standing in our gifts, using our voice and being powerful. There is a huge generational cleansing that is happening. Sometimes the greatest healers come disguised as our darkest knight.
“So what could I do besides hold space and be a safe container for the expression of that anger, allow them to scream and roar, unwind, cry, let loose, tap into the deep sadness that lies beneath anger. Allow for the safe return of the mothering heart that stands only for love. Fierce Love. The Kali Ma, fire breathing, Creation and Destruction, you can’t stop me, type of Love.
“Then, a man came in. His first session with me. Filled with Hatred. Anger. Sexist statements. Racist statements. Everything is everyone else’s fault. Millions of dollars involved. He’s a very important man. I mean on and on and on. The ‘Dark Knight’ ‘Monster’ arrived in my room to lie on my table. As you can imagine, when facing your dragon, every trigger is up with ferocity. I slowly, at first begrudgingly, found my way into my heart center and just kept asking the question, ‘How can I love, even here?’ ‘How can I remain open, even here?’ ‘How can I be a safe container for this man, who is clearly suffering and asking to receive a session with me?’ I dropped into neutral, listened to everything he said, and allowed not a single reaction or agenda to arise. Basically I placed him in Divine hands, got myself completely out of the way, and became an empty vessel.
“Lying on my table, he continued to go on and on with no response from [me]. After about 30 min, it was as if he dropped into a deep trance. Silent. Still. Unmoving. What followed is difficult to describe but it was as if I witnessed a golden blanket of light descend over his entire body. I did not move for another hour. When he woke, he looked at me, disarmed, with tears in his eyes and asked ‘What just happened?’ I replied, ‘You’ve been kissed by the divine.’ He did not argue and rescheduled for next week.
“I see everything in terms of birth and death and the processes that come with these rites of passage, whether literal or symbolic. I can’t help it. This is my work and my medicine. To me it was as if this man died on my table as I have seen countless actual deaths. He died and was reborn.
“Of the 5 stages of grief, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance, I’ve come to see that Denial is the one we tend to stay in the longest. Anger is the one we try to get around, repress, or avoid, yet in avoiding it, it becomes an overbearing and enormous shadow that consumes us. Acceptance is both the most difficult to reach and by far the most liberating.
“In facing the dragon and moving through all those stages without resistance or closing off my heart to the suffering of this man and our world at large, I feel completely free. I know with full acceptance, love is the most powerful weapon we can ever use. Not the fluffy unicorn and rainbow kind of love (although it has its place) but Divine love that says, ‘I will respond to nothing other than love.’ ‘No one can take Love away from me.'”