Some might have noticed that things have been slower then normal here at Eagle Therapies. We aren’t doing as many events, and we also haven’t been sending out newsletters as often as we used to. Thank you everyone for your patience as we turn the wheel and rediscover who we are.
This month we will be focusing on the Ancestors since it is that time of year. There is a separation between this physical reality world, and the realm of the dead, and that veil is thin at this time. Hence why our Shamanic Journey Groups and Ancestral Healing Circle will be hyper-cognizant about this as we weave our circles this month. Now that we have streamlined our distance options, you can participate even if you’re not even in Virginia! Join us via Facebook Live for suggested journey topics, and message if you will be participating via Zoom so we can know whose coming to participate. We are currently in the process of dismantling our forums, so you can directly comment on the recorded posts that we make available. Or you can comment on our Facebook groups for the Ancestral Healing Circle or Shamanic Journey Groups.
Here are the dates and topics as follows:
October 7th: Ancestral Healing Circle – The theme of the month will be “playing small”. What parts of ourselves did we have to shove away into our margins because we had to “fit in”. And how much of this is what our Ancestors have passed down to us?
October 9th: Bi-Weekly Journey Group – Difference between ghosts and ancestral helping spirits. We will dive into this topic and see what is coming up for us during this time.
October 20th: Monthly Journey Group – This evening we will be doing two journeys. The container will be strongly reinforced by those who have gone before us. We won’t have a suggested journey topic, so feel free to bring your own!
October 23rd: Bi-Weekly Journey Group – Our relationship with grief. What are we afraid to grieve, and how can we release grief that we didn’t know was in us?
May we be the answer to the prayers of our ancestors
With hurricane Florence on it’s way, we decided to have this suggested journey topic (for more information about journeying and what it is, click here) go to the spirit of the hurricane. It can be intense at times, but we all managed to get pretty good journey results. Feel free to post your results either here or on the Facebook Group. If you need assistance journeying at home, feel free to follow this guide.
Even though Hurricane Florence has come and gone, you can feel free to take the ideas from this topic and use them for any upcoming storms.
The book I referenced is called, “Weather Shamanism: Harmonizing Our Connection with the Elements” by Nan Moss and the late David Corbin. They both started the teaching collaborative of Down to Earth based out of MA. Nan is a Foundation of Shamanic Studies teacher, and holds local weather circles in her area.
The biggest thing we are facing today as a society is feeling isolated. Many spiritual leaders, guru’s and mystics have already uncovered that our Western Contemporary Society has a large wound of separation. In a shamanic cosmology, we are one with everything, and there is a sacredness in all things. If one believes that God/Goddess/Spirit created the world, then by that same definition, doesn’t that mean that God/Goddess/Spirit is in everything that was created? When we feel separated from this great “web of life” as some call it, then things within our inner landscape become out of balance. If the imbalance progresses, illness or a dis-ease of the Spirit can take place. Many traditional Shamans believe that if a spiritual illness (such as soul loss) were to perpetuate and set in, it can (over time) lead to physical ailments. If you’re interested in exploring this more, there are two Shamanic Podcasts that I highly recommend which talk extensively of this perspective. There is Michael Stone with Conversations, and Christina Pratt with Why Shamanism Now.
One of the ways we can counter this illusion of separation is to remember that we are one with all things. This is where daily spiritual practices and coming together in community are especially important. The daily spiritual practice will help reinforce your own personal connection to a higher power, while the community aspect allows you to be on this journey of inner awareness with others who are trying to accomplish the same thing. The law of attraction states that like attracts like, so pay attention to what you are surrounding yourself with.
Oh no… but what if you see great events and can’t participate in them because you can’t make the commute, or you’re too far away/live in a different state?!
This is where the beauty of the internet comes in handy! I can’t speak for all people that hold distance events, but here are links to the basic guide/overview of how we will run things at Eagle Therapies so if you do not have a local community – you can still participate in one!
We use Zoom for people to interact with each other in a virtual space. Please email us at email@example.com, or FB message us before just “showing up” virtually. This helps us prepare how we will be running the event. Here is the login information for when you do join us at a distance:
Shamanic Journey Group
There is a bi-weekly Shamanic Journey Group that meets every other week at various locations (check out our Facebook or Meetup for up to date lists). There are some people that wish to practice their journeying skills with others, and this is the perfect way to do so – whether in person or at a distance. The Journey Group has been running steadily since 2014, so there is a solid structure to hold people as they engage in the “Journey Tracks” that are posted as we find explore a topic to journey about together. For a link to an in-depth explanation for the structure and format, click here. For support for journeying at home, click here.
Ancestral Healing Circle
Once monthly around the New Moon is a Ceremony called the Ancestral Healing Circle. This is a Ceremony that welcomes both the new as well as the experienced. It is where we gather and work on the unresolved issues/patterns within ourselves, the ancestors, as well as in the land itself. The Ancestral Healing Circles have been apart of the Shamanism Without Borders community and follows the code of ethics set by the Society of Shamanic Practice. Before involving healing of any kind in our circles, we must first ask permission/consent for those that we are praying for. This is why most of the time (especially for beginner ceremonialists), we focus on ourselves and our connection to the topic at hand for the month. As Sandra Ingerman says, the microcosm reflects the macrocosm, and any inner work that we do has an effect on the greater web of life. A post is coming for a more in-depth explanation for the structure and format of joining at a distance.
If there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 571.306.3197. And please also don’t be shy about leaving a message. We are here to help support a growing community of people that want to help each other. We’re all in this together.
If you have found this page, there is no coincidence that you are on a path of self discovery. Even if that wasn’t your intention, you somehow still wound up finding this page. This post directly deals with the Fire as an element, and how we can journey to find out the depth of our relationship with this element. It can be a direct reflection upon us and how we function in this world. We will be going through these journeying topics at the Shamanic Journey Group of Fairfax, however this can also be a “follow along at home” directional for those that wish to take this slowly and in a step-by-step process.
I shall update the table of contents as the blog posts get written.
Table of contents:
Purity and the Elements – Main post, Introduction to four element system and why
Earth – Representation of our Physical Body
Air – Representation of our Mental Body
Fire (this post)
Water (coming soon)
Fire is one of those elements that requires the right balance in order to burn in a way that is healthy. Previously in other blog posts, we have discussed that Earth represents our physical body, Air represents our mental body, water represents our emotional body, and fire is the pivot point of all of these elements – representing our spiritual body. Our Western Contemporary culture doesn’t value (or in the past has not valued) our spiritual body. We do things that go against our integrity all the time: not fully being “present” and in the moment, falling back on what we said we were going to do, not being realistic about our expectations and overestimating the energy that we have left before we commit to a task, etc. In order for our metaphorical fire to burn well, the other three elements have to be in balance.
Let’s start at the base. Imagine your place of power, or the place you have visited with your guides before. Go back to that same place to see you relationship with these elements and be open to the images that pop up. If our metaphorical “ground” is too shaky, porous, or wet, and it not well formulated – is that a good place to build a fire? Is it wise to build a fire on top of a whole bunch of dry grass? Here is where I introduce the concept of judgement, because I know this has come up in previous journeys. When viewing our metaphors, we must not ask is “Is this wrong or right?” because that puts us in a mind frame of judgement. If we label something as “Good” or “Bad”, then we will automatically categorize things into polar opposites for us. Maybe having something a particular way can be beneficial, but we can’t see the value of it until we appreciate it later. Sometimes the biggest miracle is God’s unanswered prayers. Perhaps someone does need to build a fire on top of dry grass, because that dry grass represents a lot of the “burnt out” challenges they have had in their life and they need to clear it all out. Yes, it turns into a fire storm, and that can be chaotic for a time – but perhaps that drained state once the fire burns out is exactly what they need to be receptive for the next lesson. Sometimes we need to be under pressure before we can grow. For example, conifers are a type of tree where fire is vital in their life cycle. The seeds cannot germinate unless they have been cracked open by fire. Everything has its learning opportunity, and learning to ask the right questions of Spirit is key to understanding ourselves and how we operate.
Now to deepen this metaphor. If we go back to our earth element in the form of wood instead of just the ground, we can equate the wood to our materials for consumption. Do we have too much wood? Do we not have enough wood? The wood can represent what we use to feed/nourish ourselves. If we don’t feed or nourish ourselves properly, then how can we have enough physical stamina to burn the wood? If we happen to sleep really well, eat right, and then wake up with a full stack of logs to burn, do we have a tendency to set everything on fire at once? Usually what that looks like in physical reality is the person getting really super excited about an idea, then they proceed to go forward with many different tasks, throwing all of their logs on their fire and expending all of their energy at once. Before they know it, after they get through half their day, their energy is depleted and they are dragging by the end of the day. The question is not “Is this method wrong or right” but “Does this method serve me?” or “Is this a healthy way for me to expend my energy”.
If our mental state is out of balance, perhaps we might have too much wind to add to our metaphor. If there is too much air (too many thoughts circulating), then sometimes our fire can burn out of control and we can run out of fuel (wood) faster then what we normally would. Because of this excitement of ideas, we can burn through our resources so quickly that we still become drained. Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, if we don’t have enough wind, our metaphorical status could be “stagnant” and it could be hard for us to burn anything at all, because there is a lack of air. This lack of air could be a feeling of hopelessness, dread, or depression that we can’t seem to kick ourselves out of. If we happen to fall into this category, then some questions we could ask ourselves are: “What is my right relationship with my mental wisdom body, and how does it affect my element of fire?”; “Show me how quickly I burn through my resources when I become too over excited about my ideas”; “What is right relationship with my mental wisdom body, and how can I stimulate/calm it down?”
If our emotional wisdom body is out of balance, then our metaphorical scene could either be too wet, or not damp enough. If the air is thick and humid, then it could definitely be hard to start a fire because of how wet/saturated the wood is. If there is little to no emotion at all, then it could be too dry – and again, our resources get burned quicker then what we can throw on our fire. Most people in our society have a hard time with our emotional wisdom body, because we either suppress our emotions (because boys aren’t supposed to cry, or crying is seen as a weakness) or we over indulge in emotions (those prone to gossip or drama and feed off of it). It’s hard to find balance within ourselves, but again, we see how this very vital wisdom body can influence our element of fire. If we consider ourselves to be “sensitive” and feel more than some other people, then sometimes some protection against another person emotions could be the key. Perhaps someone is “raining on your parade”, and you find yourself drained and can’t build your fire after interacting with a certain type of person. What that can look like, is someone with a lot of ambition, but then after talking with someone, can become really disheartened because that person does not believe in them or their dreams. Sometimes filtering out these people that weigh you down is the type of protection you need to help protect your fire. Great questions sometimes come from this, “What is the right environment for my fire to thrive?”; “Show me how my emotional wisdom body affects my spiritual wisdom body”; “Show me the type of protection I might need to protect my fire, and how my fire gets influenced by others”
All of these things factor into our relationship with Spirit. If we are imbalanced in any of those three areas, it could be hard to keep our energy going. Fire typically represents our passion, our influence, and what drives us in life. If we feel like we have no passion, if we lack creativity, or we stop short – then what are you doing to feed your fire properly? This is a direct reflection to ones spirituality. Our sense of purpose and what drives us is directly enhanced by our relationship with our spirituality. If taken into context, we begin to see that many people can be out of balance with their spirituality, because all of these things are connected and inter-related. The point is not to have a fire that burns too terribly brightly, or out of balance with all the other elements, because too much “fire” can lead to arrogance, aggression, and ambition. How many times have you been bull dozed by someone with a fierce determination without a lack of care for who stands in their way? There is a such thing as too much fire. If we have too little fire, do we feel stuck, depleted, or feel like we are lacking a sense of purpose?
Fire is perfect for those who feel like they have too much on their plate. One of the best things about the element of fire, is that is serves the purpose of purifying, as well as bringing the gift of instant transformation. It is a universal law that energy cannot be either destroyed nor created. So what happens if you’ve got a lot of baggage? If you learn to utilize and work with these elements properly, we can begin to reflect on some of the things we’ve got going on in our life, and bring it to the fire so we can transform our thoughts/perspective, and then “let go” of anything else that doesn’t fit.
I will bring up a few patterns I see most common these days, that are standing in ones way to accessing their full potential of their spiritual wisdom body. One is that people are using life as an excuse not to get spiritual. Many people say, “Oh, I don’t have time to meditate” or “Yeah, I’m a really stressed out person, and I know I should do something for stress relief” and don’t take into account their spiritual health as well as their mental, emotional, and physical health. On the opposite end, I have seen many people take on meditations of “letting it go” and clearing the stress of the moment, but don’t into account why those stresses pop up in the first place or why it triggers them into an emotional/reactive state. If a person is constantly “letting go” and not diving down to why something is making them upset, it is termed a “spiritual bypass” so then they don’t really get down to the core of what makes them upset. Both can be an abuse of our spiritual wisdom body, and can lead to a superficial relationship with our own spirituality.
Many people can be in many different aspects of these relationships, the main point to draw out of this blog post, is what state are YOU in? This is not a linear path where you can “follow these steps and get this result”, but this is part of a guideline that is more holistic in application, and how you can pick up the pieces to strengthen the weak aspects.
Some questions we can ask our guides in regards to our relationship with fire are:
- What things am I refusing to acknowledge at this point?
- What are the challenges blocking me from accessing the full potential of my spirituality?
- What things can I transform within myself to establish a deeper relationship with my spiritual wisdom body?
- What things are standing in my way between me and living my life’s purpose?
As with any archetype, the shadow of fire is the wildfire (if you are confused at what the shadow is and what it represents, scroll down to the bottom of the earth post). The wildfire comes when we become too arrogant, sit on top of our high horse, and put all of our eggs in one basket. A more common expression of the wildfire is when our emotional wisdom body runs out of control, and the archetype of the “Wounded Child” drives the bus. Some people may or may not be familiar about it, but I tend to have a pretty unpopular view of the “Wounded Child”. What this usually looks like is someone who is fired by jealousy or their repressed emotions, and does something out of spite. They become “alive” and “on fire” because they feel like they need to get back at a person, or a group. Another thing is that we could have false passions that can drive us. Sometimes our addictions can fuel our motivations in the world, and we can become feverish to fulfill these desires we have. The wildfire is an example of chaos that can be used to drive us either into a state of madness where we destructively burn things without meaning to, or we can use it constructively in a way where we set forth fire in a way that allows for clear, concise break down so we can emerge as seedlings of a conifer that has been through the flame. The earth is generally extremely fertile after a fire, depending on what was burned. Could this be a new beginning for you that you can be proud of? Or is the wildfire a result of your repressed/unresolved issues that you continue to project on your surrounding situation? All of these are good questions to ask.
Other valuable links:
Journey Track Outline – Lost and need a refresher? Go back to the basics before moving forward
Purity and the Elements – Need a reminder on the element system and how these all play together?
Earth – Representation of our Physical Body
Air – Representation of our Mental Body
Hey guys! I sure have been busy this past month, with my recovering from deaths doorstep and heading out to Standing Rock and all. I somehow managed to write up a Journey Track outline for beginner journeyers because my inbox was becoming full with people who had questions about doing it by themselves at home. With all of that being said and done, the next few months are probably going to blow by fast for me. I’ve taken up training with an indigenous teacher, as well as going out on my first retreat with Christina Pratt in June (I’m in her four year training program and starting year 1 this year). So that means that we are going to move a little bit quicker in the journey group.
The last two months we have been working on the topic of earth as an element, and exploring that relationship as a metaphor of our physical body. The rest will be as follows on this big medicine wheel we will be taking a dive into 😉
- Main Post: Purity and the Elements – Exploring the four element system, what it means, and the inter-connectedness/inter-related aspects of it all
- February and March: Earth – getting the grounding, boundaries, and centering under wraps. This is a crucial part to understanding the element of earth
- April: Element of Air – Exploring the mental wisdom body and how to bring about the clarity of the mind
- May: Element of Fire (post coming soon) – Exploring the spiritual wisdom body and how we can use passion to fuel our drive in the world
- June: Element of Water (post coming soon) – Exploring the emotional wisdom body and how we can use our emotions as a useful processing tool instead of drowning or being numbed by them.
Along with the basic journey group meetups, there is also a Shamanic Journeying Basics class on April 8th, as well as the Open Heart Path class on April 18th. Hooray for fun events this month!
Event listings for Eagle Therapies:
April 2nd – Heart Centered Sound Circle
This is the extended version of the 5-10 minutes of singing/chanting we do before we journey. It’s a ceremony that lasts for an hour. Begins at 1pm.
April 6th – Element of Air: Shamanic Journey Group
Today we will find the inter-connectedness and inter-relatedness of the element of air, and see how it fits in with the element of earth. Earth helps us cultivate a sense of wellbeing, as well as a sense of place, presence, and grounding. Earth helps us ask the question, “What do I stand for, and why do I stand for it?”. As earth helped pave the ground work, now we can step into the realm of air and be able to take on responsibility and power. The element of air helps us connect to vision as well as clarity, clear sight, and truth.
April 7th – First Friday in Fairfax – Drum Circle!
This is just a fun get together with drums, rattles, and shaky things 🙂 Come join in community!
April 8th – Shamanic Journeying Basics – The Bare Bones
This is meant for everyone from beginners who know nothing about journeying, all the way to experienced journeyers who want a refresher. This will also include a journey group right after, as well as a question and answer.
Cost: $15 – Please bring cash or paypal ahead of time
April 18th – The Open Heart Path workshop
This is one of my favorite workshops to teach, because the Open Heart Path is very near and dear to my heart (pun intended). Come find out what it means to live in todays world full of courage, and to bring your medicine to the table.
Cost: $15 – Please bring cash or paypal ahead of time
April 20th – Element of Air: Shamanic Journey Group
Whenever there is a light, if the light falls on an object of attention, it casts a shadow. The shadow aspect of the element of air is the tornado. Sometimes in life, we reach a point of hopelessness that it feels like an aspect of ourselves is suffocating. We feel stuck and can sometimes feel like we cannot move forward without being restricted in some ways. The tornado can help breathe a breath of life back into the stagnation that was there.
Fly high, everyone!
The beginning of February is the middle point between the middle of winter and the middle of spring. It is generally the beginning of spring, as well as a metaphoric time to begin thinking of what we will be planting in the months to come. It can be a rich time as we begin to come out of our hibernation of winter. In winter, a lot of people tend to go inward, reflect upon their year, and take more breaks then normal. It is our time to rest, relax, and recharge to prepare for the coming year.
The Fairfax Shamanic Journey Group tends to look at themes that arise in nature and questions how we can apply the teachings of nature into our very own lives. For the next two months, we will be pulling wisdom from the earth and seeing how the archetype of earth can be applied into our every day lives. If you have not journeyed before, it is helpful to at least read up on it briefly before attending. It’s completely okay if you are new to it and want to give it a try. There is a mixed group of practitioners that come, some that have no experience with journeying, and some that have quite the experience. The more advanced journeyers help hold the space for the beginning journeyers, and we find an interesting array of experiences as we open the forum of discussion to the whole group. Please do not feel pressured to share your journeys – just share if you feel called too.
If you would like to keep up to date, we have a discussion forum on Facebook (which right now I look pretty egotistical and just posting journey group topics in there) that I would love for participants to start commenting on or to sharing their experiences about journeys experienced at home. It’s meant to be a safe space for people to explore their journeys without fear of judgement. It can also be a place for people to share helpful links that they shared during the group. You can feel free to read our newsletter for this month for some of the other events, as well as events from others in the area.
Now – down to the nitty gritty! Journey dates as follows! (Date also links directly to the meetup event so you can RSVP to the event if you wish)
Feb 9th – This particular session will be about the four elements, what they mean, and the interconnectedness between all of the elements. This is where we discuss the concept of complimentary dualism and how that can affect our lives. This is the introductory topic, and explores the four-element-system as a whole.
Feb 23rd – What is the earth element? How does it correspond metaphorically and apply in our lives? Here is where we look at our groundedness, our ability to stay in the present moment, and explore some metaphors surrounding our boundaries. What beliefs do we hold very concretely that are the foundations of what we stand on?
March 9th – How do we create presence and autonomy in our lives? In a world where isolation and loneliness fuel depression, there is big medicine to be found in the ability to work with the earth to create a sense of belonging, connection within, and interconnection with the larger reality.
March 23rd – Where there is light, there is always the shadow that is cast. The shadow is not a bad thing, it is the unspoken aspects of ourselves and of larger archetypes. The earth itself has a shadow, and it is the earthquake. The earthquake is what happens when we hold onto our beliefs too tight, our foundation becomes rigid, and things have become so stagnant that the only choice left is to shake things up. What happens when our world seemingly “falls apart”, and what wisdom can come of it?
So exciting to be doing this with a new community of people! If you guys have any questions or concerns, please feel free to text/call 571.306.3197, or email email@example.com
Fly high these next two months!
When someone says that they’re “holding space” for a person, I have to ask myself, “What does that mean?” In this article, we will explore the heart as an energy center as well as a container for transformative processing.
This is my perspective on energy work, and is neither an absolute nor “the truth.” This is also my personal cosmology, so I can share my understandings and present them to the outside world. Measure the information found here against your own truth chord to find out if this resonates with you. May you find something useful in this article and go forth in a positive way to spread the productive medicine that has helped create a deeper understanding within you.
Let’s start off with the first concept to grasp before we fully dive into this subject. As a lot of people are awakening to energy work, some may be overwhelmed by the complexity and logistics of intricate energy systems like the chakra system. (Not to say that they don’t work, but just to approach them as another way of looking at things). For simplicity’s sake, I consider there to be three main energy structures within the body:
- Head – Mental understanding; the root of the mental wisdom body
- Heart – The meeting ground between; the root of the emotional wisdom body
- Belly – Gut feeling/intuition; the root of the physical wisdom body
In a lot of cosmologies, the heart is the connecting piece between all of the energetic bodies. If we simplify our understanding to three energy centers, the heart would be the meeting place where the passions of the belly, as well as the clarity from the mind, commingle.
This commingling is the perfect atmosphere to have a Transformational Process: the process to permanently change a pattern or belief you have. A transformative process is a specific event where something happens, you are impacted by this event, something changes within you and you can’t change back. The first mistake that I see people making is not grasping the fundamental difference between change and transformation. With change, you can always change back. With transformation, on the other hand, you create something entirely different, and you cannot fathom being what you once were. For a more in-depth explanation of this element, visit my article on Change and Transformation I posted a few months back.
As we break things up into segments, there are three categories that we will break transformation down into. Most of the time, it is a mixture of one or two of the categories, but this identification will come with time. These three types of transformation are:
- Personal Transformation (relationship with self)
- Interpersonal Transformation (one on one, relationship based)
- Group or Community Transformation
Some obvious physical examples of this include becoming a parent or getting a high school diploma or college degree. On a personal level, that experience transforms you because you can’t think of yourself differently after that. You have something (or someone) as a product of that transformation. The community at large looks at you differently, because in some jobs you can’t excel until you meet certain credentials and achieve certain marks of transformation. With group or community transformations, we hold ceremonies like graduations or coming-of-age parties like bar mitzvahs/bat mitzvahs or Quinceañeras.
All of those are examples of the outward marks of transformation – a memorable point in time marking things we’ve accomplished in the physical world. Half of the people in our culture don’t value these experiences for what they really are. Most kids graduating high school don’t really realize what it means before they enter the “real world.” Celebrations of transitions and transformations have been devalued because we don’t mark transformational processes for what they are worth. These are transformations that are larger in scope, but let’s refine this topic now to the smaller-scope transformations that can occur in our energetic body.
The thing is, emotional, mental, and spiritual transformation is unexpected, and we have to set up the right container for them to take place. It can often feel like a major shift or an “AH-HA” moment. There are a lot of times when a transformational process begins to happen, and we begin to change; however it’s not recognized as a process. Because we don’t allow the space for that transformation to take place, we resort back to the way we used to be. This is very similar to trying to get to the core of the problem, but then bailing on the full process and merely peeling off another layer off the onion instead of diving deeper. Transformation is an art, and an art that has been diluted and is easily confused with “changing.”
The real act of transformation is a MESSY process. It’s very similar to the caterpillar trying to transform into the butterfly. The caterpillar builds a chrysalis for itself, and its body literally breaks down within the confines of its structure, liquefying into a primordial ooze and swirling around inside of itself. If we happen to metaphorically be the chrysalis and we falter in being that structure/container, that ooze will melt through to the outside and the transformational process will feel incomplete, often leaving ourselves feeling incomplete. Transformation can often feel painful, like we are “dying” in the process.
There are varying sizes of containers that we can create for ourselves and others. Sometimes we need a personal-sized container for little changes/transformations, and sometimes we need a much larger one for a hard-core belief pattern that needs some altering.
- Personal transformation – being there for ourselves and not harming our own process
- One-on-one transformation – confiding in another person, personal relationships
- Community transformation – finding a group of people who set up and create a space to change and transform together
Transformation should always start at the individual level. We should be caring about our personal development and how we show up for ourselves. If we do, this leads to healthier relationships without the need for control or co-dependence. When we begin to focus on ourselves as a container for these processes, that’s when we begin showing up for other people in the same way.
Sometimes, however, there is something a little bigger that needs to change, and we need a little help from another person or group of people while going through this process. It can be hard to both be the liquid of the process and hold the container for that liquid. If what we are trying to change is overwhelming and we get lost within our own shadows and wounds, we might need a community or a group of people that will help set the container so that we have the ability to transform and break down together. We are all human, and many of us have similar problems. It can help our own processing if we realize we are not alone.
Some of you may have only a vague sense of what this post is about, while others will be reading this and having goosebumps. Let’s bring in some real-world examples to help solidify this concept so it’s not so “woo woo.” A common example of a personal transformation is someone trying to quit smoking or drinking. It’s very difficult because it’s a habit or pattern we are trying to break. There are some who have the discipline to successfully quit cold turkey, but many others will only “change” until they are able to transform their mind frame of how they approach it. Sometimes consistency is what is needed to build a container, and it’s small repeated actions daily that will over time have that “Wow, I’ve done this for this long” moments that can lead to us no longer identifying as that label (such as smoker).
A healthy interpersonal transformation depends on whether the other person can act like a good therapist. It takes strength to ask the right questions to the person that is breaking down without adding your own emotions to the mix. This is especially evident after break-ups, when we go to our friends to hold us while we feel vulnerable. Sometimes even the most well-meaning “advice” isn’t helpful, because part of us identified with being in that relationship and we become defensive of who we used to be. We are “transforming” from being out of that relationship and identifying ourselves without a partner.
For community transformation, let’s consider the example of ceremonies. There’s usually some motivational speech given before a ceremony that connects people together, like a valedictorian’s speech at a graduation or a eulogy at a vigil for the victims of a disaster. Sometimes when people pass away, it’s hard to mentally transform our own image of them into someone who is gone until we have some sort of ceremony to honor their passing. These ceremonies are just as much for honoring the people that have passed on as they are for providing closure for the people still here.
Before we go into what makes up a container, let’s talk about some of the things that can derail a transformative process:
- Mental judgements – ultimately succeed in impeding the transformation
- Emotional extremes – pollute the transformation and add extra distraction
There are so many times when we inadvertently get in our own way. How many times have you talked yourself out of going to the gym or eating healthfully? How many times have we tried to talk about our feelings with someone that we cared about, but then in our moment of vulnerability they say something that hits us in that wrong way and completely derails where you were trying to go?
Mental judgements throw us off track because we are trying to “control” the process before it even begins happening. When we begin directing it down a path that we think is right, we are not trusting it to flow and allowing the process to take its course. There are way too many people out there that believe they “know the right thing to do” and always believe they’re right. These are signs of egotism, and are something to watch out for. The greatest practitioners are those who don’t know what they’re doing because they are in the moment and supporting what needs to happen in the moment. They carry a sense of presence, instead of worrying about the future or the past. When we look to the future, we worry about what the product will turn into. When we look to the past, we think of all of the creations we have made in the past and how we want it to turn out the same or not anything like that. This is the art of projecting, and the mind is extremely good at it. It’s hard to let go of expectations and to let things happen. However, projecting is the exact thing that will make the chrysalis begin to break down and allow the ooze to slide out before we even realize that there was a transformational process that tried to take place.
Emotional extremes are an overindulgence in our own feelings, and this distracts us from what’s really going on during the process. When we are going through a true process, we are trying to decipher all the different things happening to us, but old feelings rise up and we don’t know why. We need to analyze what is happening, what we are feeling right now in the moment and what the emotions are that are coming up from the past. For example, if someone had a loved one pass away and they have unresolved emotions (resentment, guilt, shame, anger), these emotions will surface and they will relive those within moments of remembering that person. It becomes what they are feeling in the moment because they haven’t processed through how they really felt at the time it happened. When people “offer advice” when we are this vulnerable and trying to transform, they certainly mean well, because they see us in pain and they want to help, but this is contrary to the path of transformation. They know that transformation hurts and they want to make us feel better. However, expressing our feelings while someone else is trying to transform can “pollute” the process. Sometimes, someone just needs to be heard, and not told someone else’s opinion. If we are being this container and we allow our emotions to affect the transformation, a defensiveness can rise up in response to the “pollutant.”
Our job at that point is to create a container that allows for these transformational processes to happen. Everyone has this container within their own heart, and evaluating whether or not we utilize it appropriately is a wonderful form of self-reflection. The goal is to have the container be made out of non-reactive material. Remember in chemistry class when they had either a glass, metal, or porcelain container to hold reactions in? That’s the goal we need to keep in mind when we try to look at our own container and how it appears in our mind’s eye.
If you journey, this is a perfect opportunity to go within and ask yourself what state your container is in. Your container is a reflection of what you also offer to other people, not just yourself. Is your container porous? Does it react when certain chemical reactions take place within it? Does it have holes, or is it cracked or broken?
If your container is broken, cracked, or has holes in it, this is generally evidence of our mind getting in the way, resulting in self-sabotage. We ruin the process before it even begins to take place. If your container is porous, or is made out of a material that is extremely hard to clean, then that represents the fact that you allow emotions to pollute your transformations and you can’t really see the transformation for what it really is because you base so much of it on your past. If we have a container in our heart that is made up of a reactive material, when things heat up, do we throw off inappropriate comments? Our task is to create a container within ourselves that is healthy, expressing ourselves in the appropriate way.
The right transformations take the right crucible formation. If we look to our own heart, do we jump to emotional extremes and throw in mental judgements, ultimately derailing our own transformational processes? If we can’t show up for ourselves, how can we expect to show up for other people?
Our job as a good human (in my opinion) is to hold transformations in the heart. Create a heart that is not going to react emotionally to every transformation that’s trying to happen. Sometimes, we don’t need to be healed; sometimes we just need to be reminded of our strength. It takes a lot of strength to be a sacred witness and to just be there for someone going through a process. In order to break down and transform, we need to be vulnerable and feel safe enough with other people. We need to ask ourselves if we feel safe enough with ourselves, or do we judge ourselves for the actions that led us to this point?
The catalyst for this post is from my teacher Christina Pratt, with whom I will be studying beginning in 2017. If you’re an auditory person, you may wish to listen to her podcast specifically tailored to this post here. For the rest of you, I hope to see you at the Fairfax Journey Group so we can learn together.