I had an experience on the weekend that I have been sitting on. Just haven’t been ready to write about it – still hashing it out in my head. I went there to do some work on myself, and came away feeling more fucked up than I thought I was. Pardon my candour, but this needs writing.
I know that to do this work, one has to be able to work through all of one’s own stuff. To be healers, we can’t be all messed up ourselves – that makes for the worst kind of psychotherapist (and I have met a few like this) – those women (usually) who come to the helping professions for their own agendas to be served, their egos to be stroked, their feelings of superiority to be confirmed – not actually there to help the clients, but to get their own needs met. These people can do so much damage to their vulnerable clients – who are just aching for some person of authority to come in and tell them what is wrong with them, and how to fix it. Ripe plums for the picking.
So, to be any good, and in integrity – we have to be able to work through all of our stuff – we have to be unflinching in our desires and our actions, to look in the mirror and admit to ourselves all of our secret motives for the things we do – we have to have a high level of capability for self honesty. We have to turn around and squarely confront our shadow. Then, we have to learn to accept it and integrate it into our whole self.
I know this work – I’ve done years of it – though none lately. None in the past ten years. And it’s funny, if you stop the process – you get off that train, it all comes back. Well, a lot of it anyways. I find myself plagued with issues that hold me back. They are different than they used to be. They hold me back in different ways, but they are there. A new animal – maybe not the pink elephant anymore, but some other big pink behemoth in the way.
So – I went to do a workshop this past weekend. A day long self-help kind of thing, with shamanic techniques incorporated. The idea was to look at a personal goal we had – some seed of an idea that we wanted to sprout in the coming year. They said that around these ‘seeds’ that we all have, there is usually wrapped some kind of wound, or something that is blocking the seed from sprouting, be it self-doubt, fear, or some other kind of damage. These wounds, or this negative energy must be exposed and extracted. We hold this kind of energy in our physical bodies and so in this procedure, we were taught how to find where we felt most blocked in the body, and then concentrate on releasing it, while our facilitators, two trained shamanic practitioners, did ceremony around us to help clear out chakras and coax the energy out.
We placed a previously chosen rock on our bodies, at the lowest chakra that would correspond to that area that was blocked. So, if you felt blocked in your legs, you would place the rock at your root chakra. Most people are blocked around the navel, so you would place the rock at your spleen chakra.
We got a demonstration. One of the ladies did a clearing on her partner first so we could see the whole process. The woman identified her seed as a desire for community and connecting with that community, and her desire to create a community around offering these kind of healing retreats. She identified her blocks as a reluctance to get to close to people and difficulty meeting people’s eyes when talking. Probably a fear of loss of connection. While she was under, she found the blocks were in her navel area and put her rock there, just above her pubic bone. Her partner then opened her chakras and began the shamanic drumming. (This is all after we had opened the directions). She drummed and drummed and used rattles too, all the while sort of calling out the energy, while the woman who was under also concentrated on letting it go. She eventually started moaning and rocking and stretching her legs out, and even yelling. Then she sat up and cried for a while. Then she was fine. The facilitator said, ‘wow! she was ready to work!’ And that was our demo.
Of course I was wide-eyed, and every voice in my head stating emphatically, ‘I am NOT doing that! I hope they don’t expect me to roll around on the floor crying in public, with a bunch of strangers’.
Yes – I had a lot of negative voices in my head at the outset.
So anyways – we did this thing. I chose a rock and laid down on the floor. They came around us and began the ceremony. Truthfully I was expecting that nothing would happen. An at first nothing really did. I went into a meditative state – deepening my awareness. I listened to the drums and the rattles and the women whistling and calling out the energy. Nothing happened. Then, one of the women came over to me – I could feel her at my head – and said she was going to touch some ‘deepening points’ on my neck. I almost immediately felt my jaw clench shut and my teeth grinding. I said I couldn’t move my jaw so she started massaging my jaw muscles. And it was really weird. There was a release of something that shuddered through my body. My jaw started chattering so hard you’d think I was in the Arctic. I couldn’t stop it! Tears welled in my eyes and for a while I did sob – but it was more of a release than any sadness. Then, the shudders kind of overtook my body and I was twitching all over the place. I immediately felt that the rock should be at my throat chakra, rather than at my belly where it had been. The release of this energy became more and more intense, with my jaw uncontrollable, all the while I envisioned it all going into that rock – saying ‘take it little rock – take it all’. Someone came and covered me with a blanket. Then, my hips started aching – so badly that I had to bring my knees up to my chest. I was reminded of the pain in my hips of carrying my son to full term, and then, of that mind-numbing, unthinkable, all-encompassing, excruciating pain of labour…
During labour I screamed full force for twelve hours straight – every one-and-a-half minutes. I am not a vocal person. It was humiliating for me. Something no-one in any of my pre-natal classes had prepared me for. I am quite composed naturally. Labour ripped that to shreds, and I had no control over it. All of this came up for me. This…trauma. That needed to be unearthed.
It was interesting the way my jaw was holding something and once that was released, my hips were aching. Almost like pealing an onion in layers. I had to release the jaw to get to the hips. Then if I had continued, what would have been under that?
Also notable – two weeks ago I literally put my jaw out of socket eating tortilla chips. I couldn’t bite my teeth together for days and had to eat liquid food with a straw. Eventually it came back together, but it still clicks when I chew. I’ve always had problems with my jaw and with grinding my teeth. And I have to say it does feel a little better – a little lighter after last weekend.
So – obviously something happened there for me. But what messed with me and still does, is that afterwards I was in a state of withdrawal from the process and the group. I felt like I had backed into a corner and was licking my wounds. I felt quite a bit of reluctance to continue with the rest of the day, and really just wanted to go home and crawl into my bed and pull the covers over my head. Of course I didn’t do that. But I remained dis-jointed and emotionally apart from the group. I went into my loner stance. Didn’t really share much, wasn’t very engaging or interested in what was going on. See that’s the weird thing – I actually wasn’t interested. Somehow whatever it was that I had experienced – it was like it had brought down a wall in between me and the world – more like a dampening field, that watered down everything I was experiencing. The result was that I couldn’t connect with it emotionally. I was frozen up and nothing was touching me.
We did some art around the experience. We went outside into the fields and created a sand-painting together (more on that later). We ate some really great home-made food from the gardens. Then at the end we did a fire ceremony and burned some spirit arrows. Oh yes and there was a really great guided mediation in there too – and I usually love doing guided meditations and find them so relaxing. This time I couldn’t concentrate on my visualization at all. I was too agitated. I couldn’t relax into it. And this, this is how the whole thing went for me. This detachment – this agitation. And all the while I had these negative voices in my head picking apart everything that we were doing. Picking and picking saying everything from, ‘this is boring’, to ‘this is ridiculous, why am I here, what is this accomplishing’, to ‘I hope no-one sees me standing around this fire chanting weird songs’, to being super self-conscious and worrying about why I was being so weird and self-conscious. I recognized these voices as being old tapes running ’round and ’round. I grew up with a bunch of punk-rockers and we had a hate on for ‘hippies’ and anything that seemed to smack of hippy-ness. So when doing this kind of stuff I can actually see their faces scoffing and rolling their eye, as though they were standing right there with me.
I also recognized these voices as being full of fear. The more vulnerable I got, the louder the negative tapes were, and more vicious. This made me realize ‘ah-ha, you are afraid – I feel you now’.
We were told to take the rock off of our bodies and put in aside when we felt ready to let all of that stuff go. It took me a while but when I did it was interesting – I felt a force, like an invisible blanket lifted off of me when I pulled the rock off my throat. It was tangible – and that, that was cool. Afterwards I did not want to go near that rock for a while – feeling an aversion to it. Feeling raw and wide open. Feeling vulnerable and confused. I eventually brought it down to the sand painting we made outside, and after carrying it around in a gloved hand for a bit, put it down in the painting. When I did that, I felt a strange and tender compassion for whatever was inside the rock. My aversion gone, I said, ‘thank you little trauma, for teaching me’. I have no idea where that came from – but it felt right.