Hope through Tragedy

Today’s blog is inspired by a friend going through a very difficult time who suggested I write about enduring hope when I requested a topic. This blog is for her and everyone traversing their own version of tragic circumstances.

What is hope?

Hope is an archetype….an archetype called The Star, according to the ancient wisdom of the tarot.

Archetypes are the collective instinctual drives we all share in common and inherit the moment we are born, according to Jung.

Archetypes are the gods and goddesses, according to the ancients and indigenous people.

Whichever way you want to see archetypes, see them as sentient energies that live in their own place and this is the place we all birth from on a soul level. The collective unconscious is our mother birthing the individual psyche. The archetypes are transpersonal helpers, instincts, forces, and beings.  Hope is a goddess, a god, a sentient energy, and a collective instinct.

Hope is the “light when all lights go out” as said in Lord of the Rings when Frodo is trapped by a deadly giant spider and needs the light of hope to literally not die.  Victor Frankl wrote a book, Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he links feeling hope to the chances of survival for concentration camp victims in Nazi Germany. Could this really be true? Could hope keep us alive?

What we endure as humans is beyond rational comprehension…

From the natural tragedies of break-ups, death of loved ones, illness, and sudden losses of all sorts….to the diseased type of tragedies that stem from multigenerational trauma and systemic oppression such as sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, prejudice, poverty, and mistreatment of humans, animals, and the planet on many levels….human life and tragedy are bound together.

You cannot answer why on a spiritual level without finding a lesson in the darkness. When you endure hope through tragedy you come out the other side of it with more compassion, more liberation, more knowledge, more love, more understanding. This is a truth of human kind.

When you collapse into tragedy with a sense of doom, blame, punishment, despair and resentment you come out the other side more bitter, closed off, abusive to self or others, hateful, and sick. This is also a truth of human kind.

I want to be careful here and say that every feeling needs an outlet. Hope is not turning a frown upside down. It is not putting a positive spin on a terrible situation. Horrible experiences happen. Unfair circumstances happen. Nobody should spiritually bypass the feelings of anger, despair, resentment, rage, and resignation (among many other feelings) by saying, “this tragedy is meant to be because it will make me stronger, wiser, loving, and aware.”

The process is key and the journey is everything. Feelings are like poop and like chemical storms. What happens if you don’t let yourself poo because you tell yourself it is wrong or bad to poo? What happens if you try to stop a raging hurricane? You can’t stop a storm and not letting yourself poo will make you sick.

All feelings need time and space to be honored and felt.  The key to moving feelings out of the body is to not wrap a mental story around the feeling. Feel the resentment when your partner betrays you but don’t tell yourself you are piece of shit and it’s your fault or whatever the story may be. Keep stories off the feelings and use your mind to keep repeating, “I feel resentment” as you find a way to express it.

Express feelings through exercising, making art, acting, singing, venting to a friend, dancing, cooking, cleaning…find your way and let the feeling out purely without a narrative of why and what the feeling means.

I promise you, the feeling will pass as every storm and every bowel movement does. I am being crude on purpose. Negative feelings are crude. They are not elegant and they don’t smell good but they still need to be honored and let out.  If you let your feelings out you won’t spiritually bypass them with answers, solutions, reasons, meaning-making. Even the best of tools can be used for harm.

Karma, which is simply the accumulation of feelings that are not released from the body (due to stories or what the Buddhists call “attachments”), can be turned into a scolding and judgmental concept when you say, “I won’t feel my anger because I don’t want to create karma.” If you don’t want to create karma, feel your feelings fully and let them pass through.

Astrology is a great tool that can also be used the wrong way if you won’t let yourself feel despair by saying something like, “I have a Scorpio eighth house moon so despair is in my chart.” The tiniest bit of reasoning, no matter how true, can shut the actual feeling off.

Many therapeutic modalities do this too. Re-framing, a cognitive-behavioral technique of turning a negative story into a positive story, may shut off a feeling of anger that needs to surface and be released. It is best to first release the feeling and then re-frame the story.

The point I want to make is that all tools in the spiritual-psychological-self-help tool box can be misused. Take positivity for example. Positivity is not about only feeling and thinking positive thoughts. For that secretly judges and scolds negativity and the act of judging and scolding is extremely toxic. True positivity is remembering that all feelings are innocent when felt and expressed purely.

The truth of how the human body works is that honored and expressed feelings leave the body and cause no harm. When feelings collect in shadow they change over time. They putrefy and create bigger uglier monsters that erupt as chronic illness, projections, neurosis, and imbalances of all forms.

When negative feelings are honored and expressed they leave the body and hope has room to enter. Hope needs room to enter. Hope wont bludgeon its way into the heart.

Why some people have an easier time feeling hope while others struggle to feel hope is part mystery and part rational. The mystery roots down into temperaments. We all have a temperament. No need to judge yourself if your temperament is not very hopeful. I am sure you have another archetypal instinct pouring through you in spades.

Every human is a unique finger print of qualities and this is not in our control. The mystery owns our temperament.

Yet even the most hopeless temperament may experience hope because hope is an archetype we all connect with in the collective unconscious or spirit world. Every. Single. One of us.

Sometimes it takes a little work, which leads to the rational understanding part. If you struggle to feel hope due to your temperament, due to struggles internal or external, or due to being pummeled by tragedy all at once…you can do two things to invoke hope.

First, you can stop rejecting your feelings with judgements and make the dedication to feel your feelings without a story wrapped around them. You may get help doing this with a therapist or healer, a friend, or even a pet. Maybe being with spirit in solitude or in nature is helpful.

Feeling your feelings without stories may take a while. Patience is not easy but needed. For most of us have been told by culture, family, or both that negative feelings are bad and wrong and we experience literal cut-off from feelings as a result. Many of us instead find refuge in various addictions and distractions such as drinking, working, working-out, over-analyzing, focusing on others in service, partying, escaping through drugs, eating, shopping, etc.

But it’s every human’s birthright to reconnect to our feelings. Everyone is capable.

Another aspect to check is the story showing up as identity.

Maybe you identify too much with despair, depression, resentment, etc. Identification is when it’s not really despair you are feeling, it’s the story of despair you are telling yourself and have been your whole life.

You can tell the difference between a feeling and a story by seeing if you identify with it. If you identify with being a depressed person, chances are you have cut-off from many feelings due to being stuck in an identity. Feelings of anger and even self-empowerment may be longing to express but cannot get through the depressed story or persona.

Sorting out feelings from the story, starving out the stories, honoring and expressing the feelings is a process. Process is the most important part. Nobody can bypass their own process. For some it is quick, some slow… but for most of us healing moves in a spiral. We make progress then fall backward yet when we do we are a little wiser, a little more aware, a little more loving.

The second thing is you can invoke hope through ceremony and ritual.  The ancients and indigenous were very connected using ritual and ceremony to stay healthy. Arhcetypes such as hope speak to the conscious-self through images, sound, taste, movement, and feeling. The ancients and indigenous also understand that we are literally made of the elements (earth, air, fire, water, ether) and we may call upon them to ground and connect self to earth.

Whether you partake in a more formal ritual, alone or with a group, or whether you express ritual through making art, singing, listening to a song or a sermon…. ritual and ceremony simply means that you intentionally use your creativity, feelings and senses to invoke the archetypes.

It is everyone’s birthright to invoke hope.

Invoking may be as simple as lighting a candle and calling upon hope in meditation. It may be as elaborate as performing a sacred dance on the full moon after calling the directions, elements, angels, ancestors and allies.

Invoking hope may be as simple as singing a song that makes you feel hope. It may be as elaborate as writing a song about hope and performing in a hospice setting to inspire those close to transitioning into death.

You might find the perfect crystal and invoke hope into the crystal, wearing it over your heart each day.

Or perhaps you put your hands around every glass of water you drink and invoke hope into the water.

Hope does not ask for a specific kind of ritual or ceremony. Hope only asks to be acknowledged.

Many leaders have hope moving so powerfully through their hearts that they inspire everyone around them. Martin Luther King Jr comes to mind as a perfect example of this. Hope catches flame. You may not intend to call upon hope but hope finds you anyway.

Sometimes hope enters the body so strongly that it wipes out any blocks in the way and washes you clean. We have all experienced this through listening to song, watching a movie, being moved by a speaker, looking at a sunset, into a loved one’s eyes, or a work of art.

Hope is always available to us no matter how dense the jungle of tragedy, betrayal and injustice we are traversing. May hope find its way into your heart in your darkest night of the soul.

Many Voices, One Center…

There are as many perspectives on healing as there are healers who are healing, scientists who are researching, philosophers who are contemplating, poets who are dreaming, and artists who are creating. It’s up to you to choose which focus or path resonates with who you are and what works best for you. Do you know who you are and what resonates with who you are? Do you know what is best for you?

Complex trauma tends to shatter the ego from an early age, submerging aspects of the self into the shadow. Multigenerational wounds stemming from cultural and family of origin mistreatment wait patient on the dark sea floor until transpersonal and instinctual forces lift them up toward the surface for the ego to see. How often we don’t see the wounds because we project them onto our dearest loved ones or the world or the self in a negative fashion. The message gets lost. The story of pain morphs into body ailments and rejection. The true self is not heard among the clatter of other voices; mother, grandmother, brother, great grandfather, teacher, authoritarian voice imposing shame.

Dive deeper if you believe and recover past lives in or out of the bloodline, in or out of the earth or milky way, where guilt and defeat collected in the belly of your soul…or maybe it was victory and power that collected, usually it’s a mixture of every feeling not worked out, over glorified, shunned by the ego or ignorant to the soul. Our tapestry of karma tells tales as sentimental as a delicately woven blanket made by the hands of an experienced and wise elder. You don’t need to believe in past lives or even the true self to understand that the mind, conscious and unconscious, creates a multitude of stories based on what we experience.

It is never just one story. It is never all or nothing, black and white…well, except when it is (which sometimes is really is). Sometimes we must pick a side and fight and some things resonate as wrong or right deep down beneath logic, such as unnecessary killing, suffering, violence, and abuse. But when it comes to be a human being, we do not hold only one perspective, one way of being, one karma, or one destiny. The conscious self, or ego, wishes it to be one thing and tries its hardest to think one way and have one truth to create one outcome, in a sweet attempt to mirror wholeness. But wholeness is not having one perspective to make one outcome happen.

Wholeness is getting back in touch with our center (soul, true self) that is able to balance and contain the multitude of who we are. For life is always moving and changing. Simple appearances hide complexity. Nothing is really solid even if it appears so to the eyeball. All atoms are moving about and there is a ton of space between them. Split atoms and space keeps getting bigger and containing more complexity. The ego sees what it needs to see to adapt to the world. The eye sees what it needs to see to adapt to the ego. As your consciousness (or frequency) changes, so does your perspective. This is how the soul evolves. If the ego can let go of rigidity and open gently to the vastness within, it wont repress this evolution, it wont create a great divide.

The past is happening now and the future is happening now too but on other dimensions that would shatter the ego just as trauma can do but shatter the ego to the point of no return. We have limitations for a reason. Linear time is a needed limitation but my point is more emotional than philosophical. Our ancestor’s wounds live as alive in this moment as they did when they happened according to linear time. These wounds live inside of us. If you believe in past lives, same goes. In this life, same goes for what we experienced in childhood. Same goes for the future too but I think to speak of this would wax too philosophical for this blog.

The voices of our ancestors, mother, father, siblings, culture, past lives, lives on other dimensions, lives as other sentient forces…all lives live in the unconscious mind in a non-linear fashion, alive as ever and very naturally. The unconscious is the sea containing everything.

On one hand, you can spend your life digging up ancestral, past life, family of origin, and other-dimensional karma, never reaching an end point to the healing but always refining, evolving and liberating your soul in the process. On the other hand, when you know in your feelings that all of these stories are not Self and you find your Self in breath over and over through the practice of some form of meditation, while continuing to open and purify your heart through feeling your feelings, you may heal just as effectively without going into any stories, conscious or unconscious.

I have healed from both these modalities equally. I have also grown tremendously from good old fashioned cognitive-behavioral mindfulness and using my conscious will to re-author my life stories. I have also transformed deeply from making art out of pain to honor the feelings and stories of suffering. And these are still only a few modalities of healing out of many. My true self finds the most effectiveness from using these five modalities and each speaks to a different voice inside. The breakdown:

Bringing the wounding, personality traits, true self and gifts out from the shadow connected to the family/cultural system and bloodline is what allows me to be in the world and in relationships as a differentiated being, true to herself and in loving relation that honors the differentiation in others. This work is most powerful for me in letting go of identifying with the the wounds I carry, being my real self with others, and in aligning my heart and will so that when I say I want to do something, I am more likely to do it. This work is always in progress.

Bringing the wounding, personality traits, true self and gifts out from the shadow connected to past lives on earth and on other dimensions transformed my sense of self and life itself on a very zoomed out level. In the zenith of this awakening some very chronic and severe symptoms fell away, never to return. This healing journey along with reconnecting with the divine feminine, awakened my calling to be a healer. Knowing the story of my soul beyond this world anchors me to this lifetime.

Finding my Self in breath and knowing in my feelings that the stories of the soul are not the Self gives me a direct experience of inner peace and equanimity, leading me to my center, over and over. Also, I am able to hold the stories of my soul with a lighter footprint when I am anchored to breath as Self, first and foremost. This is the Tao so to speak, it is beyond language.

Mindfulness-based CBT is the work that helps me not get stuck in stories and helps me choose to re-author my life stories, cause to be frank, I am not a huge meditator. I do meditative yoga about four times a week and I am always the observer watching myself but I do not specifically meditate every single day. I do use mindful CBT almost every day, along with narrative work to not sink into story and to keep my center vibrant and creative. This work also helps the feelings to express and pass through me like weather, allowing suffering to be used as grist to evolve.

Creative expression is my home base. I will not let go of a soul story unless I turn it into art. This is because I have a fervent attachment to honoring painful stories. I do not believe forgetting is healthy. I believe we must always remember our history and how suffering is caused, how power is misused, how lives are harmed, how abuse is formed and how it steals the life force and autonomy from the individual. When I turn abuse into a novel, a shattered ego into a painting, or heart break into a poem, history is honored and I can let go of identifying with the wound. I embrace the open broken heart through creative expression. Ritual, singing, cooking, ceremony, painting, writing, are some of the ways I engage in daily.

These are the modalities that work best for me and this is why I use them with clients. I connect to the wounded healer archetype and am called to be healer from my personal experience. I don’t claim to be in expert though I have a lot of experience. I do not seek power but I also admit that in my shadow there is a woman who is learning to empower herself. Once the story of empowerment is fully honored she will transcend empowerment, not needing to become stronger than her oppressors or be in a dialect with them. The story will evaporate and change as all stories do when we give them conscious embodiment, space to breathe, and time to express.

I treasure my humanity and no longer feel shame for my vulnerability, wounds, or weaknesses. We all share the same shame and it’s ok to feel it, know it, express it, let it go and laugh at our collective self-consciousness while not forgetting the horrible abuse that stole our freedom. We can use the pain to transform and reclaim our autonomy. Holding the tension of opposites allows the masculine and feminine aspects of each one of us to have a voice; to evolve and to honor what is without changing it into something else.

My intention in writing this blog is to spark your center. What modalities resonate with you and why? You may or may not know. We each have our own path to healing. I offer what I offer as a healer and I have plenty of referrals to give out in my community. I think it is important to never give your power away to a healer. Nobody knows more than you know about your inner self. The right healer for you will evoke a feeling of rightness inside, bring out your soul stories, help you to find your center and to come home to your true self. If these words don’t resonate, no worries.

Sometimes there is chafing, conflict, or transference, where new perspectives get cracked open, trust needs building, or projection emerges in the relationship between healer and client so that the client may heal. This opportunity is golden. There is a difference between the golden opportunity of healing conflict and not resonating with a healer. If it’s the former you usually get a big emotional reaction and if it’s the latter, you may feel more annoyed than upset, more unaffected or just…off.

Approaching healing from different perspectives, in my opinion, is most effective. I cannot imagine eliminating any of the modalities that I use and I am always open to more. Some modalities fade away over time and new ones take their place. I would not be surprised if one day I ditch some modalities completely. We are ever changing and evolving. I remain unattached to all modalities except one. Creative expression is my home of homes, this I know to be true. What do you know know to be true?