Salves for the Wounded Healer: Making Room for the Light to Enter during the Fall Equinox
If you are going through it, friends, this post is for you. A lot people are facing some sort of funk right now, a time of questioning who they are, who they’ve been, and who they will become.
Last week on the Healers of Color Movement blog, Chase Chualong offered some herbal remedies to support us through these heavier times, when grief and painful introspection can come to the forefront.
This week I am going to dive a little deeper into what it means to be a healer in these times and how to move forward with integrity and radical honesty, mostly though example, as I recount some of the points of struggle/death/rebirth that have come up for me in my journey and how they inform my practice as a healer.
Sitting in the Emotions, Praying, and Giving Thanks
As healers, it is almost our duty, a spiritual imperative to push ourselves to do the internal and spiritual work to process through shadows, grief, trauma, ancestral weight, and self-harming thoughts and behavior patterns. No shame or shade in the struggle! It is part of this human experience to suffer, heal, and grow.
However, healing others cannot be a stand-in for our own healing.
This is one of the primary reasons that the Healers of Color Movement exists - to create spaces for our healing so that we can have an even more powerful impact on our communities.
For me, sometimes when things get too much, the pain of grieving makes me wish I could just turn off existence for a while. When I am by myself, I tend to numb - with food, with weed, with shopping, with social media scrolling. And actually, these coping mechanisms are okay. It is okay to take a break sometimes. It is okay to soothe ourselves in the ways that are possible for us in the moment.
However, I have come to realize that when I notice that am using these strategies, I can use them as a prompt to switch to other strategies when I feel ready.
The first strategy is the hardest because it is what prompts me to want to numb in the first place! Sitting in grief, anger or fear is so difficult.
Meditation is the primary way that I have learned to build my resilience around sitting in emotions and letting them pass. In May 2016, I completed my first week-long silent meditation retreat and one of our Dharma teachers, Joanna Hardy, said something that changed my life.
She shared that emotions in a physiological sense only last for 90 seconds. Past that amount of time, it is our minds that throw that physical sensation into loops that can last 90 seconds, 90 minutes, 90 days, 90 weeks…
Regardless of the “scientific validity” of her statement, it made me move forward with less fear and realize that surrendering to my emotions by sitting with them in my body, feeling where they originated and where they traveled, and releasing them through breathing, crying, moaning or yelling could greatly decrease the amount of time I spent in states of “depression” - which, for me, I have come to see as primarily a state of numbness brought on by my fear of actually feeling my emotions.
Prayer is another important practice that has literally saved me many times over. It took me many years before I discovered just how intimate my relationship with spirit could be.
During moments of intense psychic pain, when I have felt that I would split apart and implode with the pain, I have called out loud for support from ancestors or guides. It is amazing how they listen and respond, how my inner landscape can go from hurricane to calm in a moment. The infinity of their love is what helps me to never feel alone.
I love the way that Tlingit healer Meda DeWitt characterizes it, as “asking for the lesson to be eased.” Many of us know we are here to have a human experience, to learn lessons so that we can heal our descendants and ascendants and bring about the shift in consciousness possible for humanity. But when the lessons start to feel like you are being ground into dust, consider that it is possible to treat ourselves with gentleness and compassion by asking for spiritual guidance and easement.
Last but certainly not least, is giving thanks. Gratitude must be cultivated and practiced regularly to feel its transformative effect.
I always try to begin my prayers with gratitude towards the ancestors, spirit guides, and deities I am calling upon. I always try to express to those around me my gratitude for the kind or supportive actions, big and small, that they have taken. I always try to give thanks to the food, drink and medicine I put in my body or give to others. I always try to remember to give thanks to myself for the ways I have changed, shifted, and grown, especially when I catch myself being caught up in shame or self-criticism.
Making Space and Calling in the Light
If you have harnessed the energy of this Harvest full moon and fall equinox to make changes in your life, congratulations!
Sometimes when we ask for growth, to “level up,” to begin anew, part of the lesson is being prepared for situations, dynamics, and relationships to change, sometimes drastically and sometimes in ways we did not expect.
Openness to the unexpected, willingness to listen to our intuition even when things “don’t make sense,” and willingness to surrender when big changes come are some of the mindsets that allow us to fully access the blessings in store for us.
I had a love once, a past-life karmic soul companion, an oracle, a brujx who showed me many new things about the mysteries of this world and beyond. We grew together as spiritual beings through our union. One night we decided to do a ritual she had done with her curandera elder, a spiritual beheading meant to rebirth you into a new being, a new version of yourself.
I emerged as a new creature, one fortified and grounded in my personal power. Unfortunately, this rebirth required that I leave my love behind, that I close the books on the karmic accounts we had kept over lifetimes and sever the cords that had tethered us across time and space.
This separation was tragic and traumatic for both of us and so necessary to our growth as souls. Afterwards, I chose to be celibate for a year and paused romantic connections with others for longer as I healed from the psychic and spiritual wounds of being entangled in an emotionally and spiritually abusive relationship that had continued over lifetimes.
I am still healing. I am grateful for the deep lessons that that connection yielded. I am grateful to be here this lifetime and have the opportunity to love and connect in new ways.
But the absence of those parts of me that I held dear or relied on for so long left me in a liminal space, neither here nor there.
In the chrysalis state the caterpillar is an ocean of goo preparing to form into the butterfly. In that state so much can happen.
When I was in that state, I was processing through so many lifetimes of wounds and developing or deepening the practices of resiliency that I mentioned above.
I had to have faith and surrender to that period of uncertainty around love and relationships that occurred for me for more than a year. I had to have faith that it would yield something new, that it would result in yet another rebirth that would serve me well.
When I was ready, I let the universe know that I was ready for love again and that I was ready for the light and joy that such a connection could bring. Lo and behold, it came to me in the most unexpected of ways. Even through difficulty and conflict, love continues to transform me, to teach me, to offer me new iterations of myself that are ever more open, more vulnerable, and more powerful.
Finding Healing Through Community
Though practices like meditation, prayer, and spiritual, holistic, or traditional healing can help us to process through suffering and help suffering to pass with more speed and ease, the truth of the matter is that suffering still exists; it is part of being human. It happens to all of us.
Like Chiron, the wounded healer, I know that my personal struggles make me uniquely qualified to help those with similar struggles, to see their struggles with humanity and compassion, and to know that I can help them overcome because I am doing it too.
My motto for the rest of 2018 and into 2019 is, “No white-knuckling it!” I can’t do this work alone.
This motto means asking for help, even when it feels scary, even when I feel shame about it, even when I think I can’t afford it.
I am so grateful to find myself amongst beloved community in the Healers of Color Movement. I truly believe that we are sparking a revolution by creating space for healers to focus on self-love, self-care, healing and the honing and growth of our skills and practice.
Follow him on Instagram
Follow him on Facebook