Celebrating the Unbroken in Messy Times – Ya’Acov’s February News
It’s been a full throttle start to the year and it’s going to be continuing as far as my eyes can see. I’ve been away from home now for five weeks bringing our work to the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador, a beautiful community called Terra Mirim in Salvador, Brazil, San Francisco, Port Townsend and Seattle and I will end my tour at the end of this week in Vancouver.
Visiting our Amazonian family and allies in the Achuar and Sapara territories is so strengthening for me. The love we feel for and from friends old and new fuels our resolve to stand with them in their dedication to protect their way of life and the forest itself for all future generations. My heart both soars and aches when I think of the magnificent places and people we visit, the raw nature that is still pristine and unbroken and the knife edge we are walking that threatens their existence.
The deepest truth that I know and adhere to is that life and death are genuinely a great mystery. This means that deep down, I don’t know how any of the great human dramas, evolutions and dreams that we are involved in should actually turn out. I bow daily to the intelligence that is at work here on this earth and throughout this universe that is so vast and unknown. And I recognise more and more that though I am more and more certain about what drives and motivates my own actions and my wish to go on learning in this life, I remain entirely uncertain about about the choices that others need to make. Autonomy is what we are given. And it’s for each of us to decide what exactly to do with the responsibility that brings.
I stand in wonder at the variety of stories that we create as a species. And step by step, I am becoming more conscious of the mechanisms through which I create my perceptions of the world we live in. Having just completed the Phoenix Retreat at the Madrona Institute in Port Townsend, I am acutely aware of the way we manufacture our perception of the world around us according to our past experience. We do this consistently unless we are able to come into the present, be inside our bodies, and be open to the direct experience of what is actually happening now. The deeper I go with this myself, the more I am gaining access to the direct experience of the mystery of life that is everywhere I look and everywhere I don’t. The dance between this awareness and my awareness of what appears to be going on in the world is deeply fascinating to me.
Knowledge of the mystery of life does not lead me towards nihilism. On the contrary, it just allows me to commit more to what feels true to me in the full recognition that I and all of us are collectively dreaming this world into existence through the experiences we have had and the meaning we make from them.
As our healing modalities evolve and our understanding of the results of trans-generational trauma on the people who are living today deepen, I am noticing that those voices that have felt silenced and marginalised are beginning to find ways to make themselves heard. And painful as this process is, it is also such a relief! I am meeting issues of racial bias and gender everywhere I go. And I hear and witness the rage and hurt that is needing to be expressed at the ways in which the dominant story of the time and the culture that we are part of has done (and is doing) so much damage. Naturally, this involves more and more self-enquiry for me and I believe for all of us if we are to move beyond the blame-shame-guilt game that just keeps the spiral of hurt and damage spreading its poison and ultimately, repeating the same cycles that we are trying to heal.
Inevitably, this is going to be messy. Inevitably, we are going to make mistakes, all of us. We, and I speak for myself and Susannah here, have made and do make a lot of mistakes. We realised long ago that an unwillingness to make mistakes means an unwillingness to learn. If, however, everyone who is willing to look for or indeed to own their mistakes is then a target for people who dress their unowned rage in the clothes of political clarity, this will send our collective shadows back underground. And this, in turn, leads to different groups of people being silenced, one after another. The best definition I’ve heard of madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results. And if that’s the case, then we can expect that shaming those willing to stand up and own their shadows and their unconsciousness will only lead to a deepening of the victim-persecutor-rescuer drama. And on and on that will go. We need a different approach.
The more we work, the more we discover that the truth requires a safe space in which to emerge. And in the shaman’s world, it is obvious that we need rituals in order to heal. We need people from different points of view, cultures, experience of gender, ethnicities and points of view to sit and move together in circle and to learn about each other’s experiences. We need courage and patience to deal with the mess that our collective histories have left for us to deal with. In shamanic terms, that mess is all potent, potential energy for transforming our reality here in the present. I know how much courage it takes to face the deep vulnerability of owning my wounds and my mistakes and I know what it takes to speak up and own my experience. And in our workshops, I see so many brave people being willing to do the same
On my travels, I also witness so many people acting out the wounds of their childhood, cultures and ancestors. I notice that when we identify with our wounds, we want those who are unconscious of our experiences to magically know how we feel. We look out at the world as powerless victims and all we see are the powerful persecutors who should know how we feel. And in this immature and magical thinking, we imagine that since they know, they should just stop their behaviour. Simple! Right?
But in the real world, we have to find the maturity to be able to step out of a full-on identification with our hurts. It has always been this way. Brave individuals risk it all by speaking out and daring to share their experience, and in this way, they open a new landscape for us all to evolve in to. And I see this happening simultaneously in so many areas. And I find myself and many others asking: Who are our people? Where did they come from? What were they responsible for? What does that mean for who we are and how we act now?
This is why there is an urgent need for us all to make regular contact with what we call The Unbroken. No matter how deep the wounds and hurts go, even deeper down is the ground of that which remains unbroken in us all. It is this ground that we must put our feet on and it is this ground that Movement Medicine as a practice seeks to give us direct experience of. The unbroken is at the centre and in the heart of everything we do. The unbroken gives us the light with which to see into the dark. And in the dark, that’s where our power to change this dream lies. The SEER and the Phoenix processes are the healing tools we have developed to help us through the caves of our unconscious, one step at a time. They provide the space to express whatever needs expression without dumping old emotion at the feet of people who just happen to be in your line of fire.
The SEER helps us to heal the past, release what is not ours to hold, and call back the potent life force energy that we all have locked in the undigested experiences of the past. The Phoenix Process supports us to get to the roots of our unexamined assumptions or stories about how we are and how life is. It helps us to see and learn to accept that so often, what we experience as adults being done to us is actually what we are unconsciously doing to others. This is not about blame but about responsibility and freedom. Through our connection to the unbroken, we can find the courage, the power, and the faith to release ourselves from the stories of the past so that we can remember who we actually are in the present and in so doing, make our contribution in this world.
We are needed. Each and every one of us. We are needed by the future generations who come to me in my dreams. We are needed by the people of the forest and by the trees and unbroken nature they protect. And if we are to have the chance to evolve our human presence here on this earth into one that is just, sustainable and fulfilled, we are needed by the great mama under our feet to wake up and heal the wounds of the past so that we can live into a new dream here on this earth. And that is my prayer. And that is the prayer that is called Movement Medicine. And that is the prayer that is Engaged Shamanism. And through these prayers, we dedicate our action in this world. May 2018 bring us all into a deeper realisation of who we truly are so that we can we wake up in time to pass something of beauty on and give all that we’ve got whilst our hearts still beat.
I have spoken. YDK. February 2018.