I recently returned from a trip to the coast with my partner. We were lucky enough to spend a week together enjoying the best that city life had to offer in terms of music, food, and company.
(so basically we drank mind-blowing coffee, went sailing, and got a little bit drunk and giddy with friends every day. Nice times.)
....We also somehow managed to sneak out just before the hazy apocalyptic skies made their way into Vancouver, thankfully. Kinda crazy looking horizons there today, as a result of the fires that have started all over the province in the last couple days. Let us all pray for rain..
I feel reinvigorated after a visit to the urban domains of society, given our removed and sometimes isolated-feeling locale up here. It is a pleasure to eat in a restaurant where you don't know everyone (or even anyone), to see and hear things you have not seen nor heard before, and to be creatively stimulated by people living their lives in a somewhat louder fashion than what often occurs in small town life.
Not that it's better there--I certainly am happy with my overall life quality in this neck of the woods--but that it's just so good for the brain and heart to feel and experience new things. Millions of people doing millions of unexpected and interesting things..
I like to be stretched out of what has become familiar.
I know that the human life needs this.
But on top of consuming delicious coffee made by new and talented hands ( let's all just take a minute for the glory of Fernwood Coffee please?) and staring at the awesome clothing choices people make, my experiences were stretched on this trip in a planned but still utterly unexpected way, as I fortunate enough to spend a morning with a Haida healer and teacher in Victoria named Doug Wilson.
I came across Doug through mutual friends and family who had seen him. Last fall we finally connected and had a couple appointments to discuss my present and future as a healer and dream walker (his forte, apparently, and something latent yet growing in my practice), and then spoke about me becoming his student when I returned from South America in the New Year. However, he became busy with his family as they were suffering from many illnesses, and I was going through my own personal stuff and business busyness, so it has taken until now to reconnect.
Doug told me late last fall that I had a fear in me that had been with me almost all my life--my primordial fear--and that I had to work on getting it out so that I could live my role as a healer (and human) fully.
He suggested that I had done a lot of work already on getting closer to the 'heart' of my fear, which made me feel better, because honestly I don't feel like I'm a fearful person in the least compared to the state I have existed in for most of my life. Not to mention that it has been a fairly arduous last ten years to even get to THIS point, and so I was feeling a little disappointed that so much more had to be done. Hello, ego..
He said that it was just that the root of my fear--the very starting point of it--had to be pulled out, like a taproot that kept regrowing from tiny bits of remnant pieces. Like the last remaining yet potentially strongest cells of a tumor.
His suggestion on how to do this was for me to sit in the middle of the woods by myself until I just gave it up, Indian-stye. Vision-quest style. To get so scared that I just totally caved.
But, come on...who really wants to do that? At that particular time the idea of it didn't seem all that appealing to me (it was winter), or at all possible: I was quite certain I would die of a heart attack out of pure anxiety sooner than I would relinquish this dark passenger who has been with me for so long.
And so I asked if we could meet in person and have him work on my blockages at some point (as I do for other people in my practice) and he obliged. Sitting in a rather dark basement suite in Victoria this week I had him attempt to pull that dark thing out of the recesses of my being. I arrived with the hope that it would be gone forever....and leaving with a greater sense of how strong and heavy such a fear can be.
Because the thing is I'm not just talking about any regular fear here.
This apparently isn't the fear that people might laugh at you when you're performing on stage, or if someone might turn you down (even brutally turn you down) when you approach them with interest. This isn't the fear that you are being stalked in a forest while alone, or even the fear that comes with wondering if the people you love really feel the same about you, or if you life will work out well. Those are all fringe results of this fear--the echoes and extrapolations of its core self-- but this fear is what all those ones are trying to convince you they are.
It's hard to put this fear into words because when I really get down to feeling it it doesn't feel like "fear" at all (in terms of what I described above), but more like a void. Emptiness. This void is a total lack of mental activity. This void is a lack of reasons, reasoning, wondering, worrying, figuring. This void is total emptiness and lack of separation of my self from all that is.
...so why would I be afraid of that, I wonder?
Well, I'm not, but my ego--my hurt self and shadow shell--certainly is. The ego wants nothing more than for me to stay fearful, not because it is an evil thing with a desire to reduce my potential out of spite or revenge but because that is the practice it has long engaged in to protect me from being hurt. It is a simple thing with simple motives, and it holds onto the fear that I--and all things around me--are not perfect and never can be perfect, because then I will not be disappointed with the way things turn out, right? It holds onto the idea that I am separate and somehow at war or odds with all things around me, and holds my self definition as solid and meaningful, telling me that if I was to let go of it, if I was to fall into that void completely, I would be annihilated.
And so this lack of form, this void: this is death.
Death of separation, death of a singular personal identity. This is the death that is required for me to really go beyond my personal limitations and understand the Shamanic path, the death that leads to a rebirth into Spirit. A death that results in being born again, free.
Okay, enough rambling, as you're probably wondering by now how this all went, huh? I shall skip to the good part cause this is getting long:
Basically, Doug didn't pull my fear out. I wouldn't let him.
I felt it coming up out of the center of my chest like the roaring engine of some vintage, super-scary train in the middle of the night, and I was standing right in the middle of the tracks unable to move and he was telling me that I had to let it go right through me. And I couldn't do it.
And then I felt it like a confusing yet best friend--we all get attached to our fear--who had done nothing but hurt me but I couldn't ever imagine letting them go because they had always been there, unaware as I was as to what I could possibly fill that hole with, and what I would face if I wasn't paying attention to that pain all the time.
Doug tried for nearly an hour to convince me to relax into it, to just breathe through it, and while there was certainly movement and a crazy kind of sickening catharsis that forced me to leave the room so I wouldn't scream or cry or do everything all at once, it's still in there.
And I'm okay with that. I didn't expect it to go completely on the first go, despite how nice that would have been. Perhaps it's just not the time yet, and perhaps I have yet to understand some part of this fear in a way that I will allow me to assist other people better. There is a particular kind of beauty in the 'lessening' of something, a teaching in what it feels like to heal that is far more common and generally effective than so-called quantum leaps of release and transformation. There's a lot to be said for the slow integration of learning lessons.
I am changed in a way that I don't think I fully understand yet, but receive glimpses of as my mental chatter is approximately 22% more focused on this mantra since returning home: How can I be of more help?
These words showed up last year sometime and have been increasing in repetition and focus since then, and I love them. I love that my head is filled nearly all of the time now with thoughts of service and contribution, attempting as best as I can to be helpful and healing to everyone that I meet. I don't accomplish this all the time as the fear is still coloring my reactions and interactions, but I know that the direction I'm heading is a beautiful one. The delight that is to be had in a mind which seeks only to love more is the true delight of this world.
And so, onwards we go, whittling away at the fear and allowing the natural and ever-present energy of the entire system to fill those spaces left: love, service, compassion, creativity, connection and knowing. This is what is real.