Every person in this world is in the process of waking up spiritually. Everyone; there are no exceptions. Of course we each wake up at different times, under various circumstances, and at various speeds. This does not appear to be fair, because there are those who have sudden revelations and awaken very rapidly and seemingly without stress; yet there are others who keep “hitting the snooze” button on their wakefulness and slumbering; and even others who try valiantly to remain awake and yet get hooked in again and again.
We are all on this journey. Therefore one of the best things to remember is to have compassion and kindness to others who appear to be so asleep or so totally unaware that they appear to have lost their divine spark. They haven’t of course, they can’t of course, but it can appear that way. Dealing with others who appear to be asleep to their inner truth is always challenging, particularly when this occurs in within families or within close relationships.
If we are to live the shaman life, we have to recognise that we are always on duty to the world, and to those around us. The shaman transforms. The shaman opens doors to healing from other spiritual realms and offers us all the highest guidance. This is always challenging, but during the holidays when families who do not see each other much during the year, gather, such as during Christmas time.
During the holidays we gather with our families to bless and celebrate the Christed energy. It is a time of celebrating the christ child within us all and becoming aware of the love that bonds us all. And yet so often these gatherings can be anything but holy and loving. We may find ourselves in a large room of family members who may have been a source of personal suffering for many years. This often includes childhood traumas and more. In many cases they are totally unaware of any pain you may be carrying from their actions during your childhood or early adolescence. They may even tease you about these wounds, or negate them with humour. This can and often does hurt, no matter how much work you have done on healing those wounds.
So often we fall into one of two errors. One is to react with anger, bitterness and accusations and create our own little drama by storming out of the room, slamming the door and going home to eat a cold sandwich alone. Usually within seconds, we realize that we have just opened up those old wounds and have definitely left the spiritual realm of wakefulness. Then we have to deal with our inner guilt, or feeling stupid, foolish and a dozen other things. Hopefully, we recognise that the first step is to forgive ourselves for forgetting ourselves, and then get back on the horse and via journal work, or other methods, get back into healing, quick-smart!
The other common error is to try to awaken or educate these same loved ones by pointing out how much they hurt us, but now we are spiritual, we have forgiven them for these horrendous “sins.” This “holier than thou” approach rarely works, because it is based on them being “wrong” and you being “right!” If we use reason, we can talk ourselves into thinking that because the healing journey has helped us become happier and more content, then surely it would do the same for the loved ones. We can even fool ourselves into thinking it is our life purpose to heal and save them! While this appears to make sense it can in fact be a cover for our own lack of inner certainty which may include fearing that we really haven’t healed much after all.
Instead of reacting, try to remain awake in the moment. If you do, you will soon learn how much healing has been achieved (or not!) When we sit down to dinner with those loved ones we find that Uncle, Mother or Father begin to make a few snide remarks about the crystal you are wearing or the lifestyle choice you are living, or make remarks such as “when are you going to get a real job?” Instead of reacting or defending, sit quietly and feel into yourself. Is that wounded child awakening within you? Are you suddenly defending yourself? Or are you grinning and bearing it, with a fixed smile as tears well up in your eyes and a lump swells in your throat?
If you can stay conscious and self-loving at this moment, breathing deeply, and simply acknowledging where you are at, you will see that you have been just given a wonderful and amazing gift. This is the gift of self knowing and with that you can embrace any inner work you need to do.
It often said that it is easy to be a holy-man while you live in isolation in an ashram or on top of a beautiful mountain. It is a whole other experience remaining holy, centred and loving whilst in the midst of your family!
The key that has helped me is to stay present, stay loving but try not to offer them any advice or insights (unless they ask me directly!) Staying awake and loving helps you become the “sacred witness.”
This terminology is used in all spiritual pathways. It simply means that we step back, internally, and quietly observe the heart beating faster, the tears welling in the eyes, the hands sweating, the body shivering and shaking; and know that this is not real. It is a reaction to something you once believed you deserved. It is your history and it is coming up to be released, healed, forgiven and blessed.
We all have emotional hooks and when triggered they will pull us back into old dynamics. Unhealed, these dynamics cause us to fall back to sleep and forget who we really are. A hook can be an old memory but often simply family patterns of behaviour. We may not see them in our own family but find them easy to see in other families. If you can identify your personal hooks, you can also consciously choose to stay off those topics, but if someone else brings them up, you can consciously choose not to be hooked. Take a deep breath, go for a walk, or do whatever it takes to stay off the hook.
And do not hook anyone else, because whether you acknowledge it or not, you too have your little methods of controlling your family. You know exactly how to make your Dad angry and you know what topics set off Auntie. We all know their buttons and we all know how to press them. We have used these methods, when we were spiritually asleep, to stay safe and in control. We have used them to gain a sense of power or even revenge. The awakened ones no longer need to get reactions out of others. What would happen if you just let those you love and care about off the hook?
The fact is that most of us leave childhood with unfulfilled emotional needs and many of us continue to look to our parents or siblings for the fulfilment of those emotional needs long after childhood. When you look to any family member for approval, appreciation or acknowledgement, you set yourself, and them, up for disappointment. In order to stay awake, it is vital that you stop expecting others to meet your emotional needs and instead turn to the source of all. Only with this connection will you feel at peace, supported and loved.
If you are an adult and you are still seeking your dad’s approval, for example, you are likely entangled in a dynamic that keeps you both asleep. To become conscious of this dynamic would release your dad from needing him to give or display approval. You invariably find, strangely enough, that when you do release you actually will receive his approval. It happens the very minute you no longer “need” it! When we are awake we receive all from spirit and no longer manipulate, control, cajole or expect others to do it for us! This is true liberation.
When you negatively react to a family member because you believe he or she “hasn’t changed” or “doesn’t get it,”you immediately go back to spiritual sleep. You cannot adversely react to another without lowering your personal vibration. You “join” the level of the one which you judge. Usually we react because we recognize something in someone else that we resist in ourselves. By identifying the real issue in us, we access an opportunity for self-healing.
Every time we have hidden or gave expectations of others, we create conflict in the relationship. When it comes to our primary family, these expectations are usually childhood based and even though we are no longer children, we maintain these expectations. The expectations unconsciously run our lives, by negatively affecting our behaviour. Releasing expectations is like unlocking the prison door from the inside.
Responsibility is often used as a tool of manipulation and control within families. The word simply means the ability to respond but the key is knowing what response to offer. Your response, or lack of, is your gift. You can support old dysfunctional patterns or you can support healing.
The key, at least for me, is to bring it back to myself and ask questions such as “why am I so upset?” or “I am here to be helpful, how do I do that?” So often we know exactly what to do with a “stranger” or a friend, but families have a whole set of unique dynamics. So often families apply gentle, and often not so gentle, pressure to step up and “save” another family member from the difficulty they face. A prime example is addiction. So many of us these days have an addict in the family, and given the pressure of life, it is hardly surprising. Yet the gift our addicted sibling/child/parent offers us, is to lovingly and gently support their spirit whilst denying or blocking the addiction. We can feel that the addicted family member is a nuisance. Just when everything was healing in the family, now we have this! If we can step back from that and recognise that this person is manifesting\reflecting an unhealed state within ourselves and within the family. They are carrying it from the unconscious to be blatantly “in your face” conscious. What you have denied is being expressed by this loved one. This is why it is so hard with someone you love and may have happy childhood memories of. Once they were a freckle-faced cherub and now they are a scared, emaciated, unwashed, smelly drug addict. This is a huge challenge and not one that can be easily overcome. However, it is a journey and it begins with acceptance of the gift being offered to you.
Because we want what is best for those we love, we often disguise judgment in the form of caring. But judgment is not caring. No matter how much you love someone, you really don’t know what is best for them. You also cannot expect others to learn from your mistakes, so don’t impose your self-judgment onto them. Judgment is the quickest way to separate us and create friction. Keep your advice to yourself, and trust that the same source that woke you up will awaken those you love.
Most families have some form a power struggle operating between family members. A great deal of the discord occurs in the playing-out of this power struggle. If you are still struggling for power in your family, this is where you are still asleep. The good news is, only one person needs to give up the power struggle for the power struggle to end. You overcome the power struggle by owning your power and not giving it to anyone or trying to get it from anyone.
Live in the Present
You cannot be awake and living in the past at the same time. If you find yourself dealing with past issues in your family, it is only because these past issues are not resolved personally for you. When past issues come up, it is your opportunity to wake up and heal them.
Releasing the past and dealing with areas of your life where you are still asleep requires some level of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean that you condone another’s behaviour; it means you now see it differently and can rise above the issue.
It can be so easy to focus on the things that annoy us about each other, but there are just as many things to appreciate about each other. When your intention is appreciation of those you love, your attention is automatically directed to all the things that you can appreciate in the family and the world. Change your focus. As you watch Uncle go through his list of complaints about the world, admire his curly hair, admire his courage, find something to admire in him. Praise your Auntie’s pie even if you have eaten it a thousand times before. Focus on the good things you inherited from them, even if it is only a good set of strong teeth! Appreciation is our inner guide.
Allow them to be as they are..
You don’t really need to accept anything about anyone else. In fact, when we force ourselves to accept others, there is always an element of non-acceptance that we are fighting against. So instead allow others to be as they are. It’s like allowing the sun to rise and set. There is nothing you can do about it even if you wanted to. By allowing others to be who they are without trying to change them, resistance is dropped and the energy between the two of you clears – bringing you both to a higher level of connection. As you do this, all judgement disappears.
Like so many, I had a difficult relationship with my parents until I realized they would never change and that they did not need to. Now all that is left is my appreciation and gratitude.
You don’t need to make a speech at the dinner table. You don’t even need to whisper it to them. Just do it. Change your attitude and you will suddenly find that, once the tension has gone, that healing sweeps in to take its place.
This is the secret magic wand. Suddenly the wand sweeps through the whole family and washes away all the tension. I realized I had failed to recognize that my judgment of them was keeping them both asleep in my consciousness. The only one who had to wake up was me.
When all else fails, simply let go. Let go of all your opinions, fears, judgments, past baggage and everything else that weighs you down. By universally letting go of everything, you are left with being present in the now. When you are present in the now, you are awake, and then it doesn’t matter what anyone does or says. It is all harmoniously perfect.
Invite to join you.. silently
It is human tendency to meet people “where they are.” If someone is displaying anger we quickly match their energy, even if we are in resistance to it. As they shout, we shout back that they should just calm down! We match it. However, when you make a conscious choice to remain in contact with your heart and not react, no matter what your eyes see, you remain in power. When others show up in lower states, try not to meet them by reacting, judging or even trying to change them by “cheering them up!” Not because this is bad, but because this is judgement! Instead remain where you are and invite them up to join you by using love and maintaining your vision of their higher self. It doesn’t always work, and when it doesn’t do not feel defeated. Instead recognise that at least you didn’t join them! You have remained awake, aware and connected and that will have made a different to them at some level. In other words, you did not put your energy into the negative expression, but stayed in your higher awareness of love.
When you consistently, and daily stay in integrity with who you really are, eventually you will reach an energetic threshold, where most of the people in your world match your high vibration. This is the manifestation of living in the awakened state. This is, I believe, our greatest gift to those we love and to the world. This is the ultimate “life purpose” that supersedes all others. Yes, you may be here to be a painter or a healer, but if you fail in this regard, you become a lesser healer and a lesser painter. This is the daily practice of mastery and who knows, maybe one day I will get it right too!
This Article is part of a forthcoming book focusing on Shamanic healing practices. Much as we all know about the drum, the sweat lodge and other ceremonies, in the end I learned that true healing comes from the healed mind. I realize now, so many years after I studied and trained with traditional people, that it was their focus on seeing the person who came to them as healed and whole that made the difference.
If you can change your focus. If you can will yourself to see a clearer, more universal picture of those around you, and the world, the world and everyone will change. Only the dedicated shaman can do this, so the question to ask yourself is, am I dedicated to healing my life, the lives of all around me and the world. If the answer is yes, then you need to apply yourself to healing your own life first.