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Our Stories Are Sacred

By Lisa Meuser.  

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”  Rumi

I gently breathe in this quote. It has taken me a long time to know Rumi’s words. Most of my life I hid and denied my wounds, concealing them not only from others but also from myself. I repeatedly and systematically attempted to suppress, re-write, and/or rebuff the stories of my life experiences. This started when I was young.  I made excuses for and reframed others’ unhealthy and abusive behaviors. I learned to keep secrets to keep the peace.  Over time, I innocently abandoned myself as I learned to pretend that “all was well.”

I know I’m not alone in this. The majority of people express that they’ve had a great childhood. And yet, after a few questions, it is clear that what they are choosing to remember is coming from an act of self-preservation: it can be difficult to face the reality of our lived stories when we’ve denied them our whole lives.  We often prefer the story of “all was well”, even when it means we have to splinter ourselves to maintain that story.

While many of us always had a roof over our heads, food to eat, and clothing to wear, our more basic and fundamental needs such as emotional guidance and heart connection may not have been tended to. From the outside, I had an ideal childhood. And yet no one in my family was emotionally available or willing to really hear my stories, and after a while I disconnected from my experiences, from my stories, and made myself invisible as a way to cope. Maybe you too were a caretaker of others’ stories, as it was too hard to be with your own?

As I grew older I was bombarded with various social, political and spiritual messages that encouraged me to further forget about the past, and focus on the positive. Common phrases used in our culture include: “don’t dwell on the past”, “let bygones be bygones”, “look to the bright side”, and “be here now.”  Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that those phrases don’t have some wisdom sprinkled through them. But when we hold onto those mottos so fiercely that we aren’t allowed to be with our experiences, we violate ourselves. Over, and over, and over.

Would it be an act of loving kindness to tell a young toddler who has scraped their knee to “get over it”, or “just focus on the present!”, or look to the bright side of the experience? No. A kind heart would console, support, love, and guide a toddler through their pain, through their accident, all the way to the “other side”- however that may look.  A loving approach would ideally allow for the child to retell the story as many times as necessary, until it felt complete for them. We’d empathize. We’d listen. We’d help tend to the wound. We’d support them until they were ready to return to the playground. And they likely would. We’ve probably all seen that when a child is held and heard, they quickly resume playing, their needs having been met.

And yet what we often do with ourselves is pretend our scraped knees aren’t scraped (or that our hearts aren’t breaking). We often pretend that everything is just fine, and then to add insult to injury we judge ourselves when our hearts continue to be broken – which we then take as proof that “we’re broken.”

In my direct experience, it is never that we are truly broken[1]. I have never met a client who is broken. Rather, it is the way that we’ve learned to connect ourselves that is broken (and we can see how this is a cultural imprint, as culture does not connect with the wellbeing of mind/body/spirit, and instead often does the opposite).

Of course the way we’ve learned to connect with ourselves is broken! Most of us didn’t live in households that provided the level of emotional care, nurturance and guidance that we needed, so we never learned directly, or indirectly what true love and care was.

Even though we’re adults now, the need for a kind and loving response, the space to tell our story, and our needs to be heard and supported, haven’t gone away. They may have gone underground, or been buried, but our biological need for connection and love remain.

Shame kept my stories hidden, from myself and from others, and I see this with almost all my clients.  What I also see is immense freedom when people feel safe enough to honestly connect to their stories – to their actual lived experiences instead of the pretend life they held onto in their minds. This freedom multiplies when they feel safe to share their stories out loud in a safe container.

Repression is oppressive, and oppression is traumatizing. Telling our stories has the opposite effect. Telling our stories, first to ourselves, and then to another, has a liberating influence that leaves one feeling a sense of real empowerment – maybe for the first time in our lives.

Naming our stories to ourselves is deep work. It takes time, because it’s counter-intuitive based on all the strategies we’ve learned to keep silent. Naming and then believing our own stories takes courage. It takes time to develop the safety to be in our truth, after giving it away for so long.  For me, being heard by someone I trusted was an immensely important part of that. I was so used to doubting myself, that I needed a trusted guide to support me as the stories met the light of day, outside of the realms of my mind.

This is why we know it is crucial that as we heal from our wounds, we find safe spaces and safe people who listen to and believe in our stories – to our sacred, lived experiences. This produces a beautiful fertile ground “for the Light to come in.”

Find safe spaces. Find safe people. Your stories are the hallowed ground of your being.  When you find a safe person or group to share in, consider honoring your stories by connecting with what you need as your story is shared.[2] Our sacredness doesn’t need to be fixed, and yet a fixing paradigm is very common in our culture.  You may want to let your listener know that you don’t want your story to be treated as something to be fixed or changed, and instead received, as if your listener is being given a gift – because they are.

When stories are free to live in the light of day, something unanticipated often happens. As we release what we had been resisting all our lives, as we allow the stories to live and breathe, the stories themselves start to disintegrate. But this time it is from Love, not from denial.  This will happen on its own, although it’s often counterintuitive. I’ve found that the process can be supported and then integrated  through the guidance of an embodied somatic therapist, facilitator or guide.

I have experienced – directly and in my relationships with my clients – the immense freedom that comes when stories and wounds are allowed, named, spoken, expressed, and felt.  It is something far beyond what the linear mind understands, and births a sense of empowerment that is known from  being. Neuropathways shift, one’s sense of safety in the world changes, and relationships with life are transformed. Possibilities we couldn’t even imagine reveal themselves.[3]

It has taken my whole life to fully understand that that wounds and their corresponding stories are truly sacred. These days I experience wounds, and the stories of wounds, as sacred, grace filled, and also as the way Home.  I will be leading a deepening course this spring that will provide safety to explore our sacred stories. Please contact me to learn more.

I leave you with a poem I wrote after being given a prompt “If we could write a tomorrow which is wider than wounds we have worn”. Much love to you, as you share your sacred stories, on your way Home.

 

Stories Return Us Home

If I could write a tomorrow,
it would be wider than but include the wounds we have worn…
it would include my wounds,
it would announce my wounds,
it would put my wounds on display so that others too
could include, announce and
display their wounds,
as we move into tomorrow.

If I could write of a tomorrow,
it would have less denial, less hiding, less pretending…
By naming and sharing our wounds,
we would weave something so bountifully amazing,
taking us wider than the wounds we have ever worn.

If I could write a tomorrow,
I would use my wounds
and all that I have learned,
to springboard into creating a world where
community and connection is paramount,
from birth to death,
woven into the very ways we value the
ways we spend our days
and deeper into the way we view
our very selves.

If I could write a tomorrow,
humans would not be commodities
or things.
Worth would not be earned but known.
Sharing would be common place and
love would be given,
not bought or sold in the guise of
consumerism and exploitive capitalism.

This may be my soap box, but it doesn’t feel like an
impossible dream.
When I
slow down
and
take a look
towards pain and suffering.

I look at it in the eye,
feel pain burrow into the
caverns of my heart.
As I do
something widens
and deepens.
Something called Love

takes it all,
filling me with a sweetness of now that
exists at the very same time as
sorrow, sometimes in the very same place.
Reminding me another way is
indeed possible.

I write of another way…
where we know and
live knowing that,
in our shared plight of
being human,
there is Love.
The joy, mystery, pain, and
beauty of
being human.

I write of
lessons
being learned from the
wounds of yesterday.
Creating an amazing
tomorrow to be a part of.
I commit

to staying with
these wounds, honoring these wounds,
taking responsibility for these wounds,
and the wounds that my foremothers and forefathers
were born from,
have created,
which birthed me
and which I have birthed.

I write of a now,
inviting all to share
unique dreams and unique pains.
To share without needing to fix or problem solve
but to celebrate.
A recognition that each
story is sacred and powerful
in its very essence,
as we return Home.

To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.

 

[1] And yet, I honor the phrase “broken hearted”.  The sense of the heart being broken references the wound of which Rumi writes, and is, in my experience, our ticket home in the telling of our stories.

[2] You might, for example, ask your listener;  “please just listen,” or “please validate what you’ve heard,” or “please say you believe me,” or “please hug me when I’m done.”

[3] “Every time you tell your story and someone else who cares bears witness to it, you turn off the body’s stress responses, flipping off toxic stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine and flipping on relaxation responses that release healing hormones like oxytocindopamine, nitric oxide, and endorphins. When we tell our stories and others bear witness, the notion that we are disconnected beings suffering alone dissolves under the weight of evidence that this whole concept is merely an illusion.” – Lissa Rankin

The Bliss of Infinite Patience

By Scott Kiloby.  

I now sit in bliss

A bliss that is built into the very fabric of my being

How this bliss came about is almost too unbelievable to explain

It defies the usual rules and understandings of society

While others were running away from the pain and discomfort in their bodies

I was sitting with mine, letting it come fully into the space of present awareness

While others were medicating their emotions and sensations

I was bathing in mine – naked and vulnerable

While others were chasing or following their bliss, I stayed with pain

As they passed me, I asked them, “Did you find your bliss yet?”

Mostly they would say, “no,” and then continue on their path

I did not follow that path

I sat down on the road, exactly where I was, refusing to move

I desired no bliss at all, instead I desired only my pain

I desired only what is

The pain oscillated from extremely excruciating to mildly annoying

I let those descriptions burn up in the fire of presence so that I could feel the pain more deeply, without the overlay of labels

I sat with infinite patience, in wordless wonder, and without expectation

I watched a million others pass me by, headed down the road, chasing the prospect of a future bliss that would eradicate their pain

Many of them seemed to find a bliss in worldly things, only to find that it was temporary

They would become weary again and would keep moving down the same path trying to recapture it over and over

I questioned why I was just sitting here many times

The answer came as a very quiet, intuitive voice. It simply said, “Sit with infinite patience.”

As I sat, I let every emotion and sensation be as it is, welcoming it more and more

The more painful it became, the more I loved it

Every now and then, I had to take a reprieve from this pain, for I am human like everyone else

I had to indulge and run from my pain like everyone else does

I did this to survive, like everyone else does

When shame, guilt and self-judgment arose out of the act of indulgence, I let those stories burn up in the fire too

Each time I returned to the pain and discomfort of my body, I returned with infinite patience

I desired the pain and discomfort of my body to stay

I made a home for it

I loved it absolutely and without reservation from a place of pure silence

I uttered very few words to it, so that I could fully hear what it had to say

I let it speak and then I just listened and observed, letting its song be heard and then vanish into thin air, line by line

In the rare moments of speaking to my pain, I simply asked . . .

“When were you created?”

“Where does this hurt come from?”

“What are you protecting?”

Those words evoked stories which then burned up in the light

Each time my body became more painful or more uncomfortable

I went more deeply and more silently into it, trying to keep the pain and discomfort there through pure observation

Each time I felt the desire to resist or reject it, I loved the pain instead, and then loved the resistance and rejection of it

It spoke for years

It had a long story to tell – about childhood rejection, not being loved, not being good enough, not feeling safe, needing to protect itself

As each story burned up, I nurtured the sensation of pain as if it were my very own child

I sat with it for literally hours on end, never leaving its side

I did this while others were out in the world, finding ways to avoid their pain

I had the thought, “Am I missing something out in the world?”

That thought burned up too

I let my pain move freely and uninterruptedly within the stillness of the moment, with only the desire for it to be exactly as it is

And then there was a dawning . . .

A rebirth in which I realized that my pain and discomfort were gone

Like children that had been loved and nurtured for years, the pain and discomfort left the nest

They transmuted into presence

Now I sit in bliss

And I shall never follow the rules of society again

I shall never run from my pain and discomfort again

If I do run from my pain and discomfort, I shall be perfectly kind and loving to myself

I shall indulge in that reprieve and in those pleasures fully, letting any shame, guilt or self-judgment come fully into the light

I shall return with infinite patience

For my self, my body and the world move more freely now within this infinite patience

The limitations of self, body and the world vanish in this

Creativity flourishes here

Love and joy are natural here

No one could have told me that this infinite patience would have paid off in this way

I wouldn’t have believed it because it defies all human understanding

It goes against everything I have learned

I know the truth of this not because I was persuaded by others and not because I followed society’s way

I know this truth not by following all the others who were running away or chasing their bliss

I know this truth only by trusting this inner intuitive voice that said, “sit with infinite patience.”

I know this truth simply because it is my own experience

And nothing is more trustworthy than that.

This post is republished from the previous Living Inquiries website