Reflecting and meditating on this time of Solstice, when the darkest night welcomes the new light, I have sat most of the day with some pain. Not a physical pain but more an emotional one. And yet was also filled with so much Gratitude and Love.
Looking back at this year and what made me grow and change. Often it was the pain that opens my heart for more clarity and wise understanding of self and others. Pain that led me to deeper Love. For my self and for all my relations.
Pain is tricky as the more immediate reaction of the body is to fight or flight. To defend itself with anger. To run away from the painful place. Yet behind this ancient system, the old branch (dorsal) of the vagus nerve, another reaction, slower yet more healing, is the capacity we have to open our heart, re-engage our emotional connection, talk and embrace life. That is the work of the social engagement system, the frontal branch of the vagus nerve, the heart.
Witnessing more and more with myself and my clients, the often opposite play of those two systems, how they run the body sensations, the emotional body and the mental chatter of the mind, it is more and more clear to me that we need the "others" to hack the fall into the danger zone.
With the "others" we have the opportunity to stay connected to what feels painful and yet not being overwhelmed by it. Yet that requires that space to feel safe and not presenting too many similarities with what has caused the trauma.
The trauma is "stuck in time", in the past. So even a new situation, with almost no similarity to what caused the trauma, can trigger our system into an alarm state. A sound. A color. A word. A face. A smell. A behavior. Our ancient animal brain and nervous system are designed to keep us safe at "all cost" including the cost of connection to the others.
So it is hard work to stay engaged. To stay connected to the body. To keep talking. To self-regulate a system that is very easily dysregulated. Drumming, singing, breathing, praying, self-nurturing, are all ways that help to stay connected, present, and safe.
Another layer often strong for those in service is to allow to be witnessed in those states even by those we serve. It is one of the reasons I share all this not only with my loved ones but with all of you. I have too often witnessed spiritual teachers & healers who protect themselves from this vulnerable state of sharing their own pain and struggles, or worst would shame others who are not "as enlighten" or "gets it".
This guard against being seen which creates additional layers of separation and shame. It creates a fake world of separation between spiritual and not-spiritual people. A total illusion.
So we ALL need to connect and share when this happens. And if we want to lead, we need to lead with ALL of what we are. Not because it is what we are supposed to do but more because we have embodied the understanding of the high wisdom of those places of pain and trauma and can offer this compass to others. A compass, not a map.
We also need to embody self-care and self-nurturing. Not only embody our spiritual practices but all our ways of being and feeling. We need to walk the talk especially (or even more!) when nobody is watching or listening.
It is something we have to do for our-self, and also something we can allow our-self to ask support for, so we can learn to receive (there is no way we can genuinely give anything to anyone if we don't know fully how to receive with open hearts and trust). Allowing touch. Allowing love. Allowing being held. Allowing being vulnerable.
Allowing being witnessed as perfectly imperfectly alive.
So Pain changes us. Yes. Love too. Connection to self and to the others is the glue that can bridge both. So we can find the power alone and together to allow, feel, understand and tame those angry tigers.
This time of the year, where Nature dark & light meet each other intimately gives us the opportunity to explore that intimate relationship within ourselves and with "the others".
There are tools. There is support. We are not different. Reach out.