I am sure that many of you have found yourself on a healing and spiritual path because of experiences of pain and suffering. As I have shared many times, I have been there. In fact, there is a strong belief out there in many religious and spiritual circles that we incarnate in physical form precisely to learn and grow through suffering. Indeed, the great Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote a book in the late 19th century titled Notes from the Underground. It is a treatise on the idea that great spiritual redemption can arise out of evil actions, including murder (which the protagonist perpetrates before he goes to prison and finds God.
No doubt, it’s true that great wisdom and soul force can emerge out of even the most extreme traumas, whether we are the victim or perpetrator.
Yet, what if I were to say that you can learn from love, too? Or maybe instead of from pain?
Do you feel this statement like a shockwave in your body-mind? Are you skeptical? Curious? Do you long for it to be true? Do you even dare to believe it?
I talk and write often about how we can end violence through love. This is not a new message. The great peacemaker, M.K. Gandhi famously said it himself: “Wherever there are jars, wherever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love…..The law of love will work, just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not.”
Like me, I am sure you have struggled with what this really means. What does it really mean to learn through love? And what does it mean for your life….for mine? For the world?
I want to deal here first and foremost with what this means in action in your daily life. I like to bring things down to earth, so to speak. You can hold dear very high -fallutin concepts and ideas, but they ultimately mean nothing if they are not brought down into the personal circle of experience. You need to bring it down deep into your bones.
Over 15 years, I have heard so many stories of trauma. Occasionally, some of them are hair-raising. They go so far beyond what we might consider within the range of “normal” (erroneously, because there is no assault on our sovereignty as human beings that is ever truly so), that there is only one framework to put them in: “evil.” I have also seen and supported many people heal their wounds and transform them into love and light.
Now, when you experience a trauma—whether a single event or prolonged neglect, abandonment, or abuse—you can lose your connection to the unconditional source of love that is within, through and around you. In shamanism, this is called “soul loss.” Then, you can get caught in a cycle of chaos as your life seems to careen from one stressful and painful even to another. This also happens in families through generations. So, your soul loss may not be only personal; it may be transgenerational.
Yet, I assure you, the force of love truly exists. It is inside and all around you. It has been there with you since before and after your birth. And it will be there when you die. You are truly, unconditionally loved. You are love itself in human form.
And love, when you touch into it, know it, feel it—it really does teach you. It heals and helps you grow. The greatest riches and wisdom can arise out of love.
The first key step in healing from trauma is to rebuild goodness and love inside of us. This then gives us the necessary inner conditions to further our recovery from cycles of conflict, trauma, and pain.
I like to keep these things very simple. When you have long been caught in a pain-learning cycle, you usually can’t take massive steps any more than you can plant a seed in a little pot and have it become a towering tree overnight (although, there are many stories of such miracles of love conquering all pain all at once…more on that later).
When you are hurting, there is an incredible tenderness and sensitivity that requires honoring. If you have been staring down the Rabbit Hole of suffering for so long, baby steps must be taken to wrench your attention away and cause you to turn towards sources of love. In fact, you may not realize it because you have so long worn the veil of forgetfulness that love is really right there—so close, it is like breathing!
Where to start?
I love Mother Earth. I always have. Since I was a young child, I found solace and peace out in nature.
Instinctually, I knew love was there.
Yes, Mother Earth loves you. She is an abundant source of unconditional love. Just look around you: there is the beauty of the sky, the waves of the ocean, the wildflowers along a river trail. There is the sweetness of a gentle rain and the glorious energy of the sunlight on your skin. There is the gracious arc of a swan’s neck and the glowing stars of the fireflies on a summer’s night.
As you begin to lift up your head—even for just a moment or two—from the darkness of that Rabbit Hole, you are inviting Mother Earth to remind you of the love that is always there. To do so can take effort, indeed. I know. When you are caught in a cyclone of pain in your body, mind, and heart, it can feel like a powerful undertow. Or like you are caught, helpless, in a spider’s web waiting for death to come.
But it is important to do it. Lift your eyes up and look at the bark on a tree. Touch it with your hands. Send your love to the tree. Notice the patterns. Listen to the sound of the river water and feel the freshness of it in the air. Give a breath of gratitude to the river and the tree.
I get it that this seems simplistic. I also know that sometimes it takes much more to pull you out of the Rabbit Hole than just smelling a flower.
Mother Earth has other tools up her sleeves! Do not despair!
Earth-based ceremonies are yet another way to open the doorways of the psyche and soul to an endless source of love within, through and around All That Is. When you call upon the elements of earth, air, fire, and water to assist you in shamanic ceremonies of light, they will respond out of love. So will the animals. The mountains. The trees. And Mother Earth. They have so much love to give and want to partner with you to build the force of love within you. Why? Because Mother Earth needs you to know and feel her pure love so that you will be able to learn to live in harmony and balance with her and all her children.
When you know love, you learn and grow. Look at children; when they are loved and cherished deeply by their parents, family, and community, their creative life force cannot be held back. They are the very embodiment of joy. They know, through the love of others, self-love.
This is why I call the spiritual path I walk and teach Awakened Heart Shamanism. This pathway of spirit and light creates the conditions to learn through love. And once you have touched into that natural wellspring, you will return to it over and over as you rebuild the love that has always been there—within you.
It was never lost, only forgotten.
If you would like to experience an Awakened Heart shamanic ceremony, click here to get access to my free mini-course, Shamanic Flower-Water Ceremonies to Heal and Cleanse your Chakras and Light Body.