Thursday, 18 September 2014

Inner Child and the Sycamore Tree

A while ago I received a general circulation email from someone that I would describe as a light worker. She talked about the importance of honouring the inner child. I usually read emails from other healers/teachers with keen interest because of the helpful views that I often find. However, this time I dismissed the email thinking that I had been there, done that. At a stage when I was excited about upcoming projects but also uncertain and afraid, I felt that I could do with something that would give me courage to make it work and/or practical advice. The last thing I wanted to look at was my emotional well-being, since I believed that I had done enough of it and it was now time for action. Of course, the spirits knew better. I was given what I needed before I knew that I needed it.

As I was preparing to rest before action, some old wounds resurfaced and I found myself in the midst of emotional upheaval. Usually when this happens, I feel worse because I have not mastered the lesson from the last time I dealt with the issue. Few things can be as frustrating as going over the same emotional ground when it feels so unnecessary. My self-talk easily becomes negative and I feel out of control as far as avoiding the same experience in future goes. Burdened with my troubles and afraid that I might feel too vulnerable to put my plans into action, I sought solace under a Sycamore tree.

Tree Medicine:
One of the Oldest Forms of Therapy
A queenly figure, she folded me in her arms. Soon, the noise and busy-ness of the world faded out and I was wrapped in comfort. The gateway to the place within where I access information of the soul opened up and the tree showed me what I needed to heal. I saw people bearing crosses, the kind that one would associate with the Biblical notion of a broken world. I was then taken to an image of a place and events in my childhood. From the perspective in my journey it looked to me like my child self was completely in her own world, unaware of the pain of the grown-ups around her. The message I received was that there is indeed a lot of healing to be done. Patterns of behaviour that bring about pain are passed on from generation to generation and the person who changes it needs only heal the self. In my journey, I could see that the grown-ups around me were sad and fragmented despite their appearance of being in control. To free the child from these patterns, I had to give love and happiness to her no matter what the actions of others. The vision reminded me that people I felt had hurt me in the past had always done their best. To break cycles of pain and anger because of what loved ones could not give me, I had to be kind to myself. In that way I would be more compassionate to others and less critical of their best efforts.

The challenge has been set. Being kind to myself is harder than I expected. A friend I recently met gave me two helpful views. He said: “When you’re ready is none of your business” and “The road to recovery is best taken one day at a time”. While his situation is different from mine, I could definitely use these principles. Since I would like to move away from the need to control everything, I realise that I need to slow down the haste with which I want to make everything work. Moving out of overdrive forces me to deal with the fear that I will not bring myself so far as to do anything worthwhile unless I am hard on myself. I need to remember to bring love to what I do in each day and accept my feelings. If I am too insistent on setting goals and seeing results, I would only perpetuate the performance driven mind-set that I have set out to abandon. The resulting anxiety is best taken with a good measure of kindness and trust.

**With thanks to the Sycamore tree and the people who told me what I needed to hear.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Transformation and the Butterfly

I was introduced to the Rorschach inkblot test during a session with a therapist many years ago. The inkblots are a test of projection in Western psychology used to determine aspects of a patient’s personality. Deviating from its traditional use, the therapist asked me to describe what I saw in each inkblot. She gave me feedback on my internal processes based on the general meaning associated with each card. Looking at one of these cards, I said that I saw a bat. A few seconds later I said that it looked more like a butterfly. She said that my projections reflected aspects of night and day. In working through my darkness, I transformed it into something beautiful. Unsurprisingly, the butterfly again showed up in a reading of Native American medicine cards which someone did for me a few years later. In Native American language, the butterfly offers medicine of transformation.

The stages in the life cycle of a butterfly (egg, caterpillar, pupa and butterfly) show that each form or aspect is appropriate at the time. Only when the time is right will the butterfly change its form – the process cannot be rushed. The caterpillar is already a butterfly at its core (although not yet in form) and the butterfly has the caterpillar in its memory. There is no reason to believe that the butterfly is the ideal or the end goal, because each stage offers the organism what it needs to survive and be itself. Butterfly medicine teaches that when we think of our future dreams, we might want to remember that we are the dream. In continuing on our personal life path, we will reach a stage of full maturity and bright colours. The dream has been planted in our hearts in the same way that the life cycle of the butterfly is programmed into the organism inside the egg. The former versions of ourselves stay inside us as a reminder of the path we have walked and the experience gained.

Possibly the most interesting stage in the life cycle of the butterfly is the pupa. In this stage, the organism transforms inside a protective shell, although no change is visible from the outside. In terms of butterfly medicine applied to personal transformation, this is the often painful and confusing time when inner work has to be done. It may feel like nothing is changing in our outside reality and it could be a time of great frustration if we want to rush the process. In truth it is a time when we are preparing for a more mature phase of existence where our colours and brightness will be on display. We may feel stuck and impatient, but in this stage a protective shell is necessary until we are ready to emerge in a different aspect of ourselves. This can be a time of darkness and confusion, but once the transformation is complete, the shell that provided the darkness becomes waste material that can be cast off. On the other side of darkness, the shell material can be seen to have been an important part of the process even if it is no longer needed. The bits that have been discarded merge with the flow of nature, where it becomes compost for another cycle of life.

Of course we are humans, and our lives are infinitely complicated by the fact that we have brains, egos and conflicting desires. But we can still learn from the wisdom in nature, and butterfly medicine shows the importance of consciously participating in our own transformation while being kind to ourselves through our darkness. The message here is to accept that change will happen when we are ready. Each phase of our journey can be appreciated as a vital part of the whole.