The most powerful medicine is usually hard to swallow. In the shamanic traditions it is known that the medicine that will cure you is borne of the poison that ails you. The transmutation of one to the other is the process of healing which requires the inner courage and journey of the true Hero. Medicines abound – they are borne from the plant, animal, spirit, mineral and mind realms – anything in fact at all, when it is the the ‘right’ thing, can become our medicine, seen through the right lens and received with an open spirit. For we humans, in this modern world, what ails us is most often our sense of ourselves in relation to others, and the broken inner relationships we have formed with ourselves in a family, in a culture, in childhood.
As Robert Ohotto, a great teacher of healing the spirit, notes: “We are wounded in relationship, and therefore must heal in relationship”.
This can be a difficult piece of wisdom, because it is the courage to return again and again to the field of relationship and all of its vulnerability and rawness that can be the most difficult thing in a lifetime to do. Relationships are indeed the sacred crucible in which two human beings can be joined and mended by that process of heartfelt enquiry and commitment to Truth – that process and joining in of itself becoming the primal Third Force which we know is always the sacred driver and container of real transformation.
Yet it’s important to say, that this is where most often I see people falter and lack the courage to truly transform that which is holding them back and continuing to keep them living smaller lives than they really dream of. It’s human, and very understandable, to want to find a way to heal our most shameful and shadowy parts in private, in control of things ourselves. Alone in the privacy of our own shame and fear, and too often with our own perfectionistic or idealistic vision hovering above us and driving us as we go. But it’s actually very hard to heal without the crucible of each other in relationship. We lose an adequate compass when alone, and it’s also true to say that shame, that bedrock of so much suffering, can only really be healed when we have the courage to ‘lose face’ with a trusted other, and discover that we are still whole and intact as the experience moves through. Indeed, it is in daring to truly be ourselves like this, that we discover we are no longer betraying our own selves, and there true self-esteem and an unbreakable strength can be born.
All of the great traditions teach that ‘losing face’, losing false ‘self’ is where the Real is born. This is not to say that only a therapeutic/coaching, or teacher-student relationship can offer this potential. It’s available in all relationships where two parties commit to staying in the field with an overarching dedication to the growth of their real humanity. That can be within a family relationship, a soul-friendship, with a lover, or with a professional where real trust and openness feels safe (though no doubt, not easy). This arena is where we take our greatest risks in life and where we are truly heroic in not abandoning ourselves or each other.
It has to be the right time, and the right person or people. But when it is, don’t falter and turn away. Listen to the inner call of the parts that long for healing and to finally be acknowledged and seen. See if you can do that scariest of things and step forward with your true face no longer hidden. For ultimately it is not in how you are received, but in your own self-receiving and courage, that the healing has already begun.
Wishing you great things, with fierce courage and gentle compassion,
(The lovely hand in this picture belongs to a beautiful, brilliant, and uncommonly Real friend of mine).