Cultural, Spiritual and Social Wounding

 

At the heart of my work is awe at how complicated, resilient and amazingly unknowable we human beings are. When we don't know our own selves and act with little consciousness, we can cause tremendous harm to ourselves and others. When our unconscious reveals to us whatever gifts and wounds had previously been silenced, lost or minimized in our own lives, as well as the lives of our ancestors and cultures, we can come to harness our powers, talents and capacities, and learn how to tolerate, honor and even embrace that in us which is limited, difficult or undeveloped.

Over nearly twenty years of listening to people's suffering I have found that people often come in to therapy "carrying" the psychological and spiritual wounds of others; those others are often ancestors who have suffered violence, oppression, war, immigration, racism, discrimination, religious oppression, poverty or other forms of collective and personal suffering. Others are painfully and sensitively attuned to the current collective suffering of communities, animals, the earth and our environment. This "carrying" of pain that is bigger than the individual can heartbreakingly overwhelm a person's mind and heart, produce frightening dreams or fantasy-images, create a sense of overwhelming despair or helplessness, or on the other side create an exaggerated sense of responsibility and capacity.

In this kind of work, it is important to patiently and respectfully wait for the untold stories to emerge; stories not only of the personal past, but also the stories of ancestors and the greater culture. Stories of one's homeland, kin and familiars, whether animal or human. Of what has been lost or forgotten in the recesses of childhood or family lore. Sometimes these stories emerge in explicit memory, sometimes in dream-images or in other forms of imaginal expression.

As you come to know more fully who you are, who and where you come from, it can also become clearer towards what greater center of wholeness and fullness you are developing. You can gradually shed the pieces that don't belong with you simply because they are too large for any one person to carry, and to answer the calling of your own life to carry, hold and cherish what is meaningful to you and truly yours.