Tools for Transformation

Recently I led a retreat entitled Setting Ourselves FreeOne of the things we did together was write down any obstacles (real or imagined) that you think are interfering with your freedom, healing, well-being or empowerment. 

Hold that image in your mind for a minute: a small group of people sitting in a circle, reflecting quietly to themselves on whatever pebbles, boulders or demons might be blocking their path to freedom. 

Then we created our own sacred container for the slips of paper, a modern altar of sorts, and rather than burn them up or flush them down the toilet, we collected them in a bowl. Some people read aloud what they had written, while others preferred to remain in silence. Once we finished passing the bowl, we blessed them. We infused them with the highest blessing imaginable. 

Marjorie's altar2 


This was a radical act for most of us who have been accustomed to a purging mentality; what I mean by that is that we are usually taught to think that if something isn't working for us, we need to get rid of it, purge it, excise it, exile it. (the typical medical model, isn't it?) It doesn't often occur to us to consider how we might shift our relationship to it, reframe it, or transform it (and ultimately ourselves) using spiritual tools. 

One of my beloved colleagues is a somatic practitioner and massage therapist who has his own version of this practice when he is working with someone on the massage table. He says we all have those places in our bodies where we hold stress, tension, or trauma, the places that ache or hurt when we press on them. While our inclination is to avoid or tiptoe around those hurt, tender places, the healing takes place when we DO press on them carefully, lovingly, skillfully; we massage and soften those hardened places to allow healing to happen.

What obstacles or tender hurt places in your life could use some massaging or blessing? How might you do that?  What resources and supports are already available to you? And if not now, when?

Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XXIX 

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell.  As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.


Rainer Maria Rilke ~

(In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)