The older I get and longer I live, I notice that from my soul's perspective the essence of my life's lessons can be narrowed down to a sacred handful of potent life teaching moments, experiences and passages.
In the Peruvian Q'ero Shamanic tradition I was trained in, I learned to associate this soul perspective as an aspect of wisdom medicine from Hummingbird, Siwarkente, the joy bringer. Hummingbird teaches us how to engage fully with life and drink deeply of the nectar of life, learning how to receive the "nectar" even from those life experiences which caused us the greatest suffering.
I often love to invite my clients and students to share their life story with me from the perspective of their soul. How would you tell your life story from the perspective of life being a profound, exquisite and often ruthlessly true response to the very lessons and learning you actually took birth to receive?
It can be an especially beautiful, powerful (and sometimes provocative and triggering) exercise for those of us who have felt victimized in any way by our lives... and many of us who in fact truly were victims, in one way or another.
I've worked with countless people who were sexually and/or physically and verbally abused as children, by trusted elders, relatives, teachers, caretakers. I've worked with several people who were raped -- both women and men. I've worked with many people who were forced to become intimate with the tragic influence of illness and death, alcoholism and drug addiction, sometimes from the time they were within the womb. I've worked with people who have survived the horrific loss of their own children, or the loss of their parents or siblings when they were children.
And so to find the "medicine story," as I like to call it (the medicine that came from our experience), we look at our life story from the perspective of imagining our unique life's unfolding as the perfect response to exactly what we somehow needed to learn in this lifetime, in order to receive from life what we were born to receive.
To do this we need to look at our life experiences through a very special lens, (especially the really challenging experiences, moments or passages that worked us the most deeply, that traumatized us, broke our hearts, humbled or even hobbled us) and somehow stretch to glean the gems, the sacred gifts received, to see what they taught us, brought us, in a way that nothing else quite could have.
Such a shift happened in my own heart's life, my own stance, stride, embodiment, and capacity for service, when I stopped telling my life story in a way of feeling somehow sorry for myself, and instead started realizing the wisdom of life's many gifts to me, which has so often taken the form of what I've come to call "divine humbling."
For example: The invaluable gifts I received as a child, very sick with meningitis at 18 months old, suffering countless invasive medical procedures, and the many years of neurological challenges that followed. What a ruthlessly immense gift of compassion I received in being meanly teased as a little girl for my leg braces, for neurological clumsiness, for the humiliating loss of control of my bladder and bowels.
How the deep experience of self-hatred in feeling "broken," betrayed by life and my own body, gave me so much rich and potent material to work with; transforming deep wounds of pain, invasion and shame into sources of power, healing, self-love and empathy.
How the extreme disembodiment and suffering I was granted by dis-ease, was, in time, exactly what I needed to be called in to the body, into life, with great intention and dedication; the courage to study dance and yoga and embrace my body and life with passion and celebration. How the material I was given to work with allowed me to be of that much greater healing service to the people who come to sit with me today.
That's just one of many personal examples of "medicine story" from my own life's inclusion of pain. The rewards that come as we open to the gifts, the actual "nectar" that was unleashed by the wounds we suffered, allows us to feel grateful for this sacred moment, grateful for our own perseverance and courage, grateful for the chance we've been given to learn like this, to be humbled like this; brought to our knees by life again and again and again.
It is a wild life, this human realm, and even for the most privileged, the most supremely blessed of lives, suffering comes, of one kind or another.
Telling our medicine story lightens our load, and in so doing lightens the load of the world, bringing true grace, meaning, beauty and healing to what previously knew only pain.
Love to you, dear reader, and all that you have met, all you continue to meet and stretch to see in new, self-empowering and healing ways -- in service of the lightening of the load in your own sweet heart, and so in the heart of our world.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.