I’m writing this to you from the island of Maui.
We’re visiting our dear friend, Bonnie Marsh. Bonnie was the midwife at our son, Aaron’s, birth 26 years ago.
He was born at home in a rainbow painted horse trough filled with water. (Yep, hippy-yogi parents.) Labor began around lunchtime.
All was going, um, swimmingly until Aaron inhaled.
As he left Devi’s body, Aaron inhaled water on his way to the surface and stopped breathing. He bobbed limply into our arms and began to turn blue.
Bonnie went into action placing an oxygen mask on Devi and massaging Aaron’s back and chest. No response.
Dread flowed through my body.
Followed by the thought, “Send blessings.”
As I began to meditate, Bonnie announced, “All babies hate to have their faces washed!” And she rubbed a damp wash cloth roughly across Aaron’s face.
One second, two and then he grimaced.
Aaron pushed the cloth away and let out a angry cry of protest! With his first breath we all began to breathe freely and cry gratefully.
As you may imagine, Aaron had a strong aversion to water. Baths were terrifying.
He would struggle mightily against being immersed.
But, Devi was committed to helping Aaron heal the trauma of his near-drowning.
She was fiercely and lovingly committed to his falling in love with water
She took him to swimming class when he was six-months-old.
It was a slow process. Very slow. But, also very steady.
Month by month (and then year by year) Devi helped Aaron discover not just safety in swimming but the healing power of water.
Water, for Aaron, transformed from a life-threatening symbol into a symbol of life-renewal and healing. Now, 26 years later, he’s a total surfer dude, and yogi, to boot.
But, this isn’t just about Aaron.
We’ve all experienced trauma.
It’s part of the human journey. We’re all:
Wounded and seeking healing.
Tangled in karmic knots and seeking freedom.
Lost in the woods and seeking the path home.
Whether you have conscious memories or not, symbols of trauma are encoded into the cells of your body and the petals of your mind.
One of the great tasks of this life—your magnum opus—is to transform these life-threatening symbols into sources of healing, creativity and life-renewal. This is the heart of your spiritual work.
So, what makes this transformation possible?
Awareness is the transforming agent.
Through the radiant, generative power of awareness itself—fear is transformed into love; confusion into clarity; contraction into creativity.
Awareness does all the heavy lifting. You don’t do the transforming.
You – in your current configuration of consciousness—can’t.
So, what can you do? You can:
Recognize the possibility of transformation.
You’ve done this. You’ve discovered teachings, here and elsewhere. You’ve recognized that what the teachings say is possible—peace, wisdom, awakening—is true.
You’ve recognized, in the teachings, the echo of your own deepest wisdom pointing the way and calling you home. That’s why you’ve found nourishment, solace and strength in the teachings. This is essential but it’s not enough. There’s step to take beyond recognizing.
What’s that step?
Turn toward the places where the fear, doubt, and confusion reside.
Yes—turn toward the life-threatening symbols. Turn towards the places within your psyche that are tangled and terrified. Turn toward those places within your body that contract and clutch.
Turn toward these places with gentleness and fierceness.
Gentleness and fierceness act as channels that allow the radiant, generative power of awareness itself to infuse the fear-symbols, the somatic wounds, the psychic knots, and patterns of emotional reactivity.
Turn toward—it’s easy to say but not so easy to do.
Our conditioning, our memories, our self-protective mechanisms don’t automatically embrace this turning toward process. We need help to turn towards those most vulnerable places within our psyche and our life.
We’re like baby Aaron at the water’s edge. There’s no way we’re gonna turn towards that!!
We need help. What kind of help?
We need help that is both gentle and fierce.
That’s what Devi provided for Aaron. She was gentle—not pushing. She was fierce—not backing away.
She stayed in the sweet spot, opening a channel for awareness itself to do the work.
She supported his soul’s desire for wholeness.
She served his magnum opus—to transform symbols of death into sources of life.
We need Devis in our life.
We need people who will keep us in the sweet spot: to gently and fiercely support our deepest desire. To keep us in the sweet spot so that awareness can perform it’s radiant, generative, transformative work. These people are all around you.
Teachers—formal and informal—abound.
They may not look like what you expect. In fact, they rarely will.
More likely, they’ll be rubbing a wet cloth in your face. It’s not pleasant. But, it does bring you back from the brink. Bow to your teachers.
Welcome to your life.
Author: Eric Klein
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: courtesy of the author