Ten years ago I was visiting my mother in Christchurch New Zealand, when a 6.3 earthquake devastated the central city and killed 185 people.
Mum fell in the earthquake, fractured her pelvis and 5 weeks later she died. It was a surreal time to navigate, like many people I was dealing with a personal crisis, while struggling in our collective healing crisis. It was a shocking heart breaking time. At the same time it was also Heart opening. We were united and levelled by our shared loss of innocence.
It was clear that peoples pre-earthquake states of wellbeing, underpinned their response to this new stressor. Those who were well resourced with vitality, emotional equilibrium, finances and support of their communities, were more able to manage the extreme challenge. Those who were under resourced struggled, and still do, ten years on.
To support the staff at Mum’s village I gave a little workshop on how to settle energy after shock. I was preparing a handout to give them afterwards when Mum suddenly died. I just kept writing at that point, and the story grew to become a book. It was therapy for me, it gave me permission to share what I know about trauma and how to heal and transform through healing crises. God knows I’ve had enough experience!
Before publishing I made the mistake of not listening to myself and instead was influenced by a teacher’s opinion. I wanted to call the book “Befriending Vulnerability, he said it was too confronting. The title I chose was “Opening Up” as though that wasn’t confronting! What I now understand, resourced by the teachings of Brene Brown, is that feeling vulnerable precedes our capacity to open up. In Chinese medicine, which sees the body-mind as one system, vulnerability is connected to our ‘Heart Protector’. If we have had too much Heart hurt in the form of shocks, emotional trauma and Heartbreak, it causes the Heart protector to over-work. When this is happening we tend to keep hurts inside, and we keep ‘up close and personal’ connections out !
Through times of breakdown it’s useful to share what’s going on for us to download emotional-mental stress. Hence why consultation is typically the first part of any healing process. The interesting thing is that deep down we know what we need for ourselves and our stories help make that knowing visible. All people of the world use story telling to share experiences and make sense of life’s events. Speech, singing and storytelling are universal ways we stay connected and share with others, what’s truly meaningful and important.
In Chinese Medicine, speech is the sense associated with the Heart. Telling our stories is a direct line to the Hearts knowing. When we share with others, together we can discover and learn from life’s universal lessons. Sharing what’s in our Hearts helps us to integrate our life lessons, expand our awareness, and learn to trust our inner guidance. Learning to pay attention to what we know deep in our Hearts, helps us to grow and evolve with our life lessons.
To be seen and heard as we go through life’s events, tests and challenges, supports us to change our attitudes, upgrade our beliefs and Self identity. The simple practice of listening to others, without opinions or judgments is powerful way to contribute to the healing of others around us. Connecting at Heart level is one of the best feelings in the world. It is the natural way of being of innocent children. This original state of pure being is present when we tune in to the goodness, truth and beauty of life. It is the state of an open Heart, which can be lost through heart break and closing down.
When hard stuff happens to us as individuals and as a collective, there is an old outworn tendency to shut down, hide, and bury our pain as if this would help it to go away. The thing we know from studies of the Heart, is that the Heart is the one muscle in the body with tissue that doesn’t renew, hence it has a lifelong memory.
At times of anniversaries, and/or when we are triggered by new Heartbreaks the Heart remembers, it is a cellular memory. At these times we can feel with greater intensity. We may feel pain, separate from everyone else, isolated, disconnected, vulnerable, ashamed for everything that we could have done differently. At times of anniversaries, intense physical and emotional sensations, and fragments of memory can come flooding up. It can be overwhelming at an individual level, crippling at the collective level.
At this time of breakdown, where things we once relied on for stability are being pulled apart and shredded, we would do well to remember that the power of LOVE to heal, is second to none. It may seem like there is nothing we can do to change our situation and yet small adjustments in behaviour, drive the biggest changes. Everyday expressions of love such as kindness, respect, generosity, altruism, gratitude, patience, gentleness, benevolence and compassion can help us navigate strange times. This is ‘LOVE in action’ and can take us through the tunnel from breakdown to breakthrough. Waking up to our inner power can help us all heal and transform through this time.
Love is the inner sensation of the Heart, and when Heart-centered we feel deeply connected to ourselves, and each other. What we now know from the Scientific research of the Heart Math Institute is that the electro-magnetic field of the Heart is 60 X stronger than the brain. When someone is Heart awake and Heart aware, we feel good in their presence. The research shows the vibes of the Heart can be measured up to several feet away. That good feeling vibe we all know is commonly called LOVE.
In the Sufi tradition there is a saying “Oh break my Heart and do it again and again so I can love even more”. In times of healing crises, when things are beyond our control we can easily feel disempowered like there’s nothing we can do. The poet saint Kabir reminds us “Wherever you are is the entry point”. We are all vulnerable in this strange new time and showing up for others, is one of the most powerful ways we can contribute to the collective breakthrough. As we start to listen to the knowing of our Hearts, we will recognise we don’t have to wait for the circumstances to be ideal to open our Hearts and let our love flow.
Love is the universal medicine that all living things respond to, which is easy to see in everyday life. Love is the subject of our books, coffee time conversations, our songs, stories, poems and movies. The beautiful thing about love is that it graces the receiver and the giver. In this time of prevailing chaos and confusion it is good to remember “Love conquers all” and we can all contribute to the healing and transformation needed. As a healing tonic I suggest show up and show yourself and others a bit more love through this time. Do your own research, try it and see what changes.