Sunday, April 13, 2008

Re-storying As A Path to Real Healing

I came across this article in a book I have about shamanism. "The Four Insights - Wisdom, Power & Grace of the Earthkeepers" by Alberto Villoldo Ph.D. (He's one of about eight people I call "Ph.D. Shamans.")

"Re-storying" is associated with EFT and other modalities that help us change our beliefs. In energy healing, we need simply to change where we hold our energy, or what we're holding onto, to make incredible healing possible. If a person has been holding onto a negative self-concept, or a negative interpretation of circumstances, often changing their ideas about the meaning of their experience is extremely empowering.

Here, I quote Alberto Villoldo [square parentheses indicate paraphrasing]:

Your story isn't new, it's a replay of what happened to you in your childhood which is a retelling of the same plot you've played-out over the course of many lifetimes. It's the same tale that drew you to the family you were born into because it dove-tailed so well with theirs. It's also the saga you inherited from your father and mother, the one they were unable to heal... then you pass them on to your children... In the Amazon they call these "ancestral curses."

If you want to get rid of your baggage, it's important to honour your ancestors; if you don't they will continue living through you and haunting every endeavor and relationship in your life. But if you respect and celebrate them, no matter how awful their legacy, you can move on... and so can they. You change your ancestral story and break the curse, for them and for your children. You won't feel hurt and angry as you remember that your father walked-out on your family, or cling to the story of how that's the reason you feel you can't trust romantic partners.

Karma runs in families. A cold mother raises a child who becomes a smothering mom, who raises a daughter who as a result of being smothered, doesn't even want children.... Someone has to make a conscious decision to re-write the story...

When we re-write our story, we elevate our ancestors from the gutter, no longer holding them responsible for our lives, and we break the negative legacies they've handed down to us. We let go of stories such as "I'm a neurotic mess because my mother was completely crazy" or "I'm angry and misunderstood, just like my father and his father before him." We're no longer victims of the folly of our ancestors-instead we can honour them and thank them for their gifts, no matter how painful it was to receive them.

Journaling Exercise: Re-Story Your Life

Write two stories. The first is the story you've been telling yourself for many years that begins with, "Once upon a time, the stork dropped off a baby at the wrong house..." Write a narrative of your life visiting details of your parents, siblings, relationships, marriage and the career that didn't work out right. Write it as a fairy tale that happened to someone long ago. Make note of the times that you were the victim, the perpetrator and the rescuer, and who else you cast in these same roles.

When you finish, write the story again, but start off the story, "Once upon a time, the stork dropped off a baby at the right house..." Healing stories explain why events happened exactly as they were supposed to in order to bring you valuable lessons that would take you farther along on your epic journey.

Perhaps you were abused as a child- but this was just what your soul needed for you to learn the lessons about strength and compassion you required, and you chose the perfect home to be dropped off at. (Of course it's terrible to be abused, but remember, what you are writing here is an epic journey of lessons and healing.) Because your parents were abusive you might have learned that those who openly disparage others in an attempt to hurt them are deeply insecure and unhappy, and it has nothing to do with you. Maybe you even found a grain of truth in their words. Or perhaps the lesson you gleaned was that you can accept that you're imperfect, and decide just how much effort you want to make to change, without feeling pressured to "fix" yourself to meet anyone's expectations.

[If you feel uncomfortable writing the story because you haven't mastered the lessons yet, that's OK-write as if you have. You might also want to come back to it again later to put in more observations. When you begin to believe this new tale, it will start to come true. You will have become the storyteller of your own life; as a result, the Universe, recognizing that you have learned your lessons will stop putting you back in the classroom.]

In retelling our stories, we uncover the positive, empowering legacy that we've been given. For example the Laika [Shamans of the Andes] hold the memory of the Conquistador not as a devastating force that destroyed their world (which is the popular view) but as a catalyst for an age in which they would be especially careful to guard and value the [sacred teachings. Because the Wisdom was hidden, it became even more powerful since there would come a time when it would be expressed again and would be able to help the entire human race survive. The Laika believe that without the Conquistador they might have become lazy and complacent and allowed their sacred insights to be forgotten].

Remember that we can only rewrite our stories at the mythic level. [If you have teenagers that will soon go to college, you might have to work long hours to finance it so you can't spend your days painting watercolors (which is what you would prefer). Those are the facts. However, at the level of the sacred, your story might be that you are an artist, that your canvas is the world, and that you touch everyone with colour and life. Own your mythic story. Don't define yourself as your job or as a parent who is putting kids through college- you are a painter and a poet who just happens to have a day job.]

[When you do this, you will find that time will appear for your art. Allow yourself permission to explore who you are. Bravely embrace your many characters, but don't 'become' any of them. Instead, surprise yourself as your many selves come out from where they have been hiding.]

[Of course when you shed your stories, those who are investing in your rubber stamp identity may drift away, unsure of how to relate to the father who has become an activist or the brother who quit his good job to become a world traveler. If you look to others for permission, you will probably be disappointed.]

[We have a hard time embracing the fact that we could be a champion dogsled racer or that we can learn to play base guitar. But when we break away from our limited ideas about who we are it becomes easier to acknowledge the mythic traveler and the poet.]