I recently taught my first retreat in 3 ½ years. I am deeply grateful to the amazing group that came to share it with me. I can honestly say that they rebirthed me as much as they did themselves. I wasn’t prepared for such a personal journey to unfold. Healing is always mutual, it is never about someone on a pedestal preaching down to those below, but equally, the teacher is the space holder and as such I don’t really expect my own transitions to occur so potently in the middle of teaching.
I felt shaky on the first day, which is perhaps understandable after such a long break from formal teaching but is also unusual for me because the teaching seat has always been an easy space for me to occupy – it has always felt natural and fluid. On the second day I began to find my groove, to remember myself. Mid way through a scriptural reading something in me began to crack, I began to feel as though I was not the one reading but as though I was being read to, that Grace was speaking both through me and to me simultaneously.
After the group left the session I fell to my knees and shattered. I felt all of the pain of the years past spill forward in me. I sobbed and wailed. I let it emerge from deep within me. I gave my pain to the heaven that is ever present and allowed my heart to ache for how much I have missed my sense of connection with the divine energies of life. I gave myself back. I surrendered myself once again to the Dharmic current, fully, completely. I let the last remaining fragments of old Indra die. And I emerged - tender, tired and raw, but very much alive - more alive then I have felt in some time.
This is what I repeatedly notice occur when we allow the tensions of life to break us - we are able to humbly bow out of our own way and the cracks in our contracted consciousness (ego) allow new life to pour forth. I have a faint glimmer of how life may wish to use me going forward – but only time may tell and I pray can stay soft enough to allow it to do so.
We must cultivate a friendly relationship with death, for without doing so we remain stuck in outgrown incarnations of ourselves. And if we want to become masters of dying, we surely must learn how to grieve deeply.
I have been meeting my grief this morning. Jason is away in Spain for a few days for work and just glimpsing the bricks of the walls at the airport on a video call brought tides of sadness rushing in. Spain was home for 17 years – my whole adult life. I never thought I would leave, until I did. Just like that, overnight, I knew we were going. And so we did, we packed up and 8 weeks later on boxing day just over a year ago, we were gone. Spain feels like the ex that you know you can no longer be with, but don’t particularly want to bump in to in the supermarket. I know its over – but I don’t always feel ready to be faced with the memories and the love that lives on. Its not that I want to go back – there’s nothing to go back to, its over – but the grief is real and ongoing and I expect it will continue to come for a long time in waves and layers.
It is so clear to me that a vibrant life is made up of a million moments like these. I was stuck in Spain – stagnant. But it was comfortable. Oh so comfortable. To thrive I think we have to be willing to take enormous leaps of faith, to shake things up and jailbreak ourselves outside of our comfort zone at the moment that life pulses us to do so in ways that are often jarring and unexpected. I think that we hold the keys to our own freedom but that most of us are afraid to escape the prison of our imagined limitations – because the spaciousness of endless possibility is terrifying.
Its not about constantly craving change. In fact if we are someone who runs often and struggles to commit to anything or anywhere, then we might want to play with the discomfort of staying still for a time and break free from the need to obsessively move. Running is a trauma response – the unresolved need to flee something intolerable from our past that lives on in our present. But … so are freezing, indecision, the sense of being stuck and the inability to make change.
So we have to learn to dance our edge compassionately. It isn’t about trying to bully ourselves out of behaviours derived from painful past learning – but it is about conceding to our innermost selves when its time for change and allowing that inner or outing shedding to occur in spite of what fear may rise and try to hold us back.
It is never not painful to peel off your skin. It is never not painful to die or to allow death to occur. It is never not painful to walk away from things, people, places, or versions of yourself that you loved or still love. But it is often necessary. So my paradoxical prayer is that your life is filled with death and the pain of change, because I know that if it is, you are living fully. I pray that you will learn how to not suffer your pain but ride it gracefully and courageously, accepting it as just another of life’s wild and sacred currents. I pray that you will be bold, brave and unrelenting in your search for radical freedom and your own innermost Truth.
To learn more about Aimee's upcoming Medicine Buddha Retreat or learn more about her work jump across to www.aimeerai.com