Recently, I’ve been working on healing and releasing some really old stuff. It’s been confusing, mysterious, overwhelming and honestly, even though I’ve been trying to work with it consciously, it’s been feeling pretty stuck.

Or at least, it was feeling pretty stuck; I was trying to work with it using all of my tools, and the more stuck it seemed, the harder I worked, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. It seemed like the pattern, the energy, the emotions were just too confusing, too mysterious, too uncomfortable, too painful, and too old to shift.

Then, in the middle of my struggle, I asked The Universe for help. Soon after, I felt a wave of relief come over me as I remembered, for like the billionth time in my life, that it’s not my job to heal myself. Or anyone else, for that matter.

It’s not my job because I. can’t. heal. squat.

The forces that restore me to wholeness, that help me to see clearly, that relax me back into my center – those forces that heal me – are much bigger and wiser than me (and by “me” I mean my ego). Any and all healing that I receive comes from a much bigger place, and it comes in it’s own time and in it’s own way.

Once I remembered that I’m not responsible for healing myself, I started feeling a lot better. Phew!

If we don’t heal ourselves, if healing is something that just happens, then I guess I can go relax on the couch and eat my organic locally sourced small-batch potato chips now!

Hooray!

Okay. I’m kidding. I do love potato chips, but of course there is more to it than that:

These larger forces that heal us – God, or The Universe or Our Higher Selves or whatever you want to call them, give us an opportunity to participate in our healing process. So we could go sit on the couch, or we could decide to participate, and if we do we can end up creating some pretty amazing stuff.

Our participation on our own healing is really all about intention. I know, intention is such a new age buzzword these days, sometimes I even roll my eyes at myself when I use it.

Nevertheless, it’s a really important concept in healing.

An Intention, if you think about it, is really just a consolidation of energy. Particularly, the energy of desire. When I intend something, I am desiring it.

In many of the old spiritual traditions, desire is considered sacred, because it’s the spark of all creation. Think about it; if I really want something, I’m a lot more likely to go try and create it. But if I don’t want it, or if I’m not sure that I want it, then, well…

So we enter into a co-creative process with The Universe by consolidating the energy of our desire. In this case, we bring a desire to heal. We bring an intention.

Of course, even though healing is what I am intending to do, I don’t actually have to “do” anything.

When I have a cut on my finger, I might put on a bandaid, but that’s about it. There is some kind of wisdom that moves through me and actually heals the cut. I don’t sit there, stare at my finger intensely and say, “heal, cut!”. I just put the bandaid on and go about my day, knowing that it will heal in good time.

This wisdom that heals me is not something that I have to earn, or figure out, or make happen.

You could call it Grace.

I was in a healing session with one of my mentors recently, and after some old energy had cleared we were both looking at the energy that was still present, and I kept noticing something out of the corner of my (third) eye, but I couldn’t quite make it out. It kept coming and going; I could barely get a glimpse. I asked my mentor to help me read it.

She could see it clearly, and informed me that it was an energy that was showing up to help me. She described it in detail, and as she did I was able to see it more easily for myself. Once I could see it, I was able to relax and let it in. As I did, I experienced amazing clarity and relief.

My only job was to relax and let it in. Of course, that was pretty hard to do until I could see it.

The ancient traditions say that we are constantly being offered Grace. They say that it’s all around us, all of the time. They say that we are all, in fact, swimming in a sea of this medicine. We exist in an ocean of unconditional love.

Our challenge then, is not to make healing happen, but rather to open ourselves to what is already present.

This is not always easy however. In my session with my mentor, I could BARELY see the healing energy that was available to me in that moment.

This is certainly where it was handy for me to have another set of eyes on the situation. The people we call healers, as well as our friends and family, can often help us to see the Grace that surrounds us.

Seeing Grace is also something that we can practice.

We can practice by remembering that Grace is always there. When we are feeling disconnected from it, we can practice feeling how our grief and pain and loss are actually expressions of love (albeit, not the fun ones). We can practice noticing how the situations and challenges that we face teach us exactly what we need to know and provide us with opportunities to love more deeply.

I hope that I don’t sound too PollyAnna here. I’m not promoting a kind of thinking that just whitewashes our experiences and says “oh, well, we’re always being offered Grace, so it’s all okay!” No way. Life is hard and we feel pain that is very real. This is not about eschewing our pain, but rather about understanding it in a larger context.

This isn’t easy because pain naturally makes us want to contract, and to close down. It’s okay to contract. (Even our contractions can be a form of Grace).

It can be hard to see Grace when we are in a contracted state, but like most things, it does get easier with practice.

It’s also good to remember that even if we can’t catch a little glimpse of Grace, it can be enough just to hold on to the intention of seeing it.

Once we can see it, or even just hold the intention of seeing it, it becomes a little easier to let it in.

Sometimes.

Sometimes, it can be hard to receive the Grace that is present, even when we can see it. Especially when we are in pain, or in that state of contraction that comes from pain. Like the ground that can’t receive the rain because it’s just too dry, sometimes we are just too contracted to receive the healing that is being offered to us. And like I said, that’s really okay. It’s not a good idea to try and pry ourselves open with crowbars.

Rather, we come back around to this idea of intention. We can intend to receive Grace. We can hold the possibility that we could open to it. We can trust that it will happen in its’ own time, and we can breathe and soften into the moment. Then, little by little, like a flower opening to the sun, we can unfold.

So as I continue to work with these old patterns, this is what I’m practicing: remembering that I am always being offered Grace, trying to see it in my life where I can, and opening myself to it as much as I can.

To open to Grace is to allow, and to forgive. It’s to soften around my contractions, and to take a leap of faith. It’s to remember that The Universe is on my side. It’s to allow Life to love me.

I should mention that most of the time, the Grace that’s being offered doesn’t come in the form that I wanted or might have expected; I wanted some big dramatic revelation, but instead I got little insights. I wanted an uncomfortable feeling to go away, but instead it went away but then came back again in a different form.

Sometimes the medicine that the Universe is offering me is obvious, like when my herbalist told me to try taking some Oregon Grape Root, but sometimes it’s unexpected, like when my partner asked me to dance with him in the living room in our pajamas after dinner last night. (I almost said no. Which would have been fine, but I’m glad I was able to open myself to that one, because it ended up being very healing!)

The sufi poet Hafiz says “You have so many gifts, still unopened from your birthday.” I love that line. Healing really is about opening ourselves. Opening to grace. Opening to love. Opening our gifts.

 

So Many Gifts

There are so many gifts
Still unopened from your birthday,
there are so many hand-crafted presents
that have been sent to you by God.

The Beloved does not mind repeating,
“Everything I have is also yours.”

Please forgive Hafiz and the Friend
if we break into a sweet laughter
when your heart complains of being thirsty
when ages ago
every cell in your soul
capsized forever
into this infinite golden sea.

Indeed,
a lover’s pain is like holding one’s breath
too long
in the middle of a vital performance,
in the middle of one of Creation’s favourite
songs.

Indeed, a lover’s pain is this sleeping,
this sleeping,
when God just rolled over and gave you
such a big good-morning kiss!

There are so many gifts, my dear,
still unopened from your birthday.

O, there are so many hand-crafted presents
that have been sent to your life
from God.

                                                                              — Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky