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Musings of an Awakening Spirit

Stories, poetry & general musings of Rebecca Haywood, a modern-day Shaman with a penchant for bringing the divine into the human experience.

Can I Get a Witness?

The spiritual path teaches us to love unconditionally, but what about BEING loved unconditionally?  Though we inherently receive the love we give, there is a distinct power in being witnessed by the eyes of love.  In the loving reflection of another, we have an opportunity to dissolve self-judgement and thus to love ourselves more deeply.  

We may practice self-love and even experience genuine happiness, but often there is at least a piece of ourselves that we keep secreted away.  I call it our shadow.  Whatever we continue to judge as ‘wrong’ or ‘unlovable’  will be cloaked in this shadow, sometimes hidden even from our own awareness.  Inviting a witness into our shadow is a potent source of healing - to unveil ourselves to another, naked and unedited; to dissolve our defenses and allow; to feel our fear and yet to stay.  

I recall one of these moments on my journey.  I had made the decision to embrace my anger, an emotion I often withheld and judged as ‘bad’.  I had been working with it for a couple of weeks and though I was able to give it a voice internally, it still held its breath in the presence of another.  I still held it in shame.  However, I continued to stoke its fire until one day, it could no longer hide.  I let the angry cat out of the bag… all over my poor boyfriend.

He allowed my rant, listening without words and seemingly without reaction.  He held witness like an empty mirror, maintaining a fixed gaze of love until my anger lost its words.  Into that space he whispered “I love your anger”; and when I immediately retreated into apologies, he repeated “I love your anger”, lifting my face in his hands to recapture my flitting gaze.  “I love your fire”, he spoke into my eyes, my anger now rising again in defiance, “I love you.”  

And that was it - the final dagger that burst the shield of my anger and the medicine that returned its fire to balance.  No one had ever loved my anger before, or given it the space to speak and be honored.  In that reflection of non-judgement, I was able to fully embrace my anger and to experience it authentically - without the distortion of shame.  Anger became my ally that day.  Its fire no longer burned, but glowed with the passion of love.  

This is the power of calling in a witness and being brave enough to stand naked in their gaze.  Though the true healing is delivered and sustained by our own self-acceptance, the reflection calls our shame to the surface which is truly the wound of origin.  The anger itself was never flawed but merely distorted and misinterpreted; and this is true of any emotion - they all express love if only we allow them… if only we witness them with love. 

Certainly we can hold witness for ourselves and I encourage it - reflect internally in meditation or do an ‘open-eye’ meditation in front of an actual mirror, but why not bring the flame to the fire?  Ask for a witness.  It may be a lover, a friend, a teacher or perhaps that group retreat you have been considering.  Wherever it may be, step out of the shadow and let the eyes of love work their magic.

Healing Our Wounded Inheritance
Fire Cleansing: Faith in Action

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