Shamanic Healing

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Emotional Poles - Love


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Love as an emotional energy is very powerful, obviously, but it is also one of the most abused of the four emotional energies we operate from in life.  The problems come from our conception of love that we are taught in cultural contexts.  So let's take romantic love to start with as a topic, since I think that is the one that most interests people when we talk about it as an energy.

There is a misconception that shamans are either incapable of, or detached from, the energy of love - which is not true at all.  They simply move into and with it from a much different place as they do with all the emotional energies, preferring to deal with them on archetypal levels as opposed to the self-centered, self-pitying levels most people operate from.  This is what makes it so difficult for people who are in love relationships with those that pursue this path.  They lose the control that love means to them as their partner moves to a different way of perceiving and using that energy.  This is incredibly frightening to them.  The first things that pop up is paranoia, then anger, then the "you don't pay any attention or talk to me anymore" speech.  A love relationship with another person not shamanically inclined is difficult but not impossible.

As the shaman connects with energy on a deeper, more fluid level, their ability to 'love' actually grows tremendously, but it is also unfettered by ownership - by the issue of "what is love doing for me," and in juxtaposition, "what is my partner doing for me".  This is a terrible place for the average person to be in when they look at how their relationship is changing.  There doesn't seem to be anything to hold onto, nothing to grasp in ways that allow them to feel secure, and generally everything goes to crap.

Shamans use energy in specific ways - love is no different.  Just as they can use anger, they can use love in the same ways.  The expression of that energy can bring a person who has an illness that they are determined to keep or hide to a point where they can allow it to be healed as a response to that energy.  A shaman can wield 'love' the same way they can wield anger, or fear, or sadness - these are all energies, and basic ones to human nature.

The acid test for the shamanic, however, is that you have to be able to look at something you truly love - a person especially - and be willing to love them enough to let them go - without in the end loving them any less.  If you can't do that, you aren't using the energy in a shamanic way.

The dangers of shamanic love come from other people mostly, from their misunderstanding since they come from a place where love is a selfish thing rather than an open, fluid energy.  Handling this energy this way is going to cause you to be accused of being aloof, cold, even cruel, but you really are not - you feel the pain of that loss more than other people, but you are also willing to make that sacrifice and not look back.  Most people enter into love relationships with expectations of what that relationship is going to do for them.  They may not see that consciously, but it's there and is the basis for most relationships.  The problem with it in the shamanic is that one partner becomes more fluid and moves in their position, so suddenly the other feels as though they aren't being satisfied.  It usually isn't a conscious-level, thought-out process, but it's there and creates problems.

Could you expound more upon the 'going to crap' part?

You, as a student of the shamanic, move to a different place, and the person you're with, or trying to be with, can't move with you, so obviously there has to be something wrong with you.  Sound familiar?  Each person who is in the shamanic, or bent that way, has some aspect of that in his or her energy that will usually surface early in life.  What starts, then, is the suspicion, the accusations, the coldness, and before you know it, arguments that can't be solved, etc., until, finally, the relationship ends.  The problem is that you have to find that person with whom you can be completely honest about who and what you are and they are okay with that, and that, as they say, ain't easy.

What if the person doesn't want to let go?

When people won't let you go, they are insisting you fulfill an expectation based on their concept of love.  They can use that to create a prison from which you can find it very hard to break out.  I would suggest just being very compassionate, but direct.  If they are being abusive, then dump them, and recap the heck out of every minute you spent with them to break that bond.

I have let go and let go and let go, but its still there.

Remember when I said you let go without loving them any less?  Well, that stays.  You can lessen the pain over time with recapping and with distance, but it will, in some measure, always remain because you love larger than normal people.  You know, I kid sometimes about my ex-wife, but in reality I don't love her any less now than when I married her.  It's just that I have let go.

Actually, this issue has been crippling me for most of my life - so how do you make the most of the situation?

You have to find that right person - and they are out there, believe me, just as weird as you.  Human beings want to be loved; it's the loving back that gets to be the problem.  Most relationships are a series of compromises; shamanic ones seldom are.  I think what you're really asking is, "When will I know if I've found that person this will work with?"  It will be like two powerful magnets on a wet tabletop.

So, it seems to have a real relationship with someone not on the same path is quite difficult? Especially since they won't be able to move or grow with us on this path right? So in essence wouldn't it be better to have a so-called relationship with someone on the same path or not have one at all?

On the same path would be better, yes.  Or at least, someone who is able to allow you to be who you are without trying to either control it or deny it.  I know it's easy to look at people and say, well, if they could just do this, or adjust to that, it would work, but it won't, people don't adjust that way.  However, it's not impossible.  It would help to be open and up front about it with whomever you meet.  That's one of the problems I see in people on the shamanic - they tend to hide it from people, which is okay in a sense of self-preservation, but if it's someone that calls out to you to be loved by you, honesty will work a lot better.  It's tough to just say, "Hey, I'm crazy and I can prove it, still wanna take a chance?"

People seem to try to turn romance into something it's not - or relationships in general.

People are not separate in the world from each other.  We don't like being alone at elemental levels, and in the shamanic, we truly appreciate how alone we really are just as human beings, so love and relationships are both ways to share a vision and a way of not feeling so alone.  But in the end, the shaman knows that they will always be alone and lives with that.  A lot of people are in love with the idea of being in love, or if you've ever whistled the wedding march, but lost the sheet music, then you understand it can also be driven by the need to be physically close with another human being, as well.

If a shamanic relationship isn't a series of compromises, what is it?

Have you ever seen theatrical flash paper?  It's a relationship that makes you stronger, makes working together possible and creates even more energy for movement.  Usually, a shamanic relationship creates power by agreement and action.

This would be unspoken agreement and action?

No, usually it's spoken right out loud.  It's a working relationship, but not a controlling relationship.

I can understand that, but I don't understand how there wouldn't be any compromise.

Well, usually compromises in relationships start around expectations, so in shamanic relationships agreements are set, but not compromises, because each realizes that asking for compromise ties you to outcome for the other person for which you can't be realistically responsible.

How does the detachment you talk about compare with the detachment that a person learns when in codependency counseling?

In counseling, you still expected some outcome from the detachment, right?

The only outcome I expected was to be able to cope - to break the cycle I was in.

This detachment is different.  In front of you exist all the possible choices, options and directions for action, but you are only acting as an impassionate observer in that; making choices based on totally non-emotional criteria.  You aren't doing it purely to cope, but also not doing it not to cope.  It's just bigger.  I understand what you're saying, and it isn't a bad way to look at it, but in the same sense detachment also has to be a part of compassion, love, anger, all of these things.  It may seem emotionally controlling in some way, but in reality you are only dealing with your own energy and not throwing it up on everyone else to deal with.

For instance, when you look at an addiction that affects you, it is very easy to get personally involved emotionally in how to deal with that.  But on a shamanic level, all we care about is dealing with the addiction itself in the person who is suffering with it.

I would define total detachment as that starting point from which you must fluidly move in order to bring all your personal power to bear to affect whatever you are trying to affect.

What does detached self-love feel like?  And how can you possibly say who you are until you've recapped it all?

It's being at peace with who you are and who you may become; its understanding that even though you are a small part of a scheme you can't perceive, that it's okay - you still count as much as you are able to with what you have.  Yes, you'll have to recap it all before you really understand who you are under all those layers, but it will happen.

We talk a lot about how anger, fear, and sadness all work together where does love fit into that group?

Love is interesting in that it fits into the mix, just like the others.  We do things because we love someone and are afraid we'll lose them, or we love something and become angry if it's threatened.  Love is in there with all the rest.  You can never leave love out of the mix.

A person might have fear in her childhood, but love mixed with it as well.  It all becomes too complicated to sort out in the mind.  That's why the recap is there to help clear out the mess.  We are creatures of infinite emotional range.

So love is another healing tool, would you agree the preferable one?

Yes, it's a better energy to use I think, but it really depends on the situation, whatever mixture is going to serve your intent.

Why not just focus on developing that skill then, love as a tool?

Because love only covers a quarter of the emotional energy available to us.  And besides, if someone is in a rage, love is probably not going to be the answer, at least not at first.  Without the balance of all of them, you won't be very fluid, and that won't serve you.