Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Big Hearts - Sherpas Showing Up for Pain

Sherpa - a member of the Tibetan people living on the high southern slopes of the Himalayas in eastern Nepal and known for providing support for foreign trekkers and mountain climbers. (from Merriam-Webster on-line) 

Sonnenschein - German for sunshine.  (Reverso on-line dictionary)

(This 2009 Musing came to mind this morning.  As I sat down to repost it, I happened to look up Sonnenschein and discover it's German for sunshine.) 

2009- For over a year, I’ve pondered the concept of playing with pain and how to honor and feel the sorrows that flow through me and my life in a way that’s light and less heavy while not diminishing what I’m feeling.
As a therapist who encourages clients to create community with whom to share, my ponderings haven’t taken me past the pages of my journal. My internal community has been stumped regarding the possibility of playing with pain until recently.
During an impromptu road trip, I heard myself confiding the idea with a friend. Although this was a trusted friend, my sudden sharing wasn’t planned. I’m uncertain now what even caused me to blurt out my closely held thoughts and feelings other than we both have been navigating layers of loss, past and present. My friend affirmed the topic merited further thought as we pulled into Hohenwald, TN to partake of the Sonnenschein Festival, a yearly event promoting environmental consciousness and other local causes like the nearby Elephant Sanctuary and Summertown's Farm.

The first thing that caught my attention wasn’t an elephant or the environment, but a local tv station’s mascot. Snowbird, looking a bit alien in the near 100 degree weather, roamed the crowd. We quickly took advantage of this photo op.
This was one of many laughs that day, yet the one I remember most occurred at a table where three men sat, promoting learning opportunities with Gaia University. One of the men began to explain the process he uses to help people unload emotions. My friend and I, both therapists, jokingly said we thought there was a potential business in what he described. We created an imaginal business card that read: 

 “Got Baggage? We’ll Carry It. Emotional Sherpas for hire.”
Later I realized the profundity of that unexpected interaction.  Pain is lessened as we’re emotional sherpas for one another, not co-dependently thinking we must fix the other, but through showing up and listening, practicing presence as we trek through life together.  

Why is it so hard to call someone and say, “I’m in pain.” I'm an adventurer in travel but this level of sharing involves being vulnerable in a way I'm unaccustomed.  This involved being willing to traverse the space between me and another human being. I was afraid.   

Most of us hold pain closely, so closely it gets left in the dark of our insides never exposed to Sun's light or the heart's light. How beautiful this simple yet profound interaction occurred at a festival named for Sunshine? 
Thanks to my friend who sincerely held my idea and feelings as I took a risk, a bridge was created without and within, between her and me and inside me as we trekked between pain and play for the rest of the day.  
Imagine the shift if we became aware of the opportunities that surround us to be sherpas for one another. Imagine the shift if we took the risk to show up, practice presence and share our insides. 

December 18, 2012 - And then there are times when we as a collective are invited to show up and practice presence because an event is forced upon us so to speak.  This happened on 9/11 and has occurred again in light of the loss in Newtown.  After last week's shooting, I am even more convinced of the necessity of our being sherpas for one another and our human kin.  This event offers a stunning, beautiful opportunity for those of us of great heart to hold the sorrow and pain of the many affected.  May all of us of Big Heart consciously allow sorrow to flow through us, our personal sorrow as well as the sorrow of others.  

-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 28 June 2009 and 18 Dec. 2012

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