Here’s a questioned I got asked recently:
“How can I release the terrible heartache of being totally excluded from my children and grandchildren because I chose not to be vaccinated?”
This is a difficult topic and I hope I can do it justice.
The answer I’ve put together here, with the help of Ron, takes you through a feminine + masculine approach to healing because this encompasses the full spectrum of your human experience. This is based on ALCHEMICAL HEALING, showing you how to embrace inner work as the catalyst for lasting outer change.
I also hope I can speak without bias for to some degree we’re all being asked to re-evaluate our loyalty contracts and patterns of relating, and I’m here also trying to navigate these changes. I get how challenging it is to stay open and connected to your Heart when that same part of you just wants to shut down and avoid feeling the hurt.
It’s hard. Let’s not minimize the pain you may feel if faced with this situation. I feel it too. The relationships we have with our family, and particularly our children and grandchildren, are the relationships where we’re most heavily invested.
This means these relationships are the closest to your Heart and therefore if it feels like you’re in a situation that totally excludes you from accessing these most intimate and heart-felt relationships, there’s going to be heartache because your Heart just wants to love and be loved (see How Trauma affects the Heart & Shen).
So, I want to start with acknowledging the part of you that may be feeling this pain, or any shade along the spectrum of negative human emotion related to the situation: grief, loss, sadness, regret, anger, rage, bitterness, blame, shame, rejection, abandonment etc. It’s all going to be there to some degree because this is what it means to have a human heart.
Therefore, it’s important to give yourself permission to feel what you feel and acknowledge what’s real for you. Your feelings matter. They don’t have to be rational or even fair. In fact, the feeling part of you holding so much charge in this situation is related to your most vulnerable aspect of self, your Inner Feminine (regardless of whether you identify as she, he or they) and whilst it might be uncomfortable to meet the rawness of what you hold here it’s through your willingness to go to these deep places that you can begin the process of letting go.
This is different to staying stuck in your feelings and going in a downward spiral of negative emotion and getting lost there. This is a process of building emotional and mental resilience through times of crisis by consciously working with what you hold in your energetic bodies that you experience as ‘pain’ or ‘suffering’ in order to transform this to ‘power’ or ‘love’ or ‘wisdom’. This is the healing path known as Inner Alchemy.
A Feminine ‘Embodiment’ Approach
Your Heart is the most important aspect of what it means to be human because this is what allows you to feel love, joy, connection. This is the reason why the Heart is referred to as The Empress or Supreme Ruler in Eastern Wisdom and the reason why the first principle of any Chinese Medicine treatment is to calm the Shen. As I mentioned in ‘How Trauma Effects the Shen’, the Shen is the divine flame of your spirit that resides in your Heart. If the Heart or Empress is happy then your whole system can function as an integrated whole.
However, the very same capacity for your Heart to feel these positive human emotions also opens you to experiencing the contrast of negative emotion. Western culture socializes us to block or ignore these negative emotions, but this is like blocking the flow of your own life-force and leads to more pain. Inner Alchemy asks that you be willing to LOVE ALL OF IT, finding liberation from your pain and suffering by unconditional allowance and acceptance for your humanity, darkness and light.
“Rain, after all is only rain: it is not bad weather. So also, pain is only pain; unless we resist it, and then it becomes torment” – the I Ching
This first step is an act of self-compassion. To do this hold your hands over the centre of chest in a gesture of letting your Heart receive your own loving touch and acknowledge what you feel, “Yeah this is hard. Yeah, it hurts. But we’re going to be ok, I’m here for you. I love you.”
This simple act of self-compassion starts the process of healing.
By the way, this isn’t an intellectual exercise. You can’t just read about it; you must do it as an action step. It needs to be a somatic act. You need to bring your mind down to meet the felt experience of your physical body. This is because it’s your physical body that acts as your alchemical laboratory for transforming and releasing what you’re holding in your system. Holding your Heart in this way triggers a feeling state of safety and reassurance in your nervous system and calms the Shen. This helps you stay present, so you don’t disconnect from your Heart and shift to lower vibrational patterns of reactivity in order to protect your vulnerability in this situation.
Through staying in your Heart, finding self-compassion and the ability to self-soothe, you also start the process to sovereignty. This is based on the premise that the only person you can change is yourself. Sovereignty means taking responsibility for everything that’s in your energy field – your Heart and Mind, your thoughts, judgements, choices and feelings around the situation. Your ego may not want to take responsibility, but if you really want to liberate yourself from the suffering of your current situation then you must choose to claim responsibility for your own energy.
I admit, this isn’t easy. Sometimes it takes time, especially if there’s a lot of charge in the pain you’re feeling. When I’m in this situation there’s the part of me that wants to be ‘in the right’ and doesn’t want to change myself. If I’m feeling hurt my knee-jerk reaction is to want to hurt back. I can be petty. I want to do whatever I can to make myself feel better, to feel like I’m back in control, to feel like I have the upper hand, that the status quo is safe.
And therein lies the gold because no matter what your individual reaction may be, if you want to end to your pain and suffering at some point you must look within and find the self-honesty to deal with your own stuff. This means doing the inner work to go deeper and seeing what’s really going on here, not just the obvious stuff of feeling excluded from seeing your children and grandchildren, but the unconscious patterning attached to these relationships.
This can be ugly. For me I’ve had to come face-to-face with the sense of entitlement I’ve held as to my right as ‘the parent’ and a need to control my children to meet my need rather than holding space for their individual soul journey, without attachment. As I take responsibility for this false-loyalty contract, I can let it go with love and potentially breathe space into the relationship for something new to emerge.
I’ve also discovered a tender part of me that’s always over-compensated and never felt good enough as a mother, and this part of me has left me open to pain because I’ve needed my children to love and affirm ‘I’m enough’, but in doing so leaves my heart open to manipulation because I’ve sought validation from an external source rather than finding it within. When my children assert their boundaries, it’s felt like rejection because this has triggered the lack of self-worth I’ve been holding within my energy-field.
And I’ve encountered the deep grief crying from my Womb to have to let go again and again and again when this part of me still holds the body memory of what it was to hold my children within. A part of me. One.
Though you might not want to face such aspects of your shadow self, once you take responsibility for what you’re holding in your field you can do something about it.
This is how Inner Alchemy works. Through am embodied approach you learn to let yourself feel your ‘pain’ in order to move it, shift it, transform it, release it, reframe it and otherwise alchemize it until it no longer holds the charge. This means feeling and sensing what you’re holding in your energetic field and being willing to stay with it long enough for something to shift. To do this you use tools such as presence, breathwork, sound expression, embodied movement and sensual pleasure. These are the same tools for working with your energy taught in Empress Yoga and Ecstatic Birth Preparation. This ultimately liberates what you’ve been holding down below the surface, healing your Inner Feminine and creating space for something new.
A really accessible example of this approach would be to find music that matches your mood and let your body move with the music in any way that connects to what you feel inside and let it all be expressed through your dance until you feel lighter or free-er or more at peace.
I’ve also found the simple practice of conscious breathing helpful. As I find myself getting caught up in my painful feelings, I consciously exhale and affirm, “I now stop giving this situation the power to hurt me”.
A Masculine ‘Positive Psychology’ Approach
Your greatest liberation is your ability to choose your thoughts. Your Mind is there to serve you.
You’ve chosen to take responsibility for the feelings in your energy field and now you get to find the reframe that helps you see the situation from a new level of consciousness.
When I put the question, ‘How do I release the terrible heartache of being totally excluded from my children and grandchildren because I chose not to be vaccinated?’ to Ron asking for a Life Coaching or Positive Psychology perspective, here are some suggestions off the top of his head:
Firstly, there are two separate issues going on here, one regarding vaccination and the other a relationship dynamic. Whilst it seems like they’re the same thing, they’re not. You want to remove the power you’re giving ‘vaccination’ from causing more division in your relationship.
To understand what I mean here, a reframe Ron suggested is to imagine that your children and grandchildren were moving permanently to Canada for the opportunity of a lifetime. In this scenario all the pieces in play are the same, you’re still excluded from physically seeing them, except in this scenario you’re going to be supportive of their choices and it’s not going to break down the relationship. It’s a change, you might not be super happy about it, but you will adapt and find new ways to build a meaningful relationship with your children and grandchildren from a distance.
If you try this reframe it starts to loosen up your mind to see things differently. Importantly it helps diffuse the charge you’re attaching to ‘vaccination’ and the situation.
Next, the aim of positive psychology is to reframe your situation to find the opportunity. Rather than staying stuck in a mindset where all you see is the obstacle (“I can’t see my children and grandchildren”) you’re encouraged to develop the resilience, resourcefulness and creativity to seek the positive slant.
Again, this is about self-responsibility. You have choice. You can stay in the mindset that you want things to be a certain way and if they’re not you’ll stay miserable OR you can change the way you look at things.
For example, you can look at the opportunities you have to adapt to the situation, in the same way you would if your family moves to Canada. Distance relationships can be fulfilling to your Heart, once you remove the cause of the distance. You are asked to be inventive and create new ways to engage with the relationship. Stop being heartbroken over what you can’t control and look to create fun ways to engage with what you have.
Another example of opportunity is to look at what else is around you. One reason it can be so painful to feel excluded from children and grandchildren is that these are relationships where we tend to over invest, to the neglect of ourselves and our other relationships. Whilst this may feel a huge hole to fill, are there other quality alternatives that you can look to that hold the potential to be equally fulfilling?
The aim here is to identify what it is about the relationship you long for. Not simply, ‘They’re my children and grandchildren!’ but the deeper unmet need/s that the relationship fulfills. This may also reveal how your sense of identity has been tied up in the relationship and how you have an opportunity to now see yourself in a new light without these ties.
Whilst it may be the social norm for family to form our main quality relationships, you’re free to redefine the definition of family. It’s possible to fulfill your Heart from more places than the relationships you’re accustomed to nurturing, to expand your Heart and find new ways to live and experience alternatives.
Again, this is about letting go your need for things to be a certain a way. This approach involves engaging your Inner Masculine to see the possibilities, choosing to make the best of what you have now. It’s a strategy that aims to move you forward, claiming self-responsibility and living from that place.
These are just some suggestions. Forgiveness is also key.
Inner Alchemy = Feminine + Masculine Approach
A FEMININE APPROACH to therapy focuses on your somatic experience (related to your body) and being present to your feelings. This approach deals with past imprints, trauma, sexuality and your emotional reality but not moving you forward. A MASCULINE APPROACH to coaching shifts your attention to the present and focuses on your mind; your thoughts and choices you’re making now. This helps you claim self-responsibility and live from that place.
Both approaches are necessary for true transformation.
The ultimate goal of this inner work is self-awareness. This kind of self-awareness includes not only your conscious ego and physical body, but the whole of your psychic experiences, dreams, feelings, visions and primal instinctive body wisdom. This is what allows you to transform your inner lead – your stuck behavioural patterns, negative emotions and unconscious reactivity – into the gold of wisdom, compassion, authentic spontaneity and ability to respond effectively to your outer environment.
In this way everything becomes an opportunity for the soul polishing that leads you to live the life you were born to live.