As a longtime spiritual seeker, the term "separation" makes me think of the illusion that is at the root of all suffering. Humans have chosen to believe that we are separate from God, from one another, from the web of life, and this belief has enabled us to deliver horrendous suffering upon the world.
In this time of "social distancing" and quarantine, separation has taken on a different meaning. In these times, there is a longing for connection to what is familiar, to people I love, to routines I took for granted. We have been forced into separation in order to protect the lives of millions of people. In this instance, separation is a method of preventing suffering.
For many of us, this time of being in our houses has created an opportunity to wield the sword of discernment. What in our lives was not working? What were we too busy to recognize? What have we taken for granted? What have we believed about the world that may not be true? How can this time of imposed separation empower us and embolden us to cut away what is no longer serving us?
As a trauma survivor, I often have emotions arise that are out of proportion to events that trigger these emotions. A small incident will resonate with a deep wound and suddenly I am reliving a trauma. The emotional tidal wave is totally out of proportion to the comment or encounter. It is my work to allow these waves of emotion to pass without allowing it to possess my actions. This takes great steadiness and discernment. If I can breathe through the pain, fear, loss, rejection, I am left with the choice of how to respond. Who do I want to be? How do I want to be? These are the moments that make a life.
In these instances, separation from the situation, separation from the people involved in the situation, the separation that comes with time and space, allow me to deeply unite with my integrity. I am the author of my life story. How do I want to write that story? If I allow the emotional residue of trauma to write the story, then I remain its victim forever. Instead, I take the time and gather the support that I need to see clearly, and move ahead purposefully.
I would like to propose that we, as a people, are being asked to take this sort of inventory now. We are a traumatized people, and our trauma is being triggered by the events around this pandemic. We are responsible to take the time to separate ourselves from the trauma and decide who we want to be. We need to make the space to feel our feelings, and create a container of support so that we don't drown in them.
Who is your container of support? Who reminds you of who you are? What you stand for? How do you define right action? In the process of defining your container, notice who or what keeps you off balance? Who or what makes you question who you are or tempts you to violate your integrity? How can you take action to remove this influence from your life? This is the gate we are passing through. This is the initiation of separation. We are asked to wield the sword of discernment and cut away the things that are keeping us from being an integrated, whole, centered version of ourselves.
In his book The Mist Filled Path, Frank MacEowen writes about the Celtic diaspora throughout the world. He describes the displaced indigenous spirit as being like an animal that escaped death by chewing off its own leg. This is the trauma that all of us carry who have left our indigenous ways of knowing behind in the effort to survive. We don't have an intact wisdom culture to guide our lives. Instead, we must author our own worldview and make the effort to cultivate a tribe of people who will help us stay true to the worldview that we have invested in.
There will be times when the pain of our wounds are deeply activated. In those times, lean into your tribe, immerse yourself in the books, movies, foods, incense, music that remind you of who you are and who you want to be. When you fully and deeply remember yourself, then commit to action that advances the world that you want to create. Take your power back from the traumas and wounds that would keep you repeating the patterns of pain that have brought us to this point in history. Take up the sword of the warrior and cut away all that does not serve love. Separate yourself from the stories and the lies that would bind you and make you believe that your power is dangerous or that you are only loveable in your weakness and submission.
I have just walked through this dark forest, and this is a reminder to my future self when I get lost in the labyrinth of old wounds once again. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be the person that you choose to be.