Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Inner work is not personal!

The base

My stepfather was a military officer, and when I was 10 , we moved to live on a military compound in Eastern Germany.  The base was outside of a small town, and it had a store, a post office, a cinema, a bookstore, a volleyball court and a playground - just like a small village.  The only difference was in the people who populated this village. They were mostly men in uniform.  The compound housed about 7000 men. There were soldiers dressed in a green uniform with a special triangular little hat called a‘pilotka”, and officers with stripes and stars on their uniforms, showing their rank.

The military base was surrounded by a brick wall with two entrances where the guards would check documents before allowing entry. But we, as kids, ran through freely, back and forth between the base and outside. Most high-ranking  officer’s families lived in apartments just outside the base,  
The whole compound was surrounded by beautiful fields and a forest. We swam in the ice-cold crystal clear spring waters of the man-made lakes in the forest, that had been dug by Russian prisoners of war.  There was an abundance of granite in that area, and Nazi Germany used prisoners to excavate it.  The granite holes had over time filled with the spring waters, creating lakes almost 400 feet deep.  I remember jumping into the lake and feeling the fear of the immense depth under me. 

We learned in school that the depth of the Aral Sea in Russia is only about 50 feet.  It was called “sea” and it was on every map of Russia!  The comparison to these lakes I was swimming in made me feel that I was touching something very deep with my being. Yet, still I was a happy child - jumping into the lake and not thinking too much about it.  Only years later the depth of that childhood encounter was revealed to me in the complexity of the feelings I was carrying through my life.  

Twenty five years later, I found myself, with my husband at the time, in a retreat in Costa Rica with Pamela Wilson. We had both had an awakening prior to this retreat. For me it was through direct pointing and inner inquiry. For him it was after participating in series of Ayahuasca ceremonies in the jungle in Peru.  We both felt we needed some space to integrate the profound energies that were released through those experiences, and I came across Pamela’s retreat in Costa Rica. 

Pamela’s style of working with people was both very gentle and profound at the same time. She focused on allowing emotions to come up, and greeting them as friends who came to us to bring messages. Usually we are closed to such emotions, but if we see them as though they are friends that come to our house and knock on the door, we can be more at ease to open the door and let them in. If we do not shut our heart and switch our attention away from the feeling, but invite it to take a space in our home (our heart), the feeling will give the insight as to why it came to us.  Denying and suppressing such feelings can work for a time, but they will come back and knock on the door again and again, until they are invited, felt and released.

Pamela found this approach for herself, when she suddenly ‘woke up’ in one of the satsangs with her teacher Nilam. Nilam went traveling immediately after this, so Pamela couldn’t get help with myriad of feelings that were arising in her. One day she started to talk to them. She would invite them one by one to her “house” and ask them what they wanted.  She noticed that each feeling  had a message.  She would open to the message as though it were a gift.  Shutting the feelings down didn’t work for her anymore. There was no other choice but to open the door and accept the gift.  At that time my then husband and I were in a very similar situation.

We were in a serene retreat center in Costa Rica. Our circle of 12-15 participants gathered together day after day under the canopy outside in the forested area, and experienced the magic of talking to our own feelings, and having insights to the messages that were brought by them. 

There were two German couples in the retreat who had both lived for long time in Costa Rica. They had names in Sanskrit that translated as Peace, Bliss and Joy. There was tremendous intensity to their inquiry in them, though clearly they were not blissed out all the time. Thanks to their courage, I was able to sit in the space where much sorrow, guilt, shame and fear that they were experiencing, were invited into the open. I listened to the childhood stories of their  parents’ disconnection from feelings of guilt and shame about what happened in World War II. A generation later, the guilt and shame of those circumstances was still alive and was interfering with creative lives these people were trying to lead. They were musicians full of sorrow - deep sorrow that wasn’t really theirs.  

The inner work they were doing was very intimate and brave.  The rage, the anger, the fear - the most intense human emotions were welcomed. When they experienced relief, I would feel it in my being.  “Nothing less than a true alchemy”, I used to tell my husband of what I had experienced. And he agreed. 

And in that circle, for the first time I felt ashamed for “being an occupant”.  I felt the guilt of living on that land, uninvited. I also felt compassion for the Russian prisoners digging that granite in the forest, crying silently at the bottom of that hole that would eventually be filled by nature with spring water, in which I would later jump as an innocent child. Being present in the same circle with Germans who were processing their feelings about the war, made me notice the whole gamut of mixed feelings about German-Russian relation I carried. No wonder I had avoided Germans all my life since childhood, and had felt such unease in their presence. No wonder I had felt so disconnected from any relations with them.

A couple of years later I received an email from a woman who asked me to guide her in inquiry to see ‘self-less-ness’.  She said her name was Tina, and that she was from East Germany living abroad. I worked with her, using direct pointing for several days until the veil of the illusion of the separate self was dropped, and she relaxed into her true human nature.  The moment of seeing clearly one’s true nature is a magical moment. In the space of our true being anything is welcome, and everything is a gift.  As we both abided in that space, even though we were hundreds of miles apart,  I felt an upwelling of love - love that was not personal, not aimed at anyone. It felt like an expansion of wellbeing and peace in my being.  

Suddenly the memories of my childhood flooded into this expansion.  I saw Russian prisoners in disintegrating clothes, exhausted, digging the dirt around granite rocks. I saw them tying ropes to the lifting mechanism I had once seen in a history book, and pulling granit rocks with their last bit of strength. I suddenly remembered unspoken tension in the little town where our base was located.

The German government had organized special get-togethers they called “Druzhba”. Druzhbas are translated as “friendship” in Russian, and involved Germans from the nearby towns and us Russians from the base having fun playing together, and exchanging gifts and smiles. But still the tension outside of these artificial gatherings was palpable.  Going to town wasn’t always fun.  Sometimes we, children, would be splashed with dirty water from a window on a high floor above us.  Or we would be called “Svinya, sobaka”, meaning ‘pig’ and ‘dog’ in Russian, the worst insult that German kids could create as they tried to ease their feeling of confusion brought by Soviet military presence there.  

At the same time, I remember my childhood years there as one of the happiest times of my life - running freely and safely, as though I was in my little town back in Ukraine. I can recall the face of my stepfather, dirty from diesel and shining in bliss; he rode on the top of the T80 tank, covered with flowers thrown by the onlookers - returning to the base after the annual maneuvers of militaries of several Socialist countries. I remember how proud I was of my stepfather being on the second tank, just after the first tank of the base commander’s. 

All the gamut of feelings - happy memories, compassion, shame, guilt, pride, injustice - arose in that space with Tina right after her awakening.  They came up suddenly in that space between us, the space of joy of dropping the illusion of separation. They merged and turned into the pure feeling of compassion almost immediately.  In that compassion we all, Germans and Russians through all ages, became one. I wrote back to her, thanking her for inquiry with me, which resulted in her waking up from the illusion of separation, and me having an experience of emotional alchemy.  We exchanged precious gifts through this work together, freeing some of the tension of the Unity Consciousness.

There are no individual feelings and emotions, just as there are no separate individuals living, no spiritual practices and no inquiries leading to this revelation.  Feelings are the energies of Unity Consciousness that arise in it like waves in an ocean. As there are ripples through the whole ocean from only one wave, even if it is invisible, so too there are ripples of release in the ocean of consciousness even if there is a relief experienced only in one individual mind.  As there is no wave that exists separate from the ocean, there is no feeling that exists separate from consciousness.  The work of releasing mind tensions, contractions, strong beliefs, and stuck feelings which do not serve in a positive way, is an alchemical work and has a direct effect on humanity.  Please never underestimate the inner work of one human being. The potency of this work is unfathomable. 

My inner work continued some years later in another circle.  I was in a Family Constellation workshop lead by Judith Hemming, a very masterful facilitator from England.  The workshop was held in Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA. As Judith was one of the best in the field of Family Constellations, Esalen encouraged their staff to attend this powerful work.  Half of the participants were Esalen staff members.  

There was a gentle woman there, an Esalen massage therapist, who asked to facilitate her issue.  The constellation produced a very strong effect on me.  The woman was living with shame about her uncle who served in Nazi Germany as an SS officer. On a personal level this shame manifested as keeping herself quite, having doubts of her self-worth and avoiding any confrontations. Keeping herself small and invisible held her back in her personal and professional life. As the scene from Nazi Germany unfolded in a circle with people embodying and playing the characters, she asked me to step into the circle and play one of the characters in her story.  

Suddenly I was there. In Germany. I was German. I stood next to her SS uncle. I felt I was related to him, and I knew he was a human being living his life as he thought was right. I felt how precious he was to me - how precious he was as a human, just like any of us.  At the end of the work we all held each other. I was surrounded by “Germans”, and we all held each other close. The feeling of compassion I felt to the people who were in the war, to those who were born after and felt the residue of it, and to the whole humanity, was overwhelming.  

I was wearing traditional Russian scarf on my shoulders, and was held by “Germans” in warmth and care. I held them in love that was radiating from each pore of my being.  The love overflowed me and the whole constellation of people collapsed for a second in front of my own eyes into the pure light. Stories of separation, of what was perceived as bad and shameful, faded into light. The feeling of wellbeing sprang from within the human heart, and changed the field of consciousness forever. 

My mama on the lake in 1980

I returned to the place of my childhood in East Germany 25 years later, in 2004. I walked the path as I knew exactly where to go… And here it was - crystal clear lake surrounded by the lush forest.  I had to jump in it, in spite of the fear of the deep waters! Later we used this image in Liberation Unleashed poster.