We are in the story of separation. We are disconnected from ourselves, each other and the earth that is our home. Manifesting itself in heartbreak, disease and destruction.
We need to reconnect. To become whole. Mind, body and soul. To feel into that essential oneness of belonging to this glorious world.
So much of our earthconverse focus is helping leaders have an experience of nonseparation. To know that to best serve people and planet, we need to heal the relationship between inner and outer nature.
And paradoxically that involves learning to separate well. To get closure, to disconnect, to let go. And life is always inviting us to step into change.
In many respects we are constantly separating and connecting, opening and closing, holding on and letting go. Atoms ‘bumping into each other’. Breathing in and breathing out, birthing and dying. Asserting our individuality and being one interbeing community.
As wise man Ray Hillis talked about on the #earthconversepodcast, molecules are intensely drawn toward each other until they reach a certain distance, and then they are repelled from each other if they get too close. The repelling force is every bit as strong as the attraction. So we learn to feel the rightness of the distance between molecules, between ourselves and others. And the only way we find that right distance is by getting too close and being pushed back or getting too far away and getting pulled forward. “It’s a dance, and it’s an asking”.
Wider nature with its purity, wildness and non-judgement holds the container for us to explore this dance in a conscious way. Here are 4 nature-based practices that you can experiment with, to have a good separation.
1) Self-generated ceremonies
In the #earthconversepodcast, we talked of the conscious practice of ceremony. In episode 36 we specifically explored self-generated ceremonies in nature, which we can undertake to mark a phase in our life, including a separation and closure.
To undertake a ceremony honours our individual story with that of the universe.
In ceremony, we can symbolically enact where we are now and open ourselves up to receive guidance on where we might go next. Without such ceremony, we can become caught in the “in-between world,” lost in the tension of ambivalence.
I have burnt notes, broken sticks, thrown rocks, kicked a cow pat around and picked cactus thorns out of my hand to name but a few. All to symbolically separate from beliefs, behaviours and relationships that I felt I needed to let go or at least loosen my grip. You may have done similar things, calling on your inner and outer resources to support your evolution.
2) Loyal Soldiers
Also standing on the shoulders of giants in his work, eco-psychotherapist and wilderness guide, Bill Plotkin brings in the symbol of the Loyal Soldiers of Japan to help us step into our wholeness.
These Loyal Soldiers were those who ended up in remote places during WW2 and struggled to understand that the war was over. Like them, we have our internal loyal soldiers. Those beliefs and behavioural strategies that we adopted as children to defend and protect ourselves. These were our successful childhood survival strategies, and now as more resourceful adults, they no longer serve us. Moreover they keep us small and constricted.
As Bill writes in Wild Mind, “much of the best of contemporary psychotherapy is a collection of methods for helping people identify their Loyal Soldiers’ strategies, retire them and develop a new set of Self-derived practices for fulling feeling, imagining and sensing, for generating interpersonal intimacy and belonging” (2013:145).
He invites us to do what the Japanese did: 1) welcome them home as heroes 2) thank them deeply and sincerely for their loyalty, courage and service 3) tell them gently and lovingly and repeatedly the war is over 4) help them to deploy their talents in more generative growth promoting ways. That loyal soldier of being a people pleaser for example, probably has great empathy and collaborative skills necessary for partnership building.
3) A good separation blessing
As any good conversation, you don’t necessarily need to have it directly with the person concerned; often it is better if you don’t. It is something that you energetically do. In words, prayer or blessing to honour the relationship, its gifts and going. You speak from your own open heart. Maybe from a mountain top.
I am grateful for psychotherapist Johannes Beckmann in gifting me this blessing. One which I have benefited from and which I have also passed onto others seeking their own closure.
For all what went well between us,
I want to thank you from
deep inside my heart.
All what you gave me
I will keep it with me happily
and it will always remain as part of my life.
And all what I gave to you,
I gave it happily and you
can keep it with you.
And for all what went wrong between you and me,
I assume my part of responsibility
and leave you with
In this way I free myself from you
and I make you
free from me.
You will always have a good place in my heart.
And as life goes, separation often comes not from our own conscious choice. A door is closed, a death comes – and we may not ever get the chance or feel equipped to step into this conversation. Here is a poem I wrote to honour those times .
A silent ending, a goodbye not said
Leaving raw wounds, unseen tears, hearts of lead
Lying dormant in the chasms of fear
To speak of it would be too much to bear
Directing a safe play of illusions
Intolerant of mistimed intrusions
We keep to the rehearsed script, oh so wise
Rich in unspoken truths and spoken lies
Pursed lips stained by generational pain
Harsh silence borne of clipped feelings and strain
Resistant resolve, anger in whispers
No one skilled as talkers or listeners
Some conversations will never take place
Accepting this is our first act of grace
May you have a good separation with nature’s help.
Photo thanks to Mihai Strompl on Unsplash