Longing & the Heart of the Wounded Healer
Longing is the core of mystery.
Longing itself brings the cure.
The only rule is, suffer the pain.
Your desire must be disciplined,
and what you want to happen in time,
The archetype of the Wounded Healer is a universal pattern of human experience recognized in indigenous shamanic cultures around the world, past and present. This path holds the knowledge that our healing gifts lie within our wounded hearts and the heartbreaking experiences we have throughout our lives. That which has broken our hearts, wounded us so deeply, can also heal us and be transmuted into the ‘medicine’ that we can share with others after we have emerged from the initiatory realms. I have witnessed that we become transmitters of the necessary ‘medicine’, however that may show up, to others dealing with similar wounds.
This path is a shamanic path of direct experience (gnosis), involving a mythic Call from the Mystery to descend, to go inward, often presenting and felt as an unquenchable longing, yearning, hunger that we may have attached to outer things, or we may have avoided by distraction. Sometimes we fear our longing, or those close to us fear it, and we shut down with a tv show or go for the chocolate or engage some other distracting activity. We may experience our longing as a deep ache or pain in our hearts, a blazing fire, a painful, insistent throbbing, or a terrible emptiness that is clawing at us to be filled. It could also be accompanied by physical or emotional symptoms like depression or despair. This longing is the mythic call to us to turn toward our hearts and feel what is there. It is also the call to awakening to the depths of our Being and realize that a change is needed and a path into the Unknown is ready to open to us.
Longing implies that something is missing so we initially go looking outside ourselves for the “cure.” We think this is what I want, and it isn’t long before the longing is back and we think, that will fulfill this pain. This and that can take a zillion forms on the outer level. We may wander around for years or a lifetime, unfulfilled—unless Divine Arrangement, intervenes. When I speak of Divine Arrangement I am referring to the Kundalini Shakti that is the source of everything and is everything. She knows what we need and provides it, though not necessarily in agreement with our ego’s ideas of what we need to fulfill our longing.
The most important thing to know about longing is that it cannot be fulfilled by anything ‘out there’ no matter how wonderful or spiritual it may be. To fulfill our deepest longing we must turn our attention away from the object we are focused on and turn it directly into the longing itself. I do the Samyama practice to do this and it offers a very potent dive into direct experience of the Kundalini fire that is the longing. You may find other meditative practices that also work.
Shakti is all-knowing and the essence of boundless Truth, Love and Consciousness. She guides us to re-alignment within our own hearts, for this is the nectar that truly fulfills our longing. She is the Cosmic Mother here to nurture our awakening, even though it may not feel like it while we are going through a rough initiation. She initiates the great un-doing of who and what we think we are so we can be and express who we are in Truth.
It does not help to live in a culture of consumerism where we are led to believe that what we long for is some object outside ourselves that we can buy, or a paradise across the ocean where we can live in eternal bliss, or that somewhere there surely is a guru who can fill us up. We can stop the seeking when we say “Yes!” to our longing and turn toward it, feel it burning in our own sweet hearts, embrace it by giving it full presence, and surrender to the burning that is full of wisdom and will take us Home. This will lead us deep into our hearts where we can meet it fully and it fully meets us. What we long for also longs for us. At some point in the spiral of our healing and awakening process, we may realize that we are not longing any more for anything, as we are quite ok being with what is as it is. To feel this way is a relief—if not a great joy.
So, what is it that meets us when we give deep presence to our longing in our hearts and really feel into it? What fulfills our longing? Often what is missing is our presence to our own precious hearts and deep feelings, to our essential Self, to the Sacred, as well as to the pain of countless heart-breaks, traumas, and losses we have sustained through a lifetime of avoiding our pain and keeping it underground in the shadows. Parts of ourselves are MIA, missing in action, and remain in shadow from childhood—missing in our conscious life because of fear, trauma, memories, etc. that were so painful they fell into the unconscious for safe keeping until Kundalini Ma’s Divine Arrangement knows that we are ready to bring them to consciousness and address them. They cannot emerge until we are strong enough to feel safe and trust ourselves to meet them. I also feel that it is essential to have a trustworthy container, a person who knows the territory of shadow, to hold us in their vessel and help with this process until we get used to it and come to trust ourselves with going into our longing.
When we can bring presence to our longing and the pain it may reveal, the wound will transmute in the alchemy of our hearts. Our spiritual heart, the Great Heart in the center of our breastbone actually transmutes lower-vibrational energies into higher vibrations that may feel like peace, love, stillness, or joy. This then opens us to the Presence of the Holy and the medicine that is hidden in the shadows of our unconscious. We ultimately experience the spiritual healing as well as the healing of our most painful wounds. The Light and Love that we are emerges from our darkest depths. A deeper sense of our connection and communion with the Sacred emerges and grows, and the spiraling unfoldment continues our awakening process into the boundless. There is nothing to do to but follow our hearts as it is from there, and in our innate body knowing, that we are led to ever more expanding consciousness by Shakti Ma.
What is the nature or essence of this Call and where is it from? Kundalini Shakti is the powerful energy behind and in everything in form, from this whole galaxy down to our human bodies and all of our thoughts and feelings. Shakti is feminine energy/consciousness that manifests all forms. There is no Shakti without Shiva, the undifferentiated, formless masculine energy/consciousness. They are One—Lover and Beloved, and inhabit us, our lives, and all that is. By going directly into our longing, into our heart with anything that arises, we come to directly experience that our essential nature is both the Lover and the Beloved. This is the Home we may have longed for.
While everyone has their own unique personal experiences within initiations, the structure of every initiation is archetypal in that it is universal even though the wounds may be different. A broken heart and sense of loss comes with the territory of being human, whether it is loss of health, a beloved, an identity, or the 10,000 losses we have that are ambiguous and without closure. Once across the threshold into the initiatory realms, there is descent into the shadow lands of heartbreak, deep un-doing encounters with the Mystery, and, at just the right time, a return to life and service as we never knew it. All that we need to make this journey is provided, and we learn to trust and eventually see clearly that Divine Arrangement is at work with us and our lives in everything all the time. Every initiation is divinely arranged for us to have a life-changing experience that gives death to false identities, beliefs, self-talk and the stories we tell ourselves that don’t serve us. The old life dies in certain ways and at the same time the same events serve to awaken us to new life, deeper dimensions of expanded consciousness, a more heart-full orientation and perception of the world. The bonus is that we develop compassion for ourselves as well as for others. Gifts we know we have are strengthened and deepened, as new gifts appear from the wreckage. The Kundalini Shakti restores and revitalizes our desire to deepen and share our gifts and serve others, often in new ways.
We come to a gnosis, a direct experience that Shakti is ever-present, every wound contains a gift of healing and a teaching, and every heart-break offers a gateway to the Mystical Union of love and heartbreak. These two are not separate, though sometimes we might wish they were. Life as we have known it ends in some way and Love flows freshly, indiscriminately, in all directions. We discover that we are not who we thought we were, and we give birth to inner resources and aspects of ourselves that we did not know were possible or accessible. We gain clarity about how we are to carry the gifts given through the initiatory Fire. At some point there is the direct experience that we are the Fire of the Kundalini Shakti. It is very humbling and ineffably beautiful. When I feel this in myself or witness it in others, this often calls me into a deep bow. Sooner or later, we fall in love with the Unknown and we most definitely come into new relationship with impermanence, imperfection, and incompleteness—our constant companions in this wild and crazy and beautiful human existence. Objectless longing is the way to go!
© Sheila Foster 2017
* Rumi, Say I Am You, as translated by by John Moyne and Coleman Barks