As a seeker and a therapist, I search for tools of freedom. Freedom is the ability to flow with life as it is. Life is flux—change—and with change always comes a wounding to that which once was. Woundings create fixations, protective shells of holding on, to that which was. Such fixations interrupt our ability to flow with life as it has become.
The shaman’s world accepts the inevitability of woundings and tracks the human tendency to fixate on judgment of the self for its woundings. These judgments take the form of self-blame or self-rage. Either judgment further infects the wound and alienates the self from the flow of life energy. The shamans are empathic to woundings but ruthless in their goal of freedom. Hence, they go to extraordinary lengths to uncouple from attachment to their woundings.
To break the fixation with wounds to self-worth, self-importance, or self-esteem, the Shamans of Ancient Mexico encouraged their apprentices to saturate themselves with the doings of tyrants who made their lives miserable. In order to free themselves from the effects of these tyrants, these shaman initiates needed to astutely study the tactics and behaviors of these petty tyrants to precisely plan and execute their defeat. If they allowed themselves to indulge in blame, shame, rage, pity, or self-defeat, they would lose focus, often to fatal outcome. Those shaman initiates learned to waste no energy on taking anything personally, but focused instead on staying present in objective reality. This was the path of freedom from their woundings.
Traumatic encounters are uninvited encounters with life’s harshest petty tyrants. Shaman initiates seek out the encounter with the tyrant, but innocent recipients aren’t given that choice. Whereas the shaman initiate is in an active playing field with the tyrant, in real time, the trauma recipient’s playing field is the field of recapitulation, the reliving of the trauma once lived.
The means of achieving freedom from traumatic fixation, however, is identical to the means of achieving freedom from all woundings. To complete the process, we must arrive at what the shamans call the “place of no pity,” for self and other. From this position, there is total clarity and total release, as the ability to be present for the full truth of what happened, and the full release of energies previously fixated by life interrupted, is achieved. This is the ultimate defeat of the tyrant: complete release from its grip and complete release from the protective shell of fixation. From this place of no pity we retrieve the journeying self. We shift and reengage in life, as it is. Freedom achieved!