The third step of recapitulation is doing the work. This work involves active participation. It involves making a commitment, even if you have to reassert that commitment multiple times, reminding the self that this work of recapitulation is the means by which transformation will eventually come. It is taking the inner journey, going far deeper than imaginable.
It means showing up for the work on a regular schedule, with intent to go the distance. It also involves steps one and two—acknowledging that something is wrong and being open to what comes to guide you—as all steps build on and incorporate each other.
The main tool of recapitulation is the magical pass of the recapitulation breath, sometimes called the sweeping breath. It’s very simple. It involves just breathing in while turning the head in one direction, breathing out while turning the head to the other side, while simultaneously reviewing an event from our past or even our present. As we turn our head from side to side and view this event we go into a sort of dream state, an altered state where what happened to us becomes clearer and clearer. We become calmer too. Once we have viewed the event and fully exhaled all the old energy of the event, the final pass is to hold the breath for a few back and forth sweeps of the head, sealing in our own energy now regained. We know that we have reached completion when the event no longer grabs our attention in any way, but is simply neutral.
What the work will be each day depends on you, on your readiness, on your preparation, on your openness, fearlessness, and your determination to face what comes. This third step means taking responsibility for the journey. One of the first things to learn in this step is how to let go of judgements. One must discover how one personally judges the self and others.
Learning to be nonjudgmental means listening to what you say, how you say it, and asking whether or not what you are saying is true. This was a transformative moment for me in my own recapitulation. Once I understood how I constructed the world through my judgments, and as I heard myself attach judgments to just about everything, I began to understand how those judgments cloaked my defenses. In my cloak of judgments I felt safe, but in reality I was just restricted and confined. This step of the work can be mind-blowing, as we begin to understand the agreements we’ve made in life based on our judgments and our defenses and how those agreements have both taken us on our journey but also taken our energy.
As we confront our judgments and understand our defenses our deepest issues make more sense to us. We gain a new perspective as we understand how we have lived, why we have done the things we have done, and how we have gotten ourselves into the predicaments that we have. We learn how to observe ourselves from many different angles, from many perspectives. We learn how to study ourselves in a nonjudgmental fashion. As we begin to shed our cloak of judgments, our defenses begin to shed too; we just don’t need them anymore. Gradually we release ourselves, and others, from the old beliefs and ideas that once constructed our lives and we begin constructing ourselves in a new, more personally relevant way.
As we change how we view the world, we also change how we live in the world. As we shed our fears we become less fearful, life is less frightening and we are less frightened of it. As we become less judgmental we become more receptive; we become kinder and gentler to ourselves and others. As we shed our traumas we gain hope and optimism, a little bit more each day. As we challenge ourselves to be a little bit more daring in life, we discover that life meets us in a new way and we begin to shed our negativity, our sense of loneliness, our depression. These things are also part of the work: facing our fears, challenging ourselves to be daring, letting life in as we go out into life in a new and more open way.
Frightened people shut down parts of themselves to keep them safe, but in recapitulating we work at bringing out into life those shut down parts of ourselves, allowing them to have new and different experiences from in the past, better experiences. But all of this change and new life does not happen by itself. We must initiate it. We are fully responsible for moving our recapitulation along and daring ourselves to test what we have been learning, breathing our way forward one sweeping breath at a time.
We do get stuck sometimes. It’s inevitable. And when we are stuck there is usually something we must learn, but sometimes we are stuck because we are scared to move on. We’re more comfortable staying in a bad place because its familiar and we don’t have to challenge ourselves. In such instances our recapitulation is telling us to hoist ourselves up and out of our slump and take over our own lives, letting go of constantly blaming others for our predicament. I learned that blame was as useless as worry. It got me nowhere. When I would find myself blaming others again, I’d take over with renewed fierceness. I’d reassert my intent, more determined than ever to move things along. I found out that if I wanted to be defeated then blame was ready to defeat me every time.
Recapitulation asks us constantly to take responsibility for our journey. No matter where we have been or what has happened to us, we can move on into new life without attachment, shed of our past by our own deep inner work. When we take responsibility for our own life by recapitulating, we are preparing ourselves for taking charge of our lives in the future. We make things happen rather than let them happen to us. And then we are no longer a victim of our circumstances but a creator of them. And that’s the transformational work we want to be doing!
If we are doing a traditional recapitulation as defined by the Shamans of Ancient Mexico this third step of doing the work may take a year or two, as we make a list of all the people we have ever had contact with and recapitulate every encounter with them. If we are doing a recapitulation that involves trauma or abuse this step may take a lot longer, years or decades even. It takes patience and fortitude, but with good support we more than succeed.
In recapitulation we accept the truths of our lives and discover who we truly we are. As we turn our focus inward we learn that we have what it takes to give ourselves what we did not get from others. Perhaps our parents were incapable of giving us what we wanted, but as we recapitulate and become more tender with ourselves we might begin to see how they lived restricted lives as well, unable to do the deep work that we dare ourselves to do every day of our own lives now. This is when we begin to understand what compassion really means.
Recapitulation offers tools for reviewing daily events and the techniques by which we can release from them and move on. It offers the means to learning what love really is, what compassion means, and what interconnectedness means. It’s a constantly evolving process.
Breathing in and out and letting go,