Yui Wang flew to Tokyo yesterday, to teach a workshop, and leaving me alone on Yakushima Island for a few days. The island responded to our separation by slowly beginning to rain, alternating with a monsoon-like downpour, and forcing me into a writing and study retreat. But, at some point, even monks in paradise have to eat. At dusk I set off for the local supermarket to practice my few words of Japanese, and stock up with provisions until the on-again-off-again deluge from the heavens ended. Darkness was complete by the time I headed back to the cottage, but I was confident of my bearings. There is only one main road, encircling Yakushima, so how could I get lost? But, after thirty minutes of driving I suddenly realized none of the landmarks looked familiar. What had just happened? One minute I’m sure of things, the next minute I’m disorientated and lost. The young part of my psyche kicked in with a wash of concern…I don’t know where I am, I can’t speak the language to ask for directions, and the GPS in the rental car is configured with Japanese characters. Oh, no street lights, and it’s dark and raining.
Of course, the adult part of my mind had the obvious solution of turning around and retracing my journey. Sometime soon I would return to a recognizable place. As I’m driving back, I mused on how symbolic this mundane inconvenience was to my life, and to my professional work as a healer. All of us, at some point, get lost, take a wrong turn, choose the wrong relationship, pick the wrong company to work for, and so on. Mistakes are not only human they are essential to exploring the world, and gaining life skills that help us evolve. My young psyche was anxious at not being able to easily find the way home, and the older part of my mind chose a strategy that was tried and true: when you are lost, backtrack until you are no longer lost.
Healing our young traumas and memories results in following this same everyday wisdom. If you are lost in a relationship, or in your personal healing process, go back in time and locate where things went awry. Return to the source of the disruption, and reset your bearings. This is, of course, the meat and potatoes of psychotherapy, as well as the uncovering of fresh resources unlearned along our path of growth. For instance, if my disruption in early life was abandonment by a parent, I would need to re-inhabit that place of fear and anxiety while learning to connect self cords deep into myself, to remind myself that I had my own resources and was no longer fully dependent upon others. With practice, moments of apparent abandonment would follow the symbolic journey of returning to the source whenever we get lost.
I eventually passed a landmark that was familiar, of course; the local road-side coffee hut. It seems I had driven right past my cottage, dark and unrecognized, and I had been lost by ten miles. How much closer than that are the memories of our emotional body, just awaiting for a small turning within. Turning back upon our own tracks we may find ourselves, once again, back home.
© 2013 by Dean Ramsden. All rights reserved.