Sorry it’s been a while since I last wrote. I was leading a Zen meditation retreat in Los Angeles (read about my next retreat here). I also had my weekly online visioning course (join the waiting list for the next one here).
Also, 18-year-old Bella moved out (I cried) and had her high school graduation ceremony. Meanwhile, we are relocating from upstate New York to Long Island for the summer. We don’t know where we will go come September (got ideas?).
So life’s been busy!
But what I wanted to talk about today, because it has come up with three different coaching clients, is working with the energy of our ancestors.
Now, some people believe the energy of their ancestors is communicated to us almost like ghosts or spirits who try to influence us. I can’t say for sure whether that is true or not true. But I can demonstrate that whether or not our ancestors literally persist in the present, they certainly persist in our brains.
On a trivial level, suppose you are unreasonably scared of dogs. Could it be that your grandmother or grandfather was bit by a dog and communicated their fear of dogs to your parent who then unconsciously communicated it to you?
On a more profound level, I recently read this fascinating article on witch hunts throughout history and the present. It occurred to me that some of my women clients might have generational trauma related to women being severely punished for exercising their power, especially any sort of mystical power.
When I suggested to one client that this generational trauma might be causing her to block her own power, she started to cry in relief that I understood. Then, we talked about bringing the generational fear into consciousness so she could understand when she was scared because of her ancestors’ fear and when she was scared because she herself perceived real danger. Thus, her block was undone.
I have client of color who comes from a population that has been severely oppressed throughout history. My client felt a debt to her ancestors to continue doing her social justice work, even though she would otherwise choose to do some different work. She felt she didn’t have the freedom to choose her own path forward.
Another client who wants to reclaim her ancestral heritage deliberately maintains regular touch with her deceased grandfather. She sought to receive and follow his guidance in order to honor him, but only in our conversations did she recently realize that her grandfather’s energy (wherever it resides) consistently steers her away from potentially rewarding risk because the grandfather is deathly frightened of poverty.
There are so many more examples. In my own case, my dead mother’s terror of going broke resides in my body as does my grandfather’s strict sense of responsibility and obligation. These energies can both lead me in directions that aren’t authentic to me, though they are trying to help me.
On the other hand, honoring the efforts of our ancestors as well as their wisdom can hugely help our lives.
In the case of my dead mother’s financial fear, I have asked her energy to keep an eye out for danger and to remind me that, while I want to be of service, I must also take care of myself. But I have also soothed her and showed her that I am in no real present financial danger.
As for my grandfather, I thank him for the sense of duty that he instilled in me and I continue to follow it. But I also remind him that too much duty actually made family life for him very difficult. I explain to him that I honor his duty but that I also seek to maintain a balance in it and can, therefore, have a better life than he did.
Working with me, the client I mentioned earlier, who is a social justice worker had an imaginary (or maybe it wasn’t imaginary?) conversation with one of an ancestors. She reassured the ancestor that she would always do the right thing. But she also reminded the ancestor that the ancestors’ own hard work was in part to ensure that my client would have the freedom to make career choices.
How could all this be helpful to you in concrete terms? Well, first of all, I think most ancestral work is most effectively done in partnership with a helper—be it a coach (like me!), a therapist, a shaman, or an intuitive.
But for now, if you find you have drives or feelings or insights that may not come from you and you feel they may come from your ancestors, then sit down with a pen and paper and explore them.
Ask your ancestor or ancestors, what are their concerns? Then, write as you sense their answer. Ask them, why are you concerned about that? Write some more. Then, thank your ancestors for those parts of themselves that live on in your temperament and character.
But also let them know which of their concerns are actually relevant to your life and your chosen path and which are not. Ask for their permission to free yourself from their concerns where it is not helpful but to accept their guardianship where it helps you on your path.
In other words, be discriminate about what your ancestors have to tell you, and understand how they are biased, just as you would any other advisor. The idea is to channel the ancestral energy to into areas where it is helpful to you and out of areas where it is not helpful.
Would love to hear!
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