Transforming Injury

A good friend was recently burglarized. Ryan and his wife, Julie, lost their laptops and some electronics gear. He told me they felt a real sense of violation, and as a result he was raging on the inside. Ryan asked me, “How do you let go of that?”

I reminded him of the work we had completed in a workshop a few years ago. That we must find a way to forgive…else the violence simply ripples outward through us.

“I’m sorry for the violation,” I told Ryan. “That is no small deal. Violation and betrayal are significant contributors to sorrow, grief and bitterness. So it needs to be addressed.”

“What should I do?” he asked in earnest.

“First, breath work. Breathe with and through the feelings. With your eyes closed, breathe to soften and open. Allow the underlying anger to percolate. Don’t try to avoid it, and don't allow yourself to indulge it. Just ride the edge with your breath And of course, let the tears flow if they appear. Ride the edge of them too.”

“That’s like triage, but it’s not enough. You’ll need to attend to things longer term so you’re not hardened by them. That doesn’t mean to deny the sense of violation. Instead, lean into it. Cuddle up to it so you can befriend it, which then allows for release to find its own way.”

Ryan nodded thoughtfully, which encouraged me to continue.

“I also urge you to write about it. That facilitates understanding. The secret is not to approve of the acts that were perpetrated on you and Julie, rather to find the space in which you can see that the people who violated you were operating out of some need or lack. We don’t absolve them of their guilt, we release them from judgment and condemnation. From a Buddhist perspective, which I know you appreciate, we’re trying to break the cycle of karma. From the Christian vantage point, we are forgiving. From my own vantage point of Seeing True, we are seeing their innocence, that they could not have done otherwise.”

Ryan didn’t disagree, but he wondered, “So how do we hold others to account for their misdeeds?”

I laughed. “Well, you don't know who they are, so there’s very little you can do. Yet on the spiritual plane, the state of their soul is none of our business. It is not our role to mete out consequences. Of course, on this human playground we must intervene if possible. In that case, we need to clean up our own sense of injury or wrong. Then take action that is free from judgment or condemnation. That allows us to break the cycle of violence.”

“In Al-Anon, it’s called detaching with love, which is a powerful tonic.”

Since Ryan was familiar with that recovery program, with that final comment, it all clicked into place for him.

Seeing True

Anger. Betrayal. Resentment. Hatred. Fear. That which is not transformed will be transmitted…through us…often without our conscious knowledge or consent.

In the words of Master Samwise, “If we believe we’ve been wronged, someone is going to pay.”

Seeing True in Action

The best work of the soul is in the hardest places. Pick a person, institution, or circumstance that you are holding as some form of resentment or grievance. First, breath with and through it. Then, cuddle up to it, getting as close as possible to the feelings. Last, write about it…as often as necessary. Stay with it until release comes.