Seeking The Change, by Gwenith Kikkawa (CCSS Collective Member)
I was comfortable. After a few years of adjusting to many big life changes, I found myself returning to a feeling of being comfortable. I had settled in to a new job, a new town, a new community, a new family, and a new way of living. Things were starting to feel safe again, predictable almost.
Along with this growth of comfort, came a growing discomfort in my knees. I tried to give “logical” reasons as to what was happening, like sitting at the office desk for too many hours, having a sinking mattress to sleep on, old dance injuries re-surfacing, weight gain. But deep down in the bones of my knees, I heard the knowing that my knees are what allows me to walk and move forward. To be sticky and stiff in the knees meant I was sticky and resistant to moving forward in my life.
When I take the Edge’s “What type of explorer are you?” quiz, I predictably receive the classification of a “rejuvenator”. Coming to the rejuvenating shamanism programs in 2005 is what first connected me to the Edge, and have been my programs of choice ever since. Then one day it occurred to me just how much I was limiting my growth by staying in the comfort of my own category. Like a bird opening it’s wings only to be met by the walls of a cage, I did not like the feeling of this restriction.
I chose an “explorers” program called “Making Tracks” to attend with my husband in late March. This scared me a little, just enough, offering something new and fresh, that would reveal new potential edges of growth for me.
Our first morning after breakfast, our group gathered for a cross country ski. I barely recalled having cross country skied once when I was 13, it had felt like a lifetime since. As soon as we set out, the winds and blind sighting snow met us head on. Very quick to be out of breath, and unable to see much ahead of me, I set out on a course of faith.
One of our guides, Jeff, gently offered his skills and teachings of how to ski. Balance, momentum, and steady stride all stemmed from our ability to bend in the knees. He introduced us to “Eileen Back”, aka “I-lean back”, who would ensure we fell if we leaned back in attempts to catch our balance. “Eileen” and I became very good friends.Bringing us over to a wee hill where we could practice getting both up and down it, Jeff said all we had to do was bend our knees. Even though my head heard those instructions, my body was refusing to respond. My knees felt locked and unable to bend. Every time I-leaned back, instead of bending my knees, I would fall.
Jeff was inspired by the groups overall ease and ability to ski, and then said the most scary words of, “How about we all go on the One-A-Day trail?” Everyone agreed without a flinch. All while my internal dialogue sounded like, “It’s okay, I don’t have to go, I can just let them go, they’ll understand, they see how bad I am. They’ll probably enjoy not being held back by me anyway.” Jeff, likely sensing my wavering confidence, skied behind me, offering me words of encouragement and tips to help bring more ease to my ski. With his kindness, I was able to ski past my chance to exit, and continued on with the group to the trail.Alas, the inevitable came, we arrived at the opening of the trail and I looked up at the hill that I was going to ski up. I let everyone go ahead of me. I did not want to be rushed. If I was going to do this my way, it was going to be my turtle way, with patience and persistence. They all looked like they flew up the hill. My husband, Kevin, and Jeff insisted to stay behind me. That added a whole other razor to my edge! Like the feeling of being tail-gated on the road, I did not want to be “bullied” by another car behind me, pushing me to go another speed than I was comfortable with, when I was already feeling so vulnerable and ready to snap. It turned out that the only “bully” behind me was my old sense of comfort throwing a tantrum about having to change.
Slipping, pulling, tripping, shaking, with all of my focus, I made my way up the trail. All I could muster in my head was a Hawaiian prayer of forgiveness that I had learned of recently called Ho’oponopono, which says, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I thank you, I love you”. I said this over and over again, to my knees at first, but then this prayer extended into my lungs, my heart, my whole body. Flashes of past trauma came into my memory, when I had felt bullied before.Suddenly I am my 9 year old self again, on my first canoe trip experience in Algonquin Park at camp. On a 3km portage, I give up, collapsing by a tree in tears that I can’t carry the pack and the axe any further. Two camp counsellors surround me, yelling at me until I stand up and put the pack back on, and they continue to yell at me from behind me until I complete the portage. When I finished the portage, large groups of other kids and counsellors are all waiting there for me, waiting for the ‘slow poke’ to finally make it. No one acknowledges that I am gasping in tears, we all just carry on.
With tears streaming down my face, I repeated the Ho’oponopono prayer, asking forgiveness for what had happened to me then. For the blame and shame I had held on to since that experience.
I heard Jeff’s voice from behind me, asking me how I was doing, to which I replied, “I’m okay, just facing another one of my edges!” Thank goodness they were behind me, holding supportive and encouraging space for me to do what I needed to do, at the pace that I needed to do it. All that mattered was that I just kept moving through it.Then as magical as ever, we arrived at the lake top destination point. I could barely talk. My knees were burning, but I didn’t care, I made it! I wanted to scream and cry and laugh and vomit and collapse all at the same time.
Initially, the thought of going down the hills of the trail was what I thought I was most afraid of. But it wasn’t. Climbing uphill was what I feared most and proved to be the most challenging. I had to believe in my strength and capability to rise above my fear and resistance into the mountain of my being. Going down hill was easy, my knees were finally bending, and it was easy to just squat and let gravity take me on a jolly ride. I smiled and giggled all the way down.
After our return from the ski, we filled up some delicious soul food that our bodies had deeply earned. Then before I knew it, the gang was getting ready to head out again on another adventure, this time snow shoeing across the lake. I had never snow shoed before. All too easily, I opted out of this one, choosing to take a nap instead, with a reasoning in my head that I had already reached my mountain peek at the top of the ski trail. My knees were aching and swollen, it was not possible that they could handle more….or could they? That silver lining of curiosity got the better of me, and I made my way over to join the others, giving myself the permission to move at the pace that I needed to that felt loving and supportive enough for my knees. I had no idea how much support these big clunky shoes could offer. They made the world of difference from trying to walk through snow in my boots alone. I felt my body transforming all things sticky and heavy, asking me to pick up my feet a little higher, making my steps a little brighter and lighter. I felt parts of my body being utilized that I had completely forgotten about.
On our final day, we went for a final snow show adventure, up a different trail. Just when I thought my fears had finally subsided, there they were again. I looked up our first hill and heard that voice inside me say, “You can’t go up there in snow shoes. You’re going to make a fool out of yourself.” And so, again, I waited for everyone to walk ahead of me. Walking up the hill I was astonished, again, by the ease that resulted from the snowshoes. They made everything so much easier than what I had experienced before in walking up this hill in my boots. How did I live so long without knowing about the magic of snow shoes? Quickly, my courage stood up tall, as I got excited about the hiking adventure that lay before us.
About half way through our walk, after taking a break to absorb the beauty around us, I decided to change positions. With Kim, our guide, leading the way, I leaped into the opportunity to follow her, allowing the rest of the group to follow behind me. It was a small act that the others did not likely notice, but for me, it was immense. I felt confident in my capability as a leader, making my tracks in this world that others could follow.
Soaring beyond the labels of ‘rejuvenator’ or ‘explorer’, I am a “change seeker”. Seeking the change, I answered the call to grow, to move, to transform, to have fun, to inspire myself, and not only did I try something fresh and new, but I became really good at it! Just ask my guide, Jeff, who now calls me “Super Star”, or, talk to my knees who haven’t felt a flinch of pain since.
While moving your body, perhaps on a spring walk, or while dancing to your favourite song in your living room, come into focus within your heart. As you enter the inner landscape of your body, explore the question: I wonder what it would be like to travel to the body parts that are calling for change and give them permission to communicate clearly with me?
If a strong emotion is found, continue the conversation by asking:
- What need is this emotion informing me of? What would bring balance to this emotion?
- What does honouring this need, in a new way, look like? Feel like? Taste like? Sound like? Smell like?