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Standing In Power

How do we surrender to the universe without giving our power away? This question has been burning in me for quite some time. And I think I found the answer in sananga. Sananga is an optional medicine, and it’s in the ability to refuse it that we find our power. If we choose to say “yes” to an experience - not because we are coerced or forced - then we are living life from a place of power. However, choices have consequences. And that’s why we have so often given our power away to parents, teachers, partners, and organizations to make our choices for us. Because when those consequences come, we get to be a victim and make someone else an executioner. We get to go back into conflict which is a comfortable dynamic.

Inevitably, when I am given sananga, I immediately regret my choice. I go straight into victim mode and the facilitator that administered it to me (aka “the asshole”) becomes the executioner. I could stew in the regret of my decision or place blame on someone else, but neither of those things changes the consequence of the choice that I made. So I can stay in conflict and suffer, or I can humble myself and surrender to the circumstance. Neither choice is “wrong”, but one may lead to a more desirable outcome than the other.

And so it is with the decisions that other people make. So often we want to make their decisions for them. We want to tell them, “say yes to life! It’s going to hurt, but you will see things so much clearer!” Yet, they dig in their heels and refuse. And if we don’t give them the freedom to make choices that we judge as “wrong” then they will never reap the benefits of the choices that are really in their highest benefit. The hardest challenge for me is watching this happen for my children and my students, and being willing to let them make what I judge as a mistake. There are also times when we have the choice to step in and make decisions for others, and is that really the best course of action?

Let me give you a real world, practical example. My children are in an amazing charter school. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we have found for our family’s needs. Now, if I choose to be part of this school, I have to choose to accept their rules. And the rule is that my son needed his TDAP vaccine before going into 7th grade. However, he is on the autism spectrum and therefore experiences the world differently. While shots are hard for most 12 year olds, they are absolutely terrifying to him. As a mom, I had a choice to either take my son’s choice away and keep him in the school, or else to empower him to make his own choice and be willing to try another school if he refused the shot. I deeply hoped he would make what I judged as the “right” choice. But he did not. He absolutely refused the shot. So now I had to decide what consequence do I choose? Do I pull him out of the school where he has made so much progress, or do I traumatize him for 5 seconds by forcing this vaccine? Well, right or wrong, I chose the latter. And yes, I cried even harder than he did. For at least 10 minutes as I held him while he wailed with the pain of betrayal, I went right into the trauma with him, internally cursing the “executioner” doctors and the school and the lawmakers in California. But after I had my little visit into conflict, I remembered my warrior energy and accepted that I had ultimately made the choice to be part of this system. And after I made the choice, I had to sit with it and wonder if I did the “right” thing. Very much like when I first open my eyes on sananga and feel that sting, I have made the decision, and now I can only surrender to the consequences and be at peace with that.

The darkness and trauma in our lives also serves as a testament to the level of power to which we are capable to rise. We can see this on a grander scale with what humanity his currently experiencing. The theme of “choice” is huge in our current political paradigm (e.g. reproductive rights, gun control, etc.). Ultimately all of these issues are telling the same story. With all that is happening in our country, the struggle between the masculine and feminine is rising to new heights. For centuries, our society has lived in the imbalance of the patriarchy. As we slowly come into balance, we see resistance on both sides. There are those who fight to keep the status quo. The victims, the executioners, and the saviors all fighting… fighting… fighting. These “righteous wars” are part of the process of healing. Just like when we put sananga in our eyes, and our first instinct is to fight the sensation and resist it. As we relax into it, it’s going to be uncomfortable. But once we can be at peace with the change, the discomfort, and all of the pain and memories the medicine stirs up for us, we can flow with it and reap the benefits of this new sight. Many men truly want women to come into our power, but they also think that means to come into our power in masculine ways because they just don’t understand how the divine feminine power actually works. And many women want so desperately to come into our power, that we subconsciously create conflict just to have the opportunity to practice. So when you turn on the news or read about all of the political conflict, when you feel like your body and right to your own autonomy and humanity are being preyed upon, notice the victim/executioner dynamic. Go back into your sananga experience and breathe. The political, religious, and economic systems are just paradigms through which we are looking at the very same dynamics.

It really comes down to one giant story that is told and retold and retold again. We stand in our power by deciding what we are going to subscribe to and then surrender by accepting all of the consequences of that decision. That doesn’t mean that we don’t fight and stand up for what we believe in. We can also make the decision to create change. I could have absolutely gone to our school principal and put together a petition to drop the requirement for the TDAP vaccine for 7th graders. I did not choose to pick that battle. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.


Melanie Stark


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