Respect as a Modality for Healing

I was thinking about how to explain to others how to overcome feeling overwhelmed when I remembered being five years old. I was attending the fourth of July pow-wow with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We enter a teepee that shelters from the summer sun. I am introduced to an uncle named Sam. We sit down. It’s quiet, for a long time. Sam is an elder, he has long wrinkles, and his hair is white with age. I become aware of his breath and the way his presence embraced some kind of energy. The energy was stillness. The energy moved, yet it didn’t. Stillness. No one spoke until everyone was aware of this stillness. As a child, I interpreted this as my cooperation in showing respect. At the age of five, I knew this man deserved respect.

Today, when I recall this memory of Sam, I think of it as an energy experience. How did Sam create stillness in the midst of a pow-wow? Drumming, people dancing and walking all around, voices singing and talking fills the air. The colorful regalia creates rhythmic patterns that mesmerize me to this day. From a few moments of silence and stillness, I learned how respect creates a healing environment.

I ask you to recall the feeling you have when you are home, relax in your easy chair, in your den or living room. Recall how much you love home. Maybe you are home alone and liking it, or you can hear your family and the sound brings comfort. Remember how stillness created a gentle environment for you.

As you read this where are you? Is there hustle and bustle around you? Or are you tense from being in the commotion of an event? Take time to breathe, right now, and totally relax. Listen to your breath and slow down. Now, remember your stillness. Bring the gentleness and stillness of your memory of home to your body, now, wherever you are. Grounding is when you can possess the space you are in at this moment in a way of settled stillness within. This is your space, wherever you are, and you have the right to feel safe and to feel gentleness. Sustaining emotions like self-compassion, (in this moment I have inner peace, the kind I feel at home) creates an environment that others can feel and enjoy.

Sam created that for me. I saw his stillness. I watched his breath. Everyone was silent. When everyone became aware of respect, we honored the moment with speech, which led to laughter. But what I learned I learned from silence. In silence, we observe body gestures and facial expressions. We can see emotions rise and diffuse. The environment that we create within us is the energy that is interchangeable with others in a ceremony, in a community, and in private dialogues.

Staying grounded, internally still, my body as relaxed as I am at home is something I can bring to everyday situations. Do this exercise when you feel overwhelmed. Practice so we may share this healing energy in groups. Today I will create stillness so I can hear things that I have never heard before, so I can have memories that have long pathways from yesterday to tomorrow. So others can carry the peace and stillness forward.


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