Teachings from the Tree of Life, part 5: The Gift of the Heart
How to Choose Your Spiritual Path: an Ancient Anishinaabe Teaching from the Tree of Life
"Our spiritual path was designed way before we were born on Mother Earth; many times you'll be tested and many times you'll fail. "Spiritual Paths" or "The Tree Of Life" is a simple teaching to understand and all you need to do is to take a good look at yourself and see what you truly need. When we try to get things that our neighbours have, this is where our Spiritual Path and design gets confused and ultimately fail. This is where people get confused and create problems in their life. When confusion sets into your life, you have the ability to choose another branch from the tree of life and follow that branch towards discovery. When you stand back and take a good look, you have so many branches to choose from."*
- Wikwemikong Anishinaabe Medicine Painter James Mishibinijima
*Excerpt from Mishmountains Blogspot, "Teachings to the Tree Of Life."
Ode' Miinigowin ("Gift of the Heart") - ©2022-2023 Zhaawano Giizhik
The Gift of the Heart and how to cope with it - a letter to a friend
Does this sound familiar? You know you have a gift. Your sensitivity is a big part of that gift. On one hand, it allows you to commune with the spirits; on the other hand, it feels like a handicap because it makes you vulnerable to other people’s jealousy.
In Western society, highly sensitive people are often commonly misunderstood as weak or lacking in internal fortitude. But in the past, when our People were not yet overrun by Western society, highly sensitive people were considered gifted. Our ancestors knew that such sensitivity allowed a great ability to perceive and therefore understand others – and enabled the one who is sensitive to better understand the teachings of the ancestors and the messages conveyed by the spirits and the animals.
I think it is important that you realize that it is not your sensitivity that’s the problem; it’s the negativity of people in your immediate surrounding who are jealous of your gift. You touch many people with your smile; but some get offended by your inner beauty and goodness. They sense you have an innocent heart, so they try to destroy that.
I know what I’m saying. Someone I cared deeply for possesses a heart that is big and warm and that used to touch mine in ways I cannot express in words; but sometimes a cloud of self-sabotage cast a black shadow over her heart and it was in times like those that she tended to destroy all that is pure and beautiful in her own heart, and it is then that she tried to destroy mine along with it. But no matter how hard she hit and hurt me with her negativity, I never allowed her toxic ways to touch my gift -, no matter how unspeakably sad her behavior made me, and no matter how much I – despite everything – cared for her. That, in itself, I believe is a gift too, and a sign of strength.
You, on the other hand, are different. There is nothing toxic about you. You have the gift of the Heart. It is the strongest, most powerful gift there is. But to be able to do something good with it and eventually help others with this gift, before you are ready to truly use this gift to heal others, you must first set boundaries for yourself. Only when you find a way to cope with your "handicap" (your emotional sensitiveness) you can start developing your gifts – trough ceremony, trough talking with Elders. Guard yourself against negativity by spending less time on Facebook or any other social media is a first good step. It will take a while, but you will feel much better about yourself (and about others) eventually. Continue to partake in ceremonies, talk to Elders you trust, try to find out more about this gift and what it means – the gift of the heart. Manage your strong feelings so they are you allies, rather than enemies. Learn the language so you will be able to understand the Elders better. Knowing your language brings you closer to your ancestors, they have so many things to teach you about your gift. Balance your sensitivity with awareness (awareness of your gift, awareness of the reasons why many of our people are so negative nowadays). Balance your sensitivity with common sense (hard to find nowadays). Balance your sensitivity with confidence (which you have to work on) and with resilience (of which you have plenty). The time and energy you spend in giving all you got in your art or writings, in your job, or in your hobbies, or in sports, or in spending time outdoors is essential, they help building that common sense and self-confidence and resilience. All these things will help you not to over-react to life’s everyday events and to guard yourself against the jealousy of others.
One day you will use your gift by helping others to heal. Give it time but start working on it.
And never stop blessing the world – even the negative people – with your smile.
> Visit the next episode in the series: Native Reflections from the Sacred Medicine Circle.