I started class with the story of David Chetlahe Paladin, a Native American who served as an Allied spy in WW2. He was captured and tortured by the Nazis, including having his feet nailed to the floor and then being forced to stand like that for hours. When he was rescued, he was barely alive, and spent two years after the war in a coma in a military hospital.
When he was released he could only walk a little way with leg braces and crutches. He went back to his tribe on a reservation and told them he was going to see out his days at a veteran’s hospital. His tribe were horrified by his condition and the elders discussed what they could do to help him.
They removed his leg braces and crutches, tied a rope around his waist and forced him into a freezing, fast moving river. “David, call your spirit back”, they commanded. “Your spirit is no longer in your body. If you can’t call your spirit back, we will let you go. No one can live without his spirit. Your spirit is your power”
Calling his spirit back was the most difficult thing he had ever had to do. David said it was more difficult that having his feet nailed to the floor. He saw the faces of the Nazi soldiers, the months spent in a PoW camp. He knew he had to release his anger and hatred. “I could barely keep myself from drowning, but I prayed to let the anger out of my body. That’s all I prayed, and my prayers were answered”
David recovered full use of his legs and went onto become a healer, shaman and Christian priest. He spent the rest of his life helping other people call back their power.
(David’s story is from “Anatomy of the Spirit”, by Carolyn Myss PhD)
We ALL have personal power, but we are all often blind to the many ways we give it away. I wrote at length about this in this blog post from 2015 here. We all have a limited amount of personal power. I don’t mean the power that comes with a job (CEO, nurse, barista – these all have the power to make or break someone’s day). There is a much more ephemeral power that we all hold, the power to live our own lives, to love ourselves, to determine our own path. We all have it, even children (in fact, definitely children – trying to make my 15 month old nephew do something he doesn’t want to is a real power struggle). You can generate more power, you can give it away, you can lose it and find it again. It’s not constant, but it’s always there. Many of us are completely unaware of just how much power we actually have in our own lives – and how much we regularly give away.