The room was filled with excitement. The participants were nervous, because they didn’t know what to expect. The bright windows at the workshop center in California made the room feel spacious and cheerful. People sat in a large circle, waiting for the event to begin. We were here to talk about how to connect more deeply to our ancestors. In these half-day intro circles, we focus on ancestors from which we inherited a special gift like artistic ability or a warm, nurturing heart.
I shared some of my own story to inspire vulnerability. “I’ve always had a connection to the deceased members of my family,” I said. “I was the one who people came to at the funeral and asked if the person who just died was OK the other side. In my dreams, loved ones who just passed would visit me. Growing up, my family was very open minded about being connected to our deceased lineage. We believed that they went to the other side and that their life continued on. At family parties, we would talk about Great Grandma Kennedy, our deceased matriarch, when we felt she had visited us.”
Just admitting that I felt a connection to a deceased loved one seemed to break the ice in the room. I was curious about what attracted people to the workshop, so I asked everyone to share during introductions.
“I came here not knowing what to expect,” a kind woman said. “When I saw the flier about ancestors and Bloodline Healing, I just really felt drawn to be here. I’m a nervous, actually. But I’m curious too. I guess my curiosity became stranger than my hesitation,” she giggled. “And that’s why I’m here.”
These gatherings reminded me how conditioned we are to hide our connection with our ancestors from the outside world. After introductions, I asked the group, “Why is it so taboo to have a connection with our deceased loved ones?”
“I wasn’t taught how,” a woman shared, first with a quiet voice, then she spoke louder as she gained confidence. “So I don’t feel like exploring this connection with my family would be supported. But I really feel drawn to the story of my ancestors. I’m told that I like just like my great grandmother.”
“Fear of the unknown,” another man said. “I don’t even know it if it possible to feel the deceased, but I’m here to see what will happen.”
Bloodline Healing offers a way connect to our lineage in a healing way. The beauty of this multicultural gathering was that not everyone must believe the same thing.” ~ Kamana Tweet This!
The room was opening up. People wanted to talk about this, but they were afraid of being judged or shamed for doing so. “Everybody knows that if you speak out loud to your deceased grandmother in the supermarket, then people will think you are schizophrenic.” I said as the room erupts into laughter. “It doesn’t matter how much you love your grandma, nor how much comfort her presence brings you. If you’re talking to ghosts, then you’re crazy. Yet, I am consistently surprised by how many people believe that its possible to have some kind of encounter with their family tree.”
So many people just needed a safe place to explore it for themselves, without other people pushing their beliefs or judgments onto them. I felt joy in providing that space. While I personally believe that I can feel the spiritual presence of my deceased great grandmother, not everyone who comes to Bloodline Healing shared that belief. For some, Bloodline Healing was a therapeutic process or a creative guided meditation. The beauty of this multicultural gathering was that not everyone must believe the same thing. All opinions were welcomed.
Next, we broke into small groups and shared about our ancestors. Some people brought old photos of previous generations. The once quiet room became filled with a caucophony of conversation. Perfect strangers eagerly shared about the origins of their family, along with their favorite and most mysterious ancestors. Laughter and enthusiasm was building. We asked the groups to focus on sharing a special gift that they would like to offer the world more fully. Some shared intellectual abilities like the capacity to focus on detailed projects. The gifts of other people were more intuitive or expressive in nature.
Now, it was time for the Guided Contact experience. We set a clear intention to connect with ancestors that support us in sharing our gifts with the world. To help people shift into their hearts, I shared one of my gifts; my love of singing. Its a gift connected to my Mohawk heritage on my father’s side of the family. My family left the reservation and lost contact with our culture. But I was the one who reconnected us back by learning our traditional song and dance. I shared the song from my album Haven called “Akwe:kon Skennen“, which affirms “we’re all at peace”.
The room went quiet, eyes closed, and hearts pumping with anticipation. That tingle started, a bubbling in my chest that rose up before I even made a sound. The top of my head opened, receiving a splash of invisible mist that washed down my body like an electric waterfall. The first sound leaves my mouth, a cry out to that deep connection I feel to my ancestors and to my deceased grandfather. That ache, that longing was vocalized. I felt a flush of calm knowing. The song was free, free from my body, leaving my mouth and washing over the people in the room. The participants sank more deeply into their chairs, holding their hearts and letting go of the busy thoughts of the day.
The room became quiet again. Gradually, I took the group through the Guided Contact in a guided meditation format:
Feeling: Feel the air around you. Feel for the thickness in the air. Feel for an imprint of a hand or a hug. We’re breathing. We settle in. Smell: Can you smell a scent? Perfume, coffee, or food? We breathe in together. We remember moments connected to good smells of our shared life. Taste: Do you notice a taste in your mouth? We breathe together, again. Hearing: Do you have a song in your head? Can you hear the thoughts that sound slower and softer than usual? We’re in the silence. Take a deep breath as our minds become more quiet. Sight: Allow a vision to enter your mind. What do you see? A Shape? A Color? Perhaps a Face? They see us. See your kin.
After the Guided Contact came to a close, we shared in the big group. Some people remembered foods that they used to eat at their grandmother’s house. Others felt physical sensations of heat and pressure, like hands holding them. Some just felt warm in their hearts. A few participants had vivid visual experiences with specific deceased loved ones.
At the end of the gathering, many expressed their appreciation for having a place to share about such a heartfelt matter. My Assistant Facilitators: Dr. Aviva Shira Bernat, Jessica Gelson MFT, and Dina Bernat-Kunin LCSW all live in California, so they came to support our Intro event. We shared about our upcoming 4-day Bloodline Healing Intensive Retreat at AJU’s Brandeis-Bardin campus on October 10th-13th. “It’s a chance to take the next step and address the burdens that we all inherit from our lineage”, said Aviva Shira Bernat. “Think of it as a chance to clean off those inherited gifts we spoke about today,” I added.
When the participants went home, I gazed out the windows, feeling fulfilled and warm with peace.