Wound as purpose: remoulding intention in times of change

When was the last time time you felt connected to your purpose, breathed with it, felt it circulate in your body and breath?

When was the last time you felt hurt?

When was the last time you shaped your actions – held back, avoided, scolded, so as to avoid hurt for yourself or another?

Each of us carries shaping that informs our actions. Some of our shaping enhances our wisdom and allows us to shine. Some of it causes us to recoil into unconscious, restrictive ways of being. One of the most constrictive places of shaping that we share, is avoidance. The place of wound, the point of tension. We tell ourselves, “don’t go there.”

Our cultural narrative is that the wound is bad. It means you’re broken and that brokenness too, is bad. We don’t know how to fall apart in a way that is generative and meaningful. We don’t know how to have conflict that deepens intimacy. And so we miss vital points of opening, that could lead us home to our vital aliveness.

Our trials and travails have been drained of their meaning and potential for cure.

When we are sick we try to get out of it as quickly as possible, so that we can get on with whatever devices we have for trying to prove our value. Our relationship with love is often so tenuous that if we drop our crafted identity for even a day it can feel like too great a risk.

And when we hold space around healing, the conventional understanding is to ‘get rid of’ the affliction or symptom’ as if it were separate from me, as if it were not my own body and psyche in creation.

On most levels of our existence – personal, relational, community, institution, the pain of the wound is something to be feared.

We can bring utmost compassion to this misunderstanding. Each of us posses a brilliant, intelligent internal guidance system, designed to keep us alive, and sensitive to the experience of basic dignity, belonging, safety and purpose.

You are here, reading this now, because your vital aliveness has served you well in all the circumstances you’ve navigated.

But sometimes the medicine becomes the disease. And the only way to something new is to live a mythology of wound as purpose.

In the time of the ancients, as well as in shamanic practice circles today, we discover a context of wound as purpose. Wound as power. Wound as path. Wound as a map of what our inborn wisdom can do. Wound as life, trying to live. The wound is a place to enter, to bring full presence and honoring that reveals the myth of the person or people.

In nature too, we see that, when given space to do her thing, the earth enacts a process of digestion, assimilation and regeneration from and with her wounds. She casts nothing out.

In many traditional societies, the medicine people of the community were identified by having gone through terrible illness as children, or a near-death accident like lightning strike or being attacked by an animal.

Others in the community found their personal myth through vision quest or dreaming quest, where they intentionally put themselves into a state close to the wound, and lived with it, no distractions, until the vision of purpose alchemized.

For women, the monthly bleed was not an inconvenience, something to be hidden or dealt with in a way that the woman could get on with her life as quickly as possible without disruption. It was a scared time, when she was very close to the spirits. Women were honored during this time as it was understood that they had access to the wisdom of the spirit world that others did not.

I bring this to the community altar today because, as I go deeper into exploring, supporting and embodying purpose with my clients and others, I see just how perplexing it is for most of us to really connect to it. In fact last I heard, only 30% of Americans consistently wake up in the morning with a deep connection to what they put on this earth to do and to be. The rest of us wake with an attitude of just trying to get to the weekend after we deal with all that we perceive to be thrown at us.

Part of this enigma is that we have been trained into viewing wound as enemy rather than organizing principle. We don’t honor our traumas as the places that give necessary shape to our personal myth, but as something to overcome and move beyond.

It is often said that for those of us who teach, we teach what we most need to learn. Relationships therapists often have the most difficult marriages. Nutritionists often struggle with eating disorders. It’s time for us to see this not as hypocrisy, but as the necessary light and shadow aspects that can be sourced to create meaning, fulfillment, full expression and intimacy on levels that most of us rarely experience.

We have what it takes, in our ache, in our longing in our love.

Loving you,



Download the Wound as Purpose Workbook here.