Relaxing the Grip!

By Keith Varnum

On the way home, my buddy Joe and I drove to a nearby gorge for a quick, late afternoon dip. The locals called it Sculptured Rocks because of the dramatic, serrated beauty carved by ancient glaciers. Pure water tanks had formed as a river cut down through the mountain. As tiered droplets, the river gifted the gorge with seven deep pools, which flowed into each other successively through waterfalls and flutes. Native Americans referred to this powerful spot as the Seven Sacred Pools. They used the pure waters for initiation rites in ritual ceremonies many moons in the past.

Initiation, however, was the furthest thing from my mind as I dove into the pure, cold water. My intention was to swim, relax and cool off after being out on a boat all afternoon exposed to the sun—and to Joe’s impassioned, personal questioning.

I was floating in the largest pool when I spotted Joe on a high cliff about fifty feet above me. Tall, sturdy, blonde and resplendent in a shaft of sunlight, Joe resembled a reincarnated Viking. I’d seen local kids jump safely from that height in the past and could tell he was contemplating the plunge. But Joe was hesitating, and appeared lost in serious inner concentration. Later he told me he’d been reviewing his Greek mythology and comparing it to the concepts he learned from me that afternoon.

Suddenly, Joe pointed down to me, shouting, “You’re one of those teachers, aren’t you? You’re one of those spiritual teachers who gets people to jump off cliffs.”

He’d been riding me all day to come out with my true identity and power. Still reluctant and clinging to my old protection of playing dumb, I shouted back, “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

Joe ignored my protestations of ignorance. “I know what you’re doing. You’re trying to get me to leap off this cliff . . . to trust God and Spirit and leave my old world!”

From the heights of the precipice, Joe explained how the Greek myths taught that for a person to receive a gift, they have to give a gift. Then he said, “I know for me to jump off this cliff and receive the gift that’s here for me—the gift of opening to a whole new spiritual life—I need to first give a gift.”

Joe gave the gift of trust: trusting the universe, Spirit and his inner coach.

As he hit the water, his weighty body thrust sharply into the pool. After an eternity of seconds, Joe’s left hand popped up above the surface of the water. The skin on his wrist was torn open. I could see two stark white bones sticking out through bleeding flesh. Joe’s hand had hit a hidden tree trunk submerged under the water, fracturing his wrist in two places.

Distraught, I helped Joe climb out of the pool to solid ground. His hand swelled to about three times its normal size, the color of his skin changing very quickly from pale white to a sickening spectrum of yellow-green, then olive, blue, and, finally, black.

Joe wailed in confusion and betrayal, waving his broken wrist at the gods. “Is this the gift?” he bemoaned.  “You know, I trusted. I gave my trust . . . and this is the gift I get back?” Turning to me, he insisted, “There must be another gift.”

I was in shock and resistance, trying to avoid dealing with the whole crisis. Joe walked over to me, holding his now grotesquely deformed hand and wrist. “You just did some sort of healing class awhile ago, didn’t you?”

I nodded. I recently attended a Reiki training. I went mainly, I told myself, to meet some new friends. True to form, I was keeping myself in the dark as to the real reason my spirit pushed me to explore something new. The soul purpose of my learning Reiki was to re-ignite my natural healing abilities, and in doing so, open me to a whole, new world of public, spiritual expression. 

Joe persisted, “Reiki teaches you to heal things, right?” And, in his innocence and trust, he demanded, “Well, heal my wrist.”

The Reiki class taught me how to send a warm, gentle vibration through a person’s body. The treatments eased the pain of headaches and other minor ailments. And I’d used it once since the class to assist my young friend Kriya to heal a small burn on her finger. But Joe was asking for a healing on a much more profound level. Lord, help me!

Joe sat down next to me and placed his wrist on my lap. “Okay, heal it,” he commanded.

Upset, tired and frustrated by Joe’s tenacious will, I felt I had little choice and nothing to lose. So I put one hand underneath his wrist and the other hand on top. I allowed Reiki energy, or Universal Life Force, to flow freely through me to Joe’s wrist. My concern and focus were on trying to get out of the situation and save some face. I also didn’t want to completely destroy Joe’s illusion of the “spiritual” nature of his new buddy.

Without warning, the palms of both my hands became hot—really hot! I’d sensed a little warmth when I’d done Reiki before, but now my palms felt as if they were literally on fire. Just as I was freaking out at the intense heat in my palms, I heard a strong, lucid voice rising from the depths of my being. It was the voice of my soul. I’d heard it a few times before in my life, but only as a faint whisper. The authoritative voice cut right through my fear and denial:

“Keith, if you want to have this level of transformation in your life, you have to relax your grip on everything.”

I knew the voice was referring to a level of power that could heal a wrist broken in two places. My inner coach repeated:

“If you want this level of alchemy, magic and healing in your life, you have to loosen your grip on all your beliefs about the world and everything else you’re so tightly holding on to.”

Not only the events of that day, but of my whole life, passed by my mind’s eye. I could see how I was trying to hold my old, familiar world together. I felt the strain of all the effort and work I invested each moment into trying to maintain my narrow view of the universe and my limited image of myself. I knew the voice was correct. I knew I wanted and needed transformation in my life. The voice continued:

“When you ease the grip and allow this magnitude of transmutation to occur, not everything will change radically. Some aspects of your life will only change a tiny bit. But other aspects will shift a lot. You cannot control which aspects will shift a lot, or which will shift a little. You simply need to loosen your grip on the whole thing and allow everything to move, rearrange and realign however it needs to. Do you allow this?”

Realizing the folly of resisting my soul’s plan for natural healing and harmony, I eased up on my grip. The part of me that was resisting my inevitable fate was exhausted. I surrendered into agreement with my inner wisdom. In this exquisite abandon, I experienced extreme relaxation and calm. The searing heat in my hands subsided completely.

Very timidly, I took my hands off Joe’s wrist. The wrist was whole! The skin wasn’t scarred, scratched or disfigured in any way. The color was a good, healthy pink. The hand was back to its normal size.

Joe and I stared at the wrist. We both started to massage the hand to see if any pain remained and to check if the healing was complete. Joe rotated the wrist to make sure it turned normally. The wrist moved easily and painlessly.

My mind was racing in an attempt to explain what had happened, Did we hallucinate this whole thing? Did we have too much sun today? Did the icy cold water get to us?

Then we were blessed by a fortuitous confirmation of the miracle. Just as my mind began to question, reinterpret and discount the healing, we heard shouting from above us. From the rim of the gorge, about a dozen, very exhilarated bikers were hollering and waving at us. They had seen Joe come up out of the water with his broken wrist and had witnessed the transformation. 

As they streamed down the path to reach us, they yelled, “Hey man, how’d you do that?” Each biker placed his hands on Joe’s wrist. One after another, every guy insisted on touching Joe’s hand and moving his wrist back and forth. One gnarly guy mumbled, “What kind of people are you?”

In a fascinating gesture, harking back to the olden days of jousting, the bikers handed Joe a large, staff-like tree limb and asked him to twirl it. They wanted to see if his wrist was truly healed and strong. So Joe spun a big, heavy stick in the air for several minutes until everyone was satisfied. The ancient Viking warrior was back!  

The bikers were an added gift that day. Their acknowledgement of the healing gave Joe and me valuable external evidence that we didn’t hallucinate the whole incident. Joe had broken his wrist. And it was miraculously healed. By Joe. By me. By Spirit. We had witnesses. Very impartial witnesses. A dozen strangers had watched Joe come out of the pool with white, broken bones jutting through the bleeding flesh of his wrist. The objective observers kept repeating, “I saw your wrist. There was blood on it. We saw the bone sticking out,” as much for us to hear, as for themselves. They saw Joe lay the swollen hand on my lap. They watched me cradle the wrist between my hands.

A dozen people, their presence unknown to us, observed the healing that afternoon by the sacred pools. They validated the event for us and helped us fight back our minds’ desperate attempts to discredit and deny the magic.

After a while, the bikers drifted away. In a state of amazement and awe, Joe and I were left sitting there to fully absorb the wonder of the day. Not only did I participate in a miracle, I learned from my inner guidance a useful nuance in the skill of letting go.

For many people, “letting go” initially triggers fear and reluctance. The mind tells us we’ll lose something valuable if we simply let go. So we hold on, tightly grasping our worldview, controlling the way we think things need to be to keep us safe. It’s a death grip on a predictable world that leaves little room for miracles.

Now, instead of asking myself and others to “let go,” I ask myself and others to “relax the grip” on tightly held beliefs, so that everything can shift that needs to shift for real transformation to occur. The difference in the question being asked is subtle, but profound. With this approach, we don’t give up the opportunity to re-tighten our grip on old viewpoints if we feel the necessity to feel in control again. We are much more willing and able to ease our grip on something familiar and precious than we are to let it go altogether. Loosening our grip a little allows the elements in our life to rearrange for our benefit, helping us to shift more easily out of undesirable situations.

“Relaxing the grip” also allows the wisdom of our inner guidance to come into play. In setting our sails toward newfound horizons and inviting the currents of change to take us to fresh ports of call, our inner navigator can offer crucial shifts in direction that can greatly ease our journey.

Read more true stories of Keith’s life adventurte in his book, “Inner Coach: Outer Power