• Kara Kihm

United Through Pain



I’m realizing that I’n not very good at multitasking. I haven’t blogged in a many months because I’ve been working on my book. I guess the fact that I’m blogging now means that I’m on a pause from my book. For what ever reason I can’t seem to do both at the same time.


Recently I’ve been present to the concept of collective pain and how it unifies us as humans. I would say that burning man was my first experience of conscious collective pain and it was a profound. When sharing pain collectively something powerful happens....... a recognition and realization occurs that we are truly not alone on our journey.


I want to share an excerpt from my book of my experience during my first burn........

Temple Burn


Trauma can be a potent force for spiritual awakening- Steve Sisgold


Nothing could have prepared me for the feelings and emotions that were present the following night at Temple Burn. Temple was an incredible sight to behold and truly took my breath away. The Temple of Wholeyness was a massive pyramidal complex made entirely of interlocking puzzle pieces of wood. The 64-foot-tall wooden structure was built without a single screw or nail; all of the wood grooved together by hand.


The emotion one felt upon entering temple hit you in the gut and consumed you. Walking through temple and learning people’s stories, was a sobering experience. I felt the energy of peoples trauma and pain filled the air. Temple was filled with memories, artifacts, beautiful quotes and pictures each which had their own story. People left anything in temple that they wished to release or heal.


Before going to temple different campmates shared their stories. Mason, a former Marine who completed three tours in Iraq, chose to leave an American Flag. On it he had written, To my brothers who didn’t make it home because of me. He was a survivor and had survived great loss. As a Marine he knew hardship beyond what my mind was capable of imagining. As he shared his story about what he left in temple tears fell from my face hitting the dust. He had come to the burn to release the trauma of war.


70,000 people marched through the desert in silence to witness the burn of the Temple of Wholyness. Tonight these desert dwellers sought healing and the mood was quiet and somber. It was not a night to celebrate with joy, but rather to face pain and release. As I took a seat to watch this magnificent burn I looked around noticing the pain in people’s eyes.

Watching the breath taking structure go up in flames I was reminded of an old wise tale from India......


A woman distraught with grief ran to find the Buddha after her child passed. She pleaded with the Buddha, please please can you bring back my child? I am so distraught with grief I cannot go on. The Buddha replied I can, but you must go into the village and find a mustard seed from one person who has not experienced suffering and loss. The woman ran into the village knocking on every door. She even ran into the surrounding towns desperate to find someone, anyone who had not experienced loss.


As the story goes, she was unable to find this person. Tonight I was bonded with these desert dwellers in our suffering and loss. We were ONE, UNITED through our PAIN.


I believe not only that pain can be a potent force for spiritual awakening, but it is also what unites every single human on this planet making us ONE. While each person’s pain is individual, there is a soul recognition that exits when you meet someone who truly gets it!!!! Gets the depth of your pain.


The other day I received this message from a beloved friend……….


I’ve been thinking about what you shared with me yesterday about your past and I wanted to tell you that this deep calm settled in my chest. I realized that although I often appear confident, open and vulnerable- that genuine trust of others doesn’t come easy to me. It takes me literally years for me to trust another human being. Yesterday- you broke through that invisible barrier of protection I wrap my most tender parts in. I realized out of all the people in my life, you “get it”. You understand how deeply I hurt sometimes, how scared I am to be alone, how fragile this sense of self is that I have. You get it, the cycles, the anxiety, the suicidal thoughts, the shame. So, thank you Kara. You gave me such a gift yesterday by simply being you. Your suffering has helped me bear my own.


I believe so deeply as Lisa Edwards states……


“It is by sharing ourselves that we gain the wisdom of many lifetimes.”


And I believe we gain this wisdom even more deeply when we share ourselves in our pain and deeply “SEE EACH OTHER”…….


I absolutely love Gabor Mate and his concept…..”The Myth of Normal.” When we stop living into this myth and authentically share something magical happens…..We realize we are more alike than different. Let us take off our masks and share ourselves authentically.... Especially in our pain ……So that we may deeply see each other and know how UNITED we truly are.

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