Messages from the Yei-Be-Chei to the Rest of Us: What Are We Creating with Our Precious Breath of Life?
Many of his paintings represent Yei-Be-Chei, sacred spiritual messengers of the Diné. His great grandfather was a medicine man, who instilled strong spiritual beliefs and practices while raising him. David grew up attending and participating in many healing events, from seasonal rituals to sand painting. The most revered members of his culture instructed him, as he grew.
His work has always held me spellbound, and this image especially touched my heart. A peaceful yet powerful quality exudes from it.
He often shows his Yei-Be-Chei with the breath of life coming from their mouths. These are holy people who were here before humans -- and in Diné culture, they created everything in the universe. So, these are creation images. In ceremonies today, people wear masks to portray and remember the Yei-Be-Chei.
Here is another of David K. John's images, where you can also see this breath of life clearly. He says there is also a lot of sand texture in this painting, reminiscent of the sand paintings created in healing ceremonies like the Night Way:
From David K. John, when I asked him about this:
It represents the breath of life. Also represents winter. So these dancers come in the wintertime to impersonate the deities. It represents that there is a person behind the mask. The person is alive and breathing. The 9-day ceremony is only done in the winter. This dancer is a female. She is carrying good healing...hummingbirds carry healing messages traveling through the wind.
However, more comes out of our mouths than breath alone; our words come out as well. We create our entire experience of living through the words we say to ourselves and others, whether aloud or not. Our thinking is also going on 24/7, both consciously and unconsciously. This determines our perception, which goes on creating our lives forward. What comes from inside, shows up outside.
The well-known coach Steve Hardison has referred to the mouth as a "creation hole," speaking words which impact everything. He helps people uncover the internal declarations (or "document") they have been unconsciously living by, through the words they say to and about themselves and others. Many of these are adaptations to painful events and situations experienced early in life. Through clarity and self-forgiveness work, he helps them transform these old, often trauma-related declarations into new ones that they now want to live by, going forward. He calls this process "creating your document."
This "creation hole" metaphor really synchs with me, although I don't know whether Steve has ever seen these paintings of Yei-Be-Chei breathing their holy essence into the world. If he hasn't, I might be the first person who has connected these dots in this way.
Along with this oral "creation hole," there's of course another "hole" at the opposite end of our humanity. Those who have studied biology will know this part of our anatomy well. We all have one, and we need to tend and keep it clean. The trouble is that intentionally or not, many of us are led in our lives by this hind end. Some of us may even merit the descriptor, "a**hole." I see this a lot in medical culture, with people being impatient, arrogant, and rude to each other. We mock and ridicule, making nasty judgmental comments under our breath or aloud. Especially where power imbalances exist, we treat each other as "less than." We criticize other people cruelly for any mistakes, sometimes even blaming them for our own lapses. Sometimes patients do this to us and other healthcare staff, orally and through Press-Gainey reviews. Though this may be a way to dissipate suffering when people are in unbearable pain of their own, it creates even more hurt, discord, and distress than before. I help my clients deal with their own inner pain, so they don't have to spew it out onto others this way. I also help them create more intentionally and lovingly in the world, through their "creation hole."
In doing this work for some 40 years now, I've seen that most of us get caught up in defending or inflating our self-image, at least occasionally. It may be innocent, as we're in survival mode and don't realize what we're doing. Unfortunately, too much of what we say to each other is in this realm. Fortunately, when feeling calm and grounded, there's a much healthier and more rewarding possibility. We can send forth loving creations from the very heart of our being to ourselves and others. It's an entirely different experience when we do this ourselves, and when we receive this from others. When being our authentic selves, we can speak powerful words of courage, clarity, support, compassion, and love out into the world. When busy inflating or protecting our ego or self-image, our words get complicated, angry, knee-jerk, tangled up, and easily misunderstood. We become the other kind of "hole." Who really wants to create from that end?
About this image David said further:
The hummingbirds appeared after I finished the painting, it wasn't planned. I just added enough detail. Sometimes things [come] onto my canvas as they are sent by the Holy People. Glad it's going to a good home. Many good blessings will come to you.
He didn't know how much I love hummingbirds, but I surely do! I indeed feel very blessed, and so will my clients. Most are physician-healers and other creative professionals. They want to move beyond burnout and other kinds of suffering, and to create peaceful, loving, joyful lives. They want to be contributing positively in the world, making it a better place. I am so grateful to be doing this work, and to be sharing Aloha from my true self in this way.
Care well for your own precious Breath of Life, my friends -- and tend carefully what you send out through your "Creation Hole." It will manifest in all kinds of ways. And many thanks to David K. John and Steve Hardison for sharing their creations with the rest of us as they do!