The words we use matter, and how we use them matters. Calling things what they truly are, matters. One of the great lessons of the past 2+ years in the woods has been to feel the distinction between power and force. And, to recognize that our culture uses the word power inaccurately - because what we call "power" in our culture is actually, most of the time, actually "force."
In the woods, I have come to feel that True Power is felt inside the body as a sense of peace, dignity, bliss, respect, openness, truth, and complete wholeness. These feelings are completely independent and irrespective of external circumstances. In other words, they do not depend on what anyone else does, says, feels, or thinks. Everyone else is completely free to do as they please, believe as they wish, and feel as they feel. And people can then come or go as they please, without disturbing this peace. There is no need to control another person, subjugate them, or change them in any way - peace is independent of how anyone else acts, feels, or agrees.
Force, on the other hand, is experienced as disturbed peace; a need to have something or someone behave in a certain way, or be different, on the outside. It depends on controlling an outcome, a person, or a situation. This includes having an agenda (as opposed to having a respectful conversation that is open to the input of others, and the subsequent open process). Force also includes judging a situation, person, or circumstance because judgement implies that anyone knows better than another what is right for them; they feel superior to another. Likewise, force includes a feeling of being either inferior or superior. It also encompasses withholding or managing a truth, or trying to create perception, rather than speaking the plain truth.
In a nutshell: power is internal peace, and force is disturbed peace that needs an external solution.
What is astonishing, in this framework, is how much of our culture, our interactions, our hierarchies are lived in force, not in power. And this matters because when we feel in our natural, Divine, state of power, we make radically different choices and behaviors on the outside.
We cannot create on the outside what we do not possess on the inside. Cleaning up the pollution, the dysfunction, the abuse of force, the disequilibrium, the unsustainability on the outside requires first cleaning it up on the inside. Moment by moment, imbalance by imbalance, discomfort by discomfort, what we heal in the inside, we inevitably heal on the outside.
And, there is no judgement implied in this information - it is the culture we are all swimming in. We learned, acquired, or inherited these beliefs or energetic patterns. Of course we believe what we believe...until we see it differently. And, once we know differently, we can give the beliefs back, we can return the ancient energetic patterns back to the highest original source.
Finding ourselves in force, using force, believing force, or even feeling a barrier over the heart, is a call to return to peace. The good news is that it is possible. All the time, in every circumstance, we can release anything that is not ours to carry. (And, anything that is not our true nature is not ours to carry.)
Clearing the thistles from our paws feels so damn good.
And then, peace restored, we do differently. Right action follows, filled beyond measure with the power of the soul.
This is what the woods knows.
Norma Van Horn