Building the Momentum for Healing and Personal Growth

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Momentum
Most of us want to get to a place in our lives where we feel comfortable. The problem with hanging out in our comfort zone for indefinite periods of time is that we cannot sit still for very long without becoming stagnant. Essentially we are either moving forward or sliding backwards. Many of our lives are set up in such a way that we get up in the morning and ready ourselves for work. We spend long hours at work and are depleted by the time we get home in the evening. At times find ourselves overwhelmed by the demands and responsibilities of our daily lives, and yet we often make matters worse when we sit down in front of the television or go online. The massive amount of stimulus flooding our sensory channels overwhelms our body and mind’s processing capacity. And that impedes our ability to process the realities of our daily lives and any subsequent feelings that arise.

The vast majority of us are operating from holding patterns and that limits our ability to grow, move forward in our lives and realize our true potential. Unprocessed emotional residue, the stresses of our everyday lives and additional sensory input that we fail to process causes stagnation in our physical and subtle bodies. Our life force literally congeals and that greatly impedes our growth and personal development.
Reaching out in times of crisis

Shiori was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. She had been strung out emotionally for quite some time on a guy who wasn’t all that interested in her when she showed up in my class. Shiori was in a more grounded and emotionally comfortable place after a few of the individual healing sessions and was able to completely let go of the guy.

I could see that Shiori was making a lot of progress, but I knew that we had only scratched the surface. I could see the backlog of unprocessed emotional residue and other stresses held within her body that we hadn’t gotten to yet. I called Shiori to follow up, but she never returned my call. Shiori called me to schedule an appointment a few months later when the deeper levels of imbalance surfaced and she found herself in a depressive state that made it difficult for her to even get out of bed.

People nowadays tend to approach healing as something to do only when they have serious emotional, interpersonal or health crisis. Many people think to themselves “I’m fine now. I’m feeling much better. The problems are resolved so I don’t need to take any further steps to facilitate healing” as soon as the storm blows over.

Many of us think of healing as something to do so we can just get on with our lives. This type of mentality and approach to healing is so indicative of our tendency to operate at the very surface most levels of consciousness. We may have diffused the immediate crisis, but we have yet to address the underlying cause of our suffering. We need to understand that we have only scratched the surface. The changes we experience may feel profound, and yet they are barely a taste of what is truly possible.

Staying focused on what matters

I called Steve to check in and see how he was doing after a recent healing session. At one point he said “One of my greatest problems is that I get distracted and end up wasting a lot of time and then I don’t accomplishing the things that I truly want to get done.”

I responded by telling Steve “I know you have a lot on your plate, but I would encourage you to do the practices I’ve been teaching you for at least an hour a day if at all possible. Do twenty or thirty minutes if that’s all the time you have. The practice I showed you to awaken your instinctual consciousness will give you a clearer sense of purpose. You will get a strong feeling in your body that reveals what you need to be doing. It will also create the sense of urgency that will build the momentum needed to propel you forward. You’ll find yourself making better use of time and you will become more productive as a result.

The traumas of my own childhood and adolescence began to surface during my mid-twenties. I then found myself attracting women that reenacted my early life trauma. I had an instinctive knowing that I needed to breathe softly and deeply while fully immersing my awareness in the painful feelings and sensations that I experienced within my body during these times. Working with my feelings in this way helped to alleviate the pain while making it possible for me to let go when relationships were not working.

There were other times when I wasn’t in so much pain, but my love life wasn’t happening and I was struggling to get by financially. I was stuck in a holding pattern, but I didn’t know what steps to take to effect change in my life. It took me some time to realize that I needed to be doing practice every day.

I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to train with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Native Americans have for centuries gone out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. It was during the vision quests that the traditional doctors received the gifts of healing and other powers that made it possible for them to be of assistance to others.

I feel a strong presence moving within whenever I come down from the mountain. The powerful forces moving through me after a vision quest diminish over time and my body and mind tends to go back in the direction of its old familiar way of being. I’ve learned that I can keep the momentum of the vision quest going by doing as much intensive practice as I can afterwards. I get a lot more mileage out of the vision quests by doing more practice and the changes I experience are much more profound.

The vast majority of people who have been deeply traumatized will continue to suffer the adverse effects of the trauma for the remainder of their lives. They are, to varying degrees, incapacitated by the deep emotional wounds. That has a lot to do with the fact that many of our conventional and alternative approaches to healing are very limited in their effectiveness. It may be necessary for us to go beyond our comfort zone by stepping into the realm of the unfamiliar in order to heal.

The traumas that had such a debilitating impact upon me gradually healed as a result of the many hours of intensive practice, deep tissue body work, healing sessions and vision quests. The horrible pain subsided and then I began to experience a greater sense of freedom and aliveness. I recognized the progress I was making as my range of motion continued to expand, but I could still feel the parts of me that had yet to develop and that made me acutely aware of my limitations. I could feel where I was not as responsive or engaging as I would like to be. Rather than assuming that I was done at any point, I thought more along the lines of “I’ve come this far. How much further can I progress in my development? And what steps can I be taking on a daily basis to make that happen?”

Many of us have become so numbed or desensitized. We operate from such a profound state of disconnect that we do not even comprehend the amount of fear, hurt, sadness, anger and the stresses of daily life that are stored within our bodies. And we’re not very cognizant of the adverse impact that these stresses are having upon our organs and systems. Our woundedness will invariably become more deeply entrenched and we will become more stagnant if we’re not doing intensive spiritual practice on a daily basis, making use of resources such as deep tissue body work, working with gifted healers or going on the vision quest.

I’m also very fortunate to have the opportunity to train with Sifu Li Tai Liang in the Internal Martial Arts of Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang. Those who attain mastery in the Internal Martial Arts train for hours a day over the course of their lives to continually refine their forms and build greater internal power. Sifu began to train under his father and other masters for five to seven hours a day at the age of five. He went on to become the national fighting champion in the competitions in all of China. Sifu Li Tai Liang and others who have attained mastery clearly demonstrate the value of intensive daily practice.

Healing and personal-spiritual development isn’t just a passing fad or something one does in times of crisis for those who train in the ancient traditions. It’s a way of life. I follow the examples provided for me by the traditional Native American doctors and Internal Arts Masters in China by doing everything I possibly can to build a stronger foundation, deepen my connection to the source and increase the presence moving through me. I start my day with Chi Gong and other intensive Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang Practices. I make a concerted effort to spend an hour doing the mindfulness practice I developed of breathing into any feelings or sensations that arise. I have worked with a number of powerful healers whenever the opportunity has presented itself. I have been going back to the Wichita Mountains in Southwest Oklahoma to go on the vision quest in March and October like clockwork for over twenty years now.

The more practice I do, the stronger and more resourceful I become. And I can feel the momentum building as my connection with the authentic core residing within and the higher power grows stronger. I’m very cognizant of the progress I have made. I’m also acutely aware of my limitations, because I come up against them all the time. A big part of my daily practice involves breathing with my awareness immersed in those parts of myself that feel contracted, jammed up or not flowing in some way. I can feel these parts of me becoming more malleable and responsive as a result of this practice.

We all internalize a great deal of stress over the course of our lives. The stresses that we hold within our bodies cause all of us to contract to some degree. Many years of intensive spiritual practice has enabled me to develop my sensory capacity to such an extent that I can feel the stresses of daily life along with the hurt, sadness, loss, anger, fear and other emotions held within people’s bodies and see how it causes them to shut down. I can see and feel how people’s minds become constricted and sluggish. I feel how the suffering held within stunts the process of growth and maturation. These same stresses can also be very hard on the body. They create a heavy stagnant presence and accelerate the aging process by causing the body to break down at a faster pace.

Some people are completely engulfed by the distressing emotions held within their bodies while others go numb to them. Many are able to conceal their woundedness behind the façade of a polished public persona. Our defense mechanisms often break down during times of crisis. And they will eventually break down as we age.

I see many people like Shiori that do one or a few sessions and then disappear. The tendency to disappear has a lot to do with people’s short attention span and their unwillingness to do the work necessary to facilitate healing. It also has a lot to do with the fact that many don’t have enough sense to listen and follow instruction.

People I’ve worked with have told me on many occasions that the presenting issues have been resolved and that they are now in a much better space. The problem with stopping the healing process the moment we feel better is that in many instances we have only dealt with the surface most levels of imbalance. The conscious mind is only aware of a very small portion of the stress held within the body. In many instances, the underlying cause of our emotional, interpersonal and health crises remain trapped within the body – mind. And it’s only a matter of time before these imbalances take resurface in the same or other forms.

People who have spent the vast majority of their lives disconnecting from their feelings and the realities that they haven’t wanted to deal with have difficulty comprehending the healing process taking place. They can become very resistant when their feelings and issues make their way to the surface and have a tendency to run when that happens. It concerns me when I see people interrupt their healing process. Healing cannot possibly take place until we process these feelings. Those who fail to do so will invariably continue to hold the painful feelings and traumas within their bodies and reenact the same destructive patterns in their lives.

An amazing process of growth begins at the time of conception. This process continues on throughout our childhood, adolescence and into early adulthood. The momentum slows down as we age. Much of this slowing down comes as a result of the stresses that we internalize over the course of our lives. These stresses can be the source of our undoing or a catalyst for healing and personal growth and that depends largely on what we do with them.

We all need to be doing some form of intensive spiritual practice on a daily basis to facilitate our continued healing and personal growth. The practices I teach awaken the innate healing intelligence that resides within the body and mind. They effect healing and personal growth by making it possible for us to digest the conflicted emotions and other stresses held within the body. Other practices such as Chi Gong and Pranayama can help us to draw in more life force to nourish the organs and systems of the body.

There are also times when we need outside intervention to facilitate the parts of our healing process that we are not capable of doing on our own. There are lots of healing resources available to us such as acupuncture, deep tissue massage and homeopathy that we need to be making use of.

There were many exceptionally powerful doctors among the Native American tribes in times past. The traditional native doctors would go out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. It was during the vision quests that they received various gifts or healing powers. These native doctors allowed other forces or beings to work through them to facilitate healing that would not have otherwise been possible. Indigenous healers from parts of Central and South America, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and countries in various other parts of the world possess similar gifts and capabilities.

I would often come up against my own limitations despite the fact that I was doing as much intensive practice as I could on my own. I would always jump whenever the opportunity to work with a powerful healer presented itself. I have always experienced a breakthrough whenever I worked with these individuals. The problem is that I often had to wait six months to a year between sessions because they didn’t come around very often.

My mentor Horace had me going on the vision quest during the times he transmitted portions of his own healing gifts to me. I wandered aimlessly through much of my twenties until I realized that I needed to get back to the mountain. I have gone through dozens of vision quest since that time.

Parts of the vision quest feel like a near death experience. I could see all kinds of imagery and experience the feelings attached to them as memories of past abuses, traumas and other stressful events made their way to the surface. I could feel other forces or beings helping me to thoroughly digest what I had gone through while simultaneously building a much stronger and healthier foundation. I felt as though my whole body – mind consciousness was being reformatted.

Many of the same forces or beings that have facilitated my own healing during the vision quests now work through me to assist others during the individual healing sessions. Those who have the opportunity to work with me go through a process of evolution. The highly charged emotions and impressions associated with anxiety, depression and emotionally traumatic experiences are digested. Processing the accumulated emotional backlog and other stresses increases one’s overall life force. Damage is repaired within physical and subtle bodies. The regenerative process taking place within the body and mind makes people healthier, stronger and more resilient.

Changes that take place within the body and mind as a result of the individual healing sessions increase one’s capacity for learning and growth. People I work with often tell me about the new resources and capabilities that are developing as a result of this work. I’ve worked with visual and recording artists, writers and people working in a wide range of professions. Many have told me how the sessions are helping to increase their range of motion in ways that is making it possible for them to further refine their work and in many instances take it to a whole new level.

True healing is an ongoing journey in which one continually evolves to realize more of their true potential and develop a greater connection with the authentic core residing within and the higher power. People I work with often tell me that they are now better equipped to process their own feelings and the realities of their daily lives. The increased processing capacity makes it easier for them to work through their emotions and bring issues to a place of resolution.

Working through progressively deeper layers of grief, hurt, sadness, resentment, anger, fear and confusion facilitates the development of a much stronger and healthier connections to the authentic core within and the world in which we live. Deepening this connection makes it possible for us to live from a place of greater honesty and integrity. By living in a way that is congruent with our authentic core we develop a greater capacity for love, empathy and compassion.

©Copyright 2014 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.

Internal Martial Arts and the Healing of Trauma

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Xin_Yi
Mugging attempts are fairly common in New York City. I was cat sitting for some friends on Avenue A in Manhattan’s East Village in the fall of 2002 when someone attempted to rob me as I was walking along 7th Street. I immediately whipped out pepper spray and chased the attacker down the street. Next thing I knew the police had me up against the wall and were on the verge of taking me to jail for having pepper spray in my possession. I said to one of the officers “What am I supposed to do? Get beaten up because some trash thinks he’s going to mug me?” The officer responded by saying “This is New York. You just have to get used to it.” I thought to myself “Okay, fine …I’m going to go out and find the most ruthless master I can find to train with and next time I’m going to paralyze the son of a bitch.”

I stopped by one of the Martial Arts supply store in Chinatown shortly thereafter and asked the man behind the counter if he had any recommendations as to who I should train with. He then referred me to a rack of flyers telling me to take whatever I wanted. I went home with a whole stack of flyers that evening.

Some of the flyers were very attractive and included glossy photos of Shaolin Monks in all kinds of fighting postures. But there was one flyer printed on dingy looking yellow paper that caught my attention. Sifu Li Tai Liang’s flyer was written in very poor English, but it talked about his training in the Internal Martial Arts of Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang. I had a knowing as I read the description that this is the person I wanted to train with. I called the next day and went later that evening to Li Shifu’s studio in Corona.

Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang are highly complex systems of martial arts that require many years of disciplined practice to master. I didn’t feel that I was able to fully grasp what Sifu was teaching in the class setting so I began to train with him privately. Sifu has taught me a vast array of forms and practices since that time.

Sifu started talking to me one day about the Taoist belief that much of the soul does not fully incarnate within the physical body. He then said that intensive practice helps to draw more of the soul into the body. I had heard similar things in my early twenties while I was training with Horace Daukei, the last surviving traditional doctor among the Kiowa Indian tribe.

I had shut down on many levels as a means of coping with the traumas of my own childhood and adolescence. Trauma held within prevented me from being fully present in my body. A number of people commented on the fact that I was very dissociated and that I held a lot of anger and rage in my body. All of that pain finally erupted in my mid-twenties as I found myself involved with women who reenacted the past traumas. The debilitating emotional pain made it very difficult for me to function at times.

The heavy, painful and sometimes overwhelming feelings associated with anxiety, depression and emotionally traumatic issues can have a debilitating impact upon us. These stressful energies and emotions can be very hard on the body. These energies and emotions will in many instances express themselves through the body as some form of disease, illness or injury. One of the things I like about doing Chi Gong practice is that it infuses the body with clean vital life force. This life force has a nourishing and soothing quality that helps to offset the painfully debilitating emotions. The cleansing process that takes place as we draw vital life force into our body – mind also makes it easier for us to process our emotions.

Years later I was engaged to an ethnic Tamil woman from Sri Lanka. I was devastated when the relationship ended in the summer of 2007. I couldn’t really do much of anything else at the time other than breathe for hours with my awareness centered amid the painful feelings of loss. I would then do hours of intensive Chi Gong practices. Working with the pain in this way had the effect of opening doorways within. I began to experience a greater sense of connectedness with the higher power and that left me feeling euphoric at times. It was during that time that I came to a place where my sense of wellbeing did not depend upon another person.

Some people reading this chapter will wonder if intensive martial arts and Chi Gong practice alone will heal trauma. No, it will not. It’s common for people who follow the various spiritual traditions to attempt to bypass the emotional and psychological aspects of their development. People who have attained mastery in the Internal Martial Arts, Chi Gong and in various Yogic disciplines have often acted out in various ways because of their failure to do the ground work necessary to address their issues and deal with their own emotions. This failure to build a strong healthy foundation on an emotional level accounts for much of the dysfunction playing out in various spiritual communities.

Chronic stress has an adverse effect on the brain, especially the hippocampus located near the middle of the brain, which plays a major role in our ability to retain information. The hippocampus facilitates the process of converting new information briefly retained in the prefrontal cortex into working memory. The hippocampus is especially vulnerable to ongoing emotional stress, because of the damaging effects of cortisol. The vast majority of the brain’s production of new neurons and the formation of new neural-connections take place within the hippocampus. The hippocampus loses neurons and shrinks in size when the neurons are flooded with cortisol. Cortisol stimulates the amygdala’s fight or flight reaction, while impairing the hippocampus’ reasoning capabilities. We go into self-preservation mode as our attention is redirected to the reactive survival oriented emotions and that impairs our ability to take in new information. That’s why we tend to forget things when we’re stressed out.

Exercise increases the production of the chemical messengers such as norepinephrine that promote healthy cognitive function, learning and positive emotional states. Exercise also helps to balance our physiology by stimulating our heart rate and improving the quality of our sleep.

I can see that lots of people are still holding all kinds of stressful emotions in their body despite the fact that they work out consistently. This unprocessed emotional baggage is clearly evidenced in the high incidence of digestive disorders, TMJ and other stress related health issues. I have also known dancers and yoga practitioners who had a strong presence and aliveness about them, but were totally neurotic because of their failure to deal with their own issues and emotions.

Doing Chi Gong practices doesn’t mean that all the painful and anxious feelings are just going to go away. One of the things I noticed as I began to work consistently with the various Chi Gong practices is that it made it possible for me to draw the life force into the parts of my body I had disconnected from that were holding a lot of painful emotion, trauma or other stresses. In many instances I find that Chi Gong practice brings the emotions held in the body that I hadn’t been able to access up to the surface so that I can process them. I like the fact that it helps me to get in touch with feelings that would otherwise be difficult to access.

Learning all these highly complex forms encourages the development of new neural pathways. These additional neural faculties also facilitate emotional processing and that makes it easier for us to work through our feelings and bring issues to resolution.

It can be very difficult, if not all together impossible, to process our feelings when we are not fully inhabiting our bodies. Training in the Internal Martial Arts has helped me to become more fully present in my physical body and the world in which I live. The changes that have taken place as a result of my practice are making it easier for me to move through the world with a greater sense of resilience and self-assurance.

One of the things I like most about the Internal Martial Arts such as Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang is that it incorporates Chi Gong into the fighting forms so that the practitioner is always building the life force within the body. I do lots of Chi Gong practice and find that it nourishes and strengthens the internal organs of my body. I feel cleaner, healthier and a greater sense of resilience.

I encourage anyone to learn and practice any of the Internal Martial Arts. People with physical limitations can easily do Chi Gong and Tai Chi. Those who are more physically able that are up for the challenge can experience even greater benefit by training in disciplines such as Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang.

I find that Chi Gong practice helps me to access my feelings, but it doesn’t facilitate the actual processing of the feelings. Chi Gong can be a highly valuable healing tool and yet there is no one approach that will address all of our needs. I make much greater progress when I combine various healing practices. I make a consistent effort on a daily basis to do the groundwork needed to build a strong and healthy foundation. A big part of that involves a whole different kind of practice of breathing with my awareness centered in the midst of any feelings and bodily sensations that arise in response to what is taking place in my life. Breathing into the feelings in this way facilitates a process that enables me to digest my life experience and any subsequent feelings that arise.

I have done lots of deep tissue body work and have worked with a number of powerful healers whenever the opportunity presented itself. I have gone on numerous vision quests, which are a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. It was during the individual healing sessions and vision quests that I could feel the parts of myself that were holding trauma being transformed. It’s the combination of all of these practices that have made it possible come as far along as I have.

©Copyright 2014 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.

Learning to Feel Comfortable in Our Social Interactions

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edited social
A young Korean man showed up in one of my classes not too long ago. Hwan shared with us during the introduction that he was having great difficulty expressing himself and was not able to convey his feelings for a woman that he found himself attracted to. I had Hwan bring the woman to the forefront of his awareness by picturing her immediately in front of him while breathing softly and deeply. Before long Hwan complained that he was becoming very dizzy and asked if he could stop. I had Hwan shift the focus by focusing his attention on the feelings and sensations throughout his body. Hwan told me that the dizziness had subsided when I checked in to see how he was doing a few minutes later.

Hwan spoke after completing the practice saying “I was feeling very dizzy when you had me focus my attention on the woman. It felt as though I were spinning. I became much calmer once you had me redirect my attention by having me focus on the physical sensations. I’m feeling more stable, comfortable and peaceful.

I spoke with Hwan after the class and he was receptive when I offered to look into his aura. It was quite apparent that he wasn’t fully inhabiting his body. The solar plexus and navel chakras were very underdeveloped. Hwan told me that he had been subjected to a lot of physical and emotional abuse by his overly controlling parents. He had internalized much of the trauma and that had apparently stunted his development.

The chakras serve as a form of bio-electrical circuitry that support the functions of the various internal organs and systems. In this case they were also reflecting developmental deficits that were making it difficult for Hwan to function. Hwan doesn’t have the faculties needed to remain fully grounded and to work constructively with his feelings. Consequently he is easily overwhelmed and that prevents him from expressing himself.

I told Hwan about my own personal experience of healing from similar traumas and about the success I’ve had working with others struggling with the same kinds of issues. Sadly, people don’t always recognize or make use of the opportunities being presented to them. Much of that has to do with the fact that most people are not familiar with the traditional Indigenous healing practices and their ability to facilitate healing that would not otherwise be possible. Hwan doesn’t possess the resources that would enable him to process his feelings, heal the deep emotional wounds and express himself as a fully functioning adult. He will most likely continue to struggle with the same sets of limitations indefinitely.

I’m very familiar with the difficulties Hwan is experiencing after having suffered similar abuse during my own childhood and adolescence. I was painfully shy for the longest time and that made it very difficult for me to function in various social interactions.

What’s preventing me from functioning?

Many of us feel awkward, shy or become anxious in our attempts to interact with others. Those of us who suffered abuse at some point in our lives may even feel that something is wrong with us or that we are unlovable. We often try to fight or resist these feelings, but in doing so we only feed the emotional forces that are working against us. I started making a practice of paying attention to all the things that were preventing me from expressing myself or functioning in different areas of my life.

I initially began to do this practice while sitting down in a quiet place with my eyes closed. I would bring the person, situation or issue concerning me to the forefront of my awareness then breathe softly and deeply while centering my awareness in the middle of any feelings or bodily sensations that arose. I would also breathe into places where I felt constricted or inhibited. Working with this practice helped me relax and feel more natural and flow more comfortably in my interactions. I continue to do this and other practices on a daily basis.

I’ve learned so much about being present by experimenting and I encourage others to do the same. I realized after some time that I needed to be applying this practice in my daily life. I started making a conscientious effort to be fully present with the feelings and sensations that I was experiencing within my body while in the midst of various interactions with people. After some time I found that I was able to maintain the connection with my feelings and bodily sensations while conversing with others and looking into their eyes. I found that it actually deepened the quality of the interaction.

Range of motion

I would intentionally put myself in all kinds of challenging social situations to further expand my range of motion. I would seek out the kinds of people I admire and do the things I had always wanted to do. The whole process of showing up present on a daily basis helped me to feel more alive. It also left me feeling quite vulnerable at times. Some of the more difficult or challenging situations brought up all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. Fears, anxieties, feelings of shyness, intimidation and inadequacy softened and became more diffuse as I continued to breathe into them. Digesting these feelings helped me to feel more at ease and to move through the world more freely.

I usually vary my focus in accordance with what I’m feeling at any given moment. I will often focus my attention in the chest, abdomen or any other part of the body where the feelings arise. At other times I experience a whole range of feelings and sensations simultaneously in different parts of the body. I will then maintain a more diffuse focus with my attention on the feelings and sensations throughout my body.

Moving into the spotlight

I had to become a public person in order to build a practice as a healer and that has forced me to stretch far beyond my comfort zone. I used to be painfully shy and found public speaking to be especially intimidating. My mind would often go blank while I was giving classes or workshops and then I would sit there frozen and not be able to think of anything to say. It usually took me about an hour to relax enough so that I could feel comfortable. The fear and anxiety has diminished as I’ve continued to work with the practice of breathing into any inhibiting feelings that arose. Now I’m offering classes on a weekly basis. Working in a group format can be very demanding, but I actually enjoy the process when I have people that are open and responsive.

Feelings of intimidation would often surface whenever I went to speak with radio show hosts or the program directors of various healing centers about giving an interview or workshop. I’ve grown to feel more comfortable in these kinds of interactions. I gradually became more cognizant of the fact that I have a great deal of knowledge to share about healing that is not readily available to the general public. I also more appreciative of the fact that I’m a conduit for a very powerful healing presence that is much needed by people in today’s world.

Asserting healthy boundaries

People who are unable to establish healthy boundaries and assert their needs are more likely to get stepped on or taken advantage of. I had suffered abuses for far too long and something inside me was unwilling to tolerate it any longer. I have on numerous occasions breathed into the fear and anger I was experiencing while confronting people that had overstepped their boundaries or were trying to take advantage of me.

The fears and anxieties were so strong in some instances that I would be physically shaking. Making a concerted effort to be fully present while asserting myself helped me to work through my fears and insecurities. It has also enabled me to become more embodied and establish healthier boundaries. It has become much easier for me to assert myself in these kinds of situations. I find the whole process to be very empowering.

Finding that special someone

Many people want more than anything to have someone to love and be loved by, but are afraid to approach or express their feelings for someone they feel attracted to for fear of being rejected. This is one of the main reasons why so many people do not have a love in their life. It also accounts for the fact that many people are settling for someone who is not the best match. They would rather settle than end up being alone.

I was really serious someone in my life, so I began to engage with women I found myself attracted to whenever the opportunity presented itself. I encountered a lot of fear and guardedness and sometimes found myself in awkward and embarrassing situations. I felt hurt or disappointed at times when things didn’t work out quite the way I wanted them to. Breathing through the uncomfortable feelings that surfaced helped me to work through the hurts, disappointments, fears and sense of awkwardness. I stopped personalizing a woman’s lack of response or interest as I came to realize that it had to do more with where she was at.

Many good things came of these interactions. I have gained a much better understanding of women and people in general. I gained a much greater sense of the qualities I truly desire in a friend and companion. I’ve developed the communicative skills that have enabled me to become more socially adept. A lot of these encounters turned into spontaneous dates. A number of the women I met became friends. Some of these encounters have been the start of a relationship. I would have missed out had I not taken action.

I would often breathe into any feelings of attraction or desire at times or the enjoyment of connecting with another human being during these encounters. Teaching myself to become more fully present in this way has helped me to feel more comfortable and flow naturally in my interactions.

Divine intervention

Many of us experience a painful sense of inadequacy or inferiority when we encounter people that we perceive to be smarter, more attractive, powerful or together in some way. Breathing into the underlying sense of inadequacy or any other feelings that arise activates the healing intelligence that resides within our body and mind. We gradually come to a place of greater self-love, appreciation and acceptance as the uncomfortable feelings dissipate.

Those of us who suffered from childhood abuse are more likely to feel damaged or defective. These wounds become so much a part of our makeup. I made a daily practice of being fully present in my body as I went about whatever it is I was doing. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get past some of the debilitating emotional wounds on my own. I would often come up against the limits of my own operating system. I was in many ways dissociated from body and was very cognizant of the fact that I didn’t possess many of the resources I need to do the things that truly mattered to me in life.

I realized that I needed some form of outside intervention in order to heal the deep emotional wounds. I worked with a number of exceptionally powerful healers and went on numerous vision quests, which are a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out alone into the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. It was during the healing sessions and vision quest that I began to heal the debilitating emotional wounds and develop the resources that have made it possible to become more fully functional in my professional and personal life. I became much more connected to my feelings, my physical body and the world in which I live as a result of these interventions.

We all need to be making a concerted effort to show up, pay attention and participate on a daily basis. We also need to be realistic in understanding that we cannot do it all on our own. It is critically important for us to be making use of the tools and resources to help facilitate the healing and initiate the growth which we are not fully capable of doing on our own.

The never ending process of becoming more fully present

We cannot fully live our lives when we allow ourselves to be controlled by our fears and inhibitions. We need to be confronting our fears head on. Moving beyond our comfort zone by engaging with people and placing ourselves in situations that challenge us facilitates growth. We need to keep in mind that developing the ability to feel comfortable in the various kinds of social interactions is a gradual process. There will always be challenges along the way. Many of the same kinds of feelings and vulnerabilities will resurface in response to the people and circumstances we encounter as we go about our lives. The emotional discomforts that inhibit us will gradually become more diffuse as we continue to work with this practice. And with continued practice we will gradually find ourselves navigating a wider range of social situations with greater comfort and ease and move more freely through the world.

©Copyright 2014 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.

Quieting the Mind

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Quiet MindPeople often meditate with the goal of quieting the mind. Despite our best efforts, a wide array of thoughts, imagery and other distractions intrude upon our consciousness. We often find ourselves thinking about what’s happening at work, concerns about friends, family members and other people with whom we interact or what we’re having for dinner tonight. Feelings of confusion, fear, anxiety, grief and other unprocessed emotions may also surface at times when we sit down to meditate. We may assume that we’re doing something wrong when that happens. People sometimes become frustrated and give up for that reason.

Some people do manage to find a quiet space within by pushing the intrusive thoughts, feelings and imagery out of their awareness. The problem with this approach is that the inner turbulence gets pushed down into the body where it continues to operate outside of our conscious awareness. The danger here is that it can create a greater disconnect between our conscious mind and our feelings and physical bodies.

Many people do use meditation to avoid their feelings and escape from their lives. My goal has been to use meditation to help me feel more deeply and become more involved in life.

All kinds of scattered and distracting thoughts, feelings and energies can surface when I sit down to meditate. It didn’t take me long to realize that any attempt to resist this content was futile. Instead of fighting or resisting the noise I needed to learn how to work constructively with it.

I often find myself consumed by conflicted thoughts and feelings pertaining to the never ending stream of people, situations and circumstances I find myself dealing with. I sometimes experience a sense of scatteredness or feel as though I’m being pulled in all directions. The internal noise and other distractions sometimes causes me to feel as if I’m on sensory overload. In some instances I feel a sense of agitation that makes it difficult to sit still.

Many of the thoughts and images that intrude upon our consciousness are driven by charged emotion and other stresses held within the body. I have found it helpful to ask myself “What are the deepest feelings behind all these thoughts and images. I notice where the feelings are located within my body. I’ll then begin to breathe softly and deeply while centering my awareness within the middle of any feelings or bodily sensations that arise. Fears, anxieties, frustrations, anger, disappointment and a wide array of other feelings can surface in the process. Pleasant feelings will also surface at times. I will often experience a whole succession of feeling as I continue to breathe.

Breathing with our awareness centered in the midst of feelings and bodily sensations as they arise can be a powerful form of meditation. Following the progression of feeling and sensation leads us further into the depth of our minds. I’ll continue to follow the feelings by breathing into them until they run their natural course. At other times I’ll breathe while immersing my awareness in the feelings of agitation, scatteredness or that I’m being pulled in all directions.

The mental – emotional – energetic clutter we carry around on the inside of us takes up a lot of bandwidth and consumes tremendous amounts of valuable energy. It also deadens our consciousness. Breathing into the feelings, bodily sensations and energies helps me to declutter my body – mind by enabling me to digest the internal static.

The body – mind works much more efficiently as we free it from the internal noise. I become progressively calmer and more relaxed as I continue to work with this practice. I find it easier to work through feelings that arise and bring issues to a place of resolution. That gives me a clearer sense of direction and improves my decision making capability. I feel a greater sense of grounding, centeredness and connection to my internal core. My intuition grows stronger along with my awareness of myself and my immediate surroundings. This process also stimulates my creativity, giving me all kinds of creative insights and workable solutions to life’s challenges.

©Copyright 2014 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.

Healing After Surgery

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surgery
Melina wasn’t feeling very good for about a week and thought that she had come down with some kind of stomach bug. She kept taking Gas-X and Pepto Bismal and other over the counter products and yet nothing seemed to be working. Melina’s symptoms were getting progressively worse by the day. She was in such horrible pain by the following Thursday that her husband rushed her to the emergency room. After a lengthy wait she was wheeled into the operating room where they performed emergency surgery to remove her appendix.

Melina felt very apprehensive going into surgery, fearing that she could possibly die on the operating table. She was greatly relieved afterwards that her appendix was out and that she was still alive and no longer in horrible pain.

Melina felt as though she had been traumatized afterwards saying “I wanted to close in on myself and not let anyone near me except my cats.” She was also experiencing a tremendous sense of fatigue which was also accompanied by numbness and pain.

The body and mind experiences varying degrees of shock any time it is subjected to some form of trauma. Surgery is, in many instances, the best option to address various health issues and yet it is also experienced as an invasive trauma by the body and mind. The body cannot fully process this trauma on its own. People often experiences confusion and disorientation after surgery. I have on many occasions looked into people’s auras after surgery. In many instances the person who has undergone surgery appears to be dissociated from their physical body. This inability to be fully present in their body impairs their ability to function.

I noticed a very unusual quality during the healing session when I began to work in Melina’s abdomen. It felt as though this part of her body were in shock. There was a very inert or nonresponsive quality to the visceral organs. The visceral organs gradually became more responsive as we continued to work.

Invasive surgical procedures have a tendency to break down our boundaries and the defensive armor that enables us to contain the feelings and memories that we haven’t been able to process. Melina told me later on that feelings and memories associated with past sexual trauma began to surface during and after the session.

The prospect of undergoing surgery fills many of us with a sense of dread and anxiety. The more radical surgical procedures such as curative surgery that involve being cut open and having parts of our bodies cut out can be as devastating as the sickness. The overwhelming sense of violation experienced by some makes surgery’s potential to traumatize is comparable to that of assault, accidents and combat. In fact, reports of post-operative anxiety and depression are common. Patients who suffer a heart attack, cancer and other life threatening medical issues posing a threat to their physical survival that evoke feelings of horror and helplessness may develop PTSD. And that may precipitate the emergence of painful or traumatic memories and feelings from the past.

Saving lives

There are times when surgery is an absolute necessity. A ruptured appendix that is not surgically removed can lead to peritonitis. Left untreated, peritonitis can result in sepsis, a condition in which infection spreads rapidly into the blood and to other organs, resulting in multiple organ failure and death.

Congenital heart defects are problems with the heart structure that are present at birth. These defects involve the interior walls, the valves inside the heart and the arteries and veins carrying blood to and from the heart. Corrective surgery has saved the lives of many children born with congenital heart defects.

Coronary heart disease is the result of plaque buildup in the arteries, which blocks blood flow and leads to blockages. Arteries that were once smooth and elastic become narrow and rigid, thereby restricting blood flow to the heart. That starves the heart of oxygen and the vital nutrients it needs to pump properly. In some instances, a blood clot will totally block the blood supply to the heart muscle, causing heart attack. A blood clot blocking blood vessels to the brain may result in a stroke. Coronary bypass surgery replaces damaged arteries with blood vessels from other parts of the body such as the legs or arms, restoring blood flow to the heart muscles.

Stroke

Stroke symptoms can vary depending on the type of stroke, where it occurs in the brain, and how severe it is. Sometimes symptoms of stroke develop gradually. An individual having a stroke, is more likely to have one or more sudden warning signs:

• Numbness or weakness in the face, arms and legs, especially on one side
• Severe headache that comes on for no apparent reason
• Confusion or difficulty understanding other people
• Difficulty speaking
• Difficulty seeing with one or both eyes
• Difficulty walking
• Dizziness

A stroke or “brain attack” is a medical emergency. Every minute counts during a stroke. Call 911. An ambulance staffed with medical personnel can begin lifesaving treatment immediately.

Treating Ischemic Stroke

An ischemic stroke occurs if an artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot. Medication is used to break up blood clots in the arteries of the brain. Anticoagulants may also be prescribed to prevent blood clots from getting larger and to prevent new clots from forming.

Treating Hemorrhagic Stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs if an artery in the brain leaks blood or ruptures. The first steps in treating a hemorrhagic stroke are to find the source of bleeding in the brain and then control it. Surgery may be needed to treat a hemorrhagic stroke.

The types of surgery used include aneurysm clipping, coil embolization, and arteriovenous malformation repair. Aneurysm clipping or coil embolization is performed if the stroke is caused by an aneurysm. Aneurysm clipping blocks off the aneurysm from the blood vessels in the brain. This surgery helps to prevent further leaking of blood from the aneurysm. It also can help prevent the aneurysm from bursting again. Coil embolization is a less complex procedure for treating an aneurysm. The surgeon will insert a tube called a catheter into an artery in the groin and then thread the tube to the site of the aneurysm. A tiny coil will then be pushed through the tube and into the aneurysm. The coil will cause a blood clot to form, which will block blood flow through the aneurysm and prevent it from bursting again.

Arteriovenous Malformation Repair

Arteriovenous Malformations are a tangle of faulty arteries and veins that can rupture in the brain. Surgery to the AVM may be recommended if it is determined to be the cause of the stroke. AVM repair helps prevent further bleeding in the brain. The AVM is often surgically removed. Substances may also be injected into the blood vessels of the AVM to block blood flow. Radiation may also be used to shrink the blood vessels of the AVM.

Mending broken bodies

Emergency surgery is often required to stop bleeding, close open wounds, set broken bones, treat head trauma, facial, abdominal, pelvic and various other injuries suffered as a result of automobile accidents.

Cancer

One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. More than a third of all cancers are diagnosed in people aged 75 and older. Poor diet, tobacco and exposure to sun, radiation, chemicals and other substances all contribute to the dramatic increase in the frequency of cancer.

In many instances surgically removing tumors is the most effective approach to cancer treatment, especially if the cancer is localized and hasn’t metastasized. Advances in modern Allopathic medicine have led to the development of newer specialized surgical techniques to eradicate or prevent the spread of various forms of cancer. Some of the new methods being used to remove or destroy cancer cells are blurring the line between what we commonly think of as surgery and other forms of treatment.

Laparoscopic surgery can safely and effectively be used in surgeries for cancers of the colon, rectum, liver, prostate, uterus, and kidney. It involves less cutting and less damage to healthy tissues. Laparoscopic surgery can help to reduce blood loss during surgery and pain afterward. It can also shorten hospital stays and allow people to heal faster.

Preventive or prophylactic surgery is done to remove body tissue that is likely to become cancerous, even though there are no signs of cancer at the time of the surgery. For example, pre-cancerous polyps may be removed from the colon during a colonoscopy.

Curative surgery is usually done when cancer is found in only one area or region of the body, and it is likely that all of the cancer can be removed. In this case, curative surgery can be the main treatment. Curative surgeries remove a sizable part of the organ where the cancer originated, and in some instances the entire organ itself. A certain amount of healthy tissue is removed along with the cancerous tissue to ensure that all cancerous cells are gone.

Laser surgery can be used to burn and destroy some cancers of the cervix, larynx, liver, lung, rectum and skin. Laser surgeries are generally less invasive, involving less cutting and trauma to the body. The laser can, in some instances, be directed inside a natural body opening without having to make an incision. The laser is then aimed directly at the tumor or cancerous cells in order to destroy them.

Cryosurgery is a technique involving the use of liquid nitrogen or argon gas to freeze and kill abnormal cells in pre-cancerous conditions such as those affecting the skin and cervix. It is also used to treat cancers of the liver, prostate and bone. Cryosurgery may be the best option for cancers that are considered inoperable and for patients who are not good candidates for conventional surgery due to age and other medical conditions. One of the greatest advantages of cryosurgery is that it kills cancerous cells while limiting damage to healthy tissues.

Cryosurgery is less invasive involving only a small incision or insertion of the cryoprobe through the skin. In some instances cryosurgery can be performed using only local anesthesia. It generally has fewer and milder side effects, requires shorter recovery time and is less expensive. Cryosurgery can be highly effective in treating cancers visible to physicians using imaging technology. It’s main drawback is that the microscopic cancers that are not visible to these technologies can be missed.

Curettage is a process of scraping the skin with a spoon shaped instrument to remove skin tissue. Electrosurgery utilizes High-frequency electrical current to destroy cancer with an electric current that runs through a metal instrument or needle. Electrosurgery is often done after curettage to control bleeding and destroy any remaining cancer cells.

Mohs micrographic surgery, also known as chemo surgery, is considered to be the most effective technique for removing Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma, the two most common skin cancers. Mohs surgery used to remove skin cancers by shaving off one thin layer at a time. A doctor looks at the tissue under a microscope after each layer is removed. The surgeon stops removing layers of tissue once all the cells look normal under the microscope.

Improving the quality of life

Cleft palate

A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth resulting from the failure of the palatal shelves to come fully together from either side of the mouth and fuse during the first months of development as an embryo. Modern surgical techniques have made it possible to greatly improve the quality of life for children born with a cleft palate. Repairing the cleft palate improves a child’s ability to eat, speak, hear and breathe and create a more normal appearance and function.

Joint replacement

Chronic pain in the knees, hips and other joints can make it difficult to walk, climb stairs, get up from a chair, or carry on with other normal activities. Joint replacements can significantly relieve pain and increase mobility in the vast majority of people who get them.

Risks and complications

Despite the best of care, all surgical procedures have inherent risks of complications. Assessing these risks is an important part of patient counseling. Age, medical history and current condition all have to be taken into consideration. Surgical incisions are at times slow to heal and in some instances they do not fully heal. Other risks include fever, nausea and vomiting, wound infection, septicemia, blood loss resulting from hemorrhaging either during or after surgery, shock, clotting and pulmonary embolism and disfigurement.

Fatigue

Patients often assume that they can go right back to work after surgery. But the trauma to the physical body and the general anesthesia causes fatigue that can last for some time. Energy levels can take time to get back to normal. And in some instances a person’s energy level never fully comes back on its own.

Pain and other discomforts

Nearly everyone experiences aches, pains, bruising and soreness after surgery. The amount of pain one experiences often depends on the degree of invasiveness of the surgical procedure. One of the greatest advantages of the newer less invasive procedures such as laparoscopic surgery is that there is usually considerably less trauma to the body. The process of recovery is also much faster.

Partially collapsed lung

Patients sometimes complain that it hurts to breathe after surgery. A condition known as Atelectasis, a partial collapse of the lungs may occur after surgery when patients are not able to breathe in enough air to fill their lungs. Mucus normally cleared by breathing and coughing builds up in the lungs. That may lead to pneumonia, especially in older patients. Warning signs of atelectasis include shortness of breath and faster heartbeat.

Blood Clots

Blood clots are far more likely to occur after surgery, especially orthopedic surgery. People that smoke, that are obese or immobilized are at greater risk for blood clots. Blood clots often form in the legs, but can migrate to the lungs where they can cause potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. Patients need to be attentive to potential warning signs such as swelling in the affected leg and calf pain. Shortness of breath and chest pain may be an indication that the clot has moved to the lungs.

Reactions to anesthesia

Anesthesia is derived from the Greek word anaisthēsía meaning ‘loss of sensation’. Anesthesia makes it possible to perform surgical procedures necessary for the health and wellbeing of the patient that would otherwise be too unbearably painful to endure. Without anesthesia the patient might go into shock and die. There are however a number of complications that result from surgical procedures and the use of anesthesia.

Common reactions and complications associated with anesthesia include headaches, pain, bleeding, dizziness, feeling faint, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, hematoma formation, nerve injury, infection and embolism.

Headache

Headaches may occur as a result of the anesthetic, the operation, dehydration and anxiety. Most headaches will subside within a few hours. Severe headaches are more likely to happen after a spinal or epidural anesthetic.

Confusion and disorientation

People that undergo surgery often complain that they don’t feel quite like themselves. They sometimes feel tired for weeks or months afterwards. Confusion, disorientation and memory loss are common reactions to surgery and anesthetic. These symptoms are usually temporary, but may sometimes be permanent.

Nausea and Vomiting

Patients undergoing surgery sometimes become nauseous and vomit. A condition known as aspiration pneumonitis can occur when food, saliva, liquids, or vomit is breathed into the lungs or airways leading to the lungs. Vomit and other foreign substances aspirated into the lungs can cause inflammation and infection.

Anaphylaxis

Patients undergoing surgery sometimes experience anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction involving the entire body in response to drugs or substances used for anesthesia or surgery. Tissues in different parts of the body release histamine and other substances. This may cause the airways to tighten and lead to other symptoms.

Ischemic Necrosis

The use of anesthesia can sometimes cause ischemic necrosis, a condition that occurs when the organs and tissues fail to get adequate blood supply because of constriction or obstruction of the blood vessels. The lack of blood supply to a part of the body such as the heart, brain, skin or bowel can lead to tissue death in the affected area.

Cerebral Hypoxia

The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to function. Drowning, choking, suffocating, cardiac arrest and complications resulting from surgery may prevent the brain from getting the oxygen it needs to function. Cerebral hypoxia is a condition that occurs when there is not enough oxygen getting to the brain. The more complete the deprivation, the more severe the harm to the brain and the greater the consequences. Cerebral hypoxia can rapidly lead to severe brain damage or death.

The cells of the brain will start to die within a few minutes if they are deprived of oxygen. The disruption of the transmission of electrical impulses impedes the production of neurotransmitters, which regulate many physiological, cognitive and emotional processes. Patients who experience brain hypoxia may experience memory loss along with reduced physical mobility. It may also impair their ability to pay attention and make sound decisions.

High Blood Pressure, Heart Attack and Stroke

Stress, medication, pain and lack of exercise are stressors for the body that can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Residual anesthesia

Patients typically wake up after surgery once the anesthesia passes out of the blood stream. Many anesthetics used in surgery are fat soluble, which means they are absorbed by the fat cells in the body. Residual anesthetic stored in the fat cells comes out over time and may cause us to feel sluggish or drowsy for weeks or months afterwards.

The period of time that anesthetics stay in the body greatly depends on the aesthetic used during surgery. Anesthetics that have a relatively short life are metabolized and removed by the body quickly while others stay around for a while. Propofol which is commonly used as an induction agent is longer lived in the body. Versed or Midazolam, a drug used before surgery or certain medical tests to make patients sleepy, drowsy, or relaxed has been detectable in urine up to ten days after a procedure in which it was used.

Nerve damage

Nerves can be compressed, stretched, or severed by trauma or surgery. Symptoms of nerve damage may also be caused by surgery-induced inflammation. Symptoms of nerve damage include burning or stabbing pain, sensitivity to touch, numbness in the hands, feet or other parts of the body. The muscles in the arms or hands may fail to regain their previous strength.

Neurological deficits

Neurological deficits are functional abnormalities resulting from injury to the brain, spinal cord, muscles, or nerves resulting from surgery and other forms of physical trauma. Neurological deficits range temporary to permanent. Changes in the way that one experiences sensation include numbness, a decrease in sensation and unusual sensations. Patients may experience loss of muscle tone and control and involuntary movements such as tremors after surgery. The loss of coordination may interfere with one’s ability to perform complex movements. Patients may experience speech or language difficulties that impair their ability to write, comprehend written or spoken information or speak clearly. Changes in vision may include diminishment of one’s visual field, double vision and loss of vision.

Scar tissue

The body creates scar tissue in its attempt to heal. The formation of scar tissue causes visible changes in one’s appearance. Scar tissue may cause pain in the area where the surgery occurred. Scar tissue can sometimes impact one’s range of motion if it develops in the tissue near joints. Scar tissue causes visible changes in the appearance of one’s skin. Scar tissue typically is thicker, pinker, redder or shinier than the rest of a person’s skin. The degree of scarring depends on the following factors: wound size, depth and location, a person’s age and skin characteristics, including skin color or pigmentation. Scar tissue on the skin’s surface often fades with time, but it rarely fully returns to normal.

Adhesions are bands of scar tissue that bind parts of the body’s tissue together that should remain separate. They often appear as thin sheets of tissue similar to plastic wrap or as thick fibrous bands. Adhesions will sometimes develop in response to surgery, infection, trauma or radiation as the body attempts to repair itself. The body’s repair cells cannot distinguish between one organ or part of the body and another. Scar tissue will sometimes form to connect the two surfaces when one organ undergoing repair comes into contact with another organ or part of the body.

Adhesions typically begin to form within the first few days after surgery, but they may not produce symptoms for months or even years. Adhesions can occur anywhere, but are most likely to develop within the stomach, the pelvis and the heart. Abdominal adhesions occur in the majority of patients who undergo abdominal and pelvic surgery.

The majority of adhesions are painless and do not cause complications. However, adhesions cause a large percentage of small bowel obstructions in adults. In extreme cases, the fibrous bands surrounding a segment of the intestine restrict motion making it difficult to pass food through the digestive system. The constriction of blood flow may result in tissue death.
Adhesions may form within the membranes surrounding the heart, and that may restrict heart function. Pelvic adhesions usually occur after surgery and can involve any organs within the pelvis, such as the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes or bladder and are believed to lead to the development of chronic pelvic pain.

Indigenous healing traditions

We’re living in a society where we have been taught to disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies. Consequently, many of us lack the understanding and resources needed to process our emotions and heal deep emotional wounds. Unpleasant emotions and other stresses that we fail to process often manifest within the body. A large percentage of the digestive, respiratory and other conditions that manifest in the body are stress related. In many instances these conditions could be resolved through noninvasive holistic healing modalities. And yet many opt to suffer the unnecessary physical and psychological trauma of undergoing invasive surgical procedures such as having portions of their colon removed.

Indigenous people in various parts of the world lived close to the land in harmony with the forces of nature. Indigenous healers of the Americas and other parts of the world such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines allowed other forces or beings to work through them to facilitate healing that would not otherwise be possible. Some had the ability to close open wounds and extract tumors from the body. I’m fortunate to have trained with one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe.

The old Native American doctors were very pragmatic in that they encouraged their patients to utilize both modern allopathic and traditional indigenous medical approaches to facilitate healing. I have on numerous occasions intervened during medical emergencies. I also encourage anyone experiencing a medical emergency such as a heart attack or stroke to pick up the phone immediately and call 911. We need to make the best use of the healing resources that are available to us.

I’ve worked with a wide range of conditions over the years. The presence working through me during the individual healing sessions facilitates a regenerative process within physical and subtle bodies. People with inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have healed. Fibroids have in some instances dissolved. Cancers have also gone into remission.

The body – mind is not able to fully process the trauma experienced while undergoing surgery. It’s fairly common for people to experience varying degrees of numbing or deadening long afterwards. The resulting disconnect can prevent people from being as fully present in their bodies as they were prior to surgery.

Jenna was experiencing a great deal of difficulty after giving birth to her son via caesarian section. The incisional wound was healing poorly and she was also experiencing a great deal of fatigue and disorientation.

Jenna’s body healed as we began to work together. She regained her mental focus and became more present in her body. Jenna went on to complete her thesis and degree and in counselling psychology and has since built a practice as a psychotherapist.

Eda underwent surgery to correct the damage to her toes resulting from wearing high heeled shoes for many years. She expected to be off her feet for weeks afterwards. The healing sessions accelerated the healing process. Eda’s surgeon said that she healed much faster and better than expected.

Many of the people that have come to me after having gone through surgery were still experiencing pain, fatigue and a sense of disorientation. In many instances, the body’s innate healing power had become so compromised. Incisional wounds were healing slowly. The presence working through me during the individual healing sessions would alleviate the physical pain and accelerate the healing of the wounds while cleansing the body of residual anesthetic and other toxins.

Surgery often causes significant damage to the subtle bodies consisting of the chakras and layers of the aura. The subtle bodies help to facilitate the functioning of the various organs and systems of the body. Damage to the subtle bodies impairs the functions of the organs and systems. Damage is repaired within the physical and subtle bodies during the individual healing sessions.

This presence also facilitates the processing of trauma the held in the body along with any feelings and memories that may have surface. Emotions are processed, the deep underlying wounds heal and issues are brought to resolution. Emotional vulnerability replaced with a sense of calm and wellbeing.

People who didn’t feel quite like themselves are able to regain their natural resilience and get back on track in their lives. Many have told me that the sessions helped them to become more fully present in their bodies and to regain their physical strength along with their mental clarity and ability to focus.

©Copyright 2014 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.

The Disappearing Act

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walk awayThe disappearing act is something that has been around for as long as we have existed as a human race. We often hear of about parents disappearing in the personal accounts of those who were abandoned by their mother or father as children. The tendency to disappear has seemingly become more common among people in our present day and age.

Becoming involved with another person and then vanishing is a very hurtful and grossly insensitive thing to do. The people who do the disappearing are often so self-absorbed or immature that they don’t really consider how their actions affect another person. Of course there are instances in which the disappearance occurred not by choice in situations where one was imprisoned or drafted into military service. The remainder of this chapter consists of a dialog between Priya and I in which she shares her recent experiences with a Stephane, a man that showed up in her life a few months back and then abruptly disappeared.

Priya: My young husband passed away unexpectedly in 2012. I was just starting to get back into dating after a year of mourning his loss and had created a very short profile on OkCupid to test the waters. My profile consisted of two photographs and three lines. And then one day I got a message from this guy saying “I didn’t think it was possible, but your profile is even shorter than mine.” We then we started chatting back and forth.

Stephane had mentioned in his profile that he works as a psychotherapist. It was interesting because he started asking questions about me. I responded by saying “You’re the therapist …figure it out.” Much to my surprise, he came up with some pretty accurate insights. He guessed right off that I had just come out of a long term relationship.

We decided to meet after a flirtatious exchange. The first date felt very disconnected. Stephane appeared to be stressed out, exhausted and older than the picture posted on his profile. We met in a crowded bar and at the time he seemed to be more interested in watching the game. Two other guys at the bar were flirting with me. I thought that it was all playful and fun, but it seemed to really bother Stephane.

The first date didn’t go very well, but he said maybe should give it another try. Stephane was very quick to set up the second date. He wanted me to come down to see him in Brooklyn, which was fine because I love exploring this part of the city. This time he came across as someone who was very willing to open up. I assumed that had something to do with the fact that he’s a psychotherapist by profession. One thing I did notice is that he tended to overanalyze everyone and everything around him.

I could sense a lot of anxiety about Stephane, but I started to see his eyes brighten over the course of our conversation. There was almost this boyish look on his face as he began to relax. I loved the transformation I saw taking place in Stephane as he began to let his hair down, access his free inner child and just act silly.

At some point our conversation turned to the subject of loss. I then shared with Stephane about the loss of my husband. I loved that he was so open to hearing what I had to say. I had shared a very important part of me and felt that the fact that I was more vulnerable with Stephane made him more attracted to me. My sense is that a person is being intimate if they’re sharing a lot of personal information. I didn’t think it was possible to share that much information and still have an intimacy barrier. I hadn’t shared my loss with anyone before in my dating experience, so for me that meant intimacy. But looking back, I don’t think it was the case for him and at some level I sensed it. I should have listened to my intuition

I felt that we were growing closer after the second date. We kissed at the end of the date and he said lets meet again. I texted Stephane after a few days, but then I didn’t hear from him for a long time.

The experience of being intimate with Stephane stayed with me, making me miss my husband in a different way than before. Something about my interaction with Stephane was helping me to process the grief. The feelings continued to surface for a couple of days. I felt that it was healthy to access these feelings and I wanted more.

I texted Stephane and said “Hey, let’s get together.” Stephane responded by saying “Let’s do it.” He said “How about tonight?” I was up for it but then he canceled at the last minute. I was a little surprised because I thought that we had progressed further. Stephane didn’t make himself available for another date.

Bewildered, I sent Stephane a message saying “I really enjoyed the time that we spent together and if you feel similarly, I would love to see you again and often.” I received no response at all. I felt so disappointed and so I stopped texting him. A couple of months went by. One night I was out with my friends and for some reason I thought of Stephane. I had a little too much to drink and I texted him saying “Where the fuck have you been?” That captured his attention. And then we had this playful exchange. During the exchange he said “Me not responding doesn’t mean that I’m not interested.” I then replied with “Well okay, what are you going to do about it?” Stephane then said that he would love to hang out. I thought I would give him another chance and see where things wanted to go and so we finally did hang out again.

At that time I told Stephane “I’m in a place right now where I just want to be friends. I’m not looking for anything long term. The conversation is very good and I feel that we connect on many levels. That’s something I enjoy and I’m in a good place. So I would love to see you more often.” Stephane seemed to become very relaxed around the whole idea of no commitments or expectations.

What I was hoping for is an adult relationship in which two people are fully present for each other for whatever period of time. It doesn’t have to be forever or a year. It could be for a month. But at least they fully honor the connection. And I do believe that’s possible. I believe that you can be friends and share about your life and share your ideas to change the world. And you can also have an intimate sexual relationship. I thought that Stephane had that potential given the depth that he had demonstrated before.

At that point, we really started to see each other. After that date he invited me to his place. I ended up spending the night. We talked for five or six hours. We had another date where he came over to my place and again we talked for hours. After the second big date I started to feel like he tapped into this whole reservoir of pain inside of me. It felt like layers of grief were surfacing, because the depth of sharing was something that I had only previously experienced with my husband. Now I had shared with another man. Having done so was beautiful, but it also felt sad.

The date seemed perfect. I felt euphoric and was glowing afterwards. But then a day later I started to slip into a depressive state and mourn the loss of my husband even more deeply than before.

I slept with Stephane in a certain position that I used to sleep in with my husband. I could hear his heartbeat and it reminded me of my husband’s heartbeat. It reminded me of how my husband’s heart suddenly stopped and that evoked a whole range of emotion.

During our time together I saw Stephane transform from this stressed out individual into this guy whose eyes were sparking and full of youth. Suddenly he changed into this effervescent personality. I loved watching the transformation. We kissed, made love and it was so tender and romantic.

Along with the sadness came feelings of abandonment. Stephane had already shared with me that he’s the kind of person who cannot commit. He said at one point that it was very easy for him to walk away from a relationship. The whole time I kept fearing that he was going to walk away. I also knew that if I chased after him or tried to text him that it would sabotage this relationship and that he would put even more distance between us.

I went through my usual abandonment cycle which I feel with almost every guy, but this time I decided to do something completely different. Normally I delete the guy’s number so there’s no way for me to text him. Or I do text him, the guy runs away and then it’s over. This time I decided to take it to the next level. I decided to own these feelings by sharing them with Stephane, not to burden him or expect anything from him, but purely to share.

Stephane’s biggest fear is that someone will start expecting things from him, but that’s not what I was doing. I assumed that since Stephane is a therapist, he would understand what I was going through and we could be friends. And that he would also understand that I’m not feeling all these intense things because I’m expecting more from the relationship. So I picked up the phone and I called Stephane and told him what I was going through. In the moment he was very compassionate about it, saying “Hey, I wish I had the time right now to talk about this. I can’t right now because I’m at work, but let’s meet on Wednesday.

Tuesday came and I didn’t hear from Stephane. So I texted him and said “Hey, what’s going on? Are we meeting Wednesday or not?” That’s when I received a text message saying “Sorry, I think that our last conversation was a little intense. Understandably intense, but not at par with where I’m at right now. Sorry.” Stephane broke up on text and that was it. I never heard from him again.

In receiving that text I felt two things. It felt like a stab in the heart, but at another level I was almost expecting it. I felt the same things when I received the phone call letting me know that my husband had died. The abandonment wound is so primitive that at some level we almost expect to be abandoned. Every time a relationship ends I feel two things. I feel really sad, but I also know that it was going to happen anyway.

Sometimes I miss the fun parts of the connection I shared with Stephane. I miss the music we shared, the depth of conversation, the intellectual connection and the perceived emotional closeness. Now I feel that he was holding back a big part of himself. I don’t think he was really letting me in. And that’s why it was so easy for him to walk away. Why else would you be able to walk away so easily.

Ben: The thing that caused me the most grief and frustration when I first came to New York was this seeming inability of the people I encountered to form any kind of meaningful or lasting attachments. The tendency to disappear is indicative of deep interpersonal deficits. You can meet someone here in the City, share all kinds of deep personal information and feel like you’re really making a connection. But there are lots of people here don’t really comprehend that in terms of intimacy. It’s nothing for them to just disappear, because what may feel like a connection to you and I really doesn’t mean anything to them.

I feel fortunate to have spent time in other states and countries in different parts of the world. One of the things I value most is the experience of connecting with people wherever I went. It was so amazing to open up and share with someone I was meeting for the first time. There was a greater sense of continuity in that something good would usually come of the interaction. It may not necessary turn into a romantic relationship, but it often developed into a friendship or some form of connection.

Many people living her in the city lack a certain empathetic quality that would enable them to bond and form meaningful attachments. I see it on a personal level and in the people I work with. People we encounter or interact with can seem to be really present in the moment, but they cannot sustain this presence. They often just disappear. It’s just the way that many people here operate.

The disappearing act happens to some degree everywhere. It’s just much more prevalent here in the city. People in communities across the country and in other parts of the world often warn their friends and acquaintances about a potential love interest if that person has acted in ways that were hurtful and abusive. Word gets out and then the man or woman gets a bad reputation. The advantage of this is that it holds men and women accountable for their actions. People in a place like New York City can do all kinds of horrible things to one another and seemingly get away with it because there isn’t the extended social network to hold them accountable. It’s so much harder to hold anyone accountable here in a city of eight million strangers.

Priya: But what is commitment anyway? My sense is that it is about accountability to another person. It seems that a lot of people here are so scared of that. And they fear that they will be asked for something that they cannot fulfill. One of the things that Stephane said is “I cannot disappoint a woman. If I think I’m disappointing her then I will walk away.” At some level he perceived that by sharing what I’m going through that I was asking for some massive amount of support …something that he felt he couldn’t provide me. And so he already knew that he had disappointed me and that’s why he walked away. He behaved consistent with what he told me about himself. And that’s the same pattern he’s been playing out with women. This is what I understand based upon what he shared with me.

Ben: There are a lot of things about the environment here in New York City that cause people to operate on a very surface level. We’re bombarded with massive amounts of light, sound and other stimulus. And there are innumerable distractions. People are stacked above, below and on all sides of us. And that means that other people are constantly in our energy field. All of that static interference exceeds our processing capacity. Our state of disconnect is further exacerbated as we continue to spend more and more time on our smartphones and computers.
All the shit flying through our sensory channels leaves us saturated, thereby overwhelming our processing capacity. We can barely do the processing necessary to work through our own feelings and issues because our brain-mind is so overwhelmed by the sensory bombardment and all the other distractions that it is forced to contend with. Interpersonal relationships invariably suffer, because we do not have enough available bandwidth available to be fully present.

Priya: That’s so bizarre. I will create that bandwidth, because connection is why I’m alive. That’s why I’m here. How can you live without that? I don’t get it…

Ben: But you have a different orientation. Your orientation is to experience that deep intimate emotional bond or connectedness. Other individuals build barriers around themselves. They may hunger for the sexual hookup, but they don’t allow anyone into that deep personal space. They are avoiding their own feelings and issues. In doing so they are abandoning themselves and therefore they cannot be truly present with anyone else.

We operate with these assumptions that say everyone is looking to love and be loved, but in doing so we are setting ourselves up to be hurt. Much of the population is wounded in such a way that prevents them from being truly intimate with another human being. Many are threatened by intimacy. Matters are further compounded by the fact that they do not recognize their inability to bond as an issue that needs to be dealt with. And many of those who do recognize the issue do not possess the willingness or desire to do what it takes to heal.

Priya: One of the things Stephane told me was that he was really surprised that I kept texting him even though he didn’t text back. I responded by telling him that I knew that most people would feel rejected if someone didn’t text them back. I just had this intuition that we would be really good friends and that we have a capacity for connection. And that I thought that his unavailability was his problem and not mine.

Stephane’s response was “Wow, good for you that you thought that way.” I could have continued to think that way, but I was up to my capacity where I couldn’t indulge his unavailability any more. I felt like I was playing this role of drawing him out of his shell all the time saying it’s safe. I’m safe. It’s safe to connect. I considered texting him again, but I feel like I’m worth more than trying so hard to draw someone out of their shell. So I just chose not to. Maintaining a connection shouldn’t be so hard if it’s meant to be.

I come with so much connectedness that some people cannot bear it. They cannot be in my presence. My groundedness and connectedness makes them encounter the uncomfortable feelings they are avoiding.

Ben: The act of being fully present in our personal interactions can trigger a lot of feelings. One has to experience a lot of feelings in order to be fully present in their interactions with others. A large percentage of the population is not willing to do that.

Stephane, like so many other men in the city, may continue to move from one hookup to another. Or he may eventually find a partner who operates at a similar level of disconnectedness with whom he can relate on a superficial level that doesn’t force him to address his issues. It’s like they’re sort of together, but there’s no real depth or intimacy.

Priya: Stephane told me that he’s working primarily with returning vets and patients struggling with addictions. When I asked Stephane how he’s helped his patients, he told me that he primarily focuses on strategies to help them cope. I could see that his reviews were really good when I looked online, but then what does a patient who is so low functioning really know.

Ben: There are highly skilled psychotherapists that make a profound difference in the lives of their patients. But I sometimes feel cynical about psychotherapy, because I know of so many therapists who are just as damaged, if not more so, than the patients they are purporting to help. They may have an intellectual understanding of psychopathology and yet they’re not really doing the deep processing necessary to work through their emotions and heal their own dysfunction.

None of us are perfect. We are all wounded in some way and we all make mistakes. And yet I’ve felt horrified by the level of dysfunction in some of the psychotherapists who have shown up in my classes and that have worked with me individually. Sometimes they disappear because of their inability or unwillingness to face the issues. I’m thinking “Okay, so you’ve earned your degree and now you’re practicing as a psychotherapist. But how can you possibly facilitate healing within another when you’re not even doing the work necessary to facilitate your own healing?” One of the most important qualifications for those of us who work in any kind of therapeutic capacity is that we strive to live from a place of integrity by consistently addressing our own issues to the best of our ability.

Intellectual understanding will only go so far. I look into people’s auras all the time. I see people who have gone through years of psychotherapy. I see many instances where they possess a greater intellectual understanding of their suffering and yet they’re still holding so much trauma and other stressful emotional content within their bodies. Psychotherapy can be a very important aspect of the healing process, but it needs to be combined with other modalities. One also needs to be willing to do the deep emotional work.

Priya: At one point Stephane said that he didn’t have any interest in going back to address childhood issues with his patients. And that may be a reflection of his own unwillingness to address those issues and do the processing necessary to heal his own emotional wounds. That may also account for the fact that his approach is based primarily upon offering coping skills, rather than addressing the underlying issues. I’ve noticed that lots of people are not willing to go back to address childhood issues. I’m sure that’s not the only way to heal. There must be other ways.

Ben: Unresolved issues from our past are often the underlying source of our present day struggles. These issues have a tendency to play out in our present day lives. They need to be addressed at some point. We cannot fully heal until the wounds are healed and the issues brought to some form of resolution. That’s not all there is to healing, but it’s a very important part of the process.

Relationships will invariably bring our core issues to the surface. Much of the populace has spent the vast majority of their lives avoiding or disconnecting from their feelings, physical bodies and the issues they haven’t wanted to deal with. They’re afraid to experience their own feelings. And that’s why many people bail out as soon as a relationship brings their core issues to the surface.

I met a Chinese woman one evening while attending a class. I found the conversation with Jian to be very enjoyable, so I asked her if she would like to come along with me to pick up an order I had placed at Whole Foods. She then asked me if I would like to have tea. We ended up going to McDonalds for tea because it was the only place still open at that hour of the night. It turns out that we had a lot in common. We ended up talking about all kinds of things. And we kept taking until three in the morning.

Jian shared with me that evening that she had recently come out of a relationship with a man that she met in a bar. Before long he had moved in with Jian and she ended up becoming pregnant. Jian’s lover was apparently very cruel. He made a point of sending Jian a picture of himself with his new girlfriend shortly after he broke off the relationship. I felt very concerned at the time because I could sense her grief and I knew that she had been deeply hurt.

I really enjoyed talking with Jian and thought I had found a friend. Jian works as a nutritionist, so I had a sense that we could learn from and possibly help each other. I wasn’t all that physically attracted to Jian, but we shared so much in common and I really enjoyed the connection. There was a light playful quality to the interaction and it was a lot of fun spending time with and her. I hadn’t known Jian for that long and wasn’t yet sure how I felt about her, but was open to the possibility that there could be potential for something more at some point in the future. At that time I just wanted to be there for her as a friend. I would have also been perfectly content if the connection remained a platonic friendship.

Jian and I were supposed to meet again the following week. She woke up late that morning and then called to say that she didn’t feel like going out. She then invited me to come over to her place. We spent much of the day talking and drinking the amazing fruit tea that she makes from goji berries, longons and other various other ingredients. We exchanged a few emails afterwards and then she just disappeared. I sent one email telling her that I really enjoyed the connection and that I valued her friendship, but I never heard back from her.

Priya: So many of my friends here are struggling with these same issues.

Ben: The stress of living in a place like New York City makes it all the more difficult to remain grounded in our feelings and physical bodies. People who live in their heads can easily lose touch with their intuition and the empathetic capacity that would enable them to bond with another human being.

One sees lots of couples here in the city. Some people do find love in the city and yet so many others struggle to find someone special with whom they can share their lives. New York is full of men like Stephane who will show up in women’s lives and then disappear. These men want to act like they don’t have any vulnerabilities at all and so they play it cool. A lot of women end up pursuing unavailable men and then they devise all kinds of strategies for holding onto them in their attempt to make the relationship work.

There’s percentage of men and women on the dating scene in New York like the guy Jian was going out with that exhibit sociopathic characteristics. On the surface they possess superficial charm and good intelligence. And yet they tend to be so out of touch with their own feelings that it impairs their ability to empathize with the feelings, needs and considerations of others. They are pathologically egocentric and are incapable of love. Their sex lives have a very impersonal quality and are not well integrated. There’s an unreliability, untruthfulness and insincerity about them. They also lack remorse or shame when their words and actions cause pain. These individuals tend to possess a magnetic quality that draws others in, but they can be very wounding to those with whom they become involved.

There are actually a lot more men and women in the city who want more than anything to find someone with whom they can share a deep meaningful and lasting connection. Sadly, there are so many social barriers that are preventing people from engaging with one another. Many of the men I have spoken to tell me that the women they encounter won’t even give them a chance.

Women that have been hurt by unavailable men like Stephane often internalize the painful feelings. All of the stresses and distractions of being in New York can make it that much more difficult for them to process their feelings. Fears, hurts and other conflicted feelings held within often get projected onto men and that can make it difficult for women to open or trust. The deep emotional wounds that many women hold cause them to gravitate towards men like Stephane or those that exhibit sociopathic tendencies. And yet in many instances they’re afraid of the men who are truly desirous of a relationship that have the capacity to show up fully present.

Priya: There’s a lot of the fear among men and women in New York City. And that fear often shuts down the natural flow of interaction. Much of this fear has to do with a lack of trust of people’s intentions. People here often feel you want something from them. Even if you’re sincere and have the best of intentions, they still don’t trust you. And in many instances they assume that you have some kind of ulterior motive.

Ben: There are a disproportionate numbers of men here in New York that are afraid of commitment. And there is also a level of fear and guardedness among women that I have not encountered anywhere else. Many won’t make eye contact in public spaces, or they react very negatively if a man were to approach them. And yet many of these same women anguish over the fact that they don’t have a man in their lives.

I’ve met women and have sometimes spoken with them for hours in all kinds of settings. We seemed to have a lot in common and it felt like there was potential for friendship. But in some instances they were still unwilling to exchange contact information despite the fact that we shared many common interests and they enjoyed the conversation. If it were anywhere else we would have most likely continued the conversation. Others have expressed their desire to continue the conversation, but have often disappeared after exchanging a few emails.

Much of the fear, guardedness, inability to commit or just show up fully present stems from the fact that people have been deeply wounded at various points in their lives. We are all empathic to some extent. Those who are not strongly rooted in themselves may internalize the attitudes, fears, confusion and other mental-emotional baggage of those around them. These mental-feeling states then compounded by people’s inability to process their own feelings and bring issues to a place of resolution.

Noted psychotherapist Carl Jung spoke at great length about the individual and collective consciousness. Every city, state, region, nation, ethnicity and race has its own collective psyche. An element of fear, guardedness, mistrust or suspicion has become incorporated in the collective consciousness of people residing here in the city. We can easily get sucked into the collective mind if we’re not firmly rooted in ourselves. Operating from the collective state doesn’t really serve us, but sadly many people have a very limited capacity to step back and examine themselves and do the deep internal processing that would enable them to truly think their own thoughts and feel their own feelings.

We have all been hurt somewhere along the way. A fearful and guarded state of mind is more likely to become our default mode of operation when we fail to process what we’ve gone through and any subsequent feelings that arise. Allowing our fears to control us stunts our growth. And that limits the quality of all of our relationships by preventing us from being as fully present in our interactions as we could be.

South Asia has a whole different set of challenges, but one of the things I enjoy most about being in India and Sri Lanka is that there’s a greater sense of continuity in personal interactions. I meet all kinds of people along the way and find that I’m much more likely to see or at least hear from those with whom I connect again. There’s a much more reciprocal nature to my interactions with women in this part of the world. I have sometimes given my business card to women that I met along the way. In many instances they initiate by calling or emailing me.

Priya: I would initiate contact or show interest in men that I met because I didn’t know the social rules. I didn’t have a problem with that, but it seems dating here in the United States has developed all of these unspoken rules. Girls are not supposed to initiate contact.

Then there’s a lot of focus on keeping the dating interaction light and breezy. And there are all these other rules to determine how long we’re supposed to wait before we text so that we don’t sound too desperate or needy. People here in the United States have this strange obsession with neediness or clinginess. No one wants to be perceived as such, but that’s a defense against our own feelings of vulnerability. Everyone feels needy to some extent, but we’re so ashamed of these feelings that we punish ourselves. In many instances we devalue and then punish those who we perceive to be needy or vulnerable. We cut that person off, reject or throw them away.

Ben: That’s another thing I really like about being in relationships with women in India and Sri Lanka. It’s much easier to express one’s feelings of attraction and desire to spend time with another person. It’s okay to have wants and needs. I feel a much greater sense of acceptance. I can express what I’m feeling without fearing that the woman I’m engaged with is going to run away.

Priya: Having a communal orientation is a normal part of life in India. We expect to be supported and to support others. It’s normal to need other people and that’s not a problem. The main drawback is that people, and especially women, are not as self-reliant as they could be. Women are almost expected to be vulnerable and needy and are protected for that reason. And it’s okay to be needy. A woman certainly won’t be rejected for that reason.

I found myself wondering what I had done to attract this experience of being abandoned when Stephane disappeared. And that evoked feelings of shame. I was thinking that like attracts like and that maybe I have a little Stephane in me, otherwise why would I attract someone like that into my life. Maybe it’s an indication that I’m not as developed as I think I am and that I wouldn’t be attracting people like Stephane into my life if I didn’t need them to teach me these lessons.

Ben: We do tend to attract people and situations that reflect our woundedness and the issues that we need to be addressing. We also have to be careful with the new-age-isms or we end up creating a lot of additional confusion.

Much of South Asia is swarming with mosquitos. We don’t ask ourselves “What am I doing to attract this?” and then come up with some lengthy esoteric narrative to explain why we’re getting eaten by mosquitos. Part of the reality of being in South Asia is that we end up getting a lots of mosquito bites unless we’re doused with repellent, shielded with nets or have some kind of blood chemistry that repels the little airborne bloodsuckers. The disappearing act is a standard operating procedure for many people residing here in New York City. And that’s something we’ve likely to experience firsthand as we make ourselves vulnerable by being open and attempting to form attachments with other people.

Priya: I was offering Stephane a safe friendship where we could explore feelings. What happened in the end is a loss for both of us. Stephane and I could have helped each other. I could have gone further in the process of healing the grief of my husband’s loss. He could have processed the residual grief of losing his mother and dealt with his intimacy issues. We could have learned and grown in the process of sharing our experiences given the fact that he’s a psychotherapist and I’m so process oriented. That’s what attracted me to him and why I had continued to text him. Of course I stopped when I got to the point to where I was not honoring myself. While I will progress further in my healing, he will continue to operate at that same level of dysfunction.

Ben: Relationships challenge us, but in doing so they provide us with one of the greatest opportunities for personal growth. People with avoidant tendencies are driven by their fears and are therefore very unlikely to ever grasp these opportunities. We may see the woundedness of the other person and think to ourselves “If they would just… The problem is that we cannot fix another person. We need to put the focus on ourselves. And we do that by taking the steps we need to do to facilitate own healing.

I encounter so many people who are frustrated, hurt and sometimes devastated because one potential love after another has disappeared. It’s not that we have bad relationship karma or that we are necessarily doing anything wrong. We’re not damaged or defective. This is just the way in which many people here operate.

It’s important for us to work with the feelings of hurt, loss abandonment or disappointment that arise when someone disappears on us. The way we do that is to bring the person or situation to the forefront of our awareness and then notice what feelings arise in response to their disappearance. We take note of where these feelings are situated within our bodies and then we breathe softly and deeply while focusing our attention in the middle of these feelings and sensations.

Working with powerful healers and going through the vision quests has also helped me to process the feelings of hurt, loss and disappointment that arose when other people have disappeared. And some will reappear from every now and then. It’s just seems to be a part of everyday life here in the city. The losses are not so devastating as they were in the past. I experience feelings of sadness, disappointment and loss at times, but I’m much better equipped to work through any feelings that surface. I stopped personalizing other people’s lack of congruence and interpersonal integrity. It also brought me to a place where I feel a much greater sense of connectedness within myself.

Becoming more intuitive has also helped by giving me a better sense of the people I’m dealing with. I’m also more cognizant of the fact that the words coming out of a lot of people’s mouths don’t have a whole lot of meaning or significance. I’ve learned to step back to allow the people I interact with to show me through their words and actions if they have the capacity to show up fully present and to sustain the connection. And with this understanding I’m able to make a wiser investment of my time and energy.

©Copyright 2014 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.

Growing Along With Our Children

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Parenting
My friend Amy has been struggling with the changes taking place as her daughter grows into adolescence. Just the other day she was saying to me “For the longest time I was the center of my daughter’s world. I sometimes feel a tremendous sense of grief and loss because I no longer have the lovely close cuddly relationship with my daughter. Now she just pushes me away. It’s as if she’s saying “Don’t even bother.” It’s very hard for me to step back and let my daughter be her own person. I have to find a new way of relating to her and I haven’t quite figured that out yet.”

Children are dependent upon their parents to help them navigate the early stages of their development. They identify with their parents, internalizing many of their traits, attributes, mindsets and values. Adolescence is a time when one learns to think and feel for themselves and to determine their own wants and needs. Adolescents go through a process known as individualization. This is a critical stage of an adolescent’s development in which they pull away from their parents in order to form a separate and distinct identity. Adolescents need time and space to learn to formulate their own thoughts, work through their own feelings and issues and to get a sense of what’s best for them. They may need to distance from or sometimes even reject the parents they had once identified with as they grow into adulthood.

Raising children is a growth process for parent and child. It can at times be painful for both, albeit for different reasons. Our pain comes in letting go and theirs comes from the struggle to grow up and find a place among their peers. Younger generations are also facing a whole new set of challenges. They are vulnerable to the influence of the media. And their dependence upon texting and social media is preventing many from developing the basic social skills that are necessary to function in today’s world.

The years between thirteen and eighteen can be especially difficult. Adolescents want the freedom of an adult. The problem here that they have yet to reach the level of maturity that would enable them to make the best decisions. A parent’s first response is to want to reach out to protect and guide their children. Sometimes parents have to stand back and allow their children to make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons.

Amy went on to say “I watched my mother struggle to relate to my daughter. She was wonderful with her as a baby and when she was little. But she couldn’t relate to my daughter as she got older. My mother continually tried to relate to my daughter as though she were a little girl. She could no longer find any common ground and now I see that I’m struggling with the same issue. So that’s something for me to work on.”

The process of individualization that children go through as they reach adolescence can sometimes be difficult and even painful for parents and grandparents. Many feel threatened by the changes taking place as their children begin to pull away, form their own separate sense of identity and go on to live a life of their own. The process can be far more difficult for parents that are limited in their capacity to process their own feelings. The children are growing into adulthood and yet the parents are still fixated at a time in the past when their children were still small.

To some extent, we are all resistant to change. We try to keep our children small in our attempt to hold onto what is known or familiar. Watching the changes taking place in our children as they grow up can evoke a wide range of feeling. We may experience feelings such as grief, loss or hurt when our children move away from us or act out. The feelings will be more subtle at other times. We may sense a distance that wasn’t there before. We may struggle to relate to the person they are becoming and find ourselves longing for the connection we shared in times past. We need to be able to process all of these feelings. Those of us who fail to do so are left frozen in time and then we find ourselves reaching for something that is no longer there.

There may have been times in the past when we shared a very close and loving bond with our children. Children can become more distant as they grow into adulthood. We may feel as if there were a barrier separating us. And it may seem at times as though we can no longer reach them.

The only constant is change. It’s important for us to understand that all relationships change over time. There are different mental, emotional and energetic dynamic to every relationship. And these dynamic are always changing. We need to be in a space that allows for the changes that are taking place.

Everyone on the planet is going through some kind of change or evolution. It is critically important as parents for us to open up to fully experience any feelings that are being evoked by the changes taking place in our children. We can facilitate this process by sitting down, closing our eyes and then bringing them to the forefront of our awareness and then allowing ourselves to sense the mental, emotional and energetic dynamics between ourselves and our children. We then need to breathe softly and deeply while centering our awareness in the midst of any feelings and sensations that we experience within our bodies.

It’s important for us to stop and allow ourselves to fully feel the dynamics of the relationship for what it is at any given moment. In doing so, we feel our child’s presence. We may also sense their feelings and overall state of mind. We sense how close or distant they are. And we also experience our own feelings as they arise in response to the changes taking place with our children and any interactions we have with them.

Breathing into the feelings that arise facilitates a digestive process. This processing of our feelings helps us to clear up confusion, come to a place of understanding, resolve conflict, come to terms with what is and grow individually and in the context of our relationships. Our children are changing all the time. We are also changing and so is everyone else around us, therefore it’s important for us to take time to do this practice every day.

Working consistently with this practice makes it easier for us to come to terms with what is and adapt to the changes taking place with our children and in other significant people in our lives. We become more present in a way that enables us to experience people as they are in the here and now. It helps us to let go to the extent that we can allow our children to have the space they need to learn and grow and become who it is they are meant to be.

Adolescence is a period of intensive physical, intellectual and moral growth. It is often a time of confusion and upheaval in many households. Approaches to parenting that seemed to work so well during our children’s younger years may no longer be appropriate. One of the greatest advantages of working with the practice I’m sharing in this article is that it helps us to adapt so that we can respond appropriately to our teens changing needs as they continue to grow and mature.

Teens that were once compliant will begin to assert themselves and their opinions. We need to look at how much room we give our teens to be an individual by asking ourselves “Am I a controlling parent? Do I listen to my child and allow him or her to be a separate and distinct individual with opinions and tastes different from my own?” In some instances we may need to change our approach or our style of communication.

Parents who have a greater understanding of the changes taking place in their teens are better equipped to cope. We need to be educating ourselves. That may mean learning from the experiences of other parents, reading books, attending workshops about teens and in some instances seeking the help of a psychotherapist. Remembering how we struggled as we reflect back on our own teen years will also help us to be more understanding and supportive.

Adolescence is a time when our children begin to test their limits. Adolescents, not being fully cognizant of their own limitations and the dangers facing them, often believe they can handle anything thrown their way.

Basic ground rules need to be established and consequences need to be enforced when our teens fail to comply. They may not always happy with the expectations placed upon them, but they do need to know that we care enough about them to expect that they keep their grades up, fulfill their responsibilities, eat right and come home at a reasonable hour.

Adolescents often feel as if no one understands them or their feelings. In many instances they are left feeling angry, alone and confused as they struggle with the issues of being accepted by their peers, sexuality, drugs and finding their own sense of direction in life.

It’s important for us to stay present with our children. Spending time with our teens and listening to their concerns shows them that we care. Being there when they need us helps to provide them with a sense of groundedness and security as they grow into adulthood.

Children usually come around once they get a sense of who they are and learn to make their way through the world. The relationship may take on more of a quality of friendship once they do. Things have a way of coming around full circle. There may be a time in the future when we are dependent upon them for our care.

Amy then said “I felt terribly guilty about distancing from my own parents as an adolescent. One good thing that has come out of this experience with my daughter is that it has helped me to let go of all of that guilt. I know that distancing from my parents hurt them, but I now realize that I had to push them away so that I could grow up. Addressing these issues with my daughter has brought me a lot of comfort by helping me to reconcile this conflict that has been with me all these years.”

©Copyright 2014 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.

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