Is Our Use of Smartphones and the Internet Preventing Us from Healing and Stunting Our Personal Growth?

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Candy CrushThe world was a very different place in the mid-nineties when I started traveling from New Mexico to work in Boston and New York City. The Internet was in the early stages of development and cell phones had only recently become available to the general public. I was making four trips a year and spending a little over two months at a time on the road stopping over in Kansas City, New York City and Boston before returning to Albuquerque.

The people I worked with at that time would often schedule individual healing sessions for my return trip months in advance. What amazes me is that the majority of people kept their appointments despite the fact that they were booked so far in advance. Some people would even schedule two or three sessions per visit.

Having trained with a traditional Native American doctor made me a novelty. In many instances I would go on the radio or offer a workshop and then I would have all kinds of people wanting to work with me individually. I had so much work when I first started traveling to Boston that it usually took me two to three weeks to get out of town. I felt totally exhausted by the time I returned to Albuquerque. I usually took a few weeks to replenish and work on my writing.

A large percentage of the people that I worked with during that time continued to work with me for two, five and ten years or longer. In many instances the presenting issues that they initially came to me for would have been resolved. But many chose to continue with the individual sessions because of the growth that they experienced in different areas of their lives.

It was nice having so many people to work with and I just assumed it would continue that way. But my good fortune began to change as the technology continued to advance and people were spending more and more time on their smartphones and behind the screens of their computers.

I struggled to make sense of what was happening for quite some time, wondering why it had become so much harder to maintain a practice when I knew that my work had become much more powerful and effective over the years. In time I learned that people practicing other forms of healing were having a similar experience. One healer I know that had a huge following over the years now anguishes about how little work he now has.

Developing certain cognitive skills at the expense of others

There are both positive and negative aspects to our use of the technology. Certain kinds of computer games strengthen brain functions related to fast-paced problem solving. They have also been shown to enhance visual-spacial skills and improve our capacity for rapid decision making. The primary cause for concern is that we may be developing certain cognitive skills at the expense of others.

The internet provides us with access to vast treasure trove of information. Rather than having to trudge a considerable distance to the library, we can now find the information we need in a matter of minutes by doing a search on Google.

We’re now consuming three to four times as much information as we did just a few decades ago. Our brains are to some extent adapting to this deluge of information. We’ve become a lot better at finding the information we need and have also improved our capacity to assess the trustworthiness and value of content of a particular website. One can easily debate that last sentence when we consider the massive amount of garbage being sold online as a result of “highly converting” sales pages. Having quick and easy access is in many ways a good thing. There problem here is that this ease of access to so much information also comes with a price.

The technology that was designed to serve us is in many ways is taking over our lives. Many of us are plugged into our devices for over twelve hours a day when we combine the amount of time we spend on the internet, our smartphones, iPods, tablets and television. The more time we spend in these virtual realities, the less time we spend actually participating in life. We’re not getting out and going places as much, engaging in as many activities or being as directly involved with other people because we’re spending so much time staring into the screens of our smartphones and computers.

The technology that was designed to help us to get more done is making it possible for us to complete many time consuming tasks in a shorter amount of time. The irony here is that the demands and expectations placed upon us have increased. We now have so much more to do and that’s leaving us less time to do many of the things we truly want and need to do.

It can be hard to resist the endless stream of useful and fascination information available online that we either want or need to learn more about. The problem is that it is not humanly possible for us to absorb all of this information. But we can easily find ourselves getting distracted by all kinds of irrelevant, mind numbing and time consuming distractions if we’re not being mindful of what we’re doing. Sitting there in front of the computer for extended periods of time also takes us further away from what’s happening in the here and now.

Our use of the internet is consuming huge amounts of time. Many of us have sat down to watch a video, catch up on the news or read an article and before we know it hours have gone by. In many instances, we’re staying up late into the night reading articles, posting on Facebook and scrolling through the news feed, checking out videos on YouTube, tweeting, chatting and answering emails. Consequently, we wake up feeling tired the next day; therefore we are not as present or productive.

Disrupted sleep rhythms

Light-sensitive protein in the cells at the back of our eyes called melanopsin signal the brain’s internal clock, which controls the body’s circadian rhythm. Blue light, which is the most abundant during the morning hours sends a message to our brains that it’s time to wake up. Red light which is more common in the evenings signals our brains to start powering down. Our computers, tablets and smartphones emit large quantities of blue light. Our use of theses gadgets during the nights disrupts our brain’s natural rhythms by throw off our natural sleep-wake cycles.

It’s highly addictive

The internet acts in some ways like a drug with its element of instant gratification making it highly addictive. Many of us crave the stimulation we get from our gadgets. We see the evidence our addiction in our compulsion to spend time on our smartphones and computers even though it interferes with our work and social life.

The internet is designed to appeal to the brain’s craving for novelty and stimulation. The quick hits of novelty that we experience whenever we go online provide us with a sense of instant gratification. The production of the neurotransmitter dopamine in our brain’s reward centers feeds into our sense of excitement. In its absence we feel bored.

The dopamine induced sense of instant gratification created by our use of technology compels us to keep picking up our cell phones to text or check for new email, tweets and status updates. The reinforcement we get from these hits of dopamine makes it harder and harder for us to stop. We’re like the mice in the science experiments that get a food pellet as a reward every time they push a lever. It’s really scary when we realize how manipulated we are by our technology and the people who are using it to serve their own purposes.

It has become an automated response for us to reach for our phone the moment we have any down time. We can’t go more than an hour without checking our gadgets. And then we feel irritable and antsy until we get our fix. Our cravings for stimulation continue even after we unplug, and that keeps us coming back for more.

People plug in with their smartphones while waiting in line, walking to wherever it is they’re going and even sitting on the toilet. At least half of the people riding the subways in New York City are staring into the screens of their smartphones. Many of us are not getting adequate rest because we’re staying up late into night doing whatever it is that we do online.

The unrelenting pings, buzzes and beeps and other notifications that alert us to new messages, tweets, texts and status updates keep our body and mind in a state of high alert. The constant alerts and other distractions play into the more primitive aspects of our brain that are designed to respond to immediate threats. These parts of the brain were designed to ensure our survival. And they demand that we pay attention.

Filling every waking moment

Smartphones and the internet are making it possible for us to fill nearly every waking moment of the day with some form of activity or distraction. From the time we wake up many of us are texting, tweeting, posting on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram, checking out other people’s posts or calling them, listing to music and playing games.

Our use of smartphone and the internet are teaching our brains to become bored very easily. Many of us are caught in a vicious cycle in which constant stimulation reduces our ability to entertain ourselves or be present in the here and now and that causes us to seek out more intense stimulation.

Filling our every waking moment with all of these digital distractions is counterproductive. Time spent in stillness without distraction is essential for sparking and sustaining creativity. But we seldom give ourselves the opportunity to be alone with our thoughts or settle into the deeper levels of processing because we’re always plugged in. The resulting loss of creativity greatly limits our potential.

The loss of empathy

I couldn’t help but notice a billboard some months back showing the latest editions of Samsung’s tablet, the Galaxy S and other devices. I was a bit taken aback when I read the words “Meet the family.” Samsung even put the words “Life Companion” on the home screens of their S4. Samsung is intentionally working to create an association in our minds between their smartphones, tablets and other devices to our need for family and companionship.

Rather than bonding with other human beings, our primary relationships are now with our devices. They have in essence become our life companions. We eat with our devices and sleep with them next to our bed or under our pillow. We’re texting while spending time with family and friends or going out on dates. We’re texting while walking down the street. We’re even putting our own and other people’s lives at risk by texting while driving.

Our devices have made it possible for us to be more connected to what’s happening in the world around us than ever before. The same technology that helps us stay connected is actually putting more and more distance between ourselves and others by limiting the extent to which we engage with one another. We can sit in a coffee shop or be surrounded by friends and family and yet we’re oblivious to everyone else around us because we’re so absorbed by what’s happening on the screens of our devices.

Many of us have reconnected with old friends on Facebook. Connecting with friends, coworkers, former loves and prospective new loves when we go online can be a good thing. But it can also be preventing us from being present in the here and now and to the people in our immediate proximity. It can also elicit immediate and intense feelings of intimacy that leads us to romanticize online connections. Rather than being present with our partners, we’re giving our time and energy and attention to all these digital distractions.

Our interactions with other people have taken on a more impersonal quality as we have come to rely more heavily upon our devices. Many of us are hiding behind the screens of our computers and smartphones because we are too threatened by face to face interaction. We’re becoming less caring and considerate of the needs and concerns of others. We make plans to get together and then blow it off with a text message. We sign up for classes and never bother to show up. It doesn’t matter that the person who set up the event has invested a considerable amount of time, effort and money to make the event happen. Many of us are afraid to approach or be approached and yet we’re willing to meet some total stranger online. And men that have no interest in spending time with or getting to know a woman are using smartphone apps like Tinder to hookup.

Our inability to focus our attention on and be fully present with one another is diminishing the quality of human interaction. What so many of us fail to realize is that we’re losing our capacity for empathy.

Changing the structure and function of our brains

Scientists in the not too distant past believed that our brains stopped developing in childhood. In more recent years they have developed a greater understanding of the brain’s plasticity. Scientists now understand that our brain’s neurons and synapses change as our circumstances change. They’re influenced by everything we learn and experience.

Constant digital stimulation overwhelms the processing capacity of our brains that are not adequately equipped to handle the deluge of information. And by doing so it is short-circuiting the cognitive and emotional processes taking place in our conscious and subconscious minds.

Our use of the internet encourages hurried and distracted thinking and superficial learning by exercising neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for deeper thought and introspection. In doing so it is rapidly and profoundly altering the structure and functions of our brains. The habits that we develop while spending time online continue even after we log off. A weakening of our capacity for critical thinking, imagination and reflection occurs when skimming becomes the predominant mode of processing.

The slow steady stream of information and the integration of knowledge

Most of us understand that computers have a limited processing capacity. The human brain also has a limited processing capacity. Our brains are only capable of processing a limited amount of information at any given time. Exceeding this capacity can greatly hinder our ability to learn.

The range and depth of our intelligence depends on our ability to transfer information pertaining to our immediate experience in our working memory to the filing system of our long term memory. The information flowing into our working memory is referred to as our cognitive load. Our working memory can only handle a relatively small amount of information at any given time. A break in our attention can easily erase it contents from our minds. We cannot retain information or draw connections with existing memories when we exceed our mind’s ability to process and store it. Our ability to learn and our understanding remain poor when we cannot translate new material into conceptual knowledge.

People tend to retain more and experience greater comprehension while reading linear text such as that found in a book. Reading from a book, learning to play an instrument or practicing the various forms of a martial art provides us with a slow and steady stream of information that the brain is capable of assimilating. This gradual process of assimilation is essential for the integration of knowledge.

The internet by comparison blasts us with multiple streams of information through a fire hose. In doing so, it overloads our mind’s capacity to process and store information. We’re bombarded with innumerable distractions in the form of instant messages, emails, links to other articles and videos and advertisements whenever we go online.

The cognitive overload that many of us experience as we spend time online makes it more difficult for us to retain new information or draw connections with existing memories. That impedes our ability to translate new material into conceptual knowledge. We comprehend less and therefore our ability to learn suffers.

We tend to read faster and less thoroughly whenever we go online. We spend much of our time scanning headlines, bullet points and other bits of information that stand out on a page or clicking through to other content that we never spend much time on any one thing. In the process of doing so we tend to overlook relevant details. Our range depth of comprehension remains poor.

The constant disruptions that we experience whenever we go online are remapping our neuro-circuitry in ways that are making it difficult for many of us to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes at a time. This inability to concentrate on any one thing greatly impedes the process of integration that needs to take place for information to become incorporated into our long term memory.

Multitasking

The ever increasing demands of our present day lives cause us to feel that we have to get more done and that only adds to our sense of overwhelm. One of the greatest appeals of multitasking is the promise of greater productivity. We may think we’re accomplishing more by multitasking, but in reality we’re taking unnecessary risks, making more mistakes and we’re less cognizant of what we’re doing.

Juggling email, phone calls text messages, tweets and other incoming information changes how we think and behave. Our brains are always having to reorient themselves when we’re constantly shifting our attention from one thing to another and that further taxes our cognitive faculties. The price we pay for these constant interruptions can be severe. Constantly switching our attention from one task to another greatly weakens our ability concentrate on a given task and shut out irrelevant information. We’re more distracted and that weakens our comprehension. We have greater difficulty remembering and we’re more likely to misinterpret or overlook important information.

Constantly shifting back and forth from task to another rather than focusing on one task at a time may damage the brain’s ability to handle strong emotions and hormonal responses. People who spend a lot of time multitasking, switching frequently between applications, websites, text messages and other forms of technology tend to have lower amounts of gray matter in the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex.

Cognitive and emotional deficits

Higher media multitasking is associated with a reduction of gray matter density in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex. The ACC is involved in decision making and emotional regulation. It acts as a mediator between the cognitive functions of the prefrontal cortex and the emotional responses of the limbic system. The regulatory functions provided by the ACC are essential to our emotional wellbeing.

The ACC is linked to motivation. It helps us to anticipate and prepare for the various tasks we undertake. The ACC serves an evaluative function by helping us to detect and resolve conflicts. It recognizes and then evaluates the magnitude of the discrepancies in our thoughts, actions and circumstances. These assessments make it possible for us to adjust our performance so that we can respond more appropriately. The ACC is also vital to the regulation of physiological process such as blood pressure and heart rate.

People with decreased volume in the ACC are more prone to emotional instability in the form of moodiness, fear, worry, anxiety and depression. They tend to have greater difficulty controlling urges, delaying gratification and are also more prone to substance abuse. Decreased volume in the ACC has also been linked to obsessive compulsive disorder and P.T.S.D.

The loss of density in the ACC occurs when we fail to develop the rich neuro-connections needed to contain and process our emotions. Any impediment to our ability to process our emotions stunts our healing and personal development. The negative impact on our cognitive, emotional and motivational process resulting from the lack of sophisticated neuro-connections may contribute to our poor decision making capabilities and failure to take constructive action.

The impact on children

An even greater cause for concern is how all this constant digital stimulation is creating attention problems for children whose brains have not yet fully developed and that are in the process of determining what their priorities are. Many can’t get their homework done because they’re always feeling that pull that compels them to text their friends or go on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.

In times past, children spent much of their time outside playing in their natural surroundings. Children nowadays are physically under-stimulated, while visually and auditory overstimulated because they’re spending the majority of their free time plugged into some form of entertainment technology.

But aren’t you reaching more people now that you’re online?

People have said to me on many occasions that the internet is making it possible for me to reach more people. It’s true that I do reach larger numbers of people now that I’m online. I much rather be reaching fewer people and having those I work with be consistent enough to actually experience the healing that needs to take place within their bodies and minds.

People are often excited to learn about various spiritual practices or to find classes, workshops and healers online. The problem is that they are more likely to jump from one thing to another rather than sticking with anything long enough to derive any significant benefit. I have so much more work to do in order to create the articles, videos and other content and conduct the weekly classes that are enabling me to reach all these additional people. I’m doing classes on a weekly basis. Even that doesn’t seem to be enough at times.

Just the other day I was working with a woman who was receiving and then having to respond to work related emails during the session. She was telling me that she could feel her mind racing. Everyone and everything has speeded up and life has become more pressurized now that we’re online. We have to slow down in order to do the level of deep processing necessary to facilitate healing.

I find it frustrating when the people that show up in my classes or that work with me individually attempt to communicate with me by text. Important information needs to be communicated, but I cannot adequately address the depth or complexity of their concerns through such a limited means. Texting can be useful to relay factual details such as plane arrival time, to let someone know that we’re running late or to pick up something on the way home. Texting does have an immediacy to it, and yet it is the most distant form of human interaction. Texting is the furthest human beings can remain from one another while communicating. We’re training ourselves to become less present to our feelings and physical bodies, our surroundings and other people when we rely on texting and that is diametrically opposed to healing.

Text messages are snippets of communication that are in many instances devoid of a feeling component. We cannot hear the other person’s voice or see their facial expression, therefore we are less aware of the impact of our communication upon others. We’re also cheating ourselves out of the opportunity to experience the feelings that would normally arise within ourselves in response to our interactions with other people. To rely upon texting as our primary mode of communication is to stunt our emotional growth and interpersonal development.

The excessive use of information technology is overwhelming the body and mind’s processing capacity by leaving people saturated with all this additional sensory input that they cannot possibly process. It draws people’s attention away from the moment while desensitizing them to their feelings and physical bodies. And that impedes their ability to do the processing necessary to facilitate learning, personal growth and healing.

People are in many ways not as present or available. And they are not as malleable. Their bodies and minds cannot be as responsive when they are on sensory overload. They tend to become distracted much more easily, which means I have to work much harder to connect people to their internal state of being and keep them on track.

Some people do appear to be present in the moment and yet only a small percentage are able to sustain this presence. And of those who are able to access their feelings and other aspects of their internal state of being, only a few are able to maintain the focus and discipline needed to facilitate true healing.

Electronic media is now filling so much of the space where people have meditated, prayed, reflected and dreamed. The internet has for many become a substitute for their internal state of being. As a matter of survival, I have to develop an ever increasing presence online through articles, audio recordings and videos if I am to continue to reach people and survive in my practice.

Are you saying that we should ditch our devices?

It would not practical for us to ditch our phones and computers considering that we now live in a world where we are all dependent upon them to some extent. We do much of our shopping and pay our bills online. We also correspond through email, keep ourselves up to date with what’s happening in the world and do all sorts of other things. Our devices do serve a purpose and yet it’s important for us to be mindful of the impact that our technology is having upon us and not allow it to take over our lives. We also need to learn to set them aside or turn them off for periods of time.

©Copyright 2015 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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Why Isn’t the Law of Attraction Working For Me?

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The Law of Attraction has gained popularity in recent years and yet it is nothing new. Various Christian and esoteric traditions have been practicing some versions of this philosophy for thousands of years.

Simon, the minister at the church I went to as an adolescent was very charismatic. He manifested a large congregation and sanctuary to hold services in along with cars and a nice home. He and other Evangelical Christians pointed to numerous scriptural examples claiming that one could manifested whatever it is they desired as long as they were in alignment with the word of God. Rather than calling it the Law of Manifestation, Christian Evangelicals referred to it as “living by faith.” I made a very concerted effort to follow these teachings in my teens and a more metaphysical version as an adult, but despite my best effort I often felt as though something were standing in my way.

Spiritual materialism

Many of the people that are into the Law of Attraction are placing a great deal of, if not too much, emphasis on acquiring material possessions. Some of the more prominent teachers are showing off their Mc Mansions, their very expensive cars and their beautiful spouses. It’s important for us to consider the implications of our actions upon other people and the planet. A great deal of pollution is created in the process of extracting natural resources and manufacturing all of these material goods. So much of what we consume has a very limited live expectancy. Before long we end up discarding our cars, electronics and most of the other goods we accumulate. And many of us are continually repeating this cycle of consumption over and over again.

I have at times felt grossed out to see the excessive amount of consumption and waste that occurs here in the United States after returning from India and Sri Lanka. There’s nothing wrong with having basic comforts, but no one really needs the massive amount of stuff that many of us are accumulating. And if we’re such wonderful and spiritually evolved people, then why don’t we take some of our excess and use it to feed, shelter and educate children in need or even adopt one or a few of the millions of children that do not have homes or parents to love and care for them. Or we can donate some of that wealth to combat human trafficking.

Manifesting within the context that we find ourselves

The circumstances of our lives vary hugely according to where we live, the families we were born into, the innate resources we each possess as individuals and a wide range of other factors. The majority of us who reside in the United States live a very sheltered existence in a land of opportunity. We have opportunities in terms of career and education that are seldom, if ever, made available to most people living in developing nations. We enjoy a quality of life in terms of material comforts that much of the world’s population cannot even conceive of. We can manifest all kinds of cool stuff this context, but that’s not going to happen for the majority of those living in developing nations that are struggling just to pay for clothing, shelter, their children’s education or even to have enough food to eat.

You’re just not doing it right!

Many people into the Law of Attraction operate with the absurd notion that bad things don’t happen to people that are spiritually evolved. The Tibetan Buddhists were highly developed spiritually and yet thousands of them were imprisoned, tortured and killed by the Chinese. A large percentage of the Tibetan population fled over the mountains to India where they now reside. American Indians lived in harmony with the forces of forces of nature. Some possessed powers that would enable them to bring the rain or even divert a tornado. And yet over ninety percent of the native people living in what is now the United States died as a result of disease and the genocidal practices of the European settlers and United States Government.

One of the most annoying tendencies among certain individuals within the Law of Attraction community is the smugness and pretension that they have their shit together by virtue of the fact that they’re doing well financially or that they’re able to manifest the nice house, car and other toys. Everything about this world we live in is transitory. We are all vulnerable and it’s just a matter of time we grow old, our bodies break down and we lose many of the freedoms and capabilities that we’ve grown so accustomed to. We, along with everyone we know and love will eventually die. That’s why it’s so important for us to live fully, enjoying life while we can, but to do so with humility.

My own personal experience varies tremendously according to where I’m at, the cultural context I find myself in and the people with whom I interact. I find it very easy to connect with people when I’m in India and Sri Lanka, but I’ve experienced extended periods of being very alone in New York City.

People that I’ve worked with in India really value and appreciate the healing gifts that I work with. I do find people here in the United States that truly value and appreciate the healing gifts I possess, but I encounter more people who are so resistant to being present that they run as soon as their feelings and issues make their way to the surface. It’s even worse now that people are spending so much time staring into the screens of their computers and smartphones. Many have become so disconnected from their core self as a result of being so distracted that I have to now work four times harder just to hold people’s attention and connect the dots for those who are not capable of doing so on their own. People that I worked with while I was staying in Germany seemed to be a bit lost in the beginning, but they tended to catch on quickly. I have found many of the people that I’ve worked with from Germany to be the most committed to doing whatever it took to facilitate healing within their own bodies and minds.

My mentor Horace was one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa tribe. He often had to hide whatever car he was driving at the time in someone’s garage or behind their home, because the word would get out and his own native people would line up to see him once they learned of his whereabouts. It is true that he was exceptionally powerful in his day, but he also had the advantage that his own people understood and valued the healing gifts that he possessed.

Why does it seem to work so well for some and not for others?

One thing I noticed as I developed the ability to read the human aura is that people vary significantly according to their constitutional makeup. The people I’ve seen that do best with the Law of Attraction tend to have a very strong dynamic presence along with a power that enables them to attract more of what they want. Some have a greater ability to compartmentalize their suffering as opposed to having it take over them, and that makes it easier for them to keep moving forward. Sometimes the aura has a very Teflon quality about it. Stress just seems to roll off of them. Not everyone can be like that.

One of the negative psychological consequences of the Law of Attraction is that it tends to induce shame in people when they fail to manifest what it is they think they want. I’ve heard many people say things to indicate that they feel as though they have somehow failed because things are not manifesting the way they expected them to.

Many of us have been subjected to some form of emotional, physical or sexual trauma at various times in our lives. Traumatic experiences can elicit overwhelming emotional responses that trigger biochemical reactions within the brain. The vast majority of us never fully process these traumas. Many of us continue to hold much of the painful feelings and impressions within our bodies.

The conscious mind of an individual that has suffered extensively as a result of having been deeply traumatized may want to attract a good job, a safe and comfortable home and a loving companion. But our bodies, which contain the vastly more powerful subconscious mind, continue to hold onto all kinds of painful feelings and impressions associated with past traumatic experience. The horrible pain and suffering that we hold within often causes us to attract more people and circumstances that reinforce our suffering. Sad thing is that most people do not possess the tools or resources to completely heal that trauma on their own. That’s why many are locked in a cycle of repeated victimization and suffering.

I know from personal experience what it’s like to attract more people and circumstances and have that reinforce the trauma of my childhood and adolescence. I felt helpless to do anything about it for quite some time. My experience only began to change as I began to heal from within. I developed a series of practices that enabled me to “digest” my past and all of the subsequent emotions attached to it. I then started working with a number of exceptionally powerful healers and going on the vision quest, a traditional Native American healing practice that involves fasting alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water.

I have worked with many deeply traumatized people over the years and I could see how they continued to attract many of the same kinds of individuals and recreate the suffering of past traumas. I’ve watched many of these individuals began to attract people and experiences that nourished them and facilitated growth as a result of the healing taking place within their bodies and minds.

A split in consciousness

I’ve heard a number of popular teachers say that the Law of Attraction always works. That may be true to some extent, but it obviously doesn’t work the way that many of us want it to. We tend to operate primarily from our conscious mind in our attempts to manifest. The problem many of us run into is that our conscious mind is not congruent with the subconscious mind which is vastly more powerful in comparison.

Attempting to attract the things we want in life is not inherently bad. It’s just that many of us have a tendency to go up into our heads in our attempt to manifest what we want, but in the process of doing so we disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies. That creates massive incongruencies in our body-mind consciousness. In other words, parts of us are affirming, seeing and believing while other parts of us are forced to hold onto all of the fear, pain, anger, doubt, unworthiness and other feelings that we’re not allowing ourselves to experience. Painful or unpleasant feelings and other stresses that we fail to process can remain trapped within our bodies indefinitely.

Unprocessed emotions, the impressions of what we have experienced in our life and the thought processes attached to them continue to accumulate within our bodies. We may eventually find ourselves overwhelmed by the backlog of painful emotion and other stresses that consume us. The parts of us that are hurting, fearful, confused and conflicted cause us to attract more of what we don’t want into our lives. They also have a negative impact upon our relationships. And in many instances they manifest in the body as some form of pathology.

I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to spend time with individuals who have attained mastery in a number of different spiritual traditions as a result of many years of intensive discipline. I have been training for twelve years at the time of this writing with Chinese Master Li Tai Liang in Xin Yi Quan, Baguazhang, Tai Chi and Chi Gong. I have also trained with a traditional Native American doctor (medicine man) and have gone through numerous vision quests that involve going out alone in the mountains to fast for four days and nights without food or water.

One encounters people nowadays with no real training or discipline, but they’ve attended lectures and workshops and have read “The Secret.” Many are in absolutely horrible shape. Their emotions and lives are a total mess. Despite the obvious, we have now have lots of people who possess no real power or substance that have somehow delude themselves into thinking that they have evolved spiritually.

To deny a truth is to give it strength beyond all endurance

The Law of Attraction can easily become another form of New Age escapism for people that are not willing to be present to their feelings, physical bodies and the realities of their everyday lives. People that follow the Law of Attraction are constantly censoring their thoughts and the words coming out of their mouths. They’re so afraid to think or say anything that would be considered negative.

Tracy told me when we first spoke by phone that she had been following the law of attraction for some time, but that she was experiencing a sense of heaviness as many of the old feelings she had struggled to move beyond kept resurfacing. She said that she was experiencing a sense of unworthiness and shame over not having succeeded to the extent that she thought she should.

I could see that Tracy had disconnected from her feelings and physical body. Lots of old stagnant emotional content had backed up in her abdomen. She told me that she was feeling better when I spoke with her by phone afterwards and yet she never returned for a follow up sessions. Tracy’s problems are only going to get worse as the gap between her conscious mind and sub-conscious widens.

The woman that initially referred Tracy to me suffered terribly as a child as a result of having been severely neglected by a mother suffering from mental illness that didn’t have the capacity to care for her. Alicia was not fully inhabiting the lower portion of her body. Her abdominal region had a very deadened quality about it. The presence working through me enabled Alicia to process huge amounts of old hurtful stagnant emotion while drawing more of her spirit into the abdominal region, which then began to feel more fluid and alive.

Alicia began to talk to me about the Law of Attraction at one point. I responded by telling her that it hadn’t helped her to attract anyone into her life. I then reminded Alicia that it was the changes that took place as a result of the healing sessions that enabled her to let go of the man who had been jerking her around emotionally that she had been strung out on for quite some time.

I have spoken for a number of Law of Attraction groups. I would start out the evening by asking those in attendance if they wanted me to lecture or take them through practices that would enable them to become more firmly rooted in their bodies. Not a single person in attendance at any of these groups was well integrated with their feelings and physical bodies. In fact, many of them were holding all kinds of hurt, anger, resentment and a backlog of other toxic emotional residue bottled up on the inside. None of them had the courage or commitment needed take the steps that would have facilitated the healing of these deep emotional wounds.

Developing greater congruence

The bottom fell out from under me when the economy crashed in 2008. People were afraid of making any investment in themselves, the phone stopped ringing and I had no idea of know how I was even going to survive. There were many nights when I couldn’t fall asleep until two or three in the morning or I would wake up during that time feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. I would lay there in bed breathing into all of that horrible anxiety and ask myself “What can I do? How am I going to make it?” It took some time, but creative insights began to emerge as I continued to breathe into all that fear. And that gave me the inspiration to offer classes to help people heal the loss of a love and learn how to attract healthier people into their lives.

The practices of affirming what we want, seeing it in our mind and believing we have it can work very powerfully in some instances. Numerous athletes have used these practices to improve their performance. The danger here is that many our tendency to disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies as we attempt to affirm, see and believe what we want into existence.

The practice of focusing my attention on what I want and following up by taking constructive steps to make it happen has helped me in many ways. I take it a step further by breathing softly and deeply while focusing my attention on any corresponding feelings of desire that I experience within my body. The challenges I face on a daily basis can sometimes elicit anxiety, fear, pain, self-doubt or any number of other feelings. Breathing with my attention immersed in these feelings initiates a digestive process that transforms them so that they become fuel for growth.

I make a daily practice of breathing with my attention fully immersed in the stuck places within my body and mind that are bound or constricted. After some time I can feel these parts of me beginning to flow. The world feels more responsive as life takes on a more fluid quality. I become more responsive to people and circumstances. That makes it easier for me to adapt to the challenges of my everyday life.

Digesting all the charged emotions and other forms internal resistance creates an opening for change. New opportunities do have a way of presenting themselves. Sometimes it’s more of a matter of being able to let go of what’s not working so that I can embrace what does. And in many instances I’m able to recognize and respond to opportunities that I had previously overlooked.

©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.

Resonance

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ikat

Growing up in Southeast Texas was not easy. I had few friends during this part of my adolescence and I never resonated with the culture or felt any connection to the land. I remember always wanting to be somewhere else.

Adolescence is an awkward time for most of us. I was painfully shy and that sometimes made social interactions very difficult. I would often have crushes on girls, but my feelings were, in most instances, not reciprocated. I was often told “I just like you as a friend.” I felt devastated by the lack of reciprocation and often wondered if it was something about with me.

People in the community sensed that I was different in some way. The school that I attended was very poorly disciplined. I was called Ben Gay by other students and endured years of physical and verbal torment. At one point I found myself dogpiled at the front of the Assembly of God church that I was forced to attend by a horde of fanatical congregants trying to caste Satan out of me.

I made my way to Oklahoma by the time I was seventeen and found myself living among a community of Kiowa Indians. Many of the Kiowa people didn’t quite know what to make of me, a non-native adolescent showing up in their midst. Something about the old traditional culture felt very natural to me and that made it easier for me to adapt and become a part of the community. I tied my own feather bustles and danced in the tribal powwows. I sat up many nights with the native elders in the peyote meetings. I went on to apprentice with one of the last surviving traditional Kiowa doctors.

Some of the younger women in the native community I lived in showed an interest in me, but I was afraid to get involved. There was a very degenerative element among some of the native communities. A large percentage of the young women in the community I lived in were very self-destructive. Many were smoking, drinking heavily and using other substances. Some of the more promiscuous women would end up having children from a number of different partners. Most of the young native people who wanted to get anywhere in life moved to the cities to pursue their education or find work.

I moved out to the Navajo Indian Reservation during the time that I was training with my mentor. Alcoholism was also prevalent on the Navajo reservation, but the Navajo had a stronger connection to their own traditional culture. More of the young Navajo women were getting their education and then going on to excel in various professions. Some were also exceptionally attractive. It was easy for me to connect with the Navajo women I met, but I didn’t have very many opportunities to do so because I was so caught up in my training.

Everything was changing so rapidly among the native population. I felt very at home living among the native people and would have been content to remain among them for the remainder of my life. I could also see that the old traditional culture was dying out with each passing generation. Alcoholism, violence and other forms of dysfunction were becoming more and more prevalent. I felt I had no choice but to leave.

The mainstream culture I returned to felt very foreign. Most people had absolutely no point of reference for the kinds of things I had experienced while living among the Kiowa and apprenticing from a traditional native doctor.

The New Age movement was taking off around the time I returned. I came across individuals here and there that were truly committed to doing whatever it took to facilitate their healing and personal growth, but many seemed to be looking for a means of escape. The primal force transmitted to me during my apprenticeship with the traditional Kiowa doctor has a very visceral quality about it. Some were frightened by the intensity of the power and would run as soon as the feelings and issues they had spent much of their lives avoiding made their way to the surface. Only those who were willing to be truly honest with themselves and committed to their growth seemed to resonate with this kind of power.

Trying to connect with women on a romantic level was especially difficult. There was very little common ground and that made it difficult to relate to one another. I felt strongly for a number of women that had captured my attention over the years and yet the feelings were often not reciprocated. At other times, I would start seeing a woman and then she would break it off after a while because I was too far outside of what she was accustomed to. Not being able to connect on an intimate level with the women I found myself attracted to was very painful. I felt for the longest time that I just wasn’t the kind of man that women found attractive and often blamed myself thinking that something was wrong with me.

Caught up in the projection

The physical and emotional abuse that I suffered during my childhood and adolescence prevented me from developing many of the internal resources I needed to be fully functional. Many of my basic needs for love and connection had never been met and that left me with a sense of deprivation. Consequently, I lacked certain faculties needed to establish a healthy and loving relationship.

The pain held within my body left me very disconnected from my feelings and physical body. The pain combined with my unmet needs fueled the projections that caused me to form unhealthy attachments to women that were not a good match for me. These projections were so powerful at times that I could not distinguish them from reality. What felt like love and connectedness was, in many instances, only an illusion. I fell deeply in love with someone that didn’t exist.

I usually resisted the reality of what was happening and the overwhelming emotions that consumed me when the women I found myself attracted to didn’t reciprocate my feelings. Trying to make things work only prolonged my suffering. In many instances I would keep trying until it finally blew up in my face. I was then left with the horribly painful feelings of abandonment and rejection.

It usually took me some time to fully embrace the reality of loss when things were not working out. I would breathe for hours and sometimes days into the painful feelings that were surfacing. Making a concerted to be fully present by breathing into all those horrible feelings helped me to diffuse and then digest the painful feelings and emotions.

I began to receive deep tissue body work and healing sessions whenever the opportunity presented itself. I also started going back to do the vision quests, a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out alone into the mountains to fast for four days and nights without food or water. All of these practices helped me to digest huge amounts of emotional baggage. Digesting the painful emotions and other stresses I held within my body opened up a whole new range of sensory awareness. My projections began to dissolve and that made it possible for me to really sense what other people were about.

Chemistry

I remember sitting in a Chemistry class one day during my junior year of college when the professor asked for a volunteer to assist him with a demonstration. Our chemistry professor then proceeded to mix two chemical compounds together. The mixture began to bubble and fizz for a few seconds and then it suddenly exploded. The professor and student’s faces were covered with the residue of the chemical compound. Fortunately they were both wearing glasses.

The lack of reciprocation I experienced from the women I found myself attracted to evoked all kinds of painful feelings and I often felt like something was wrong with me. I was so disconnected from my feelings and my physical body that I did not register that there was a lack of chemistry with these women.

Our ability to experience resonance with others is a function of our emotional intelligence. Many of us have spent so much of our lives avoiding our issues and suppressing the feelings we haven’t wanted to deal with. Shutting down emotionally disconnects us from our intuition by constricting our range of awareness. We only develop an awareness of how we resonate with other people when we become truly present. Experiencing our true feelings and bodily sensations awakens our sensory awareness while helping us to become more fully present.

Learning to digest the painful emotions held within my body and working with various other spiritual practices has heightened my sensory awareness. I’ve become more conscious of my own internal responses to other people and that helped me to gain a sense of the unique chemistry that exists between myself and every person I encounter. I began to move away from people whose presence was not a good match or that felt uncomfortable. I found myself gravitating towards and engaging with individuals that were healthier and more compatible.

Increasing my sensitivity gave me a better sense of the women I encountered. That made it easier for me to feel if they were on a compatible wavelength. I would often feel the emotions they were holding within their bodies and the kinds of issues they were dealing with. I began feel how women were responding to me emotionally and sense the energetic flow between us.

Trying to make a relationship happen

Many of us have fallen into the trap of trying to make a relationship happen by chasing after another person. We hear stories about men who have chased after a woman and then after months or even years of pursuit the woman finally decides to give the guy a chance and they end up getting together. What usually happens in these situations is that the person doing the chasing invests huge amounts of time, emotion and energy pursuing someone who never reciprocates their love interest. Or even worse …the whole thing blows up and the pursuer ends up with a poison arrow in their heart.

It has often been said that men are colorblind. I felt like I had to work to make the connection happen when women did not reciprocate my feelings. Healing the deep emotional wounds diffused the driving compulsion that had in times past caused me to pursue love interests. I began to feel a presence flowing from within as the connection to my internal source grew stronger. This presence alleviated the unbearable sense of aloneness.

My sensitivity grew to the extent that I could feel the resonance between myself, the women I found myself attracted to and everyone else I encountered along the way. I realized there was no need to chase or try and force things when I truly resonated with a woman, because the connection had a life of its own.

Seeking Out the Cultures, People and Places with Whom We Resonate

Who we resonate with will depend upon own individual personality and temperament. It’s important for us to pay attention to how we feel when we interact with various groups and individuals. We may be surprised to discover how we experience a stronger resonance with certain kinds of individuals and cultural groups than we do with others. It’s important for all of us to go to the places and seek out the people with whom we thrive and resonate.

Every culture has its own unique beauty and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to various parts of the world and spend time among the people of many different cultures. All of the cultures I have spent time in have shaped me in some way. They have also helped me to develop different sides of myself. I feel that I can express different parts of myself through my interactions with people of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Everyone has their own unique individual traits and yet they are also shaped by their culture of origin. Every racial and cultural group has its own distinct mind or consciousness and operates on a particular wavelength. I find that people of different cultures have very distinct energies. I feel tremendous variance in the frequencies from which people operate. I can also sense a profound difference in sensations that come with physical touch as I interact with people from different cultural backgrounds.

I was riding the number 7 train in Flushing one evening after moving to New York and noticed the hands of the young woman sitting next to me were covered with mehndi (henna tattoos). I was very curious about the intricate patterns on the woman’s hands and asked her about them. It turns out she had recently gotten married and we ended up getting into a long and animated conversation. I felt stunned having never experienced this kind of resonance with another human being before. My interaction with this woman, along with a few other South Asians I met soon thereafter awakened a strong instinctual pull that led me to Sri Lanka and later on to India.

It took some getting used to being in India and Sri Lanka, but after a while I found myself feeling very much at home. I found it so much easier to connect with the people I encountered in this part of the world.

People in India and Sri Lanka were far more responsive to the kind of healing power that I work with. I offered to help an older diabetic friend when I was staying in Mumbai. He started telling his friends and then they told their friends. I didn’t have a cell phone at the time, so people would call my friend who wrote out the messages by hand and then have them delivered to me. I would then have to go to the pay phone to call and schedule appointments. The people I worked with in Mumbai would start telling me about all the changes taking place within their bodies and minds after the healing sessions and then they wanted to know when they could do another session.

Spending time in India and Sri Lanka is very healing for me. Women in India have a tendency to be more reserved but, I found many of those I spoke with to be very engaging. Sri Lankan and Indian women could be very shy, and yet they would often smile and make eye contact with me. Some would even approach and engage me in conversation.

I discovered rather quickly that the women in this part of the world have a completely different way of forming attachments. I found it so much easier to connect with them. South Asian women were less likely to play the hurtful emotional games that have become so prevalent between men and women in the United States. Women that were interested definitely let me know. And those that showed interest were more congruent about their desire to be in a relationship. They also tended to form deep and lasting bonds.

I find a sensitivity, emotional warmth and a willingness to more open and honest about what they are feeling among many South Asian women that I found very comforting and nourishing. The ability to open up and share what I was truly thinking and feeling also made for a much better quality of relationship. I soon realized that I felt much more comfortable with South Asian women physically, energetically and emotionally.

Women I got to know in this part of the world were better able to relate to me as an individual. Many had an intuitive understanding of my work, the kinds of experiences I’ve had and the intensive practices I do on a daily basis. That probably had a lot to do with the similarities in their own cultures.

India and Sri Lanka are lands of extremes. There are numerous wars and insurgencies raging at any given time. Communal violence is also fairly common in certain areas. Those who make up the lower echelons of Indian society suffer horrific abuses under the caste system. There’s a deeply entrenched misogynistic mindset that perpetuates the abuses of women and girls. And there’s a form of narcissism that is very prevalent among the older generations that feel entitled to tell their adult children who they can and cannot marry. One also encounters tremendous beauty in this part of the world and some of the kindest and more warm hearted people one would ever have the good fortune of getting to know.

Being on my own in India and Sri Lanka has not always been easy. I often had to rely on total strangers to help me find my way. In many instances they offered food and sometimes provided a place for me to sleep or companionship along the way. People were always walking up and making conversation with me at all hours of the day and night. Most of the people I encountered had good intentions, but I encountered my share of those who were looking to take advantage. I have at times found myself in some very dangerous situations where I was confronted with people who had every intention to inflict harm upon me.

Depending on my intuition to get a sense of the people I encounter became a day to day reality and a matter of survival. I got caught off guard a few times when I was too hot, hungry or tired, but in most instances my intuition has been very reliable. I was always sensing the people that I encountered by feeling their presence to determine if they had a good heart and intentions. I would get away from people if something about them felt bad or uncomfortable. Maintaining a state of openness to people and my surroundings definitely paid off. I’ve had many wonderful experiences and have developed a number of close friendships as a result.

India and Sri Lanka has more than its share of problems, but in many ways I feel more at home in this part of the world. I would have more work than I could possibly handle and make enough money to live there. But with the economic disparity, I wouldn’t be able to afford to return to the United States to continue my training.

I returned to the New York City so that I could continue training with Sifu Li Tai Liang. Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang are Internal Martial Arts that have their roots in Taoism. Very few people know what Sifu knows and those who do usually only pass on what they know to a few of their top students. I felt that I would be foolish to walk away from this opportunity. The other reason I needed to return to the United States was so that I could continue to go on the vision quest. It was during the vision quest that much of the traumas of my childhood and adolescence healed and that I received the many of the gifts that have enabled me to facilitate healing in others. I still have a long ways to go in my training.

There’s a vibrancy about New York City. One experiences a sense of electricity and excitement in the air. Depending on one’s perspective, there’s a million things to do here …or distractions to escape into. There’s also a lack of continuity that causes life in the city to feel very fragmented.

My own personal experience has often been that people seem to be present in the moment, but they cannot sustain it. Many have showed up in my personal life over the years and then disappeared. People with a wide range of health related, emotional and interpersonal issues show up in my classes or work with me individually. They often acknowledge the improvement in their condition and respond in other ways that indicate that they’re getting something of value from the healing process taking place, and yet many disappear. What’s sad is that many of these individuals are deeply wounded. They’re either so disconnected that they don’t realize how bad of shape they’re in or they’re unwilling to do the work necessary to facilitate healing. I work to reach as many people as I can through classes and workshops, radio interviews and other media exposure in order to find those who are willing and able to do the work.

Having lived in Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico and Colorado, I was used to meeting people wherever I went. I quickly discovered that New York City has its own set of rules governing social engagement. People primarily meet through friends, family and coworkers or some kind of shared activity. That can work for people who are plugged into a large social network, but it has always felt incredibly constricting to me.

Online dating is huge in New York. Many people here don’t know how to interact with others without the help of their devices. They’re afraid to talk to one another in person and yet they hook up with some stranger they’ve met online.

My friend Emma hasn’t been in a relationship since she came to New York two and a half years ago. She occasionally hooks up with men she meets online. Some of these men don’t even bother to call or text afterwards.

Emma was telling me how her girlfriends complain saying that all the good men are taken. I normally find it much easier to relate to and I much prefer to spend time with women. But it has been my experience and that of numerous other men I have spoken to that many women in the city are unapproachable. They never give us a chance to really sit down over coffee and get to know them.

I was serious about having someone in my life, so I did a little experiment of talking to women I found myself attracted to whenever the opportunity presented itself. I would talk with at least two women a day. My little experiment went on for about three years. I ended up going on lots of spontaneous dates, but no lasting connections ever came of it.

There have been many occasions where I have spoken with women for hours. It was obvious that there was a lot of common ground and they indicated that they really enjoyed the conversation and yet they still wouldn’t exchange contact information.

Many of the women I spoke did give me their email addresses and phone numbers and expressed a desire to continue the interaction. A few even hugged me or gave me a kiss on the cheek as I was making my exit. I would usually follow up with an email or phone call, but it was often the case that I never saw or heard from them again. I had to go to other cities, states and parts of the world in order to have someone in my life.

Women in the city are often subjected to harassment by sleazy men as they walk down the sidewalk. And some have experienced far worse. Those who are unable to differentiate are more likely to be suspicious of any man that attempts to approach or express interest. Any attempt to engage is regarded as an intrusion.

New York has more than its share of narcissistic men that move from one woman to the next. Women I know talk about the shopping cart mentality. There’s always someone new or better. They tell me about the men who show up in their lives, only to abruptly drop out of the picture.

Women that have been hurt often find it difficult to trust. Those who have disconnected from their feelings tend to lose touch with their intuition. That may prevent them from recognizing a man with a good heart that truly has the capacity to love and care for them. Many lose sight of fact that there are lots of good men that want more than anything to connect with a woman they can love and be loved by.

One cannot possibly process the massive amount of input flying through our sensory channels in the city that never sleeps. All that added sensory input impairs our capacity to process our feelings and bring issues to a place of resolution. Our inability to process our feelings and tune into our intuition makes it difficult for us to know when it’s safe to open up. It’s very difficult for us to know how we resonate with one another when we’re so disconnected from our feelings and physical bodies, stressed out and full of toxic emotional residue. Our fears are in many instances so great that they override any sense of resonance that we may experience with another person.

Another impediment to forming any kind of meaningful connection is people’s unwillingness to show up fully present. Many say they want to have someone in their lives, but in reality they’re too afraid to allow themselves to be open and vulnerable. I was talking with a friend the other day that had recently gone through a divorce. She told me that evening “My former husband was a reflection of where I was at when we met years ago. He was very generous with me financially, but he was never emotionally available. I would have run a mile in the other direction if I met a man that was that was really present. Being present made me feel really uncomfortable because it meant that I would actually have to show up. I wanted to be with someone that I could hide behind.”

Emma said that she got the sense that many people here are handicapped by their inability to connect. There are lots of nice people here, but sometimes it all feels incredibly lonely and remote. And that makes it very sad.”

Emma then wanted to know how people like her and I survive in a place like New York City when we find it hard to resonate or connect with other people.

I told her that we are all relational beings that need to experience deep and meaningful connections with other human beings in order to thrive. Being in New York City has forced me to go within to find my own source of nourishment. I survived by doing lots of intensive practice. Sometimes I just had to breathe into the horrible sense of aloneness. I have also learned to keep myself open, to be friendly and engaging, but to not expect much from anyone. I meet and interact with so many people as a result of my work. I have connected with more people over time. I also find ways to get out of the city to spend time in places where people have a greater capacity to show up more fully present.

I know many people that find it extraordinary difficult to find love or even make friends in the city. Some have bailed out because they found the loneliness to be so unbearable. Other people that operate on a more compatible wavelength seem to do quite well in the city. They manage to get in with the right groups of people and they feel right at home. One sees many couples and families and it’s obvious that they’re really enjoying themselves. Many do have vibrant social lives and excel in their careers. Some people are ideally suited to be in New York City and others are not.

People’s attention spans have shortened drastically as they began to spend more and more time staring into the screens of their computers and smartphones. They’ve become far more distracted and disconnected and that makes it so much more difficult for them to maintain a connection to their internal state of being. I now have to work much harder to maintain a practice. I have no choice but to adapt. The challenge I now face is to find a way to do more of my work online so that I can create the additional streams of income that will afford me the opportunity to return to India and Sri Lanka for extended periods of time.

Increasing Our Capacity to Experience Resonance

The kinds of individuals we form attachments to and how we resonate with them depends largely upon our internal state of being. Our tendency to shut down emotionally causes distortions in our sensory filters that create lots of confusion. The deep emotional wounds that have not healed often cause us to attract and be attracted to other people that are also holding a great deal of pain and confusion within.

Any practice or therapeutic modality that enables us to heal and grow will increase our ability to resonate with and attract healthier companions. Practices such as Chi Gong and Pranayama nourish the internal organs by bringing more life force into the body. Increasing the amount of vital life force in the body helps to create greater magnetism. People are more likely to notice and be drawn to us when we work with Chi Gong, Pranayama and other intensive spiritual practices.

Our feelings and emotions are a fluid medium that facilitates growth when we learn to work constructively with them. This fluid medium adds juice to our relationships with others, in that it makes it possible for us to love, care and form attachments with others.

The practice of breathing into any feelings or bodily sensations that arise will enable us to become more fully present. Our capacity for empathy and to bond on an intimate level will grow as a result. The women or men with whom we naturally resonate will naturally be drawn to us. The effect is considerably stronger if they are in touch with in their own feelings and physical bodies.

The healing of the early trauma that took place during the vision quest facilitated the changes that have made it possible for me to attract healthier companions and create more fulfilling relationships. The vision quest is too intense for most people. Many people that have worked with me have experienced the same kinds of changes as a result of the individual healing sessions.

My sensitivity has increased tremendously as a result of the practice of breathing into feelings and bodily sensations and the vision quests. I feel other people’s presence and I’m drawn to those that feel good to me. I feel how people respond to me and my own emotional response to them. Relationships have taken on a greater depth and the overall quality of my interactions has improved.

Not everyone is going to like or resonate with us. We may outgrow people that had once been an important part of our lives. Highly dysfunctional people are more likely to find us intimating as we continue to heal and grow. But nature abhors a vacuum. In the process of letting go we will find ourselves attracting and attracted to healthier companions.

©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.

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.

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