People often show up in my classes while in the midst of a painful breakup or divorce or shortly thereafter. Some are struggling with patterns of abandonment and rejection, trapped in dysfunctional relationships that they can’t seem to find their way out of and in some instances strung out on partners that hurt and abuse them. Others have never been able to fully let go of a former partner when the relationship didn’t work out and move on in their life. Most of are hurting and in many instances they’re also carrying deep emotional wounds that go all the way back to childhood.
Yvette described feelings of separation, sadness, hurt, emptiness and anger directed at herself after going through a recent break up. Karen talked about her feelings of heaviness and fears of abandonment. She told us about how she had been abandoned by her mother as a child saying she feels that it has caused her to attract people into her life that are not willing to make a commitment. Henry is full of anxiety and regret. He wonders what he could have done differently and now says that he’s no longer willing to make the emotional investment required to be in a relationship. Yvette, Karen and Henry only showed up to class one time.
It really saddens me when I see these people show up a time or two and then disappear because I see how deeply wounded they are. Many have disconnected from their feelings and physical bodies to such an extent that they have little, if any, sense of how to work constructively with their own feelings. Most will never fully heal the emotional wounds because they lack the resources and understanding that would enable them to do so. What usually happens is that they continue to carry the hurts, losses and disappointments in their bodies. People who do not heal the deep emotional wounds will invariably continue to attract similar partners and reenact the same dramas or patterns of dysfunction that are causing them so much pain.
What’s preventing people from taking the steps necessary to facilitate healing?
There are so many things about our modern fast paced way of life that are taking us further and further away from ourselves. We have become so much busier now and are more distracted than ever before. Our attention span has shortened and that’s making it harder for us to focus our attention for any significant length of time. Our inability to maintain focus prevents us from doing the work that is necessary to facilitate healing and growth. Many of these changes have come about as a result of our spending way too much time on our computers and smartphones.
Searching for an intellectual solution
Our society places so much emphasis on intellectual development. We’re taught that there’s an intellectual solution for every problem. Many of us are expecting to find the answers to all of our problems in a book, lecture or through psychotherapy. Our intellectual mind comprises a very small portion of our total awareness. Intellectual understanding is an important aspect of healing, but intellect alone can never heal the pain of a breakup or help us to “digest” the highly charged emotions held within the body that cause us to attract the wrong kinds of partners or that keep us locked into patterns of abandonment and unrequited love.
The majority of class time is spent leading those in attendance through various practices that help them to become grounded in their feelings and physical bodies and facilitate healing of the deep emotional wounds. In some instances I will have an individual close their eyes and visualize a current or former partner directly in front of them and then inquire as to how they’re feeling. I will then have them begin to breathe softly and deeply while fully immersing their attention in the middle of any feelings or sensations that arise. At other times I’ll have a person go directly into the feelings of grief and loss. I teach other practices that enable people to open their heart in a way that increases their capacity to love and be loved.
Honesty (or lack thereof)
I’m teaching people how to go right to the underlying source of the issues to effect the change needed to facilitate healing. People who show up in my classes and those who work with me individually often acknowledge that I’m right on target. The problem here is that many are either unwilling or unable to sustain this level of presence. In many instances one’s resistance to being present stems from an unwillingness to be fully honest with themselves by going to those places where they are vulnerable, facing the issues and feeling unconditionally. But failure to show up fully present by addressing the relevant issues and experiencing our true feelings is akin to going through life blind.
Many are hugely resistant to experiencing their true feelings or facing their issues. People often stop the healing process when the pain comes up and then they often try to suppress the feelings again. They fail to understand that they wouldn’t be holding so much pain inside had they not spent so much of their life avoiding the feelings and issues they haven’t wanted to deal with. It’s important for people to realize that there is no escape. Sadly many will continue to suffer as they live with all that pain and stress within their bodies and that will cause them to attract similar partners and reenact the same kinds of patterns.
Many of us want so desperately to find someone to love and be loved by and yet we’re abandoning ourselves whenever we shut down emotionally or avoid our feelings. We rather put it all behind us or forget so that we can move on and then go out and find someone whose just going to love us and make it all better. Life seldom ever works like that.
Those of us who disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies are not being fully present. We do not have a healthy intimate relationship with ourselves; therefore we are incapable of experiencing healthy intimacy with anyone else. In other words, no one else can truly love us until we learn to love ourselves.
Limited Processing capacity
People often say they’re in touch with their feelings, but the vast majority of us are only accessing the very surface most levels of our feelings. Everyone varies in their capacity to process emotions and work through issues. Those of us who possess a greater processing capacity can digest feelings of anger, grief, hurt, loss and sadness more quickly and easily. That makes us better equipped to handle the challenges of daily life. Those of us who have disconnected from our feelings and physical bodies have a very limited capacity to process our emotions.
A huge jolt to the system
A painful breakup or divorce is a huge jolt to the system that can devastate and in some instances blow us out of the water. Our defense structures break down and the backlog of painful emotion stored within comes flooding to the surface leaving us feeling totally overwhelmed.
Feelings that are not “digested” remain trapped in the body indefinitely. Our limited capacity to process the emotions that arise in response to what’s happening in our lives makes it very difficult for us to heal, let go and move on when things are not working. The highly charged emotions associated with past trauma, hurt and abandonment also causes many of us get locked into patterns of abandonment and unrequited love or we find ourselves continually attracting the wrong kinds of partners. We pine indefinitely when someone doesn’t reciprocate our feelings of love, stay trapped in toxic dysfunctional relationships and remain trapped in our grief when a relationship ends.
Some of us also have a tendency to obsess about our partners by constantly trying to figure out why they act as they do and why our relationships are not working the way we want them to. Spinning ourselves around in circles by thinking obsessively about our partners and why things are not working in our relationships generates more painful feelings. These feelings get trapped in our bodies and that reinforces our painful fixation in a way that makes it all the more difficult for us to let go.
What happens to all of the feelings that we fail to digest?
Jelena had never dealt with her feelings after the dissolution of her marriage. She drank for the first few months to numb the pain. Jelena described a profound sadness accompanied by a sense of heaviness when I had her check in. She felt sick to her stomach as she began to breathe into the feelings. After some time she could feel the sadness moving up from her abdomen to her throat.
Manfred worked on Wall Street as a broker and was so focused on making money that he ignored the many problems in his relationship. Manfred crashed after the breakup feeling as though he had lost all sense of direction in life. Manfred says he no longer knows who he is or what he wants. He feels as though he’s caught up in a tangled web of resentment towards his ex-girlfriend and anger at himself.
Many are so out of touch with their feelings and physical bodies. Their internal state of being looks and feels very dark and murky and is full of anger, hurt, fear, confusion, resentment and sadness. This whole bandwidth of the psyche has become so toxic or polluted. War, other forms of violence and the destruction of the planet are all manifestations of the destructive forces operating within resulting from our individual and collective failure to take the steps necessary to heal our woundedness.
Emotions sitting within the body for indefinite periods of time become very heavy, dense and stagnant. Undigested emotional content tends to break down or putrefy over time. This emotional residue has a very numbing or desensitizing effect. It can cause our bodies to become very tense or armored and accelerate the aging process by impairing the functions of the organs and systems. We may also develop a heavy and depressive quality. Our range of possibility diminishes and in some cases we find ourselves in a state of paralysis.
Many of us stuff ourselves with food, smoke or rely on pharmaceuticals or self-medicate with alcohol and other drugs to numb the pain. Pharmaceuticals and recreational drugs and the many other things we do to numb or distract ourselves may provide momentary relief from the pain but they never resolve the issues or take our suffering away. What usually happens is that the painful emotions fester within our bodies. These emotions feel much worse after having sat within us for so long if we ever do allow them to come out.
All of us have been hurt, if not deeply wounded, somewhere along the way. Many of us were abused as children. We’ve experienced all kinds of hurts, losses and disappointments in our adult relationships. The problem is that most of us were never taught how to work effectively with our feelings. And most of us have very limited access to the resources that would facilitate healing. That leaves many of us very disconnected, if not totally out of touch, with our internal state of being. The disconnect that takes place when we fail to process our feelings or shut down emotionally leaves us so far removed from the underlying source of our issues and that’s why many of us feel so powerless to effect change in our lives.
Most people never fully process the feelings of hurt and loss after going through a painful breakup or divorce. The intensity of the feelings will diminish in intensity over time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have truly healed. The leftover residue of our unprocessed grief, loss, hurt, anger, fear and desperation remains trapped within our bodies indefinitely. Those of us who fail to thoroughly digest the painful emotions can never fully heal and move on in our lives.
It’s the parts of our body-mind consciousness that enables us to feel that make it possible for us to bond or form healthy attachments to other human beings. The problem here is that most people are not process oriented. It’s our unwillingness or lack of desire to face the issues or experience our true feelings prevents us from learning or growing. The deep emotional wounds resulting from past hurts and traumatic experiences that we fail to address make it very difficult for us to form any kind of healthy attachment.
Hurt, fear, anger, resentment and other conflicted feelings held in the body create distortions in our consciousness that seriously limit our capacity to bond with another. Shutting down emotionally also diminishes our capacity for empathy and that makes it all the more difficult for us to understand the needs and considerations of others. People who are not working constructively with their feelings do not grow. Many of our relationships fail because one or both partners possess the emotional maturity of a hurt, angry, fearful and confused child.
Many of us are placing way too much emphasis on externals such as physical appearance, wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, acting a certain way, the kind of car we drive and house we live in and how much money we make. Taking care of one’s appearance and having financial security are important, but it has no direct correlation with our ability to form healthy attachments. It’s just not possible to have a truly healthy relationship when our body-mind is full of sadness, hurt, disappointment, anger and other toxic emotional baggage. Our relationships only become healthier and more loving when we take the steps that will enable us to heal and evolve.
Taking a different approach
Many of those who show up for class a time or two and disappear mistakenly assume they have learned all they need to know and yet they’ve barely scratched the surface. It can take weeks, months and sometimes years to firmly grasp the practices I’m teaching and to fully process the feelings of a break up or divorce and other emotional baggage accumulated over the course of their lives.
Errol was seething with anger and resentment towards his former wife when he first showed up in my class. But he gradually developed a cheerful disposition and became much more easy going over the next year and a half as he continued to work through the many difficult feelings and issues. It wasn’t long before Errol got together with another woman who turned out to be a much better match for him. Some who have chosen to work with me individually have been able to bounce back and move on in their lives after a painful breakup or divorce and get on in their lives after a few sessions.
Most of us have huge amounts of work to do, and yet the vast majority have a very limited grasp of the work that needs to be done to facilitate healing. Matters become even further complicated whenever we try to escape our suffering. Healing requires tremendous discipline and commitment and only a small percentage are willing to do what it takes to make that happen.
It’s fairly common for people rooted in the ancient traditional cultures such as those found in the different parts of Asia to be doing various form of intensive spiritual practices on a daily basis throughout the course of their lives. Consistent practice enables those who follow the ancient spiritual disciplines to continually develop their bodies and minds and to deepen their connection with the source. Daily practice enables one to develop greater physical, mental and emotional resilience.
The whole concept of daily practice to develop one’s body, mind and spirit is totally foreign to many in our modern western culture. The vast majority of people seem to have lost touch with themselves and are therefore lacking in body-mind consciousness. That’s not at all surprising considering that we have learned from an early age to disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies.
The dysfunctional patterns that cause us to form attachments to people who abuse and abandon us or that do not reciprocate our feelings of love have so many highly charged emotions attached to them. The residue of these charged emotions blind us in a way that prevents us from seeing what we’re getting ourselves into and recognizing our partners for who they truly are.
I struggled for years with patterns of abandonment and rejection. Somehow I had an instinctive sense that I needed to breathe into the painful feelings that were surfacing. Breathing into the feelings helped to diffuse the painful emotions that were creating so much suffering. I stopped doing the practice once the pain subsided and yet I was still stuck in many ways. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to be breathing into all of the feelings and sensations pertaining to what was stuck, stagnant or not working in my life.
My intuition eventually led me to breathe into the feelings of deadness that I experienced in my heart after an ex-girlfriend suddenly disappeared from my life. I began to experience a sense of warmth and connectedness flowing from within as I continued to process the many layers of deadened emotion held within my chest. I began to develop many other variations of this practice over time. I later incorporated various Chi Gong practices once I began to train with Shifu Li Tai Liang in the Internal Martial Arts. Having the opportunity to train with Shifu and others who have attained mastery in various ancient spiritual traditions has helped me to grasp the importance of intensive daily practice.
Grow or die
Betty Friedan, a leading figure in the women’s movement during the 1960’s once said “Growth is what human beings are made for. If we don’t grow, we die.” Healing and personal growth take place when we face the issues and work constructively to process what we feel in response to them a daily basis. Failure to do so leads to contraction and stagnation.
We often feel devastated when our relationships don’t work out the way we want them to, but we can become far more resilient and develop the capacity to use everything that happens as fuel for growth. When that happens we’re able to let go and walk away when we need to. We get over setbacks, hurts and disappointments much more easily. We become much more open and receptive so that something new and better can come into our lives. And we find ourselves attracted to healthier companions.
Certain aspects of the healing process can only be done on our own. We all need to be doing some form of intensive daily practice such as Chi Gong, Pranayama, Yoga and Tai Chi. We also need to be doing practices that will help us to digest what we feel in response to the many issues or concerns impacting our lives. The practices I teach are quite simple and yet they are some of the most powerful healing tools or resources anyone will ever gain access to because they awaken the innate healing intelligence that resides within our bodies and minds. We do that by breathing into the feelings or sensations that arise in response to what’s taking place in our lives.
Afraid to feel
Many of us are now afraid to experience our true feelings fearing that they would completely overwhelm us if we were to ever allow them to come out. That often stems from the fact that we hold so much pain inside. It’s important for us to understand that the volume of painful feelings held within will gradually diminish as we take the steps necessary to facilitate healing.
We can’t do it all on our own …Knowing when it’s time to seek intervention
Doing so many years of intensive daily practice has greatly heightened my sensory capacity. I can always see and feel the deep emotional wounds of those attending my classes as I sit at the front of the room. I feel how the painful emotions and other stresses held within people’s bodies constrict their consciousness. And I see how it causes them to reenact many of the same kinds of dramas and to cycle through the same sets of thoughts and feelings. Many of these individuals are suffering terribly and yet they’re not doing much of anything constructive to facilitate healing.
It’s hard for me to fathom being so deeply wounded and not taking action. I knew with all certainty that I had serious work to do when I saw the traumas of my childhood and adolescence playing out in my adult relationships. I was so determined to heal that I would try any approach that held promise. I usually did at least three to ten sessions of any modality I chose to explore to determine what, if any, progress I was making. And I kept working with the practices and modalities I found to be most effective.
I’ve worked with a number of exceptionally powerful healers whenever the opportunity presented itself. I have also gone through many vision quests, a traditional Native American practice that involves going alone into the mountains to fast for four days and nights without food or water. It’s this commitment to doing whatever it takes to heal that has enabled me to heal the kinds of wounds that most people continue to live with for the remainder of their lives.
Stepping up to the plate
In many instances the dysfunctional patterns that create so much suffering in our lives are so deeply entrenched that we require the assistance of a powerful healer to help us digest the highly charged emotions and “reformat” our system. The emotional wounds resulting from my own childhood trauma and subsequent reenactments were so deeply ingrained within by body and mind. I would have never completely healed had I not had the opportunity to work with a number of exceptionally powerful healers and go through the vision quest.
People like Yvette, Karen, Henry, Jelena and Manfred tend to become more heavy and stagnant as they fail to deal with their issues and digest their emotions. They often sink deeper into their dysfunction as the years go by. It’s important that you become fully honest by asking yourself “Is this the kind of life I want to be living?” If not, then what are you willing to do about it? It’s important for you to understand that nothing much is going to change until you take constructive action to facilitate the changes you desire. And there is no time better than the present.
The vast majority of people who have been deeply wounded will continue to suffer for the remainder of their lives. 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 you to go beyond your comfort zone by stepping into the realm of the unfamiliar in order to heal.
Native Americans learned to rely upon the forces of nature. Their traditional doctors were some of the most exceptionally powerful healers on the planet. Special gifts and powers of healing had been passed down from mentor to apprentice or were received during the vision quests. These gifts and powers facilitated healing that would not have otherwise been possible.
People experience much more profound healing changes when they combine the practices I’m teaching with the individual sessions. Consistent practice combined with the individual healing sessions will enable you to develop a much greater processing capacity and become more present to your feelings and physical body. This will give you more of the strength within that will better enable you to handle whatever comes along.
The presence working through me during the individual sessions cleans up the convoluted tangled mass of feelings by helping you to digest the grief, hurt, sadness, resentment, anger and fear and in the process they build a much stronger foundation from which to form healthy attachments. You will become more congruent as the conflicted parts of you come to a place of resolution. You will become more authentic and that will enable you to live from a place of honesty and integrity. You will also develop greater capacity for love, empathy and compassion.
The changes that take place as you heal your woundedness will enable you to cultivate inner beauty. That will make it easier for you to attract the love you truly need and desire. You will naturally find yourself attracting and attracted to healthier companions. Your capacity to love will deepen and you will form progressively healthier attachments as you continue to heal and grow.
©Copyright 2013 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. To learn more or to schedule a private session call (913) 927-4281