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.
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.
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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.