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.
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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.