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.

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