Collective Unconsciousness

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Munch-Evening
Collective conscious or collective conscience is a term introduced by French sociologist Emile Durkheim that refers to the set of shared beliefs, ideas and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society. There are many overlapping fields of collective conscious. Every family has its own collective conscious. So do cities, states and nations, ethnic, cultural, religious and political groups. There is also a collective conscious of humanity as a whole.

People within every facet of society operate within a certain range of consciousness or lack thereof. Not only do people operate from the various forms of collective conscious. They also operate from states of individual and collective states of unconsciousness.

Unconsciousness is a state that occurs when the ability to maintain awareness of the self and the environment is lost. Unconsciousness is evident in the lack of awareness or understanding in various groups of people. Our state of unconsciousness is also evidenced in the addictions, violence and other abuses perpetrated against people and animals, the destruction of the planet, wars and other forms of dysfunction that play out individually and collectively.

We are all conscious or aware to varying degrees and yet there is so much more to our feelings, physical bodies and minds, the world around us and other people that we are not aware of. So much of our lack of awareness stems from the fact that parts of our consciousness have either failed to develop. Or we have shut down, deadened or disconnected from them.

The loss of innocence

We come into this world with an innocence and purity about us. But many of us are deeply hurt as a result of the hurtful words and actions of those entrusted to care for us, siblings, teachers and classmates and others with whom we interact. We cope the best we can and yet we internalize so much of the suffering we experience because we lack the understanding and resources needed to facilitate the healing of the deep emotional wounds.

We try to fit in to the best of our ability because of our needs for love, approval and acceptance, but we tend to lose touch with ourselves in the process of being what we think other people want us to be. Despite all of that, our bodies and minds are incredibly resilient throughout our childhood, adolescence and into early adulthood. The life force flowing from our core compels us to learn, grow and adapt to other people, our surroundings and the challenges of our daily lives. But it’s only a matter of time before the deep emotional wounds and vulnerabilities begin to surface.

The abuses suffered during my childhood and adolescence began to play out in my romantic relationships during my mid-twenties. I found myself attracting and being attracted to women that were either uninterested, unavailable or that reenacted the traumas of my past. These women were a reflection of how deeply wounded I was at that time.

I suffered terribly as a result of these patterns of abandonment and unrequited love. The all-consuming pain that arose was debilitating and I felt as though I were flailing in the dark in my initial attempts to heal the deep emotional wounds. I knew that I could not continue to live like that and I was willing to do whatever it took to get to a better place.

I had an instinctive sense that I needed to breathe softly and deeply while diving into the middle of the overwhelming pain and feelings of abandonment. The pain was so intense at times and I feared that I would go right on over the edge. But doorways began to open as I learned to move through the middle of the pain. The pervasive darkness gradually abated. I could feel these powerful emanations of warmth flowing from within as my authentic core self began to emerge and my connection to the higher power began to grow stronger.

The practice I’m describing is quite powerful, but that alone was not enough to heal the deep emotional wounds. I started receiving deep tissue body work and working with a number of powerful healers whenever the opportunity presented itself. I started going on the vision quest, a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food and water.

I felt much lighter and my range of motion began to expand as the debilitating emotional wounds healed. I gradually began to attract healthier friends and companions, but I didn’t stop there. I naturally assumed that I would make further progress in my personal development as long as I continued to work with the practices and resources that had facilitated my healing.

My assumption was correct. I could feel parts of me emerging that I never even knew existed. I developed greater resilience along with many new skills and capabilities and my range of motion continued to expanded. The many years of intensive spiritual practice that I have gone through to heal my own woundedness and develop my body and mind has also greatly heightened my sensory capacity.

While speaking with people or spending time in their presence, I began to get an acute sense of their intellectual and emotional range and then I could feel where it stopped. I could feel how people disconnected from their thoughts, feelings and physical bodies and the realities of their everyday lives. I could feel the pain, fear, confusion, anger and other emotions that people were holding within their bodies and minds. I felt the parts of their consciousness that had shut down or failed to develop. And I could see how that prevented people from functioning in many areas of their lives and realizing their true potential.

People I spoke with often told me that they didn’t want to possess the heightened level of sensitivity that would enable them to see or feel what’s going on within others. And that they rather not know or be aware to this extent. The problem with being so desensitized is that it amounts to going through life with the blinders on. It prevents us from seeing what we’re getting ourselves into and the consequences of our actions. We end up doing a lot of unnecessary damage to ourselves and others.

Behind the façade

One of the things I enjoy most about my work is getting to work with all kinds of amazingly creative, intelligent, gifted and highly functional people with a clear sense of purpose and direction that excel at what they’re doing. I’m working with artists, writers, musicians, attorneys, architects, engineers, educators and people in the financial industry, healing arts and medical profession. I work with many successful entrepreneurs that have built their own businesses. I have also worked with ministers, priests and swamis. Many of these individuals are making valuable contributions to society. Some are truly compassionate, caring and have tremendous amounts of love to give.

A large portion of society gets up and goes to work in the morning and then comes home after the long day to watch television, surf the net, shop and eat. Many are successful by society’s standards, but their work leaves them unfulfilled and they lack any real sense of purpose or direction. They have their friends and interests, but in many instances there doesn’t appear to be much learning or growth. They seem to be more interested in getting comfortable.

Some people appear to do little more than take up space and use up more of the planet’s resources. And there are those who are doing lots of damage to themselves, others around them and the world in which we live. Fortunately, this is a phase that many people grow out of.

Our culture is so much about surface appearances that it lacks much of the range and depth found among some of the indigenous communities and people of other ancient cultures. And we lack the power, presence and connectedness to the forces of creation found among individuals in the various ancient spiritual traditions that have attained mastery through many years of intensive practice. Even the most highly functional people in our modern day culture that appear to have their act together are only using a very small portion of their true potential.

Much of the populace maintains surface appearances by saying and doing the right things. Most manage to function in their jobs because failure to do so could potentially jeopardize their survival. Behind the polished facade, there’s often a tremendous mental and emotional immaturity and a woundedness. A large percentage of the population suffers as a result of the traumas and chronic stresses that they have experienced over the course of their lives. Many people have been emotionally, physically and/or sexually abused during their childhood. Many have been sexually assaulted as adults. Many have suffered the physical and psychological traumas resulting from surgery and automobile accidents. Everyone suffers as a result of having gone through painful breakups, divorces and the death of friends and loved ones. Many struggle with patterns of abandonment and unrequited love or have attracted unfaithful and/or emotionally and physically abusive partners. This suffering is made worse by the fact that people are not fully equipped to process these traumas.

A large percentage of the population is on antidepressants, anti-anxiety and/or psychotropic medications and a wide range of other pharmaceuticals. Many medicate with alcohol and other recreational drugs. The medications we depend upon may help to dull the pain. Our drugs of choice may help us to escape monetarily, and yet the the substances we take to escape from or dull the pain also deaden our consciousness.

People’s deep emotional wounds are often compounded by their unwillingness to fully experience their true feelings and address relevant issues head on. Many do not even consciously register the emotions held within their own bodies. They cannot clearly perceive the issues that need to be dealt with because their consciousness is so muddled by the accumulated mental – emotional baggage held within and the fact that their bodies are in such a poor state of health. In many instances the hardware that actually facilitates consciousness begins to breakdown or degenerate and that further impedes people’s ability to process their emotions, bring issues to a place of resolution and heal their bodies and minds.

I’m interacting with people that are anxious, depressed, struggling with addictions, suffering from traumatic stress and a wide range of physiological health issues every day. I see and feel how wounded people are. I also recognize their untapped potential. I try to convey what I’m sensing and the fact that I possess gifts of healing that can address many of these issues. One of the unfortunate consequences of going through life suppressing one’s feelings and avoiding the issues is that many people are so out of touch that they do not realize how bad of shape they’re in or feel the need to do anything about it.

Some people are aware to varying degrees and yet they’re not willing to address the issues. Others do recognize the problems, and yet they have no understanding of the fact that those of us who have undergone such intensive training and that have received the transmissions of power possess gifts that will facilitate the healing of many of these issues. And many are just not willing to try something that they’re not familiar with. Sadly, many people who could heal, realize so much more of their true potential and live much healthier and more meaningful lives continue to suffer unnecessarily.

Disconnectedness

There are so many aspects of the world we live in from the increasing demands of our everyday lives, the technology we depend upon, the drugs we use to get high, the pharmaceuticals we take to block the pain and alleviate other symptoms and the foods we eat that are taking us further and further away from ourselves. That’s why it takes a such a concerted effort for us to remain present nowadays.

Many of us are becoming so outwardly focused that we cannot even perceive what’s taking place within our own bodies and minds. That makes it so much more difficult for us to understand the connection between the dramas playing out in our daily lives and our internal state of being. It’s this disconnect that many of us are experiencing from our feelings and physical bodies that leaves us so far removed from the underlying source of our problems and the resources that would provide the much needed solutions.

Many of us are either unwilling or unable to be present with our feelings, physical bodies and the realities of our daily lives, therefore we move through the world in a state of disconnectedness. Our relationships with our friends, romantic partners, children, parents and other family members all suffer as a result. So much of what we fail to deal with gets passed down to future generations. Our children end up internalizing much of our dysfunction.

Numb to what we’re holding in our bodies

New York City’s subways have inadvertently become a roving park bench for the city’s homeless population. Many of the homeless have not bathed for months. And some have not bathed for years. Their stench can be so overpowering that it empties an entire fifty foot long subway car. There are many instances over the course of a week when passengers are standing on the subway platform waiting to board a train once it comes to a stop. The passengers step into the subway car once the doors open and then end up taking a few steps backward to escape the overpowering stench. The homeless that have not bathed for extended periods of time have absolutely no idea of how bad they smell because they’ve gotten used it.

We hold all kinds of feelings of grief, loss, anger, fear, hurt and other distressing emotions in our bodies. We grow numb to these stresses over time. In many instances the presence of the stressful emotions, physical toxins and other imbalances held within our bodies no longer register within our conscious waking awareness because we’ve grown so accustomed to living with them. That’s why so many of us are so lacking in self-awareness.

The Great Escape

Our constant state of media saturation doesn’t give us the opportunity to ever really be present with ourselves. We’re ingesting far more sensory input than our body and mind could ever process and that leaves us with less of the available resources needed to process our feelings and bring our issues to a place of resolution.

There’s nothing wrong with taking in a movie or concert we’ve been waiting to see, watching a favorite television show or using social media, playing games on our computers and enjoying an occasional drink. The problem is that escaping has become a way of life for many of us. We’re always trying to fill the void and create diversions that prevent us from being fully present. We’ve developed this insatiable need to be entertained and so we’re constantly seeking stimulation and self-medicating. We’re escaping into novels, television shows, the internet, concerts, video games, shopping, religion and our drugs of choice. And in the process of doing so, we’re escaping from our feelings, our physical bodies and the realities of our everyday lives.

Spiritual bypass

Our religions provide a means through which we can get in touch with a force far greater than ourselves. In many ways they are also reductionistic attempts to interpret a force of creation that is far beyond the comprehension of our limited human minds. Many of our religions are based upon abstract notions of one supreme deity or multiple gods, their commandments consisting of the rules and regulations that determine how we should live our lives, concepts of sin and a savior that redeems us from our supposed sins. These abstractions are in many ways just another form of distraction to prevent us from being fully present. That’s one of the primary reasons that it appeals to so many people.

Religion often serves as a compensation for those of us that lack the emotional – cognitive – psychological sophistication needed to facilitate the deep level processing or healing of our shame, guilt, fear and other aspects of our woundedness. Religion and spirituality becomes another means of escape whenever we use it to avoid, deny or suppress our feelings, our physical bodies and the world in which we live. And in the process of doing so we inadvertently disconnect from our authentic core self and the higher power. We want to believe that God and Jesus have forgiven us and yet that doesn’t change the fact the fact that many of us continue to hold so much of the anger, shame and other emotions that we want to deny the existence of within our bodies.

Moving on and putting the past behind us

So many things about our lives do not work out the way that we want them to. We often attempt to move on by putting those things that have caused us pain in the past behind us without ever addressing the issue. The problem with this approach is that we end up leaving the wounded parts of ourselves behind. The loss of these parts of ourselves greatly diminishes our presence and power.

Our bodies and minds invariably go unconscious when we’re not attending to the issues or concerns that are relevant to us. We end up losing touch with parts of ourselves and becoming blinded to much of what’s going on around us when we fail to show up fully present. Our inner state of being becomes incredibly toxic from all the emotions that we’re not allowing ourselves to feel and our power to effect constructive change in our lives diminishes.

One of the most important practices we can engage in is to make a concerted effort on a daily basis to show up fully present as an active participant in our lives. That means experiencing the full range of our feelings while addressing the issues that arise to the best of our ability. We may not enjoy some of the realities that present themselves, but we need to fully embrace life. By making a concerted effort to remain fully present we will develop more of the power and resources needed to create more of the life we truly desire.

Resistance

People often say they want to heal when their emotions are out of control, their bodies are falling apart and their lives full of toxic drama. They start reaching out for help when their level of discomfort becomes intolerable. They’re often very enthusiastic when they first begin the healing process. But I’ve watched so many people show up for class a time or two or do one or a few sessions and then disappear as soon as their feelings and issues make their way to the surface. And many lack the discipline, motivation and understanding needed to do what is required to facilitate true healing. The unfortunate consequence is that many of these individuals end up going back out into the world with the same health issues and emotional wounds. In many instances, they fall deeper into their sickness and dysfunction over time.

Many of us are hugely resistant to being fully present to our feelings, physical bodies and the realities of our daily lives. Resistance will often grow as we continue to work our way down through the layers. We initially shut down the fearful, hurt and stressed out parts of ourselves because we didn’t possess the resources or understanding that would have enabled us to cope with what was happen. We keep reinforcing our resistance whenever we deny, avoid or shut down to what we’re experiencing and the subsequent feelings that arise.

The fear, hurt, confusion, trauma and other stresses that we hold within deaden our body – mind consciousness, preventing us from ever fully realizing our true potential. It can feel very uncomfortable as these feelings and issues begin to make their way to the surface. But we need to bring whatever is we’re holding within the body to the surface so that it can be gradually transformed, digested and integrated.

Muddled Perception

The traumas such as those resulting from emotional, physical or sexual abuse, combat and other forms of extreme stress elicit very powerful and sometimes overwhelming feelings. The powerful emotional states resulting from these traumas alter the neurostructure and biochemical makeup of our brains. These structural and biochemical changes taking place in our brains vastly alter the way that we perceive and experience ourselves, other people and the world in which we live. The vast majority of us never fully process or heal from these traumas. In many instances we continue to suffer the effects of these traumas for the remainder of our lives.

We learn from an early age to disconnect from our feelings, but in doing so we’re shutting down the body and mind’s innate healing intelligence. We need to thoroughly digest our life experiences along with any feelings that arise in response to them. Emotions and the stresses of daily life that we fail to digest accumulate within the our bodies. The residue of this undigested emotional content becomes very heavy and toxic as it stagnates within the body. These accumulated stresses accelerate the aging process by causing the body to break down at a more rapid pace.

Most of us are not doing much to process the things that have hurt, traumatized or stressed us out. We tend to accumulate more and more emotional baggage and other stresses over time. A large percentage of us have become so deadened or lacking in consciousness from the diaphragm down. In many instances our abdominal region becomes a toxic waste dump. The residue of all of these emotions and other stresses that we fail to digest has a very numbing or deadening effect upon our consciousness as it creates tension and cesspools of stagnant energy within the body. This toxicity causes us to feel heavy and lethargic as it drains our life force. The toxic emotional residue also creates a muddle of confusion that diminishes our clarity, consciousness and understanding.

Our level of consciousness, or lack thereof, is also reflected in our relationships. The many layers of conflicted feeling held in the body can easily distort our perceptions of other people, preventing us from seeing them for who they truly are. And so we get caught up in all kinds of projections and toxic relational dramas. We’re often drawn to and become involved with partners that hurt and abuse us or that are not well matched for us. And then we become strung out emotionally because of our inability to process our emotions and that makes it hard for us to leg go and move on when things are not working in our relationships.

Avoidance coping

Avoidance has for many become the primary means of coping. Our tendency to avoid that which we find uncomfortable has become so habitual that it’s like a knee jerk reaction. Consequently, many of us never develop the resources that would enable us to process our emotions and bring our issues to a place of resolution. Our limited processing capacity greatly reduces our capacity to learn, heal and grow. The feelings, issues and realities that we avoid muddle our consciousness and that diminishes our awareness of ourselves and our impact upon others and the world in which we live.

Many years of intensive practice and experience working with people has taught me to go right to the underlying source of the issues. People tell me that they want to heal and yet the conditioning among many people to avoid one’s feelings, issues and the realities of their everyday lives is so incredibly strong. Those who are not willing to do the work necessary to facilitate their healing or that are too afraid to face what’s going on within tend to bail out. It can sometimes be incredibly uncomfortable to go to these vulnerable places within ourselves and yet in many instances it is the only way that we can heal the deep emotional wounds. Only those of us who are truly committed to doing what it takes to heal can make this journey.

Everyone has their shortcomings and yet the majority of people are basically good hearted. Most want to get to a place in life where they feel comfortable. Everyone is negatively impacted and in some instances incapacitated by their wounds. Much of the population is what I refer to as self-avoidant, meaning that they are avoiding being fully present with or turning away from themselves. And as a result, they lack much of the basic drive or motivation that is necessary to compel them to heal and grow. What they really want is to have their suffering taken away so that they can continue on in their lives without out having to address the issues or experience their true feelings. Only a small percentage of the population possesses the kind of growth orientation that compels them to take whatever steps are that are necessary to facilitate healing.

Food and drugs

So much of the highly processed packaged content made to resemble food that is found in our supermarkets contains very little nutritional value. Much of this garbage is highly toxic for the human body and yet we continue to shovel it into our mouths. These food substitutes have a deadening effect upon our body — mind consciousness.

We’re devouring billions of pounds of candy, cake, ice cream and other foods loaded with processed white sugar a year. Our attention span and ability to learn deteriorate in proportion to the amount of refined sugar we consume. Many of us are also jacked up on caffeine to compensate the fact that we are not getting adequate rest. Caffeine and refined sugar have a numbing effect that impairs our ability to process our emotions.

The vast majority of livestock and produce raised for mass consumption is produced solely for profit. Many of our crops are now genetically modified. Serious health risks associated with genetically modified foods include infertility, immune deficiencies, damage to the internal organs and acceleration of the aging process. Commercially produced beef, chicken, pork and farm raised fish are loaded with antibiotics and growth hormones. The chickens, cows and pigs that we consume are subjected to horrific abuses, trauma and terror. The traumas suffered by these animals are held within the flesh. We’re ingesting this suffering every time we consume the flesh of other living beings.

Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients and generate more than 7,000 chemicals when they burn according to the American Lung Association. Many of these chemicals are poisonous and at least 69 of them are carcinogens. Smoking causes extensive damage to the lungs, the cardiovascular system, brain and other parts of our bodies. Smoking has a numbing effect that impedes our ability to process our emotions. The combination of unprocessed emotion and toxicity resulting from the pollutants being inhaled into our lungs contributes to the stagnant quality in the physical and subtle bodies of people that smoke. Statistics on the number of smokers per capita vary considerably by country. Despite all of the warnings and risks associated with smoking, somewhere between five to thirty-five percent of the population continues to light up.

Alcohol and other drugs are so attractive to many because they provide us with a momentary escape. We’re escaping from the hellish internal state of being that we create when we suppress, resist or avoid our feelings, our physical bodies and the realities of our everyday lives. We find ourselves caught up in an addictive cycle when the pain we hold within compels us to ingest excessive amounts of alcohol and other intoxicating substances. Our bodies may also develop a dependence upon these substances. The substances we ingest to get high may initially relax our bodies and inhibitions. They may even induce a momentary expansion of our consciousness and yet with excessive use they diminish our connection to the authentic core residing deep within and the higher power. These substances deaden our consciousness by impairing our ability to process our feelings and by causing damage to the subtle bodies along with the brain and other internal organs.

The pharmaceuticals that many of us depend upon to address various physiological and psychiatric issues may be necessary, but they also have many harmful side effects. Psychiatrist Julie Holland stated in an article published in the New York Times, “Medicating Women’s Feelings” that one out of every four women in the United States in on some form of psychiatric medication. Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and psychotropic medications turn down the volume on, and in some instances, completely deaden our feelings. The use of these medications may be the best known option, but there is a danger in that they interrupt the innate healing intelligence residing within our bodies and minds while deadening our consciousness.

Pharmaceuticals, alcohol and other drugs that we use to numb ourselves reinforces the disconnect between our bodies and minds. The resulting desensitization further impedes our ability to process our feelings. The residue of this unprocessed stress, pain and other emotional content is transformed into a toxic substance. Our bodies and minds have a very difficult time processing this toxic residue. The use of these substances may also result in damage to the hardware that facilitates consciousness. The combination of these factors contribute to the stunting of our emotional, intellectual and spiritual development.

The foods and substances we put into our bodies are largely a reflection of our level of consciousness. People that work with me individually often cut down on or completely stop smoking, drinking and using other recreational drugs. Many have been able to discontinue the use of medications that they had been dependent upon. People that work with me generally begin to make better food choices, consuming more nutrient rich foods that actually nourish their bodies and minds.

Dead zones and toxic waste dumps

Our life experiences and any subsequent emotional response we have to them need to go through a process in which they are digested. This digestive process transforms our life experiences and feeling responses into fuel for growth. The vast majority of us have never learned how to work constructively with our feelings. The emotions and stresses of everyday life that we fail to process remain trapped within our bodies indefinitely. We feel the tension in our neck and shoulders when the undigested emotions and other stresses cause them to tighten up. Stressful emotions stored in the chest and lungs can make it difficult for us to breathe. Stressful emotions can also precipitate panic attacks by overloading our neuro-circuitry. They can do lots of other damage throughout our body and mind. And in doing so they greatly accelerate the aging process.

Much of the stressful emotion that we fail to process accumulates within the abdomen. The majority of adults are holding a backlog of residual emotion and other stresses within this part of the body. The stresses held within the abdomen bog down the internal organs and thereby hinder their ability to function. Accumulated stresses account for much of the gas, bloating, poor digestion and constipation. These stresses are also one of the primary causes of digestive disorders such as Crohn’s Disease, colitis and irritable bowel.

Some of us eat to suppress our emotions and in the process of doing so we become numb to our feelings. But then we keep on eating and as a result we end up putting on considerably more weight. The additional layers of accumulated fat act as a buffering that prevents us from feeling. Using food to stuff our feelings shuts down the body – mind’s innate healing intelligence. And that leaves us further removed from the source of our power. Our inability to access our feelings reinforces the stuckness that keeps us locked into our dysfunctional holding patterns.

The emotions that we suppress operate primarily outside of our conscious waking awareness. These emotions sometimes intrude upon our conscious awareness when we’re under stress and during times of crisis. We widen the gulf between our intellectual mind, our feelings and physical bodies as we continue to deny, avoid or suppress our feelings.

Undigested emotions and other stresses held within the body indefinitely become toxic. The heavy dense energies of the emotions and stresses that we internalize create hardened areas of armoring, pools of stagnant emotional energy and deadness. These denser energies make it far more difficult for the life force to circulate within certain parts of our bodies. Areas within the abdomen and other parts of our bodies sometimes become toxic waste dumps or dead zones. We generally experiences very little consciousness or awareness within these parts of our bodies.

The practices I teach enable people to heal and become more fully present within the various parts of their bodies. Some people will initially feel nauseous when I have them bring their awareness to their abdomen. People are more likely to feel nauseous when the accumulation of emotion and other stresses held within the abdomen and other parts of the body becomes toxic and begins to putrefy.

A big part of the healing process involves dissolving the many layers of body-mind armor and cleaning up the toxicity and bringing clean vital life force into the parts of the body mind that have become so toxic and deadened. People that have spent so much of their lives disconnected from their feelings and physical bodies possess so little self-awareness and understanding. Many discontinue the healing process when the body begins to cleanse itself of toxicity and the emotional backlog stored within the body begins to make it’s way to the surface. That’s very unfortunate, because whatever toxicity people fail to clean up will remain trapped within the body indefinitely. The backlog of toxic emotion and other stresses held within the body maintain the dysfunctional holding patterns that are preventing people’s lives from working. It also causes their physical and subtle bodies to break down at a faster pace, thereby accelerating the aging process.

I do the best I can to help the people that show up in my classes and those I work with individually to understand the patterns playing out in their lives and the healing process taking place. But it can at times be especially difficult to convey this understanding, because the conditioning to avoid, suppress or disconnect from one’s feelings and physical bodies is so incredibly strong. Many are fearful of, resistant to, blinded and dumbed down by the huge amount of unprocessed emotion residue and other stresses held within their bodies.

The effort that it takes to get through to people can sometimes be exhausting, because many are slow to understand. And people nowadays are less likely to hold onto any understandings because the endless media barrage saturating their minds is making it so much more difficult for them to keep their attention focused long enough for healing to occur. Some people never gain awareness or get in touch with the forces that motivate or drive them. Sadly, they’re just not teachable.

Now that Technology has taken over the still place within

We now live in a world where we are overly dependent upon our cell phones, computers and other devices. Continuing advances in technology are making our phones, computers and the internet all the more enticing to the point that many of us have become addicted. We feel compelled to reach for the phone, to check email and text innumerable times a day. And then we’re spending hours surfing the net. The technology that was initially designed to serve us has in many ways taken over our lives.

Our bodies and minds cannot possibly process the vast amount of information flying through our sensory channels. The information overload that many of us are experiencing as a result of our use of smartphones and the internet and the corresponding changes taking place in our neuro-circuitry are making it more and more difficult for us to keep our minds focused for any considerable length of time. Our minds are getting pulled off course so easily by all kinds of irrelevant distractions and that’s preventing us from maintaining the level of focused attention needed to address relevant issues.

The sensory overload that we’re experiencing is also contributing to our growing desensitization. And that’s making us less aware of our feelings and physical bodies and the world in which we live. The never ending stream of sensory input in the form of videos, news stories, instant messages, texts, tweets, Facebook updates, celebrity gossip and games flooding our bodies and minds now occupies so much of the internal space that we need to go to in order to heal. The overburdening of our brain-body-mind means that we have less of the much needed resources required to do the deep level processing that facilitates healing and personal growth.

Many of us are in serious need of a digital detox to clear the backlog of sensory clutter that is congesting our body, mind and spirit. That can be hard to do now that nearly every aspect of our lives revolves around the use of technology. We have to maintain an awareness of our internal state of being in order to heal and grow. And we need to be returning to this space on a on a daily basis to continue the healing process. For many of us, that can only happen when we make a concerted effort to create the internal space needed to do the deep level processing and make consistent use of the various practices and resources that facilitate healing.

Chakras and layers of the aura

The subtle bodies that are comprised of the chakras and layers of the aura are a very intricate form of bio-electrical circuitry. They are a critical part of the infrastructure that maintains the structure and that facilitates the functions of the body’s organs and systems. The patterns or configurations that manifest within the subtle bodies are a reflection of all the processes taking place physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually within the body and mind of an individual.

The subtle bodies often fail to fully develop in those who were neglected as children or that suffered extensive childhood trauma. People’s subtle bodies often become damaged or disfigured as a result of prolonged illnesses, traumatic experiences and other forms of chronic and extreme stress. The stagnant emotional residue that accumulates within the body when we suppress our feelings can also cause extensive damage within the subtle bodies.

Antidepressants, anti-anxiety, psychotropic, analgesic and other medications may be the best option to address the psychological and physiological health issues of many individuals, and yet their use often causes damage within the subtle bodies while interrupting the body and mind’s innate healing intelligence. Excessive use of alcohol and other recreational drugs also causes tremendous damage to the brain, other internal organs and the subtle bodies.

The lack of development in the subtle bodies can also signify an individual’s limited range of motion. It can also be an indication that a person is not making good use of the resources that would enable them to fulfill their true potential.

Damage within the subtle bodies can greatly impede the functions of the brain and other internal organs and systems. It also distorts our perceptions, thereby interfering with our ability to think clearly, to process our emotions and to bring issues to a place of resolution. Damage to or a lack of development within the subtle bodies can also greatly limit the realization of our own unique gifts and potentials and the fulfillment of our life’s purpose.

But isn’t it just their karma?

The greatest challenge I face in my work is getting people to stay present long enough to move through their internal resistance and heal the deeply wounded parts of themselves. It can feel very uncomfortable when the fear, pain and other emotions held within the body are making their way to the surface. For many, it is the only way to resolve the core issues, heal the deep emotional wounds and continue to move forward on the path of personal growth.

Much of the population operates at the surface most levels of awareness. They may be holding all kinds of toxic emotion within and in some instances their bodies are falling apart. Their lives may also be an absolute mess and yet they are often hugely resistant to doing the deep internal work necessary to facilitate true healing. Their resistance to healing and growth reminds me of some of the homeless in New York City who haven’t bathed in ages that become very defensive, fearful and angry if someone were to attempt to clean them up and get them to put on a fresh set of clothing. They’re either fearful of change, too attached to the comfort of that which is familiar or deriving some form of secondary gain.

So much of what is being offered to us in our modern day society in terms of spirituality lacks any real power or substance and is very escape oriented. Much of what is referred to as shamanism has very little resemblance to the spiritual or healing practices of indigenous peoples. The vast majority of those who call themselves shamans have never spent time among any indigenous groups of people. Many are now referring to themselves as master healers after three weekend workshops. Most of these shamans and healers are like children playing doctor as they possess no real power. Most people nowadays have never experienced the kinds of healing gifts and powers possessed by indigenous peoples, therefore they do not know the difference.

Most people in our modern day society lack the discipline and commitment found among the indigenous peoples and those in other cultures that have for many centuries followed the ancient spiritual traditions. What makes it even worse is that people nowadays can be so damn flaky. They’re more likely to be intimidated or frightened by the powers possessed by those who have attained mastery in the indigenous spiritual traditions and many make a run for it as soon as their feelings and issues make their way to the surface.

I sometimes hear people say that each individual comes into this world at a certain level of development. And that some people supposedly have not matured on a soul level, so it’s all they can do to take small steps in their evolution. And that’s why they cannot progress beyond a certain point in their development. But is it really just their karma? Or are we living in a society that conditions us in such a way that it prevents us from developing spiritually and realizing our true potential?

Our media saturated culture teaches us to be good little consumers of products. The unfortunate consequence is that we can easily lose touch with our authentic core along with our unique sense of purpose when we’re working at jobs that deaden us mentally, emotionally and spiritually while chasing the dollar so that we can acquire more material possessions. Other cultures may not have enjoyed the high standard of material wealth and yet they placed a great deal of emphasis on tradition, religion, social hierarchies, politics and other abstract values. The danger of instilling values that are so diametrically opposed to our basic human nature is that it tends to produce people that lack empathy, compassion, self-awareness and connection to one’s inner source.

I’m fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to spend considerable amounts of time in India and Sri Lanka and to live among Native American tribes in Oklahoma and New Mexico. I’m also fortunate that to be able to do many years of intensive training with a traditional Native American doctor and a Master from China. It can be much more difficult for people that haven’t traveled and spent time among other cultures to break out of their ethnocentricity.

Ancient traditional cultures such as those found in China, India and among Native Americans certainly had their drawbacks and yet they provided a framework that encouraged people to develop spiritually. It was fairly common in the various parts of Asia for those who were truly committed to developing their bodies and minds and deepening their connection to the higher power to do many years of intensive yoga, martial arts and meditative practices such as Chi Gong and Pranayama.

Native Americans were much more connected to the Earth and the forces of nature. Nearly everyone in the tribe participated in rituals such as the vision quest, sun dance and other kinds of intensive spiritual practices. They often did so many times over the course of their lives. There were many individuals among the various tribes that possessed all kinds of unique powers, gifts of healing and in some instances paranormal abilities.

Native Americans and the people I worked with in India and Sri Lanka tended to be very respectful and appreciative. A large percentage of those I have worked with possess an innate sensitivity that enables them to be very aware of the presence working through me and the changes that were taking place within their bodies and minds. Much of their receptivity has to do with their constitutional makeup. It also has a lot to do with the fact that there has always been a segment of the population in these cultures that spent their life time doing intensive daily practices to become the living embodiment of a force far greater than themselves, to experience a profound awakening and to become more fully present.

The exceptional few

The majority of the population in our modern day society is not growth oriented. They may be successful, possess a lot of intellectual knowledge, be good natured and even kind hearted. And yet the motivation to heal and grow beyond a certain point is very limited or non-existent.

I do encounter a small number of truly exceptional people along the way that are deeply committed to their healing and personal growth. People who are truly growth oriented are not content to get to a comfortable place and just hang out. They feel a profound desire to do and be more coupled with a willingness to take whatever they experience in life and use it to facilitate their healing and continued development. People that are truly growth oriented are continually learning. Their willingness to adapt and openness to change allows them to remain relevant and that gives them a more youthful quality.

Our responsibility to heal

We all have been wounded somewhere along the way. Addressing these wounded parts of ourselves can be very uncomfortable at times. Those of us who demonstrate the courage to heal will discover that the discomforts are short lived. These momentary discomforts are greatly offset by the rewards that come as a result of our commitment to do whatever it takes to heal and grow.

We all have a responsibility to take constructive action to heal our woundedness to the best of our ability. The negativity generated when we fail to take the steps necessary to facilitate the healing of these wounds feeds into the destructive force created by our global collective shadow. This collective shadow manifests in the form of addictions, poverty, the abuses of animals and other people, oppressive leaders and governments that brutalize their people and that favor the needs of corporations over their own citizens, wars, the destruction of the planet and other forms of dysfunction. We offset the destructive force of our own individual and the collective shadow as we increase our awareness, become ever more present and heal those parts of us that are wounded.

Most people have never learned to work constructively with their feelings. Undigested emotional residue and other stresses accumulate within the body where they remain indefinitely. Our resistance to being present, lack of understanding and lack of resources needed to effect healing are a big part of what maintains our state of unconsciousness.

Feelings can be messy, confusing, inconvenient, uncomfortable and even painful at times, but they are an essential component of the innate healing intelligence that resides within our bodies and minds. Our feelings facilitate growth and transformation as we learn to work constructively with them. Our feelings can then serve as a doorway into the subconscious mind. They provide us with a valuable source of feedback that gives us a greater understanding of ourselves, our needs as well as the needs and considerations of others.

Our life experiences along with any subsequent emotions that arise need to go through a process in which they are digested. The practices I teach facilitate a crucial aspect of this digestive process. We begin by acknowledging what’s happening in our lives and the feelings that arise in response to the issues impacting us. We then notice where these feelings are situated within our bodies. We breathe softly and deeply while fully immersing our awareness in the middle of any feelings or bodily sensations that arise. We then follow the feelings and sensations as they go through their progression.

Most of the readily available therapeutic modalities are very limited in their effectiveness when it comes to healing the deep emotional wounds that many of us carry. That is clearly evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of those who have gone through extensive trauma continue to suffer indefinitely. Many of us are going to have to go beyond that which is familiar if we are to ever heal in this life time.

Indigenous people have for centuries allowed other forces or beings to work through them to facilitate healing that would not have otherwise been possible. There were many powerful indigenous healers in times past. Only a small number of individuals carry on these traditions. I would encourage people to work with these individuals whenever the opportunity presents itself. I possess these same healing gifts as a result of having trained with a traditional doctor from the Kiowa Indian tribe and going on so many vision quests.

I do this work because I truly do care and I want to make a positive difference in people’s lives. A big part of that involves helping to alleviate people’s suffering by facilitating the healing of the deep emotional wounds. Emphasis is then placed upon building a strong foundation along with the resources needed to fulfill each individuals true potential and realize their life’s purpose.

The presence working through me during the individual sessions cultivates body – mind consciousness. Damage is repaired within the physical and subtle bodies. More and more layers of emotional body armor dissolve with each session. Stagnant emotions and other stresses held within the body are transformed into vital essence that can then be integrated as a functional part of the self. This essence will then serve as fuel for growth. The resulting transformation facilitates the emergence of one’s true self while deepening one’s connection to the higher power. The changes resulting from these sessions bring about a greater sense of aliveness, clarity, sense of purpose and renewal of one’s passions.

©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.

Creating Your Own Daily Regimen of Healing and Personal Growth

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Discipline
Those who have attained mastery in the various ancient spiritual traditions typically spend two, three, four, six, eight or even more hours of intensive practice a day. You might be thinking “Who has time for that?” Obviously some people do. The concert pianists and the Olympic athletes that many of us admire spend hours a day training. And so do many other people committed to various fields of study and other disciplines.

All of us are unique in that we have different needs and circumstances and that will to a large extent determine the kinds of practices we do, the extent of our commitment and the amount of time we invest.

Parenting can be a full time job, especially for those who are caring for young children. A single parent who is the sole source of support may have very little time to devote to practice. Some of us have considerably more time on our hands.

People in our modern day culture often wonder why anyone would devote so much of their time and energy doing these various forms of intensive practice. There are many reasons. Some do intensive meditation practices to deepen their connection with the higher power. Martial artist will practice in order to develop higher levels of skill. Traditional Native American Indian doctors would continue to go on the vision quest in order to develop a greater range of healing powers. One can also practice to facilitate the healing of the deep emotional wounds and to increase their capacity to love and be loved. The possibilities are endless.

I started working with various practices with the intention of healing the wounds resulting from the traumas of my own childhood and adolescence. A big part of what motivated me was the desire to have someone in my life that I could love and be loved by. Another motivation was the traditional Native American doctors that possessed truly amazing gifts of healing. I’m also motivated by those who have attained mastery in the Internal Martial Arts of Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang. Through continued practice they developed ever increasing levels of proficiency. I have always felt that we as human beings are far too limited and had a fascination with the paranormal. One of the things that fascinated me most about the various ancient traditions is that those who attain mastery in them often develop paranormal gifts and abilities.

I do hours of intensive practice on a daily basis for the purpose of developing my body and mind. I usually start practicing from the time I get up in the morning. I begin the day with intensive Chi Gong practices to build internal power. I then practice the various forms of Xin Yi Quan. That can take two to three hours.

I usually do the various forms of meditative practice that I developed to help me process whatever is going on in my life for at least an hour a day. I will do more Chi Gong practice if I have additional time. I also spend fifteen to twenty minutes working with some of the mantras that I’ve learned from the Vedic tradition. All this practice takes at least three and a half hours a day, but I see it is as an essential part of the work that I need to do to maintain physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing and to continue to develop as a healer.

Intensive daily practice is a critically important part of healing and personal development and yet I am also very cognizant of the limitations of practicing on my own. I seek out various interventions on a regular basis. I make a point of receiving deep tissue body work at monthly intervals. I usually jump whenever the opportunity to work with a gifted healer presents itself. The problem here is that these individuals are very few and far between in this part of the world. For this reason I have relied heavily upon the vision quest, 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 is through the vision quest that many of the traditional Native American doctors developed the gifts and abilities the enabled them to facilitate healing within others. I have been going on the vision quests twice a year for over twenty years now.

I’m only sharing my own regimen as an example. Your own circumstances and needs may vary tremendously from mine. However you do need to be doing some form of intensive practice to develop your body and mind on a daily basis. Failure to do so will invariably lead to stagnation. Those of us who are suffering as a result of past trauma, struggling with depression and anxiety, grieving the loss of a love or caught up in patterns of abandonment and unrequited love especially need to be doing practice on a daily basis to facilitate the healing of the deep emotional wounds.

I recommend that you do at least an hour of practice a day. You need to create your own daily regimen. That could include yoga or some form of martial art, Chi Gong, Pranayama or other forms of meditative practice to mention a few.

We all have emotional responses to the people, situations, circumstances and issues concerning us. We all need to learn to work constructively with our feelings. The practices I teach facilitate this process. Begin by of acknowledging what’s happening in your life. Notice what you feel in response to it. Center your awareness in the part of your body where you experience these feelings. Breathe softly and deeply while immersing your consciousness in the middle of any feelings or bodily sensations that arise. Follow the feelings and sensations as they go through their progression.

Intensive daily practice is an important part of increasing your competency and expanding your range of motion. The adversity you encounter along the way will not be quite so overwhelming or devastating as you develop greater mental, emotional, physical and spiritual resilience. Practice will make it easier for you get over the pain of a breakup and other setbacks. That will enable you to bounce back more readily.

Many of us are suffering from depression, anxiety, emotionally traumatic issues and a wide range of physiological health issues. We need to take some time to explore various practices to determine those that are best for us. Our bodies and minds can heal and our lives can be transformed when we commit to a daily regimen of intensive practice. It’s this commitment to doing what is best for ourselves that will facilitate continued growth and personal development.

©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.

What to Do When the Pain of a Breakup Won’t Let You Sleep

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Can't Sleep

We operate primarily from our conscious mind during our normal waking hours. And then our subconscious mind takes over when we’re sleeping. Our subconscious is far more vast and powerful than the conscious mind. It is also the repository of the vast amount of memory, emotion and life history that we have failed to process.

The defensive armor that enables us to contain the backlog of emotion stored within our bodies softens whenever we consume alcohol and other substances, become physically ill or suffer as a result of an injury. We’re more likely to act out by doing things we wouldn’t normally do while sober when we are under the influence of alcohol and other substances. We tend to feel a greater sense of emotional vulnerability at times when we become physically ill or suffer from some form of injury.

The defensive armor that we construct also softens to some degree whenever we’re sleeping. Unpleasant feelings and memories that have been held within the body can more readily make their way to the surface during the times in our lives when we’re going through a breakup, having our abandonment issues triggered or faced with survival issues such as the loss of employment. These highly charged emotions can make it difficult for us to fall asleep. We may also find it difficult to stay asleep and wake up at times during the middle of the night or awaken too early in the morning.

MRI’s of people going through a breakup show increased in the areas of the brain associated with physical pain, reward, motivation, addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Fears of abandonment as well as the painful emotions that arise in response to a breakup also trigger the release of adrenaline and cortisol which is a steroid hormone. Adrenaline and cortisol interfere with our ability to sleep. The resulting sleep deprivation adds to our sense of emotional instability.

There were periods in my mid-twenties and on up until my early forties where I repeatedly found myself attracting and attracted to women who were either uninterested or unavailable. In some instances these women would reenact the traumas of my childhood and adolescence. What made it worse is that these patterns kept replaying themselves over and over again. The pain of not having my basic needs for love met was excruciating. My sleep was very irregular during these episodes. I would often fall asleep at various times of the day to compensate.

I would experience all kinds of fear, pain, feelings of loss along with a vast range of other intense emotions. I would experience physical pain throughout my chest and sometimes my entire body would ache. The emotions and physical pain were also accompanied with a wide range of sensations. I would sometimes experience these sensations all throughout my body.

Losing about half of my income when the economy crashed in 2008 triggered the worst of my survival fears. It felt as though the bottom had fallen out from underneath me. I would sometimes lay in bed for hours consumed by an overwhelming fear and anxiety and wonder how I was going to make it. There were many nights when I couldn’t fall asleep until two, three or four in the morning. I would often wake up during the middle of the night and it would take me a long time to go back to sleep. At other times I would wake up too early. The lack of sleep left me feeling exhausted, but I felt I had no choice but to keep pushing on.

I didn’t fully understand the process taking place as I found myself flooded with all kinds of painful emotions, but I had an intuitive sense that it was something I needed to go through. I made a conscientious effort to be fully present to the overwhelming fear and anxiety by breathing into the feelings as they arose. Breathing with my awareness fully immersed within the painful feelings activated the innate healing intelligence residing within my body and mind. Working my way through the intensity of emotion facilitated a profound transformation within. I grew stronger, became far more resourceful and experienced the kinds of changes that eventually made it possible for me to attract and be attracted to healthier companions.

I will sometimes lie in bed for hours breathing into all the feelings and sensations that arise. At other times I will get out of bed and then sit up in a chair while breathing into the feelings and sensations. I have learned to see these episodes as an opening because it gives me the opportunity to access feelings that would not otherwise be readily accessible. The more I can open myself to the feelings and experience them fully, the greater the transformation I experience. I have gained lots of creative insights as a result of staying fully present to the feelings and physical sensations that arose.

The intensity of emotion combined with the flood of adrenaline and cortisol and lack of sleep can be very hard on the body. We feel fatigued, frustrated, irritable and moody when our bodies are not able to get the sleep they need. Our energy is diminished, we find it difficult to concentrate and have difficulty performing everyday tasks. Failure to get adequate rest also weakens our immune system and that makes us more susceptible to many other health concerns.

We need to do certain practices and make use of various resources to mitigate the effects upon our body and mind. I found going out for long slow walks late in the evening to be very grounding. Breathing into the feelings as they arose during these walks would diffuse the emotions so that I got a better quality of sleep.

I had the opportunity to go through Pancha Karma with an Ayurvedic Physician when I lived in New Mexico. The combination of Ayurvedic diet and herbal remedies helped to balance my constitution. The emotions became more manageable, I felt more balanced and that made it easier to sleep. I also found that receiving acupuncture helped by balancing and restoring the healthy flow of the body’s chi or vital life force and the various organs and systems.

We need to be especially mindful of the foods we’re consuming while we’re in the midst of a breakup. We need to avoid foods or substances that contain caffeine and refined sugar as they tend to exacerbate our anxiety and confusion. Green leafy vegetables like kale contain folate, which produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to keep us calm. Tryptophan found in turkey, nuts, seeds and eggs helps to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon have anti-inflammatory properties that counteract the negative effects of cortisol. Antioxidants and phytonutrients found in berries improve our body’s response to stress by reversing or limiting damage resulting from free radicals. Pistachio nuts contain crucial phytonutrients that provide antioxidant support for the heart. Dark chocolate can help to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol. The antioxidants found in cocoa cause the walls of the blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and increasing circulation. The vitamin D contained in milk can reduce the risk of panic disorder. Flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds contain magnesium which can help to alleviate depression, fatigue and irritability. Zinc found in cashews has been found to reduce anxiety. And probiotics have been shown to reduce activity in the parts of the brain associated with stress responses.

I do want to offer a word of caution here. Acupuncture, Ayurvedic Medicine and diet are important components to our physiological and psychological health and yet there is no substitute for doing the deep level processing that we need to be doing to heal the deep emotional wounds. We still have to feel the feelings.

The various forms of therapeutic massage such as deep tissue body work can bring a lot of emotion to the surface. Having all these intense emotions flooding my awareness wasn’t at all pleasant. But having all these feelings brought to the surface so that I could access them made it easier for me to do the emotional processing that accelerated my healing.

The work I have done with a number of powerful healers and the vision quest, 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, has done more than anything to diffuse the intensity of emotion and heal the traumas of my own childhood and adolescence. I have become more resilient and have developed more of the resources I need to handle whatever comes along in life and process any subsequent emotions.

I generally sleep much better, but there are still nights every now and then where I have trouble falling asleep or wake up at some point during the night. It can definitely be an inconvenience, but I see it as an opportunity to heal the underlying disturbances operating within my own psyche.

Many of the people I work with tell me that they sleep better as a result of the individual healing sessions. The presence working through me during this process facilitates the digestion of past traumas and any subsequent emotions such as fear, grief, hurt and anger. The triggers associated with traumatic events are dismantled while building a much stronger and more stable foundation. Those who have the opportunity to work with me experience a greater sense of wellbeing as the body and mind becomes more physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually resilient.

©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.

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.

The Disappearing Act

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walk awayThe disappearing act is something that has been around for as long as we have existed as a human race. We often hear of about parents disappearing in the personal accounts of those who were abandoned by their mother or father as children. The tendency to disappear has seemingly become more common among people in our present day and age.

Becoming involved with another person and then vanishing is a very hurtful and grossly insensitive thing to do. The people who do the disappearing are often so self-absorbed or immature that they don’t really consider how their actions affect another person. Of course there are instances in which the disappearance occurred not by choice in situations where one was imprisoned or drafted into military service. The remainder of this chapter consists of a dialog between Priya and I in which she shares her recent experiences with a Stephane, a man that showed up in her life a few months back and then abruptly disappeared.

Priya: My young husband passed away unexpectedly in 2012. I was just starting to get back into dating after a year of mourning his loss and had created a very short profile on OkCupid to test the waters. My profile consisted of two photographs and three lines. And then one day I got a message from this guy saying “I didn’t think it was possible, but your profile is even shorter than mine.” We then we started chatting back and forth.

Stephane had mentioned in his profile that he works as a psychotherapist. It was interesting because he started asking questions about me. I responded by saying “You’re the therapist …figure it out.” Much to my surprise, he came up with some pretty accurate insights. He guessed right off that I had just come out of a long term relationship.

We decided to meet after a flirtatious exchange. The first date felt very disconnected. Stephane appeared to be stressed out, exhausted and older than the picture posted on his profile. We met in a crowded bar and at the time he seemed to be more interested in watching the game. Two other guys at the bar were flirting with me. I thought that it was all playful and fun, but it seemed to really bother Stephane.

The first date didn’t go very well, but he said maybe should give it another try. Stephane was very quick to set up the second date. He wanted me to come down to see him in Brooklyn, which was fine because I love exploring this part of the city. This time he came across as someone who was very willing to open up. I assumed that had something to do with the fact that he’s a psychotherapist by profession. One thing I did notice is that he tended to overanalyze everyone and everything around him.

I could sense a lot of anxiety about Stephane, but I started to see his eyes brighten over the course of our conversation. There was almost this boyish look on his face as he began to relax. I loved the transformation I saw taking place in Stephane as he began to let his hair down, access his free inner child and just act silly.

At some point our conversation turned to the subject of loss. I then shared with Stephane about the loss of my husband. I loved that he was so open to hearing what I had to say. I had shared a very important part of me and felt that the fact that I was more vulnerable with Stephane made him more attracted to me. My sense is that a person is being intimate if they’re sharing a lot of personal information. I didn’t think it was possible to share that much information and still have an intimacy barrier. I hadn’t shared my loss with anyone before in my dating experience, so for me that meant intimacy. But looking back, I don’t think it was the case for him and at some level I sensed it. I should have listened to my intuition

I felt that we were growing closer after the second date. We kissed at the end of the date and he said lets meet again. I texted Stephane after a few days, but then I didn’t hear from him for a long time.

The experience of being intimate with Stephane stayed with me, making me miss my husband in a different way than before. Something about my interaction with Stephane was helping me to process the grief. The feelings continued to surface for a couple of days. I felt that it was healthy to access these feelings and I wanted more.

I texted Stephane and said “Hey, let’s get together.” Stephane responded by saying “Let’s do it.” He said “How about tonight?” I was up for it but then he canceled at the last minute. I was a little surprised because I thought that we had progressed further. Stephane didn’t make himself available for another date.

Bewildered, I sent Stephane a message saying “I really enjoyed the time that we spent together and if you feel similarly, I would love to see you again and often.” I received no response at all. I felt so disappointed and so I stopped texting him. A couple of months went by. One night I was out with my friends and for some reason I thought of Stephane. I had a little too much to drink and I texted him saying “Where the fuck have you been?” That captured his attention. And then we had this playful exchange. During the exchange he said “Me not responding doesn’t mean that I’m not interested.” I then replied with “Well okay, what are you going to do about it?” Stephane then said that he would love to hang out. I thought I would give him another chance and see where things wanted to go and so we finally did hang out again.

At that time I told Stephane “I’m in a place right now where I just want to be friends. I’m not looking for anything long term. The conversation is very good and I feel that we connect on many levels. That’s something I enjoy and I’m in a good place. So I would love to see you more often.” Stephane seemed to become very relaxed around the whole idea of no commitments or expectations.

What I was hoping for is an adult relationship in which two people are fully present for each other for whatever period of time. It doesn’t have to be forever or a year. It could be for a month. But at least they fully honor the connection. And I do believe that’s possible. I believe that you can be friends and share about your life and share your ideas to change the world. And you can also have an intimate sexual relationship. I thought that Stephane had that potential given the depth that he had demonstrated before.

At that point, we really started to see each other. After that date he invited me to his place. I ended up spending the night. We talked for five or six hours. We had another date where he came over to my place and again we talked for hours. After the second big date I started to feel like he tapped into this whole reservoir of pain inside of me. It felt like layers of grief were surfacing, because the depth of sharing was something that I had only previously experienced with my husband. Now I had shared with another man. Having done so was beautiful, but it also felt sad.

The date seemed perfect. I felt euphoric and was glowing afterwards. But then a day later I started to slip into a depressive state and mourn the loss of my husband even more deeply than before.

I slept with Stephane in a certain position that I used to sleep in with my husband. I could hear his heartbeat and it reminded me of my husband’s heartbeat. It reminded me of how my husband’s heart suddenly stopped and that evoked a whole range of emotion.

During our time together I saw Stephane transform from this stressed out individual into this guy whose eyes were sparking and full of youth. Suddenly he changed into this effervescent personality. I loved watching the transformation. We kissed, made love and it was so tender and romantic.

Along with the sadness came feelings of abandonment. Stephane had already shared with me that he’s the kind of person who cannot commit. He said at one point that it was very easy for him to walk away from a relationship. The whole time I kept fearing that he was going to walk away. I also knew that if I chased after him or tried to text him that it would sabotage this relationship and that he would put even more distance between us.

I went through my usual abandonment cycle which I feel with almost every guy, but this time I decided to do something completely different. Normally I delete the guy’s number so there’s no way for me to text him. Or I do text him, the guy runs away and then it’s over. This time I decided to take it to the next level. I decided to own these feelings by sharing them with Stephane, not to burden him or expect anything from him, but purely to share.

Stephane’s biggest fear is that someone will start expecting things from him, but that’s not what I was doing. I assumed that since Stephane is a therapist, he would understand what I was going through and we could be friends. And that he would also understand that I’m not feeling all these intense things because I’m expecting more from the relationship. So I picked up the phone and I called Stephane and told him what I was going through. In the moment he was very compassionate about it, saying “Hey, I wish I had the time right now to talk about this. I can’t right now because I’m at work, but let’s meet on Wednesday.

Tuesday came and I didn’t hear from Stephane. So I texted him and said “Hey, what’s going on? Are we meeting Wednesday or not?” That’s when I received a text message saying “Sorry, I think that our last conversation was a little intense. Understandably intense, but not at par with where I’m at right now. Sorry.” Stephane broke up on text and that was it. I never heard from him again.

In receiving that text I felt two things. It felt like a stab in the heart, but at another level I was almost expecting it. I felt the same things when I received the phone call letting me know that my husband had died. The abandonment wound is so primitive that at some level we almost expect to be abandoned. Every time a relationship ends I feel two things. I feel really sad, but I also know that it was going to happen anyway.

Sometimes I miss the fun parts of the connection I shared with Stephane. I miss the music we shared, the depth of conversation, the intellectual connection and the perceived emotional closeness. Now I feel that he was holding back a big part of himself. I don’t think he was really letting me in. And that’s why it was so easy for him to walk away. Why else would you be able to walk away so easily.

Ben: The thing that caused me the most grief and frustration when I first came to New York was this seeming inability of the people I encountered to form any kind of meaningful or lasting attachments. The tendency to disappear is indicative of deep interpersonal deficits. You can meet someone here in the City, share all kinds of deep personal information and feel like you’re really making a connection. But there are lots of people here don’t really comprehend that in terms of intimacy. It’s nothing for them to just disappear, because what may feel like a connection to you and I really doesn’t mean anything to them.

I feel fortunate to have spent time in other states and countries in different parts of the world. One of the things I value most is the experience of connecting with people wherever I went. It was so amazing to open up and share with someone I was meeting for the first time. There was a greater sense of continuity in that something good would usually come of the interaction. It may not necessary turn into a romantic relationship, but it often developed into a friendship or some form of connection.

Many people living her in the city lack a certain empathetic quality that would enable them to bond and form meaningful attachments. I see it on a personal level and in the people I work with. People we encounter or interact with can seem to be really present in the moment, but they cannot sustain this presence. They often just disappear. It’s just the way that many people here operate.

The disappearing act happens to some degree everywhere. It’s just much more prevalent here in the city. People in communities across the country and in other parts of the world often warn their friends and acquaintances about a potential love interest if that person has acted in ways that were hurtful and abusive. Word gets out and then the man or woman gets a bad reputation. The advantage of this is that it holds men and women accountable for their actions. People in a place like New York City can do all kinds of horrible things to one another and seemingly get away with it because there isn’t the extended social network to hold them accountable. It’s so much harder to hold anyone accountable here in a city of eight million strangers.

Priya: But what is commitment anyway? My sense is that it is about accountability to another person. It seems that a lot of people here are so scared of that. And they fear that they will be asked for something that they cannot fulfill. One of the things that Stephane said is “I cannot disappoint a woman. If I think I’m disappointing her then I will walk away.” At some level he perceived that by sharing what I’m going through that I was asking for some massive amount of support …something that he felt he couldn’t provide me. And so he already knew that he had disappointed me and that’s why he walked away. He behaved consistent with what he told me about himself. And that’s the same pattern he’s been playing out with women. This is what I understand based upon what he shared with me.

Ben: There are a lot of things about the environment here in New York City that cause people to operate on a very surface level. We’re bombarded with massive amounts of light, sound and other stimulus. And there are innumerable distractions. People are stacked above, below and on all sides of us. And that means that other people are constantly in our energy field. All of that static interference exceeds our processing capacity. Our state of disconnect is further exacerbated as we continue to spend more and more time on our smartphones and computers.
All the shit flying through our sensory channels leaves us saturated, thereby overwhelming our processing capacity. We can barely do the processing necessary to work through our own feelings and issues because our brain-mind is so overwhelmed by the sensory bombardment and all the other distractions that it is forced to contend with. Interpersonal relationships invariably suffer, because we do not have enough available bandwidth available to be fully present.

Priya: That’s so bizarre. I will create that bandwidth, because connection is why I’m alive. That’s why I’m here. How can you live without that? I don’t get it…

Ben: But you have a different orientation. Your orientation is to experience that deep intimate emotional bond or connectedness. Other individuals build barriers around themselves. They may hunger for the sexual hookup, but they don’t allow anyone into that deep personal space. They are avoiding their own feelings and issues. In doing so they are abandoning themselves and therefore they cannot be truly present with anyone else.

We operate with these assumptions that say everyone is looking to love and be loved, but in doing so we are setting ourselves up to be hurt. Much of the population is wounded in such a way that prevents them from being truly intimate with another human being. Many are threatened by intimacy. Matters are further compounded by the fact that they do not recognize their inability to bond as an issue that needs to be dealt with. And many of those who do recognize the issue do not possess the willingness or desire to do what it takes to heal.

Priya: One of the things Stephane told me was that he was really surprised that I kept texting him even though he didn’t text back. I responded by telling him that I knew that most people would feel rejected if someone didn’t text them back. I just had this intuition that we would be really good friends and that we have a capacity for connection. And that I thought that his unavailability was his problem and not mine.

Stephane’s response was “Wow, good for you that you thought that way.” I could have continued to think that way, but I was up to my capacity where I couldn’t indulge his unavailability any more. I felt like I was playing this role of drawing him out of his shell all the time saying it’s safe. I’m safe. It’s safe to connect. I considered texting him again, but I feel like I’m worth more than trying so hard to draw someone out of their shell. So I just chose not to. Maintaining a connection shouldn’t be so hard if it’s meant to be.

I come with so much connectedness that some people cannot bear it. They cannot be in my presence. My groundedness and connectedness makes them encounter the uncomfortable feelings they are avoiding.

Ben: The act of being fully present in our personal interactions can trigger a lot of feelings. One has to experience a lot of feelings in order to be fully present in their interactions with others. A large percentage of the population is not willing to do that.

Stephane, like so many other men in the city, may continue to move from one hookup to another. Or he may eventually find a partner who operates at a similar level of disconnectedness with whom he can relate on a superficial level that doesn’t force him to address his issues. It’s like they’re sort of together, but there’s no real depth or intimacy.

Priya: Stephane told me that he’s working primarily with returning vets and patients struggling with addictions. When I asked Stephane how he’s helped his patients, he told me that he primarily focuses on strategies to help them cope. I could see that his reviews were really good when I looked online, but then what does a patient who is so low functioning really know.

Ben: There are highly skilled psychotherapists that make a profound difference in the lives of their patients. But I sometimes feel cynical about psychotherapy, because I know of so many therapists who are just as damaged, if not more so, than the patients they are purporting to help. They may have an intellectual understanding of psychopathology and yet they’re not really doing the deep processing necessary to work through their emotions and heal their own dysfunction.

None of us are perfect. We are all wounded in some way and we all make mistakes. And yet I’ve felt horrified by the level of dysfunction in some of the psychotherapists who have shown up in my classes and that have worked with me individually. Sometimes they disappear because of their inability or unwillingness to face the issues. I’m thinking “Okay, so you’ve earned your degree and now you’re practicing as a psychotherapist. But how can you possibly facilitate healing within another when you’re not even doing the work necessary to facilitate your own healing?” One of the most important qualifications for those of us who work in any kind of therapeutic capacity is that we strive to live from a place of integrity by consistently addressing our own issues to the best of our ability.

Intellectual understanding will only go so far. I look into people’s auras all the time. I see people who have gone through years of psychotherapy. I see many instances where they possess a greater intellectual understanding of their suffering and yet they’re still holding so much trauma and other stressful emotional content within their bodies. Psychotherapy can be a very important aspect of the healing process, but it needs to be combined with other modalities. One also needs to be willing to do the deep emotional work.

Priya: At one point Stephane said that he didn’t have any interest in going back to address childhood issues with his patients. And that may be a reflection of his own unwillingness to address those issues and do the processing necessary to heal his own emotional wounds. That may also account for the fact that his approach is based primarily upon offering coping skills, rather than addressing the underlying issues. I’ve noticed that lots of people are not willing to go back to address childhood issues. I’m sure that’s not the only way to heal. There must be other ways.

Ben: Unresolved issues from our past are often the underlying source of our present day struggles. These issues have a tendency to play out in our present day lives. They need to be addressed at some point. We cannot fully heal until the wounds are healed and the issues brought to some form of resolution. That’s not all there is to healing, but it’s a very important part of the process.

Relationships will invariably bring our core issues to the surface. Much of the populace has spent the vast majority of their lives avoiding or disconnecting from their feelings, physical bodies and the issues they haven’t wanted to deal with. They’re afraid to experience their own feelings. And that’s why many people bail out as soon as a relationship brings their core issues to the surface.

I met a Chinese woman one evening while attending a class. I found the conversation with Jian to be very enjoyable, so I asked her if she would like to come along with me to pick up an order I had placed at Whole Foods. She then asked me if I would like to have tea. We ended up going to McDonalds for tea because it was the only place still open at that hour of the night. It turns out that we had a lot in common. We ended up talking about all kinds of things. And we kept taking until three in the morning.

Jian shared with me that evening that she had recently come out of a relationship with a man that she met in a bar. Before long he had moved in with Jian and she ended up becoming pregnant. Jian’s lover was apparently very cruel. He made a point of sending Jian a picture of himself with his new girlfriend shortly after he broke off the relationship. I felt very concerned at the time because I could sense her grief and I knew that she had been deeply hurt.

I really enjoyed talking with Jian and thought I had found a friend. Jian works as a nutritionist, so I had a sense that we could learn from and possibly help each other. I wasn’t all that physically attracted to Jian, but we shared so much in common and I really enjoyed the connection. There was a light playful quality to the interaction and it was a lot of fun spending time with and her. I hadn’t known Jian for that long and wasn’t yet sure how I felt about her, but was open to the possibility that there could be potential for something more at some point in the future. At that time I just wanted to be there for her as a friend. I would have also been perfectly content if the connection remained a platonic friendship.

Jian and I were supposed to meet again the following week. She woke up late that morning and then called to say that she didn’t feel like going out. She then invited me to come over to her place. We spent much of the day talking and drinking the amazing fruit tea that she makes from goji berries, longons and other various other ingredients. We exchanged a few emails afterwards and then she just disappeared. I sent one email telling her that I really enjoyed the connection and that I valued her friendship, but I never heard back from her.

Priya: So many of my friends here are struggling with these same issues.

Ben: The stress of living in a place like New York City makes it all the more difficult to remain grounded in our feelings and physical bodies. People who live in their heads can easily lose touch with their intuition and the empathetic capacity that would enable them to bond with another human being.

One sees lots of couples here in the city. Some people do find love in the city and yet so many others struggle to find someone special with whom they can share their lives. New York is full of men like Stephane who will show up in women’s lives and then disappear. These men want to act like they don’t have any vulnerabilities at all and so they play it cool. A lot of women end up pursuing unavailable men and then they devise all kinds of strategies for holding onto them in their attempt to make the relationship work.

There’s percentage of men and women on the dating scene in New York like the guy Jian was going out with that exhibit sociopathic characteristics. On the surface they possess superficial charm and good intelligence. And yet they tend to be so out of touch with their own feelings that it impairs their ability to empathize with the feelings, needs and considerations of others. They are pathologically egocentric and are incapable of love. Their sex lives have a very impersonal quality and are not well integrated. There’s an unreliability, untruthfulness and insincerity about them. They also lack remorse or shame when their words and actions cause pain. These individuals tend to possess a magnetic quality that draws others in, but they can be very wounding to those with whom they become involved.

There are actually a lot more men and women in the city who want more than anything to find someone with whom they can share a deep meaningful and lasting connection. Sadly, there are so many social barriers that are preventing people from engaging with one another. Many of the men I have spoken to tell me that the women they encounter won’t even give them a chance.

Women that have been hurt by unavailable men like Stephane often internalize the painful feelings. All of the stresses and distractions of being in New York can make it that much more difficult for them to process their feelings. Fears, hurts and other conflicted feelings held within often get projected onto men and that can make it difficult for women to open or trust. The deep emotional wounds that many women hold cause them to gravitate towards men like Stephane or those that exhibit sociopathic tendencies. And yet in many instances they’re afraid of the men who are truly desirous of a relationship that have the capacity to show up fully present.

Priya: There’s a lot of the fear among men and women in New York City. And that fear often shuts down the natural flow of interaction. Much of this fear has to do with a lack of trust of people’s intentions. People here often feel you want something from them. Even if you’re sincere and have the best of intentions, they still don’t trust you. And in many instances they assume that you have some kind of ulterior motive.

Ben: There are a disproportionate numbers of men here in New York that are afraid of commitment. And there is also a level of fear and guardedness among women that I have not encountered anywhere else. Many won’t make eye contact in public spaces, or they react very negatively if a man were to approach them. And yet many of these same women anguish over the fact that they don’t have a man in their lives.

I’ve met women and have sometimes spoken with them for hours in all kinds of settings. We seemed to have a lot in common and it felt like there was potential for friendship. But in some instances they were still unwilling to exchange contact information despite the fact that we shared many common interests and they enjoyed the conversation. If it were anywhere else we would have most likely continued the conversation. Others have expressed their desire to continue the conversation, but have often disappeared after exchanging a few emails.

Much of the fear, guardedness, inability to commit or just show up fully present stems from the fact that people have been deeply wounded at various points in their lives. We are all empathic to some extent. Those who are not strongly rooted in themselves may internalize the attitudes, fears, confusion and other mental-emotional baggage of those around them. These mental-feeling states then compounded by people’s inability to process their own feelings and bring issues to a place of resolution.

Noted psychotherapist Carl Jung spoke at great length about the individual and collective consciousness. Every city, state, region, nation, ethnicity and race has its own collective psyche. An element of fear, guardedness, mistrust or suspicion has become incorporated in the collective consciousness of people residing here in the city. We can easily get sucked into the collective mind if we’re not firmly rooted in ourselves. Operating from the collective state doesn’t really serve us, but sadly many people have a very limited capacity to step back and examine themselves and do the deep internal processing that would enable them to truly think their own thoughts and feel their own feelings.

We have all been hurt somewhere along the way. A fearful and guarded state of mind is more likely to become our default mode of operation when we fail to process what we’ve gone through and any subsequent feelings that arise. Allowing our fears to control us stunts our growth. And that limits the quality of all of our relationships by preventing us from being as fully present in our interactions as we could be.

South Asia has a whole different set of challenges, but one of the things I enjoy most about being in India and Sri Lanka is that there’s a greater sense of continuity in personal interactions. I meet all kinds of people along the way and find that I’m much more likely to see or at least hear from those with whom I connect again. There’s a much more reciprocal nature to my interactions with women in this part of the world. I have sometimes given my business card to women that I met along the way. In many instances they initiate by calling or emailing me.

Priya: I would initiate contact or show interest in men that I met because I didn’t know the social rules. I didn’t have a problem with that, but it seems dating here in the United States has developed all of these unspoken rules. Girls are not supposed to initiate contact.

Then there’s a lot of focus on keeping the dating interaction light and breezy. And there are all these other rules to determine how long we’re supposed to wait before we text so that we don’t sound too desperate or needy. People here in the United States have this strange obsession with neediness or clinginess. No one wants to be perceived as such, but that’s a defense against our own feelings of vulnerability. Everyone feels needy to some extent, but we’re so ashamed of these feelings that we punish ourselves. In many instances we devalue and then punish those who we perceive to be needy or vulnerable. We cut that person off, reject or throw them away.

Ben: That’s another thing I really like about being in relationships with women in India and Sri Lanka. It’s much easier to express one’s feelings of attraction and desire to spend time with another person. It’s okay to have wants and needs. I feel a much greater sense of acceptance. I can express what I’m feeling without fearing that the woman I’m engaged with is going to run away.

Priya: Having a communal orientation is a normal part of life in India. We expect to be supported and to support others. It’s normal to need other people and that’s not a problem. The main drawback is that people, and especially women, are not as self-reliant as they could be. Women are almost expected to be vulnerable and needy and are protected for that reason. And it’s okay to be needy. A woman certainly won’t be rejected for that reason.

I found myself wondering what I had done to attract this experience of being abandoned when Stephane disappeared. And that evoked feelings of shame. I was thinking that like attracts like and that maybe I have a little Stephane in me, otherwise why would I attract someone like that into my life. Maybe it’s an indication that I’m not as developed as I think I am and that I wouldn’t be attracting people like Stephane into my life if I didn’t need them to teach me these lessons.

Ben: We do tend to attract people and situations that reflect our woundedness and the issues that we need to be addressing. We also have to be careful with the new-age-isms or we end up creating a lot of additional confusion.

Much of South Asia is swarming with mosquitos. We don’t ask ourselves “What am I doing to attract this?” and then come up with some lengthy esoteric narrative to explain why we’re getting eaten by mosquitos. Part of the reality of being in South Asia is that we end up getting a lots of mosquito bites unless we’re doused with repellent, shielded with nets or have some kind of blood chemistry that repels the little airborne bloodsuckers. The disappearing act is a standard operating procedure for many people residing here in New York City. And that’s something we’ve likely to experience firsthand as we make ourselves vulnerable by being open and attempting to form attachments with other people.

Priya: I was offering Stephane a safe friendship where we could explore feelings. What happened in the end is a loss for both of us. Stephane and I could have helped each other. I could have gone further in the process of healing the grief of my husband’s loss. He could have processed the residual grief of losing his mother and dealt with his intimacy issues. We could have learned and grown in the process of sharing our experiences given the fact that he’s a psychotherapist and I’m so process oriented. That’s what attracted me to him and why I had continued to text him. Of course I stopped when I got to the point to where I was not honoring myself. While I will progress further in my healing, he will continue to operate at that same level of dysfunction.

Ben: Relationships challenge us, but in doing so they provide us with one of the greatest opportunities for personal growth. People with avoidant tendencies are driven by their fears and are therefore very unlikely to ever grasp these opportunities. We may see the woundedness of the other person and think to ourselves “If they would just… The problem is that we cannot fix another person. We need to put the focus on ourselves. And we do that by taking the steps we need to do to facilitate own healing.

I encounter so many people who are frustrated, hurt and sometimes devastated because one potential love after another has disappeared. It’s not that we have bad relationship karma or that we are necessarily doing anything wrong. We’re not damaged or defective. This is just the way in which many people here operate.

It’s important for us to work with the feelings of hurt, loss abandonment or disappointment that arise when someone disappears on us. The way we do that is to bring the person or situation to the forefront of our awareness and then notice what feelings arise in response to their disappearance. We take note of where these feelings are situated within our bodies and then we breathe softly and deeply while focusing our attention in the middle of these feelings and sensations.

Working with powerful healers and going through the vision quests has also helped me to process the feelings of hurt, loss and disappointment that arose when other people have disappeared. And some will reappear from every now and then. It’s just seems to be a part of everyday life here in the city. The losses are not so devastating as they were in the past. I experience feelings of sadness, disappointment and loss at times, but I’m much better equipped to work through any feelings that surface. I stopped personalizing other people’s lack of congruence and interpersonal integrity. It also brought me to a place where I feel a much greater sense of connectedness within myself.

Becoming more intuitive has also helped by giving me a better sense of the people I’m dealing with. I’m also more cognizant of the fact that the words coming out of a lot of people’s mouths don’t have a whole lot of meaning or significance. I’ve learned to step back to allow the people I interact with to show me through their words and actions if they have the capacity to show up fully present and to sustain the connection. And with this understanding I’m able to make a wiser investment of my time and energy.

©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.

Growing Along With Our Children

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Parenting
My friend Amy has been struggling with the changes taking place as her daughter grows into adolescence. Just the other day she was saying to me “For the longest time I was the center of my daughter’s world. I sometimes feel a tremendous sense of grief and loss because I no longer have the lovely close cuddly relationship with my daughter. Now she just pushes me away. It’s as if she’s saying “Don’t even bother.” It’s very hard for me to step back and let my daughter be her own person. I have to find a new way of relating to her and I haven’t quite figured that out yet.”

Children are dependent upon their parents to help them navigate the early stages of their development. They identify with their parents, internalizing many of their traits, attributes, mindsets and values. Adolescence is a time when one learns to think and feel for themselves and to determine their own wants and needs. Adolescents go through a process known as individualization. This is a critical stage of an adolescent’s development in which they pull away from their parents in order to form a separate and distinct identity. Adolescents need time and space to learn to formulate their own thoughts, work through their own feelings and issues and to get a sense of what’s best for them. They may need to distance from or sometimes even reject the parents they had once identified with as they grow into adulthood.

Raising children is a growth process for parent and child. It can at times be painful for both, albeit for different reasons. Our pain comes in letting go and theirs comes from the struggle to grow up and find a place among their peers. Younger generations are also facing a whole new set of challenges. They are vulnerable to the influence of the media. And their dependence upon texting and social media is preventing many from developing the basic social skills that are necessary to function in today’s world.

The years between thirteen and eighteen can be especially difficult. Adolescents want the freedom of an adult. The problem here that they have yet to reach the level of maturity that would enable them to make the best decisions. A parent’s first response is to want to reach out to protect and guide their children. Sometimes parents have to stand back and allow their children to make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons.

Amy went on to say “I watched my mother struggle to relate to my daughter. She was wonderful with her as a baby and when she was little. But she couldn’t relate to my daughter as she got older. My mother continually tried to relate to my daughter as though she were a little girl. She could no longer find any common ground and now I see that I’m struggling with the same issue. So that’s something for me to work on.”

The process of individualization that children go through as they reach adolescence can sometimes be difficult and even painful for parents and grandparents. Many feel threatened by the changes taking place as their children begin to pull away, form their own separate sense of identity and go on to live a life of their own. The process can be far more difficult for parents that are limited in their capacity to process their own feelings. The children are growing into adulthood and yet the parents are still fixated at a time in the past when their children were still small.

To some extent, we are all resistant to change. We try to keep our children small in our attempt to hold onto what is known or familiar. Watching the changes taking place in our children as they grow up can evoke a wide range of feeling. We may experience feelings such as grief, loss or hurt when our children move away from us or act out. The feelings will be more subtle at other times. We may sense a distance that wasn’t there before. We may struggle to relate to the person they are becoming and find ourselves longing for the connection we shared in times past. We need to be able to process all of these feelings. Those of us who fail to do so are left frozen in time and then we find ourselves reaching for something that is no longer there.

There may have been times in the past when we shared a very close and loving bond with our children. Children can become more distant as they grow into adulthood. We may feel as if there were a barrier separating us. And it may seem at times as though we can no longer reach them.

The only constant is change. It’s important for us to understand that all relationships change over time. There are different mental, emotional and energetic dynamic to every relationship. And these dynamic are always changing. We need to be in a space that allows for the changes that are taking place.

Everyone on the planet is going through some kind of change or evolution. It is critically important as parents for us to open up to fully experience any feelings that are being evoked by the changes taking place in our children. We can facilitate this process by sitting down, closing our eyes and then bringing them to the forefront of our awareness and then allowing ourselves to sense the mental, emotional and energetic dynamics between ourselves and our children. We then need to breathe softly and deeply while centering our awareness in the midst of any feelings and sensations that we experience within our bodies.

It’s important for us to stop and allow ourselves to fully feel the dynamics of the relationship for what it is at any given moment. In doing so, we feel our child’s presence. We may also sense their feelings and overall state of mind. We sense how close or distant they are. And we also experience our own feelings as they arise in response to the changes taking place with our children and any interactions we have with them.

Breathing into the feelings that arise facilitates a digestive process. This processing of our feelings helps us to clear up confusion, come to a place of understanding, resolve conflict, come to terms with what is and grow individually and in the context of our relationships. Our children are changing all the time. We are also changing and so is everyone else around us, therefore it’s important for us to take time to do this practice every day.

Working consistently with this practice makes it easier for us to come to terms with what is and adapt to the changes taking place with our children and in other significant people in our lives. We become more present in a way that enables us to experience people as they are in the here and now. It helps us to let go to the extent that we can allow our children to have the space they need to learn and grow and become who it is they are meant to be.

Adolescence is a period of intensive physical, intellectual and moral growth. It is often a time of confusion and upheaval in many households. Approaches to parenting that seemed to work so well during our children’s younger years may no longer be appropriate. One of the greatest advantages of working with the practice I’m sharing in this article is that it helps us to adapt so that we can respond appropriately to our teens changing needs as they continue to grow and mature.

Teens that were once compliant will begin to assert themselves and their opinions. We need to look at how much room we give our teens to be an individual by asking ourselves “Am I a controlling parent? Do I listen to my child and allow him or her to be a separate and distinct individual with opinions and tastes different from my own?” In some instances we may need to change our approach or our style of communication.

Parents who have a greater understanding of the changes taking place in their teens are better equipped to cope. We need to be educating ourselves. That may mean learning from the experiences of other parents, reading books, attending workshops about teens and in some instances seeking the help of a psychotherapist. Remembering how we struggled as we reflect back on our own teen years will also help us to be more understanding and supportive.

Adolescence is a time when our children begin to test their limits. Adolescents, not being fully cognizant of their own limitations and the dangers facing them, often believe they can handle anything thrown their way.

Basic ground rules need to be established and consequences need to be enforced when our teens fail to comply. They may not always happy with the expectations placed upon them, but they do need to know that we care enough about them to expect that they keep their grades up, fulfill their responsibilities, eat right and come home at a reasonable hour.

Adolescents often feel as if no one understands them or their feelings. In many instances they are left feeling angry, alone and confused as they struggle with the issues of being accepted by their peers, sexuality, drugs and finding their own sense of direction in life.

It’s important for us to stay present with our children. Spending time with our teens and listening to their concerns shows them that we care. Being there when they need us helps to provide them with a sense of groundedness and security as they grow into adulthood.

Children usually come around once they get a sense of who they are and learn to make their way through the world. The relationship may take on more of a quality of friendship once they do. Things have a way of coming around full circle. There may be a time in the future when we are dependent upon them for our care.

Amy then said “I felt terribly guilty about distancing from my own parents as an adolescent. One good thing that has come out of this experience with my daughter is that it has helped me to let go of all of that guilt. I know that distancing from my parents hurt them, but I now realize that I had to push them away so that I could grow up. Addressing these issues with my daughter has brought me a lot of comfort by helping me to reconcile this conflict that has been with me all these years.”

©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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