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.

Is Our Use of Smartphones and the Internet Preventing Us from Healing and Stunting Our Personal Growth?

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Candy CrushThe world was a very different place in the mid-nineties when I started traveling from New Mexico to work in Boston and New York City. The Internet was in the early stages of development and cell phones had only recently become available to the general public. I was making four trips a year and spending a little over two months at a time on the road stopping over in Kansas City, New York City and Boston before returning to Albuquerque.

The people I worked with at that time would often schedule individual healing sessions for my return trip months in advance. What amazes me is that the majority of people kept their appointments despite the fact that they were booked so far in advance. Some people would even schedule two or three sessions per visit.

Having trained with a traditional Native American doctor made me a novelty. In many instances I would go on the radio or offer a workshop and then I would have all kinds of people wanting to work with me individually. I had so much work when I first started traveling to Boston that it usually took me two to three weeks to get out of town. I felt totally exhausted by the time I returned to Albuquerque. I usually took a few weeks to replenish and work on my writing.

A large percentage of the people that I worked with during that time continued to work with me for two, five and ten years or longer. In many instances the presenting issues that they initially came to me for would have been resolved. But many chose to continue with the individual sessions because of the growth that they experienced in different areas of their lives.

It was nice having so many people to work with and I just assumed it would continue that way. But my good fortune began to change as the technology continued to advance and people were spending more and more time on their smartphones and behind the screens of their computers.

I struggled to make sense of what was happening for quite some time, wondering why it had become so much harder to maintain a practice when I knew that my work had become much more powerful and effective over the years. In time I learned that people practicing other forms of healing were having a similar experience. One healer I know that had a huge following over the years now anguishes about how little work he now has.

Developing certain cognitive skills at the expense of others

There are both positive and negative aspects to our use of the technology. Certain kinds of computer games strengthen brain functions related to fast-paced problem solving. They have also been shown to enhance visual-spacial skills and improve our capacity for rapid decision making. The primary cause for concern is that we may be developing certain cognitive skills at the expense of others.

The internet provides us with access to vast treasure trove of information. Rather than having to trudge a considerable distance to the library, we can now find the information we need in a matter of minutes by doing a search on Google.

We’re now consuming three to four times as much information as we did just a few decades ago. Our brains are to some extent adapting to this deluge of information. We’ve become a lot better at finding the information we need and have also improved our capacity to assess the trustworthiness and value of content of a particular website. One can easily debate that last sentence when we consider the massive amount of garbage being sold online as a result of “highly converting” sales pages. Having quick and easy access is in many ways a good thing. There problem here is that this ease of access to so much information also comes with a price.

The technology that was designed to serve us is in many ways is taking over our lives. Many of us are plugged into our devices for over twelve hours a day when we combine the amount of time we spend on the internet, our smartphones, iPods, tablets and television. The more time we spend in these virtual realities, the less time we spend actually participating in life. We’re not getting out and going places as much, engaging in as many activities or being as directly involved with other people because we’re spending so much time staring into the screens of our smartphones and computers.

The technology that was designed to help us to get more done is making it possible for us to complete many time consuming tasks in a shorter amount of time. The irony here is that the demands and expectations placed upon us have increased. We now have so much more to do and that’s leaving us less time to do many of the things we truly want and need to do.

It can be hard to resist the endless stream of useful and fascination information available online that we either want or need to learn more about. The problem is that it is not humanly possible for us to absorb all of this information. But we can easily find ourselves getting distracted by all kinds of irrelevant, mind numbing and time consuming distractions if we’re not being mindful of what we’re doing. Sitting there in front of the computer for extended periods of time also takes us further away from what’s happening in the here and now.

Our use of the internet is consuming huge amounts of time. Many of us have sat down to watch a video, catch up on the news or read an article and before we know it hours have gone by. In many instances, we’re staying up late into the night reading articles, posting on Facebook and scrolling through the news feed, checking out videos on YouTube, tweeting, chatting and answering emails. Consequently, we wake up feeling tired the next day; therefore we are not as present or productive.

Disrupted sleep rhythms

Light-sensitive protein in the cells at the back of our eyes called melanopsin signal the brain’s internal clock, which controls the body’s circadian rhythm. Blue light, which is the most abundant during the morning hours sends a message to our brains that it’s time to wake up. Red light which is more common in the evenings signals our brains to start powering down. Our computers, tablets and smartphones emit large quantities of blue light. Our use of theses gadgets during the nights disrupts our brain’s natural rhythms by throw off our natural sleep-wake cycles.

It’s highly addictive

The internet acts in some ways like a drug with its element of instant gratification making it highly addictive. Many of us crave the stimulation we get from our gadgets. We see the evidence our addiction in our compulsion to spend time on our smartphones and computers even though it interferes with our work and social life.

The internet is designed to appeal to the brain’s craving for novelty and stimulation. The quick hits of novelty that we experience whenever we go online provide us with a sense of instant gratification. The production of the neurotransmitter dopamine in our brain’s reward centers feeds into our sense of excitement. In its absence we feel bored.

The dopamine induced sense of instant gratification created by our use of technology compels us to keep picking up our cell phones to text or check for new email, tweets and status updates. The reinforcement we get from these hits of dopamine makes it harder and harder for us to stop. We’re like the mice in the science experiments that get a food pellet as a reward every time they push a lever. It’s really scary when we realize how manipulated we are by our technology and the people who are using it to serve their own purposes.

It has become an automated response for us to reach for our phone the moment we have any down time. We can’t go more than an hour without checking our gadgets. And then we feel irritable and antsy until we get our fix. Our cravings for stimulation continue even after we unplug, and that keeps us coming back for more.

People plug in with their smartphones while waiting in line, walking to wherever it is they’re going and even sitting on the toilet. At least half of the people riding the subways in New York City are staring into the screens of their smartphones. Many of us are not getting adequate rest because we’re staying up late into night doing whatever it is that we do online.

The unrelenting pings, buzzes and beeps and other notifications that alert us to new messages, tweets, texts and status updates keep our body and mind in a state of high alert. The constant alerts and other distractions play into the more primitive aspects of our brain that are designed to respond to immediate threats. These parts of the brain were designed to ensure our survival. And they demand that we pay attention.

Filling every waking moment

Smartphones and the internet are making it possible for us to fill nearly every waking moment of the day with some form of activity or distraction. From the time we wake up many of us are texting, tweeting, posting on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram, checking out other people’s posts or calling them, listing to music and playing games.

Our use of smartphone and the internet are teaching our brains to become bored very easily. Many of us are caught in a vicious cycle in which constant stimulation reduces our ability to entertain ourselves or be present in the here and now and that causes us to seek out more intense stimulation.

Filling our every waking moment with all of these digital distractions is counterproductive. Time spent in stillness without distraction is essential for sparking and sustaining creativity. But we seldom give ourselves the opportunity to be alone with our thoughts or settle into the deeper levels of processing because we’re always plugged in. The resulting loss of creativity greatly limits our potential.

The loss of empathy

I couldn’t help but notice a billboard some months back showing the latest editions of Samsung’s tablet, the Galaxy S and other devices. I was a bit taken aback when I read the words “Meet the family.” Samsung even put the words “Life Companion” on the home screens of their S4. Samsung is intentionally working to create an association in our minds between their smartphones, tablets and other devices to our need for family and companionship.

Rather than bonding with other human beings, our primary relationships are now with our devices. They have in essence become our life companions. We eat with our devices and sleep with them next to our bed or under our pillow. We’re texting while spending time with family and friends or going out on dates. We’re texting while walking down the street. We’re even putting our own and other people’s lives at risk by texting while driving.

Our devices have made it possible for us to be more connected to what’s happening in the world around us than ever before. The same technology that helps us stay connected is actually putting more and more distance between ourselves and others by limiting the extent to which we engage with one another. We can sit in a coffee shop or be surrounded by friends and family and yet we’re oblivious to everyone else around us because we’re so absorbed by what’s happening on the screens of our devices.

Many of us have reconnected with old friends on Facebook. Connecting with friends, coworkers, former loves and prospective new loves when we go online can be a good thing. But it can also be preventing us from being present in the here and now and to the people in our immediate proximity. It can also elicit immediate and intense feelings of intimacy that leads us to romanticize online connections. Rather than being present with our partners, we’re giving our time and energy and attention to all these digital distractions.

Our interactions with other people have taken on a more impersonal quality as we have come to rely more heavily upon our devices. Many of us are hiding behind the screens of our computers and smartphones because we are too threatened by face to face interaction. We’re becoming less caring and considerate of the needs and concerns of others. We make plans to get together and then blow it off with a text message. We sign up for classes and never bother to show up. It doesn’t matter that the person who set up the event has invested a considerable amount of time, effort and money to make the event happen. Many of us are afraid to approach or be approached and yet we’re willing to meet some total stranger online. And men that have no interest in spending time with or getting to know a woman are using smartphone apps like Tinder to hookup.

Our inability to focus our attention on and be fully present with one another is diminishing the quality of human interaction. What so many of us fail to realize is that we’re losing our capacity for empathy.

Changing the structure and function of our brains

Scientists in the not too distant past believed that our brains stopped developing in childhood. In more recent years they have developed a greater understanding of the brain’s plasticity. Scientists now understand that our brain’s neurons and synapses change as our circumstances change. They’re influenced by everything we learn and experience.

Constant digital stimulation overwhelms the processing capacity of our brains that are not adequately equipped to handle the deluge of information. And by doing so it is short-circuiting the cognitive and emotional processes taking place in our conscious and subconscious minds.

Our use of the internet encourages hurried and distracted thinking and superficial learning by exercising neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for deeper thought and introspection. In doing so it is rapidly and profoundly altering the structure and functions of our brains. The habits that we develop while spending time online continue even after we log off. A weakening of our capacity for critical thinking, imagination and reflection occurs when skimming becomes the predominant mode of processing.

The slow steady stream of information and the integration of knowledge

Most of us understand that computers have a limited processing capacity. The human brain also has a limited processing capacity. Our brains are only capable of processing a limited amount of information at any given time. Exceeding this capacity can greatly hinder our ability to learn.

The range and depth of our intelligence depends on our ability to transfer information pertaining to our immediate experience in our working memory to the filing system of our long term memory. The information flowing into our working memory is referred to as our cognitive load. Our working memory can only handle a relatively small amount of information at any given time. A break in our attention can easily erase it contents from our minds. We cannot retain information or draw connections with existing memories when we exceed our mind’s ability to process and store it. Our ability to learn and our understanding remain poor when we cannot translate new material into conceptual knowledge.

People tend to retain more and experience greater comprehension while reading linear text such as that found in a book. Reading from a book, learning to play an instrument or practicing the various forms of a martial art provides us with a slow and steady stream of information that the brain is capable of assimilating. This gradual process of assimilation is essential for the integration of knowledge.

The internet by comparison blasts us with multiple streams of information through a fire hose. In doing so, it overloads our mind’s capacity to process and store information. We’re bombarded with innumerable distractions in the form of instant messages, emails, links to other articles and videos and advertisements whenever we go online.

The cognitive overload that many of us experience as we spend time online makes it more difficult for us to retain new information or draw connections with existing memories. That impedes our ability to translate new material into conceptual knowledge. We comprehend less and therefore our ability to learn suffers.

We tend to read faster and less thoroughly whenever we go online. We spend much of our time scanning headlines, bullet points and other bits of information that stand out on a page or clicking through to other content that we never spend much time on any one thing. In the process of doing so we tend to overlook relevant details. Our range depth of comprehension remains poor.

The constant disruptions that we experience whenever we go online are remapping our neuro-circuitry in ways that are making it difficult for many of us to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes at a time. This inability to concentrate on any one thing greatly impedes the process of integration that needs to take place for information to become incorporated into our long term memory.

Multitasking

The ever increasing demands of our present day lives cause us to feel that we have to get more done and that only adds to our sense of overwhelm. One of the greatest appeals of multitasking is the promise of greater productivity. We may think we’re accomplishing more by multitasking, but in reality we’re taking unnecessary risks, making more mistakes and we’re less cognizant of what we’re doing.

Juggling email, phone calls text messages, tweets and other incoming information changes how we think and behave. Our brains are always having to reorient themselves when we’re constantly shifting our attention from one thing to another and that further taxes our cognitive faculties. The price we pay for these constant interruptions can be severe. Constantly switching our attention from one task to another greatly weakens our ability concentrate on a given task and shut out irrelevant information. We’re more distracted and that weakens our comprehension. We have greater difficulty remembering and we’re more likely to misinterpret or overlook important information.

Constantly shifting back and forth from task to another rather than focusing on one task at a time may damage the brain’s ability to handle strong emotions and hormonal responses. People who spend a lot of time multitasking, switching frequently between applications, websites, text messages and other forms of technology tend to have lower amounts of gray matter in the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex.

Cognitive and emotional deficits

Higher media multitasking is associated with a reduction of gray matter density in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex. The ACC is involved in decision making and emotional regulation. It acts as a mediator between the cognitive functions of the prefrontal cortex and the emotional responses of the limbic system. The regulatory functions provided by the ACC are essential to our emotional wellbeing.

The ACC is linked to motivation. It helps us to anticipate and prepare for the various tasks we undertake. The ACC serves an evaluative function by helping us to detect and resolve conflicts. It recognizes and then evaluates the magnitude of the discrepancies in our thoughts, actions and circumstances. These assessments make it possible for us to adjust our performance so that we can respond more appropriately. The ACC is also vital to the regulation of physiological process such as blood pressure and heart rate.

People with decreased volume in the ACC are more prone to emotional instability in the form of moodiness, fear, worry, anxiety and depression. They tend to have greater difficulty controlling urges, delaying gratification and are also more prone to substance abuse. Decreased volume in the ACC has also been linked to obsessive compulsive disorder and P.T.S.D.

The loss of density in the ACC occurs when we fail to develop the rich neuro-connections needed to contain and process our emotions. Any impediment to our ability to process our emotions stunts our healing and personal development. The negative impact on our cognitive, emotional and motivational process resulting from the lack of sophisticated neuro-connections may contribute to our poor decision making capabilities and failure to take constructive action.

The impact on children

An even greater cause for concern is how all this constant digital stimulation is creating attention problems for children whose brains have not yet fully developed and that are in the process of determining what their priorities are. Many can’t get their homework done because they’re always feeling that pull that compels them to text their friends or go on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.

In times past, children spent much of their time outside playing in their natural surroundings. Children nowadays are physically under-stimulated, while visually and auditory overstimulated because they’re spending the majority of their free time plugged into some form of entertainment technology.

But aren’t you reaching more people now that you’re online?

People have said to me on many occasions that the internet is making it possible for me to reach more people. It’s true that I do reach larger numbers of people now that I’m online. I much rather be reaching fewer people and having those I work with be consistent enough to actually experience the healing that needs to take place within their bodies and minds.

People are often excited to learn about various spiritual practices or to find classes, workshops and healers online. The problem is that they are more likely to jump from one thing to another rather than sticking with anything long enough to derive any significant benefit. I have so much more work to do in order to create the articles, videos and other content and conduct the weekly classes that are enabling me to reach all these additional people. I’m doing classes on a weekly basis. Even that doesn’t seem to be enough at times.

Just the other day I was working with a woman who was receiving and then having to respond to work related emails during the session. She was telling me that she could feel her mind racing. Everyone and everything has speeded up and life has become more pressurized now that we’re online. We have to slow down in order to do the level of deep processing necessary to facilitate healing.

I find it frustrating when the people that show up in my classes or that work with me individually attempt to communicate with me by text. Important information needs to be communicated, but I cannot adequately address the depth or complexity of their concerns through such a limited means. Texting can be useful to relay factual details such as plane arrival time, to let someone know that we’re running late or to pick up something on the way home. Texting does have an immediacy to it, and yet it is the most distant form of human interaction. Texting is the furthest human beings can remain from one another while communicating. We’re training ourselves to become less present to our feelings and physical bodies, our surroundings and other people when we rely on texting and that is diametrically opposed to healing.

Text messages are snippets of communication that are in many instances devoid of a feeling component. We cannot hear the other person’s voice or see their facial expression, therefore we are less aware of the impact of our communication upon others. We’re also cheating ourselves out of the opportunity to experience the feelings that would normally arise within ourselves in response to our interactions with other people. To rely upon texting as our primary mode of communication is to stunt our emotional growth and interpersonal development.

The excessive use of information technology is overwhelming the body and mind’s processing capacity by leaving people saturated with all this additional sensory input that they cannot possibly process. It draws people’s attention away from the moment while desensitizing them to their feelings and physical bodies. And that impedes their ability to do the processing necessary to facilitate learning, personal growth and healing.

People are in many ways not as present or available. And they are not as malleable. Their bodies and minds cannot be as responsive when they are on sensory overload. They tend to become distracted much more easily, which means I have to work much harder to connect people to their internal state of being and keep them on track.

Some people do appear to be present in the moment and yet only a small percentage are able to sustain this presence. And of those who are able to access their feelings and other aspects of their internal state of being, only a few are able to maintain the focus and discipline needed to facilitate true healing.

Electronic media is now filling so much of the space where people have meditated, prayed, reflected and dreamed. The internet has for many become a substitute for their internal state of being. As a matter of survival, I have to develop an ever increasing presence online through articles, audio recordings and videos if I am to continue to reach people and survive in my practice.

Are you saying that we should ditch our devices?

It would not practical for us to ditch our phones and computers considering that we now live in a world where we are all dependent upon them to some extent. We do much of our shopping and pay our bills online. We also correspond through email, keep ourselves up to date with what’s happening in the world and do all sorts of other things. Our devices do serve a purpose and yet it’s important for us to be mindful of the impact that our technology is having upon us and not allow it to take over our lives. We also need to learn to set them aside or turn them off for periods of time.

©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.

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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.

You Can Heal Sexual Trauma

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new beginnings of a dragonfly
Childhood sexual abuse is one of the most insidious forms of trauma. Each individual’s experience or reaction is unique. Many survivors experience low self-esteem or self-hatred, guilt, shame and blame. They often have difficulty trusting as they were betrayed by the very people that were entrusted to love and care for them. Many survivors re-experience the visual imagery and other sensory impressions associated with past sexual abuse as if it were occurring in the present. They may also suffer from nightmares, panic attacks and have difficulty sleeping. Survivors often dissociate from their bodies as a means of coping with the intrusive thoughts, memories and feelings. Survivors are also far more likely as an adult to find themselves in abusive or dangerous situations where they may be victimized again.

The vast majority of those who were sexually abused continue to live with the trauma for the remainder of their lives. In this chapter, Ann shares her own personal account of the transformation that has taken place as a result of healing from childhood sexual abuse. This chapter is especially valuable for those who were sexually abused. People who were never sexually abused will also gain valuable understanding of the body and mind and its innate healing processes.

Ben: What kind of space were you in at the time we first started working together?

Anne: When we began to work together in March of 2005 I felt like I was a tightly wound ball of twine that was midway thru unravel. I had a host of physical issues that include anxiety, insomnia, repeated and chronic sinus infections for which I had had surgery, irritable bowel and chronic fatigue. I felt like my vital life force was slowly leaving my body. There were times I did not think that I would live long, and there were times that I didn’t care. I would not have done harm to myself, but I was losing the will to live. The only thing that kept me fighting was my young daughter. I did not want her to grow up with the baggage of a clinically depressed mother, so I fought as hard as I could. Had it not been for her, I am not sure where I would be today in terms of healing.

I was extremely fragile at the time we began to work together. I could barely access the memories due to the highly charged nature of the emotions. I was taking a low dose of anti-depressants at that time just so I could relieve the anxiety enough to sleep at night. I was hypervigilant and I had heart palpitations every time I fell into a light sleep. The doctor’s I was seeing pumped me full of sleeping pills that did not work, as anxiety was the culprit.

Ben: The kinds of symptoms you’re describing are very common for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Of all the things I work with, sexual trauma is one of the most insidious. In many ways it works like sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis or gonorrhea destroying the body and mind from within.

Anne, I would agree with that.

Ben: Your system felt way out of balance energetically. I remember how I would always sense this excessive heat in your body resulting from the sexual trauma. This heat had a very dark, static, toxic and angst ridden quality about it. Is that anything like what you were experiencing on the inside?

Anne: Yes, because every herbalist and other holistic practitioner that I was receiving treatment from at that time was telling me the same thing. And they were always trying to give me herbs and supplements to help me dissipate that heat, because it was causing other problems in my body.

Ben: What other problems?

Anne: I was very depleted. They were trying to build up my blood, my kidneys and my digestion.

Ben: I’m not saying this to criticize other practitioners, but in many respects they were only treating the symptoms.

Anne: That’s because they didn’t know and I didn’t know at that time that these imbalances stemmed from sexual trauma. I had no idea. I thought I was suffering from postpartum depression, because these symptoms began to manifest after my daughter was born.

Ben: I’ve watched this same phenomena taking place with a number of the women I’ve worked with. Having a baby growing within the womb and then pushing through the birth canal during the birthing process or removed from the womb via cesarean section breaks apart a woman’s defensive structures. Emotions and traumas that have been held within the body for many years are dislodged. This traumatic content can have a devastating impact upon the body and mind.

Anne: I would say that’s what was happening to me.

Ben: The early sessions were especially difficult for you. What were they like? How would you describe your experience?

Anne: I experienced a lot of physical reactions after the initial healing sessions. I would sometimes experience horrible diarrhea or be vomiting after you left. I would feel weak and cry a lot. I was basically just a raw nerve. There was no other way I could describe it. I couldn’t handle too much external stimulation, crowds or noises. It was very hard for me to function.

Ben: I feel tremendous concern for the people I work with that have suffered from traumatic abuse. I like to use the analogy of going through a cleansing fast to help people to understand the process that takes place when one heals from trauma. The body will at various points along the way go through some form of physical reaction when going through a detoxification or cleansing fast. In many instances this process can be very uncomfortable.

The process that one needs to go through in order to heal from traumatic abuse essentially involves working a very insidious infection out of the body – mind. Some become fearful and run because of their lack of understanding of the healing process. And that’s very unfortunate because those who run will most likely end up having to live with all that pain and trauma in their bodies for the remainder of their lives.

It’s important for anyone who works with a healer such as me to understand is that these kinds of reactions are a normal part of the healing process that takes place when a lifetime of toxicity is working its way out of the body. Those who work with me also need to understand that not only are they not only going to get through the reaction, but they will get to a place where they feel much better because of it. In time they will be free of that insidious toxicity.

People who have been severely traumatized have never been in full possession of their own bodies and minds or truly lived their own lives. Many of those who have the opportunity to do this work will discover for the first time what it’s like to truly live.

Anne: I had been working with holistic practitioners since 1993 and had done various cleansing and detox processes so I knew all about healing crises on a physical level. But I had not yet dealt with a healing crisis or detox on an emotional and energetic level. But I had an intuitive sense that it would probably be pretty much the same.

And if you’re asking me why I continued to work with you …I had a small child, I didn’t want her to grow up carrying the baggage of a clinically depressed mother, so I fought as hard as I could. Had it not been for her, I am not sure where I would be today in terms of healing. I wanted to live to raise her. Part of my anxiety about her at that time had to do with abandonment issues. I felt terrified that she and I were going to be separated in some way. I feared that I would not be able to finish raising her and that she would never remember me. Just talking about this now makes me very emotional. I don’t know if that’s part and parcel of the anxiety and depression or if that’s something I initially experienced emotionally in an earlier part of my life, but it was very strong and that motivated me. I didn’t have the luxury of laying on the sofa feeling sorry for myself. I had to take care of this child and I didn’t want her to have a crappy childhood.

Ben: It’s important for parents to understand that children are very empathic. They have not yet formulated boundaries or defensive structures and that makes them more susceptible to internalizing much of the suffering we’re carrying. There is so much less toxicity for our children to internalize when we heal our wounds.

It’s inevitable that we will all be wounded at points along the way. Parents who fail to deal with their own woundedness are giving their children a message that says “You don’t have to be in integrity with yourself. You can always run away or find some other means of escape.

Their children never internalize the model of healing that says I need to come from a place of courage and face the issues head on. I need to do whatever it takes to heal the parts of me that are wounded and I will get a much better place in life by doing so.

You’re providing a very good model of growth and development for your daughter by doing what it takes to truly heal. This is one of the most important gifts that a parent can ever give to their child.

Anne: When my daughter was three years old, we would get in the car and every single day she would say to me “Mommy, are you happy?” when in fact I was not. This was before I was getting any kind of significant treatment. I would respond by saying “Yes Sophia, I’m so happy I’m with you.” She asked me that question every single day for at least a year. And then last year on New Year’s Day she looked at me and said “Mommy, Thank you for not being a drug addict or alcoholic. I’ve had a pretty good life so far.” So that kind of gave me a whole lot of validation.

Ben: Sometimes there would be these gaps between sessions. There were challenging circumstances that needed to be dealt with pertaining to your family such as taking care of your mother. You were carrying a huge amount of responsibility and had no choice but to deal with it. There was also a certain amount of resistance. I would have to call you at times to put the pieces together and help you understand the process and say “Okay Anne, we need to be taking that next step by scheduling another session.

Anne: I was angry and resentful. And I was tired. My anger didn’t have anything to do with you. I was very angry in the beginning because I had way too much on my plate. I was trying to deal with my mother, trying to take care of my health and trying to care for my daughter. There was also a point in time when I was going to at least three or four doctors ever week and I was so resentful that I had to add you into the mix.

I’ve been overwhelmed by my circumstances during the past year or two and just feeling like I couldn’t set aside the time for myself. Not being able to set aside time for myself is unfair to me. So I’ve made it my business to stop constantly putting myself last, because if this ship goes down, everybody else goes down.

Ben: How have you changed physically, mentally and emotionally as a result of the work we have done?

Anne: Although I still struggle with many things in the present day, I feel that all of the trauma associated with the sexual abuse has gone. I no longer carry that baggage. I have been able to forgive all those responsible and I no longer have the anxiety or depression that I lived with for such a long time. I feel clearer in my heart and head and now use my time for more creative and enjoyable endeavors. My intuition has grown stronger as has my creativity. I also allow my intuition to guide most of my decisions in my day to day relationship with friends and family members.

The most important change I have experienced is that I feel more present in my day to day life. I feel more present in my relationships. I was always present with my daughter. I never had any problem with her. I very rarely was ever on autopilot with her. But everyone else took a back seat. I wasn’t even present with myself. And every chance I could get, I would run away. Now I‘m present. And during the times that I’m not present it’s a conscious choice to say “Oh fuck it …I need an hour or two. Now it’s a matter of choice and not just a habitual escape mechanism.

I definitely have more energy. The things that I need to do for people from day to day still weigh me down and make me feel tired, but twelve years ago this would not have even been a possibility. There’s just no way that I could have functioned with everything that’s been on my plate regarding my mother and her care. Had I not done the work with you, I would have been absolutely paralyzed. I would have been completely unable to handle that.

Ben: You mentioned something about running to three or four doctors a week. How are you doing physically now?

Anne: Physically I’m fine. Like I said, I get bogged down with chores, errands and responsibilities. I’m thinking about all the places I have to go and things to do and that exhausts me. Just this week, I had to set myself down and say to myself “Going over and over your schedule every day and all the things you have to do in your mind makes you tired …tired before you even start. The best thing for me to do is to stay in the moment and only think about what I have to do from minute to minute.”

I don’t have as much time to devote to activities that would produce the endorphins that would make me feel more alive and energetic at this time. I’m just hanging on for the ride

Ben: It sounds like you have a lot more internal strength and stability. And that you have become much more physically resilient.

Anne: Yes, that is true.

Ben: You’re no longer in that anxious, angst ridden state of hypervigilance. What’s your internal state like at this time compared to the time we first started working together?

Anne: I think that I’m always going to be vigilant to some extent. I’m always going to be cautious around people. I’m always going to be reserved. The difference is that I rely on my intuition more than my kneejerk reactions to protect myself.

I rely upon my intuition by allowing myself to feel another person’s energy. I back away if I don’t like what I feel. If I’m in a situation where I feel a little uncomfortable meeting a person for the first time, but otherwise if I don’t feel a threat, then I just let myself experience it.

Ben: Would now you say that you feel calm, assured or a sense of happiness?

Anne: There’s the big picture happy and the little picture happy. I try on a daily basis to find something every day to bring me pleasure. The big picture right now is a little tough because I do have so much hanging over my head, so I try not to get caught up in it. I really try to take little bites out of the life I have, because I can’t digest everything.

Yes, I’m calmer and more peaceful and when I really manage to stay in the present and stop letting my mind spiral out of control. I’m definitely calmer than I have been. One of the most important things that people need to understand about this process is that the work is not done when the crisis has abated. It’s a day to day process, because we’re so habituated in these patterns of self-medicating, escaping or whatever it is that we do. We have to be consciously aware that every single day we make choices that impact us positively or negatively. It’s never over.

There’s no pill or magic wand that’s going to make you completely whole. At the same time there’s a certain presence or power working through me that has transformed much of that suffering. I’m sure that’s what has gotten me to the point of saying you have to stay in the present. Let’s put it this way. I’ve become very clear mentally and emotionally. I’m very clear with what I need to do. I may not always want to do it, but I’m very clear with what I need to do and that’s huge.

Ben: The physical and emotional abuse I endured during my own childhood and adolescence had a debilitating impact on me. And I was seeing it reflected back to me in the women I would attract. They were usually unavailable, uninterested and in some instances would reenact early traumas. I jumped at the rare opportunities I found to work with powerful healers and later on I went back to do the vision quest, which is a traditional Native American practice that involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. I could always feel a powerful presence working to heal and transform the wounded parts of myself.

There are certain facets of the healing process that we cannot fully do on our own. The emotional, physical and sexual traumas that many of us have gone through are so deeply ingrained within our makeup. Readily available conventional and alternative approaches to healing such as Allopathic Medicine, psychotherapy, acupuncture and herbs are not fully healing these traumas. Many people continue to suffer unnecessarily as a result. American Indians and other indigenous groups of people learned to access other forces or beings that could facilitate healing that would not have otherwise been possible. These forces or beings were especially effective in their ability to heal the deep emotional wounds that have such a debilitating impact upon people.

Anne: I would agree to that, because I underwent talk therapy, hypnosis, bio feedback, sleep studies, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and eventually EMDR (Eye Movement Reprocessing and Desensitization) which is used to treat people with post-traumatic stress disorder. EMDR helped, but it didn’t change things on a cellular level where the trauma was stored in my body. However, I continued to pursue these other practices as a result of your encouragement as you felt that they would complement the work we’re doing.

And I often think back on the relationships I had and specific situations where past abuses were reenacted. I have to say now as I look back on those experiences that I would never allow those people near me. I would never tolerate these people or their behavior. It just wouldn’t happen.

Ben: That’s good. Having the assistance of the presence or forces that Native Americans and other indigenous people have relied upon to go in and do the restructuring within your body – mind has made it possible for you to have a completely different experience. Now you can derive much greater enjoyment and truly live life.

Anne: Do you find that this process does not work with people who have little or no insight into their own emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing? Because I really do not see how you can teach that to someone if they don’t have it.

Ben: Many are lacking these resources because of the conditioning from their families and society that causes parts of them to shut down. People who were initially lacking these valuable resources will gradually develop them as a result of the individual healing sessions.

Anne: I’ll buy that, because I had these resources, but they became much stronger as a result of the work we’ve done.

Ben: The earlier stages of healing process that take place when the traumas are beginning to surface, heal, integrate and become functional parts of ourselves are by far the most difficult. The healing process gradually changes over time. The process actually becomes enjoyable as the deep emotional wounds heal and you gain a clearer sense of your life’s purpose and begin to fulfill your true potential. You have seen a certain amount of that through your art work. The prints you’re making are really beautiful. The beauty of your work is a reflection of the changes that are taking place within you.

Anne: Absolutely and I look forward to the day when I can really devote more time to it.

But it seems to me that I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing even though it’s not what I want to be doing. I’m sure that helping my mother transition from this life time to the next is only second to my taking care of myself right now. I just really feel that this is what I need to be doing at this time. The challenge now is to just accept that and not get frustrated and angry that I cannot do all the things I want to do at this time.

With respect to the very difficult process of caring for my aging mother, I have no life experience from which to draw necessary information for making choices that have a major impact on her life and mine. Emotionally, had I not done all the work I did up to this point, I would be paralyzed by sadness and fear, and I would resort to old coping mechanisms to help myself escape the sense of hopelessness and helplessness I felt. This is the work that continues to this day and probably for the rest of my life.

Ben: Being able to care for your mother is also something truly amazing in itself. Your mother was not the most kind, loving and supportive parent. She wasn’t there to protect you as a mother needed to be in many respects. Despite all of that, the healing that has taken place thus far has allowed you to truly be there for your mother in ways that any parent would be very fortunate to experience.

Anne: Well that’s a bonus because I was able to heal the wounds pertaining to my mother. That’s huge.

Ben: Trauma and other forms of stress that we fail to process accumulate within our bodies as we go through life. There’s a deadening and disconnect as that happens and then we lose that spark and sense of aliveness. Trauma and other stresses held within cause parts of our bodies break down more readily or they express themselves as some form of illness.

You healed from the trauma related to the chronic bladder infections that you experienced as a child. How are the reproductive issues that we began to address a few months ago?

Anne: I was so disconnected not just from sexual trauma but also physical trauma. The lower abdominal and pelvic regions of my body were in horrible shape. For the longest time I really felt dead, even on a sexual level. I just had a lack of interest. Part of that has to do with the hormonal changes taking place as a result of going through menopause. I’m feeling a little better. I seem to be starting to rally.

Ben: I’m very cautious about working in certain areas of the body because I want to be respectful of people’s boundaries. I normally work around the pelvis or breasts unless there is a specific health related issue that needs to be addressed. Stresses and traumas are also contained in these regions of the body. And that sometimes makes it necessary to work in these areas.

Healing is definitely a work in progress. We’re just beginning to work in this area. Those who have trained in the Internal Martial Arts which are rooted in Taoism do intensive practices throughout the course of their lives to cultivate the consciousness in specific organs of the body. It’s also important for you to center your awareness in this part of the body when you’re doing your own practice. Your efforts will really pay off in the long run.

Anne: How I even functioned and managed to attract a healthy man I don’t even know. There must have been some healthy part of me that said “You need this man. He’s going to be very important to you down the road.”

Ben: You’re definitely very fortunate in that respect. The majority of the people I encounter that have gone through so much trauma tend to attract partners who reenact early traumas. And if someone were to come along who could really love and care for them, they’re just not attracted to that person. They just don’t feel it.

Anne: It’s because you think you don’t deserve it. That’s the sick part. I didn’t do anything to deserve to be sexually abused. I didn’t do anything wrong, but the insidiousness of the shame and the way you internalize these things makes you feel like you’re less of a human being because of it

Part of you is thinking “Oh if people really knew me, they would hate me.” So you keep attracting the same kind of person who treats you the same way. I didn’t think I was going to attract someone who was going to be good to me. It wasn’t a cautious thing. I was caught up in a whole victim schema. That’s what you put out there and then you attract people who are going to take advantage of it.

Ben: Yes, because that whole victim model is wired into us physiologically, emotionally and energetically. At some level people really want to be loved and cared for. But all the pain and trauma held within the parts of the body – mind that operate outside of our conscious awareness have far more power than the conscious mind. That’s why many people just keep attracting partners who hurt, abuse and that are incapable of loving them.

People come to me suffering from anxiety, depression and emotionally traumatic issues, digestive, respiratory and a wide range of other health related conditions. Many of these conditions are easy to work with and respond very well to this form of healing when people listen to instruction and follow through with the sessions. Those who are consistent with the individual healing sessions will experience the kinds of changes that you’re describing.

What would you say that people really need to understand?

Anne: Part of it is self-love. Another part is saying that I deserve this. For me a huge component of following through is that I was motivated because of being a parent. I always looked at it as if I were the mother of a child. Not everyone has that motivation. They don’t have a child, but they need to be willing to do this for themselves. They need to be able to step outside of themselves and look at themselves, step back and say “Do I not deserve protection, love, support, encouragement and healing?”

Someone would say to me, look at yourself the way you would look at your daughter. Wouldn’t you want her to heal? And of course I would want her to. I would step into that role and never say yes, I certainly deserve that. I don’t know how to instill that in someone that never had it

Ben: The damage is visibly apparent when someone breaks a bone or has a gaping wound. Wounds in the psyche are not quite so obvious. But we need to understand that these wounds are also real and we need to take the necessary steps to facilitate their healing.

Another thing to take into consideration is that people within our present day society really don’t have a model of healing because it hasn’t been a part of our culture. There’s so much misunderstanding when it comes to healing. A lot of the spirituality out there is taking people even further away from their feelings and physical bodies. There are many things about how things work in our society that are set up to disconnect people from themselves. Many have spent their entire lives running or disconnecting. People need to really need to understand that in order to heal they have to be present. A big part of healing is finding the courage and commitment to be present and part of that is being willing to stay with and face whatever comes up.

Anne: Another thing to take into consideration is that this process requires a huge amount of trust.

Ben: I felt intimidated and overwhelmed by the all-consuming feelings and impressions of my own past traumas when they surfaced in my mid-twenties. I had no one there to hold my hand or explain the process taking place. Fortunately I had an intuitive sense that this is something I had to do. I went into the process with a willingness to face whatever came up until I came out the other side.

Embarking on this journey of healing definitely does require trust. Can you say more about trust?

Anne: I was desperate enough that I was willing to try anything. And maybe that’s what has to happen. Some will have to hit rock bottom before they take the initiative. They may have to become so depleted or so low that they don’t have any place else to go but up.

Ben: That’s a good point, because many of the people that I’ve worked with over the years that have really stuck with the process are those who have hit bottom or were in such a desperate space because of the suffering they were going through that they absolutely had to do something.

If you go among cultures like you find in India, Tibet or China where they have these ancient spiritual traditions, those who are seriously committed to their own healing and development always enter a mentor – apprenticeship or master – student relationship. I’m trained as a doctor in an ancient system of medicine – healing that dates back thousands of years. Facilitating the healing of traumatic issues is one of my prime areas of specialization. Having healed from my own traumatic past makes me especially suited to facilitate this process in others.

One of the greatest challenges involved with working here in the United States is that most people do not have any kind of realistic model of healing. Many have little, if any, concept of the commitment and discipline involved in healing and personal and spiritual growth. One needs to be able to listen to instruction and follow through. Healing from traumatic experience involves a massive restructuring of the body – mind consciousness. Building a whole new foundation requires tremendous work, but it’s one of the most valuable things that anyone can ever have the opportunity to experience.

Anne: Yes, definitely

©Copyright 2013 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. To learn more go to http://www.doiohm.com Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.

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