Resistance to Being Fully Present

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Presence2
People initially approach me with an enthusiasm saying that they want to heal. That enthusiasm often disappears as soon as the underlying feelings and issues that are the source of many of their problems start making their way to the surface. This loss of enthusiasm stems largely from people’s resistance to being present with their feelings, physical bodies and the realities of their everyday lives. This same resistance is what prevents people from gaining awareness, learning from their experiences, growing and healing.

I have watched so many people take a few steps to heal only to have their resistance to being present derail the healing process. Ella has been working as a nutritionist for many years and yet she has always struggled to support herself. The relationship with her partner is very tumultuous at times. Ella and her partner fight like cats and dogs. Her fears of dying have grown along with the range of age related health issues that have emerged in recent years. Ella has been too fearful to go in for a physical exam, despite any concerns she might have for her health and wellbeing.

I would have Ella close her eyes, bring the issues and concerns to the forefront of her awareness, notice what she was feeling within her body and then tell me where the feelings were situated. I then had Ella breathe into the feelings and sensations that arose. People that I work with often tell me how this practice helps them to diffuse and then digest the highly charged emotions that are the source of many of their difficulties. Ella was incredibly resistant to the process and would sometimes say “I hate this!”

Ella had resisted being present for so long that her internal state of being has become a living hell. I told her that she couldn’t possibly experience all of these feelings or go through so much discomfort if she weren’t holding so much toxic drama and emotion within her body. What she hates is being present in her own body, with the feelings contained therein and the realities of her everyday life. Needless to say, Ella’s drama continues.

Most people do not react as Ella did. They may even enjoy the healing process and acknowledge the benefits that they have derived from the individual sessions. Some even rave about the difference the healing sessions have made in their lives, and yet many cannot sustain this level of presence.

Mia was sexually abused as a child and was later abused by the psychiatrist she sought out for treatment. She had so medicated herself into oblivion that one of her friends had to call and schedule the initial appointments. Before long Mia was able to call and schedule her own sessions. With each of the individual session she was developing greater lucidity. Mia began to address the issues pertaining to her finances, her mother’s failing health and it was quite obvious that she was beginning to function better in all areas of her life. I had hopes for Mia after seeing her starting to return to herself, but she would do a few sessions and then disappear for periods time. She would show up months later and then disappear again. I haven’t heard from Mia in quite some time now. The last time I spoke with her, it was evident that she was allowing herself to sink back into her pharmaceutically induced haze.

People like Mia are holding a lifetime of pain, trauma, fear and confusion within their bodies. Matters are further compounded because they lack many of the basic faculties needed to facilitate the healing of these traumas. Traumatic experiences and their corresponding emotional responses alter the biochemical makeup and neurostructure of the brain. The subtle bodies consisting of the chakras and layers of the aura are often damaged and in many instances they fail to fully develop. The combination of these factors can leave survivors of trauma overwhelmed and incapacitated.

The presence working through me during the individual sessions facilitates healing by helping people like Mia to diffuse and then digest the traumas and subsequent layers of emotion. Changes in the structural and biochemical makeup of the brain and the building of the chakras and layers of the aura resulting from the healing sessions make it easier for these individuals to contain and then process their feelings and experiences. Feelings and memories need to be brought to the surface so that healing can take place. The first impulse of many survivors of trauma is to run. The challenge is getting people that who have suffered as a result of traumatic events to remain present to themselves by sticking with the process long enough to build a strong and healthy foundation.

Resistance is inevitable because we learn from such an early age to disconnect from our bodies, our feelings and issues and the realities of our lives that we don’t want to deal with. Our habitual tendency to avoid or resist causes these patterns to become even more deeply ingrained. It is critically important for us to understand that our feelings and the issues we need to be addressing will never just go away. Whatever we fail to process will remain trapped within our bodies and minds. And that will cause our bodies and minds to break down.

We smoke and drink and self-medicate with other recreational drugs. We take pharmaceuticals to numb the pain. We eat way more than our body needs to sustain itself. And we spend hours of the day on Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites and we find innumerable other distractions to take us away from what it is that we don’t want to feel.

The feelings we disconnect from may no longer register within our conscious awareness after some time. Our resistance to being present is what prevents us from becoming fully conscious. To the extent that we’re not being conscious we’re walking around in a state of unconsciousness. The disconnect becomes so great that it leaves us blind and numb to whole bandwidths of our consciousness. The resulting desensitization prevents us from seeing and feeling the implications of our actions upon ourselves, other people and the world in which we live. And that accounts for so much of our craziness individually and collectively as a human species.

We may eat right and exercise. We may even pray, meditate, chant mantras, do Tai Chi, Yoga, Pranayama, go to our preferred house of worship and bow at the guru’s feet and yet we still deny and disconnect from our feelings, avoid the issues and refuse to go to those wounded places within. Prayer, most forms of meditation, yoga and tai chi all benefit us in many ways and yet they’re not going to heal the deep emotional wounds. And no great god from the sky is going to come down and take it all away. We have to become fully present to our issues, the realities of our lives and the subsequent feelings that arise from them.

I was very resistant to the painful feelings that arose in response to the abuses suffered during my childhood and adolescence and the subsequent patterns of abandonment, unrequited love and abusive relationships that began to play out in my adult life. My resistance to what I was feeling reinforced the relational dynamics that were causing me to suffer so terribly. This same resistance is what prevented me from healing. It took me a long time to realize that I could never escape from the pain. I could only go through the middle of it. I taught myself to be fully present to the realities of what wasn’t working in my relationships and all the subsequent feelings attached to them. Breathing into all the feelings and physical sensations began to awaken the innate healing power residing within my body and mind. The pain was transformed. And in the process of doing so it became fuel for growth.

There were many instances where I would start to access my feelings, but my internal resistance would cause me to pop out of them. I had to train myself to remain fully present to my feelings by continually bringing myself back to them whenever my defense mechanisms caused me to jump track. I would breathe into the numbness during those times I couldn’t access my feelings or the stuckness I felt when parts of my life weren’t working.

I have been making a very conscientious effort to become more cognizant of the many areas of life where I am resistant. I do that by teaching myself to pay more attention to the times when I react to people and situations. At other times catch myself complaining about what’s not working, becoming frustrated or angry or trying to control the outcome of a situation.

It is appropriate for us to react when we’re faced with a legitimate threat to our wellbeing. Most situations do not warrant such a strong response. I find that I can respond more appropriately to people, situations and the issues that are of concern to me when I breathe into the feelings that were causing me to react. And then there are other times when I need to let go of any attempt to control or influence and just allow people and circumstances to be as they are.

All kinds of feelings and issues make their way to the surface in response the various practices and interventions that I do. It can feel very uncomfortable at the time these feelings and issues are surfacing, but I always feel a greater sense of aliveness and find that I’m more capable of doing whatever it is that I need to be doing as I work through the feelings and issues. I want as much of this aliveness, presence and power as I can get.

There are times when I felt incredibly resistant while 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 or water. The resistance becomes so strong as the powerful forces working on me began to move through my body. I sometimes felt as though I wanted to jump out of my skin. I would become so angry and frustrated as the resistance intensified that I wanted the whole experience to be over with. I finally realized after some time that it was during these times when I felt the most overwhelmed and the most resistant that I was making the greatest breakthroughs. I learned to stop fighting the process by becoming as present as I possibly could in the midst of my discomfort. The breakthroughs I experienced became that much more profound as I learned to become more fully present in this way.

Healing requires courage, commitment and consistency. Healing and personal growth ceases to happen when we stop feeling and addressing our issues and embracing life. The feelings, issues and realities of our daily lives that need to be dealt with can be unpleasant at times, but the only true way forward is to remain fully present to the best of our ability. Facing our issues, dealing directly with life as it unfolds, feeling what we truly feel and making use of the interventions that enable us to facilitate the aspects of our healing process that we cannot fully do on our own make it possible for us to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

©Copyright 2015 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

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

Creating Your Own Daily Regimen of Healing and Personal Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intensive daily practice is a critically important part of healing and personal development and yet I am also very cognizant of the limitations of practicing on my own. I seek out various interventions on a regular basis. I make a point of receiving deep tissue body work at monthly intervals. I usually jump whenever the opportunity to work with a gifted healer presents itself. The problem here is that these individuals are very few and far between in this part of the world. For this reason I have relied heavily upon the vision quest, a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. It is through the vision quest that many of the traditional Native American doctors developed the gifts and abilities the enabled them to facilitate healing within others. I have been going on the vision quests twice a year for over twenty years now.

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

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

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

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

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

©Copyright 2015 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

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

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

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Can't Sleep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The work I have done with a number of powerful healers and the vision quest, a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out alone into the mountains to fast for four days and nights without food or water, has done more than anything to diffuse the intensity of emotion and heal the traumas of my own childhood and adolescence. I have become more resilient and have developed more of the resources I need to handle whatever comes along in life and process any subsequent emotions.

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

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

©Copyright 2015 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

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

Building the Momentum for Healing and Personal Growth

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Momentum
Most of us want to get to a place in our lives where we feel comfortable. The problem with hanging out in our comfort zone for indefinite periods of time is that we cannot sit still for very long without becoming stagnant. Essentially we are either moving forward or sliding backwards. Many of our lives are set up in such a way that we get up in the morning and ready ourselves for work. We spend long hours at work and are depleted by the time we get home in the evening. At times find ourselves overwhelmed by the demands and responsibilities of our daily lives, and yet we often make matters worse when we sit down in front of the television or go online. The massive amount of stimulus flooding our sensory channels overwhelms our body and mind’s processing capacity. And that impedes our ability to process the realities of our daily lives and any subsequent feelings that arise.

The vast majority of us are operating from holding patterns and that limits our ability to grow, move forward in our lives and realize our true potential. Unprocessed emotional residue, the stresses of our everyday lives and additional sensory input that we fail to process causes stagnation in our physical and subtle bodies. Our life force literally congeals and that greatly impedes our growth and personal development.
Reaching out in times of crisis

Shiori was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. She had been strung out emotionally for quite some time on a guy who wasn’t all that interested in her when she showed up in my class. Shiori was in a more grounded and emotionally comfortable place after a few of the individual healing sessions and was able to completely let go of the guy.

I could see that Shiori was making a lot of progress, but I knew that we had only scratched the surface. I could see the backlog of unprocessed emotional residue and other stresses held within her body that we hadn’t gotten to yet. I called Shiori to follow up, but she never returned my call. Shiori called me to schedule an appointment a few months later when the deeper levels of imbalance surfaced and she found herself in a depressive state that made it difficult for her to even get out of bed.

People nowadays tend to approach healing as something to do only when they have serious emotional, interpersonal or health crisis. Many people think to themselves “I’m fine now. I’m feeling much better. The problems are resolved so I don’t need to take any further steps to facilitate healing” as soon as the storm blows over.

Many of us think of healing as something to do so we can just get on with our lives. This type of mentality and approach to healing is so indicative of our tendency to operate at the very surface most levels of consciousness. We may have diffused the immediate crisis, but we have yet to address the underlying cause of our suffering. We need to understand that we have only scratched the surface. The changes we experience may feel profound, and yet they are barely a taste of what is truly possible.

Staying focused on what matters

I called Steve to check in and see how he was doing after a recent healing session. At one point he said “One of my greatest problems is that I get distracted and end up wasting a lot of time and then I don’t accomplishing the things that I truly want to get done.”

I responded by telling Steve “I know you have a lot on your plate, but I would encourage you to do the practices I’ve been teaching you for at least an hour a day if at all possible. Do twenty or thirty minutes if that’s all the time you have. The practice I showed you to awaken your instinctual consciousness will give you a clearer sense of purpose. You will get a strong feeling in your body that reveals what you need to be doing. It will also create the sense of urgency that will build the momentum needed to propel you forward. You’ll find yourself making better use of time and you will become more productive as a result.

The traumas of my own childhood and adolescence began to surface during my mid-twenties. I then found myself attracting women that reenacted my early life trauma. I had an instinctive knowing that I needed to breathe softly and deeply while fully immersing my awareness in the painful feelings and sensations that I experienced within my body during these times. Working with my feelings in this way helped to alleviate the pain while making it possible for me to let go when relationships were not working.

There were other times when I wasn’t in so much pain, but my love life wasn’t happening and I was struggling to get by financially. I was stuck in a holding pattern, but I didn’t know what steps to take to effect change in my life. It took me some time to realize that I needed to be doing practice every day.

I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to train with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Native Americans have for centuries gone out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. It was during the vision quests that the traditional doctors received the gifts of healing and other powers that made it possible for them to be of assistance to others.

I feel a strong presence moving within whenever I come down from the mountain. The powerful forces moving through me after a vision quest diminish over time and my body and mind tends to go back in the direction of its old familiar way of being. I’ve learned that I can keep the momentum of the vision quest going by doing as much intensive practice as I can afterwards. I get a lot more mileage out of the vision quests by doing more practice and the changes I experience are much more profound.

The vast majority of people who have been deeply traumatized will continue to suffer the adverse effects of the trauma for the remainder of their lives. They are, to varying degrees, incapacitated by the deep emotional wounds. That has a lot to do with the fact that many of our conventional and alternative approaches to healing are very limited in their effectiveness. It may be necessary for us to go beyond our comfort zone by stepping into the realm of the unfamiliar in order to heal.

The traumas that had such a debilitating impact upon me gradually healed as a result of the many hours of intensive practice, deep tissue body work, healing sessions and vision quests. The horrible pain subsided and then I began to experience a greater sense of freedom and aliveness. I recognized the progress I was making as my range of motion continued to expand, but I could still feel the parts of me that had yet to develop and that made me acutely aware of my limitations. I could feel where I was not as responsive or engaging as I would like to be. Rather than assuming that I was done at any point, I thought more along the lines of “I’ve come this far. How much further can I progress in my development? And what steps can I be taking on a daily basis to make that happen?”

Many of us have become so numbed or desensitized. We operate from such a profound state of disconnect that we do not even comprehend the amount of fear, hurt, sadness, anger and the stresses of daily life that are stored within our bodies. And we’re not very cognizant of the adverse impact that these stresses are having upon our organs and systems. Our woundedness will invariably become more deeply entrenched and we will become more stagnant if we’re not doing intensive spiritual practice on a daily basis, making use of resources such as deep tissue body work, working with gifted healers or going on the vision quest.

I’m also very fortunate to have the opportunity to train with Sifu Li Tai Liang in the Internal Martial Arts of Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang. Those who attain mastery in the Internal Martial Arts train for hours a day over the course of their lives to continually refine their forms and build greater internal power. Sifu began to train under his father and other masters for five to seven hours a day at the age of five. He went on to become the national fighting champion in the competitions in all of China. Sifu Li Tai Liang and others who have attained mastery clearly demonstrate the value of intensive daily practice.

Healing and personal-spiritual development isn’t just a passing fad or something one does in times of crisis for those who train in the ancient traditions. It’s a way of life. I follow the examples provided for me by the traditional Native American doctors and Internal Arts Masters in China by doing everything I possibly can to build a stronger foundation, deepen my connection to the source and increase the presence moving through me. I start my day with Chi Gong and other intensive Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang Practices. I make a concerted effort to spend an hour doing the mindfulness practice I developed of breathing into any feelings or sensations that arise. I have worked with a number of powerful healers whenever the opportunity has presented itself. I have been going back to the Wichita Mountains in Southwest Oklahoma to go on the vision quest in March and October like clockwork for over twenty years now.

The more practice I do, the stronger and more resourceful I become. And I can feel the momentum building as my connection with the authentic core residing within and the higher power grows stronger. I’m very cognizant of the progress I have made. I’m also acutely aware of my limitations, because I come up against them all the time. A big part of my daily practice involves breathing with my awareness immersed in those parts of myself that feel contracted, jammed up or not flowing in some way. I can feel these parts of me becoming more malleable and responsive as a result of this practice.

We all internalize a great deal of stress over the course of our lives. The stresses that we hold within our bodies cause all of us to contract to some degree. Many years of intensive spiritual practice has enabled me to develop my sensory capacity to such an extent that I can feel the stresses of daily life along with the hurt, sadness, loss, anger, fear and other emotions held within people’s bodies and see how it causes them to shut down. I can see and feel how people’s minds become constricted and sluggish. I feel how the suffering held within stunts the process of growth and maturation. These same stresses can also be very hard on the body. They create a heavy stagnant presence and accelerate the aging process by causing the body to break down at a faster pace.

Some people are completely engulfed by the distressing emotions held within their bodies while others go numb to them. Many are able to conceal their woundedness behind the façade of a polished public persona. Our defense mechanisms often break down during times of crisis. And they will eventually break down as we age.

I see many people like Shiori that do one or a few sessions and then disappear. The tendency to disappear has a lot to do with people’s short attention span and their unwillingness to do the work necessary to facilitate healing. It also has a lot to do with the fact that many don’t have enough sense to listen and follow instruction.

People I’ve worked with have told me on many occasions that the presenting issues have been resolved and that they are now in a much better space. The problem with stopping the healing process the moment we feel better is that in many instances we have only dealt with the surface most levels of imbalance. The conscious mind is only aware of a very small portion of the stress held within the body. In many instances, the underlying cause of our emotional, interpersonal and health crises remain trapped within the body – mind. And it’s only a matter of time before these imbalances take resurface in the same or other forms.

People who have spent the vast majority of their lives disconnecting from their feelings and the realities that they haven’t wanted to deal with have difficulty comprehending the healing process taking place. They can become very resistant when their feelings and issues make their way to the surface and have a tendency to run when that happens. It concerns me when I see people interrupt their healing process. Healing cannot possibly take place until we process these feelings. Those who fail to do so will invariably continue to hold the painful feelings and traumas within their bodies and reenact the same destructive patterns in their lives.

An amazing process of growth begins at the time of conception. This process continues on throughout our childhood, adolescence and into early adulthood. The momentum slows down as we age. Much of this slowing down comes as a result of the stresses that we internalize over the course of our lives. These stresses can be the source of our undoing or a catalyst for healing and personal growth and that depends largely on what we do with them.

We all need to be doing some form of intensive spiritual practice on a daily basis to facilitate our continued healing and personal growth. The practices I teach awaken the innate healing intelligence that resides within the body and mind. They effect healing and personal growth by making it possible for us to digest the conflicted emotions and other stresses held within the body. Other practices such as Chi Gong and Pranayama can help us to draw in more life force to nourish the organs and systems of the body.

There are also times when we need outside intervention to facilitate the parts of our healing process that we are not capable of doing on our own. There are lots of healing resources available to us such as acupuncture, deep tissue massage and homeopathy that we need to be making use of.

There were many exceptionally powerful doctors among the Native American tribes in times past. The traditional native doctors would go out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. It was during the vision quests that they received various gifts or healing powers. These native doctors allowed other forces or beings to work through them to facilitate healing that would not have otherwise been possible. Indigenous healers from parts of Central and South America, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and countries in various other parts of the world possess similar gifts and capabilities.

I would often come up against my own limitations despite the fact that I was doing as much intensive practice as I could on my own. I would always jump whenever the opportunity to work with a powerful healer presented itself. I have always experienced a breakthrough whenever I worked with these individuals. The problem is that I often had to wait six months to a year between sessions because they didn’t come around very often.

My mentor Horace had me going on the vision quest during the times he transmitted portions of his own healing gifts to me. I wandered aimlessly through much of my twenties until I realized that I needed to get back to the mountain. I have gone through dozens of vision quest since that time.

Parts of the vision quest feel like a near death experience. I could see all kinds of imagery and experience the feelings attached to them as memories of past abuses, traumas and other stressful events made their way to the surface. I could feel other forces or beings helping me to thoroughly digest what I had gone through while simultaneously building a much stronger and healthier foundation. I felt as though my whole body – mind consciousness was being reformatted.

Many of the same forces or beings that have facilitated my own healing during the vision quests now work through me to assist others during the individual healing sessions. Those who have the opportunity to work with me go through a process of evolution. The highly charged emotions and impressions associated with anxiety, depression and emotionally traumatic experiences are digested. Processing the accumulated emotional backlog and other stresses increases one’s overall life force. Damage is repaired within physical and subtle bodies. The regenerative process taking place within the body and mind makes people healthier, stronger and more resilient.

Changes that take place within the body and mind as a result of the individual healing sessions increase one’s capacity for learning and growth. People I work with often tell me about the new resources and capabilities that are developing as a result of this work. I’ve worked with visual and recording artists, writers and people working in a wide range of professions. Many have told me how the sessions are helping to increase their range of motion in ways that is making it possible for them to further refine their work and in many instances take it to a whole new level.

True healing is an ongoing journey in which one continually evolves to realize more of their true potential and develop a greater connection with the authentic core residing within and the higher power. People I work with often tell me that they are now better equipped to process their own feelings and the realities of their daily lives. The increased processing capacity makes it easier for them to work through their emotions and bring issues to a place of resolution.

Working through progressively deeper layers of grief, hurt, sadness, resentment, anger, fear and confusion facilitates the development of a much stronger and healthier connections to the authentic core within and the world in which we live. Deepening this connection makes it possible for us to live from a place of greater honesty and integrity. By living in a way that is congruent with our authentic core we develop a greater capacity for love, empathy and compassion.

©Copyright 2014 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

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

Internal Martial Arts and the Healing of Trauma

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Xin_Yi
Mugging attempts are fairly common in New York City. I was cat sitting for some friends on Avenue A in Manhattan’s East Village in the fall of 2002 when someone attempted to rob me as I was walking along 7th Street. I immediately whipped out pepper spray and chased the attacker down the street. Next thing I knew the police had me up against the wall and were on the verge of taking me to jail for having pepper spray in my possession. I said to one of the officers “What am I supposed to do? Get beaten up because some trash thinks he’s going to mug me?” The officer responded by saying “This is New York. You just have to get used to it.” I thought to myself “Okay, fine …I’m going to go out and find the most ruthless master I can find to train with and next time I’m going to paralyze the son of a bitch.”

I stopped by one of the Martial Arts supply store in Chinatown shortly thereafter and asked the man behind the counter if he had any recommendations as to who I should train with. He then referred me to a rack of flyers telling me to take whatever I wanted. I went home with a whole stack of flyers that evening.

Some of the flyers were very attractive and included glossy photos of Shaolin Monks in all kinds of fighting postures. But there was one flyer printed on dingy looking yellow paper that caught my attention. Sifu Li Tai Liang’s flyer was written in very poor English, but it talked about his training in the Internal Martial Arts of Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang. I had a knowing as I read the description that this is the person I wanted to train with. I called the next day and went later that evening to Li Shifu’s studio in Corona.

Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang are highly complex systems of martial arts that require many years of disciplined practice to master. I didn’t feel that I was able to fully grasp what Sifu was teaching in the class setting so I began to train with him privately. Sifu has taught me a vast array of forms and practices since that time.

Sifu started talking to me one day about the Taoist belief that much of the soul does not fully incarnate within the physical body. He then said that intensive practice helps to draw more of the soul into the body. I had heard similar things in my early twenties while I was training with Horace Daukei, the last surviving traditional doctor among the Kiowa Indian tribe.

I had shut down on many levels as a means of coping with the traumas of my own childhood and adolescence. Trauma held within prevented me from being fully present in my body. A number of people commented on the fact that I was very dissociated and that I held a lot of anger and rage in my body. All of that pain finally erupted in my mid-twenties as I found myself involved with women who reenacted the past traumas. The debilitating emotional pain made it very difficult for me to function at times.

The heavy, painful and sometimes overwhelming feelings associated with anxiety, depression and emotionally traumatic issues can have a debilitating impact upon us. These stressful energies and emotions can be very hard on the body. These energies and emotions will in many instances express themselves through the body as some form of disease, illness or injury. One of the things I like about doing Chi Gong practice is that it infuses the body with clean vital life force. This life force has a nourishing and soothing quality that helps to offset the painfully debilitating emotions. The cleansing process that takes place as we draw vital life force into our body – mind also makes it easier for us to process our emotions.

Years later I was engaged to an ethnic Tamil woman from Sri Lanka. I was devastated when the relationship ended in the summer of 2007. I couldn’t really do much of anything else at the time other than breathe for hours with my awareness centered amid the painful feelings of loss. I would then do hours of intensive Chi Gong practices. Working with the pain in this way had the effect of opening doorways within. I began to experience a greater sense of connectedness with the higher power and that left me feeling euphoric at times. It was during that time that I came to a place where my sense of wellbeing did not depend upon another person.

Some people reading this chapter will wonder if intensive martial arts and Chi Gong practice alone will heal trauma. No, it will not. It’s common for people who follow the various spiritual traditions to attempt to bypass the emotional and psychological aspects of their development. People who have attained mastery in the Internal Martial Arts, Chi Gong and in various Yogic disciplines have often acted out in various ways because of their failure to do the ground work necessary to address their issues and deal with their own emotions. This failure to build a strong healthy foundation on an emotional level accounts for much of the dysfunction playing out in various spiritual communities.

Chronic stress has an adverse effect on the brain, especially the hippocampus located near the middle of the brain, which plays a major role in our ability to retain information. The hippocampus facilitates the process of converting new information briefly retained in the prefrontal cortex into working memory. The hippocampus is especially vulnerable to ongoing emotional stress, because of the damaging effects of cortisol. The vast majority of the brain’s production of new neurons and the formation of new neural-connections take place within the hippocampus. The hippocampus loses neurons and shrinks in size when the neurons are flooded with cortisol. Cortisol stimulates the amygdala’s fight or flight reaction, while impairing the hippocampus’ reasoning capabilities. We go into self-preservation mode as our attention is redirected to the reactive survival oriented emotions and that impairs our ability to take in new information. That’s why we tend to forget things when we’re stressed out.

Exercise increases the production of the chemical messengers such as norepinephrine that promote healthy cognitive function, learning and positive emotional states. Exercise also helps to balance our physiology by stimulating our heart rate and improving the quality of our sleep.

I can see that lots of people are still holding all kinds of stressful emotions in their body despite the fact that they work out consistently. This unprocessed emotional baggage is clearly evidenced in the high incidence of digestive disorders, TMJ and other stress related health issues. I have also known dancers and yoga practitioners who had a strong presence and aliveness about them, but were totally neurotic because of their failure to deal with their own issues and emotions.

Doing Chi Gong practices doesn’t mean that all the painful and anxious feelings are just going to go away. One of the things I noticed as I began to work consistently with the various Chi Gong practices is that it made it possible for me to draw the life force into the parts of my body I had disconnected from that were holding a lot of painful emotion, trauma or other stresses. In many instances I find that Chi Gong practice brings the emotions held in the body that I hadn’t been able to access up to the surface so that I can process them. I like the fact that it helps me to get in touch with feelings that would otherwise be difficult to access.

Learning all these highly complex forms encourages the development of new neural pathways. These additional neural faculties also facilitate emotional processing and that makes it easier for us to work through our feelings and bring issues to resolution.

It can be very difficult, if not all together impossible, to process our feelings when we are not fully inhabiting our bodies. Training in the Internal Martial Arts has helped me to become more fully present in my physical body and the world in which I live. The changes that have taken place as a result of my practice are making it easier for me to move through the world with a greater sense of resilience and self-assurance.

One of the things I like most about the Internal Martial Arts such as Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang is that it incorporates Chi Gong into the fighting forms so that the practitioner is always building the life force within the body. I do lots of Chi Gong practice and find that it nourishes and strengthens the internal organs of my body. I feel cleaner, healthier and a greater sense of resilience.

I encourage anyone to learn and practice any of the Internal Martial Arts. People with physical limitations can easily do Chi Gong and Tai Chi. Those who are more physically able that are up for the challenge can experience even greater benefit by training in disciplines such as Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang.

I find that Chi Gong practice helps me to access my feelings, but it doesn’t facilitate the actual processing of the feelings. Chi Gong can be a highly valuable healing tool and yet there is no one approach that will address all of our needs. I make much greater progress when I combine various healing practices. I make a consistent effort on a daily basis to do the groundwork needed to build a strong and healthy foundation. A big part of that involves a whole different kind of practice of breathing with my awareness centered in the midst of any feelings and bodily sensations that arise in response to what is taking place in my life. Breathing into the feelings in this way facilitates a process that enables me to digest my life experience and any subsequent feelings that arise.

I have done lots of deep tissue body work and have worked with a number of powerful healers whenever the opportunity presented itself. I have gone on numerous vision quests, which are a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. It was during the individual healing sessions and vision quests that I could feel the parts of myself that were holding trauma being transformed. It’s the combination of all of these practices that have made it possible come as far along as I have.

©Copyright 2014 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

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

Whining Only Brings You More of What You Don’t Want

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Whining
The hardships and misfortunes we encounter along the way can sometimes cause us to feel powerless to effect change in our lives. We sometimes feel compelled to talk about our problems because we want to be understood and know that someone is there for us. Sharing our feelings can in some instances help to alleviate our suffering. The problem here is that many of us don’t know when to stop. Some of us have a tendency to go on and on, but that never brings us to a place of resolution. If anything, it makes us feel more anxious.

Myra said at one point that it felt so natural for her to whine. I told her that It feels natural because it’s something she’s grown accustomed to as a result of having done so for most of her life. You’ve learned to cope over the years by resisting the painful feelings associated with what’s not working in your life. It can feel scary and overwhelming as these feelings make their way to the surface, but you will realize they’re not as bad as they seem once you allow yourself to fully experience them. You will get to a calmer and more resourceful space much sooner when you allow yourself to fully experience those feelings.

Myra then wanted to know how we fall into a pattern of whining. I explained to her that some of us grew up with parents or other family members who were habitual whiners. We have a tendency to internalize the energies, emotions and traits of our parents.

We may have suffered tremendously as a result of difficult life circumstances. Whining is often an attempt to cope with or alleviate our suffering and yet it is one of the worst things we can possibly do, because it adds to our misery by contributing to a growing sense of powerlessness. And that causes us feel helpless to change the realities of our daily lives. We whine so much about the people or circumstances affecting us and then it gradually becomes a habit.

We can easily fall into habitual patterns of whining if we’re not taking constructive steps to facilitate our healing. Whining generates lots of heavy toxic energies and emotions that get trapped within our bodies. Our true essence sometimes gets buried underneath the many layers of toxic thought and feeling. The toxicity can become so pervasive in some instances that it completely takes over us.

Caught up in the drama

We typically suspend disbelief any time we go to a movie in order to allow ourselves to become captivated by the story unfolding upon the screen. In a similar way we allow ourselves to become captivated by the stories unfolding upon the screen of our mind. The problem with getting caught up in the negative scenarios playing out in our minds is that they are often generated by parts of us that are very wounded. Buying into to these distorted representations of reality can easily send us into a downward spiral. It’s important for us to understand that the parts of our mind generating these negative scenarios are only a small portion of the self and not the totality of who we are.

Resisting our mind’s internal dialog

Many of us try to resist the negative internal dialog by either ignoring it or trying to make it go away. Whatever we resist will persist. The thoughts and images we spend so much time resisting and the subsequent feelings that arise in response to them will grow in magnitude.

We cannot completely silence the parts of our mind that like to chatter, but we do have some measure of control over how much attention we pay to them. We need to acknowledge the negative dialog while primarily keeping our attention focused on the underlying feelings behind those thoughts.

Disconnecting from our feelings and physical bodies

Thinking obsessively is a defense that prevents us from fully experiencing our true feelings. We go up into our heads and by doing so we disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies. Our internal dialog elicits more stressful feelings and that feeds the negative thought patterns. We then find ourselves caught up in a self-perpetuating negative feedback loop.

We cannot possibly process our feelings when we’re spinning around in circles in our heads. We may experience the surface most levels of our anger and frustration, and yet we’re disconnected from the deeper pain underneath that drives our negative internal dialog.

The feelings that we fail to process accumulate within our bodies and that builds the negative emotional charge around the issues that have created so much suffering in our lives. Reinforcing the patterns in this way only causes them to become more deeply entrenched. This negativity causes our body – mind to become very dense. Our presence will begin to feel heavy and toxic.

Pain and stress that accumulates within our bodies has a very desensitizing effect. People who tend to whine a lot don’t realize how they’re hurting themselves and others. They’re not just wasting people’s time. They’re literally sucking the life force out of their bodies.

How do we break the habit of whining?

We all suffer as a result of the hurts, disappointments and losses we experience over the course of our lives. Sometimes we need to open up and share what we’re feeling. The problem is that those of us who don’t know when to stop can easily fall into the trap of whining. It can take tremendous discipline to break ourselves out of the habit. We need to start by making an effort to become mindful by paying attention to our thought processes while we’re in the midst of whatever it is that we’re doing.

Negative thought patterns are driven by feelings held within the body. Deeply ingrained stories and patterns can be had to break. Some of us have to be very disciplined by making a consistent effort to refocus our attention on the feelings behind our mind’s internal dialog any time the negative thought patterns emerge. We need to take a step back from the drama whenever we catch ourselves whining by asking ourselves “What are the feelings driving these thoughts?” Is it anger, disappointment, fear, frustration or sadness?

We have to diminish the emotional intensity for the negative thought patterns to lose their power. The negative internal dialog loses its power as we process the charged emotions that drive our obsessive thinking. We need to teach ourselves to go straight into the underlying feelings whenever we catch ourselves whining.

Breathing softly and deeply while immersing our awareness within our feelings and bodily sensations gets us down into our bodies. It also awakens the innate healing intelligence residing within our body – mind. This healing intelligence makes it possible for us to diffuse and then digest the feelings of fear, anger, frustration, panic, desperation and other charged emotions generating the negative dialog so that we can come to terms with what is.

The digestive process I’m describing may take a while. There may be instances when we have to continue to breathe into the feelings for hours. And we will have to resume the practice at other times when as the same feeling resurface. The feelings will gradually lighten up as we continue to breathe into them. And the more we do so, the faster we will be able to work through the issues concerning us.

Running in Circles or Digesting

Myra then asked me “How can I tell whether I’m just running circles in my head or actually digesting the feeling. I then told Myra that we have a tendency to go over the same thoughts repeatedly when we’re stuck in our heads.

We will develop greater sensitivity as we make a consistent practice of going beyond the obsessive mental chatter by breathing softly and deeply while centering our awareness in the middle of our feelings and bodily sensations. That will make it possible for us to actually feel the distress that we’re generating within our bodies when we whine.

We may even say to ourselves “Okay, I’m going to feel absolutely horrible if I buy into that cognitive frame because it’s only going to generate lots of painful feelings. And those feelings will elicit more negative thoughts which in turn will generate more painful feelings.

The digestive process that takes place as we breathe into our feelings and bodily sensations feels completely different. Breathing with our awareness centered in our feelings and bodily sensations takes us to the underlying source of our distress. Our minds begins to quiet down so that we can say what needs to be said with fewer words.

The innate healing intelligence residing within facilitates a digestive process. Feelings that surface will initially intensify and then gradually soften and become more diffuse and go through a variety of other permutations. Conflicting thoughts and feelings sort themselves out more readily making it easier for us to bring issues to a place of resolution. The resulting assimilative process facilitates new learning and growth.

Coming to terms with what is

Whining and complaining are forms of resistance. We don’t want to accept who we are, where we are or the realities of our lives. We’re resisting the pain associated with our limitations. We resist the feelings of fear, hurt, anger, grief and loss that arise when our lives don’t seem to be working or when we don’t have the relationship we want.

True healing can only take place when we come to terms with what is. Teaching ourselves to become present by allowing ourselves to fully experience the feelings that arise in response to what’s taking place in our lives helps us to develop greater equanimity.

Some of the difficulties we’re faced with are going to evoke feelings, of sadness, frustration and disappointment. Breathing into these feelings will enable us to come to a place of greater acceptance for what is. With continued practice we will learn to do what is feasible and then we’ll also know when it’s time to let go. And no matter what happens in our outer world, we will experience a growing sense of connectedness to a greater source within.

Coming to terms with what is doesn’t mean that we’re going to just give up and roll over. It’s still important for us to be proactive by continually striving to create what it is that we want in our lives. Our resolve to do what needs to be done will grow stronger. We may not necessarily like the realities that we’re forced to contend with, but we will become more accepting in ways that will enables us to work constructively within the context that we find ourselves.

Transforming the whining habit

1. Make a concerted effort to be mindful of your thoughts and feelings as you go about your day.
2. Ask yourself “What are the feelings behind all that drama?” whenever you catch yourself whining or caught up in some drama.
3. Notice where these feelings are situated in your body.
4. Breathe softly and deeply while centering your awareness in the middle of these feelings and bodily sensations. Continue to follow the feelings and sensations as they go through their progression.
5. Ask your subconscious questions like “How can I (fill in the blank with whatever it is that you want to do or accomplish)? What steps can I be taking to make this happen? Completely let go of any attachment to getting an answer after asking the question. Your subconscious will give you little insights and flashes of inspirations along the way.
6. Be proactive by taking constructive steps on a daily basis to create whatever it is that you truly desire in life.

It can sometimes be very difficult to break out of longstanding negative patterns on our own. I have received sessions from a number of powerful healers along the way and have gone on many vision quests, 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. I can always feel a powerful presence working to heal the emotional wounds and free me of limiting patterns.

The presence working through me during the individual healing sessions will enable you to digest the backlog of negatively charged emotion held within the body and heal the deep emotional wounds. Habitual negative patterns will dissolve. New resources and capabilities will emerge. Your responses to the challenges of everyday life will become healthier and more adaptive.

©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.

Freeing Ourselves from the Vicious Cycle of Obsessive Thought

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obsessive thoughtsWe can easily fall into patterns of obsessive thought when we’re under a great deal of stress. And when that happens, we tend to go over and over the same thoughts and feelings. Obsessive thinking seldom brings about any true resolution of the matter. Thinking about the matters that are of concern to us is only useful to a certain point and after that we’re only recycling what we’ve already gone over. Circular thinking creates a vicious cycle by causing our anxiety to escalate and that only intensifies our obsessive thought patterns. Circular thinking becomes a trap that keeps us stuck in our heads. We become fixated and that prevents us from going through the internal processes needed to facilitate growth; therefore we continue to cycle through the same dramas.

There are many different levels of activity operating within our minds. Powerful currents of memory, thought and emotion operate beneath the surface of our conscious awareness. These forces are the drivers that create the underlying themes that play out in our lives and shape our personality. And then there are levels of surface thought and feeling that run through our conscious mind. Most people live their lives caught up in the surface drama, but they never really get to the underlying source of what’s driving them.

I make concerted effort to be aware of my own internal processes. I’ll force myself to stop whenever I notice myself going over and over the same thoughts. I then ask myself, “What are the deepest feelings behind all of this drama or mental chatter?” And then I start breathing into any feelings that I can gain access to.

Breathing into the feelings as they arise takes me right to the source of the issues by helping me to access the deeper levels of thoughts and feelings along with the memories of experiences pertaining to any unresolved issues. Pieces start coming together as I begin to recognize the connection between my current situation and the unresolved issues from earlier parts of my life. The greater healing intelligence residing within facilitates a process that enables me to digest these thoughts, feelings and experiences. It also brings consciousness into parts of my psyche that have been playing out limiting or destructive patterns. Continued practice has made me conscious of patterns of behavior that I was previously oblivious to, and has allowed me to change the way that I move through the world.

Breathing into the anxiety and other feelings that lie beneath the anxious mental chatter diffuses the underlying emotional force that fuels obsessive thoughts. It’s important for us to understand that there will still be instances where we find ourselves getting caught up in the dramas unfolding in our lives. We will at times have to refocus our attention on the underlying feelings.

Obsessive thought exists along a continuum. Everyone experiences obsessive thoughts at some time along the way. We sometimes worry about the well-being of friends and family. We obsess about our love interests any time we wait for their call or hope they will reciprocate our feelings or try to figure out why act as they do. Those of us who struggle to get by often worry about whether we will be able to make enough money to make ends meet.

Chronic patterns of obsessive thought often arise in response to the emotional wounding that occurs at various stages in our lives. This wounding is compounded by the fact that we did not possess the understanding or resources necessary to facilitate healing.

Overwhelming or traumatically stressful events can easily elicit powerful emotional states that in turn trigger powerful biochemical reactions within the brain. The combination of powerful emotions and the brains biochemical response often becomes a habituated body-mind reaction that can easily be triggered by situations, people or issues that act as a reminder of the initial traumas or stressful life events.

The practice that I’m sharing with you has been an important part of my healing process. I soon realized that I didn’t possess all the resources I needed to completely heal on my own. I began to work with a number of exceptionally powerful healers whenever the opportunity presented itself. And then I began to go on the vision quest, a traditional Native American practice that involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. It was during the vision quests that I healed and developed the gifts that have made it possible for me to facilitate healing in others.

The presence working through me during the individual healing sessions does a “reset” of the entire body-mind system. The emotional triggers associated with obsessive thought are dismantled and replaced with newer healthier models that facilitate more adaptive and resourceful responses to life’s challenges. You will become much calmer and develop a more grounded presence as the highly charged emotions fueling your obsessive thoughts are diffused and then digested. New resources begin to emerge that will enable you to become far more effective in all areas of your life. You will also develop the capacity to relax and let go when needed so that you can better flow with life as it unfolds.

©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. The individual sessions will free you of patterns of obsessive thought by facilitate healing of the deep emotional wounds. Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.

Show Up, Pay Attention and Participate

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Jemez Dancers
Flakiness has become so commonplace in our society that many of us have come to accept it as the norm. At times it seems to pervade nearly every aspect of our lives. The sad thing about flakiness is that it breaks down the underlying sense of cohesion that holds us together as a society. All we have to do is look around to see examples everywhere we turn.

Flakiness is evident in the way we make promises and break them or we tell another person that we will do something and then don’t. We talk about getting together with friends or acquaintances and then never follow through. We make plans and then break them if something better comes along. We make a date and then call up with some excuse as to why we cannot make it. We walk out on relationships when the tough issues arise. Some of us abuse, abandon and fail to care for the needs of the children we bring into the world. We live off the hard earned money of other people rather than support ourselves. We slack off when there’s work to be done by allowing others to carry our share of the load. We spend money that we do not have to spend by running up credit card debt and then we declare bankruptcy. We sign up for classes and workshops and yet we never bother to show up. We schedule appointments with therapists or healers to help us to heal and sort through the mess we have made of ourselves and then call to cancel because we don’t want to go to those places inside where we hold all the feelings and issues that we have been avoiding for so long.

Flaking out is incredibly rude and disrespectful. It shows a serious lack of consideration for other people and their needs. People who fall into a pattern of flakiness create massive inconvenience. They waste our time, deplete our energy and create all kinds of unnecessary hardship.

Being on the receiving end of other people’s flakiness can evoke feelings of frustration, resentment, anxiety and sadness. Hurts and disappointments held on the inside have a very desensitizing effect. After a while we grow so numb that we no longer feel the emotions held within our bodies, but they diminish our capacity to love and be loved or to be present in our interactions with others.

We sometimes find ourselves in a position where we are forced to interact with or depend upon people who flake out on us. Having to deal with them can be wearing because they bring that much more stress into our lives. At some level we may enjoy the connection. We may like or even love the person, but their dishonesty and unreliability precludes the possibility of any kind of meaningful relationship or productive interchange.

Our propensity for flakiness has a lot to do with fact that we have become so disconnected from our feelings and physical bodies. Disconnecting on a feeling level shuts down the empathetic capacity that makes it possible for us to form attachments and to truly love and care for other another person. The loss of our empathetic feeling capacity can cause us to become grossly insensitive to the needs and considerations of others.

Flakiness denotes an ambiguous approach to life. It demonstrates a lack of courage and an unwillingness to embrace life with all its challenges. Our feelings help us to gain an understanding of our needs. The sense of ambiguity we experience when we lose touch with our feelings can make it very difficult for us to know what we truly want and that’s why we become so incongruent in our words and actions and give off so many mixed signals.

Our inability to commit ourselves to anything has a very ungrounding effect. It causes some of us come across as being very flighty, airheaded or dishonest. What often happens is that we make promises and then we experience all kinds of conflicted feelings about keeping those promises. We end up breaking our promises and then we blame the other person or our circumstances. We’re not being honest with ourselves or anyone else about what’s going on. We may feel guilty because at some level we know that we’re hurting and disappointing others, but in many instances we keep on repeating the cycle.

Speaking with a forked tongue

Native Americas who first encountered people of European descent often said that the white man speaks with a forked tongue. Treaties made by the United States Government with the American Indian tribes were seldom honored. Traditional homelands were continually being stolen and the native people were killed en masse.

Native elders that I spent time with placed a great deal of emphasis on being truthful and honoring one’s commitments. Native people who lived by the traditional values operated from a place of integrity in that they did what they said and said what they did. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to live among the Kiowa Indian tribe and to have trained with their last surviving traditional doctor. My mentor Horace expected me to demonstrate commitment to receiving the gifts of healing that had been passed down through the centuries. I could have never gotten away with the kind of flakiness that I encounter among people within our present day culture.

There’s an old saying that goes “A man is only as good as his word.” Many of us have lost all concept of honoring one’s word. Lying has become a convenience for so many people. Our words cease to have significance or meaning. We often say whatever we think the other person wants to hear without any concern for the impact of our words or actions upon others.

Our words become inconsistent with our actions when we say we’re going to do something and then don’t follow through. The subconscious mind recognizes the incongruence when our words cease to have meaning and then stops taking the conscious waking self seriously. That exacerbates the split between our conscious and subconscious minds.

The loss of trust

A person who gives us their word creates a sense of expectation within us. We count on that person to do what they say they will do. We have no sense of where we stand with people whose words do not hold true or reflect their actions.

Flakiness is responsible for the underlying cynicism that pervades so much of our interaction with others. Trust is the underlying basis for any kind of healthy and meaningful relationship. Lies and incongruencies make it very difficult for us to trust people. The hurts, disappointments and frustrations we experience when people flake out on us accumulate within our bodies over time and that destroys our trust. After a while we begin to feel that we can’t believe what people say or count on them to do what they say they will do. This inability to trust or depend upon people destroys our faith in others and that precludes the possibility of real intimacy or any kind of significant or meaningful exchange.

Cutting our losses

A friend of mine became involved with a man who turned out to be very emotionally abusive. She confronted him on his behavior, but he responded by telling her that she had no right to hold expectations of him. My friend suffered horribly as a result of her involvement. At one point she confided in her friend, American Indian activist John Trudell. John responded by saying “People within the tribes have always depended upon one another. Without expectation, the tribe wound not have survived.”

It’s critically important for us to consider the implications of our actions upon other people. We have a responsibility to show kindness and consideration to those with whom we become involved. We also have a right to expect the same in return. Self-centered people who are not willing to be accountable do not care about the impact of their words and actions upon others. One can never change such a person. It is sometimes best to cut our losses and move on.

Flakiness subtracts from or diminishes the quality of human interaction and of life itself. People who consistently flake out on us can be an incredible pain. I’ve let go of friends and romantic partners because it wasn’t worth the headaches and heartaches. I walked away from my own father because he wasn’t making an effort to keep in touch. I have cut off people who came to me for assistance because they were either unwilling or unable to honor their commitment to their own healing by keeping their appointments. It’s better to let go of people who continually hurt and disappoint or that cannot be counted on so that we can create an opening for people who can love, nurture and support us and who value us and what we have to offer.

The games we play

Forming deep and loving attachments with other human beings is one of our most basic human needs. But men and women often act in ways that are very hurtful, insensitive and even cruel to one another. We often do so by playing with each other’s emotions. We sometimes initiate conversation and then later act standoffish. Or we act as if we are interested when we meet someone new and yet we do not bother to respond to a text, email or phone call. We often tell each other that we will call and then we don’t. Or we make plans to go out on a date and then call with some excuse as to why we cannot make it. And in some instances we don’t even bother to show up.

Cultural expectations that discourage us from being vulnerable or experiencing our true feelings are very damaging. Many of us have failed to grow or mature and that leaves us stunted developmentally. We’re so out of touch with ourselves that we don’t have a clear sense of what we want or know how we truly feel. That’s why we’re often unaware of our partner’s emotional needs. Our tendency to hurt and abuse stems from the fact many of us are so deeply wounded that it prevents us from developing the capacity to form deep and loving attachments or to truly care for another human being.

The fears that keep us apart

We have become a very fear based society. We’re giving our fears way too much power by allowing them to have so much control over our lives. Many of us are afraid of love, fearful of intimacy or commitment and terrified to feel our feelings. Our society’s fearful mindset has a lot to do with the deeply ingrained cultural conditioning that teaches us to disconnect from our feelings, our bodies and the realities of our daily lives. Unprocessed fears held in the body make it difficult for us to participate in life as fully functional adults. To make matters worse, our fears are also fed by the ratings and profit driven media that sensationalizes violence and social-political pundits who seek to polarize people for their own personal gain.

One of the nicest things about living in Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado and New Mexico is that the pace is slower. People that I encountered tended to be open, friendly and engaging. I was socially inhibited during that part of my life, but in many ways I found it much easier to connect with people. Women in these parts of the country were much more approachable. Those who liked or found me attractive would engage me in conversation and have on occasion expressed romantic interest or pursued me.

I encountered a whole different mindset when I started spending time in New York City and Boston. I could sense a guardedness in many of the people I encountered and found it much more difficult to develop any kind of meaningful connection. People living in the city are more likely to connect through their circle of friends or online, but they often lack the kind of openness that would allow them to spontaneously meet and get to know people they encounter along the way. It has always been difficult for me to get used to the fact that many do not make eye contact or engage with strangers. Some will engage and yet they operate with a rule that says any conversation that takes place in a public setting with a stranger will go no further.

One of the greatest challenges of living in a place like New York City is that it’s humanly impossible to process the massive amount of input flooding our senses. We can easily become so overwhelmed by everything that’s going on around us and that impairs our ability to process our fears, frustrations and the stresses of daily life. We start to lose touch with our feelings and physical bodies. The resulting disconnect makes it very difficult for us to access the intuitive knowing that tells us whether we are safe and that the person we’re engaging with is trustworthy.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that many of the women living in the city were operating with a fearful and guarded mindset. Those who lose touch with their intuition have greater difficulty differentiating between individual men and are more likely to project their fears along with the hurt of past relationships on the other half of the human species.

Many of the women I have gotten to know while living in the city complain about the fact that they don’t have a man in their lives and that they don’t seem to be meeting anyone. And yet many of these same women automatically assume that any man who attempts to engage with them is either a player just looking to pick up or some form of predator. In many instances men who attempt to connect with women are given fake phone numbers or email addresses.

Approaching and engaging those we find ourselves attracted to, exchanging contact information, following up with an email or phone call and then meeting again are all normal parts of the process of finding love that takes place all over the world. Sadly, the early stages of getting to know one another are interrupted when we allow ourselves to be so controlled by our fears that we can’t allow the process to happen. We are in many respects like children whose parents are still telling us “Now don’t be talking to strangers.”

Wounded

Men have a greater capacity to engage in sexual experiences that are devoid of any relationship or personal connection. Those who are not being completely honest about their intentions sometimes lie and take advantage of women or use them sexually. Women that have been lied to, cheated on and taken advantage of sexually tend to close their hearts and become guarded, fearful and suspicious of men. Women who have been hurt or that operate from a fearful mindset can sometimes be very cruel in their response to men. Men often feel deeply hurt when women react in a harsh or negative way in response to their sincere expression of romantic interest.

A friend recently told me about how her sister would mislead guys who showed interest in her by flirting even when she had no desire to be with them. Guys with good intentions often ended up getting hurt by the sister who was using them to fulfill her needs for attention or to feel important and desirable.

Men and women who lose touch with their capacity for empathy either fail to see or don’t care about the fact that the people they become involved with romantically are also human beings who have feelings that can be hurt. In many instances men and women give up or stop trying because they have been hurt so many times.

It’s so important for us to keep in mind that nearly everyone has been wounded somewhere along the way and that can make them vulnerable. Acting in ways that are hurtful or jerking people around emotionally can be very damaging to their already fragile self-esteem. It often leaves them feeling very anxious, fearful and insecure. Life is hard enough as it is. There is absolutely no excuse for adding to people’s suffering.

Those of us who have been hurt repeatedly have a tendency to close our hearts. We’re afraid to say what we truly feel or make ourselves vulnerable by opening to another out of fear that we will be hurt again. The consequence of closing our hearts individually and collectively is that it decreases our capacity to love and care for one another. Our inability to open our hearts also decreases the likelihood that we will ever find the love we truly need and desire. We become more isolated and that only adds to our unbearable sense of aloneness. Many of us end up suffering through our lives in silence. The resulting state of disconnect and the pain we hold within also feeds into the collective suffering of humanity and the planet.

The Screens that come between us

A friend of mine was telling me about how disappointed she was when a guy she was interested in didn’t respond to her text. I asked her why she was sending text messages if she was truly interested in the guy. Why not just pick up the phone and call? She responded by saying that no one seems to want to talk on the phone anymore.

Texting, tweeting and messaging on Facebook has become the primary means of communication for many. Some of us prefer to text and tweet rather than talk over the phone or meet in person because of our unwillingness to show up and be fully present. The problem here is that it’s so easy to misconstrue what’s being said in our little snippets of communication because we’re no longer physically present in our interactions.

Our unwillingness to address the issues or engage directly with one another contributes to our confusion and misunderstanding. Lack of communication prohibits us from forming healthy attachments. That only adds to our sense of distress by feeding into our separation anxieties, fears of abandonment and our sense of isolation. Our inability to gain understanding and bring issues to resolution prevents us from learning, growing and getting to a better place individually and collectively.

Abandon ship

Relationships have a way of bringing all of our core issues to the forefront. That’s a good thing because it provides us with an amazing opportunity to learn and grow. Addressing the issues as they arise enables us heal and to deepen the connection. Sad thing is that many people are not processed oriented. They want the nice home, car, clothes, smart phone and man or woman. They may exercise, eat the right foods and take all kinds of supplements to stay in shape. But they have no real desire or motivation to learn about themselves, grow as an individual or heal.

Relationships often fail because of one or both partner’s unwillingness or inability to experience their own feelings and address relevant issues. Rather than learning from our experience and using it as a means of growth, we tend to blame each other for the painful feelings that arise. We often withdrawal in conflict or shut down emotionally. We sometimes ignore or distance from our partners, hold on to anger or say and do other things that cause more hurt. Many of us also turn to various addictions such as food, alcohol and other drugs, work and shopping to avoid our feelings.

Some of us abandon ship by bailing out of the relationship as soon as the underlying issues make their way to the surface. In some instances we never see or speak with our former partners again. All that pain, stress and confusion gets bottled up inside of us when we cut and run. Those who of us fail to resolve the issues end up dragging the emotional baggage of the past into subsequent relationships.

Forming healthy and loving attachments provides us with one of the greatest opportunities for personal and spiritual development. We cannot learn about ourselves or each other in relationship by shrinking way from, avoiding or side stepping relevant issues. Connection requires real presence with the use of our senses. We can only heal the wounds, resolve our issues and bridge the gaps between men and women when we fully commit ourselves to learning to work constructively with our feelings. Honesty and transparency can be unpleasant at times, but it is the only road to personal integrity and genuine intimacy. Fully opening to our feelings and engaging in open and honest communication with our partners helps us to gain understanding, strengthen bonds while facilitating healing of the deep emotional wounds.

Working through our feelings facilitates the healing of the emotional wounds and that enables us to deepen the connection to our authentic internal core self. The growth that takes place as we develop a healthier relationship with ourselves enables us to be more fully present in our relationships. Making a consistent effort to listen to and understand our partners, supporting their needs and showing affection will then strengthen the connection by helping us to grow individually and as a couple.

Commitment to doing whatever it takes to heal

People often tell me how they want to heal and get their lives on track. In essence they are looking for someone to come along and magically remove all of their pain and suffering. The presence working through me takes people right to the source of the problem in order to facilitate healing of the body and mind. I have watched so many people who were initially very enthusiastic about healing disappear as soon as the underlying feelings and issues make their way to the surface. Native American elders told me on numerous occasions that people who are not honest and that fail to honor their commitments cannot heal or receive the blessing of the higher power.

Many of us have scheduled appointments with healers or therapists and then canceled because of our unwillingness to face the issues or experience our true feelings. Those of us who are truly committed to doing what it takes to heal may have to reschedule on occasion, but we don’t just cancel or blow off appointments.

Allowing our fears to take over when there are issues that need to be addressed attaches a lot of fear, resistance and confusion to the healing process. Those of us who fail to address the issues and take the steps that are necessary to heal will in many instances have to live with the pain, stress, fear, confusion and sickness in our bodies. This toxicity will eventually spill over into other parts of our lives. Some of us may eventually find our way back, but we risk creating so much obstruction or becoming so lost in our attempt to escape from ourselves and the realities we’ve created and that may prevent us from ever healing.

The harm we’re doing to ourselves

Flakiness is one of the most disempowering and self-destructive forms of behavior we can possibly engage in. We’re flaking out on ourselves when we run from or avoid our feelings and issues. Facing the issues and experiencing our true feelings isn’t always easy, but that’s what makes us stronger.

We all avoid people, issues and situations somewhere along the way because they evoke fears, insecurities and feelings of overwhelm. It’s important for us to understand that avoiding people, situations, issues or feelings that we rather not deal with erodes the foundation upon which we stand.

Feelings and issues that we resist or escape from continue to grow in magnitude as we attempt to push them out of our awareness. Conflicted feelings pushed down on the inside create a tangle of confusion that makes it difficult for us to clearly see ourselves or gain an understanding of the relevant issues that need to be dealt with. Avoidance prevents us from fully developing the capability, competency and other resources we need to fully realize our true potential and to be effective in all areas of our lives.

Cleaning up our act

Our propensity for flakiness has a lot to do with our tendency to avoid feelings and realities that we find uncomfortable or intimidating. It also stems from the fact that we haven’t fully developed the resources that would enable us to cope effectively with the realities of our daily lives. Flakiness is also reinforced by a culture that tells us “Don’t go there” and that doesn’t hold us accountable for our actions.

Many of us have good intentions, but have way too much on our plate and are so overwhelmed by all the things we have to do in order to survive. Balancing the demands and responsibilities of our daily lives with our own individual needs can pose a significant challenge. We may truly want to be there for friends and family or to support a cause we believe in, but in doing so we are sometimes over committing ourselves. Paying attention to how we feel within our bodies when we commit ourselves to people, projects and causes will give us a more realistic sense of our limitations.

One of the women I work with recently told me how she often flaked out on friends and family saying. “The trauma that I had gone through had such an adverse impact on my brain function and that made it very difficult for me to make decisions. I felt paralyzed by the pervasive fears, anxieties and feelings of depression. I just kept backing out of things because I couldn’t handle being around other people and just wanted to keep to myself. But I’ve become so much more open and outgoing as a result of the healing that has taken place over the past few years.”

I have dropped the ball on numerous occasions because I either felt overwhelmed or just didn’t know how to deal with a person or situation. Flaking out on others left me feeling horrible on the inside. I knew at some level that what I was doing wasn’t right. I would often ask myself how I could do things better. In many instances I would go back to the person and apologize and then do whatever I felt was necessary to make things right. From there I’ve gone forward in life with a resolve to live from a place of integrity.

Showing up and paying attention as an active participant in life is one of the most important aspects of becoming a fully functional adult. Some of the people, issues or situations we have to contend with can be intimidating at times. We may lack some of the skills or resources we need to cope effectively. But that doesn’t mean we have to settle for our limitations. None of us are perfect. We will invariably make mistakes along with way and yet we can resolve to learn from experience and do better with each passing day. Learning to show up fully present is an ongoing process. With discipline and perseverance we can develop the resources that will enable us to increase our effectiveness in all areas of life.

We contribute value to the lives of others and to society as a whole through our words and actions when we make a conscientious effort to live from a place of integrity. Our willingness to go the extra mile when the situation calls for demonstrates that we truly care. Making a consistent effort to be real and straightforward in our interactions with others by doing what we say and saying what we do brings about greater alignment within our body-mind consciousness by helping us to become more congruent.

Making the commitment on a daily basis to show up fully present initiates an amazing process of self-discovery and personal growth. We do our part to facilitate the process by facing the issues as they arise to the best of our ability and by fully opening ourselves to any subsequent feelings that emerge.

Choosing to fully embracing life requires tremendous courage. Staying connected to our feelings and physical bodies while being present to the realities of our daily lives enables us to develop greater understanding and insight. We learn to live by a deeper instinctual knowing that guides along a path that leads us to the realization of our potential and the fulfillment of our true purpose.

©Copyright 2012 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.

When is the Pain Going to Stop?

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the scream

My mentor Horace once said to me “You’re going to become an exceptionally powerful doctor. And you’re going to get way up there. In the mean time you’re going to really scrape the bottom. Because if you don’t, you will never understand the suffering of the people you’re working with.”

Soon thereafter I found myself consumed by all the painful impressions and emotions when the traumas of my own childhood and adolescence began to emerge. Fortunately I had an instinctive sense that led me to develop a series of practices that facilitated the awakening of the innate healing intelligence that resides within my own body and mind. I also began to incorporate the healing practices of various ancient spiritual traditions. People who had suffered from abuse and other forms of trauma began to reach out to me. This chapter consists of a series of questions put to me by people I have been working with.

How did I arrive at a place where my body was in so much pain?

In many instances our basic needs for love and attention were never met. Some of us were also neglected or subjected to emotional, physical and / or sexual abuse. We didn’t have the capacity to change our situation or process the overwhelmingly painful emotional response to what was taking place in our lives. We had to shut down parts of ourselves in order to survive. The painful feelings that we’ve pushed out of our awareness remain trapped within our bodies. Pain held within the body over extended periods of time does tremendous damage as it grows in magnitude. These highly charged emotions are the driving force behind many of our addictions and other self-destructive behaviors. They cause us to say and do things that harm our relationships. The pain held within will eventually causes our physical bodies to break down.

Many of us have spent the majority of our lives avoiding the feelings, issues and realities of our lives that have created so much suffering. We sometimes find ourselves totally engulfed in pain when our feelings make their way to the surface. We may become fearful as the feelings emerge and look for a means of escape.

Healing begins when we allow ourselves to fully experience our true feelings. It’s important for us to understand that we may go through some very difficult times along the way. The pain may seem overwhelming, but we will gradually develop the capacity to contain powerful emotions. Our emotions will soften and become more manageable. We will experience a greater sense of lightness and freedom as that happens.

How many stages are there in the healing process and do they have a specific time frame?

There are many stages in the individual healing process. Those of us who are truly committed to doing what it takes to heal and realize our true potential will continue to progress from one stage to another for the remainder of our lives. The early stages are primarily about getting in touch with and healing the deep emotional wounds. The process becomes much easier over time as we digest the backlog of painful feelings stored within the body and develop the resources that will enable us to cope more effectively. Later stages of healing are more about realizing our true potential. There will always be challenges to face, but we will actually begin to derive a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction from the process taking place.

The stages of the healing process vary considerably from one individual to the next. A person who was sexually abused will have a very different experience from someone who suffered physical and emotional abuse. The stages of healing also vary according to the duration and severity of the abuse and the temperament of an individual.

A woman that I have been working with for some time with a history of sexual trauma would experience bloating accompanied by feelings of anxiety and intermittent panic attacks. She also experienced dissociative episodes that left her feeling spaced out and disconnected from her body. The bloating and panic attacks have now subsided and she has become firmly rooted in her body.

Another woman turned to substances as an adolescent to numb out after suffering many years of neglect and emotional abuse. She described her experience by saying “My body was constantly wracked with fear, anxiety and a sense of franticness that was accompanied by all kinds of painful thought patterns. The pain had a very acidic quality to it. What made it even worse was that I never got a break from the pain. I now feel much calmer as a result of the work we have been doing. I have become more assertive and find that I have a greater capacity to handle stressful or challenging situations.”

Are there signs to watch for that would indicate that I’m moving from one stage of the healing process to the next?

The individual healing process does not move along a straight trajectory. There are going to be times when we find ourselves confronted with difficult people or situations that bring our core issues and the painful feelings attached to them to the forefront of our awareness. We may feel consumed by many of the same kinds of old painful feelings. In many instances we mistakenly assume that we haven’t progressed at all or that we have somehow gone backwards.

Those of us who were subjected to abuse or other forms of extreme stress tend to hold many layers and pockets of residual anger, fear, pain and trauma within our bodies. Stressful situations that trigger our deeper vulnerabilities can be very trying, but they provide us with a valuable opportunity to get in touch with and heal the wounded parts of ourselves.

Deep emotional wounds can have a very debilitating impact. We’re more likely to react to difficult people or situations. At other times we feel overwhelmed and incapacitated our own emotions and the realities of our lives. There will always be hills and valleys, but the realities of daily life will become more manageable as we learn to digest our emotions and develop the resources and capabilities that make it easier for us to cope.

I felt that I was doing okay in my life. But then I went from feeling okay to experiencing a great deal of pain. Was I actually masking the pain for all these years?

Most of us learned from an early age to disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies. In many instances we had to disconnect in order to survive. After some time our mind’s defense mechanisms block the pain so that it no longer registers in our conscious awareness. The deeply wounded parts of us continue to operate outside of our normal everyday awareness. They often cause us to act out in ways that are harmful to us and others. Eventually, the suffering within becomes so great that we can no longer contain it. We often find ourselves in a great deal of discomfort as our defenses begin to unravel.

There are times when I’m in tremendous physical pain from the emotions. How long is this going to last?

Many of us go through life avoiding unpleasant realities, issues and all of the feelings attached to them. The pain will invariably continue to build on the inside until it reaches critical mass. We often find ourselves in a state of excruciating discomfort when our defenses fall apart and the feelings and impressions we have resisted for so long make their way to the surface.

The duration, intensity and nature of our suffering are influenced by a wide range of factors and will vary according to each individual. Repeated exposure to extreme stress or trauma tends to have a greater impact than one-time traumatic events. The resources that are available to us during times of extreme stress or trauma also play a large part in our capacity to cope. The impact of the abuse can be far more devastating for those of us who were abused in infancy or early childhood, because we had far fewer resources that would have enable us to cope. A loving and supportive parent(s), grandparent, sibling, friend or teacher can help to mitigate the effects of traumatic experiences. There are also vast differences in our individual constitutional makeup. People who are naturally more resilient have a greater capacity to cope with stress and for this reason they tend to bounce back more readily.

A painful breakup or divorce can have a devastating impact upon an individual. Many people never fully recover from the loss. The left over emotional baggage has a negative impact upon all subsequent relationships. The individual healing sessions help people to process the hurts, disappointments, fears and feelings of loss. There have been many instances where people have been able to heal from a devastating breakup and move on after a few sessions.

I’ve worked with many people over the years who were subjected to emotional, physical and sexual trauma. Some people approach me for help saying they just want to try out a session to see if they like it. Trying out a session like taking an herbal remedy or vitamin one time. We may need to take a remedy for some time before we really notice a difference. Many people are so out of touch with their feelings and physical bodies. Realistically, it’s going to take at least three to ten sessions before one begins to get a handle on the healing process taking place. Some disappear after a session or two when the underlying feelings and issues make their way to the surface. It really saddens me, because I know that most of these individuals will never heal.

Others will come in and do one or a few sessions and then show up after months or years to do a few more sessions. Healing often comes to standstill when that happens. Some people actually regress during these intervals. Disappearing for extended periods of time delays an individual’s healing process. The healing that could take place in a year or two may take five to eight years.

The individual healing sessions help those who have suffered from abuse and other forms of trauma to digest the backlog of highly charged emotions, rewire the brain and build the strong foundation that will enable them to become fully functional adults. People who work with me consistently at one to two week intervals heal the trauma and get to a place where they feel much lighter in six to eighteen months. I’ve watched many of these individuals grow increasingly stronger, develop greater resilience and become more highly functional over the course of a few years as we continue to work together.

The pain I experience is sometimes like a fever. It will break at times and then I feel much better. Will this happen more frequently as I go along?

There’s a very nebulous line between physical and emotional pain. Stressful emotions held within the body for extended periods of time often trigger physiological reactions. We may become feverish, achy, feel nauseous or experience physical pain as the stresses held within work their way through way through our system. Intensive healing practices will sometimes trigger these reactions. This is all a normal part of the body-mind’s process of cleansing itself of toxicity.

Painful emotions may intensify to such an extent that we feel totally consumed. The volume of pain stored within our bodies will gradually decrease as we continue to take the steps necessary to facilitate healing. The painful periods will shorten in duration and become less severe. We will experience a greater sense of lightness, freedom and connection to a higher power as we continue to process the physical, energetic and emotional toxicity.

Why is the pain worse after receiving bodywork or a healing session? Does everyone experience pain after body work or healing sessions?

Emotions stored within the body need to be brought to the surface so they can be processed. Body work helps to free up stresses trapped within our bodies. The problem here is that most of us have a very limited capacity to “digest” the painful emotions that are surfacing.

Painful emotions and other stresses held within the body are also brought to the surface during the individual healing sessions. The primary difference here is that the presence working through me helps to “predigest” the heavy congealed emotions that we experience as pain. The pain is neutralized and then transformed so that it can be used as fuel for our growth.

This presence also works to build greater infrastructure by increasing brain function and developing the subtle bodies which consist of the chakras and layers of the aura. Developing greater infrastructure increases our capacity to thoroughly digest and assimilate the emotions and impressions of past traumas and other stresses held within the body.

Nearly everyone I work with tells me that the sessions bring all kinds of feelings and issues to the surface that need to be addressed. They also tell me how working through these feelings and issues allows them to experience a greater sense of resolution and clarity. Many have said that it feels as though a huge burden has lifted.

The level of physical and emotional discomfort that one experiences during the healing session will vary considerably from one individual to the next. Many have described sharp pains or dull aches in parts of the body during the sessions. In most instances these discomforts last for only a few minutes.

The early stages of the healing process can be far more challenging for those who are holding a great deal of stress and trauma within their bodies. People who have disconnected from their feelings and physical bodies sometimes become fearful of the powerful emotions that surface and wonder where it’s all coming from. I sometimes have to hold people by the hand long enough to get them onto solid ground.

I have told people I work with on many occasions “You wouldn’t be experiencing all of this pain or discomfort during the sessions if you weren’t holding so much stress within your body. It’s important for you to understand that the sessions are helping you to digest the stresses so that you no longer have to carry them. It is critically important for you to heal the wounds and digest these stresses before they cause further damage. The difficult or painful episodes will shorten, become less severe and happen less frequently as you continue to progress. People who initially experienced a lot of pain or discomfort during and after the sessions tell me that they experience pleasant and enjoyable feeling and sensations as they continue to progress.”

Is the pain a physical or emotional reaction? How can I manage the pain?

The various issues, concerns and realities of our lives evoke physical and emotional reactions. We often fight or resist these reactions by trying to stop them. It’s important for us to do the best we can to relax into our resistance. Breathing softly and deeply while allowing ourselves to be permeable helps to diffuse the uncomfortable feelings and sensations in a way that makes them easier to digest.

Our body-mind has a limited capacity to digest the painful emotions and other stresses that have been held within the body for extended periods of time. I found that the walking meditation helped me to get through the really difficult periods by making the process more manageable. I would go out and walk at a gradual pace while breathing into the painful feelings that were surfacing for hours at a time. After a few months I noticed that my aura was extending further out from my body. I could feel the painful emotions and other stresses that had been stuck on the inside beginning to circulate through my physical and subtle bodies. I could also feel a nurturing presence from the Earth helping to create a greater sense of stability and wellbeing.

Does the pain ever go away?

The vast majority of people who have been abused, traumatized or subjected to other forms of extreme stress will continue to live with the pain for the remainder of their lives. One of the greatest impediments to healing is our resistance to experiencing our true feelings. We’ve been taught to shut down or disconnect from our feelings from the time we came into this world. Resistance in the form of suppressing, fighting against or avoiding the pain will only perpetuate our suffering.

Many of us are terrified to experience our feelings, fearing that we will become totally overwhelmed if we were to ever allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Difficult as it may seem, we need to learn to become present to the full range of feeling and sensation within our bodies. We do that by breathing softly and deeply as we focus our awareness within the middle of the feelings and sensations.

I often ask people to let me look into their aura whenever they tell me about the therapies and healing practices they are doing. Observing the changes taking place within people’s bodies and minds has given me a good sense of what works and what doesn’t work. Many people continue to suffer needlessly because they lack the understanding and the resources needed to facilitate healing. Conventional approaches to healing are very limited in their effectiveness. People have come to me on many occasions after having gone through years of talk therapy. Many have gained intellectual understand of their suffering and yet they’re still holding so much of the pain, stress and trauma within their bodies.

The pain will gradually diminish over time when we take the steps that are necessary to facilitate healing. We may need to work with a psychotherapist to help us gain an intellectual framework to understand what we have gone through, how it has affected us and the healing process taking place. We need to make use of additional resources such as deep tissue bodywork to help us move the stuck and stagnant energies and emotions held within our bodies. Traditional spiritual — healing practices such as yoga, martial arts including Tai Chi and Chi Gong will help us to become more comfortably present in our bodies. Indigenous healing practices such as those originating among the Native Americans are by far the most effective to help us transform the painful energies and emotions that create so much suffering and to build the strong healthy foundation that one needs to have an order to live a full and productive life.

Healing can be a long and arduous process for those of us who have been deeply wounded. The process requires tremendous courage and discipline, but it is well worth it. The pain will gradually diminish over time as long as we take the steps that are necessary to facilitate healing.

How much practice do I need to do on a daily basis to process the pain?

Much of our attention is focused on doing what it takes to either survive or to acquire more wealth and material possessions. We spend so much of our free time trying to escape from ourselves and the realities of our everyday lives by watching television, surfing the Internet, shopping or eating and drinking. This highly extroverted focus causes us to lose touch with our core self and the deep emotional wounds that cause us so much suffering.

Internal practice may initially feel completely foreign because we have become so far removed from our internal state of being. We may need to start out with fifteen to twenty minutes of practice a day and gradually work our way up. I recommend that most people do at least an hour of daily practice.

An hour or more of daily practice may seem like a lot of time to some people. It’s important for us to understand that the investment we’re making in ourselves by taking time to do intensive spiritual practice will result in increased productivity, improved health, a stronger connection with the higher power and a greater sense of wellbeing.

There were days, weeks and months in my past when I was in so much pain that I could barely function. I would sometimes breathe into the feelings of anxiety and grief for hours on end. The feelings became more manageable when I did the breathing practice while walking. I would usually walk for one to three hours at a time. Later on I incorporated various Chi Gong practices.

I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to train with a traditional American Indian doctor (medicine man) and with a Chinese master in the Internal Martial Arts. It’s fairly common for those who attain mastery in these ancient spiritual disciplines to do hours of intensive practice on a daily basis. These individuals do not suffer from the horrible anxiety and depression that debilitates so many people in our modern day culture. Their bodies and minds tend to be far more resilient. Many have also developed various spiritual powers, gifts and capabilities.

Increasing the amount of time we spend working with practices will greatly accelerate our process of healing and personal development. I’m in a completely different space than I was at the time I was healing the deep emotional wounds of my past, but I still like to do three to five hours of intensive daily practice because it gives me the opportunity to continually develop my body and mind.

Are there certain practices that are better or more appropriate than others at different stages of the healing?

We cannot possibly heal until we begin to digest the painful feelings which are the underlying source of our suffering. The first thing I do as I work with people is to teach them a series of practices that awaken the innate healing intelligence that resides within the body and mind. Breathing softly and deeply while fully immersing our awareness within the feelings helps us to diffuse and then digest the painful emotions that are the underlying source of our suffering. Our needs will vary as we move further along. I have the people I work with incorporate various Chi Gong practices as they continue to progress.

Sometimes I feel frightened by the seemingly never ending sense of hopelessness. Will I ever be free of these feelings?

Painful emotions and other stresses held within the body for indefinite periods of time can be very difficult to our system to process and that’s why we often feel consumed by the pain. We sometimes experience a form of tunnel vision as the painful feelings surface. We become so engulfed in darkness and feel as though there is no way out. We may then become very resistant to the process fearing that the pain will never end. It’s important for us to understand that this is a normal part of the healing process. The pain will subside and we will get to a much lighter place as we continue to put one foot in front of the other by taking the steps that are necessary to facilitate healing.

There were times when I felt totally consumed by the pain and I feared that the suffering would never end. I didn’t have anyone to hold my hand or show me the way. Fortunately I had a strong intuitive sense to guild me. I was able to recognize signs of progress along the way. I had to keep reminding myself of the days when I felt better and all the little signs of progress. The painful episodes became less frequent and shorter in duration. I began to feel a sense of being connected to a presence greater than myself and my ability to do what needed to be done continued to improve. Keeping my mind focused on the signs of progress helped me to develop faith in the process and that’s what kept me going.

One of the women I have been working with recently said to me “Is it really worth it to do what it takes to heal? Why not eat, drink, shop or do all the other things that people do to numb out?”

I responded by saying “You were totally out of control at the time we started working. You drank yourself into oblivion, crashed cars and became involved with damaged men who caused you lots of pain. Stop and imagine what it would be like if you had continued along that path for another ten, twenty or more years. What kind of shape would you be in by that time? Now imagine how you would feel looking back over your life after having continued down that path.

You’ve cleaned up a lot since we started working together. You’ve stopped drinking, let go of the damaged boyfriend and now you’re getting on track with your life. Don’t you think it’s worth it by now?

Half an hour after I wake up the feelings come on? Few hours later I feel pretty good. The feelings come back again the next morning. Why is that?

Our defensive structures soften during the night while we sleep. Feelings held within the body that normally operate outside of our conscious awareness begin to surface. These feelings can be uncomfortable at times, but we need to understand that they are providing us with an opportunity to get in touch with and heal the wounded parts of ourselves.

There were many nights where all kinds of painful and anxious feelings would keep me up till two, three or four in the mornings. At other times I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep. I finally said to myself “Okay, this is something I need to work with.” I would then do the best I could to remain present by breathing into the feelings.

The career and future I had planned feels all wrong. Now there’s a whole other career field I feel drawn to. Is this normal? Is it that I have a better sense of what I truly want now that the pain isn’t distorting my perception?

Healing facilitates an ongoing process of evolution. Our needs and desires change as we evolve. We gain a clearer sense of our life’s purpose and develop the resources needed to fulfill our true potential as that happens.

Are there things we can be doing to accelerate the healing process?

Like most people who are suffering, I was very fearful of the process taking place and I just wanted the pain to stop. I tried in so many ways to escape the pain. Over time I gradually learned to embrace the process. From that time on I did everything I possibly could to facilitate healing. I didn’t know how to help myself in the beginning and often felt as though I were flailing in the dark. But I gradually learned what I needed to do to keep myself on track and accelerate the healing process.

Healing the deep emotional wounds can take considerable amounts of time. There are a number of tools and resources that we can make use of to accelerate the process. I started out by going to see a therapist. Psychotherapy helped me to gain an intellectual understanding of the suffering I was going through, but it did nothing to alleviate the debilitating pain that made it so difficult for me to function.

During that time I found myself attracted to women who were either uninterested, unavailable or that reenacted the traumas of my past. The lack of reciprocation and being jerked around emotionally evoked all kinds of excruciatingly painful feelings. Somehow I had an instinctive sense that I needed to breathe into the all-consuming pain. Breathing into the pain helped me to digest the highly charged emotions. The emotional wounds began to heal and that made it easier for me to let go and move on when a relationship wasn’t working. Years later, I began to incorporate various Chi Gong practices. The Chi Gong practices gave me a means of drawing life force into the parts of my body that were either unconscious or holding stress and pain. I could feel these parts of my body-mind consciousness waking up.

I did lots of deep tissue body work. Deep tissue body work helped to break up the heavy stagnant emotional energies that were trapped within my body. Having those emotions brought to the surface could be uncomfortable at times, but I could always feel a sense of relief and freedom once I was able to process these feelings. Deep tissue bodywork also helped me to become more present in the parts of my body where I had been numbed out, disconnected or held a lot of pain and stress. It also helped me to derive a greater sense of enjoyment from being in my own body.

I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with a number of exceptionally powerful healers over the years. I was in Sri Lanka at a time when my issues of unrequited love were coming to a head. One of my friends could see how I was suffering and told me about a Buddhist monk that possessed a powerful gift of healing. I went to see the monk fourteen times in one month. I went back for another twelve healing sessions when I returned to Sri Lanka four months later. I could always tell the difference whenever I had the opportunity to work with these powerful healers. But I often had to wait six months to a year and sometimes even longer between sessions because they didn’t come around very often.

Native Americans in various parts of North America would go out alone into the mountains to fast for four days and nights without food and water. My mentor Horace had me going on the vision quest during the times that he transmitted portions of his own healing gifts to me. I seemed to wander aimlessly through much of my twenties, but realized shortly after my thirty-first birthday 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 and feel all kinds of imagery and the feelings attached to them as memories of past abuses, traumas and other stressful events begin to 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 were being reformatted.

Do you recommend any form of physical activity?

We all need to engage in some form of ongoing physical activity. Exercise has a calming and grounding effect. The endorphins released when we exercise help to reduce the pain associated with depression and anxiety. They improve our outlook and help us to feel better about ourselves by elevating our mood. Exercise also increases our confidence and helps us to feel better about our physical appearance.

I have been training in the Internal Martial Arts of Xin Yi Quan, Baguazhang, Tai Chi and Chi Gong for quite some time now. Yoga and other forms of athletic activity can also be very effective. Each of us needs to choose the forms of physical activity that is best suited for our needs.

Some of us are in so much pain that we can hardly get ourselves out of bed. There were many instances in which I had to force myself to get up and practice. My determination helped me to push through the really difficult periods. After a while I could feel how the walking meditation and martial arts training were helping me to move the heavy stagnant emotions that had accumulated within my body so that I could begin to process them.

Commitment

Most of the population isn’t very health conscious. We’ve learned to disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies. The innate healing intelligence that resides within our own bodies and minds becomes compromised and begins to shut down. We’re more likely to dabble in healing because we’ve had very limited exposure to the ancient spiritual disciplines that would teach us how to develop our bodies and minds and grow spiritually. Many of us are looking for someone to come along and magically remove our pain and suffering in a session or two. Healing is never going to work like that. Those of us who fail to learn will invariably live with our wounds for the remainder of our lives.

Healing the deep emotional wounds requires tremendous discipline, commitment and consistency. Some will say that it’s too much work. What we fail to understand is that all the horrible suffering we are forced to endure consumes far more valuable time, energy and resources than the amount required to heal. Those of us who fail to take the steps necessary to heal will invariably sink ever deeper into the hole we are digging for ourselves.

From experience I can say that discipline and perseverance definitely pays off. The many hours of intensive practice have facilitated a gradual process of evolution. Every healing session and vision quest has brought me another big step forward. The traumas of my past have healed. I’ve become very resilient and have so much more energy. I’m much freer and have a clearer sense of purpose. And I have greater access to the resources that are making it possible for me to fulfill my purpose and realize my true potential.

Are there pitfalls along the way that could derail our healing process?

Some of us become very fearful and start to panic when we find ourselves engulfed in painful feelings. In some instances we become very whiny saying things like “I feel like crap …when is the pain going to end?” We assume that something is wrong because we’re hurting and so we start searching for answers online. In some instances we self-diagnose by attempting to correlate our signs and symptoms with those of various psychiatric disorders. We may seek out a psychiatrist and go on medications. Medications may help to block the pain out of our awareness, but in doing so they impair our ability to process our emotions. We need to take into consideration that these medications have a wide range of harmful side effects. They also have a deadening effect upon our consciousness.

The dissonant emotions and energies associated with trauma tend to wreak havoc within the body and mind. Stress often expresses itself through the body in the form of abdominal and chest pain, fatigue, dizziness, headache, edema, back pain, shortness of breath, insomnia, numbness, impotence, weight loss and constipation. It can also manifests as heart disease, digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Traumatic stress accounts for the high prevalence of autoimmune disorders. In some instances the body begins to shut down.

People who suffer from stress related illnesses often get sucked into the western medical model. Allopathic approaches to healing are very effective for some health issues, but they primarily treat the symptom rather than addressing the underlying cause of an illness. Many of the things we do to treat the symptoms undermine the innate healing intelligence that resides within our bodies and minds.

Reaching out

The painful feelings that emerge can leave us feeling frightened and overwhelmed. At times we may feel as if we are losing it and we begin to wonder if pain will ever end. We often find ourselves reaching out in an attempt to make sense of our suffering. We want someone to console us and make it all better.

Most people never fully allow themselves to experience the pain, grief and fear held within their bodies. People who do not allow themselves to experience their own vulnerability will never be able to understand what we’re going through. In many instances they will discount our feelings or try to talk us out of them. It’s also important for us to keep in mind that people who have not been abused or suffered from trauma can never fully comprehend the experiences of those of us who have.

There were times when I was trying to make sense of what I was going through. I was looking for understanding, but I quickly discovered that most people have little, if any, comprehension of what I was going through because they have spent the majority of their lives disconnecting from their own feelings and physical bodies. In doing so they never allowed themselves to go to those places where they are truly vulnerable.

I soon realized that sharing what I was feeling made some people feel very uncomfortable. In many instances the people I had opened up to would either discount or invalidate my feelings and experiences or they assumed that something was wrong with me. Seeking input or validation from people who have never dealt their own woundedness only added to my confusion. I had to learn to be very selective by only opening up to those who were taking the steps necessary to facilitate their own healing.

Resistance

Fear, anxiety and other painful feelings that make their way to the surface can leave us feeling overwhelmed. Our first impulse is to push it all back down, but that will only perpetuate our suffering. To the best of our ability we need to stop resisting and embrace the process taking place by fully opening to the feelings that are surfacing. I had to teach myself to let down all resistance by becoming fully present to the realities of my life and any subsequent feelings that arose.

There were times when I wanted so much to have someone in my life, but relationships never seemed to work out. I ended up making matters worse by trying too hard to make relationships work and then I kept resisting the painful feelings that emerged when they didn’t. I had to teach myself to stop resisting by fully opening to the reality that I would never get to be with the woman I felt such a strong desire to be with. Being fully present with the reality of not having my feelings reciprocated and needs met evoked all kinds of excruciatingly painful feelings. These feelings gradually softened as I continued to breathe into them. Becoming fully present by breathing into the feelings helped me to break down the projections so I could let go and become more firmly grounded in my body. Going through this process made it possible for me get to a place where I could attract healthier companions.

Negative self-talk

Our minds have a tendency to chatter away and that often takes the form of negative self-talk. We often find ourselves trapped in circular patterns of negative thought that evoke all kinds of painful feelings. The painful feelings then reinforce our negative internal dialog.

Painful feelings held within our bodies are the driving force behind the negative self-talk and movies that play out in our minds. It takes a great deal of discipline to break out of these patterns. My mind would often spin me around in circles with all kinds of negative self-talk and imagery. Listening to the self-talk would escalate my negative emotional states. I learned to interrupt the negative imagery and the accompanying internal dialog by asking myself “What’s the deepest feeling behind all of that?” Breathing into the underlying feelings enabled me to diffuse the highly charged emotions that were the driving force behind the negative scenarios playing my head.

The healing sessions and vision quests took the process that much further by dismantling the traumas that had become so deeply ingrained in my body and mind. The new structure built in its place made it much easier for me to relax, feel more comfortable with and accepting of myself and to develop confidence in my ability to handle challenging situations.

Just deal with it

The suffering we go through doesn’t come to an end once the abuse or trauma is over. Many of us continue to experience baseline emotional states of pain, fear, anxiety, sadness and grief. What makes matters worse is that we often find ourselves confronted by people and situations that evoke many of the same kinds of painful feelings. We can easily fall into a pattern of whining or complaining about what’s not working in our lives and about how we horrible we feel.

A friend of mine once told me about his father who had served four tours during the Viet Nam war. His father told him that he survived the horrors of life in the combat zone by telling himself “Just deal with it.”

I realized that complaining was just another form of resistance and that I was only making matters worse. I made a conscientious effort to stop complaining. I began interrupt the pattern by telling myself “Just deal with it.” I dealt with it by doing practice, receiving healing sessions and going on vision quests. I also became more proactive by doing everything I could to better my situation.

Fearful of our emotions

Many of us are so fearful of our emotions and that makes total sense considering that we have been taught to shut down or disconnect from our feelings. The problem with shutting down emotionally is that the painful feelings continue to accumulate within our bodies. Our bodies cannot contain all that pain indefinitely. It’s just a matter of time before our defenses unravel and all of these feelings make their way to the surface. We may find ourselves in a great deal of pain as that happens.

Painful feelings and impressions emerge and we start to panic. Fighting, resisting, whining and continually talking about what’s causing us so much suffering will only escalate the fearful and anxious feelings. We may go through some very difficult periods of time where we find ourselves consumed by feelings of anxiety, fear, grief and pain. It’s important for us to understand that this is all a normal part of the process. As difficult as it is, we just need to fully open up to the underlying feelings no matter how scary or painful they may seem to the best of our ability while breathing softly and deeply. Yes, the pain can be excruciating at times. We may fear that we will go over the edge but we won’t. We suffer much less and heal so much faster when we make a consistent practice of flying right into the eye of the hurricane.

Completely letting go into the pain

Some of us fall into a state of desperation when we find ourselves consumed by the painful feelings. We just want the pain to go away. We sometimes panic but that only escalates our state of distress and then we end up creating a lot more pain. The pain will gradually subside as we continue to take the steps that are necessary to facilitate healing. In the mean time we need to take the attitude of “Okay… whatever” and totally surrender to the process that is unfolding.

There were times when I found myself completely engulfed by the pain. These periods would sometimes drag on for days, weeks and even months. I didn’t know if I would ever come out the other side. Resisting the painful feelings only made matters worse. I realized I needed to completely let go of the possibility that the suffering would even come to an end.

I had an instinctive sense that I needed to completely let go by allowing myself to become fully immersed in the pain. In many instances I would continue to breathe into the pain for hours on end. The pain would sometimes intensify to the extent that it became excruciating, but at a certain point I could feel something breaking open within me. I could then feel powerful emanations of warmth flowing in waves from deep within.

Can those of us who were abused or have experienced other forms of trauma completely heal on our own?

It’s common for people in places like India and China to spend many years training under a guru or master. The student understands that the guru or master has traveled much further along the path as a result of their many years of intensive discipline. The guru is able to help their students navigate the terrain ahead, make sense of the various phenomena they encounter along the way and avoid unforeseen dangers or pitfalls. Having the guidance of someone who has attained mastery can prevent the student from wasting precious time or meandering aimlessly.

The many years of intensive practice have heightened my sensory capacity. It saddens me to look into people’s bodies and minds and see how many are essentially lost. They don’t understand their body-mind and its innate healing processes or possess the resources that would enable them to heal. The traumas and other stresses they’ve experienced have altered their brain’s biochemical makeup. The subtle bodies consisting of the chakras and the layers of the aura are often damaged or disfigured. In many instances the subtle bodies have failed to ever develop. Their capacity to process their emotions is very limited and as a result their bodies are holding the accumulation of many years of undigested emotional residue. Some manage to disconnect from their feelings while others are overwhelmed by the painful emotions. All of these factors contribute to a deadening of consciousness. It also creates a great deal of confusion. Stresses held within the body also disconnect people from their authentic core self and the higher power. They don’t have a clear sense of direction or the resources needed to fulfill their life’s purpose. Many continue to suffer needlessly for the remainder of their lives.

Traumatic experiences elicit very powerful and sometimes overwhelming emotional responses. Our body-mind stores the emotions that we are unable to process. These painful emotions trigger powerful biochemical reactions within the brain. The highly charged emotions, negative internal dialog and imagery and the biochemical reactions become habituated. The resulting damage can range from mild to severe.

The wounds that many of us carry are so extensive. Our body-mind operating system needs to be reformatted. We do not have the capacity to fully heal these wounds on our own. We need to undergo the process of spiritual surgery with a powerful healer to heal the debilitating wounds and to build the strong healthy foundation that will truly support us.

Native peoples of the Americas lived out in the wild. They went through intensive practices such as the vision quest that involve going out alone into the mountains to fast for four days and nights without food or water. Traditional native doctors possessed different kinds of healing gifts and powers and were known throughout the tribes for their areas of specialization. They allowed other forces or beings to work through them to facilitate healing that would not have otherwise been possible. Native people would often travel for great distances to seek out their assistance.

My mentor Horace passed on portions of his own healing gifts to me during my apprenticeship. I began to receive other gifts of healing as I started going out on the vision quests. The kind of healing power I work with is especially suited for facilitating healing for those who are struggling with traumatic issues. The presence working through me during the individual healing sessions softens and diffuses the painful emotions associated with abuse and other forms of trauma so that they can be digested. This presence also helps to build a strong and stable foundation.

Is there some great advantage or pay off to having to endure so much suffering?

Human beings have an innate need for comfort, security and stability. Many people want to get to a comfortable place in life where they are not faced with any significant challenges that would force them to deal with the issues or encourage them to grow. People who don’t know what it’s like to struggle, have not dealt with loss, faced adversity or overcome seemingly insurmountable odds have a greater tendency to fall into complacency and that leads to stagnation.

All of us are vulnerable. Stresses that overwhelm our capacity to cope can in some instances damage and even destroy us. The things that hurt us or create stress in our lives can also serve as a catalyst for growth. Many of the truly remarkable individuals who have effected lasting positive change in the world have gone through tremendous adversity. Having to deal with their trials and tribulations forced them to tap into resources that enabled them to change the world for the better.

Learning to work constructively with our feelings helps us to use suffering as a catalyst for growth. Digesting our feelings facilitates the process of growth and maturation that enables us to develop more of the resources we need to become fully functional adults. The process that takes place as we heal the trauma and work through our doubts, fears, pain and confusion causes us to make use of parts of our brain and body-mind consciousness that most people never gain access to. We become stronger, develop greater compassion and empathy and discover the unique gifts that we as individuals have to offer to the world.

The Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi once said “When inward tenderness finds the secret hurt, pain itself will crack the rock and Ah!!! Let the SOUL emerge.

I discovered that the pain can serve as a doorway when I allowed myself to fully open up to it. Breathing into the pain for such long periods of time took me into profoundly altered states. I began to feel connected to something much greater than myself. I could then feel a source of nurturance, comfort, calm and strength flowing from within. My internal world then became a place of refuge.

Stepping up to the plate

Time certainly will not heal these wounds. The pain will never go away on its own. It will only get worse if you fail to address the issues. You’re not going to heal by sitting around reading posts off the internet or watching videos on YouTube. You may say that you want to think about it. Think all you want, true healing will only take place when you take consistent constructive action. Healing the deep emotional wounds is a process that requires courage, commitment, consistency and discipline. You need to be willing to step outside of our comfort zone to try out new approaches that are unfamiliar. Pick up the phone, make the appointment and continue to work with a healer on a regular basis. You also need to be doing consistent daily practice.

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