Can We Still Be Friends After The Breakup?

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Wild FlowersKatelynn shared during the introduction to one of my classes that she had been struggling to cope emotionally after a recent breakup. I asked her if she could tell us what brought about the dissolution of the relationship. She told us that significant differences in their needs and values were generating a lot of conflict. Her former partner left on short notice when he was offered a job in California. I asked Katelynn if she was making any effort to keep in touch with him. Katelynn told me that she found it too painful to keep in touch and so she stopped returning his calls.

I had Katelynn close her eyes, begin to breathe softly and deeply and bring her former partner to the forefront of her awareness and then tell us how she was feeling. Katelynn said that she was feeling mildly depressed, isolated and numb. Katelynn later shared that she was missing her former partner and that she was experiencing a profound sense of emptiness combined with feelings of sadness and anger. She said that the whole experience left her wondering what she had done wrong.

Katelynn told me that the pain and pressure that she was experiencing within her body let up as she continued to work with the practice of breathing into the feelings and sensations. After some time she began to experience a greater sense of peace, calmness and ease.

The wound that never fully heals

The loss of a love can be especially devastating. The painful emotions that arise while we’re in the midst of a breakup can leave us feeling overwhelmed. The intensity of the feelings gradually diminish over time, but that doesn’t mean we have thoroughly processed our losses.

The vast majority of us have never learned to work constructively with our feelings. And many of us never fully process these losses. Much of the grief, hurt, sadness and disappointment remains trapped within our bodies. The painful feelings that arise in response to the losses that we experience over the course of our lives form layers of armor as they accumulate within our bodies. In many instances we end up building walls around ourselves. Someone who is well matched for us may come along at some point, but our fears and suspicions create barriers that prevent us from trusting or letting anyone in. The deadening resulting from our leftover emotional baggage also prevents us from being as fully present.

It’s Complicated

Breakups can be especially complicated. We develop a strong attachment for the person that had been a part of our life and there are qualities about them that we truly love. We often experience a painful sense of longing after the breakup for what is no longer. There are also circumstances that get in the way and aspects of us and our partners that that made one of or both of us feel that the relationship was unworkable.

Letting go can be that much more difficult for those of us who haven’t learned to process our feelings. The parts of us that are not processing emotionally cannot let go because they are still living in the past. We do tremendous damage by tearing ourselves apart in the process of separating from our partners.

Deliberately hurtful or just being true to themselves

We all say or do things at times that are hurtful to others. Partners that are especially abusive can leave us with deep emotional wounds. It’s important for us to know abuse when it’s happening and to sever all ties with those who have an inclination to inflict verbal, emotional or physical harm upon us. We also need to distance, if not sever ties with former partners that are toxic. That can be hard to do in some instances, especially if there are children involved.

We sometimes feel hurt when our partner’s feelings and needs do not reciprocate our own. But that doesn’t mean they are intentionally doing anything to hurt us. They may just be being true to themselves by doing whatever it is that they need to be doing at this point in their lives. In some instances they may be misguided, confused and making all kinds of mistakes. And yet we need to be able to let go and allow them to live the lives of their own choosing even if that doesn’t involve us to the extent we want it to.

The only constant is change

Every now and then someone comes into our lives with whom we share a special bond. We may only know these individuals for a short time or they may remain an active part of our lives for many years to come. Our feelings and needs change over time and so do those of our partners. Differences in values, needs and expectations can create incompatibility. Sometimes the people that we have invested in can no longer live up to the promises they have made or meet our expectations. But that change doesn’t necessarily mean that these individuals are no longer an important part of our lives or that we have to completely sever the bond. Doing so can be very damaging to everyone involved.

Change is the only constant. Everyone and everything we know and love is in a continual state of transition. We often experience feelings of hurt, loss, sadness, disappointment and anger when we, our partners and our relationships change. Breathing softly and deeply while fully immersing our awareness in the midst of these feelings helps us to reconcile conflicting feelings and expectations so that we can allow the people in our lives to be who they need to be and our relationships to evolve. Maintaining our connections to the people that have played an important part of our lives as we and they change is an important part of our healing and personal growth.

The feelings that arise when a relationship with someone that we once shared a romantic connection begins to go through a transition can be very uncomfortable. We may feel hurt and angry, but at some level we still love this person. And if they ever experienced feelings of love for us then they probably still do. We’re still relating to this person with whom we share a connection and yet the relationship is not what it used to be. It can be an awkward adjustment when we’re still interacting with the same person and yet we’re no longer physically intimate. We often feel anxious that our former partners will start seeing someone else and it often hurts when they do. It takes some time to adapt to new sets of boundaries, ways of relating to one another and the continuing changes that take place.

Attachment and Loss

Liz was six to eight weeks out of the relationship when she first came to my class. The remainder of this chapter is taken from a series of conversations we’ve had over the past few months.

Liz: At the time came to your class I was in this crazy place where my whole life was changing. Everything that I was most terrified of was happening. I thought I was searching for a partner and going into romantic relationships in a mature way. I was looking for support so I didn’t have to go through life alone. Having to do it all for myself was terrifying because for much of my life I felt that I couldn’t always rely upon or trust my parents.

Don and I met when I reached out to him on Ok Cupid. I noticed on his profile that he had also traveled to India. We chatted a bit, talking about our experiences in India. Don told me that he had just moved to New Hampshire and that he was teaching himself to cross country ski. We agreed to meet to go cross country skiing for our first date. I started spending a lot of time at Don’s condo and after six to eight months he bought a house and I moved in, believing that this was a serious relationship.

I invested so fully and quickly in Don and our relationship once I sensed that he was really interested. We got together four years ago and I never adjusted that image. I was in it for the long haul no matter what. I really stuck with it all the way through despite the fact that a lot of changes were occurring during our final year together. On some level I knew intuitively what was about to happen and that scared the shit out of me.

Don started pulling away from me in September and then we broke up in May. He became more invested in other things, but I didn’t adjust my level of commitment to the relationship or my dependence on him. So when Don broke off the relationship in May, it felt like my entire support system was gone.

I couldn’t extract my grief from the terror I felt over what was going to happen to me. I was angry with Don. I was having so much difficulty concentrating and my energy was really diffuse. I was desperate to have something move at the point when I came to see you.

I finally got all of my stuff out of Don’s place and moved to an apartment. Don was focused on selling his house. Finding new homes for the dogs was really traumatic for both of us. I felt the trauma of it too because one of the dogs was mine, but I had no control in the situation because at the time I didn’t have enough money to take them. There wasn’t much communication between us during that time. I don’t think we spoke for three to four weeks. I was feeling this big empty hole and felt like I was operating as half a person.

Tour de France

I was doing a lot of biking, working with a physical therapist to address some of the structural issues pertaining to my body over the summer and then I started working with you. I had three weeks of vacation time at the end of summer before starting my new job. I wasn’t sure how to fill that time so I was asking all of my friends and trying to come up with ideas. I was thinking of going camping in Maine or taking a road trip to another city, but no one was biting.

Don was leaving in August to go and travel for the next two years. He had been planning to tour Europe by bike for three months and he said to me “Why don’t you just meet me over there. We’ll do the bike trip and you can spend your three weeks touring with me.”

I wasn’t sure if spending my three weeks on a bike tour with my ex-boyfriend was a good idea, but I remember talking with you about it. Everyone else thought that was crazy. And they were asking me “Why would you go on this international bike trip with an ex-boyfriend that had recently broken up with you?” You had said that it would probably help me to work through the loss. I had a feeling that everything was going to be okay and it felt like it was a trip that I wanted to do, so I went ahead and did it.

I did have a contingency plan. I made a concerted effort to plan things so that if it was really horrible and felt awful that I had all the equipment with me to keep doing the bike trip by myself. I would have done the exact same trip on my own, about a day’s worth of biking behind him, because he’s a much faster rider than me.

Lovers to friends

The trip was awkward at first. There was a learning curve on what it was going to be like because we were so freshly broken up. We had all kinds of logistical details to deal with from the time we started the trip. Don was really trying to not be such an asshole in the ways that he traditionally was. We had to get the bikes on the train one evening to get to the ocean. I was trying to find something I could eat on the train that wouldn’t aggravate my food allergies. I got back close to the time the train was leaving and I could see that Don was clearly frustrated and then he snapped at me.

I went right back into my old pattern of feeling awful but not saying anything about it. I was thinking “This sucks and it’s not any fun.” But then he apologized saying “I’m sorry. That whole situation was dumb. I shouldn’t have been mad at you.” I could see that he was clearly making an effort.

Then something else happened within a couple of days. I was feeling weepy, sad and lonely. We were staying in this international hostel. All I wanted was to have my pain be seen and acknowledged and maybe have a hug. We were in this room with bunks and I was curled up on a bed crying. Don washed up and then went downstairs to work on his travel blog. I stopped crying after a while, cleaned myself up and went down to work on the blog with him. While we were sitting there alone in this lounge I let him know that I was having a hard time and that I felt bothered by the fact that he acted like I wasn’t even in the room and then left. I didn’t like it that he was ignoring me and that it was making things worse. I told him that I was feeling alone, unseen and that he didn’t care if I was upset.

Don then acknowledged what I was feeling saying “I’m sorry that I just walked out on you. You must have felt so awful when I just walked around you like you weren’t there and then left. I was just trying to give you some space because I didn’t know what to do. I thought that I was doing what I would have wanted, which would have been to be left alone. But that’s not what you wanted at the time and it actually made you feel worse.”

Don then asked me “Well, if it happens again, what should I do?” I responded by saying “Why don’t you give me a hug?” Don said that he wasn’t sure if that would be okay. I felt comforted by the fact that Don actually listened and then relayed back not only what I said, but insight based on it. He was clearly paying attention and putting two and two together. I felt during that conversation that he really understood me very well. He gave me a hug and I felt seen and acknowledged. For once he totally got it.

There were a number of days when I had bad moments. One day I was crying and biking for a full hour. I probably biked ten miles crying. I had my sunglasses on so people couldn’t tell I was crying. I said to myself “I’m going to keep going.” And so we did.

Processing

On a trip like that you really do have to depend on each other. We had to work as a team. In some ways our dynamic was very similar. We were still the same people, but in other ways it had changed. One of the really nice things that happened is that I was able to separate all the pain I had of being alone and losing the support and being afraid of the future and being angry at him for breaking a promise and not supporting me. There was a separate grief, which was really important for me to get to. The trip gave me the opportunity to gain access to that grief. It made me clearer on the fact that I do love this person and I don’t want to not talk to him. I don’t want him to be gone. I don’t want someone else to be having these conversations with him.

It took me several months for me to realize those were separate sets of feelings. On the one hand I’m feeling “Shit! What am I going to do? How dare you break your promise?” On the other I’m thinking “I really did love you and I wasn’t just using you for your support.”

I’m happy that we were able to spend the time together and that we’re still in touch. Don is off touring Europe now so we communicate via G-chat and talk on the phone occasionally. I don’t know when he will be in the Northeast again.

Moving On

A huge percentage of my free time was devoted to Don and the life we shared together. After living together in Don’s house for a year I moved down to Boston to go to law school and he stayed in New Hampshire. For three years we talked on the phone every night. And then on the weekends I would either travel back up to New Hampshire to see Don or he would come down to Boston to see me.

Before I would go into the weekend thinking to myself “I’ll see Don then we’ll decide what we’re going to do together.” That’s all gone now. What I find really disturbing is the feeling of having to get used to doing everything on my own. It’s like “What am I going to do? I have to go find my own friends and make my own plans.”

I feel like I’m becoming more emotionally independent. I’m getting used to the fact that he’s not there and I’m finding that there are other people I can talk to when something happens. And I can also process things on my own without having to talk to anyone at all. That’s giving me some space to move forward. I feel like I’m doing a relatively good job evaluating my life, what’s real, what kind of things I want to invest in now that I have this new single life. I’m figuring out what I want in my job and I’ve been getting involved in this meditation center. It would have been really hard to do that if I was still feeling as shitty as I was.

Ben: I knew there was some risk involved when I encouraged you to go on the road trip with Don. I didn’t exactly know how the road trip was going to turn out, but I had a strong intuitive sense that you needed to go and spend the time with him in order to do the processing needed to heal from the breakup.

Liz: Many of my friends were telling me to not talk to Don for a year saying that it would make me feel better. I felt the absolute worst during the three weeks that we were not talking at all.

Ben: I see other people that follow suggestions such as those given by your friends and not talk to their former partners for a year, if ever again. It has much to do with their lack of emotional-cognitive sophistication. They end up shutting down portions of their body – mind consciousness.

Completely severing such a bond can be very destructive to everyone involved. Abruptly severing ties is very jarring to our body – mind. Cutting off makes it much harder for us to process the hurt, fear, sense of loss, confusion, anger and other feelings that are a normal response to the changes taking place in our relationship. These emotions are more likely to remain trapped within our bodies. We end up hurting ourselves in ways that negatively impact our ability to form healthy attachments with potential companions that we encounter along the way.

We may need periods of time after a breakup where we agree not to see each other, talk on the phone, text or email to help facilitate the transition. This time apart can help us to adjust to the transition taking place by enabling the various parts of us to reconcile or come to terms with the fact that we are now in a different kind of relationship.

Liz: It’s been a year since my housemate broke up with his girlfriend. Now he’s constantly dating several women at a time, but he isn’t actually connecting with any of them. He’s only using them to hook up and doesn’t take it any further. He doesn’t appear to be at all conscious of what he’s doing.

Ben: Much of the population is so disconnected from their pain. They never really process emotionally and heal the wounds they suffer in a breakup. They end up doing a lot more damage to themselves and others by acting out. They sort of, but not really connect with others. Sadly, many people continue to operate indefinitely at that level of unconsciousness in their romantic involvements.

I’m seeing lots of change in you over the past few months. I could feel how you were in a very raw and vulnerable space when you first came to my class and that concerned me. You were contracting or closing in around the hurt of the breakup. The healing sessions that we did enabled you to do the deep emotional processing needed to facilitate the healing of the emotional wounds going back to your relationship with you parents and those pertaining to the breakup of your relationship with Don.

You’ve become more resilient and that’s enabled you to make the transition much more gracefully. The sessions helped you to process much of the grief while putting you in a more receptive space that made it possible for you to learn and grow from the experience you had with Don. There’s considerably more work to do, but you’ve made a lot of progress.

Liz: I think that’s true. And the work that we have done has also affected me in some ways I didn’t anticipate. I’ve made some progress in my relationship with my parents. My anger and expectations towards them had limited my ability to have a better relationship. I was able to let go of some of the expectations I had of my parents and that made it easier for me to accept them for who they truly are.

One aspect of the real pain I felt with Don was not knowing why he left. I kept asking myself “Why? Why? Why?” I felt this huge need to understand the reason behind his decision to leave and understand that it wasn’t my fault.

Going on the road trip gave me the opportunity to reflect on everything that happened between Don and I over the past few years and that gave me a fresh perspective. Don had gone from kindergarten through grad school without a break and then straight into a job. He had been working for five years and always felt lot of pressure from his father. I could see how all the demands and responsibilities were weighing so heavily on him. The house and dogs that other people might have appreciated were very burdensome and he felt like he just couldn’t take it anymore. So he extracted himself from all of that in stages.

I could see the things Don was doing such as taking time off and getting rid of all these things that were burdening him was probably the right decision for him. It sucked for me to lose it all after four years of investing in him and yet he was not enjoying his life. I could see that it was very courageous of him to leave his job and live off savings for two years. Seeing Don so unburdened and joyful and realizing that he hadn’t been happy made me realize that it wasn’t about me. I could see that Don had chosen the wrong lifestyle for himself and he was trying to make a correction that was really in line with his heart.

Ben: I doubt that you would have come to this realization you had if you had not done the healing sessions and gone on the road trip with Don. This whole experience turned out to be a crucial part of your healing after the breakup. By being open and present you have been able to do much of the healing and gain understandings that you probably wouldn’t have come to otherwise.

Liz: I’ve read a number of books by the author Cheryl Stayed. One of the things she says repeatedly in her writing that really got to me is “The fact that someone wants to leave is reason enough to leave.” The reason Don wanted to leave is because he felt like he had to and so he did. I felt some sadness. I wondered why he wanted to leave. I didn’t want him to leave, but he did.

So much has happened since we made that road trip in August. I started listening to a podcast one evening called Dear Sugar. A woman that called in that evening was struggling with a recent breakup. She said there was an amazing chemistry with the man she had been seeing for the past year, but he had now distanced himself from her saying that he was discovering that he really liked men and needed time apart to discover if he was bi or gay. He said that he really did care about her and that his ending of the relationship wasn’t about her. Relationship expert Dan Savage who happened to be on the show that evening said “People don’t breakup with someone they truly want to be with. They give you some excuse to try to make you feel better so that you don’t hurt as much. But that excuse becomes the sword that you fall on. You end up getting more deeply hurt because you’re hoping that they will come back. You end up thinking “He’s going to discover that he really does love me.”

Listening to that podcast made me reflect on my own situation. The big reason Don gave me for breaking up is that he was going on this trip, that it would be really long distance and that it didn’t make any sense to continue the relationship. He then said that it wasn’t about me, but about the circumstances. The part of me that was holding on to the hope of Don returning was thinking “Maybe when this trip is over Don will return and we’ll get back together. He really does care about me. It’s not about me. It’s about the trip.” But that’s just not true. If Don really wanted to be together, he wouldn’t have broken up with me and would have maintained the relationship while he was traveling.

Don and I had a conversation over the phone not too long afterwards. I was trying to get him to admit things that he had done that made it easier for me to believe that our relationship was permanent and that he was serious about it even though he had already backed out. I admit that I had a part in not wanting that to be true, but I think he did things to lead me to believe that he was in it for the long haul.

I was really clear that I wanted to be married someday, but there were times when I felt insecure and I would ask Don if he was really committed to the relationship. He would respond by telling me “Well look at my actions. What are my actions telling you?” Don’s actions were telling me that he was a settle down sort of person. He had a job that he took very seriously, bought a house, a car and had two dogs. We also saw each other every weekend. And so I kind of took him at his word. But he never really intended it to last. In his view he feels that he was very clear that marriage was never on the table.

Don also said on many occasions that he didn’t believe in marriage as an institution. He felt that people go through so many changes and that it didn’t make sense to make a promise to stay together, to continue to care about one another and make the relationship work. He said that to him it only made sense for people that had been together for a really long time and then got married for practical reasons like taxes or health insurance.

In my mind I was thinking that Don and I would stay together for a long while and when it made sense we would get married. Don felt like he was saying that marriage was not on the table, so don’t look for it. I took what Don said as meaning that it was definitely a possibility while he felt like he was saying that it was not.

Don didn’t make it clear to me that he was not in it for the long haul even though he knew that at some level. In some ways, that deprived me from of the opportunity to leave earlier. Had I done so, I wouldn’t have had to experience that huge loss all at once. We were having this conversation and he wasn’t owning his part of what happened between us. He took no responsibility saying “I have nothing to apologize for. I did a really good job.” I realized that I was never going to get what I wanted out of him on this. I really let go of a lot in that conversation.

Ben: The person doing the breaking up doesn’t always know what they want. They feel uncomfortable and they’re afraid to be honest by coming right out and saying “I really don’t want to be in the relationship with you anymore.”

Liz: Don and I have talked a lot less since that conversation. I had been holding onto the hope that Don would get tired of traveling and that we would get back together. Holding onto that hope was holding me back. That conversation enabled me to let go of the hope. We’d been catching up once every ten days or so. The conversations felt more generic and the connection had faded a bit having lost some of its intimacy, but that wasn’t as terrifying as it had been before. Things have been moving in a very different direction since that conversation. I’ve been focusing more on my new job and getting more serious about my meditation practice.

Ben: Whether or not we can remain friends depends on our own needs and considerations as well as those of our former partner and the unique chemistry between each pairing of individuals. We may find it difficult to open to or trust a former partner because of the damage that’s been done. We sometimes outgrow former partners or we realize that we didn’t have much in common to begin with. Sometimes it is best to just let go and move on.

Just because the romantic relationship didn’t work doesn’t mean that there isn’t a potential for a meaningful friendship. Couples that were horrible as romantic partners sometimes make the best of friends. The romance can sometimes die out, and yet there’s still a deep love for one another. Some couples need to maintain a cordial if not friendly relationships for the sake of any children involved. And there are those who manage to work out their differences and get back together. It’s up to each of us to tune into our feelings, needs and intuition to determine the extent to which we open ourselves and allow our former partners to be a part of our lives.

Liz: Don visited Boston a week ago and we had lunch. It went fine. We caught up a little about my job and his travels. I felt myself holding myself back from him this time – in my mind I kept wondering “What are looking to get out of this?” I would listen to him talking about how he doesn’t miss the burden of having dogs or owning a home and feel my disappointment that we were just very clearly not on the same page. I didn’t talk to him about that feeling, though, because it’s not that kind of relationship anymore. At this point, in answer to the question of whether I think I can be friends with my ex, I would say this: we can be cordial, I’m curious to know what’s happening with this person who holds an important place in my life story so we’ll stay in touch, but we can’t be close and intimate friends now. My trust in him has been broken, I’m too disappointed, and I need to open up that intimate connection space so it will be available for someone else someday.

©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.

A special thank you to Kathleen Lolley for granting me permission to use her painting “Wild Flowers.” Be sure to check out her work at http://www.lolleyland.com and her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LolleyArt

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Why Emotional Intelligence is So Crucial to the Success of Our Love Lives

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enamoured II
Rachel has dated lots of men over the past fifteen years and at one point she was engaged to be married, but the relationships never seem to work out. None of the men that she has become involved with have been an appropriate match. Some have also had serious emotional problems. Rachel’s attempts to make sense of her interactions with these different men has left her with a lot of confusion and frustration.

Most of the people that show up in my classes are having difficulty in their relationships. Some struggle with patterns of abandonment and unrequited love. Many are in the midst of a painful breakup or divorce. Others are stuck in horrible relationships with partners that hurt and abuse them. But many of these individuals can’t seem to let go of their partners and move on even though their relationships are causing them so much distress. The emotional pain that they haven’t been able to process keeps them locked into a holding pattern that prevents them from letting go of partners and relationships that are not working.

Our technologically advanced society places a high value on intellectual development. We may be intellectually sophisticated and yet we are often stunted in our emotional development. Being stunted emotionally seriously impedes our interpersonal development. That’s why so many of us lack empathy, compassion and the ability to understand ourselves and others. Our emotional — interpersonal deficits greatly limit the extent to which we can form any kind of healthy attachment.

We’ve learned to shut down and disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies from the time we come into this world and that greatly impairs our ability to gain access to and process our feelings. It is through the parts of our body – mind consciousness that experiences feelings and emotions that we form attachments.

We need to be able to process our feelings so that we can know when someone is a good match for us or not. We need to be able to process our feelings so that we can address the issues that arise and bring the conflicts that are a normal part of being in a relationship with another human being to resolution. We need to be able to process emotionally so that we can let go of our attachments to partners that are not healthy. We need to be able to do the deep level emotional processing in order to learn and grow from our interactions with others and form healthy attachments.

Spinning ourselves around in circles

Many people come to my classes expecting to hear a lecture or thinking that they’re going to talk their way out of their suffering. And then they wonder why I have them sitting there with their eyes closed doing meditative practices. We do spend some time discussing the issues and concerns of everyone in attendance. But the primary emphasis is to get people out of their heads and into their bodies by doing the practices that will facilitate healing. I’ve learned through my own experience and that of the many people I’ve worked with. Attempting to think or talk our way out of our heartaches spins us around in circles and that downward spiral keeps reinforcing our suffering.

There is an intellectual component to healing and yet many of us over do it and end up getting stuck in repetitive loops of thought. We can never think or talk their way out of these kinds of dysfunctional relationship patterns. Our attempts to make sense of what’s happening by over-analyzing what’s not working in our relationships keeps generating more fear, anxiety and other painful emotions. The accumulation of these emotions reinforces our dysfunctional patterns.

We can work with a life coach or spend years of our lives and thousands of dollars on psychotherapy. We may come out of our coaching sessions or therapy with “how to strategies” or an intellectual understanding of our suffering and yet the patterns that have caused so much pain and stress in our romantic involvements keep repeating themselves.

I am not in any way saying don’t work with the psychotherapist. Psychotherapy can be a very important part of our individual healing process. I went to psychotherapy for three years and I would sit there talking about what wasn’t working in my life. I gained a much needed intellectual understanding, but it did little to help me do the deep level emotional processing necessary to heal the wounded parts of myself. The same kinds of dysfunctional patterns kept playing out in my relationships. I had to incorporate other practices and resources to facilitate the healing of the deep emotional wounds.

Lack of understanding

Two men and eight women showed up in one of my recent classes. One of the two men spent much of the class processing the grief and emptiness over the death of his wife. The first woman that spoke shared that she had never been able to get back to herself since she broke up with an abusive boyfriend two years ago. She was feeling a deep sadness, along with a sense of being unsafe and unsupported as a result of having lost her boyfriend. A young Malaysian woman revealed that she has been suffering from depression. This woman’s soon to be ex-husband couldn’t deal with her moodiness and lack of engagement. The husband ended up having an affair. This woman’s emotional distress was greatly exacerbated when she discovered that her husband had been unfaithful. She said that her emotional state is constantly fluctuating and that she’s always looking for an escape. A Korean woman told us how angry she was to find her boyfriend texting another woman even thought he was open about the matter and assured her that the other woman was only a platonic friend. She admitted that the feelings of jealousy were making her crazy and that she would sometimes cry, become violent and start hitting her boyfriend.

One of the younger women that attended that night told us that she was scared to let go of the boyfriend she had broken up with nearly a year ago even though he was seeing other women. She was still obsessed with her former love and overwhelmed by feelings of anguish, hurt, jealousy, regret and self-pity. I spent some time looking into her aura afterwards. I could see that she was extremely ungrounded and strung out on her former partner like an addict craving her drug of choice.

None of these individuals knew how to work constructively with their emotions before attending my class. All of them indicated that they felt better after I had them go through the practices. It remains to be seen whether any of them will follow up to do the much needed work that would facilitate the healing of their own woundedness.

People often show up in my classes a time or two and then disappear. It saddens me because I see and feel the fear, pain and confusion held within their bodies. And I can tell by looking at, listening to them and feeling what’s going on within their bodies and minds that they do not possess the understandings or resources that would enable them to fully heal the deep emotional wounds on their own. Many of the same patterns will continue to play out in their relationships. They will most likely attract the same kinds of partners and reenact the dramas of past relationships all over again. And some will just give up on romantic relationships all together.

Cultural deficit

Most people in our present-day Western culture cannot grasp the kinds of ongoing practice that people in the various ancient spiritual traditions have done for thousands of years to develop their bodies and minds. So many of us lack the discipline and drive that would compel us to do the practices with any kind of regularity. Many of us are also overwhelmed by the demands placed upon us. We’re also finding it difficult to keep our minds focused because our brains have been rewired by our excessive use of technology. We say we don’t have time to devote to intensive practice. But we might be surprised how much time would become available when we cut down on the amount of time we spend surfing the net, playing games and watching television.

As a society, we tend to be very outwardly focused and that’s why we possess such a limited awareness of our own internal state of being. Many of us do not understand our own emotions. We’ve never learned to work constructively with our feelings and have absolutely no conception of the amount of deep emotional processing that is needed to truly facilitate the healing of the wounded parts of ourselves. And many of us are so fearful of going to those wounded places within. This whole range of our body — mind consciousness remains stunted in its development. Our resistance to experiencing the full range of our feelings perpetuates the dysfunctional patterns in our relationships that continue to cause us so much suffering.

Healing can only occur when we do the deep level processing and make use of the resources needed to facilitate the healing of our emotional wounds. Only then can we develop the emotional intelligence that will enable us to create the kinds of healthy and loving attachments that we truly need and desire.

Looking into the mirror

We’re immersed in a culture that operates at the very surface most levels of awareness. Many of us excel in our professional lives, at various creative endeavors and other areas that we’re passionate about. And yet we often feel hurt, lost and deeply confused when it comes to interpersonal matters.

Our relationships serve as a mirror of the conflicted issues and unprocessed emotions that we’re holding within our bodies and minds. Dysfunctional relational patterns such as the inability to commit to or be faithful to another person, unrequited love, abandonment and becoming involved with unstable and abusive partners are all reflections of how deeply wounded we are and the fact that we have failed to develop emotionally. The vast majority of us fail to recognize and make use the opportunities to heal our woundedness that are being presented to us within the context of our relationships.

Much of the population cannot easily access their feelings. Those of us who find it difficult to access to what we’re feeling will have greater difficulty working through conflicting thoughts and feelings. Therefore we cannot understand our own needs, desires and other driving forces working beneath the surface.

We all have a conscious and subconscious mind. The part of us that is conscious is primarily aware of our current set of thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations and the environmental input filtering through our sensory channels at any given moment. Our subconscious mind contains all of the hurts, losses, confusion, disappointments, conflicting needs and desires and issues that we have failed to bring to resolution.

Shutting down or avoiding the feelings and issues that we rather not face only widens the gap between our conscious and subconscious minds. Those of us who have shut down emotionally and that have disconnected from the wounded parts of us do not really know ourselves. We cannot possibly understand or be intimate with another person because we are not able to understand or be truly intimate with ourselves. We cannot really see the other person for who they truly are because we are so blinded by our projection. We act out our anger, fear, hurt, insecurity and confusion by saying and doing things that are hurtful to our partner. And for that reason our relationships turn into a series of big messy dramas that involve little learning or growth.

Relationship as a journey of healing and personal growth

Relationships just don’t work very well when we’re deeply wounded …at least not for very long. I used to get so caught up in my own projections that I couldn’t see the women I had developed an attachment to for who they truly were. I would try to get these women’s attention and to get them to reciprocate what I was feeling. In some instances I would unwittingly push to the point to where it made them feel uncomfortable. A few of these women cut me off completely. I was then hit with the reality that my feelings and desire for connection would never be reciprocated. I would then find myself engulfed in this all-consuming pain. And the torturous pattern just kept replaying itself.

I suffered a great deal of abuse during my childhood and adolescence. Much of the drama playing out in my romantic relationships was a reenactment of past trauma. These painful dramas were a reflection of my own woundedness. Nothing changed for the better until I did the work necessary to facilitate the healing of the deep emotional wounds. Facilitating these changes required a tremendous effort. Despite the fact that I’m in a much better space, I continue to see the journey of healing and growth that I began as a lifelong process of transforming my body and mind.

Many years of intensive training in the Chinese Internal Martial Arts of Xin Yi Quan, Baguazhang and Chi Gong with Sifu Li Tai Liang has shown me a side of ancient Chinese culture that is very wise and deeply connected to the forces of creation. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from all of my training is the value of intensive daily practice.

I do hours of intensive practice to develop my body and mind from the time I get out of bed in the morning. I begin with Chi Gong and other forms of Internal Martial Arts practices. And then I’ll do about an hour of a special meditative practice that I’ve developed over the years that helps me to digest what’s going on in my life and any subsequent feelings that arise. Working consistently with these practices helps me to develop a stronger connection with the authentic core residing deep within and the higher power.

I begin the meditative practice by acknowledging whatever is happening within the context of my relationships. From there I’ll direct my attention to what I’m feeling in response to what’s happening and to the parts of my body where the feelings are situated. I then begin to breathe softly and deeply while centering my awareness in the middle of the feelings and sensations that arise.

Processing what I’m feelings in this way enables me to take whatever is happening in my life and use it as fuel for growth. Processing these feelings gives me an intuitive understanding of myself, the person with whom I’m relating and the nature of our interaction. It helps me to communicate more easily and effectively. I’m finding it much easier to bring issues to a place of resolution.

Much of the trauma of my childhood and adolescence was so deeply ingrained within my body and mind. I would have never fully healed these wounds on my own. Deep tissue body work helped to bring the emotions stored in my body up to the surface so that I could process them. I worked with a number of exceptionally powerful healers whenever the opportunity presented itself. I also went 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. The healing sessions and vision quests enabled me to build a whole new foundation.

The overall quality of my relationships improved as I began to take the steps to facilitate the healing of the parts of me that were so deeply wounded. The romantic projections began to lose their intensity and dissolve. I then found that I was no longer attracted to unavailable, disingenuous and abusive women or those with whom I did not resonate.

The many years of intensive practice has made me very empathic. I began to feel the presence of the women that I found myself attracted to and the way they reacted or responded to me. I also became more acutely aware of my own feeling and energetic responses to the women with whom I interacted.

There have been many instances since that time where I would approach or engage a woman in conversation when I felt a strong physical attraction. But then I would realize that there was nothing more than physical attraction. I got to a place where I could politely disengage if I felt a lack of resonance or sensed that the woman I was speaking with wasn’t in a good place. At other times I would realize that there was a lot of common ground with the woman that I had been spending time with, but I also had a clear sense that the connection was one of platonic friendship.

I have friends of both genders and yet in many ways I find it easier to relate to women. I most enjoy spending time with sensitive, open-minded, creative, caring and intelligent women that I can learn from. For me, one of the most difficult aspects of living in New York City is the fear and suspicion that many women hold towards men. Sadly, there are significant numbers of badly behaving men in the city that give women legitimate reasons to be concerned for their safety and wellbeing.

There have been instances in which I’ve engaged with women and it was quite obvious that we both enjoyed the interaction and shared many common interests. The potential was there for friendship and possibly something more and yet their fear and mistrust made it difficult for them to be receptive. I have sometimes felt sad about the missed connections, but I’ve found it easier to let go. Some of these same women were more receptive to me when I ran into them at a later date. I’m also noticing that more women are drawn to me and that they feel safer in my presence as I continue to heal and grow.

Relationships are very much a learn as we go process. We will invariably make mistakes along the way. I have at times felt ashamed over the lack of awareness, sensitivity and understanding that I demonstrated the past. Working with the practice I’m describing in this chapter enables me to be more cognizant of the feedback I’m receiving. I’m better able to learn from mistakes and to correct course when necessary and relate in healthier ways.

Having the ability to access and process what I’m feeling adds greater depth and dimension to the interaction while making it possible for me to relate from a place of greater authenticity. Breathing into the feelings and sensations that arise in response to what’s happening in my interactions makes it possible for me to be that much more fully present. I can then use whatever happens within the context of my relationships as fuel for growth. I’ve become more intuitive and empathic and that enables me to be more in tune with the needs and considerations of my partner and other people with whom I engage. And that has resulted in a huge increase in the overall quality of my interactions. I’m also seeing these same kinds of changes taking place within those who have the opportunity to work with me.

Cultivating emotional Intelligence

The practices I’m teaching in my classes of becoming fully present to any feelings or bodily sensations that arise in response to what’s happening in one’s personal interactions cultivate emotional intelligence. Breathing into the feelings and sensations as they arise awakens the innate healing intelligence residing within the body and mind. This healing intelligence facilitates a process of “digestion.” Whatever happens within the context of one’s relationship can then be used as fuel for growth.

I sometimes feel as though my hands are tied when I’m sitting in front of the class room. I see and feel the extent to which people are wounded as I’m looking into their bodies and minds. In many instances the wounding is so extensive that it cannot possibly be healed by practice alone. These individuals need serious intervention to facilitate the healing that would not otherwise be possible. It’s very unfortunate that the majority of those in attendance have absolutely no understanding of the healing practices of the Native Americans and other ancient traditional cultures. And therefore they have absolutely no sense of what’s truly possible.

Native American’s didn’t have access to the kinds of modern medical interventions that people in today’s world depend upon. They lived out in the wild and learned to rely upon the forces of nature. It was a fairly common practice among many of tribes for people to go out to fast alone in the mountains without food or water for four days and nights. Many of these individuals received various gifts and healing capabilities. The traditional native doctors would allow other forces or beings to work through them to facilitate healing within the body and mind that would not have otherwise been possible.

Some of the more gifted traditional Native American doctors went on the vision quest many times over the course of their lives. At some point towards the end of their lives they would transmit portions of their power to a younger apprentice. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a number of years training with one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. Since that time I have furthered my development by going on many of the vision quests.

The presence working through me during the individual sessions facilitates the healing of the deep emotional wounds associated with patterns of abandonment and unrequited love. The emotions become more manageable as the grief and other painful feelings associated with a breakup, divorce or death of a loved one are diffused and then digested. Changes taking place within the biochemical makeup and neurostructure of the brain and the building of the infrastructure consisting of the chakras and layers of the aura create greater mental — emotional stability and a sense of well-being. Those who have the opportunity to work with me become more firmly rooted in their bodies. Their connection to the authentic core residing deep within and the higher power grows much stronger. The profound awakening that takes place within the body and mind provides tremendous insight and understanding into the patterns that have played out in one’s relationships. The changes resulting from these sessions also make it possible to attract healthier companions and create more fulfilling relationships.

©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.

Collective Unconsciousness

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

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

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

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

The loss of innocence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behind the façade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disconnectedness

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

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

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

Numb to what we’re holding in our bodies

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

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

The Great Escape

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

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

Spiritual bypass

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

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

Moving on and putting the past behind us

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

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

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

Resistance

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

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

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

Muddled Perception

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

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

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

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

Avoidance coping

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

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

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

Food and drugs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead zones and toxic waste dumps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now that Technology has taken over the still place within

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

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

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

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

Chakras and layers of the aura

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

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

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

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

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

But isn’t it just their karma?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The exceptional few

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

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

Our responsibility to heal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sex for Money: How Much Is My Soul Really Worth?

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sex for money
Young adults have been hit especially hard by the economic downturn. College tuition has more than doubled in the past twenty years and continues to soar even higher despite the fact that jobs are harder to come by and starting salaries have decreased. Increasing numbers of students are struggling to get by and many will have racked up tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt by the time they complete their degrees. In addition, large numbers of these students will be forced to move back home with their parents at some point after graduation out of economic necessity.

In a recent article published in the Huffington Post, the author mentioned the numerous websites that have sprung up in recent years promising to help young women struggling with the enormous financial burden of college to find wealthy benefactors, commonly referred to as “sugar daddies,” to help with the expenses of dorm, tuition and books or pay off student loans.

A young woman interviewed for the article described her experience of hooking up with a man she met through one of these websites saying she had to brace herself to endure the afternoon of having sex. Taylor said she just wanted to get the act over as soon as possible. The man she hooked up with gave her three hundred and fifty dollars at the time he dropped her off at the train station. Her initial thought was, “Not bad for an afternoon of work,” but she agonized over the fact that she just had sex for money and said she felt dirty afterwards. It’s very important for us to pay attention to these kinds of feelings because they are signals letting us know we are doing something harmful to ourselves.

I feel a great deal of concern when I hear about young women like Taylor. Most do not realize the consequences of their actions and are just doing the best they can to survive. It is so easy to stray off on some kind of destructive path and even more so during the stage of our lives where we are making our way out into the world. Sadly, many never find their way back.

I’ve come across many individuals over the years in their late teens and early twenties who were struggling to find their way. In many instances they were not able to afford my services. I would go ahead and work with them anyway, because I felt a sense of responsibility to do whatever I could to reconnect them to their soul or the spirit that resides within and help them develop the resources they needed to get them on track with their own life’s purpose.

I met a young woman years ago while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico who was involved in some form of religious cult. Leyla didn’t seem to possess the resources to make it on her own after she fell out of the cult and ended up auditioning to work as a stripper in one of the clubs. I was saddened to learn about Leyla’s decision to work in a strip club and ended up spending a few hours talking with her over the phone about the consequences of her actions.

“The presence in those strip clubs feels absolutely horrible. Dancing nude in front of a bar full of men with all kinds of serious issues makes you vulnerable by opening you up to a great deal of emotional, energetic and psychic toxicity. Many of these same men are going to be fantasizing about you later that night when they go home and jerk off.”

“Working as a stripper is only a step above prostitution. You’re having to make physical contact with a lot of men that you would never in your life want to interact with. An exchange of energy takes place any time you’re making physical contact with the men you entertain in the clubs. The men whose laps you gyrate on as you do lap dances are going to become sexually aroused and to some degree you will too. That’s going to make you even more likely to absorb the negative energies and emotions held within their bodies. Are you sure you want to be subsisting on a steady diet of that?”

I left Albuquerque soon after that conversation. I received a call from Leyla a few months later. Leyla told me I helped her to see the consequences of her actions and she realized after dancing a few nights in the club that the price wasn’t worth paying.

Exposing our bodies in an environment like a strip club or having sex with someone with whom we have no desire to be with is a very unpleasant experience that evokes all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. Our normal response is to shut down parts of our consciousness by pushing the uncomfortable feelings outside of our conscious awareness. That causes us to become very numb or desensitized. Blocking feelings and experiences out of our awareness doesn’t mean they will go away. Our bodies continue to hold onto the horrible feelings, emotions and energies we internalize from working in such a toxic environment.

Women who engage in prostitution and other forms of sex workers have to shut down parts of themselves in order to do their job and that accounts for their tendency to become very armored. I can always see and feel the parts of the self that have shut down and disconnected. I can also feel the toxic energies and emotions from all the people they’ve had sex with that they are holding within their bodies.

The act of engaging in sex with a complete stranger that we have no desire to be with is an intimate bodily invasion. These feelings are greatly magnified when we find the other person unattractive or disgusting. Many dissociate by switching off or separating from the experience taking place within their bodies and that further exacerbates the harm done. The parts of ourselves that we disconnect from are left holding the trauma and that can prevent us from being fully present or developing the resources we need to be fully functional.

Large numbers of women involved in prostitution exhibit signs and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder that are similar to people who have experienced rape or incest. They commonly suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia and irritability. Many also report feelings of being emotionally numb, are tortured by recurrent nightmares and flashbacks and live in a state of emotional and physical hypervigilance. They frequently suffer from physical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and are also highly prone to eating disorders.

Women involved in the sex trades often cope by self-medicating with tobacco, alcohol and other substances to numb themselves to the energies and emotions associated with what they’re doing. The use of substances deadens their consciousness so they don’t have to feel what’s happening, but that leaves them even further desensitized and disconnected from their authentic core self.

I’ve known and have worked with a number of prostitutes and strippers over the years. I’m always curious to understand more about them, the choices they’ve made along the way and the struggles they have gone through. A few of the women I have worked with told me that they find their work enjoyable at times and that they even look forward to seeing some of the men who come to them on a regular basis.

Some men and women become highly sexualized as a result of sexual trauma that occurred during the early stages in their lives. In many instances they’ve learned to get attention or validation through their sexuality. A large percentage of women involved in stripping and prostitution were sexually abused as children. Working in the sex trade is a continuation of their early life experience of being sexually exploited.

A friend of mine went into prostitution after her husband left her with three young children because she didn’t see any other way that she could support herself. Most of the women I’ve encountered who are involved in the sex trade are not doing what they do by choice. Many have not been able to complete their education or develop the skill sets and other resources that would enable them to succeed in our society. They’re often doing the best they can to survive.

Most people tend to become very heavy and stagnant as they age. Older men who solicit prostitutes or seek money for sex arrangements with young college girls struggling to get by are usually not in good health. Many drink, smoke and consume unhealthy foods. Most are holding a great deal of anger, resentment, grief, loss and other toxic emotional baggage pertaining to loveless marriages, bitter divorces, custody battles and other dramas that have played out in their lives within their bodies. Women who prostitute themselves to these men are opening themselves up to this toxicity. They take on or absorb the energies and emotions of any person with whom they become physically intimate. They also take on some of their karma, sickness and the toxic dramas in their lives. Much of this toxicity remains trapped within the body indefinitely.

Dangerous Game

Stripping or prostituting one’s self may appear for some to be a quick and easy way to make money, but it is also a very dangerous game to be playing. Making large amounts of money so quickly can be very tempting, but we need to ask ourselves, “Exactly how much is my soul really worth?”

I have known women who had the ability to go into sex work for a period of time, do what they felt they needed to do and then get out. Many have gone into prostitution with the intention of saving the money they needed to create a better life, but were never able to hold onto what they made. The danger for many is they grow so accustomed to the kind of lifestyle afforded by prostitution and often find themselves sinking ever deeper into a hole they cannot escape from.

Women who prostitute themselves are forced to rely upon their physical beauty to make it in the world, but it’s only a matter of time before age and gravity take their toll and the looks fall apart. The process of shutting down or disconnecting that takes place among women involved in the sex trade has a crippling effect. Those who fail to develop skills and resources to stand on their own operate at a deficit which leaves them little, if anything, to fall back on.

I stopped over in Thailand on numerous occasions while waiting for my connecting flights to India and Sri Lanka. I realized very quickly that Thailand was one of the world’s primary sex tourism destinations. Large numbers of Thai and other Southeast Asian women are involved in prostitution to varying degrees. Women and girls who have been sold into sexual slavery are often forced to work in houses of prostitution. It is also fairly common for young attractive Thai women to hang out in bars looking for wealthy, by their standards, foreigner boyfriends who travel to Thailand on vacation. As soon as one boyfriend leaves they go out to the bars and find a new guy. These women often call or write letters to their “boyfriends” after they return home to ask for more money.

Women in developing nations such as India, Pakistan and the various African republics are often forced into prostitution after being widowed or abandoned by a husband because of their inability to conceive. Thousands of young women and girls in Nepal have been drugged, kidnapped and sold into prostitution across the border in India. Many are eventually murdered and a large percentage of these girls and young women contract HIV and eventually die. In many instances their families never see or hear from them again. India’s law enforcement and government is largely complicit by failing to shut down the houses of prostitution and prosecute the perpetrators of these horrific crimes.

Men who have struggled financially at some point in their lives know what it’s like to be passed over by women who evaluate a man’s worth based upon his financial status. There will always be women who look for men who can buy expensive dinners, clothing and jewelry, take them on the vacation of their dreams and pay off their debt. Such women never learn to stand firmly on their own two feet. Another young woman interviewed in the Huffington Post article said, “I’m choosing one or two men I actually like spending time with and have decided to develop a friendship with them. While sex is involved, the focus of our interaction is on providing friendship. It’s not only about getting paid.”

It is so easy to come up with all kinds of rationalizations to justify our actions. But we need to be fully honest by asking ourselves, “Is this someone with whom I truly desire to be intimate?”

There is so much shame and stigma attached to prostitution. Women who become engage in prostitution are often forced to lead double lives. Most cannot tell their friends or families what they are doing and that leaves them with a feeling that they always have something to hide. Having to hide parts of one’s self makes it very difficult to be fully present.

Opening ourselves sexually to another individual is an experience that reaches very deep into our psyche. Sexuality is a very important part of our process of personal and spiritual growth. Selling our bodies to someone we don’t want to be intimate with corrupts or contaminates the very deep and personal parts of ourselves through which we develop intimate bonds.

It can be very difficult for a woman to break out of prostitution and go to a regular job that only pays a fraction of the huge sums of money she is used to making as a sex worker. Many never develop the resources they need to make it in the world. That accounts for the fact that so many of them end up on welfare or disability and find themselves living in public housing or out in the streets.

Women who engage in prostitution are placing themselves at great risk. In many instances they are forced to engage in unprotected sex. Many have experienced unwanted pregnancies and miscarriages. They are far more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, the human papilloma virus and HIV/AIDS. They often test positive on pap smears and have a much higher incidence of pelvic inflammatory disease. Greater exposure to sexually transmitted diseases also increases their likelihood of developing cervical cancer.

Women involved in prostitution experience extremely high levels of violence and often find themselves in grave danger. Many report being robbed, beaten or sexually assaulted and some have also been killed.

Some of the wealthy “sugar daddies” seeking money for sex arrangements with young women saddled with enormous amounts of debt like to see themselves as providing a service that will ultimately help them to create a better life for themselves. In reality, these men are inflicting tremendous harm by exploiting the vulnerabilities of young women who are struggling to survive.

Young women are more likely to fall into stripping or prostitution during times of economic hardship when they see no other means of covering their expenses. These young women would be much less likely to find themselves in a position where they feel that they have to sell their bodies in order to pay off their education debt if our government would stop feeding vast amounts of money into senseless wars that can never be won and corporate subsidies and the wealthy were made to pay their fair share of the taxes.

Having compassion for ourselves and others

I feel a great deal of concern for and compassion for people and the struggles they go through in order to survive. It’s important to keep in mind that we have all done things in our lives that we are not especially proud of. We all prostitute ourselves or compromise our integrity in one way or another at various points in our life. It’s important for us to come to come from a place of acceptance and compassion for ourselves. We also need to demonstrate understanding and compassion for others by reaching out to help others along the way whenever we can make a difference.

©Copyright 2011 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission.

Meditation to Heal the Loss of Your Ex

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tears
We tend to carry our former partners around with us on the inside. Some of the more pleasant experiences and memories continue to nourish us as we go on in life. My former fiancé demonstrated to me that a woman could love me very deeply. That part of our experience together was very healing for me.

We also faced a lot of very difficult challenges in our relationship. Suganya lives in Sri Lanka and I was commuting back and forth every few months. My desire is to eventually settle in this part of the world, but I still have work to do in North America before I’m free to go. The geographical distance between us and the expense involved in traveling to see one another created huge amounts of stress.

There’s a form of narcissism that’s fairly prevalent throughout South Asia. Many parents feel entitled to tell their adult children who they can and cannot marry. Those who fail to comply are sometimes disowned. There have been many instances where young men and women have been killed by family members for marrying the person of their own choosing. The stress created by certain members of Suganya’s family eventually pushed her to the breaking point. I know she gave the best she could and yet the loss was still very painful.

It took me a long time to get over Suganya. I continued to dream about Suganya and the painful longing for her stayed with me for quite some time. The longing would gradually ease up every time I went 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.

I was still carrying Suganya around on the inside of me. I had to make a conscientious effort to “digest” Suganya, our experience together and all of the subsequent emotions so that I could let go and move on in my life. I started my practice by picturing Suganya and then I would notice the feelings and physical sensations that arose and where they were situated in my body. I would then breathe softly and deeply with my awareness centered in the midst of these feelings and sensations.

The feelings were very painful right after the breakup but they gradually diminished in intensity over time. Every now and then I would get hit with these waves of hurt, sadness, loss and the horrible feeling of knowing that I wouldn’t get to be with her. I would breathe into all of those feelings whenever they surfaced. After some time I felt a sense of emptiness, flatness or deadness in my chest. I realized that parts of me had shut down as a result of losing Suganya. I made a real concerted effort to remain fully present to this more subtle sense by breathing into the dead empty void.

Breathing into whatever I felt at any given time dislodged all kinds of feelings and energies that had been trapped within my body. I would find myself remembering all kinds of things that happened over the course of our relationship. And that brought even more feelings to the surface. With continued practice I could tell that I was breathing life back into the parts of me that had shut down. That made it easier for me to let go of Suganya, while freeing up my heart so that I could gradually move on.

I still miss Suganya at times, and part of me will always love her. She’s very warm, caring and fun to be with. I could see her growing stronger and becoming more independent during the time we were together. She even went back to school during that time. I had hoped to encourage her growth, but she couldn’t sustain it. I don’t know that the relationship could work over the long term because she seems more interested in pleasing her family and following the traditional roles ascribed to men and women. I couldn’t see that she was learning and growing beyond a certain point. Losing Suganya definitely hurt, but I learned a lot from her, our relationships, mistakes that I made and I have grown from the experience. Making use of this practice and the various healing interventions has made it possible for me to transform my experience with Suganya into fuel for growth.

People show up in my classes all the time after a painful breakup or divorce. The many years of intensive practice has opened my sensory channels to the extent I can see and feel how they continue to hold their former partners in their bodies and minds. I can often feel the pain emanating from their bodies. At times they appear battered and bruised. Their hearts may even be torn open from the pain of their losses.

I’ll take these individual through a meditative process to heal from the loss of a love described below.

There are five steps to the meditation to heal the loss of a love

1) Picture your former partner as though he or she were immediately in front of you. See and feel their presence.
2) Notice all the feelings and sensations that arise as you continue to hold your former partner in the forefront your awareness. Experience the feelings as they are without trying to change them.
3) Notice where these feelings and sensations are situated within your body.
4) Breathe softly and deeply as you fully immerse your awareness within the middle of these feelings and sensations.
5) Continue to follow the feelings and sensations as they go through their progression

Most people never fully process the loss of a love. Much of the hurt and disappointment that we experience when our partners say and do hurtful things remains trapped within our bodies. The resulting deadening of our consciousness diminishes our capacity to love and be loved. Breathing softly and deeply whole holding our former partners in our awareness helps us to bring the feelings anger, fear, resentment, hurt and disappointment to the surface so they can be processed. Processing these feelings facilitates the awakening of the innate healing intelligence residing with our body and mind. Everything we experience within the context of our relationships can then be transformed so that it becomes fuel for growth.

I began to develop this practice during my mid-twenties. The grief of losing a love could be excruciating at times, but the feelings would gradually soften as I continued to breathe into them. Some losses took a long time to work through and others would resolve themselves fairly quickly. Many of the same feelings would resurface for quite some time. I just keep reminding myself to breathe into them.

I made a conscientious effort to be fully present with the feelings whenever they arose and to allow the process to take whatever time it needed to take. I would sometimes breathe into the feelings of loss for hours at a time when I was in the midst of a breakup. I would continue to breathe into the feelings whenever they surfaced during the days, evenings and when they woke me up during the middle of the night. I could usually put a lid on the feelings and attend to the task at hand whenever I needed to be fully functional. I could always pick up where I left off afterwards.

The process became much easier over time and that helped me to let go and move on when I needed to. Working with this practice has opened my heart so that I can be more present in my interactions with others. It has also increased my capacity to love and be loved.

The loss of a love can at times be especially devastating. The meditation practice that I’m describing in this chapter is a very critical part of the healing process. There are also times when we need outside intervention to facilitate the parts of the healing process that we cannot do completely on our own. To this day I still rely upon the vision quest. The vision quest is far too intensive for most people. However, those who work with me one on one experience many of the same kinds of changes as a result of the individual healing sessions.

The presence working through me during the individual sessions actually heals the parts of the self that have been deeply wounded. You will “digest” your former partner, everything that’s happened over the course of your relationships and along with any feelings of grief, loss, hurt, sadness or disappointment. You will find it easier to let go and develop the resilience needed to bounce back and move on in your life. Your heart will open thereby increasing your capacity to love and be loved.

©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.

Resonance

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ikat

Growing up in Southeast Texas was not easy. I had few friends during this part of my adolescence and I never resonated with the culture or felt any connection to the land. I remember always wanting to be somewhere else.

Adolescence is an awkward time for most of us. I was painfully shy and that sometimes made social interactions very difficult. I would often have crushes on girls, but my feelings were, in most instances, not reciprocated. I was often told “I just like you as a friend.” I felt devastated by the lack of reciprocation and often wondered if it was something about with me.

People in the community sensed that I was different in some way. The school that I attended was very poorly disciplined. I was called Ben Gay by other students and endured years of physical and verbal torment. At one point I found myself dogpiled at the front of the Assembly of God church that I was forced to attend by a horde of fanatical congregants trying to caste Satan out of me.

I made my way to Oklahoma by the time I was seventeen and found myself living among a community of Kiowa Indians. Many of the Kiowa people didn’t quite know what to make of me, a non-native adolescent showing up in their midst. Something about the old traditional culture felt very natural to me and that made it easier for me to adapt and become a part of the community. I tied my own feather bustles and danced in the tribal powwows. I sat up many nights with the native elders in the peyote meetings. I went on to apprentice with one of the last surviving traditional Kiowa doctors.

Some of the younger women in the native community I lived in showed an interest in me, but I was afraid to get involved. There was a very degenerative element among some of the native communities. A large percentage of the young women in the community I lived in were very self-destructive. Many were smoking, drinking heavily and using other substances. Some of the more promiscuous women would end up having children from a number of different partners. Most of the young native people who wanted to get anywhere in life moved to the cities to pursue their education or find work.

I moved out to the Navajo Indian Reservation during the time that I was training with my mentor. Alcoholism was also prevalent on the Navajo reservation, but the Navajo had a stronger connection to their own traditional culture. More of the young Navajo women were getting their education and then going on to excel in various professions. Some were also exceptionally attractive. It was easy for me to connect with the Navajo women I met, but I didn’t have very many opportunities to do so because I was so caught up in my training.

Everything was changing so rapidly among the native population. I felt very at home living among the native people and would have been content to remain among them for the remainder of my life. I could also see that the old traditional culture was dying out with each passing generation. Alcoholism, violence and other forms of dysfunction were becoming more and more prevalent. I felt I had no choice but to leave.

The mainstream culture I returned to felt very foreign. Most people had absolutely no point of reference for the kinds of things I had experienced while living among the Kiowa and apprenticing from a traditional native doctor.

The New Age movement was taking off around the time I returned. I came across individuals here and there that were truly committed to doing whatever it took to facilitate their healing and personal growth, but many seemed to be looking for a means of escape. The primal force transmitted to me during my apprenticeship with the traditional Kiowa doctor has a very visceral quality about it. Some were frightened by the intensity of the power and would run as soon as the feelings and issues they had spent much of their lives avoiding made their way to the surface. Only those who were willing to be truly honest with themselves and committed to their growth seemed to resonate with this kind of power.

Trying to connect with women on a romantic level was especially difficult. There was very little common ground and that made it difficult to relate to one another. I felt strongly for a number of women that had captured my attention over the years and yet the feelings were often not reciprocated. At other times, I would start seeing a woman and then she would break it off after a while because I was too far outside of what she was accustomed to. Not being able to connect on an intimate level with the women I found myself attracted to was very painful. I felt for the longest time that I just wasn’t the kind of man that women found attractive and often blamed myself thinking that something was wrong with me.

Caught up in the projection

The physical and emotional abuse that I suffered during my childhood and adolescence prevented me from developing many of the internal resources I needed to be fully functional. Many of my basic needs for love and connection had never been met and that left me with a sense of deprivation. Consequently, I lacked certain faculties needed to establish a healthy and loving relationship.

The pain held within my body left me very disconnected from my feelings and physical body. The pain combined with my unmet needs fueled the projections that caused me to form unhealthy attachments to women that were not a good match for me. These projections were so powerful at times that I could not distinguish them from reality. What felt like love and connectedness was, in many instances, only an illusion. I fell deeply in love with someone that didn’t exist.

I usually resisted the reality of what was happening and the overwhelming emotions that consumed me when the women I found myself attracted to didn’t reciprocate my feelings. Trying to make things work only prolonged my suffering. In many instances I would keep trying until it finally blew up in my face. I was then left with the horribly painful feelings of abandonment and rejection.

It usually took me some time to fully embrace the reality of loss when things were not working out. I would breathe for hours and sometimes days into the painful feelings that were surfacing. Making a concerted to be fully present by breathing into all those horrible feelings helped me to diffuse and then digest the painful feelings and emotions.

I began to receive deep tissue body work and healing sessions whenever the opportunity presented itself. I also started going back to do the vision quests, a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out alone into the mountains to fast for four days and nights without food or water. All of these practices helped me to digest huge amounts of emotional baggage. Digesting the painful emotions and other stresses I held within my body opened up a whole new range of sensory awareness. My projections began to dissolve and that made it possible for me to really sense what other people were about.

Chemistry

I remember sitting in a Chemistry class one day during my junior year of college when the professor asked for a volunteer to assist him with a demonstration. Our chemistry professor then proceeded to mix two chemical compounds together. The mixture began to bubble and fizz for a few seconds and then it suddenly exploded. The professor and student’s faces were covered with the residue of the chemical compound. Fortunately they were both wearing glasses.

The lack of reciprocation I experienced from the women I found myself attracted to evoked all kinds of painful feelings and I often felt like something was wrong with me. I was so disconnected from my feelings and my physical body that I did not register that there was a lack of chemistry with these women.

Our ability to experience resonance with others is a function of our emotional intelligence. Many of us have spent so much of our lives avoiding our issues and suppressing the feelings we haven’t wanted to deal with. Shutting down emotionally disconnects us from our intuition by constricting our range of awareness. We only develop an awareness of how we resonate with other people when we become truly present. Experiencing our true feelings and bodily sensations awakens our sensory awareness while helping us to become more fully present.

Learning to digest the painful emotions held within my body and working with various other spiritual practices has heightened my sensory awareness. I’ve become more conscious of my own internal responses to other people and that helped me to gain a sense of the unique chemistry that exists between myself and every person I encounter. I began to move away from people whose presence was not a good match or that felt uncomfortable. I found myself gravitating towards and engaging with individuals that were healthier and more compatible.

Increasing my sensitivity gave me a better sense of the women I encountered. That made it easier for me to feel if they were on a compatible wavelength. I would often feel the emotions they were holding within their bodies and the kinds of issues they were dealing with. I began feel how women were responding to me emotionally and sense the energetic flow between us.

Trying to make a relationship happen

Many of us have fallen into the trap of trying to make a relationship happen by chasing after another person. We hear stories about men who have chased after a woman and then after months or even years of pursuit the woman finally decides to give the guy a chance and they end up getting together. What usually happens in these situations is that the person doing the chasing invests huge amounts of time, emotion and energy pursuing someone who never reciprocates their love interest. Or even worse …the whole thing blows up and the pursuer ends up with a poison arrow in their heart.

It has often been said that men are colorblind. I felt like I had to work to make the connection happen when women did not reciprocate my feelings. Healing the deep emotional wounds diffused the driving compulsion that had in times past caused me to pursue love interests. I began to feel a presence flowing from within as the connection to my internal source grew stronger. This presence alleviated the unbearable sense of aloneness.

My sensitivity grew to the extent that I could feel the resonance between myself, the women I found myself attracted to and everyone else I encountered along the way. I realized there was no need to chase or try and force things when I truly resonated with a woman, because the connection had a life of its own.

Seeking Out the Cultures, People and Places with Whom We Resonate

Who we resonate with will depend upon own individual personality and temperament. It’s important for us to pay attention to how we feel when we interact with various groups and individuals. We may be surprised to discover how we experience a stronger resonance with certain kinds of individuals and cultural groups than we do with others. It’s important for all of us to go to the places and seek out the people with whom we thrive and resonate.

Every culture has its own unique beauty and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to various parts of the world and spend time among the people of many different cultures. All of the cultures I have spent time in have shaped me in some way. They have also helped me to develop different sides of myself. I feel that I can express different parts of myself through my interactions with people of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Everyone has their own unique individual traits and yet they are also shaped by their culture of origin. Every racial and cultural group has its own distinct mind or consciousness and operates on a particular wavelength. I find that people of different cultures have very distinct energies. I feel tremendous variance in the frequencies from which people operate. I can also sense a profound difference in sensations that come with physical touch as I interact with people from different cultural backgrounds.

I was riding the number 7 train in Flushing one evening after moving to New York and noticed the hands of the young woman sitting next to me were covered with mehndi (henna tattoos). I was very curious about the intricate patterns on the woman’s hands and asked her about them. It turns out she had recently gotten married and we ended up getting into a long and animated conversation. I felt stunned having never experienced this kind of resonance with another human being before. My interaction with this woman, along with a few other South Asians I met soon thereafter awakened a strong instinctual pull that led me to Sri Lanka and later on to India.

It took some getting used to being in India and Sri Lanka, but after a while I found myself feeling very much at home. I found it so much easier to connect with the people I encountered in this part of the world.

People in India and Sri Lanka were far more responsive to the kind of healing power that I work with. I offered to help an older diabetic friend when I was staying in Mumbai. He started telling his friends and then they told their friends. I didn’t have a cell phone at the time, so people would call my friend who wrote out the messages by hand and then have them delivered to me. I would then have to go to the pay phone to call and schedule appointments. The people I worked with in Mumbai would start telling me about all the changes taking place within their bodies and minds after the healing sessions and then they wanted to know when they could do another session.

Spending time in India and Sri Lanka is very healing for me. Women in India have a tendency to be more reserved but, I found many of those I spoke with to be very engaging. Sri Lankan and Indian women could be very shy, and yet they would often smile and make eye contact with me. Some would even approach and engage me in conversation.

I discovered rather quickly that the women in this part of the world have a completely different way of forming attachments. I found it so much easier to connect with them. South Asian women were less likely to play the hurtful emotional games that have become so prevalent between men and women in the United States. Women that were interested definitely let me know. And those that showed interest were more congruent about their desire to be in a relationship. They also tended to form deep and lasting bonds.

I find a sensitivity, emotional warmth and a willingness to more open and honest about what they are feeling among many South Asian women that I found very comforting and nourishing. The ability to open up and share what I was truly thinking and feeling also made for a much better quality of relationship. I soon realized that I felt much more comfortable with South Asian women physically, energetically and emotionally.

Women I got to know in this part of the world were better able to relate to me as an individual. Many had an intuitive understanding of my work, the kinds of experiences I’ve had and the intensive practices I do on a daily basis. That probably had a lot to do with the similarities in their own cultures.

India and Sri Lanka are lands of extremes. There are numerous wars and insurgencies raging at any given time. Communal violence is also fairly common in certain areas. Those who make up the lower echelons of Indian society suffer horrific abuses under the caste system. There’s a deeply entrenched misogynistic mindset that perpetuates the abuses of women and girls. And there’s a form of narcissism that is very prevalent among the older generations that feel entitled to tell their adult children who they can and cannot marry. One also encounters tremendous beauty in this part of the world and some of the kindest and more warm hearted people one would ever have the good fortune of getting to know.

Being on my own in India and Sri Lanka has not always been easy. I often had to rely on total strangers to help me find my way. In many instances they offered food and sometimes provided a place for me to sleep or companionship along the way. People were always walking up and making conversation with me at all hours of the day and night. Most of the people I encountered had good intentions, but I encountered my share of those who were looking to take advantage. I have at times found myself in some very dangerous situations where I was confronted with people who had every intention to inflict harm upon me.

Depending on my intuition to get a sense of the people I encounter became a day to day reality and a matter of survival. I got caught off guard a few times when I was too hot, hungry or tired, but in most instances my intuition has been very reliable. I was always sensing the people that I encountered by feeling their presence to determine if they had a good heart and intentions. I would get away from people if something about them felt bad or uncomfortable. Maintaining a state of openness to people and my surroundings definitely paid off. I’ve had many wonderful experiences and have developed a number of close friendships as a result.

India and Sri Lanka has more than its share of problems, but in many ways I feel more at home in this part of the world. I would have more work than I could possibly handle and make enough money to live there. But with the economic disparity, I wouldn’t be able to afford to return to the United States to continue my training.

I returned to the New York City so that I could continue training with Sifu Li Tai Liang. Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang are Internal Martial Arts that have their roots in Taoism. Very few people know what Sifu knows and those who do usually only pass on what they know to a few of their top students. I felt that I would be foolish to walk away from this opportunity. The other reason I needed to return to the United States was so that I could continue to go on the vision quest. It was during the vision quest that much of the traumas of my childhood and adolescence healed and that I received the many of the gifts that have enabled me to facilitate healing in others. I still have a long ways to go in my training.

There’s a vibrancy about New York City. One experiences a sense of electricity and excitement in the air. Depending on one’s perspective, there’s a million things to do here …or distractions to escape into. There’s also a lack of continuity that causes life in the city to feel very fragmented.

My own personal experience has often been that people seem to be present in the moment, but they cannot sustain it. Many have showed up in my personal life over the years and then disappeared. People with a wide range of health related, emotional and interpersonal issues show up in my classes or work with me individually. They often acknowledge the improvement in their condition and respond in other ways that indicate that they’re getting something of value from the healing process taking place, and yet many disappear. What’s sad is that many of these individuals are deeply wounded. They’re either so disconnected that they don’t realize how bad of shape they’re in or they’re unwilling to do the work necessary to facilitate healing. I work to reach as many people as I can through classes and workshops, radio interviews and other media exposure in order to find those who are willing and able to do the work.

Having lived in Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico and Colorado, I was used to meeting people wherever I went. I quickly discovered that New York City has its own set of rules governing social engagement. People primarily meet through friends, family and coworkers or some kind of shared activity. That can work for people who are plugged into a large social network, but it has always felt incredibly constricting to me.

Online dating is huge in New York. Many people here don’t know how to interact with others without the help of their devices. They’re afraid to talk to one another in person and yet they hook up with some stranger they’ve met online.

My friend Emma hasn’t been in a relationship since she came to New York two and a half years ago. She occasionally hooks up with men she meets online. Some of these men don’t even bother to call or text afterwards.

Emma was telling me how her girlfriends complain saying that all the good men are taken. I normally find it much easier to relate to and I much prefer to spend time with women. But it has been my experience and that of numerous other men I have spoken to that many women in the city are unapproachable. They never give us a chance to really sit down over coffee and get to know them.

I was serious about having someone in my life, so I did a little experiment of talking to women I found myself attracted to whenever the opportunity presented itself. I would talk with at least two women a day. My little experiment went on for about three years. I ended up going on lots of spontaneous dates, but no lasting connections ever came of it.

There have been many occasions where I have spoken with women for hours. It was obvious that there was a lot of common ground and they indicated that they really enjoyed the conversation and yet they still wouldn’t exchange contact information.

Many of the women I spoke did give me their email addresses and phone numbers and expressed a desire to continue the interaction. A few even hugged me or gave me a kiss on the cheek as I was making my exit. I would usually follow up with an email or phone call, but it was often the case that I never saw or heard from them again. I had to go to other cities, states and parts of the world in order to have someone in my life.

Women in the city are often subjected to harassment by sleazy men as they walk down the sidewalk. And some have experienced far worse. Those who are unable to differentiate are more likely to be suspicious of any man that attempts to approach or express interest. Any attempt to engage is regarded as an intrusion.

New York has more than its share of narcissistic men that move from one woman to the next. Women I know talk about the shopping cart mentality. There’s always someone new or better. They tell me about the men who show up in their lives, only to abruptly drop out of the picture.

Women that have been hurt often find it difficult to trust. Those who have disconnected from their feelings tend to lose touch with their intuition. That may prevent them from recognizing a man with a good heart that truly has the capacity to love and care for them. Many lose sight of fact that there are lots of good men that want more than anything to connect with a woman they can love and be loved by.

One cannot possibly process the massive amount of input flying through our sensory channels in the city that never sleeps. All that added sensory input impairs our capacity to process our feelings and bring issues to a place of resolution. Our inability to process our feelings and tune into our intuition makes it difficult for us to know when it’s safe to open up. It’s very difficult for us to know how we resonate with one another when we’re so disconnected from our feelings and physical bodies, stressed out and full of toxic emotional residue. Our fears are in many instances so great that they override any sense of resonance that we may experience with another person.

Another impediment to forming any kind of meaningful connection is people’s unwillingness to show up fully present. Many say they want to have someone in their lives, but in reality they’re too afraid to allow themselves to be open and vulnerable. I was talking with a friend the other day that had recently gone through a divorce. She told me that evening “My former husband was a reflection of where I was at when we met years ago. He was very generous with me financially, but he was never emotionally available. I would have run a mile in the other direction if I met a man that was that was really present. Being present made me feel really uncomfortable because it meant that I would actually have to show up. I wanted to be with someone that I could hide behind.”

Emma said that she got the sense that many people here are handicapped by their inability to connect. There are lots of nice people here, but sometimes it all feels incredibly lonely and remote. And that makes it very sad.”

Emma then wanted to know how people like her and I survive in a place like New York City when we find it hard to resonate or connect with other people.

I told her that we are all relational beings that need to experience deep and meaningful connections with other human beings in order to thrive. Being in New York City has forced me to go within to find my own source of nourishment. I survived by doing lots of intensive practice. Sometimes I just had to breathe into the horrible sense of aloneness. I have also learned to keep myself open, to be friendly and engaging, but to not expect much from anyone. I meet and interact with so many people as a result of my work. I have connected with more people over time. I also find ways to get out of the city to spend time in places where people have a greater capacity to show up more fully present.

I know many people that find it extraordinary difficult to find love or even make friends in the city. Some have bailed out because they found the loneliness to be so unbearable. Other people that operate on a more compatible wavelength seem to do quite well in the city. They manage to get in with the right groups of people and they feel right at home. One sees many couples and families and it’s obvious that they’re really enjoying themselves. Many do have vibrant social lives and excel in their careers. Some people are ideally suited to be in New York City and others are not.

People’s attention spans have shortened drastically as they began to spend more and more time staring into the screens of their computers and smartphones. They’ve become far more distracted and disconnected and that makes it so much more difficult for them to maintain a connection to their internal state of being. I now have to work much harder to maintain a practice. I have no choice but to adapt. The challenge I now face is to find a way to do more of my work online so that I can create the additional streams of income that will afford me the opportunity to return to India and Sri Lanka for extended periods of time.

Increasing Our Capacity to Experience Resonance

The kinds of individuals we form attachments to and how we resonate with them depends largely upon our internal state of being. Our tendency to shut down emotionally causes distortions in our sensory filters that create lots of confusion. The deep emotional wounds that have not healed often cause us to attract and be attracted to other people that are also holding a great deal of pain and confusion within.

Any practice or therapeutic modality that enables us to heal and grow will increase our ability to resonate with and attract healthier companions. Practices such as Chi Gong and Pranayama nourish the internal organs by bringing more life force into the body. Increasing the amount of vital life force in the body helps to create greater magnetism. People are more likely to notice and be drawn to us when we work with Chi Gong, Pranayama and other intensive spiritual practices.

Our feelings and emotions are a fluid medium that facilitates growth when we learn to work constructively with them. This fluid medium adds juice to our relationships with others, in that it makes it possible for us to love, care and form attachments with others.

The practice of breathing into any feelings or bodily sensations that arise will enable us to become more fully present. Our capacity for empathy and to bond on an intimate level will grow as a result. The women or men with whom we naturally resonate will naturally be drawn to us. The effect is considerably stronger if they are in touch with in their own feelings and physical bodies.

The healing of the early trauma that took place during the vision quest facilitated the changes that have made it possible for me to attract healthier companions and create more fulfilling relationships. The vision quest is too intense for most people. Many people that have worked with me have experienced the same kinds of changes as a result of the individual healing sessions.

My sensitivity has increased tremendously as a result of the practice of breathing into feelings and bodily sensations and the vision quests. I feel other people’s presence and I’m drawn to those that feel good to me. I feel how people respond to me and my own emotional response to them. Relationships have taken on a greater depth and the overall quality of my interactions has improved.

Not everyone is going to like or resonate with us. We may outgrow people that had once been an important part of our lives. Highly dysfunctional people are more likely to find us intimating as we continue to heal and grow. But nature abhors a vacuum. In the process of letting go we will find ourselves attracting and attracted to healthier companions.

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

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

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