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

Leave a comment

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.

The Importance of Work – Life Balance in Maintaining Healthy and Loving Relationships

Leave a comment

Work Life Balance 4Sean felt a desperate longing to have someone in his life during his teens and twenties. What made it even worse is that he could see that so many of his peers were coupling up. But Sean’s attempts to find love were often met with rejection. In more recent years he has experienced a growing sense of resignation. After so much disappointment Sean tells me that he’s feeling “What’s the use?”

There was a very heavy and even oppressive quality to Sean’s presence. Feelings of hurt, sadness, disappointment emanated from his body, and yet he has become largely numb to his feelings. Sean doesn’t have the understanding or resources needed to process all of that. And he certainly doesn’t have the time because he’s working eight hours a day while attending graduate school during the evenings.

I was surprised that Sean actually scheduled an individual session after attending one of my classes. He felt restless and found it difficult to access his feelings during class as I guided him through the meditation practices. Sean began to feel a range of bodily sensations in response to the Chi Gong practices I had him doing during the preliminary stage of the individual session. But he told me that he couldn’t feel much happening while he was on the table during the actual healing session.

I was disappointed, but not at all surprised when Sean told me that he didn’t feel much happening. Much of what he said and his whole expression indicated that he had become very desensitized. Sean’s body had a very dense quality resulting from the backlog of painful emotions and other stresses that had been congealing within. Sean’s body was responsive to the work. I could feel the stagnant emotions and armoring beginning to soften and dissolve.

I could also see that Sean has a lot of potential if he were willing to actually do the work necessary to facilitate change. I tried to encourage Sean to do at least twenty to thirty minutes a day of the Chi Gong practices that I has showed him when I called to follow up. I told Sean that I would even be willing to look into his aura to monitor the changes that would be taking place as a result of working with these practices. I also told him that twenty to thirty minutes of practice a day is a small investment. But Sean said that he wasn’t sure that he could find the time to do the practices I had taught him because his work and studies were taking up so many hours of the day.

Sean, is like so many other people nowadays are working and studying such long hours that they don’t have time to invest in their health or to have much of a life outside of work and school. What concerns me is that the experience of not connecting in relationships and the resulting depression will only become that much more deeply entrenched.

Many of us are working, going to school or both. It’s common for people certain in professions such as medicine to work inordinately long hours. We may have to do that for periods of time, but it’s not something we can do indefinitely without suffering the consequences.

Our emotional development gets put on hold when we’re working and studying such exceptionally long hours because we don’t have time or resources needed to process our life experiences and any subsequent feelings that arise. The feelings and stresses of work and other aspects of our lives that we fail to process can remain trapped within the bodies indefinitely. These accumulated stresses have a very numbing or deadening effect. Our life force becomes very stagnant and the physical and subtle bodies begin to break down. Many of us are only making matters that much worse when fail to get adequate sleep, when we spend too much time online, consume alcohol and other recreational drugs or rely on medications to alleviate our depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

The mental tasks that many of us are performing during the work day and night keep our awareness centered in our heads. The problem with being overly focused in our head for so many hours of the day and night is that it dissociates us from our feelings and physical bodies. We start losing touch with crucial aspects of ourselves.

Working such exceptionally long hours on a regular basis can stunt our emotional and interpersonal development. We’re actually losing the resources we need to experience a truly intimate relationship with ourselves and others and to cope effectively with the challenges of everyday life. Crises that occur in our lives such as a breakup, divorce or the loss of employment can leave us that much more devastated because we don’t have the resources or faculties needed to process them.

The life force within our bodies becomes very stagnant when we’re living in our heads, and even more so when we’re sitting in front of the computer for such long periods of time. We become less attractive as we become more dissociated and hold lots of stagnant energies in our bodies. And that makes it considerably more difficult for us to attract or maintain healthy and loving relationships.

It is critically important for us to balance our work with other activities that encourage us to connect with our feelings, physical bodies, other people and the world in which we live. We need to be making time to engage face to face with other people in a social or deeply personal context.

We need to be moving our bodies whether it be through walking, running, sports or some other physical activities. Disciplines such as yoga and tai chi can be especially helpful because they encourage us to be more mindful of our bodies. Mindfulness practices such as the ones I teach help to develop a stronger connection to our feelings and physical bodies while awakening the body’s own natural healing intelligence. These practices cleanse the body of stagnant energies and increase the life force while helping us to become more fully present.

The stresses and demands of everyday life can wear us down over time. We all need to be making use of various therapeutic interventions to facilitate healing and reconnect us with our physical bodies. Deep tissue massage and other forms of body work provide a wide range of health benefits while giving us a very enjoyable experience of being in our bodies.

I see the effects of the adverse effects of what people have to do just to make it in this world as I look into their bodies and minds. The presence working through me during the individual healing sessions restores the body-mind connection by helping people to process the backlog of stagnant emotion and other stresses held within the body. Damage is also repaired in the physical and subtle bodies. Their bodies and minds become more resilient. Some are at a place in their lives where they have no choice but to keep up with the grueling pace. The sessions help to sustain these individuals by mitigating the wear and tear of work, school and other demands until they can get to a better place. Others are able to make changes in their lives that enable them to better care for themselves.

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

Resonance

Leave a comment

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.

Learning to Feel Comfortable in Our Social Interactions

Leave a comment

edited social
A young Korean man showed up in one of my classes not too long ago. Hwan shared with us during the introduction that he was having great difficulty expressing himself and was not able to convey his feelings for a woman that he found himself attracted to. I had Hwan bring the woman to the forefront of his awareness by picturing her immediately in front of him while breathing softly and deeply. Before long Hwan complained that he was becoming very dizzy and asked if he could stop. I had Hwan shift the focus by focusing his attention on the feelings and sensations throughout his body. Hwan told me that the dizziness had subsided when I checked in to see how he was doing a few minutes later.

Hwan spoke after completing the practice saying “I was feeling very dizzy when you had me focus my attention on the woman. It felt as though I were spinning. I became much calmer once you had me redirect my attention by having me focus on the physical sensations. I’m feeling more stable, comfortable and peaceful.

I spoke with Hwan after the class and he was receptive when I offered to look into his aura. It was quite apparent that he wasn’t fully inhabiting his body. The solar plexus and navel chakras were very underdeveloped. Hwan told me that he had been subjected to a lot of physical and emotional abuse by his overly controlling parents. He had internalized much of the trauma and that had apparently stunted his development.

The chakras serve as a form of bio-electrical circuitry that support the functions of the various internal organs and systems. In this case they were also reflecting developmental deficits that were making it difficult for Hwan to function. Hwan doesn’t have the faculties needed to remain fully grounded and to work constructively with his feelings. Consequently he is easily overwhelmed and that prevents him from expressing himself.

I told Hwan about my own personal experience of healing from similar traumas and about the success I’ve had working with others struggling with the same kinds of issues. Sadly, people don’t always recognize or make use of the opportunities being presented to them. Much of that has to do with the fact that most people are not familiar with the traditional Indigenous healing practices and their ability to facilitate healing that would not otherwise be possible. Hwan doesn’t possess the resources that would enable him to process his feelings, heal the deep emotional wounds and express himself as a fully functioning adult. He will most likely continue to struggle with the same sets of limitations indefinitely.

I’m very familiar with the difficulties Hwan is experiencing after having suffered similar abuse during my own childhood and adolescence. I was painfully shy for the longest time and that made it very difficult for me to function in various social interactions.

What’s preventing me from functioning?

Many of us feel awkward, shy or become anxious in our attempts to interact with others. Those of us who suffered abuse at some point in our lives may even feel that something is wrong with us or that we are unlovable. We often try to fight or resist these feelings, but in doing so we only feed the emotional forces that are working against us. I started making a practice of paying attention to all the things that were preventing me from expressing myself or functioning in different areas of my life.

I initially began to do this practice while sitting down in a quiet place with my eyes closed. I would bring the person, situation or issue concerning me to the forefront of my awareness then breathe softly and deeply while centering my awareness in the middle of any feelings or bodily sensations that arose. I would also breathe into places where I felt constricted or inhibited. Working with this practice helped me relax and feel more natural and flow more comfortably in my interactions. I continue to do this and other practices on a daily basis.

I’ve learned so much about being present by experimenting and I encourage others to do the same. I realized after some time that I needed to be applying this practice in my daily life. I started making a conscientious effort to be fully present with the feelings and sensations that I was experiencing within my body while in the midst of various interactions with people. After some time I found that I was able to maintain the connection with my feelings and bodily sensations while conversing with others and looking into their eyes. I found that it actually deepened the quality of the interaction.

Range of motion

I would intentionally put myself in all kinds of challenging social situations to further expand my range of motion. I would seek out the kinds of people I admire and do the things I had always wanted to do. The whole process of showing up present on a daily basis helped me to feel more alive. It also left me feeling quite vulnerable at times. Some of the more difficult or challenging situations brought up all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. Fears, anxieties, feelings of shyness, intimidation and inadequacy softened and became more diffuse as I continued to breathe into them. Digesting these feelings helped me to feel more at ease and to move through the world more freely.

I usually vary my focus in accordance with what I’m feeling at any given moment. I will often focus my attention in the chest, abdomen or any other part of the body where the feelings arise. At other times I experience a whole range of feelings and sensations simultaneously in different parts of the body. I will then maintain a more diffuse focus with my attention on the feelings and sensations throughout my body.

Moving into the spotlight

I had to become a public person in order to build a practice as a healer and that has forced me to stretch far beyond my comfort zone. I used to be painfully shy and found public speaking to be especially intimidating. My mind would often go blank while I was giving classes or workshops and then I would sit there frozen and not be able to think of anything to say. It usually took me about an hour to relax enough so that I could feel comfortable. The fear and anxiety has diminished as I’ve continued to work with the practice of breathing into any inhibiting feelings that arose. Now I’m offering classes on a weekly basis. Working in a group format can be very demanding, but I actually enjoy the process when I have people that are open and responsive.

Feelings of intimidation would often surface whenever I went to speak with radio show hosts or the program directors of various healing centers about giving an interview or workshop. I’ve grown to feel more comfortable in these kinds of interactions. I gradually became more cognizant of the fact that I have a great deal of knowledge to share about healing that is not readily available to the general public. I also more appreciative of the fact that I’m a conduit for a very powerful healing presence that is much needed by people in today’s world.

Asserting healthy boundaries

People who are unable to establish healthy boundaries and assert their needs are more likely to get stepped on or taken advantage of. I had suffered abuses for far too long and something inside me was unwilling to tolerate it any longer. I have on numerous occasions breathed into the fear and anger I was experiencing while confronting people that had overstepped their boundaries or were trying to take advantage of me.

The fears and anxieties were so strong in some instances that I would be physically shaking. Making a concerted effort to be fully present while asserting myself helped me to work through my fears and insecurities. It has also enabled me to become more embodied and establish healthier boundaries. It has become much easier for me to assert myself in these kinds of situations. I find the whole process to be very empowering.

Finding that special someone

Many people want more than anything to have someone to love and be loved by, but are afraid to approach or express their feelings for someone they feel attracted to for fear of being rejected. This is one of the main reasons why so many people do not have a love in their life. It also accounts for the fact that many people are settling for someone who is not the best match. They would rather settle than end up being alone.

I was really serious someone in my life, so I began to engage with women I found myself attracted to whenever the opportunity presented itself. I encountered a lot of fear and guardedness and sometimes found myself in awkward and embarrassing situations. I felt hurt or disappointed at times when things didn’t work out quite the way I wanted them to. Breathing through the uncomfortable feelings that surfaced helped me to work through the hurts, disappointments, fears and sense of awkwardness. I stopped personalizing a woman’s lack of response or interest as I came to realize that it had to do more with where she was at.

Many good things came of these interactions. I have gained a much better understanding of women and people in general. I gained a much greater sense of the qualities I truly desire in a friend and companion. I’ve developed the communicative skills that have enabled me to become more socially adept. A lot of these encounters turned into spontaneous dates. A number of the women I met became friends. Some of these encounters have been the start of a relationship. I would have missed out had I not taken action.

I would often breathe into any feelings of attraction or desire at times or the enjoyment of connecting with another human being during these encounters. Teaching myself to become more fully present in this way has helped me to feel more comfortable and flow naturally in my interactions.

Divine intervention

Many of us experience a painful sense of inadequacy or inferiority when we encounter people that we perceive to be smarter, more attractive, powerful or together in some way. Breathing into the underlying sense of inadequacy or any other feelings that arise activates the healing intelligence that resides within our body and mind. We gradually come to a place of greater self-love, appreciation and acceptance as the uncomfortable feelings dissipate.

Those of us who suffered from childhood abuse are more likely to feel damaged or defective. These wounds become so much a part of our makeup. I made a daily practice of being fully present in my body as I went about whatever it is I was doing. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get past some of the debilitating emotional wounds on my own. I would often come up against the limits of my own operating system. I was in many ways dissociated from body and was very cognizant of the fact that I didn’t possess many of the resources I need to do the things that truly mattered to me in life.

I realized that I needed some form of outside intervention in order to heal the deep emotional wounds. I worked with a number of exceptionally powerful healers and went on numerous vision quests, which are a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out alone into the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. It was during the healing sessions and vision quest that I began to heal the debilitating emotional wounds and develop the resources that have made it possible to become more fully functional in my professional and personal life. I became much more connected to my feelings, my physical body and the world in which I live as a result of these interventions.

We all need to be making a concerted effort to show up, pay attention and participate on a daily basis. We also need to be realistic in understanding that we cannot do it all on our own. It is critically important for us to be making use of the tools and resources to help facilitate the healing and initiate the growth which we are not fully capable of doing on our own.

The never ending process of becoming more fully present

We cannot fully live our lives when we allow ourselves to be controlled by our fears and inhibitions. We need to be confronting our fears head on. Moving beyond our comfort zone by engaging with people and placing ourselves in situations that challenge us facilitates growth. We need to keep in mind that developing the ability to feel comfortable in the various kinds of social interactions is a gradual process. There will always be challenges along the way. Many of the same kinds of feelings and vulnerabilities will resurface in response to the people and circumstances we encounter as we go about our lives. The emotional discomforts that inhibit us will gradually become more diffuse as we continue to work with this practice. And with continued practice we will gradually find ourselves navigating a wider range of social situations with greater comfort and ease and move more freely through the world.

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

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

The Disappearing Act

Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Love on the Subway

Leave a comment

met on a bus“We’ve been married 31 years.”
“How’d you meet?”
“I saw her on a bus, put my watch in my pocket, sat down next to her, and asked her for the time.” – Humans of New York

The thriving music scene happening in Manhattan’s Lower East Side was one of the initial attractions that drew me to New York City. I went to so many concerts after moving to the city, but the music scene began to wind down after a few years. I still went out to various events whenever the opportunity presented itself, but it seemed that I rarely found the opportunity to meet the kind of women I was interested in. I was so busy with my work anyway. I seldom met or talked with women unless I spoke with those I encountered on the subway during my daily commutes. I was quite serious about having someone in my life, so I made a point of speaking to at least two women a day as I commuted to and from appointments.

Rules of the public transit system

I would often see women I found attractive during my daily commutes and felt a sense of frustration over not having an opportunity to meet or get to know them. I began to ask the women knew and those I encountered along the way if they had any suggestions as to how I could go about engaging a woman I found myself attracted to.

Some responded by telling me “Approaching women on the subway is harassment, so don’t do it. You need to understand that minimal social contact is the unwritten rule of the public transit systems of New York City.”

One encounters different sets of rules wherever they go. These arbitrary sets of rules were all made up by people at some point along the way. Some rules do serve a useful purpose. And yet many were conceived out of people’s ignorance, fear, confusion, superstition and in some instances stupidity. Rules often serve as a convenient excuse for those who are either unwilling or unable take responsibility for their own lives by thinking for themselves or relying upon their own intuition.

Restrictive sets of rules greatly hinder our ability to show up fully present as active participants in life. And in doing so, they prevent us from living our lives as fully functional human beings. Rigid sets of rules are also unnecessarily stifling. They shut down the natural flow of interaction in such a way that they prevent lots of people from meeting their normal and healthy needs for love and companionship. Consequently, many people end up being alone.

As Tom Robbins said in his book Jitterbug Perfume “What limits people is that they don’t have the fucking nerve or imagination to star in their own movie, let alone direct it.” We all have a choice. We can throw our youth away by allowing fearful and contracted people to define the terms and conditions of our lives or we can chose to think for ourselves and show up fully present. There are exceptions to all man and woman made rules and this “minimal social contact while riding on the transit system or moving about the city” is no different. It’s an exception that will lead to friendships, dates or even the possibility of a healthy and loving long term relationship.

Attractive women get hit on all the time

Many of the women I have spoken with have told me that they don’t appreciate being stopped on the street or approached on the subways. And that they find the level of harassment and attempts to engage with them that they are forced to endure to be exhausting.

I spend tremendous amounts of time on the subways commuting to and from work and running errands and I can’t help but pay attention to what’s going on around me. I see occasional panhandlers begging for money. I also see some very talented musicians and break dancers performing on the trains. Most of the people who are not with friends or family sit or stand engulfed in their own little protective bubble. Most of the women I see riding alone on the subways spend their time texting or surfing the net on their smart phone, reading a book or staring off into space. Rarely do I ever see men attempting to approach women or trying to engage them in conversation.

Too much time on our smartphones

People used to chat more on the subways before they became so dependent upon their gadgets. These days no one really looks, smiles or talks unless they happen to be riding with someone they already know. As our smartphones and the net have become more interactive many are becoming less willing to engage with people in their immediate proximity. Engaging with the people around us has lost its sense of normality and is in some instances perceived as threating because we’ve become so accustomed to talking to people at a distance through our smartphones.

One of the primary reasons many of us spend so much time on our smartphones and surfing the net is that we crave interaction. People who are guarded or that allow themselves to be controlled by their fears are usually not very interactive.

Weirded out by the fact that some guy finds me attractive

A number of the women I spoke with would say things like “As a woman, I feel incredibly weirded out that some guy on the subway finds me attractive and wants to go out with me. He’s only approach me because he thinks I’m physically attractive. He doesn’t know anything about who I am as an individual.”

I responded by saying “You’re absolutely right about the fact that the guy doesn’t know you. It’s a normal and healthy response for men and women to become curious and want to check each other out. How about operating from a more receptive mindset that says who is this person? There’s absolutely no harm in becoming curious about getting to know another person. And if it turns out that you share common interests and enjoy talking with them, then why not spend some time getting to know each other.

Our first sense of an individual we find ourselves attracted to us is usually visual. Approaching and expressing an interest in the people we find ourselves attracted to is all part of the normal and healthy process of mate selection that has gone on for thousands of years. Everyone has their preference for a certain features. Men and women are naturally drawn to those individuals they find physically attractive and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If looks were not so important to women, then why is it that the more handsome men have considerably more dates and are more likely to be in a relationship? In fact, many women automatically reject a man who doesn’t appear to be her type.

Give her an easy exit

Standing directly in front of or towering over another person can be perceived as threatening. Women are more likely to feel at ease when we stand at an angle and give them some room to breathe. It’s also important for us to be mindful that any person we engage on public transportation is in an enclosed space where they cannot easily get away. Therefore we need to be gracious by giving them an easy out if we see indications that they are not a willing participant.

She’s just not interested

Men can be incredibly tone deaf. It’s important for men to pay attention to subtle cues such as a woman’s tone of voice, body language and the vibe she’s giving off whenever we attempt to engage. Short one or two word answers like “Yes” or “No, sorry,” an unemotional tone or scowling face, purposely turning away or going back to her book or music are often indications that she just wants to be left alone. It’s best to just get the hint, say “thank you” and then move on.

We also need to take into consideration that any woman who captures our attention has a life of her own. She may be struggling with various work related, financial or personal issues. She may already have someone in her life. A wedding or engagement ring is, in most instances, an indication that she’s already taken.

Many women have learned to maintain a level of friendliness because men have either caused a scene or insulted them when they haven’t. Men who have lost touch with their feelings may also lose their capacity for empathy. Many are not able to tell when a woman is attempting to brush them off. They often make the mistake of assuming that any woman who smiles at them is interested because of their inability to distinguish between a polite response and genuine interest.

I can tell when the woman I’m speaking with is not really putting any effort into the conversation by the vibe she’s giving off. It’s obvious that she’s not a willing participant if I have to do all the work. I’ll stop talking if I get a sense that the woman I’m engaging with is not receptive.

I will sometimes test the waters. There have been many occasions where I could sense an initial discomfort from women that I have engaged with on the subway or in other public spaces. I always set the intention that I want any interaction to be mutually comfortable. I’ve learned over time to feel a person’s boundary or comfort zone and that gives me a sense of how close or far away I should sit or stand. I will sometimes back off for a while and at other times I would completely disengage. Many have gradually relaxed and let their guard down. Women who were initially fearful or hesitant often became much more open and engaging at some point once they realized that they were safe.

Places where women go to meet men

A number of woman I’ve spoken with said things like “I cannot even fathom why you would even consider approaching women in the subway. There are so many places you can go to where women actually want to meet and talk to men. Go to a bar or create a profile on match.com. Just leave us the fuck alone on the train.”

Many of us have spent inordinate amounts of time going to events in hopes of meeting someone. Going to events related to our own specific areas of interests can increase our likelihood of meeting people who share similar interests. Many of the men I have spoken with in the city talk about how that same sense of fear and guardedness they encounter on the public transit system carries over into these so called safe environments where women go to meet men.

Going to all these classes, workshops, concerts, museums and wherever else we can think of to go can also become very expensive and time consuming. People who are working long hours, commuting great distances and saddled with tremendous responsibility just don’t have the time or energy.

I hear so many people expressing their frustration over the fact that they never seem to meet the kind of person they want to connect with despite the fact that they’re going to all kinds of events. Limiting ourselves to the small pool of individuals who our friends introduce us to or that happen to show up at the events we attend severely limits our likelihood of finding the love and companionship we truly desire. Why not just engage with the people in our immediate proximity that we encounter as we go about our day?

I know a few couples who have met in bars. But there are lots of problems associated with meeting in bars. Bars are full of intoxicated people who are not in their right state of mind. And they tend to attract lots of people who are looking for a means of escape from the realities of their lives. Many people go to bars with the purpose of hooking up with someone for the night.

Bars also tend to be very noisy. The music is often so loud that one can barely hear what the other person is saying. They’re definitely not the kind of environment that’s conducive for reflective thought or really getting to know a person. Women that go out to bars to spend the evening with their girlfriends often do not want to be approached. Their friend’s lack of social approval can easily torpedo any possibility of making a connection.

Lots of women have told me they think it’s creepy for men to engage them on the subway and said that I should be looking to meet someone online. I have asked a number of these women to tell me the difference between a man who approaches them in a public space and one who contacts them through their profile on mismatch.com. Creating internet profiles to advertise ourselves online is so sadly pathetic. But many of us do it because we’re too socially retarded to engage with the people we encounter over the course of our everyday lives.

We don’t really know the person who engages us online. They can easily create the kind of image they wish to portray. We cannot see their real personality because that person is not physically present right here in front of us. Many lie about their age, weight, height, marital status and other important personal details in their online profiles.

There are a number of advantages to meeting someone in the subways. Those of us who are in touch with our intuition can get a better sense of the person standing in front of us and that makes it easier for us to determine if we have something in common. We get a sense of their level of intelligence and their overall outlook on life. We can also pick up on potential red flags that let us know to be careful or to not get involved.

The newer trains are fairly quiet and brightly lit. The subways are full of all kinds of interesting, intelligent, well-educated and creative people who share similar interests and passions. One encounters lots of well-dressed professionals on their way to or from work. There’s less pretention involved when meeting someone on the subway and that gives us a more realistic sense of the person we’re interacting with. The people we meet on the subway are usually not under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. All one has to do is open their eyes to see that there are more potential partners on the subway and other forms of public transit than any other venue.

The truth is that there is no universally acceptable setting for men and women to meet. The world we live in becomes an incredibly lonely and boring place when we allow small minded people controlled by their fears to cause us to contract in ways that prevent us from engaging with the people we encounter during the course of our everyday lives. Teaching ourselves to remain present in our bodies while tuning into our intuition will give us a clear sense of who is trustworthy. With this knowing we can determine who we want to open up to and allow into our lives.

Making the approach

Approaching someone on public transportation we find ourselves attracted to is taking a risk and that requires a lot of courage. We have to accept the fact that we will be viewed by some as a creep or predator. We may encounter a lot of rejection. Those individuals we find ourselves interested in may not necessarily be rejecting us. People that haven’t learned to truly think for themselves and tune to their own intuition and tend to operate on autopilot. I have found that centering our awareness in the middle of the feelings while breathing softly and deeply will soften and diffuse the sting of rejection so that I can bounce back and move on.

The window of opportunity

One of the most challenging and sometimes frustrating aspects of meeting on the subway is not knowing how much time we have to engage with an attractive stranger. It can be very difficult to connect with someone who is getting off at the next stop. I’m always thankful for the thirty minute to an hour windows of opportunity to talk and get to know someone provided by the long commutes to or from the Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. I have in some instances acted as though I had intended to get off at the same subway stop. That has on occasion made it possible to continue the conversation.

Some women I spoke with recommended that I start by making eye contact and only approach those who show some indication of being responsive. The problem with using this approach in New York City is that lots of women on the subway and in other public spaces make a concerted effort to avoid eye contact. Making eye contact can work in some instances and yet it may also be perceived as a threat. It’s not that uncommon for women and men in the city to visibly tense up if they notice an unfamiliar person making eye contact or checking them out.

It’s difficult to engage with someone who catches our attention at the other end of the subway car. If at all possible, I’ll find a way to stand or sit next to a woman that captures my attention. I will often initiate by commenting on something a woman is wearing or a book she’s reading. I’ve had women pull the ear buds out of their ears to ask them about the music they’re listening to. I’ve actually said things like “I really like what I’m hearing there. Can I check out what you’re listening to for a minute?” In many instances that has gotten women to engage me in conversation. I have asked for directions at times when I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

Revealing any kind of romantic interest or feelings of attraction is more likely to scare the woman being approached. It also creates a lot of unnecessary pressure by putting her in a position of having to decide if I’m someone that she wants to be involved with romantically. Keeping the interaction light and friendly creates a more neutral setting to get to know one another. It also gives her more of an opportunity to determine if she feels comfortable with me and if she wants to continue the interaction.

I’m only romantically interested in women that I can relate to as a friend. Being genuinely curious to learn more about the woman I’m speaking to as a person encourages her to open up and become more engaging. Introducing myself at some point in the conversation helps to put her at ease and moves the conversation smoothly from strangers to mildly acquainted. Instead of asking for an email or phone number I will usually say “What steps can we take to continue this conversation?” Many have offered me their email or phone number. Some have suggested that we continue the conversation over coffee.

Opening ourselves to possibility

A number of the women I spoke with have said something to the effect “I cannot possibly imagine a conversation that takes place on public transit would turn into anything else. I’ve met interesting people along the way and enjoyed the conversation, but they always ended as soon as I got off at my stop.”

One of the greatest impediments to finding love in cities like New York and Boston is the pervasive sense of fear that causes so many people to contract and put up walls around themselves. Fear is a protective mechanism that serves a useful purpose when it mobilizes us to respond to a legitimate threat. Conversely, inappropriate or disproportionate fears can have a negative impact upon ourselves and others. We all have legitimate reason to exercise caution. However, the baseline state of fear that many of us operate from that predisposes us to be fearful and suspicious of those we are not familiar with is what prevents so many of us from finding the love we truly need and desire.

Many of us spend inordinate amounts of time traveling to and from wherever it is we’re going in trains filled with all kinds of interesting people. If we were to truly open ourselves to possibility we would clearly see that we encounter more potential partners on the subway and other forms of public transit than any other place.

Closing ourselves off to the possibility of meeting in public spaces severely limits our likelihood of meeting the kind of person we truly want to be with. Moving through the world with a sense of openness and willingness to meet people wherever we go gives us a much wider selection of potential partners to choose from and greatly increases our likelihood of finding the love and companionship we truly need and desire.

Showing up fully present

There are so many people residing in New York City that feel they have to schedule their lives minute by minute filling every waking moment of the day. They’re up at six-forty-five, on the subway by eight, beginning their work day at nine, taking their thirty to sixty minute lunch break at one and then continuing to work until five-thirty. They’re back on the subway as soon as they leave the office, attending yoga class at six, dinner with their friends immediately thereafter and then they spend the remainder of their evening online.

Many New Yorkers become so stressed out because they lack the resources and understanding that would enable them to process the realities of their daily lives. They’re constantly doing and doing to avoid their fears, insecurities, hurts and the profound sense of emptiness that resides within. They’re never fully present in the moment because their mind is always caught up in the past or busy thinking about the next thing they’re doing. If they’re not thinking about their upcoming activities, they find something to distract themselves such as television, their smartphones, a game, alcohol, etc. They cannot be present with themselves, therefore they cannot be present for anyone else. Many are incredibly lonely. They want so much to meet someone they can love and be loved by. But many are so scared of other people, rejection, the world around them and their own feelings that they end up shutting down and that’s why people in the city become so isolated from one another.

New Yorkers have so many fears associated with the transit system. They have a tendency to go into this collective state of disconnect as soon as they embark on the subway. But the transit system is now about as safe as any other place we would find ourselves in the city. And we will discover some truly amazing things when we get out of our heads long enough to be present to what’s happening around and about us.

One can experience the wonderment of life anytime and anywhere. It’s important for us to slow ourselves down enough so that we can actually enjoy the journey. We do that by making a conscientious effort to become fully present in the moment wherever we happen to find ourselves. We take in our immediate surroundings while opening ourselves to the possibility that there may be something of benefit for us here in this time and space. And we remember to ground ourselves within our bodies by breathing softly and deeply while maintaining a state of openness to whatever good life brings our way.

Can you find love in public spaces?

Going through one rejection after another and dealing with so much flakiness takes its toll. I would sometimes give up for periods of time. I felt that I had no choice but to keep approaching and brave the rejections if I was ever going to find the love I needed and desired. After some time I began to realize that many of these women were only operating according to their socially programmed autopilot responses.

I’ve made friends and have gone out on lots of dates. I went out with an Egyptian woman for some time that I met one night when I was stranded in a subway station because I forgot to bring my umbrella. I was in a relationship for a year with a woman I met on a flight to Sri Lanka. Nearly all of the relationship I’ve been in began as a result of my talking with women I met in public spaces. All kinds of amazing things can happen when we open ourselves to possibility.

I fell in love on the subway

Robin wasn’t in the habit of noticing men on the subway. But one day she had a feeling that someone looking at her. She looked up to see a tall attractive man who stood out among the crowd. Robin would see her “subway crush” on occasion while commuting to work. She sunk into a depression at one point when he seemed to disappear for weeks on end, fearing that she would never see him again. But Robin’s subway crush materialized next to her on the subway platform one cold January morning. She discovered that they had lots in common as they began to chat. Robin shoved her business card into his hand before getting off at her stop. Josh emailed the following Monday to ask her out. Robin and Josh moved in together ten months later. They had a model subway train positioned on top of their wedding cake when they later married.

Love can happen anywhere

Daniel sensed a woman standing behind him on the platform as he stood waiting for the downtown 6 train at 33rd St. He turned and asked her if she knew of a good place to have a drink. Daniel listened politely as Rebecca began to go through a list of possible establishments and then asked her if she would like to join him. Rebecca was hesitant at first, but then agreed to go along. Daniel and Rebecca got off at 14th street and walked a couple of blocks to a bar. Something about their conversation felt so natural. They began spending weekends together. Daniel moved in with Rebecca four months later and they married soon thereafter.

We need to feel safe and comfortable and be encouraged to engage with one another

Healthy and loving relationships can only develop when we actually take the opportunity to get to know one another. That cannot possibly happen until we begin to engage each other in conversation. Having a reciprocal interchange with other human beings on an interpersonal level is a critically important part of our personal growth. Men and women need to feel safe, comfortable and feel supported and encouraged in their interaction with one another. It’s important for us to follow up whenever we do make a connection by answering emails and phone calls and meeting again in a neutral place where we have the opportunity to actually get to know one another.

I’ve said to people on many occasions “How do you know that person sitting next to you on the subway or that engages you in conversation isn’t the best match you will ever come across in your entire life? You really don’t know until you at least give yourself the opportunity to get to know this person.”

Love can happen anytime and anywhere when we open ourselves to the opportunities being presented to us. New York City’s mass transit system brings anywhere from four to seven million people together a day. Surely we can find the one we’ve been waiting for when we just open ourselves to possibility.

And be sure to check out this amazing story about how another couple found love on the subway 🙂

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

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

Yin-Yang Balance: Why it’s So Important for Men and Women to Have Platonic Friends of the Opposite Gender

Leave a comment

tao
The feelings of attraction that begin to emerge during our adolescence can be all consuming. I wanted so much to have a love in my life as I grew into adulthood, but I was so painfully shy that I had to force myself to talk to women. My attempts to approach and engage with women were sometimes very awkward. I would often trip over my words or go completely blank. My social anxieties gradually abated as I continued to engage with women. I began to realize after some time that I really enjoyed women and that I felt much more comfortable relating to them.

Men and women have a tendency to exist within their own subcultures. A friend of mine who used to work as a bartender talked about how women came to the bar with their circle of girlfriends. Men usually came to the bars wanting to hook up, but those who tried to approach were often shot down. Most of the guys I know hang out with their guy friends. And women usually spend time with their girlfriends. Men and women complain about not having a love in their lives and that they don’t seem to be meeting anyone, and yet many are not doing anything constructive to change their situation.

I like to meet and spend time with interesting people. I talk with women I encounter along the way whenever the opportunity presents itself. Engaging with women in New York City can be difficult because many regard any man who approaches them in a public setting as a potential predator. There have been so many instances where I’ve met women and I could tell that they really liked me. Some have even spent hours meeting with me over coffee, but the underlying fears and sense of guardedness or the fact that they were too busy precluded the possibility of any kind of meaningful connection. It became quite obvious as I had the opportunity to get to know more women in the city that many have been deeply hurt. The stresses of living in the city make it that much more difficult for them to work through their fears, heal the hurts or tune in to their intuition.

Women that I encounter in other cities across the United States and countries in other parts of the world tend to be more open and engaging. I found women in Japan and China to be incredibly friendly and easy to talk with. Sri Lankan women often make eye contact and smile at me. India tends to be more conservative. A number of the women that I’ve approached while in India were initially standoffish, but would often let their guard down once they realized that I wasn’t a threat.

I’m intrigued by strong, intelligent and creative women. I’ll talk with any woman I encounter if I feel a sense of resonance. Many of the women that I’ve engaged with automatically assumed that I was romantically interested in them. It took a while for some of the women I met in India and Sri Lanka to get used to the fact that I was only interested in platonic friendship. A number of friendships have developed out of these connections.

Other women that I spent time with became very angry when I didn’t reciprocate their romantic interest. In some instances they completely stopped talking to me. Men and women who cut a person of the opposite gender off just because he or she doesn’t reciprocate their feelings are incredibly short sighted. Some of the women who didn’t reciprocate my love interest have turned out to be valuable friends. I have often realized sometime down the road that we were better off as friends anyway. Other relationships that had started out as friendships eventually led to romance. I’m also cognizant of the fact that my platonic girlfriends have friends that they can introduce me to.

South Asian societies have traditionally been very segregated. Men in much of India have very limited interaction with women outside of their own immediate families. The lack of normal healthy male to female interaction contributes to the misogynistic mindset, domestic and sexual violence, perversion and other forms of dysfunction that are so prevalent in present day Indian society. A large percentage of the Indian men that I’ve met have absolutely no sense of how to relate to women. Arranged marriages are still fairly common in this part of the world. Many of the single men and women I’ve gotten to know along the way were still waiting for their parents to select a life partner for them.

All men and women have both masculine and feminine attributes. Men who fail to develop their inner feminine are often lacking in sensitivity and that may prevent them from developing their capacity for compassion, empathy and intuition. Women who are not in touch with their inner masculine are less likely to develop the strength needed to fully assert themselves and stand on their own. Men who fail to develop their inner feminine and women who lack their inner masculine attributes are seriously out of balance. Spending time with friends of the opposite gender helps us to develop a healthy balance of internal masculine and feminine attributes.

Single men and women sometimes fall into a state of desperation in their search for love. Our state of desperation throws us way out of balance and that decreases our chances of finding the love that we truly need and desire.

I went through some very difficult periods of time when I wasn’t connecting with anyone on a romantic level. Having platonic girlfriends to spend time with made such a huge difference. Having these women in my life helped to alleviate the painful feelings of aloneness. The nurturance I received through our friendship helped to balance me energetically and emotionally. Having a grounded presence made it much easier for me to connect when I did meet someone that I truly resonated with.

There’s a huge disconnect between men and women. We’ve learned from a very early age to disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies and that causes us to shut down or disconnect from parts of ourselves. The disconnect between the genders is a reflection of how disconnected we have become from ourselves.

We have all heard the adage that says love is blind. Highly charged feelings and the accompanying projections experienced when we fall in love blind us in such a way that it that prevent us from seeing the object of our desire for who they truly are. Most of us have been hurt or taken advantage of somewhere along the way. We’ve become angry, frustrated, and fearful and feel suspicious of one other. Pain and trauma held within keeps us locked into a holding pattern that causes us to attract similar partners and reenact the same kinds of dramas.

We barely understand ourselves, let alone another human being. Men and women often feel as though they were relating to someone from a different species or another planet all together when they attempt to relate to a person from the opposite gender. Platonic friendships help to bridge the gender gap by creating a more neutral environment that can at times be more conducive for learning to relate to the other half of the human species. Being connected to people of the opposite gender will then begin to feel more like a normal and natural everyday occurrence.

Men often fall into the trap of getting hung up on a woman’s physical appearance and that prevents them from seeing a woman for who she truly is as an individual. Spending time with platonic women friends has helped me to get a better sense of the women I encounter along the way. I have a better sense of when a woman is being genuine. I can tell if she’s caring and compassionate, honest, sincere and if she comes from a place of integrity.

We all need to learn how to be a friend before we can ever become a good companion. My platonic girlfriends often open up to share what’s going on in their lives. I emphasize with their hurts, fears and disappointments. Gaining an understanding of what my friends have gone through in their lives and how they feel helps me avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes that guys often make that damage relationships. It also helps me to develop the understanding and empathy that enables me to be a more caring and compassionate friend, romantic partner and possibly future husband.

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

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