My mentor Horace once said to me “You’re going to become an exceptionally powerful doctor. And you’re going to get way up there. In the mean time you’re going to really scrape the bottom. Because if you don’t, you will never understand the suffering of the people you’re working with.”
Soon thereafter I found myself consumed by all the painful impressions and emotions when the traumas of my own childhood and adolescence began to emerge. Fortunately I had an instinctive sense that led me to develop a series of practices that facilitated the awakening of the innate healing intelligence that resides within my own body and mind. I also began to incorporate the healing practices of various ancient spiritual traditions. People who had suffered from abuse and other forms of trauma began to reach out to me. This chapter consists of a series of questions put to me by people I have been working with.
How did I arrive at a place where my body was in so much pain?
In many instances our basic needs for love and attention were never met. Some of us were also neglected or subjected to emotional, physical and / or sexual abuse. We didn’t have the capacity to change our situation or process the overwhelmingly painful emotional response to what was taking place in our lives. We had to shut down parts of ourselves in order to survive. The painful feelings that we’ve pushed out of our awareness remain trapped within our bodies. Pain held within the body over extended periods of time does tremendous damage as it grows in magnitude. These highly charged emotions are the driving force behind many of our addictions and other self-destructive behaviors. They cause us to say and do things that harm our relationships. The pain held within will eventually causes our physical bodies to break down.
Many of us have spent the majority of our lives avoiding the feelings, issues and realities of our lives that have created so much suffering. We sometimes find ourselves totally engulfed in pain when our feelings make their way to the surface. We may become fearful as the feelings emerge and look for a means of escape.
Healing begins when we allow ourselves to fully experience our true feelings. It’s important for us to understand that we may go through some very difficult times along the way. The pain may seem overwhelming, but we will gradually develop the capacity to contain powerful emotions. Our emotions will soften and become more manageable. We will experience a greater sense of lightness and freedom as that happens.
How many stages are there in the healing process and do they have a specific time frame?
There are many stages in the individual healing process. Those of us who are truly committed to doing what it takes to heal and realize our true potential will continue to progress from one stage to another for the remainder of our lives. The early stages are primarily about getting in touch with and healing the deep emotional wounds. The process becomes much easier over time as we digest the backlog of painful feelings stored within the body and develop the resources that will enable us to cope more effectively. Later stages of healing are more about realizing our true potential. There will always be challenges to face, but we will actually begin to derive a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction from the process taking place.
The stages of the healing process vary considerably from one individual to the next. A person who was sexually abused will have a very different experience from someone who suffered physical and emotional abuse. The stages of healing also vary according to the duration and severity of the abuse and the temperament of an individual.
A woman that I have been working with for some time with a history of sexual trauma would experience bloating accompanied by feelings of anxiety and intermittent panic attacks. She also experienced dissociative episodes that left her feeling spaced out and disconnected from her body. The bloating and panic attacks have now subsided and she has become firmly rooted in her body.
Another woman turned to substances as an adolescent to numb out after suffering many years of neglect and emotional abuse. She described her experience by saying “My body was constantly wracked with fear, anxiety and a sense of franticness that was accompanied by all kinds of painful thought patterns. The pain had a very acidic quality to it. What made it even worse was that I never got a break from the pain. I now feel much calmer as a result of the work we have been doing. I have become more assertive and find that I have a greater capacity to handle stressful or challenging situations.”
Are there signs to watch for that would indicate that I’m moving from one stage of the healing process to the next?
The individual healing process does not move along a straight trajectory. There are going to be times when we find ourselves confronted with difficult people or situations that bring our core issues and the painful feelings attached to them to the forefront of our awareness. We may feel consumed by many of the same kinds of old painful feelings. In many instances we mistakenly assume that we haven’t progressed at all or that we have somehow gone backwards.
Those of us who were subjected to abuse or other forms of extreme stress tend to hold many layers and pockets of residual anger, fear, pain and trauma within our bodies. Stressful situations that trigger our deeper vulnerabilities can be very trying, but they provide us with a valuable opportunity to get in touch with and heal the wounded parts of ourselves.
Deep emotional wounds can have a very debilitating impact. We’re more likely to react to difficult people or situations. At other times we feel overwhelmed and incapacitated our own emotions and the realities of our lives. There will always be hills and valleys, but the realities of daily life will become more manageable as we learn to digest our emotions and develop the resources and capabilities that make it easier for us to cope.
I felt that I was doing okay in my life. But then I went from feeling okay to experiencing a great deal of pain. Was I actually masking the pain for all these years?
Most of us learned from an early age to disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies. In many instances we had to disconnect in order to survive. After some time our mind’s defense mechanisms block the pain so that it no longer registers in our conscious awareness. The deeply wounded parts of us continue to operate outside of our normal everyday awareness. They often cause us to act out in ways that are harmful to us and others. Eventually, the suffering within becomes so great that we can no longer contain it. We often find ourselves in a great deal of discomfort as our defenses begin to unravel.
There are times when I’m in tremendous physical pain from the emotions. How long is this going to last?
Many of us go through life avoiding unpleasant realities, issues and all of the feelings attached to them. The pain will invariably continue to build on the inside until it reaches critical mass. We often find ourselves in a state of excruciating discomfort when our defenses fall apart and the feelings and impressions we have resisted for so long make their way to the surface.
The duration, intensity and nature of our suffering are influenced by a wide range of factors and will vary according to each individual. Repeated exposure to extreme stress or trauma tends to have a greater impact than one-time traumatic events. The resources that are available to us during times of extreme stress or trauma also play a large part in our capacity to cope. The impact of the abuse can be far more devastating for those of us who were abused in infancy or early childhood, because we had far fewer resources that would have enable us to cope. A loving and supportive parent(s), grandparent, sibling, friend or teacher can help to mitigate the effects of traumatic experiences. There are also vast differences in our individual constitutional makeup. People who are naturally more resilient have a greater capacity to cope with stress and for this reason they tend to bounce back more readily.
A painful breakup or divorce can have a devastating impact upon an individual. Many people never fully recover from the loss. The left over emotional baggage has a negative impact upon all subsequent relationships. The individual healing sessions help people to process the hurts, disappointments, fears and feelings of loss. There have been many instances where people have been able to heal from a devastating breakup and move on after a few sessions.
I’ve worked with many people over the years who were subjected to emotional, physical and sexual trauma. Some people approach me for help saying they just want to try out a session to see if they like it. Trying out a session like taking an herbal remedy or vitamin one time. We may need to take a remedy for some time before we really notice a difference. Many people are so out of touch with their feelings and physical bodies. Realistically, it’s going to take at least three to ten sessions before one begins to get a handle on the healing process taking place. Some disappear after a session or two when the underlying feelings and issues make their way to the surface. It really saddens me, because I know that most of these individuals will never heal.
Others will come in and do one or a few sessions and then show up after months or years to do a few more sessions. Healing often comes to standstill when that happens. Some people actually regress during these intervals. Disappearing for extended periods of time delays an individual’s healing process. The healing that could take place in a year or two may take five to eight years.
The individual healing sessions help those who have suffered from abuse and other forms of trauma to digest the backlog of highly charged emotions, rewire the brain and build the strong foundation that will enable them to become fully functional adults. People who work with me consistently at one to two week intervals heal the trauma and get to a place where they feel much lighter in six to eighteen months. I’ve watched many of these individuals grow increasingly stronger, develop greater resilience and become more highly functional over the course of a few years as we continue to work together.
The pain I experience is sometimes like a fever. It will break at times and then I feel much better. Will this happen more frequently as I go along?
There’s a very nebulous line between physical and emotional pain. Stressful emotions held within the body for extended periods of time often trigger physiological reactions. We may become feverish, achy, feel nauseous or experience physical pain as the stresses held within work their way through way through our system. Intensive healing practices will sometimes trigger these reactions. This is all a normal part of the body-mind’s process of cleansing itself of toxicity.
Painful emotions may intensify to such an extent that we feel totally consumed. The volume of pain stored within our bodies will gradually decrease as we continue to take the steps necessary to facilitate healing. The painful periods will shorten in duration and become less severe. We will experience a greater sense of lightness, freedom and connection to a higher power as we continue to process the physical, energetic and emotional toxicity.
Why is the pain worse after receiving bodywork or a healing session? Does everyone experience pain after body work or healing sessions?
Emotions stored within the body need to be brought to the surface so they can be processed. Body work helps to free up stresses trapped within our bodies. The problem here is that most of us have a very limited capacity to “digest” the painful emotions that are surfacing.
Painful emotions and other stresses held within the body are also brought to the surface during the individual healing sessions. The primary difference here is that the presence working through me helps to “predigest” the heavy congealed emotions that we experience as pain. The pain is neutralized and then transformed so that it can be used as fuel for our growth.
This presence also works to build greater infrastructure by increasing brain function and developing the subtle bodies which consist of the chakras and layers of the aura. Developing greater infrastructure increases our capacity to thoroughly digest and assimilate the emotions and impressions of past traumas and other stresses held within the body.
Nearly everyone I work with tells me that the sessions bring all kinds of feelings and issues to the surface that need to be addressed. They also tell me how working through these feelings and issues allows them to experience a greater sense of resolution and clarity. Many have said that it feels as though a huge burden has lifted.
The level of physical and emotional discomfort that one experiences during the healing session will vary considerably from one individual to the next. Many have described sharp pains or dull aches in parts of the body during the sessions. In most instances these discomforts last for only a few minutes.
The early stages of the healing process can be far more challenging for those who are holding a great deal of stress and trauma within their bodies. People who have disconnected from their feelings and physical bodies sometimes become fearful of the powerful emotions that surface and wonder where it’s all coming from. I sometimes have to hold people by the hand long enough to get them onto solid ground.
I have told people I work with on many occasions “You wouldn’t be experiencing all of this pain or discomfort during the sessions if you weren’t holding so much stress within your body. It’s important for you to understand that the sessions are helping you to digest the stresses so that you no longer have to carry them. It is critically important for you to heal the wounds and digest these stresses before they cause further damage. The difficult or painful episodes will shorten, become less severe and happen less frequently as you continue to progress. People who initially experienced a lot of pain or discomfort during and after the sessions tell me that they experience pleasant and enjoyable feeling and sensations as they continue to progress.”
Is the pain a physical or emotional reaction? How can I manage the pain?
The various issues, concerns and realities of our lives evoke physical and emotional reactions. We often fight or resist these reactions by trying to stop them. It’s important for us to do the best we can to relax into our resistance. Breathing softly and deeply while allowing ourselves to be permeable helps to diffuse the uncomfortable feelings and sensations in a way that makes them easier to digest.
Our body-mind has a limited capacity to digest the painful emotions and other stresses that have been held within the body for extended periods of time. I found that the walking meditation helped me to get through the really difficult periods by making the process more manageable. I would go out and walk at a gradual pace while breathing into the painful feelings that were surfacing for hours at a time. After a few months I noticed that my aura was extending further out from my body. I could feel the painful emotions and other stresses that had been stuck on the inside beginning to circulate through my physical and subtle bodies. I could also feel a nurturing presence from the Earth helping to create a greater sense of stability and wellbeing.
Does the pain ever go away?
The vast majority of people who have been abused, traumatized or subjected to other forms of extreme stress will continue to live with the pain for the remainder of their lives. One of the greatest impediments to healing is our resistance to experiencing our true feelings. We’ve been taught to shut down or disconnect from our feelings from the time we came into this world. Resistance in the form of suppressing, fighting against or avoiding the pain will only perpetuate our suffering.
Many of us are terrified to experience our feelings, fearing that we will become totally overwhelmed if we were to ever allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Difficult as it may seem, we need to learn to become present to the full range of feeling and sensation within our bodies. We do that by breathing softly and deeply as we focus our awareness within the middle of the feelings and sensations.
I often ask people to let me look into their aura whenever they tell me about the therapies and healing practices they are doing. Observing the changes taking place within people’s bodies and minds has given me a good sense of what works and what doesn’t work. Many people continue to suffer needlessly because they lack the understanding and the resources needed to facilitate healing. Conventional approaches to healing are very limited in their effectiveness. People have come to me on many occasions after having gone through years of talk therapy. Many have gained intellectual understand of their suffering and yet they’re still holding so much of the pain, stress and trauma within their bodies.
The pain will gradually diminish over time when we take the steps that are necessary to facilitate healing. We may need to work with a psychotherapist to help us gain an intellectual framework to understand what we have gone through, how it has affected us and the healing process taking place. We need to make use of additional resources such as deep tissue bodywork to help us move the stuck and stagnant energies and emotions held within our bodies. Traditional spiritual — healing practices such as yoga, martial arts including Tai Chi and Chi Gong will help us to become more comfortably present in our bodies. Indigenous healing practices such as those originating among the Native Americans are by far the most effective to help us transform the painful energies and emotions that create so much suffering and to build the strong healthy foundation that one needs to have an order to live a full and productive life.
Healing can be a long and arduous process for those of us who have been deeply wounded. The process requires tremendous courage and discipline, but it is well worth it. The pain will gradually diminish over time as long as we take the steps that are necessary to facilitate healing.
How much practice do I need to do on a daily basis to process the pain?
Much of our attention is focused on doing what it takes to either survive or to acquire more wealth and material possessions. We spend so much of our free time trying to escape from ourselves and the realities of our everyday lives by watching television, surfing the Internet, shopping or eating and drinking. This highly extroverted focus causes us to lose touch with our core self and the deep emotional wounds that cause us so much suffering.
Internal practice may initially feel completely foreign because we have become so far removed from our internal state of being. We may need to start out with fifteen to twenty minutes of practice a day and gradually work our way up. I recommend that most people do at least an hour of daily practice.
An hour or more of daily practice may seem like a lot of time to some people. It’s important for us to understand that the investment we’re making in ourselves by taking time to do intensive spiritual practice will result in increased productivity, improved health, a stronger connection with the higher power and a greater sense of wellbeing.
There were days, weeks and months in my past when I was in so much pain that I could barely function. I would sometimes breathe into the feelings of anxiety and grief for hours on end. The feelings became more manageable when I did the breathing practice while walking. I would usually walk for one to three hours at a time. Later on I incorporated various Chi Gong practices.
I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to train with a traditional American Indian doctor (medicine man) and with a Chinese master in the Internal Martial Arts. It’s fairly common for those who attain mastery in these ancient spiritual disciplines to do hours of intensive practice on a daily basis. These individuals do not suffer from the horrible anxiety and depression that debilitates so many people in our modern day culture. Their bodies and minds tend to be far more resilient. Many have also developed various spiritual powers, gifts and capabilities.
Increasing the amount of time we spend working with practices will greatly accelerate our process of healing and personal development. I’m in a completely different space than I was at the time I was healing the deep emotional wounds of my past, but I still like to do three to five hours of intensive daily practice because it gives me the opportunity to continually develop my body and mind.
Are there certain practices that are better or more appropriate than others at different stages of the healing?
We cannot possibly heal until we begin to digest the painful feelings which are the underlying source of our suffering. The first thing I do as I work with people is to teach them a series of practices that awaken the innate healing intelligence that resides within the body and mind. Breathing softly and deeply while fully immersing our awareness within the feelings helps us to diffuse and then digest the painful emotions that are the underlying source of our suffering. Our needs will vary as we move further along. I have the people I work with incorporate various Chi Gong practices as they continue to progress.
Sometimes I feel frightened by the seemingly never ending sense of hopelessness. Will I ever be free of these feelings?
Painful emotions and other stresses held within the body for indefinite periods of time can be very difficult to our system to process and that’s why we often feel consumed by the pain. We sometimes experience a form of tunnel vision as the painful feelings surface. We become so engulfed in darkness and feel as though there is no way out. We may then become very resistant to the process fearing that the pain will never end. It’s important for us to understand that this is a normal part of the healing process. The pain will subside and we will get to a much lighter place as we continue to put one foot in front of the other by taking the steps that are necessary to facilitate healing.
There were times when I felt totally consumed by the pain and I feared that the suffering would never end. I didn’t have anyone to hold my hand or show me the way. Fortunately I had a strong intuitive sense to guild me. I was able to recognize signs of progress along the way. I had to keep reminding myself of the days when I felt better and all the little signs of progress. The painful episodes became less frequent and shorter in duration. I began to feel a sense of being connected to a presence greater than myself and my ability to do what needed to be done continued to improve. Keeping my mind focused on the signs of progress helped me to develop faith in the process and that’s what kept me going.
One of the women I have been working with recently said to me “Is it really worth it to do what it takes to heal? Why not eat, drink, shop or do all the other things that people do to numb out?”
I responded by saying “You were totally out of control at the time we started working. You drank yourself into oblivion, crashed cars and became involved with damaged men who caused you lots of pain. Stop and imagine what it would be like if you had continued along that path for another ten, twenty or more years. What kind of shape would you be in by that time? Now imagine how you would feel looking back over your life after having continued down that path.
You’ve cleaned up a lot since we started working together. You’ve stopped drinking, let go of the damaged boyfriend and now you’re getting on track with your life. Don’t you think it’s worth it by now?
Half an hour after I wake up the feelings come on? Few hours later I feel pretty good. The feelings come back again the next morning. Why is that?
Our defensive structures soften during the night while we sleep. Feelings held within the body that normally operate outside of our conscious awareness begin to surface. These feelings can be uncomfortable at times, but we need to understand that they are providing us with an opportunity to get in touch with and heal the wounded parts of ourselves.
There were many nights where all kinds of painful and anxious feelings would keep me up till two, three or four in the mornings. At other times I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep. I finally said to myself “Okay, this is something I need to work with.” I would then do the best I could to remain present by breathing into the feelings.
The career and future I had planned feels all wrong. Now there’s a whole other career field I feel drawn to. Is this normal? Is it that I have a better sense of what I truly want now that the pain isn’t distorting my perception?
Healing facilitates an ongoing process of evolution. Our needs and desires change as we evolve. We gain a clearer sense of our life’s purpose and develop the resources needed to fulfill our true potential as that happens.
Are there things we can be doing to accelerate the healing process?
Like most people who are suffering, I was very fearful of the process taking place and I just wanted the pain to stop. I tried in so many ways to escape the pain. Over time I gradually learned to embrace the process. From that time on I did everything I possibly could to facilitate healing. I didn’t know how to help myself in the beginning and often felt as though I were flailing in the dark. But I gradually learned what I needed to do to keep myself on track and accelerate the healing process.
Healing the deep emotional wounds can take considerable amounts of time. There are a number of tools and resources that we can make use of to accelerate the process. I started out by going to see a therapist. Psychotherapy helped me to gain an intellectual understanding of the suffering I was going through, but it did nothing to alleviate the debilitating pain that made it so difficult for me to function.
During that time I found myself attracted to women who were either uninterested, unavailable or that reenacted the traumas of my past. The lack of reciprocation and being jerked around emotionally evoked all kinds of excruciatingly painful feelings. Somehow I had an instinctive sense that I needed to breathe into the all-consuming pain. Breathing into the pain helped me to digest the highly charged emotions. The emotional wounds began to heal and that made it easier for me to let go and move on when a relationship wasn’t working. Years later, I began to incorporate various Chi Gong practices. The Chi Gong practices gave me a means of drawing life force into the parts of my body that were either unconscious or holding stress and pain. I could feel these parts of my body-mind consciousness waking up.
I did lots of deep tissue body work. Deep tissue body work helped to break up the heavy stagnant emotional energies that were trapped within my body. Having those emotions brought to the surface could be uncomfortable at times, but I could always feel a sense of relief and freedom once I was able to process these feelings. Deep tissue bodywork also helped me to become more present in the parts of my body where I had been numbed out, disconnected or held a lot of pain and stress. It also helped me to derive a greater sense of enjoyment from being in my own body.
I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with a number of exceptionally powerful healers over the years. I was in Sri Lanka at a time when my issues of unrequited love were coming to a head. One of my friends could see how I was suffering and told me about a Buddhist monk that possessed a powerful gift of healing. I went to see the monk fourteen times in one month. I went back for another twelve healing sessions when I returned to Sri Lanka four months later. I could always tell the difference whenever I had the opportunity to work with these powerful healers. But I often had to wait six months to a year and sometimes even longer between sessions because they didn’t come around very often.
Native Americans in various parts of North America would go out alone into the mountains to fast for four days and nights without food and water. My mentor Horace had me going on the vision quest during the times that he transmitted portions of his own healing gifts to me. I seemed to wander aimlessly through much of my twenties, but realized shortly after my thirty-first birthday that I needed to get back to the mountain. I have gone through dozens of vision quest since that time.
Parts of the vision quest feel like a near death experience. I could see and feel all kinds of imagery and the feelings attached to them as memories of past abuses, traumas and other stressful events begin to surface. I could feel other forces or beings helping me to thoroughly digest what I had gone through while simultaneously building a much stronger and healthier foundation. I felt as though my whole body mind consciousness were being reformatted.
Do you recommend any form of physical activity?
We all need to engage in some form of ongoing physical activity. Exercise has a calming and grounding effect. The endorphins released when we exercise help to reduce the pain associated with depression and anxiety. They improve our outlook and help us to feel better about ourselves by elevating our mood. Exercise also increases our confidence and helps us to feel better about our physical appearance.
I have been training in the Internal Martial Arts of Xin Yi Quan, Baguazhang, Tai Chi and Chi Gong for quite some time now. Yoga and other forms of athletic activity can also be very effective. Each of us needs to choose the forms of physical activity that is best suited for our needs.
Some of us are in so much pain that we can hardly get ourselves out of bed. There were many instances in which I had to force myself to get up and practice. My determination helped me to push through the really difficult periods. After a while I could feel how the walking meditation and martial arts training were helping me to move the heavy stagnant emotions that had accumulated within my body so that I could begin to process them.
Most of the population isn’t very health conscious. We’ve learned to disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies. The innate healing intelligence that resides within our own bodies and minds becomes compromised and begins to shut down. We’re more likely to dabble in healing because we’ve had very limited exposure to the ancient spiritual disciplines that would teach us how to develop our bodies and minds and grow spiritually. Many of us are looking for someone to come along and magically remove our pain and suffering in a session or two. Healing is never going to work like that. Those of us who fail to learn will invariably live with our wounds for the remainder of our lives.
Healing the deep emotional wounds requires tremendous discipline, commitment and consistency. Some will say that it’s too much work. What we fail to understand is that all the horrible suffering we are forced to endure consumes far more valuable time, energy and resources than the amount required to heal. Those of us who fail to take the steps necessary to heal will invariably sink ever deeper into the hole we are digging for ourselves.
From experience I can say that discipline and perseverance definitely pays off. The many hours of intensive practice have facilitated a gradual process of evolution. Every healing session and vision quest has brought me another big step forward. The traumas of my past have healed. I’ve become very resilient and have so much more energy. I’m much freer and have a clearer sense of purpose. And I have greater access to the resources that are making it possible for me to fulfill my purpose and realize my true potential.
Are there pitfalls along the way that could derail our healing process?
Some of us become very fearful and start to panic when we find ourselves engulfed in painful feelings. In some instances we become very whiny saying things like “I feel like crap …when is the pain going to end?” We assume that something is wrong because we’re hurting and so we start searching for answers online. In some instances we self-diagnose by attempting to correlate our signs and symptoms with those of various psychiatric disorders. We may seek out a psychiatrist and go on medications. Medications may help to block the pain out of our awareness, but in doing so they impair our ability to process our emotions. We need to take into consideration that these medications have a wide range of harmful side effects. They also have a deadening effect upon our consciousness.
The dissonant emotions and energies associated with trauma tend to wreak havoc within the body and mind. Stress often expresses itself through the body in the form of abdominal and chest pain, fatigue, dizziness, headache, edema, back pain, shortness of breath, insomnia, numbness, impotence, weight loss and constipation. It can also manifests as heart disease, digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Traumatic stress accounts for the high prevalence of autoimmune disorders. In some instances the body begins to shut down.
People who suffer from stress related illnesses often get sucked into the western medical model. Allopathic approaches to healing are very effective for some health issues, but they primarily treat the symptom rather than addressing the underlying cause of an illness. Many of the things we do to treat the symptoms undermine the innate healing intelligence that resides within our bodies and minds.
The painful feelings that emerge can leave us feeling frightened and overwhelmed. At times we may feel as if we are losing it and we begin to wonder if pain will ever end. We often find ourselves reaching out in an attempt to make sense of our suffering. We want someone to console us and make it all better.
Most people never fully allow themselves to experience the pain, grief and fear held within their bodies. People who do not allow themselves to experience their own vulnerability will never be able to understand what we’re going through. In many instances they will discount our feelings or try to talk us out of them. It’s also important for us to keep in mind that people who have not been abused or suffered from trauma can never fully comprehend the experiences of those of us who have.
There were times when I was trying to make sense of what I was going through. I was looking for understanding, but I quickly discovered that most people have little, if any, comprehension of what I was going through because they have spent the majority of their lives disconnecting from their own feelings and physical bodies. In doing so they never allowed themselves to go to those places where they are truly vulnerable.
I soon realized that sharing what I was feeling made some people feel very uncomfortable. In many instances the people I had opened up to would either discount or invalidate my feelings and experiences or they assumed that something was wrong with me. Seeking input or validation from people who have never dealt their own woundedness only added to my confusion. I had to learn to be very selective by only opening up to those who were taking the steps necessary to facilitate their own healing.
Fear, anxiety and other painful feelings that make their way to the surface can leave us feeling overwhelmed. Our first impulse is to push it all back down, but that will only perpetuate our suffering. To the best of our ability we need to stop resisting and embrace the process taking place by fully opening to the feelings that are surfacing. I had to teach myself to let down all resistance by becoming fully present to the realities of my life and any subsequent feelings that arose.
There were times when I wanted so much to have someone in my life, but relationships never seemed to work out. I ended up making matters worse by trying too hard to make relationships work and then I kept resisting the painful feelings that emerged when they didn’t. I had to teach myself to stop resisting by fully opening to the reality that I would never get to be with the woman I felt such a strong desire to be with. Being fully present with the reality of not having my feelings reciprocated and needs met evoked all kinds of excruciatingly painful feelings. These feelings gradually softened as I continued to breathe into them. Becoming fully present by breathing into the feelings helped me to break down the projections so I could let go and become more firmly grounded in my body. Going through this process made it possible for me get to a place where I could attract healthier companions.
Our minds have a tendency to chatter away and that often takes the form of negative self-talk. We often find ourselves trapped in circular patterns of negative thought that evoke all kinds of painful feelings. The painful feelings then reinforce our negative internal dialog.
Painful feelings held within our bodies are the driving force behind the negative self-talk and movies that play out in our minds. It takes a great deal of discipline to break out of these patterns. My mind would often spin me around in circles with all kinds of negative self-talk and imagery. Listening to the self-talk would escalate my negative emotional states. I learned to interrupt the negative imagery and the accompanying internal dialog by asking myself “What’s the deepest feeling behind all of that?” Breathing into the underlying feelings enabled me to diffuse the highly charged emotions that were the driving force behind the negative scenarios playing my head.
The healing sessions and vision quests took the process that much further by dismantling the traumas that had become so deeply ingrained in my body and mind. The new structure built in its place made it much easier for me to relax, feel more comfortable with and accepting of myself and to develop confidence in my ability to handle challenging situations.
Just deal with it
The suffering we go through doesn’t come to an end once the abuse or trauma is over. Many of us continue to experience baseline emotional states of pain, fear, anxiety, sadness and grief. What makes matters worse is that we often find ourselves confronted by people and situations that evoke many of the same kinds of painful feelings. We can easily fall into a pattern of whining or complaining about what’s not working in our lives and about how we horrible we feel.
A friend of mine once told me about his father who had served four tours during the Viet Nam war. His father told him that he survived the horrors of life in the combat zone by telling himself “Just deal with it.”
I realized that complaining was just another form of resistance and that I was only making matters worse. I made a conscientious effort to stop complaining. I began interrupt the pattern by telling myself “Just deal with it.” I dealt with it by doing practice, receiving healing sessions and going on vision quests. I also became more proactive by doing everything I could to better my situation.
Fearful of our emotions
Many of us are so fearful of our emotions and that makes total sense considering that we have been taught to shut down or disconnect from our feelings. The problem with shutting down emotionally is that the painful feelings continue to accumulate within our bodies. Our bodies cannot contain all that pain indefinitely. It’s just a matter of time before our defenses unravel and all of these feelings make their way to the surface. We may find ourselves in a great deal of pain as that happens.
Painful feelings and impressions emerge and we start to panic. Fighting, resisting, whining and continually talking about what’s causing us so much suffering will only escalate the fearful and anxious feelings. We may go through some very difficult periods of time where we find ourselves consumed by feelings of anxiety, fear, grief and pain. It’s important for us to understand that this is all a normal part of the process. As difficult as it is, we just need to fully open up to the underlying feelings no matter how scary or painful they may seem to the best of our ability while breathing softly and deeply. Yes, the pain can be excruciating at times. We may fear that we will go over the edge but we won’t. We suffer much less and heal so much faster when we make a consistent practice of flying right into the eye of the hurricane.
Completely letting go into the pain
Some of us fall into a state of desperation when we find ourselves consumed by the painful feelings. We just want the pain to go away. We sometimes panic but that only escalates our state of distress and then we end up creating a lot more pain. The pain will gradually subside as we continue to take the steps that are necessary to facilitate healing. In the mean time we need to take the attitude of “Okay… whatever” and totally surrender to the process that is unfolding.
There were times when I found myself completely engulfed by the pain. These periods would sometimes drag on for days, weeks and even months. I didn’t know if I would ever come out the other side. Resisting the painful feelings only made matters worse. I realized I needed to completely let go of the possibility that the suffering would even come to an end.
I had an instinctive sense that I needed to completely let go by allowing myself to become fully immersed in the pain. In many instances I would continue to breathe into the pain for hours on end. The pain would sometimes intensify to the extent that it became excruciating, but at a certain point I could feel something breaking open within me. I could then feel powerful emanations of warmth flowing in waves from deep within.
Can those of us who were abused or have experienced other forms of trauma completely heal on our own?
It’s common for people in places like India and China to spend many years training under a guru or master. The student understands that the guru or master has traveled much further along the path as a result of their many years of intensive discipline. The guru is able to help their students navigate the terrain ahead, make sense of the various phenomena they encounter along the way and avoid unforeseen dangers or pitfalls. Having the guidance of someone who has attained mastery can prevent the student from wasting precious time or meandering aimlessly.
The many years of intensive practice have heightened my sensory capacity. It saddens me to look into people’s bodies and minds and see how many are essentially lost. They don’t understand their body-mind and its innate healing processes or possess the resources that would enable them to heal. The traumas and other stresses they’ve experienced have altered their brain’s biochemical makeup. The subtle bodies consisting of the chakras and the layers of the aura are often damaged or disfigured. In many instances the subtle bodies have failed to ever develop. Their capacity to process their emotions is very limited and as a result their bodies are holding the accumulation of many years of undigested emotional residue. Some manage to disconnect from their feelings while others are overwhelmed by the painful emotions. All of these factors contribute to a deadening of consciousness. It also creates a great deal of confusion. Stresses held within the body also disconnect people from their authentic core self and the higher power. They don’t have a clear sense of direction or the resources needed to fulfill their life’s purpose. Many continue to suffer needlessly for the remainder of their lives.
Traumatic experiences elicit very powerful and sometimes overwhelming emotional responses. Our body-mind stores the emotions that we are unable to process. These painful emotions trigger powerful biochemical reactions within the brain. The highly charged emotions, negative internal dialog and imagery and the biochemical reactions become habituated. The resulting damage can range from mild to severe.
The wounds that many of us carry are so extensive. Our body-mind operating system needs to be reformatted. We do not have the capacity to fully heal these wounds on our own. We need to undergo the process of spiritual surgery with a powerful healer to heal the debilitating wounds and to build the strong healthy foundation that will truly support us.
Native peoples of the Americas lived out in the wild. They went through intensive practices such as the vision quest that involve going out alone into the mountains to fast for four days and nights without food or water. Traditional native doctors possessed different kinds of healing gifts and powers and were known throughout the tribes for their areas of specialization. They allowed other forces or beings to work through them to facilitate healing that would not have otherwise been possible. Native people would often travel for great distances to seek out their assistance.
My mentor Horace passed on portions of his own healing gifts to me during my apprenticeship. I began to receive other gifts of healing as I started going out on the vision quests. The kind of healing power I work with is especially suited for facilitating healing for those who are struggling with traumatic issues. The presence working through me during the individual healing sessions softens and diffuses the painful emotions associated with abuse and other forms of trauma so that they can be digested. This presence also helps to build a strong and stable foundation.
Is there some great advantage or pay off to having to endure so much suffering?
Human beings have an innate need for comfort, security and stability. Many people want to get to a comfortable place in life where they are not faced with any significant challenges that would force them to deal with the issues or encourage them to grow. People who don’t know what it’s like to struggle, have not dealt with loss, faced adversity or overcome seemingly insurmountable odds have a greater tendency to fall into complacency and that leads to stagnation.
All of us are vulnerable. Stresses that overwhelm our capacity to cope can in some instances damage and even destroy us. The things that hurt us or create stress in our lives can also serve as a catalyst for growth. Many of the truly remarkable individuals who have effected lasting positive change in the world have gone through tremendous adversity. Having to deal with their trials and tribulations forced them to tap into resources that enabled them to change the world for the better.
Learning to work constructively with our feelings helps us to use suffering as a catalyst for growth. Digesting our feelings facilitates the process of growth and maturation that enables us to develop more of the resources we need to become fully functional adults. The process that takes place as we heal the trauma and work through our doubts, fears, pain and confusion causes us to make use of parts of our brain and body-mind consciousness that most people never gain access to. We become stronger, develop greater compassion and empathy and discover the unique gifts that we as individuals have to offer to the world.
The Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi once said “When inward tenderness finds the secret hurt, pain itself will crack the rock and Ah!!! Let the SOUL emerge.
I discovered that the pain can serve as a doorway when I allowed myself to fully open up to it. Breathing into the pain for such long periods of time took me into profoundly altered states. I began to feel connected to something much greater than myself. I could then feel a source of nurturance, comfort, calm and strength flowing from within. My internal world then became a place of refuge.
Stepping up to the plate
Time certainly will not heal these wounds. The pain will never go away on its own. It will only get worse if you fail to address the issues. You’re not going to heal by sitting around reading posts off the internet or watching videos on YouTube. You may say that you want to think about it. Think all you want, true healing will only take place when you take consistent constructive action. Healing the deep emotional wounds is a process that requires courage, commitment, consistency and discipline. You need to be willing to step outside of our comfort zone to try out new approaches that are unfamiliar. Pick up the phone, make the appointment and continue to work with a healer on a regular basis. You also need to be doing consistent daily practice.
©Copyright 2012 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, creation and contact information intact, without specific permission.