“Awakening is possible only for those who seek it and want it, for those who are ready to struggle with themselves and work on themselves for a very long time and very persistently in order to attain it.” -G.I. Gurdjieff
We as humans have a tendency to act like we are the “walking wounded,” unaware of how our psychological wounds might be ruling our lives on subtle and not-so-subtle levels.
Trauma, perceived slights, social inequity, oppression of our Truths, persistent labeling as being a “less than,” feeling that one’s needs don’t matter: all of these factors can result in wounds that impact our lives forever.
To be unaware of our wounds is to be unconscious. As a result of this unconsciousness, spiritual progress generally does not occur. There is an incentive to stay in a state of wounded unconsciousness; then we don’t have to face the pain of the wound and possibly some overwhelming feeling of shame or inadequacy because of the circumstances around it. We simply “do not want to go there” under threat of overwhelm (See the Element Self-Awareness for more about this dynamic).
Healing is “the work” related to spiritual growth and awakening. It is necessary for all, in one form or another. It involves taking proactive steps to unveil the Truth of who we are. With Healing, we are peeling an onion, peeling away layers of who we are not in order to discover who we really are. We recognize, process and release the unresolved emotions of past trauma. We are deconstructing lies of inadequacy and allowing the Truth of our value as Divine sparks of Light to arise.
With Healing, we are removing the barriers to Awakening.
Healing is a process. It is one that is life-long, yet it may be less intense or more self-sustaining at some points along the way. We can take breaks and just “be,” which is very Healing as well.
There is a major pitfall to avoid in the form of spiritual arrogance when one thinks that all their work is “done” in the area of Healing. When we assume this, we usually get a wake-up call from the Universe reminding us that this isn’t quite the case. In the midst of this call, we can bow down with Humility to peel yet another layer of the onion away.
Here I would like to specifically state a warning: Never assume that all of your Healing work is done. Stay open to noticing and abiding by opportunities to do further work at all times and throughout your ENTIRE physical life. These opportunities are great gifts and are not to be avoided. Being continually receptive to Healing is magically Healing in itself, as it is a form of Self-Care and Love.
Being open and receptive to opportunities for Healing with Humility can create an environment of the soul and psyche that enables its own tremendous Healing power. After some threshold of what I call doing the “bulldozer” work of addressing our major trauma and wounds (see the discussion below), we can eventually become self-sustaining Healing machines, focused on fine-tuning and maintaining our being (with a bulldozer always on standby).
“Healing is repair, re-pairing with our Divinity.” -Anonymous
Dish Rag Souls
I like the analogy of the ‘Dish Rag Soul” to describe how we are when we are first thrown into this physical world. At that point, we are like a brand new, bright, unsoiled dish towel. Then we spend many years of our lives absorbing much of the messes around us: family trauma and social convention and conditioning, just to name a couple. We get wounded. We get stained. We take on much of the belief systems and ways of thinking put upon us as a child and they become our own. We come to believe that we are the stains that we have absorbed.
If we are lucky, at some point we realize we can’t absorb much more. We are saturated. We realize that the stains we have were put upon us by external sources, by messes outside of ourselves. We may get the inkling that the stains we have absorbed over the years can be wrung out. Or we may experience some triggering event and it forces a wringing action in our lives.
We may then start a process of wringing out our well-stained Dish Rag Soul. We wring, squeeze, rinse. We wring, squeeze, rinse. Repeat. We cleanse.
This process of being wrung out and of being squeezed is a purging of all that we took on that wasn’t about us. We weren’t even meant to be a dish rag for all that stuff in the first place. We realize that we are so much more than that. We are a piece of the Divine fabric, unsoiled, stain- resistant. We just didn’t know it. Once we realize this, we can then spend our lives shining bright, not taking on stains even as we encounter messes all around us.
There is no one right way of Healing. There is no one process. We usually start unaware, not contemplating that we are in need of Healing in any way whatsoever. We might think we are perfectly fine or we might consistently harbor some form of masked suffering, knowing it as a normal state of being. A single event such as a loss of a relationship may throw us out of a false sense of calm and into turmoil. Or we may have long ago resigned to a life of suffering, deciding that Healing efforts are not worthwhile. On the other hand, we may have had a sense that Healing work would be helpful, but have decided that such efforts are just too frightful or overwhelming.
Healing can start with Self-Awareness. We can notice how we might be suffering. We notice what hurts us. We notice patterns of behavior. We notice addictions or tendencies towards them. We notice what triggers different emotions and how we react to situations. We look at how we deal with conflict. We see how we behave in relationships. We start to notice overt and subtle feedback from others. We wonder if we will ever feel happy and at peace. We Wonder if our life reflects who we really are. We explore. We ask questions.
We shine Light on all that we do. We start to Wonder about ourselves, who we are, how we might be wounded, what we may be avoiding and how we might alleviate those aspects of our lives that is disconcerting. Our own suffering guides us towards what needs Healing within us and in our lives. Our Intuition and Wisdom supports the journey. Courage drives us forward.
Healing is Courage-driven. We seek to be who we really are in spite of any fears we may have of the process.
“Find your medicine and use it.” -Nahko (musician)
The world abounds with Healers. Many wounded Healers, who having been through their own process of wringing out and purging their own Dish Rag Souls, guide and assist others as they do the same for themselves. They seek to be in Service to others.
These Healers know that there is no one right way to Heal. Yet each will avail of themselves certain skill sets which they see of value and which possibly benefitted them on their journey.
You are ultimately your own “Chief Healer.” You are in charge of the greater game-plan of your life. You will likely benefit from a series of Healers and a number of modalities of Healing but your own Reason, Wisdom and Intuition will be your ultimate guide. The Universe will often serve up the Healer or Healing situation that you will most benefit from next. This could be in the form of a book, an experience or a relationship. You will likely proceed in phases with intermittent breaks. You may suffer through moments of “one step forward, one step back.” You may experience “a-ha” moments. You may revert to unhealthy behaviors that once soothed you. You may revert to avoidance. You may achieve great insights. You may assume that your work is done. It’s not.
Your Healing process will best be guided by staying in a constant mode of Self-Awareness.
“Whatever purifies you is the right path.” -Rumi
The Choice Not to Heal
The choice to not Heal makes perfect sense. Healing work can hurt. It can be difficult. You have to talk about things that you may not want to talk about. Some Healing work involves digging up past trauma and dissecting it. Some Healing work involves forgiving people who have hurt us or maybe even confronting them. We may have to take responsibility for our own actions and ask for Forgiveness from others. We may have to let go of something we have steadfastly clung to.
Healing work promises to take time, effort and even money at times (fees for services). It promises Change and discomfort. It also promises to be life-changing if taken seriously.
Avoidance can also occur on the Healing path. There is often a vague sense of dread surrounding the Healing process. There is the threat of an overwhelming inundation of pain, shame, sadness and anger. The floodgates may bust open. We might implode or explode in some fashion if we even crack the door just a little.
Another potential floodgate can lie in a black-and-white way of thinking about a situation that is neither good nor bad. To admit the need for Healing is to open the door to the possibility that we may be broken in some way and that we are “all bad” (versus the reality, which is more than likely that we are basically good people with some Healing that needs to be done).
Instead of diving in to what needs to be Healed, sometimes we will work out mechanisms to try to hold it all together. We find methods to temporarily soothe our wounds. We self-medicate. We tend to not want to talk about things until the “Elephants in the room” are at standing-room-only capacity. We will act out in different ways, repeating harmful patterns of behavior that scream out for us to Heal them.
At some point, the choice not to Heal may be overwhelmed by the promise of Healing. Basically, Healing starts when there are too many elephants in the room. Courage steps up. We integrate the possibility that we can be both a good person and a person who can benefit from Healing. At that point, we start the process.
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” –Carl Jung
The Healing Choice
There is a major turning point in many a life: that moment when we consciously decide to move towards a path of exploring our wounds and how they may best be Healed and/or reconciled. We venture down this path not knowing what it may entail and with some degree of trepidation. We will often sense a draw to do this work and we surrender to it consciously. We will be reluctant at times. We may thrust forward at other times with renewed vigor. We will feel content at times. At other times, we may feel burnt by and maybe even abandoned by God. We plod forward. We do our Healing work.
The moment we make the conscious choice to commit to Healing ourselves is tremendously Healing in its self. We may only appreciate that moment in hindsight, after much work has been done. We then know what a key moment it was as it facilitated a Healing Energy and allowed a receptivity for Healing processes to commence.
This moment of the “Healing choice” is a miracle. The element of Healing asks you to make that choice.
“The medicine is in the wound.” -Anonymous proverb
Healing is Wholeness
The word “Healing” has its origins in the Germanic term, heilen, which literally means “to make whole.” The desire to heal is not a statement that we are broken. It can mean that we are inclined to focus on our wholeness and we wish to allow it to express itself more than before in our lives. We begin to integrate parts of us that may have seemed separate in the past.
Not everyone wounds the same and not everyone Heals the same. One person’s overwhelming trauma can become a major motivating factor from which they arise stronger and relatively unscathed. Another person’s poor treatment, not perceived as major trauma by most, may devastate them for life. We each have different propensities to wound and Heal. No judgment need be applied.
“Bulldozer Work” is what I call the first-level of heavy lifting that often occurs (or needs to) in the Healing process. “Bulldozer Work” means addressing any forms of major trauma, such as physical/emotional abuse and abandonment. We shine the Light, attempt understanding and process previously contained emotions relating to what we call our “Family of Origin” issues.
We may look at what is sometimes called the “dark” or “shadow” side of our own personalities as well in this stage. Our shadow sides are the parts of our own psyche that we deny and/or for which we have shame. We shine Light on those parts of ourselves and we learn to accept all parts of who we are.
We might also have to consider traditional diagnostic models of our physiology and mental health state in general. We may qualify as having a clinical condition or an official diagnosis. Without allowing this approach to stigmatize us, we can use any labels the field of psychology may give us as a basis of information on what a particular cluster of “symptoms” might mean and how some people might approach the Healing of those symptoms. With any type of traditional diagnosis, we need to seek understanding, embrace/accept the situation without shame, and get a second opinion.
Addictions or tendencies towards certain addictions will inevitably come to the forefront during the “Bulldoze” phase of this work. When we become aware of our addictive tendencies, we can look at the purpose the addiction might be serving and how we might eliminate the need for it and shift to healthier methods of coping.
As part of the “Bulldoze” phase, we likely will have to look at all intimate relationship issues as they can be especially telling of underlying wounds. How do we behave in relationships? How do we treat others? Do we have a fear of intimacy on some level? Do we push others away? Do we cling to them?
“Often we continue to suffer without making an effort to change; that is why we don’t find lasting peace and contentment. If we persevere, we would certainly be able to conquer all difficulties. We must make the effort that we may go from misery to happiness, from despondency to courage.” -Paramahansa Yogananda
The Almost Universal, Most Likely Unconscious, Wound of False Inherent Inadequacy
The Bulldozer work might start to unravel what essentially is a complex system for living out and soothing undermining messages or scripts imprinted deep within our psyche. This is the script we took on at some point when we were young. The storyline usually has something to do with how we are inadequate or unworthy in some way.
These imprints, false beliefs or “schemata” run deep and are often unknown (see the element of Mantra for more information on this term, and examples, i.e., “I don’t matter”; “I am not lovable”). Healing processes teach us that any such imprints are lies, or more politely, Big Misunderstandings. Then we remove them. We allow Divinity, Self-Love, Self-Respect, Self-Acceptance and Infinitude to fill this void. We realize that we are children of the Divine, a thread in the Divine fabric. We are loved. We are worthy.
“We tend to regard ourselves as puppets of the past, driven along by something that is always behind us.” Alan Watts
Dark Nights of the Soul
Dark Night of the Soul is a poem written by a 16th century mystic monk named St. John of the Cross. If you read it, it sounds like a love poem, but it is actually about awakening and reuniting with our beloved, the Divine.
The term has now come to mean an intense period of deep emotional pain, growth and Healing aimed at purging all that stands in our way of realizing and reuniting with our own Divinity and awakening. It can also be referred to as an Existential Crisis.
A Dark Night of Soul is definitely Bulldozer work. It can last from just days to many months. You can have more than one in your life. I personally believe that I have had two. They are a calling to do intense healing work. For me, it was a feeling of being seasick on dry land, i.e. nauseated and ready to be purged of all the old material sloshing around inside of me. You will likely cry or even sob. This is normal. Sometimes the most grown up thing we can do is to sob like a baby.
Not knowing what it was, my first Dark Night landed me on a counselor’s couch and the start of a long Healing process. With the second one, I knew what it was so I embraced it and allowed the purging to occur, trusting my Intuition to guide the way.
Dark Nights of the Soul are actually gifts. They are calls to do Healing work and are Divine Healing tools of their own.
Never the less, we feel horrible within them. The key is to not resist. By embracing what they have to teach us, we purge. Then we surge.
“Just Let It Go”
I travel in circles of counselors, yogis and spiritual folks and have often heard the admonition to “just let it go” in regards to our personal past and trauma. The saying has now become a bit of a pet peeve of mine. There are surely some people who can “just let it go,” but they are likely few and far between.
Many people who recommend to “just let it go” have typically spent many years letting go of their own stuff. The advice, unqualified, can imply that those who can’t “just let it go” are inadequate in some way.
If you can “just let it go,” more power to you. For the rest of us, we likely hold on to unresolved emotions because they are too much for us to process when they first arise. In order to release them in a manner which has Healing benefits, we might have to delve into the past and dig them up again, gaining understanding and insight to finally process those emotions in some way. Only then can we “just let it go” and have the skill to do so more easily in the future.
Many if not all of us will need to center some of our Healing efforts upon Healing the physical body at some time in our lives. We may have health issues that affect our mental and spiritual well-being or vice-versa. We may hold trauma in our Bodies. Our Bodies at the very least hold much information as to what work we may need to do on other levels. As we go down the Healing path, the body-mind-spirit connection plays out. Listen to the Body. It will be your partner on the Healing path.
Our Truth may not fit into a carefully defined box of what is socially acceptable or valued. Social conditioning can train us to move away from who we are or to betray ourselves on some level. In doing so, we are wounded. Part of our Healing process, which can be included in the Bulldozer work or subsequent fine-tuning, may relate to unlearning social convention and accepting ourselves outside of it.
Conventionality can be one of the most ubiquitous and insidious forms of insanity due to its subtlety in hijacking Truth. Within it, we can give up who we are to satisfy external expectations of what and who we should be. This is indeed insanity, but it is curable through the appropriate Healing processes.
The Healing Path
Once we start on the Healing path, it expands. We develop a Healing mindset and intention with almost everything we do. We realize that Healing can be a life-long process and we begin to see opportunities for it everywhere. We start to seek healthiness in all aspects of our lives. As we Heal, we live closer to our Truth, which is Healing in itself.
On this Healing path, almost everything becomes a modality for Healing. That is why there is really no one recipe for Healing: our Healing first and foremost relates to our Truth. We may find it in talk therapy, EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, western medicine, yoga, music, crying, nutrition, dream-work, physical exercise, bodywork, journaling, Forgiveness, Solitude, being in Nature, reading, meditation, Mantra, Prayer, expressive arts, dance, sex, being in relationships in general or becoming a Healer ourselves and helping others to Heal.
We eventually do become Healing machines for self and others. This is our true nature. We just have to step up and into it and away from avoidance and complacency.
We learn that the more we open our hearts to others without fear of rejection, the more everyone heals. The more we validate the Divinity of others and of ourselves, the more we heal. The more we see others and ourselves as whole and as an integration of Humanity and Divinity, the more we heal.
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Carl Jung
Many of the other elements support Healing. Self-Awareness is a great starting point. It in itself is Healing. Just being aware of a wound can be Healing.
As a point of differentiation, I think of Self-Awareness as knowing your own story and Healing as not letting it run your life by the act of processing the wounds associated with it.
Stillness and Mindfulness contribute to slowing down and noticing our Healing needs.
Courage, Perseverance and Freewill lend themselves to Healing actions and towards giving us the wherewithal to do ‘the work” despite our fears and our tendencies to avoid the process.
Acceptance takes us out of the general suffering of resistance. Acceptance of Change creates opportunities to Heal.
Non-Attachment helps us to let go of who we used to be or any old stories that don’t serve us.
Forgiveness can play a large Healing role, when properly applied, in helping us to let go of resentments.
Being in constant Gratitude can promote Healing as it can be a general heart-opener and a catalyst for receptivity to Healing.
Truth, Intuition, Reason, Wisdom and the Body guide us on our Healing path.
Love and Empathy, directed towards self and others, serve as tremendous Healing mechanisms.
- Practice Self-Awareness to know your story and how you act, react and are perceived in this world. Survey your life in terms of major traumas and their potential impacts.
- Acknowledge any part of your life that feels like an injustice and the commensurate emotional pain that is unresolved around it. Acknowledge any ambivalence towards major traumas in your life.
- Learn about trauma treatment techniques like EMDR and Somatic Experiencing.
- Consider what you might think to be unhealthy behaviors that you have engaged in in the past— or in which you may even continue to engage. Consider how you handle stress and conflict in general.
- Survey where Forgiveness may be applied to yourself or others.
- Gain comfort in asking for professional help and opinions for your Healing work.
- Get immediate help for acute mental health symptoms and/or suicidal tendencies.See a professional counselor on a proactive basis if that resonates with you. Be comfortable with getting mental health check-ups just as we get check-ups on our cars, our teeth and our Bodies.
- Formulate a loose game plan for your overall Healing needs.
- Explore Healing modalities that most resonate with you.
- Learn about expressive arts therapies. Try whichever ones may suit you.
- Monitor negative self-talk and any “relapses” into old ways of being that do not serve you. Have a plan to avoid them and to rebound from them.
- Acknowledge progress on a regular basis. See how far you’ve come on your journey (I bet it is farther than you think!).
- Never assume all your Healing work is done.
- Look for opportunities to help others heal— without being intrusive.
- Practice Self-Love continually.
I know Who I Am; I am Open to the Guidance and Healing Power of the Universe.
I am Pure Energy, Peace at this Moment, Courageous and Willfully Present.
My Ability to Love Abounds; My Ability to Be Loved Abounds.
I Was a Lovable and Worthwhile Child; I AM a Lovable and Worthwhile Adult.