I think there is a relatively simple equation for whether we heal from emotional wounds or not.
The simple version is this:
Healing = willingness to heal > lack of willingness to heal.
When we want to heal more than we fear the discomfort of the process, we tend to find healing. It may take time, but there is healing.
We can add a few more components to the equation:
Healing = willingness face discomfort + trust in the process + right tools & good guidance > fear of discomfort + lack of trust + not so good tools
We not only need to be willing to face the discomfort, we also need to trust in the process, and we need the right tools and guidance. We need to trust we can find healing, that the tools are right, and that we have good guidance. And the trust needs to be based on reality.
We can add even a few more things to the initially simple equation: sincerity, honesty (with oneself), receptivity, and doggedness, a willingness to stay with the process.
Of course, if there are no results after a few sessions, it may be good to re-evaluate the process and perhaps find another tool and/or guidance. In my experience, if it works, we notice it relatively quickly.
The issue may not clear right away, but we notice it shifts and perhaps lightens and opens up. Smaller and more isolated issues can be cleared relatively quickly, but it takes longer for the more core and interwoven issues, perhaps even a lifetime, even if these too can shift, lighten, and be much easier after some sessions.
I am talking from my own experience here so I am open for this changing as I discover new tools and approaches.
Most of us have innumerable emotional issues and too little time to work on all. We basically have everything in ourselves we see in the world. We see it because we recognize it from ourselves. And we have them in us since we are a genetic and cultural child of humanity.
So a practical approach is to find the central issues and work on them more thoroughly, and take the bite out of the rest, unless they keep cropping up and obviously interfere with my life.
This is a guideline that applies for whatever approach we use.
For me, it’s especially clear when I use Vortex Healing.
With core issues, I want to take them through the whole protocol even if it takes many hours. I sometimes ask someone else to do it for me since that’s easier for me than working on my own core issues. (I am more identified with them so it may be difficult to get started, or stay focused, or wanting to go through the full protocol thoroughly.)
With the rest, I often just do the main and most impactful parts of the protocol. This reduces the charge of the issue and makes it easier to relate to it consciously and it interferes less with my daily life. That may be enough, at least for the moment. If the issue keeps coming up in daily life, if it obviously interferes with my life, or if I am drawn to it, I can always do more.
How do I know if something is a core issue? It’s more likely to be a central issue for me if it’s been with me since early childhood, if I see it in my parents, if it’s a thread through my daily life, or if it’s a charged projection (if I keep seeing it in others and am bothered by it). Universal issues are also, almost by definition, more likely to be a central issue for me.
So the efficient approach is to be thorough with central issues and do just enough to take the edge off the rest. And if an issue keeps cropping up, treat it as a central issue.
When we work on deep-seated issues, there is often a fear of not only entering it but also of healing from it. This fear is a guardian of the treasure that’s there when we enter it, get to know it, and find healing for it. It’s a big part of what holds it in place.
The fear is also innocent, natural, and very understandable. It’s there to protect us. The protection is partly wise and partly a bit misguided. It’s wise since entering the issue without proper guidance can further traumatize us and make it worse. And can be a bit misguided since entering it with some guidance is what allows it to heal.
So when I work on deep-seated issues in myself or others, I often address this fear as well. If it’s strong, I may treat it as its own issue.
In a sense, this is a detour and slows down the process. In another sense, it’s what allows for a more real and deep healing of the issue. Slow is sometimes faster. What’s slow in the short run can be faster in the long run.
I often address this fear when I work with inquiry, Vortex Healing, and parts work (Big Mind process etc.).
Since we don’t know exactly what causes CFS and we often need to take a comprehensive and integral approach to manage it and perhaps heal from it, it’s easy to think that we have to fix everything to recover.
I am just like the client in the video. I know it’s probably not true, but I still often feel and act as if it’s true. I keep working on emotional issues, nutrition, diet, herbal medicine, regulating my activity levels, mindfulness, prayer, heart-centered practices, energy healing, being honest with myself and following my guidance, and much more, in order to see if I can recover from the CFS. At one level, it’s a wise, comprehensive, and integral approach. At another, for me, it sometimes has an element of compulsiveness.
It can be the same with healing from trauma since it’s often a set of emotional issues tied together, and we can always find additional related and underlying issues to address. We may have the idea that we need to fix everything before we are OK and can relax and enjoy life again.
And it can be that way with awakening as well, in whatever way we understand awakening. We keep going at it, perhaps from many different angles, and don’t feel we are OK or can relax until we “arrive” at some imagined place or state.
We may know – and perceive in immediacy – that all is the divine and perfect as is. We are also aware that there is room for improvement in terms of befriending our experience, clarity, healing, maturing, and living from our experience of all as the divine (Big Mind). And we may be genuinely drawn to keeping exploring all of this and deepening in it.
And for some of us on a spiritual path, it can feel a bit compulsive and we have the idea that we have to fix everything about ourselves before we are OK and can relax.
It’s very natural and understandable if we have some compulsion in our healing or awakening work. It’s even helpful. It creates an extra needed momentum and especially early on in the process.
And yet, at some point, it’s helpful to address the compulsion itself. Where does it come from? Is the voice in me driving the compulsion true?
Often, the compulsion is a reaction to believing that we are not OK and not enough as we are. We try to improve ourselves in order to get somewhere or get something we believe we don’t have. We may also have a belief that we need the compulsion in order to get anywhere and fear that we’ll stagnate without it.
None of that is really true, and as the compulsion relaxes, we may discover a few different things. We may find that it’s OK to take time to relax and enjoy our life as it is, and we may find we are more able to relax and enjoy it. We may also find that we are still moved to explore and invite in healing and awakening, and that there is a deeper calling or curiosity that’s not dependent on compulsion, a sense of lack, or (unquestioned, unbefriended) fear.
So the compulsion itself is not good or bad. It can be helpful in certain phases of our process. And it is driven by something in us that’s out of alignment with reality, so at some point, life invites us to notice and address it.
By doing that, we may find a deeper sense of contentment and OKness as we are. And that from here, we are more free to enjoy life and even to keep exploring and inviting in continued healing, maturing, and awakening. We lose the compulsion and we gain deeper contentment.
I should add that if our exploration was largely driven by compulsion and a sense of lack, we may let the exploration go after we resolve this sense of lack. We may be very happy to just enjoy and live our life without this element of exploration. And that’s more than OK too.
The truth will set you free in any area of life. And so also with healing and awakening. Not only is truth what allows for healing of emotional issues and awakening, but the reality about healing and awakening is also freeing.
As far as I can tell, one of these “truths” is that healing and awakening both are endless. There is always one more issue to heal. There is always another layer of what we think we are that falls away. For all practical purposes, it’s endless.
If I think there is an end to healing and awakening, I’ll likely try to get to that end. I have a goal in mind. I get impatient. I may set aside other sides of my life so I can get the healing and awakening done with, and then I can address the others sides of my life again. I may get frustrated. Disappointed. Having the idea that there is an end to healing and awakening creates a lot of additional stress and struggle.
If I see healing and awakening as endless, it frees me up. It allows me to weave it into daily life as one of many strands. It becomes normal. It becomes one part of my life among many. There is less urgency and compulsion around it. There is more balance between healing and awakening and the rest of my life. (And everything – any activity, experience and situation – can still be food for healing and awakening.)
It’s perhaps obvious. I assume most of us already see healing and awakening as endless. But somewhere in us, there may be an idea of a goal or endpoint. I know I have had both the knowing of it as endless, and parts of me wanting an endpoint. It can be one of those hidden or unspoken beliefs in us. As with so much, it’s good to notice. And if we are drawn to it, we can explore it further through inquiry or other approaches.
A benefit of seeing healing and awakening as endless is that we know there is always one more step, and one more. We are less likely to think we have “arrived” and less likely to see ourselves as inherently better (or worse) than others because of it, or to go stale because we think there is nothing more to explore or discover.
Another benefit of seeing it as endless is that we all are in the same boat. We may be at different places on the path on all the different strands of development, healing, awakening, and maturing, but we are all on the path. There is always further to go. Always one more step, for all of us.
And it’s not a problem at all that it’s endless. It just means the exploration continues. What’s revealed is fresh and new. We see more and different patterns and connections. We find more underlying patterns and dynamics. As humans, we continue to heal, mature, develop. As this local expression of life, we continue to see more about ourselves and what we are.
Of course, that it’s endless is an idea, it’s my imagination. I don’t really know. It’s just what seems most likely within my current horizon. And it’s the view that seems most helpful to me now.
When I said “truth” in the first paragraph, it’s not meant in the sense of any absolute or final truth. It’s just what seems most real and accurate for me right now, and also most helpful in a practical sense. It may well change.
A cosmology footnote: To me, it seems likely that this universe will expand and then contract, and the energy will form another universe. A “heat death” as current science sees as most likely wouldn’t allow for a continued dynamic exploration, so it seems more likely that the universe is inherently pulsing. Of course, I don’t know. This too is an imagination. And again, it’s one that seems helpful to the extent any overarching abstract idea like that is helpful and relevant to anything.
When asked about what our depression, or anxiety, or troublesome behavioral pattern is connected with, most of us will answer with immediate triggers. It has to do with our work situation, or the world situation, or current relationships.
And yet, as Freud pointed out and has become a bit of a cliche, the real answer is often in childhood.
We may not feel ready to go directly there. Sometimes, it can be helpful to explore more peripheral or immediate issues. We get to learn and trust the process, and we get to see that it’s safe to meet it and that it can heal.
We get to see that we can learn to meet what comes up with presence, kindness, patience, respect, and gentle curiosity. We see that we can find healing for our relationship with it and how much relief is found here. And we may get to see that the issue itself can find healing and resolve.
And yet, it’s good to relatively quickly explore if the issue does have roots in our childhood. After getting to know how the issue is experienced here and now, one of my favorite questions in inquiry is “what’s your earliest memory of feeling that way?”. It often brings the client (which sometimes is myself) right back to early situations that tell us something about how the pattern was initially formed. We get to see that it – whether it’s anxiety, depression, a compulsion, or something else – made sense in that situation and was a way of coping with a difficult situation. It was the best we could do in that situation as a child.
We find understanding and empathy for ourselves, and perhaps even for the issue itself. We see it came from wishing to protect ourselves. And we are in a position to address the biographical roots of the issue, and that may allow for a more thorough, effective, and efficient healing.
Efficiency isn’t neccesarily a priority in a healing process, but we do have limited resources – in terms of time, money, and attention – so it is good to keep at least half an eye on efficiency.
I should also add that by addressing more peripheral and immediate issues, we do actually address parts of the the more central issues. The core issues are expressed in these peripheral and immediate issues. So by working on these peripheral issues, we do make inroads in the core ones. We prepare the ground for addressing them more head on, and it makes it easier – for many reasons – to address the core issues more head on.
We learn about the process, we learn to trust it’s safe to meet our emotional issues, we learn they can find healing, and we do – indirectly and in parts – address the core issues and find some healing for them.
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