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recurring pain & healing



Use these two graphics for self-healing.


Start with the philosophy graphic.


Recurring pain is trapped energy from the past. Typically it's stuck because of a past trauma. Something overwhelming happened. We couldn't process it all through our hearts at the time. So we shunted energy into the body, to try to give our hearts & minds a break. This energy is now stuck in the body. And stuck in the past. Because this energy has been separated from the rest of the body since the traumatic event, this energy doesn't know what the rest of us knows, hasn't experienced what the rest of us has experienced, That's why this energy often comes across as confused, immature, & even agitated or hostile. The energy is us. But it's us encased in the amber of the past. Imagine how you'd feel, sensing life passing you by, but unable to join it. That's the vibe this energy lives in. And has lived in, often for a long time.


The good news is, it's not a hopeless situation. Far from it. We're natural healers. The stuck energy wants to reconnect with the body, and the body wants to reconnect with the stuck energy. It's like a clay bowl with holes in it: the broken off pieces want to fill the holes, and the holes want to be filled with the broken off pieces. That way, the bowl can finally hold all its water again. Our bodies want to heal. And we can heal our bodies.


As healing occurs, our lives improve. We feel less pain & discomfort. We experience a greater sense of peace, wholeness, & harmony. We notice our impulses & compulsions are less intense & distracting. We sense more presence & groundedness. We can remember more from our past, & we feel less troubled by our memories. Our minds feel more fluid, nimble, & resourceful. We dwell less on the past, worry less about the future, & enjoy the unfolding moment with a natural sense of clarity, purpose, & gladness. We feel more like who we truly & fully are.


The difficulty is, the energy from our past is trapped inside of fear & confusion. This was the protective barrier we placed around the energy during the traumatic event - the casing we used to prevent this energy from overwhelming us during that crisis. We essentially caged this energy behind bars of fear & confusion to prevent it from running wild in our systems. That way we could focus on the crisis at hand & adapt to the unfolding situation in real-time. It was a self-protective measure, undertaken with good intentions. But we never went back to unlock the cage. As time passed, and this stuck energy became less-and-less attuned to what was unfolding in the rest of the body, the fear & confusion grew. Years, even decades have passed. This energy may be a 4-year old trapped inside of a 70-year old's body. Imagine how disorienting & traumatizing that would be. When we approach our stuck energy, we should bring compassion for the energy's pain, respect for the energy's history, & friendship to the energy's being - it's us, after all.


In the graphic I use the analogy of scar tissue. Above I used the analogies of the chipped clay bowl & the caged prisoner. Here are two more analogies that may help:


(1) sand in the iceberg: Imagine an iceberg floating in a bay. Grains of sand are embedded throughout the iceberg. These grains of sand have been trapped there for days, weeks, months, and in some cases even years & decades. The sand wants to return to the seafloor. And the seafloor wants its missing sand to return. We just need to free the sand from the ice's grip, so the trapped grains can reach the seawater & float gently down. We could try a drastic, urgent approach: jackhammer, dynamite, flamethrower, etc. But think about the vibes that creates. And remember what's trapping the energy: fear & confusion. We don't want to create more fear & confusion. We want to create a soothing, welcoming vibe, that allows the trapped sand to gradually work its way toward freedom, in the spirit of calmness & reconciliation. So we trust the gradual method. We shine our sunlight on the iceberg so it'll melt. One drip at a time, one grain at a time, the sand is liberated from the iceberg & dropped into the sea, where it can drift down to the awaiting seabed. We are the shining sun. We are the iceberg. We are the trapped grains. We are the ocean. We are the sea bed welcoming each grain home.


(2) sea water in the lagoon. Imagine a beach. The ocean is heaving with a storm. Overwhelmed, the ocean dumps energy onto the land: it sends a massive wave onto the beach sand. The wave is so large & powerful it forms a massive pool of water on the beach - a lagoon of sea water trapped in walls of sand. The storm passes, the sea returns to calm. But the lagoon water remains on its own, separated from its home, from its place of wholeness & flow. The water may grow stagnant & scummy. It may accumulate debris, excrement, & trash. The water may get so swampy it stops resembling the ocean at all. As in the iceberg example - the drastic option is tempting, but ultimately counter-productive, because it creates the very vibes of fear & confusion that created the separation to begin with. Instead, we trust the gradual approach. We lap our waves against the sand to create a drainage channel back to the sea. One wave at a time, one gentle pull at a time, the sandwall is removed & the lagoon flows back into the sea, where it can rejoin the waves, the currents, and the dark stillness of the deep. We are the lapping waves. We are the sandwall. We are the lagoon water. We are the ocean welcoming each drop of water home.


The keys to healing are: attention, intention, & attitude. If we approach our stuck energy with scattered attention, negative intention, & a discouraging attitude, we don't heal, & we may even strengthen the stuckness. If we approach our stuck energy with centered attention, loving intention, & healing attitude, we soften the barrier of fear & confusion, allowing the stuck energy to emerge from its casing & rejoin the whole.


Now shift to the technique graphic.


To practice healing, find a comfortable position, ideally sitting or lying down. Take a few relaxing breaths & start to gently feel around your body. Think of your mind like a metal detector gently sweeping over the sands of the body. Listen carefully for pings of discomfort, stuckness, & unease. When you find one, employ a 3-step approach: notice, soften, intone. Apply each step twice: once to the discomfort, once to the body overall.


Step 1: Notice. Bring your attention to the discomfort. Feel the discomfort. Breathe gently into the discomfort. As your attention drifts & wanders, gently redirect your attention to the discomfort. Then, shift your attention to the overall body. Feel the overall body. Breathe gently into the overall body. As your attention drifts & wanders, gently redirect your attention to the whole body.


Step 2: Soften. Soften the uncomfortable area. Exhale gently from the uncomfortable area. Relax the uncomfortable area. As your intention drifts & wanders, gently redirect your intention to the uncomfortable area. Then, shift your intention to the overall body. Exhale gently from the overall body. Relax the overall body. As you intention drifts & wanders, gently redirect your intention to the overall body.


Step 3: Intone. Offer healing vibes to the discomfort. Use whatever methods feel most natural & soothing. Place your hands gently over the uncomfortable area. Offer kind words, e.g.: peace, healing, harmony. Hum kind tunes, e.g.: a lullaby, a favorite song, a tune with warm associations for you. Picture kind scenes, e.g.: gentle ocean waves, a favorite memory from childhood, a calm & blank space. As your attitude drifts & wanders, gently redirect your attitude to the discomfort. Then, shift your attitude to the overall body. Place your hands at your sides. Offer kind words, e.g.: peace, healing, harmony. Hum kind tunes, e.g.: a lullaby, a favorite song, a tune with warm associations for you. Picture kind scenes, e.g.: gentle ocean waves, a favorite memory from childhood, a calm & blank space. As your attitude drifts & wanders, gently redirect your attitude to the overall body.


Finish by standing & bowing gently 3 times: once to attention, once to intention, & once to attitude.


A note about attitude toward the healing practice. Robert Louis Stevenson once said: "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." I encourage you to bring this attitude to self-healing.


We can accomplish tremendous healing during our focused sessions. But it doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes the shifts are very subtle & gradual. Sometimes we may not sense any release or healing at all. This can become frustrating & discouraging if we're fixated on quick, measurable results.


Instead, thinking of self-healing as a lifelong practice. Each session is an opportunity not only to heal, but to strengthen & refine your healing practice.


Realistically, we'll only spend a few hours each week in a focused healing session. The rest of our time we spend living life. We want the attention, intention, & attitude we cultivate during our healing sessions to spread outward into the rest of our lives as well. We want healing to be a natural, sustainable process always unfolding within us. This is how we not only heal, but stayed healed, and create a healthy foundation for thriving & flourishing.


Honor your inner hare. Be your tortoise.


Do your honest best during each healing session, without heaping too much pressure or expectation on yourself. (Remember, adding vibes of fear & confusion, even with the best of intentions, is ultimately counter-productive.)


Between sessions, see if you can carry your healing attention, intention, & attitude with you throughout the day. Don't force it or make it competitive or compulsive. Just have it in your pocket. When you notice you're struggling, reach into your pocket & calmly employ your methods, however you can in the flow of the moment. It may be as simple as gently placing your hands over your pain, or gently breathing into and out from the uncomfortable area. Don't focus too much on whether the pain has changed. Focus on what you control: your attention, your intention, & your attitude.


Practice when you can. Give thanks for your practice. Then let it go, trusting your practice to return when the time is right.

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