How to do basic WHH for professionals, including a step by step guide
Revision 1.0, August 28, 1996
Read this Disclaimer of Responsibility Agreement now!
The material at this website is intended for educational purposes only and not intended to replace therapy by a qualified therapist. Some of the methods you will be learning are state of the art and still very experimental. Long term effects, if any, have not been studied or researched. Thus, we cannot guarantee that you or the people you work with will not have some sort of adverse reaction that we did not anticipate. It is highly recommended that you obtain training or work with a therapist trained in the method of Whole Hearted Healing described here before you begin using the process under the supervision of an independent qualified therapist or physician as legally appropriate. If you are not willing to take full and complete responsibility for what happens by using our material we require that you not implement the process known as Whole Hearted Healing. This is all common sense given the nature of our material, but we want to make it perfectly explicit up front.
1. You take complete responsibility for your own emotional and/or physical well being both during and after using this material.
2. You agree to not instruct others in the use of the Institute techniques except with the prior written agreement of the Institute.
3. You agree to hold harmless The Institute For The Study of Peak States and anyone else involved with these Institute techniques from any claims whatsoever including but not limited to claims for negligence made by you or anyone on your behalf.
4. You will use the techniques under the supervision of a qualified therapist or physician as legally appropriate.
5. You will not use these techniques to try to solve a problem where common sense would tell you that it is not appropriate.
DO NOT CONTINUE UNLESS YOU AGREE TO THESE CONDITIONS. BY CONTINUING YOU AGREE TO AND WILL BE BOUND BY THESE CONDITIONS.
The paper below was written quite a few years ago. Although fairly accurate, it is incomplete, so you might want to see the page on ‘Recent improvements on the basic WHH technique’. Our recent book The Basic Whole Hearted Healing Manual (third edition) is fully updated, and it includes material not on the website such as the Distant Personality Release technique. Click here to see the table of contents and go to the order page. Advanced WHH healing techniques exist which won’t be on this website, as they involve changes in consciousness.
One fascinating fact - I predicted in this paper in 1995 that blind people would have visual images of trauma, and Dr. Kenneth Ring has recently published a book called Mindsight in which he describes just such a finding. This is strikingly powerful evidence that the theory has validity, since it could be used to predict phenomena never before discovered.
I do NOT recommend that you use Whole-Hearted Healing (WHH) as your first therapy choice. Instead, I recommend using the energy therapies such as EFT (or the equivalents like BSFF, TFT, etc.) because they are usually less painful, often quicker, and involve the least amount of suffering. If they don't work, then move to other therapies - for example, you might consider seeing and EMDR therapist. However, if you've tried everything else without success first, then I would consider using our very powerful but often emotionally and physically difficult Whole-Hearted Healing technique. In essence, use fast and easy approaches first - if they don't work, then switch to the more difficult and painful techniques.
The WHH therapy is extremely powerful, and like other power therapies like TIR or EMDR can uncover extremely traumatic experiences. Some people may trigger overwhelmingly suicidal feelings, memories of abuse, and a host of other severe physical and emotional experiences. Common sense and our professional judgement says Whole-Hearted Healing (WHH) should only be used under the guidance of a licensed therapist trained in dealing with these types of issues.
A few of the difficulties that clients can get into with this technique are listed at the end of the section called 'The Basic Method'. Other problems are given in the basic WHH tutorial for laypeople in the section called "So you want to be a healer". This process is only recommended for therapists who have an extensive trauma background, especially in suicide and abuse treatment.
Grant McFetridge, ISPS
Basic Whole-Hearted Healing Step by Step Guide
Revision 3.1 Grant McFetridge 2006
Step 1. Pick something that’s bothering you in the present. Write it down, and note how badly it makes you feel.
Step 2. Briefly focus on feeling in your body the feeling this situation brings up.
Step 3. Recall incidents when you felt exactly like this (often the situations are quite different). Choose the earliest one that has a clear image. Jot down the memories you skipped over. Use the ‘loving yourself’ technique to help access memories if needed.
Step 4. Place your hand on your chest to remind you to stay in your body in the past.
Step 5. Move into your body in the image, and merge your past and present self. If this is difficult, try simultaneously: a) loving yourself, b) white light c) relax diaphragm, throat, jaw d) hyperventilate before or during e) cranial hold f) diaphragm massage g) position at time of trauma h) rhythmic wavelike motion. See text for details.
Step 6. Iterate on the following steps, separately or all together. Continue until only peace is left, or an earlier memory arises:
6a. Recall the phrase (belief, decision) you felt at that moment (2-6 words).
6b. Feel the body sensations, including any physical pain.
6c. Feel the emotion while staying in the your chest in the past. Stay with this until the emotion ends. If another emotion arises, stay with it until it ends too.
Step 7. If an earlier memory image appeared, move to that moment and repeat step 6. Continue to earlier and earlier memories until no more arise. Use the ‘loving yourself’ technique to access earlier memories. The earliest memory always involves damage to the body, and there may be several damage memories in a series.
Step 8. Check your work. The out of body image should be gone, with only an in-body image. If you flash to the memory, there should be no twinge of pain. Memories that you skipped over should no longer have any feeling to them.
Return to the present. Your should no longer feel anything at all about the current situation except peace, calm, and lightness. If some new feeling about the situation has arisen, repeat the entire process over and over until nothing is left.
Feel around your body looking for the origin of the sensation of emptiness and lack. Move your awareness into the emptiness, and or press on the spot, looking for an image of when you were physically hurt in that location.
If you see a bottomless black pit in your body that feels like a deficient emptiness, move your attention into the hole, and wait until an image arises of when you were physically injured in that area. Is a more dramatic version of ‘emptiness’ above.
"New" Physical Pain:
Rarely, physical pain arises seemingly from nowhere while healing. An earlier memory has surfaced only enough for the pain to be felt. Use direct touch and loving yourself to access the memory more clearly, then heal it.
Every womb memory has a physical injury associated with it. Stay with it until the pain is gone. The fetal self returns to full brightness once severe injury is healed.
Focus on the area of physical pain and injury that has come up. Use the holding breath technique briefly if you are resisting the panic (see text).
If it feels like the feeling is in your body has the tone of someone else (i.e.. mother, father, etc), recall what you yourself felt at that moment to release the copy. Later, go back and eliminate the desire to moving into another's heart region to copy their emotional material. Often a problem with adult healers, therapists, etc.
Self Images and Identities:
Look for the feeling associated with them, and track them back to the trauma source. Exaggerating any characteristic physical pose or movements helps focus and recall.
Positive Emotional Memories:
Positive emotions associated with a memory need to be healed also, and usually conceal some painful emotional content.
Look for a phrase that you are trying not to think. After the phrase is found and the depression vanishes, look for any contributing traumas.
Heal in the same way as in this life. Don’t go into judgment, or try and change the past (at least until you don’t need to anymore). If you died in a past life, stay with your body until all life is gone and you are at peace. After healing the past life, heal the similar trauma in this life that caused you to access the past life trauma.
If what appears to be a cloud of smoke, or images of people leave your body while healing a trauma, note the triggering feeling. Later, go back into birth and womb trauma and heal the conviction that your survival depends on having the triggering emotion surround you. See text on mental illness, possession, channeling, and shamanism.
Rarely, after healing a trauma a sensation of loss and lack is left centered in the chest. Missing ‘soul’ piece will eventually return without intervention, but can bring it back in minutes by singing out loud the piece of music that first comes to mind. Will be a ‘pop’ sensation at return, and lack will vanish.
Internal Archetypal Images:
If you feel a powerful archetypal or demigod image with overwhelming impact inside yourself, (ex. the monster in the basement, the goddess Diana, an Aztec god that rips out hearts), search for the trauma, usually birth, that fits the feeling of this projection and heal it.
Structures in your body:
Occasionally, while healing you will suddenly ‘see’ or feel structures in your body, such as rods connecting places together, or containers enclosing areas. Stay in that moment in the past until they dissolve also.
Chakra energy bouncing back from the skin boundary can cause considerable pain. Look for the trigger that causes the chakra to operate, something your mother did while you were in utero. (Resisted crown chakra energy feels like pressure pushing down, with each point of pressure having a trauma associated with it.)
Aliveness, Wholeness, Sacred, No self:
You may move into these states after certain traumas are healed. Look for trigger or cue to bring you back to these states.
A few psychologically active medications block this process (ex. desipramine).
How to do Basic WHOLE HEARTED HEALING™
Revision 4 © Grant McFetridge 1999
This paper is a review of a quick, simple, and straightforward method for emotional healing that can be done without outside assistance. This technique relies on an understanding of how trauma and the out-of-body experience are interrelated. This method is not affected by energy therapy problems such as toxins, psychological reversal, and cannot be undone, making it a useful addition to a therapist’s ‘healing toolkit’. I’ve also outlined some of the things not commonly known or understood in our psyche that can come up when we heal ourselves deeply, and some of the ways to work through them. With practice, a typical problem takes about 30 minutes to heal. (More advanced and powerful techniques are available, but are not explained in this paper.)
Basic Whole Hearted Healing is especially useful in evoking and investigating spiritual and shamanic experiences. I’ll briefly describe what I’ve found, and how it neatly explains so many apparently unrelated spiritual, physical, and psychological phenomena.
For a version of this paper written for non-professionals which includes much more detail, and a second paper more fully developing the underlying brain model ("Spiritual Emergency and the Triune Brain"), return to the main menu.
The Basic Method
First of all, what do I mean by emotional healing? It turns out that almost everyone’s feelings about current situations in their lives are actually from past traumas. I’ve found that when the relevant past is healed, the person’s feelings about their current difficulty simply vanish. A person who is actually in the present has an underlying sense of calm, peace, and lightness even while feeling difficult emotions. (This is in contrast to feeling calm and heavy, which is when you are suppressing and denying how you feel.) This means that the technique works for ANYTHING that you don’t feel calm, peace and light about. For example, a man with a painful and terminal gut cancer didn’t feel calm and light with his apparently reasonable fear of dying, and so proceeded to heal it in one session.
The indented material below is what I typically say to a person learning the whole hearted healing technique for the first time:
"So, pick something that’s bugging you. Allow yourself to feel how you feel about it as much as possible. Then, allow your mind to drift into the past, as far back in the past as you can, to a time when you had the SAME feeling. Now, it probably won’t be the same circumstances, the ONLY important thing is the same feeling. I’ll emphasize again that it will almost never be the same sort of situation that you are in right now, rather the influence from the past is a connection of feeling only."
"OK, got that image of some time in the past? Now, try and go even further back, to a time when you FELT the same. Keep doing this till you can’t go back any further. Why? Because it turns out that we only have to heal the earliest time, in general. Heal the first one, and the rest go poof by themselves. If you can’t recall that far back, no sweat - go as far back as you can, and as you heal it, any earlier time will generally just pop into mind, until you get to the first one that way. So, say you get stuck, and can’t recall anything. Just go back, even if it’s only last week, and start from there. Pull off those traumas one at a time to work back into the past. It’s just like in a cafeteria, with those plate dispensers. You know, where you pull one from the top, and the spring pushes the stack up. These traumas are just like that - as you heal one, the one that’s earlier pops into view. Jump to a plate in the middle, and you remove all the plates above it. Occasionally, the structure is more complicated, and your current problem comes from more that one place, but the single stack of trauma’s with an emotional theme is pretty common."
"At this point, I would recommend that you write down just briefly what’s happening in the present that bugs you, how bad you feel about it, and a quick description of the memories you’ve recalled. Why? Because if we do it right, this stuff will disappear out of your life, and like many people I’ve worked with, you won’t be able to believe you ever had a problem, and so you’ll not continue healing because you think nothing happened!"
If you are interested in how traumas connect together (and a different healing technique that is also very effective called ‘Traumatic Incident Reduction’), I recommend reading Beyond Psychology by Dr. Frank Gerbode, or Traumatic Incident Reduction by Gerald French and Chrys Harris. See also Dr. Stanislav Grof’s work on the coex system (and birth trauma), such as The Adventure of Self Discovery. Incidentally, both Dr. Gerbode, and Drs. Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks (At the Speed of Life) using quite different techniques from mine have also concluded that specific traumas are the root of our issues, rather than some sort of soaking effect from a bad environment.
It turns out that we all share a critical ‘blind spot’ around healing. This insight is not in any literature that I know of. It’s so ordinary to us, we don’t see its significance. This is the key insight to understanding how traumatic memories are stored.
"So, now to the crux of how to heal. Take a look at those traumatic memories. They’re like watching TV, aren’t they? In other words, your viewpoint is outside of your body, not out of your eyes (some people are aware that it’s both). THIS IS THE PROBLEM. A part of us has the ability to leave our body during painful times, and naturally enough does. Unfortunately, the feelings we had at that time stay with us and never go away! They just lie around waiting until something in the present triggers them again."
Thus, the mechanism for the storage of traumatic emotions is the out of body experience, in the form of an image(s) stored at the moment of trauma. In fact, as you go through your day you can become aware that these images flash into consciousness and out again so fast we typically aren’t aware of them, but they guide our behavior. This can be demonstrated by using GSR meters as feedback devices to give us practice in noticing the phenomena.
Since our culture in general does not accept the existence of the out of body experience, most therapies assume these images are just distortions of past memories, and don’t look any closer. However, people who do recognize the existence of the out of body experience make a different mistake. They assume its a rare occurrence, when in actuality it’s happening all the time. What’s rare about it is being aware of it in the present, but we can easily be aware of it in the past by scanning our painful memories. Occasionally, individuals find it difficult to notice the out of body part of the image. For them, I have them recall something really traumatic in their life to demonstrate the principle.
This insight has stunning implications! For example, it predicts that people who had their eyes closed, or even people who are blind (assuming no brain damage) have a ‘visual’ image of the trauma, something that conventional science would declare is impossible. This could even be tested in a laboratory setting, using blindfolded volunteers, with training in noticing the images.
Now, how to use this insight in healing:
"To heal this memory, all you do is reverse what happened. Instead of leaving your body, you go into it in the past AND FEEL WHAT YOU DIDN’T WANT TO FEEL THE FIRST TIME. So, how to do this? It turns out that there is only one critically important place in our body that we must stay in, in order to heal - that is in the center of the chest, about midway between the nipples. The simplest way to understand what I want you to do is to place and keep your hand on your chest there, in the present. This gives you a body sensation in the present to remind you of what it feels like to be in your chest, while you’re in the past. So, go back to that image in the past where you went out of your body. You will notice that you can move your viewpoint around at will. Now, move yourself back into your body in the past, looking out of your eyes at what was happening, feeling your body as it was, and ESPECIALLY STAYING IN YOUR CHEST IN THE PAST."
The second critical insight to healing is realizing that an individual ‘leaves their body’ from the center of their chest. The ‘hand on chest’ technique is a big help to about 2/3 of the people I see, drastically increased people’s understanding of what I want them to do. Getting people to stay in their bodies, and specifically their chest in the past during trauma is, in my opinion, what most successful healing modalities are trying to accomplish - they just don’t know it! It’s the ‘hidden co-variable’ of most healing techniques, and I believe often explains why sometimes a therapy works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Body centered therapy which uses breath may be taking advantage of an indirect method for returning to the body. I’ve found that in severe trauma when it was very difficult to bring oneself back in, by building up an oxygen surplus then returning to the trauma it often becomes very easy. I speculate this is relaxing a concurrently activated core birth trauma involving oxygen deprivation and injury to the solar plexus which first initiated uncontrolled out of body activity. This observation also suggests that using supplemental oxygen would facilitate healing trauma.
"Now, allow yourself to feel what happened. Sometimes this is much easier to say than to do, because we didn’t want to feel it in the first place. Whatever you do, don’t try and change the past. Not only doesn’t this work, it causes you not to heal. Just accept what happened. So, if you do this, a very interesting thing happens. It’s just like you are draining a cup of (emotional) liquid through a tube. With some practice, you can actually feel the emotion flowing into your chest and dissolving there, like your chest was some sort of drain. Regardless of whether you feel that or not, as you stay with the feeling, suddenly it just runs out and ends. Now, one of 3 things happens then. You either 1) feel peaceful, calm, and lightness; 2) another feeling that was hidden under the last one comes up, and you just drain it away too; 3) an earlier memory arises, and you skip to that one to heal."
When I first started using this technique, I assumed that I was simply erasing a complex memory. Now, I’ve concluded that I’m actually in the past changing it in ‘real time’, in a limited way. This has tremendous implications in understanding how the past, future, and present interact, but at this point I haven’t thought of a way to test it in the lab.
The ‘draining’ mechanism is fascinating. It can be drastically speeded up using several other techniques, but I usually don’t teach them initially, as it becomes too difficult to hold all the instructions at once. Notice too that I do NOT recommend giving any sort of positive affirmation or advice. From my perspective, doing so interferes with the healing and the underlying purpose of healing, which I discuss at the end of this paper.
However, dealing with the emotional part of trauma is not enough. Two other factors are critical to successful healing:
"There is another, important part to this. As you heal, pay attention to your thoughts in the past. Each incident has at least one short phrase associated with it, usually from 2 to 6 words (for example, "I’m stupid."). It’s very important you catch and really be aware of the phrase that’s been running your life ever since. It can be true or false, specific or a generalization - but the problem is that we take it and apply it to everything in our lives indiscriminately ever afterwards.
Additionally, you have to feel how your body felt, i.e. stomach tension, or the pain of an injury, etc. Like the emotions, you have to feel this until it fades to nothing also. I’m sort of glossing over this, but as you can imagine it can be excruciatingly painful at times.
So, to review - put your hand on your chest, go into your body in the past, feel the emotions until they are gone, notice the phrase that you said to yourself at the time, and feel the body sensations until they are gone too."
It turns out that usually each trauma has a whole constellation of phrases that tie into the traumatic feelings, but the one that occurred during the trauma itself holds all the others in place. Getting the core phrase eliminates all the associated material that is tied into it. If you don’t bring the phrase into consciousness, you find that the feeling cannot be completely drained away. Especially in severe trauma, you feel a sudden intensification of physical or emotional symptoms when you get close to the exact phrase. For example, while I was working on a severe injury at 11 months of age, when I thought "Can’t trust mom!", I’d suddenly lose my breath. Later, the correct phrase popped up, "Can’t trust women!", and the whole trauma released. The phrase matches the body sensation, in effect putting words to how our body feels. For a more in depth discussion of what this means, it is described as the ‘felt sense’ in Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing, where methods to practice it are described.
A variety of healing techniques focus on a part of the whole picture, but to completely heal trauma, the contributions from every part of us (the mind, heart, and body) must be addressed. It appears to me that storage of traumatic material is an out of control survival mechanism present in us and all other animal species.
"So, how do you know if you are done? The image should have dissolved, so that you are just in your body in the past, looking out of your eyes. The feelings from the incident should be all gone, as if you were re-reading last year’s stock pages from the newspaper. As a test, if you try a quick peek at the memory, it won’t have any little painful twinge. Come back to the present, and see if whatever was bothering you (how this all started) now is at peace. If it isn’t, either the trauma you’ve worked on isn’t finished, or there is another earlier memory that needs healing. The earliest memory always involves physical damage or injury to the body. Stick with the healing process until you are completely at peace in the present."
"Finally, a natural question that comes up is what to do if you get interrupted, or just can’t finish for some other reason, or flat out can’t take the pain anymore. Good news! Remember the analogy that I started with, about draining a cup of emotional liquid? This is actually pretty accurate, and so if you do some healing on a trauma, that leaves just that much less feeling you have to feel later. Nor will the amount of emotional pain fill back up while you wait so that you’re back to where you started from. However, if you do take a break, be sure to make a written note so that you can remember to go back and finish it off later."
What are the potential drawbacks to this healing technique? First, it’s intrinsically painful. Second, the emotional and physical pain that can come up from remembering your past is usually worse than the pain you start the process with. So if you don’t finish healing a trauma, for a while you may end up feeling worse than when you started. Third, on very rare occasions a physical or emotional pain may appear as if from nowhere, as an earlier trauma ‘beneath’ the one you’re working comes partially to consciousness. Completely healing the trauma you’re on, and using other techniques such as ‘loving yourself’ (below) will generally bring the trauma to clarity, but not always. Fortunately in any case the pain fades just as it did originally. Therapists trained in advanced whole hearted healing techniques can assist in healing these sorts of trauma by merging with the client and healing them directly. However, those techniques are beyond the scope of this paper.
We’ve found that the source of any particular issue always leads down to physical injury, and can often lead to earlier and earlier physical injuries. Be sure to persevere to the real origin points.
Common Initial Mistakes
The biggest mistake people make is not staying with it until all the feelings are gone. This is a perfectly natural reaction, because we’ve all had the experience of recalling a painful memory, and it just won’t go away, so we just try and forget it. (I wished forgetting really worked, but unfortunately the trauma just lies there like a land mine for later in our life.) The key mistake people make is that they go out of body again when they recall this stuff, just like the first time, so of course it doesn’t go away. We just do the same thing over again! I can’t repeat enough times, YOU HAVE TO STAY IN YOUR CHEST IN THE PAST.
Another mistake happens when the person doesn’t stay focused at the time of the image, and sort of wanders around the moment that’s so painful. It’s a sort of skipping in and out of the painful moment, or a sort of unintentional blurring. This certainly prolongs the pain, and probably for most people stops healing altogether. A less common variation of this is to jump around to a bunch of traumas, like channel surfing on TV, but not stay with any of them for long enough to heal.
The other common mistake people make is to go into negative judgment about what happened. You know, like "I shouldn’t have done that", or "How could I have felt that way", or... Going into a negative judgment just adds to the problem. Instead, an attitude of acceptance (or better yet, an attitude of self-love, as it has acceptance in it) for yourself is what is necessary. One problem I occasionally run into is people who try and think understanding and forgiving thoughts from their perspective now, rather than what they really thought then. The opposite can be true too, as happens when you think only condemning thoughts about someone, when what you actually thought at the time may have been one of loss or grief. Fortunately, just bringing the phrase to consciousness along with releasing the emotion is enough to eliminate it from your life, and there is no need to try and fix how you felt, thought, or acted.
Another, although much less frequent mistake occurs when a person tries to talk about the painful feelings they’re having, a sort of classical therapy approach. Unfortunately, many people use talking as a defense to feeling, and so nothing will heal till they quit doing this. These people need to stop intellectualizing while working on old painful experiences until after they heal them. Talking in general while healing is fine, as long as it doesn’t become a block to feeling.
A really tricky way to NOT heal occurs when people try to love themselves in the past by embracing their past selves with love, sort of like a parent does with a child. The mistake here is that you have to merge with yourself in the past, become yourself, and not stay outside by giving hugs!
One person I worked with had the idea that she was trying to contain her feelings in her chest when I told her to stay in her chest - sort of like putting those painful feelings in prison. When you go into the past, you need to make sure you don’t go out of body, and the place you go out of body from is your chest. However, you need to feel your whole body in the past, because that’s where the emotions are!
Speeding the Healing
If you can feel real love for yourself while you’re simultaneously feeling traumatic material, it will radically speed the healing process. In severe trauma I’ve also found that doing this brings people into their bodies who can’t do it otherwise. Finally, it will often help you to recall the traumatic memories you need to heal. A few people can do this naturally, but for the rest of us I recommend a technique found in Learning to Love Yourself by Dr. Gay Hendricks. Recall something in your life that you can recall really loving. I would suggest a doll, or pet, rather than a significant other, because we want a pretty straightforward feeling, not one mixed up with rejection, punishment, etc., etc. One woman had a favorite aunt that worked perfectly. Imagine this object is in front of you, and bring up that feeling of love you had for it. Stay with this until it’s nice and strong. OK, now, turn that flow of love going outward back on yourself, like redirecting a hose of water. Sit with this until you’ve got it. So, go back to that trauma you were stuck on, and love yourself in this way while simultaneously feeling the difficult emotions. It can be a bit like juggling if you’re not used to it, which is why I don’t generally start by teaching this for the first healing experience. A variation on this that sometimes works is to recall a physical place where you felt especially good, bring this feeling up in yourself, and then go for the trauma.
A variety of other techniques exist, but I included the loving yourself technique in this paper because of it’s intuitive simplicity and effectiveness.
What To Expect - ‘Copies’
Occasionally you will run into a certain type of trauma where the Whole Hearted Healing technique will not drain away the emotion no matter how long you work at it. This occurs because the emotion is not actually your own, but rather a ‘copy’ of someone else’s emotion who was present during the trauma. You ‘copy’ by leaving your body and moving your viewpoint into the other person’s chest. Although most people quit doing this fairly early in life, a significant number of people, especially in the healing professions, tend to continue this practice unconsciously. Unfortunately, it does not help the client and is harmful to the healer.
You get rid of a copy by becoming aware of what your own body actually felt at the moment you copied. As you do, the copied emotion dissolves, often with the sensation of it spreading and fading away from your body. You can then heal the trauma in the normal manner. For people who still copy as adults, identify the trigger feeling that pushes you to do it, and use Whole Hearted Healing to follow the feeling back to its source, usually birth and womb trauma.
How do you know if you’re feeling a copy? Copied emotions have a subtle identifying ‘tone’ to them, as if the person were present in your own body where the emotion is. This can be pretty hard to spot at times, so if the healing is taking an unusually long time without any progress, try the following trick: guess what someone else would have felt in those circumstances, and gently try that on in your own body. For example, if you’re feeling sad when most people would have been angry in your situation, try anger on for size. If you’ve copied, this usually triggers a much stronger response as you throw off the copy and become aware of your own feelings.
What To Expect - Holes
Occasionally after healing a trauma, or by using some other therapy, you are left with a distinct feeling of lack, deficiency, and emptiness. What has happened is that you have removed the defenses to feeling a ‘hole’. Often, you will actually see it as a black, seemingly bottomless cavity whose opening is flush with the surface of your body. A rim of a somewhat different shade encircles the perimeter. Every human body has a network of holes in it. They are created during physical trauma to your body, with the majority of large holes coming from birth.
Healing a hole you can see is done by putting ‘yourself’ into it, enduring the awful feeling of lack, until the image of when the damage occurred comes to awareness. You then go ahead and heal the trauma in the usual manner. As you feel the physical pain, you can see the hole becoming lighter and lighter as it fills in, with the rim dissolving last. Believe me, when you see a hole, the last thing you want to do is go near it, but this is exactly what you must do, and immediately. I put off healing the first hole I found, losing my ability to see it in minutes. It took 5 years before I could find it again.
If you can’t see the hole, the feeling of lack typically feels like it is coming from everywhere. Running your hand around your body will help you to localize the sensation to a specific spot. Then focus yourself as much as possible into the lack, and see if the traumatic memory of the injury surfaces. If nothing seems to be coming up, try pressing your fingers into that area. This usually triggers the out of body image into consciousness.
A tremendous amount of our behavior and feelings is driven by a need to block our awareness of the holes. In fact, if you scan your body, when you locate any strong feeling at a specific location, you can be pretty confident that a hole is located at that spot. We try and cover them and fill them in all sorts of bizarre ways. For example, I found myself literally addicted to a woman who reminded me (totally without my awareness) of my mother. During a long meditation, I felt my definition of myself as a person in relationship with her dissolve. This was my primary defense to this particular hole, one in the center of my chest. The next thing that happened was that a body worker noticed that my chest stuck out like the prow of a boat. This was my final line of defense, as I unconsciously tried to contract my body in that area, to give me physical sensations to counteract the sense of lack and emptiness of the hole.
I suspect that much of our resistance to healing certain traumas is caused by trying to keep up our defenses to our holes. At a very deep level, I think we usually prefer feeling painful emotions to feeling the terrible emptiness of the holes. For an interesting view on the phenomena of holes, I refer you to the writings of A. H. Almaas, in Diamond Heart, Book 1. (However, I disagree with a lot of his material.) I do recommend Seawork: Radical Tissue Transformation by Dr. Cory Sea which gives another way to work with this phenomena.
What To Expect - Womb Memories
Fetal memories are quite different from typical traumatic memories. When you encounter one, you experience the womb as bright, and yourself as being very large. The key thing to know here is that womb traumas only remain because of physical injury to your fetal body. So, even if you heal the emotional component, don’t stop until you heal the physical pain. In cases of severe injury before birth the fetus appears darkened. Healing the injury causes the fetus to brighten again. Often, you’ll experience the emotional copying you did from your mom at that time, but to really heal it you have to feel what YOU felt, both emotionally and physically, with the phrase your brain retained. It was a great surprise to me to discover that the fetus is entirely self aware and also thinking thoughts.
It’s in these womb memories that you’ll find the key to using your chakras. As fetuses, we watch our mother when she unconsciously uses them herself, and what she did at that moment to trigger their use is what we do to use our own. For example, my mom used her heart chakra when she bent over a patient to help them, and it’s that sensation of bending over with a caring feeling that turns my own heart chakra on.
During my time in the womb, I stored many phrases in my head, constantly repeating over and over. ‘Visually’, they resemble sort of a small, wide, oval loop. If you turn your attention to them, and love them, they expand, you hear them, and they dissolve. This was one of the single most dramatic changes in my life. It’s a bit hard to describe, but my thinking process changed from a sort of jangle (which I’d had my whole life, so I considered it normal) to a sort of smooth flow. It was remarkably wonderful!
What To Expect - Birth Trauma
About 15% of the people I work with go to birth trauma in the first session. The birth trauma is actually composed of many traumas focused in individual injuries all over the body. When following a sequence of traumas to an origin at birth, we go to completion only at the particular injury site, not the entire birth experience.
The single most helpful thing to speed the healing along is to really, really love yourself - to love yourself even while you feel tremendous pain. I’ve also found it can be helpful to physically assume the position you had during that birth piece. However, there is another technique that I’ve developed which I recommend using only when the person is unable to face the experience completely. It goes as follows: just exhaust all the air out of your chest and belly. Compress your chest and don’t breathe back in. In a little time you’ll start to feel intense panic. This is often the feeling we resist when healing birth material, and this trick allows us to get in touch with it so we can heal it. This works on most people because during birth most of us felt intense panic from oxygen starvation, and from the anesthetics dumped into our bodies. I found in my own birth experience that my fetal self confused the experience of oxygen lack with being drugged. You know you’ve healed that particular birth injury when the panic you feel is completely gone from the injury - it can be hard to believe such a thing is possible, but it’s a wonderful check on progress.
This trick can be used to bring up birth memories at will. However, I DON’T recommend it in general unless you’re willing to pay the potential consequences of activated but unfinished trauma in your life. You might have a major new emotional or physical problem suddenly show up. Even if you are used to intense inner work, I do not recommend this. Be warned! (Of course, this can also flush up trauma like drowning, which needs to be dealt with, but usually the intense experience of birth overshadows everything else.) I recommend reading both Dr. Stanislav Grof’s work on birth trauma and the coex system, for example The Adventure of Self Discovery, and Dr. Arthur Janov’s later work on birth trauma, after he concluded such a thing was possible, such as Imprints or The New Primal Scream.
What To Expect - Past Lives
When following down a sequence of traumas, you might find that you go so far as to end up in another lifetime! Or, through other work, you may have gotten in touch with such a past life trauma. You will recognize yourself, even though you have a completely different body and personality, and you will often recognize others you know in this lifetime in that past traumatic situation. It turns out that we heal them in exactly the same way as a trauma in this lifetime. However, clients access past life material to escape a similar sensation in this lifetime. Once the pressure is handled from the past life, the trauma in this lifetime needs to be healed.
About 1% or 2% of the people I’ve worked with find themselves in a past life the first time we work together, but with more healing work the other people start finding this stuff. However, beware! I discovered that about 3% of the people I work with the first time come up with fake past life stuff, especially folks who are into new age philosophy. It tends to be delusional, as in seeing Christ on the cross, being in Atlantis, missing out in a group ascension to heaven, etc. Why am I so sure it’s delusional? Because they don’t heal when dealing with this, but when I have them stay in their own lifetimes with the feeling, they do heal, and they realize the past life was a fake.
What To Expect - Generational Traumas
Especially while working with birth or womb trauma, or with so called ‘genetic’ or inherited problems, you will often find that the source of the problem is coming from trauma that occurred in your past generations. Unlike past lives where you can recognize yourself, you will be aware that the individual being traumatized in the past is not yourself. There is a sensation of seeing layers of people with the same problem stretching back through time. Notice that these traumas can occur after the next generation is born, it is not passed along only in the womb.
You can heal the source of the generational trauma by following it back through the generations to it’s source, and healing it there. However, this type of trauma is actually brought into our body due to an unconscious choice, and occurs because of injury to the solar plexus region and usually the belly. This underlying mechanism needs to be healed, else the tendency to pull in generational traumas will continue.
The underlying mechanism is beyond the scope of this paper, but involves the existence of the so called ‘false self’ or ego/personality.
What To Expect - Soul Pieces
While working on yourself, you might experience what looks like a person or a dark cloud of smoke suddenly leave your body. Or while helping someone else heal, you might leave the session and continue to feel terrible, yet know that you didn’t ‘copy" or have one of your own traumas activated. Or you or a client is experiencing ‘possession’, channeling, or severe mental illness. To understand what happened and what to do about it, you need to have some shamanic background along with more conventional experience.
As a hypothesis, assume for a minute that our traumatic emotional material is stored in an invisible something that surrounds our bodies. Shamans call this stuff ‘soul’. During a few certain traumas, the pain is so bad that you actually eject the emotional memory of what happened out of your body area, and it wanders around loose. In the shamanic tradition, this is called soul loss. If a shaman brings yours back to you, they call it soul retrieval. If you’ve got somebody else’s, this is called soul stealing. In Christian terms, these soul pieces would probably be called entities or angels, depending on the emotional tone of the trauma that formed the piece. Visually, at one level of consciousness they look like the people at the instant they were formed, and at another they look like a little cloud of smoke from a pipe. The only book I can recommend in this area is a great one by Sandra Ingerman called Soul Retrieval.
These soul pieces are the origin of the voices in the head people experience in severe mental illness, or during channeling. One of my teachers told me that holding on to others’ soul pieces is the root cause for all serious mental illness, and I suspect he may be right. The good news is soul pieces don’t have us, we have them! Contrary to what the movies and most healers say about this, no matter how bad it is, even if it drives us crazy or causes us to harm people, we’re hanging on to them, they’re not hanging on to us. It turns out that the reason is buried in the birth trauma, which is why nobody knows it. During the horrible experience of birth, our mothers felt a variety of feelings, good or bad. Our bodies associate survival with the feeling of having external emotions (our mother’s) surrounding us, which is what soul pieces feel like. We literally believe at an unconscious level that our survival depends on surrounding ourselves with those feelings. Experiences in the womb can also cause this, as one woman found out when she healed the birth trauma piece, and found an even earlier trauma that happened when her mom fell down the stairs, landed on her very pregnant belly, and desperately wanted her husband to help her.
So, what to do? If you’re channeling, you can track back to the source trauma by feeling how you feel when you call the soul piece up. If you’re like most of us, you’re doing your damnedest not to hear any voices. For you, look to your outer relationships. If you’re physically attracted to a certain type of person who usually feels a certain way (as I was to angry women), you might suspect birth and womb trauma. Not only do we surround ourselves with a soul piece of a certain feeling, we add to the mess by finding people who tend to have that feeling we think we need to survive. Healing this has the added benefit of eliminating two problems at once!
To cover this topic requires a book, but I’ll finish by mentioning something that might not occur to you to heal. My mom had a bunch of positive feelings during birth too, and when I broke the connection between survival and these nice feelings, I felt myself throw off a whole bunch of positive feeling soul pieces, which psychics in the new age circuit often call ‘angels’. This sensation was unexpected enough, but the big surprise was that the noise in my head dropped dramatically, just as if someone had turned off the background air conditioning in a building, or turned down the tape hiss on a stereo. A wonderful experience!
Incidentally, do I believe all this stuff about soul, pieces, etc.? I’m a very practical sort, and this hypothesis simply explains a whole bunch of stuff (which I haven’t mentioned), as well as agreeing with perceptual data. So I’ll use it until something better comes along.
The Triune Brain
Eventually, if not sooner, Whole Hearted Healing will bring up issues and experiences that have to do with what’s really going on inside ourselves, especially around self images and inner acceptance. In my own healing, it wasn’t until I could recall my womb and birth memories that I could even understand why Whole Hearted Healing really worked, let alone what these other experiences were about. Below is a partial outline of how the psyche is really made up.
We are actually composed of four separate biological brains, each possessing their own sense of self. The biology of this has been known since the 60’s, and it’s called the Papez-MacLean Triune Brain Theory. How this applies to our psyche is as follows:
The most difficult to understand biological brain structure, and the last to evolve, is the prefrontal lobes of the brain. We call it the ‘Buddha brain’ because clients often experience it as if it were a huge massive statue of Buddha. This brain’s center of self awareness is is actually a number of inches above the head. Actions of this brain create what clients describe as energy structures, connections, or shapes in the body that they sometimes see when they heal certain traumas. The literature generally lumps it in with the next brain structure, the neocortex.
The outer layer of the brain, the neocortex, is the portion that thinks in sequences of words. This is our cognitive part, the mind, and ‘it’ perceives itself in the head. When we get the phrase in Whole Hearted Healing, we are healing that portion of our being. Among other things, it is the part of us that can form judgments and do abstractions like mathematics. This brain is almost always who we think we are.
The next layer down in the brain, the limbic system, is our emotional consciousness, and ‘it’ thinks in sequences of emotions. It perceives itself in the chest, probably because this is the area of it’s primary biological responsibility. We often refer to this brain as the ‘heart’. This portion of our being allows us to feel connected to others, positively or negatively, rather than experiencing people as if they were just objects, like stones. By draining out the emotions when we heal, we are dealing with this brain.
Using the hypothesis of ‘soul’ in shamanic traditions, I conclude that the limbic brain also acts like a sorting, recording, and playback unit on the ‘soul’ medium. During trauma, this medium is fractured into a piece which is recorded on, as if it were a cassette of the experience. Playing back these ‘recordings’ gives us the phenomenon of the ‘inner child’. When the recordings are not ours, we get the phenomena of channeling, schizophrenia, etc.
The final layer down is the body consciousness, composed of the tissue at the base of our skulls, the spinal cord, and probably other distributed systems in the body as well. This portion of ourselves gives us a sense of time, and it ‘thinks’ in sequences of internal body sensations. It experiences itself in the lower belly, since this is its area of major biological function. This is the brain that actually handles the movement of ‘soul’ pieces and the location of the out of body experience, as well as more mundane things like our sexuality. We communicate with this brain when we do dowsing or muscle testing. This is the portion of ourselves we heal when we feel the body sensations and injuries in whole hearted healing.
In the womb, the four brains are fused (merged) together, experiencing themselves as one organism. What finally put me on the right track to understanding this was a memory I recovered of a month or so before birth. My mom ate something that was poisonous to my fetal body. While dealing with this crisis, my mind broke from the fusion and experienced itself as a separate self. Later, during the birth trauma, all my brains split apart, and now there were four separate senses of self. For humans and animals, this splitting appears to be nearly universal. Incidentally, the degree of fusion can vary from not being able to feel your emotions or body sensations to complete unity.
During the birth process, we become sort of amnesiac and lose this awareness of ourselves. As adults, each of our parts pretends that no one else is present, partly due to the tremendous level of trauma experienced around the split process. And each brain tends to view the world differently, depending on its function and subsequent traumas. Often, the brains work at cross purposes, for example when you find yourself sexually attracted to someone you don’t like. And worse yet, at the deepest level our resistances to internal fusion is projected into our outer relationships, as well as in self images and inner projections. These projections are a ‘best fit’ to the underlying traumas that drive them, and particularly for birth trauma have tremendous impact. When you hit this sort of thing, healing the underlying trauma causes the projection to dissolve. For example, during healing I’ve had people experience their body as the monster in the basement; the warrior goddess Diana; an Aztec god who rips hearts out. These particular projections had an overwhelming and mythic quality to them because to the head and heart, the body consciousness feels like a god, which makes sense from a biological perspective since the body is primary.
Each brain also holds unconscious self images, again driven by trauma. Some interesting ones I’ve come across; the heart consciousness unconsciously pretending it was Jesus on the cross, the body consciousness pretending it was it’s father, the brain experiencing itself as a crystal palace, an elaboration of the baby milk bottle. I believe in virtually everyone the heart consciousness primarily identifies itself as the mother, and the other brains also retain that projection of the emotions. This is why spotting mother copies can be so difficult. Finally, in my own healing at a less deep level, I found I projected out an ‘overlay’ of my dad on all men, and one of my mom on all women. Experiencing this is quite vivid, like some sort of video special effect. Again, all this is driven by trauma that should be tracked down and healed immediately.
Complete internal fusion is what we’re desperately seeking for in our outer world. The good news is that you can fuse at a moment’s notice. The bad news is that almost no one does. It’s an internal decision, and circumstances in your outside experience may cause you to choose to fuse in spite of your past. For example, in making love some people partially or fully fuse, giving their partner an unconscious permission to do likewise. This feels so awesome, we believe that there must be something special about the person we never want to give up!
The fusion process comes up in whole-hearted healing, as you eliminate the traumas that reinforce the splits. When you fuse all four brains, the best English word to describe it is ‘Wholeness’. If you fuse just the head and heart, you stop reading in past emotional trauma and find yourself just in the present. This is called ‘Aliveness’ by Harville Hendrix in his book Keeping the Love You Find, and I suspect American Indians call it ‘The Beauty Way’, while Christians call it an ‘awareness of the immanent divine’. Believe me, ordinary consciousness is like going to hell in comparison to fusion states!
The brains can turn themselves off. However, you lose the abilities that are primary to those shut down brains. For example, turning off the body and emotional consciousness results in samahdi, with its sense of peace, timelessness, and lack of almost any need to breathe. (The other two brains use a tremendous amount of oxygen.) Or shutting down the mind and heart result in an experience of the ‘Pearl Beyond Price’ from Sufi tradition, with its lack of body boundaries and fullness in the belly. I wouldn’t be surprised if shutting down the emotional consciousness can sometimes result in the phenomenon of psychopaths, if done early enough under enough trauma.
Interestingly enough, at this point in my work with people, I can monitor in someone else’s body how well the four brains are allowing themselves to fuse. At least some measure of fusion seems to be required to heal traumas, and I suspect better methods to accomplish this will improve the Whole Hearted Healing procedure. In fact, the ‘loving yourself’ process discussed earlier also tends to help the fusion process along. I also have some evidence that intentionally using your normal and peripheral vision simultaneously causes a degree of fusion between the mind and heart.
For further reading on the three brains I suggest looking at Dr. Arthur Janov’s The Anatomy of Mental Illness. However, his work is flawed by a total rejection of any transpersonal phenomena. For a complete biological discussion, see Dr. Paul MacLean’s The Triune Brain in Evolution: Role in Paleocerebral Functions. I recommend highly the books by Tom Brown Jr., in particular Awakening Spirits, which gives a simple way to temporarily accomplish fusion and other fundamental changes to the psyche. I came across these authors after I’d worked out this material myself, and it was a tremendous relief to know others had come to the same understanding following very different routes!
Physical Healing and the False Self
Healing certain traumas using Whole Hearted Healing or other techniques sometimes eliminates physical problems, because you release the unconscious efforts that are continuously pushing you from health. However, more radical physical healing is possible but requires a different approach. Like many, I was skeptical of stories of spontaneous or faith healing, until I met a healer who could regularly heal terminal diseases and incurable injuries like aids, cancer, or broken backs, typically in a few minutes with no physical intervention.
The secret lies in our past. In the womb, we are actively directing the growth process, not just running some DNA program. Without going into the fascinating details, during birth our body’s repair systems then go into a sort of autopilot which we all consider normal. It is possible to return to womb consciousness and ‘spontaneously’ heal ourselves. You can heal someone else from this state by merging with the client, making them feel safe enough to return to womb consciousness too and heal. (One way merging can be learned is by using brain biofeedback to synchronize brain waves.) For more on this topic, see "Spiritual Emergency and the Triune Brain".
When I started my healing, I was just trying to make my life better by eliminating problems. I had no idea that the ultimate goal of healing and other forms of inner work was to return me to what I had already been in the womb! Being whole and without a ‘false self’ is our true heart’s desire.
I want to thank Sheelo Bohm of North San Juan, California, a healer’s healer, my teacher, and friend who saved my life when I was critically ill. And Ron Mied of Novato, California, a brilliant healer whose insight is the basis of this self help method, and who helped me through much of my post birth healing.
© Grant McFetridge 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999
All rights reserved
Nevada City, California
A. H. Almaas, Diamond Heart, Book 1, Diamond Books, Berkeley CA, 1987.
Tom Brown Jr., Awakening Spirits, Berkeley Books, NY, 1994.
Dr. Eugene Gendlin, Focusing, Bantam Books, NY, 1978.
Dr. Frank Gerbode, Beyond Psychology, IRM Press, Palo Alto CA, 1989.
Dr. Stanislav Grof, The Adventure of Self Discovery.
Dr. Gay Hendricks, Learning to Love Yourself, Prentice Hall Press, 1982.
Drs. Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, At the Speed of Life, Bantam, NY, 1993.
Dr. Harville Hendrix, Keeping the Love You Find, Pocket Books, NY, 1992.
Sandra Ingerman, Soul Retrieval, Harper, San Francisco CA, 1991.
Dr. Arthur Janov, The Anatomy of Mental Illness, Berkeley Medallion, NY, 1971.
Dr. Arthur Janov, Imprints, Coward-McCann, NY, 1983.
Dr. Arthur Janov, The New Primal Scream, Enterprise Publishing, Wilmington DE, 1991.
Dr. Paul MacLean, The Triune Brain in Evolution: Role in Paleocerebral Functions, Plenum Publishing, 1990.
Dr. Cory Sea, Seawork: Radical Tissue Transformation, Bright Home Press, Alice Springs, Australia, 1996.
Revision 1.0 Aug 28, 1996: First version of this document.