How to do Whole-Hearted Healing® regression - for laypeople
August 28, 1996
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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 reading about 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 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 Whole-Hearted Healing process. 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 in 1997 for a conference put on by Ruth Inga-Heinz in Marin, California on shamanism - how time has flown by! We've included on this website to give you an introduction to how our Whole-Hearted Healing regression therapy actually works.
If this text catches your interest, we recommend Paula Courteau's The Whole-Hearted Healing Workbook. Her book is written for self-help in an easy to follow manner, with improvements on the techniques based on nearly 15 more years of experience.
Regardless of whether you are a layperson or a therapist, we do not recommend that you use Whole-Hearted Healing (WHH) as your first trauma therapy choice. Instead, we recommend using the meridian 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 an EMDR therapist. However, if you've tried everything else without success, then you might want to consider using our very powerful but sometimes emotionally and physically difficult Whole-Hearted Healing technique. In essence, use fast and easy approaches first - if they don't work, then switch to our techniques. And some cases, our various techniques are the only ones we know of that can heal certain types of problems.
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. I discuss some of the other adverse reactions clients experience using this technique in the section below called "So You Want To Be A Healer". And I’m sure there are others. Enough said.
Dr. Grant McFetridge
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 WHOLE HEARTED HEALING®
Revision 5 © Grant McFetridge 1997
I want to share a healing method that is relatively quick, simple and straightforward that you can do for yourself. The section on the basic method is written especially for people I can’t teach in person, or for those who I have taught but the experience was so new that they forgot exactly what we did that was so successful. Since I can’t be in touch with everyone who continues working on themselves, I’ve written several sections on the ways I’ve found through the difficulties that can arise. The sections on what to expect can be particularly valuable, because some of what we find in ourselves is not commonly known or understood. Finally, I wanted to briefly describe how we are changed by healing ourselves, and give some encouragement to people who are considering becoming healers themselves.
So, how successful is this technique? In less than 30 minutes, 80% of the people I’ve taught this new healing technique to actually heal whatever issue they choose to work on. In an hour and a half, 90% do. This self help method works so well because the key to healing is obvious once it’s pointed out. You see for yourself what we should have been taught in kindergarten - the simple bit of ignorance that brings so much pain and suffering into our lives. And someday, I hope you’ll find even better, faster, and gentler ways to heal.
The Basic Method
This technique is for emotional healing. This means that the technique works for anything that you don’t feel at peace, calm, and light with. (I will point out that this is in contrast to the feeling of calm and heavy, which is where you are suppressing and denying how you feel.) It turns out that almost everybody thinks they are present in the here and now, but actually they are just running reactions to past trauma. A person who is in the present has that underlying sense of peace and calm I just mentioned, even while they are feeling their emotions. Needless to say, actually being in the present, responding appropriately to what’s really going on is very rare for most people.
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 trauma’s 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 trauma’s 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.
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!
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. So, what to do?
To heal this memory, all you do is reverse what happened. Instead of leaving your body, you go into it 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. Now, put yourself back into your body in the past by looking out of your eyes at what was happening, feeling your body as it was, and especially staying in your chest in the past.
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 light; 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.
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. The core phrase matches exactly how your body felt at the moment of trauma you are addressing. For an in depth discussion of the phrase and how to find it, see Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing under his description of the ‘ felt sense’.
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 your body felt at the time, and feel the body sensations until they are gone too.
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 years 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 memory that needs healing. Stick with the healing process until you are completely at peace in the present.
Incidentally, if you go back to a memory that you skipped over, you should find that you’re at peace with it too, without having to do anything! It turns out that trauma’s of the same feeling stack together, and in general the ones that are later in time than the one you’ve healed will be healed too. This saves a tremendous amount of work (and took me a year to realize), which is why I asked you to go as far back in the past as you could. 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.
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, thank God! 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.
I want to reemphasize the key insight, the blind spot that we virtually all share that could have been taught to us in kindergarten.. The mechanism for the storage of traumatic emotions is the out of body experience. Therapists call this disassociation but assume it’s some sort of mental manipulation of the past. People who recognize the existence of the out of body experience make a different mistake. They assume it’s 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. (Incidentally, I finally noticed that my unconscious trigger for the out of body mechanism in the present was to contract my diaphragm and lower rib cage.) Simple ignorance of this out of control survival mechanism is what has brought so much misery into our lives.
Speeding the Healing
OK, you’ve done all this, and it still isn’t working. Or, it is, but it’s too slow and painful. (The reasons for this are fascinating, but this is a ‘how to’ piece, not one on theory.) So, here are two techniques to help you. First, loving yourself. It turns out that in my experience, virtually no one who talks about loving themselves actually knows how to do it. So here’s how. 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. Feels pretty good to love yourself! So, go back to that trauma you were stuck on, and love yourself in this way. 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. However, it can make the healing happen in just seconds, instead of minutes or hours, or can even help you face something you just can’t from a cold start. I learned this technique from Dr. Gay Hendricks book, Loving Yourself. 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. However, I recommend practicing and using the loving yourself technique as the primary tool.
The second technique is more unusual. So, while you go back to the trauma, pretend that your body, especially your chest, is full of light. Imagine that there are balls of clear white light in your head, chest and lower belly, and that you are those balls of light. Being that ball of white light in your chest is the most important part. White light is how a part of us perceives unobstructed self awareness. In addition, try and feel like your body is huge with your viewpoint from the inside of your body. If you can, try and feel that you are whole, or complete, just as you are. By this, I don’t mean healed - that comes later. And finally, it might help if you can pull in a sense of a greater presence. Then go for the feeling you had trouble with. Experiment with this a bit, because what you’re trying to do is become aware (even a tiny bit) of how you experienced yourself in the womb, so you can be like that again to make the healing easier. The part about the light inside you is actually true all the time, as is the greater presence, it’s just blocked from your awareness. See if you can work it until it starts to feel natural. I’d like to give credit to Dr. Andrew Terker for my adaption of his technique.
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 it 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... It turns out that, as hard as it is to believe, you are actually going into the past when you do this. You are actually giving support to yourself in healing this stuff in the past, instead of getting it from someone else. 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.
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 NOT to 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! As I mentioned before, with practice one can actually feel the trapped feeling flow from wherever it was into the chest, and dissolve there, just as if there were a drain in that spot. To help this along, I remind people to look out of their eyes in the past, feel their feet, and so on. Fortunately, this comes naturally to most people.
The emotion is usually tightly tied up with the phrase that we carry about the trauma. A problem can occur if you forget to pay attention to what you thought at the time, focusing only on the feeling. Letting go of one usually requires letting go of the other also. The exact phrase will usually come to mind simply by turning your attention to your head and what you were thinking in the past, and relaxing enough to let it come in. I’d give this strategy a good long chance to work before I tried anything else. One problem I occasionally run into is people who try and rationalize what happened, rather than let themselves recall what they really thought. By this I mean they 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.
Most of the time getting close to the exact phrase works, because our mind picks up on the correct one so fast we don’t even notice. But don’t get too complacent. For example, one woman I worked with would distort the wording so much that it wouldn’t release. She had a tendency to unconsciously try and edit her thoughts by speaking the phrases like an adult, rather than letting herself speak as she did at the age of the trauma. However, there are times when the exact wording of the phrase can be critical, especially with severe trauma when we’re desperately trying to avoid the pain. Fortunately, if you get close to the phrase, you can feel a sudden intensification of physical or emotional symptoms. 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.
Occasionally, people suspect that the memory they’re trying to heal is just made up in their imagination. It doesn’t matter, because in my experience working with the pain of a potentially imagined memory can provide a good starting point to healing. Other memories surface as you start to face the emotional pain around the issue. So by all means, don’t let this stop you from proceeding. However, this only works with stuff from your own life - trying to imagine past life stuff is painfully unproductive, and can be a tricky way to try and escape from your own life.
I’d like to talk about trying to change the past again. It turns out that the vast majority of techniques people learn to help themselves revolve around trying to make the past different than it was. As one of my friends puts it, trying to change the past is like putting whipping cream on cow pies. As long as the whip cream holds out, you can’t smell it. This idea, sort of positive thinking run amok, is often a problem and explains why some people seem to be having a hard time healing especially at first. For true healing, unfortunately, facing what really happened is required. Then it goes away forever.
What To Do If The Trauma Won’t Release - ‘Copies’ And Other Problems
As you do this healing work, you’ll usually have the experience of the emotional and physical pain you’re working on come to a clean and definite end. However, some trauma’s just don’t feel as neat and tidy as this. The emotion doesn’t quit, or it kind of lingers on, without a definite end point. About 10% of the people have this happen the first time I work with them. After I run through every possibility that I can think of, I ask them to try and heal some other problem. I want them to get a clear experience of healing something, so that they know what healing feels like. With that experience, they can trust that this type of healing works, and then we can go back and figure out what went wrong.
So, since you’ve read this far, I assume that you know what healing feels like, but have met up with this problem. It turns out that there can be a variety of reasons why this happens. The first arises because we have the idea that whatever we’re feeling is not OK. For example, one woman felt that sadness was not OK to feel because her mom used to go on and on with sadness. Before she could release her sadness, she had to first heal her revulsion at feeling sad. In my own case, I had the same sense of revulsion to my anger, due to an anesthesia experience during birth. So, I suggest that if you have a particular emotion that you can’t release, you first look for some trauma in your life that made you decide that it wasn’t OK for you to feel that way.
Another problem can occur when you run across a trauma that involves a ‘copy’. Occasionally, you’ll run into memories, especially early ones, where feeling the feeling just doesn’t change anything. And unfortunately, you can feel these feelings forever and they won’t go away. This occurs because this particular feeling is actually someone else's that you copied from them during a moment of trauma in your life. In these situations, you feel what someone around you felt as if it were your own emotion.
First, how does this occur? During a crisis, you go out of body, as you know. But if you zip over to another beings heart region, their emotion gets stored as if it were your own. Fortunately, most people quit doing this at a pretty early age, so you won’t have to worry about it too often. So, how do you heal this? You have to become aware of what your own body really felt at that time, and heal that. The copied emotions will just dissolve away - you might even feel them moving outward, away from your body.
Copied feelings can be either easy or hard to spot. In my case, I could tell when I copied stuff from my dad, because the feeling had a sort of a Dad tone to it. It was much harder to tell in the case of my mother, because at birth I identified my emotional self with mom, and this was reinforced growing up because she was my ‘safe’ parent. It’s taken me a long time to get better at spotting mom copies. If you suspect such a thing is going on, I suggest trying to guess what you might have felt at the time, as if you were somebody else in such a situation, and gently try that on in your body. This usually triggers a much stronger response as you become aware of your own feelings.
Timing can be important to one’s healing. One woman I’ve worked with has told me she’s found she’ll occasionally get a certain sort of feeling in her chest, and at those times healing comes to her easily. It turns out that the easiest time to heal is when you’re feeling the most miserable! Those feelings in the present are putting you as close to the original pain as possible. Waiting until you’re calmer or have the time will often make it impossible to get at the feeling in the trauma. After all, who wouldn’t unconsciously resist feeling bad if they’re feeling OK now?
I’ve also found the best time for me to heal is early in the morning, just after I wake while still sleepy and in bed. This is because my conscious thoughts don’t get in the way as much. Often, a trauma phrase will pop into my mind while I’m half asleep, when it won’t when I’m wide awake. It also makes it easier for me to get into the fetal position, or whatever posture I was in when the trauma occurred, which can greatly enhance the process. In fact, I’ve discovered that I’ll get really sleepy during the day when some traumatic memory is trying to surface. Taking a nap usually lets it come to consciousness when I wake. But watch out, I once had the opposite experience of trying to sleep to get away from the experience that was trying to come up!
Another technique you might try is found in Making Sense of Suffering, by J. Konrad Stettbacher. This is the technique that Dr. Janov’s Primal Therapy organization uses. There are four steps. First, try and describe your general condition, what you are sensing, noticing, seeing, hearing, smelling. What bothers you, what’s on you mind. Second, give voice to your sensations and feelings, how they affect you and what they mean. What does this mean to you, does to you, causes to happen in you, leaves behind you. Third, critically examine the situation, the scene, and those involved, including yourself. Demand an explanation and justification from yourself and others. Ask why are you doing this? What for? What good does it do? Where does it come from? Why? What have you done wrong, not understood, forgotten to do, made a mess of? And fourth, formulate your demands, what you really need. I don’t need this... I need that ... to live. I personally don’t feel comfortable with this approach, but you may.
A variation of Stettbacher’s technique is to try and guess what the phrase or the emotion that you may be blocking. I’ve been reduced to this, and occasionally gotten lucky. I’ll see if anything pops up as I turn my attention to each of the actors in the trauma, including myself. Then I’ll see if I get any sort of ‘twinge’ in my body as I try seeing if the 4 major feelings strike a chord - anger, fear, sorrow, and guilt. In fact, I’ve taken a list of emotions and scanned it for any response, but with only indifferent success.
I’ll remind you again to use the loving yourself technique. It’s simple, but very powerful. 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 memory.
Finally, the best technique I know of to release a traumatic memory if you’re really stuck is called ‘viewing’. It’s particularly well suited for finding pain in a memory that you know must be there, but you can’t feel. It’s taught by the Institute for Metapsychology in Menlo Park, California, and I highly recommend it and the other courses they teach. Essentially, what you do is just run over the entire trauma moment by moment, in as much detail as you can. You consciously start just before the trauma began, run through the incident, then repeat it again and again as many times as is necessary. Generally one finds that nothing hurts at first, more of the memory comes to light, then the pain increases, reaches a crescendo, and quickly ends. Staying in your chest and body speeds the process. I’ve found this technique invaluable with certain trauma’s I just couldn’t feel.
There is still a lot about why some memories are harder to heal than others that I don’t understand. I encourage you to use other healing modalities like holotropic breathwork, bodywork, EMDR, or whatever strikes your fancy. I’m still looking for better and faster ways!
What To Do If You Can’t Recall The Trauma
Say you’re miserable in the present, and no earlier incident pops up when you look in the past. Fortunately, there are several things you can do. First, use the ‘loving yourself’ technique on what you’re feeling. This tends to blow off steam, and much of the time an earlier memory will surface. This works so well that I rarely have to do anything else, other than encourage them to give themselves a little time to remember. Next, examine your beliefs about what’s happening. Have you been assuming it was Dad (or Mom) stuff because of the sex of the person involved, or because everything you’ve got has always been Dad (or Mom’s) fault? For example, a friend of mine was convinced it was her Dad stuff, and got nowhere. Once she let go of preconceptions, it turned out it was an incident with a second grade female teacher. Again, the only important thing is to follow the feeling back into the past, not the circumstances.
Another thing that you might try is looking in the immediate past, not long ago. What if your misery is of recent origin? Even if it isn’t, something that happened yesterday or last week can give you a ‘first plate in the stack’ entry into the sequence of trauma’s. From there, you can work backwards in time.
I’ve also found that outside circumstances play a huge role in helping me heal. When something gets triggered, that’s the best time to look for the traumatic memory. It turns out that the memory will often just pop up when we look for it when we feel our worst, because we’re closest to the original experience. In fact, I’ve found that I’ll unconsciously put myself in situations that make me feel worse and worse just so I can access these memories! However, be warned - if a traumatic memory comes up, and I decide to wait till later, occasionally I can’t get back to the memory or the feeling of the memory. This has been a hard lesson at times! So now I just take the time to find an inconspicuous spot, put my hand on my chest, and go for it. At other times, just being out in the world will give me the inspiration I need to find a lost memory. For example, I was looking at why my digestion was a problem. Just seeing a pregnant woman triggered the memory of when my mom was pregnant with me, and she felt her enlarged belly was bad because it made her feel she looked ugly. So I decided my belly was bad also.
Another way to go is from the body centered therapy tradition. Look around your body, even run your hand around, and see if the feeling or image is coming from a certain location. This can free up your attention to realizing when you had this sensation in that particular place. Body work of the many types can also trigger memories, and I’ve used direct pressure to stimulate recovering a visual image of myself in the past. I highly recommend seeing a Hendricks trained body centered therapist if you’re stuck - they can see you do stuff with your body that you probably wouldn’t spot on your own, which can lead back to the trauma.
It turns out that as we go through life, it’s a lot like our consciousness is a pinball in a pinball game. As we get into a situation that reminds us of something painful, an image and or phrase from a past trauma pops up so quickly that we don’t even notice them. Instead, we just instantly react and suppress to get away from the stimulus, just as if we’d hit one of the barriers that make a dinging sound and kicks the ball back into the center. With practice, you can learn to spot these images that drive your life to heal them. So how do you do this? Well, even knowing that this is going on will help you discover them for yourself. Another way is to get practice in spotting them. You can do this by using a GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) meter, a sort of poor man’s lie detector. It measures a change in electrical resistance of the skin as you work with emotionally charged material. With the help of a skilled operator (or yourself, with training), as these images flash into consciousness, the instrument needle will deflect momentarily. This gives you the practice to become aware of what just happened, and you can back up to try again until you catch it.
The Institute for Metapsychology in Menlo Park, California, teaches and works with clients using the GSR meter technique. Their healing technique, which they call TIR, works well. But of particular interest to us is the way they can use the GSR meter to hunt out trauma’s that we’re blocking from our conscious mind. I highly recommend their work. It’s described in Gerald French and Chrys Harris's book Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR). They also do an excellent job of describing how trauma’s connect together.
Another method is to go to a psychic to see if they can spot trauma’s for you. However, this is fraught with problems (not only fraud), and the best one I’ve ever worked with by accident one day discovered roughly 10% of his clients would unconsciously feed him complete fantasy material, and he couldn’t tell the difference. So beware of this approach - I highly recommend anything from this approach be taken with a huge helping of suspicion. I recommend the GSR meter method instead.
Another technique is the old standby, silent breath meditation. But rather than trying to calm your mind, you use the stillness to allow material to come to the surface. Since you are not supposed to move, you can’t distract yourself with the outside world. This can be a valuable aid to working, and some of my breakthroughs were during long meditation retreats. The short, 25 minute meditations have also given me priceless insights and experiences.
A sort of odd method to finding trauma involves using your dreams. I’ve gone to bed asking when the trauma that I was searching for happened, and I found that I’d wake up with a number from some part of the dream. This would be my age when the trauma happened. Another way to use dreams is to follow the series of feelings in the dream, and (usually) ignore the images and story line. You can find that often the dream had the same sequence of feelings as the real trauma, and bringing the feelings into consciousness also triggers the memory you’ve been searching for.
Occasionally I’ve found that I can use my own heart as a truth detector. If I’m having a difficulty in the present, and I happen to think about something from the past that is actually causing the problem, I’ll get the sensation of my chest relaxing and opening up. I don’t experience this very often, but it’s pretty dramatic when I do.
One of the techniques that was so instrumental in my own healing was Holotropic Breathwork. I tend to think of it as dropping a rock on the psyche to smash through resistances, but it does that really well. The only major flaw their technique has is the lack of awareness that staying in your body during trauma is critical. Other than that, I highly recommend it. A variation I sometime use is to do hyperventilation breathing by myself for 15 minutes with music playing through headphones, to help me get into or explore specific issues. By far the best holotropic breathwork practitioners I’ve worked with are Sheelo and Amayo Bohm of North San Juan, California, and I highly recommend them.
Another extremely powerful technique is American Indian vision questing. I’m referring to the practice of going into the wilderness, sitting in one small area, and fasting for up to 4 days with the intention of healing or vision. This really works for me, and although I do this work solo, there are many competent leaders for this you might want to work with, at least at first. The only concern I might have with working with others is if they try and explain what your experience meant. Perhaps they’ll be spot on, but perhaps not. So weigh it, just as you weigh what I have to say.
In a practical vein, say you have a decision you want to make. You know that you’re not in the present with this, because you’re feeling indecisive, or some other feeling, but not calm and at peace. What to do? Obviously, healing every trauma related to this, or changing your state of consciousness so the past no longer affects you emotionally (described later) is the best answer. However, there is another option. If you identify every feeling and thought about the issue, you’ll get to temporary calm about it. This means that every trauma that feeds into this issue has to be given it’s say (metaphorically) before peace comes. And some of these, unfortunately, can be pretty obscure, and seemingly irrelevant. This may be something you can do for yourself, but when I did it, I used the help of somebody who could help me out.
Finally, you’ve read all of this forward and backward, and nothing has worked. Especially if it’s a really awful feeling that you are dealing with, I can recommend one thing that’s worked for several people, including myself. Just sit down, and let it wash over you in all it’s awfulness. In less than 30 minutes, it invariably reaches a crescendo, then suddenly ‘breaks’, and disappears. I don’t know if it’s gone forever (I rather doubt it), but at least it’s out of your life for the time being. The hard part is just sitting down and not resisting it by doing something to distract yourself. The phrase "When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping" was probably invented for our normal response to this type of thing.
I’d like to stress about this is how useful it can be to be working with someone else, who can remind you that you’re not in the present. For example, out of the blue two years ago I became very suicidal. I was convinced that my life was terrible, even though I wasn’t working, had enough money and friends, a great place to live, and perfect weather. My mind went into overtime trying to find reasons in the present to explain why I felt like I did. By luck one day, I happened to touch my belly button, realize that the suicidal feelings were coming from there, and track it back to the moment when my umbilical chord was cut just after birth. All I can say is I’m glad I didn’t kill myself first. (Click for more details on the connection between placenta death and suicide.) This is a rather dramatic example, but you can imagine how it would help to have someone there to remind you that what you’re experiencing isn’t in the present. This can be particularly useful in job and personal relationships, where so much of what we feel has little or nothing to do with what’s really going on.
When you are working with other people, and you’re trying to tell somebody about their problem, or work with them in some other way, and you don’t feel calm, the talking will generally be unproductive. That’s because your own stuff is in the way, and you can’t really see them through the screen of your past. Take the time to heal it, or at least recognize and tell your partner that what you’re so absolutely sure about might just be total projection. Admitting this can sometimes break a chink in some pretty convincing stuff that you’re putting on somebody, and it gives the other a person a chance to look at their stuff to see if their lost in their trauma’s too. For more on this, I recommend Gay and Katherine Hendricks book At The Speed Of Life and Conscious Loving.
So, when is working with somebody a problem? It turns out that if they have a trauma that’s similar to yours, healing your stuff around them can be very difficult, if not impossible. The ultimate example of this is around birth trauma. At a deep level, you look to the other person for support and safety, and if they’ve suddenly freaked out (even if they don’t know it), something inside you says that "This trauma must be even worse than I thought, and I better not mess with it!" The converse is also true - somebody who has healed similar stuff can help you feel safe enough to face it. For example, during holotropic breath sessions, a friend of mine has seen people go into birth trauma after Dr. Stanislav Grof (the originator of the method) walks up to them. As he moved away, they would leave that experience. These people could not hear or see him, since they were blindfolded and loud music was playing.
Another example of a problem relationship happens with someone you have a unconscious, interlocking agreement with not to change with. I have an old friend who just wasn’t healing with these procedures while I was with her. Nothing changed until one day I realized she reminded me of my mom at a particular time, and I didn’t want her to be any different. The next time we tried healing, it worked!
What To Expect - Birth Trauma
About 15% of the people I work with go all the way to birth trauma or womb memories in the first session. Don’t feel inadequate if you don’t, since many if not most trauma’s have their origin later in life! Incidentally, If you can work with someone who has already healed the particular part of birth you want to work on, it can greatly speed the process. As I’ve mentioned before, this is because you’ll unconsciously feel safe about facing it, since they unconsciously feel safe about it themselves.
I’ll describe a technique to bring birth memories up at will. 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. Other intense therapies have the same potential problem, but this technique is focused on the most difficult and painful experience of your life. If you are not used to intense inner work, I would not recommend this. Be warned! So, the technique is very simple. Just exhaust all the air out of your chest and belly. Compress your chest and don’t breath back in. In a little time you’ll start to feel intense panic. This panic can be localized to various parts of your body, and this is where the birth injuries need to be healed. Let yourself go back to your baby body, by perhaps going into the fetal position. 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.
You know you’ve healed that particular birth injury when the panic you feel is completely gone from that spot - it can be hard to believe such a thing is possible, but it’s a wonderful check on progress. How this works is a bit obvious in hindsight - during birth we are very oxygen starved, and even worse we often have anesthetics dumped into our bodies. I found in my own birth experience that my fetal self confused the experience of oxygen starvation with being drugged. This technique works on most people.
I mention this because if a birth trauma memory does come up, it may be useful to give it a little help from the present by using this trick. It’s also helpful to lie down in a fetal position. However, I’ve worked with a number of people that didn’t do anything special, just took it sitting quietly in a chair. 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 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 realized such a thing was possible, such as Imprints or The New Primal Scream.
What To Expect - Womb Memories
Fetal memories are quite different from normal 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 trauma’s only exist because of physical injury to your fetal body. So, even if you heal the emotional component, don’t stop till you heal the physical pain. 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’s quite likely you will experience a sense of wholeness with these memories. If you do, I recommend you stop what you’re doing and work to find a trigger to bring this experience of wholeness back at will.
It’s in these womb memories that you’ll find the key to using your chakras and third eye. 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 circulating phrases in my head. Visually, they resemble sort of a small, wide, oval loop. If you take 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!
By the way, you can be completely aware of what is going on in your mom’s life from the vantage point of the womb, when you go back to heal. The fetus self often can’t figure out why what’s happening is happening (a lack of experience), but from your view point in the present, you can understand and help the fetus accept. I suspect that you can help your mother in the past heal also. This phenomena also exists later in life, for example a man went back to heal the trauma around having his dog taken from him. He also re-experienced the conversation, motives, and feelings of his parents as they discussed their plans, in a distant location. I’m mentioning this to encourage you not to block such an experience out of your awareness.
What To Expect - Holes
One of the phenomena that you will encounter, sooner or later, is that of holes. It turns out that every human body has a network of holes in it. At a certain level of being, they can be seen as black, seemingly bottomless cavities whose opening is flush with the surface of the body. A rim of a somewhat different shade encircles the perimeter. You feel an awful feeling of deficient emptiness when you look into them. Believe me, when you see one, the last thing you want to do is go near it! But this is exactly the action you must take, and immediately. Go into that hole, and stay there until the physical trauma that caused the damage to your body that resulted in the hole comes to your awareness. At that point, go ahead and heal it using the whole hearted healing technique in the regular way. As you feel the pain, you might actually see the hole fill, become a lighter gray, finally disappear, and the rim dissolve.
If you wait, your defenses will quickly move to block your awareness of the hole, and your opportunity to heal it may be gone. I found my first hole, and rather than taking this advice, I put off doing anything. My perception of it quickly faded, and it was about 5 years before I was able to get to it again.
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. The reality was that we were not in a relationship, but that was how I was defining myself. 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.
So a variety of techniques might get you close or all the way to this awareness. Often, you are just aware of a sense of lack or emptiness. If this happens, start by noticing where in your body the sensation is coming from. Then focus yourself as much as possible into the lack, and let yourself be aware of the trauma’s that connect to the hole. You’ll probably get a series of visual images of yourself. Stay with it until you get to the trauma where you were injured in that place. If nothing seems to be coming up, try pressing your fingers into that area. This can trigger the memory, and has worked well for me. For your information, the majority of major holes are from birth trauma. For an interesting view on the phenomena of holes, I refer you to the writings of A. H. Almaas, in Diamond Heart, Book 1. (Incidentally, I disagree with some of his stuff, but at least the phenomena is in print somewhere!) I do recommend Seawork: Radical Tissue Transformation by Cory Sea, Bright Home Press, Alice Springs, Australia, which gives another way to work with this phenomenon.
Although I’ve haven’t tried it, I expect deep bodywork like rolfing would do a good job of helping you to recall the trauma’s that caused holes in the area that’s being worked on. However, I do know that you can activate a hole, go through the agony of the trauma, and not heal a darn thing! This is because you go out of body again, and don’t accept the pain into every part of you. Using the whole hearted healing process is still a critical part of working with physical damage.
Finally, I’d like to point out that fortunately you don’t have to be able to see the holes to heal them - all you have to do is heal the physical pain that caused them in the first place. Healing the holes is the key piece in permanently dropping your false personality, finding the sacred in your own being, and facilitates your body’s ability to heal itself. And I suspect that much of our resistance to healing certain trauma’s 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.
What To Expect - Past Lives
When following down a sequence of trauma’s, 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. It turns out that we heal them in exactly the same way as a trauma in this lifetime - the the later trauma’s with the same emotional theme in your current lifetime will dissolve just in the same way you’re used to. So, whether or not you believe in past lives is irrelevant - if it fixes your current problems, who cares?
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.
In healing real past life material, there are two problem area’s I’ve run into. The first is the temptation to go into a negative judgment. Even though in some mysterious way you know that the past self is yourself, they feel different, with a different personality. So, one can get tempted to blame them for messing up your current life, or feel they shouldn’t have been so stupid as to act the way they did - you know, the same sort of stuff you do with friends or relatives. To heal ourselves, acceptance is the key, not criticism.
I’d like to make another point here. When we go back into the past to heal, we are not just fixing a memory We are actually going into the real past to change what happened. I won’t go into all the evidence for this, but I mention it here because it’s important for you to know that the you in the past can feel the you from the present. That you in the past needs all the care, love and support you can give, especially since the past you probably wasn’t getting it anywhere else. They’ve already had all the criticism and judgment they could ever want, so don’t add to it.
In our own lives being visited by ourselves is pretty hard to spot, since you feel like you. I’d suspected that I was actually in the past changing it for a while from other evidence, but I got confirmation in a totally unexpected way. Since the past life self has a different personality, when you go back in the past, and if they’re sensitive enough, they can feel your presence. I went back to heal grief over the death of my wife in a past life, but went into criticism, and he felt it as an attack. You can’t begin to imagine how I felt when he nearly instantly attacked back! The moral of all this is the importance of love and acceptance even with yourself.
The next major problem with healing past lives is the temptation to change them. I’ll give an example to illustrate this point. A woman I know went back to heal a burn death in a previous life. She decided to try and outsmart fate, and skipped back in time a bit to give herself advice. But since her issue wasn’t resolved in this area, she told herself to drink poison first! I won’t go into the rest of what happened, but trying to change the past without first accepting what really happened is a bad idea. This is the same sort of temptation that drives people to pretend their past is different than it is, and loose sight of what is real. Not only that, it doesn’t work and the pain that’s messing up your life doesn’t go away. If you’re going to experiment with this, which I strongly recommend against doing, don’t try and change the past until your need to change it is totally gone. After all, how would you feel about getting bad advice from some disembodied spirit?
To Expect - Ribosomal voices ("soul pieces")
As a hypothesis, assume for a minute that our traumatic emotional material is stored in an invisible something that surrounds our bodies. Shaman 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 lies 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 are 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. The good news is soul pieces don’t have us, we have them! In other words, 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. So why, you wonder? Good question! It turns out that for the few people I’ve worked with so far in this area, including myself, 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 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!
I’d better speak about the so called angels that people in the new age circuit talk about. 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 these positive feeling soul pieces. 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!
First year medical students commonly worry that they’ve got the diseases they study, and I bet you might be thinking along similar lines about now. At least in my life, only during certain trauma was I open to picking up a negative emotion soul piece, and of those times there generally weren’t any loose ones lying around for me to grab. I suspect that picking up the pieces that people call angels is much more common, but fortunately I think that they’re not as harmful. One of my teachers told me that holding on to others’ soul pieces is the root cause for all serious mental illness. I suspect he may be right.
What about my experience with soul retrieval? I tried it, and I really expected nothing at all to happen. I was asked to lay down next to the practitioner while she had headphones on (playing drumming music) for 30 minutes. Nothing apparently happened, although she had interesting stories to tell - until I woke up the next morning! I knew then that something sure had happened, as I experienced vivid body memories of places and smells, and everyone’s eyes looked dramatically bright and shiny. So, I’d give this technique a shot - it’s cheap, you don’t have to do a thing, and you can work with trained practitioners by contacting Michael Harner’s Foundation for Shamanic Studies at 415-380-8282. (He’s the author of The Way of the Shaman.)
I’m not a trained soul retrieval practitioner, and so I can’t speak from personal experience on the problems encountered in this type of work. With this said, I suspect that a problem in having soul retrieval done for you is that chances are good that you won’t pull the piece back in, because you still don’t want to feel the hurt. If the practitioner has a similar problem (for example, birth) I suspect that person won’t even realize the piece is missing from you. Fortunately, using the healing technique I’ve described brings back those missing pieces automatically (usually in a couple of days), without you having to go get them, or even be aware that they are missing. (The logical inconsistency of how you can heal an emotional memory that’s missing I’ll cover in more detail elsewhere - it works anyway.)
An interesting footnote - the first couple of times I helped someone let go of soul pieces they had ‘stolen’, I ended up hanging on to them myself! The first time took 5 weeks before I eventually realized why I felt so bad, and became aware that I was hearing voices again. Of course, once I realized what the problem was, I looked inside, found the reason I was hanging on to them, and kicked them away. The second time it happened, it only took 3 days to become aware of hanging on to the soul pieces. Since then, I haven’t hung onto any as the person I’m working with lets them go. I just mention this as a potential problem to look out for if you intend to do this kind of work with people.
There is a lot more about this topic I could discuss, but I’m putting it into another paper. Incidentally, do I believe all this stuff about soul loss, 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.
[Editor's note 2017: When this was written, we did not yet understand that there were actually several unrelated phenomena involved. For a fascinating account of how we finally solved the underlying biology of 'hearing voices' and came up with simple, fast treatments, we refer you to our book Silence the Voices.]
Further down the road on your healing journey, you may be used to healing those painful or difficult things that come up. However, watch for the following problem! You may find that it seems to you that what you are experiencing around some issue is normal, natural, and makes perfect sense. However, unless the feeling is accompanied by a sensation of peace, calm, and lightness simultaneously, you are actually just running a past trauma. This can be very tricky to notice at times, because often it seems that our response is justified from the circumstances! For example, one woman called me up feeling very angry after watching a TV show about the deaths of surplus children in China. She was convinced her feelings were justified, but she didn’t feel that underlying calm I just mentioned. After she took a look, she discovered it was from her past, and her feeling about the TV show disappeared.
I’m emphasizing this point because a few people I’ve worked with really believed that what they were feeling was important to hang on to, permanently. In this example, the woman didn’t want to stop being angry, because she had the idea that if she healed it, she would no longer care about the terrible things in the world that need to be changed. As tempting as this may seem, all that was really going on was that she was lost in the past, unable to respond appropriately to what’s happening in her life and in the lives of the people around her. Similarly, another person had the idea that he had to hang on to his fear, else once his guard was down, something bad would happen to him. Again, his responses to what was really happening were laid down like a road. Sometimes it would work, but mostly he was blind to other options in his life - he’d keep repeating the same script over and over.
I want to really emphasize our mistaken beliefs about what is normal and natural in our emotional experiences. In another example, a man contacted me who was dying of cancer. He’d already lived past the time the doctors gave him, and he was terrified of dying. Since he didn’t feel calm, peaceful, and light at the same time he was terrified, we knew it was something he could heal, although I had my doubts! After all, it seemed so reasonable! It turned out that his fear was actually coming from several incidents in the past, one I recall being a near drowning. Three weeks later he called me up, and said it was the strangest thing - he knew intellectually that he should be afraid, but he wasn’t! (In case you’re wondering, he survived his cancer.)
Body centered therapy as found in the book At The Speed Of Life by Hendricks can be useful in helping you spot the patterns that are driven by trauma but that you are unconscious of. It’s only disadvantage is that it’s tough to spot your own stuff, as it’s so habitual it’s hard to see. Working with one of their trained therapists once or twice is a good idea. They’re used to doing extremely rapid healing, so it’s by no means a waste of money.
Often, people have the experience that they’ve always felt a certain way, or that their home life as a child just had a certain atmosphere that couldn’t be escaped. So when they work with me, they have the belief that there was no particular trauma that made them feel like they do. This is a mistake! True, they may have a lot of similar traumas, and they may have felt miserable in a certain way as long as they can remember, but it’s always from specific moments, not some sort of long term soaking effect. Gay Hendricks and Frank Gerbode have come to this conclusion too.
I want you to particularly watch out for the idea that your head, heart, or body knows what’s best. Phrases like "Use your head", "Trust your feelings", or "The body doesn’t lie" turn out to be just not true. Unfortunately, by the time we get around to healing, every part of us is in delusion and generally pretty messed up. So, what can you trust? If you are not feeling that peace, calm and lightness that I continually talk about, you can be sure a trauma from your past is really doing all the talking. So, to really know the truth, you have to work whatever it is until you get to peace, then take a look. Another way to know that you are kidding yourself, is to look at your life. Is it easy, fun, no problems? If you’ve got some problem, no matter how reasonable it looks, suspect that your past is getting in the way again. And finally, the big one for most people - anything that harms your physical body, no matter how reasonable it seems, is a delusion.
Another odd category of trauma’s are the ones that feel good. I put this in this section on hidden trauma because you probably wouldn’t be tempted to investigate them. To illustrate what I mean, one man recalled a feeling of strength and pride during an incident in grade school. However, this just meant that there was unreleased emotion, so he proceeded to drain the feeling in the normal manner. Underneath it to his great surprise was an extreme feeling of betrayal, and the rest of what really happened came into view.
Have you been plagued with silently talking to yourself, especially during meditation? Good news! This is driven by trauma that you can heal. It turns out that when you talk to yourself, you’re actually talking to somebody else in the past. Just knowing this is usually enough to get you to find it. I do suspect that the origin for this type of trauma is trying to scream at our mother during womb or birth experiences, but I don’t have enough data to know for sure. At any rate, healing this can sure make meditating more pleasant!
Have you had a difficult time with someone in your life, a co-worker or anyone else? The idea that if we want someone to change, we have to change ourselves really works. Bringing all the material to light to heal it can be facilitated by using a trick of Alan Cohen’s, the author of The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. In your imagination, embrace the difficult person while feeling love for them. Of course, most people find they just can’t do it at first. However, trying allows you to flush up all the material from your past that needs healing. Alan reports that one of two things will happen when you’re finally able to do it. Either the relationship will shift into a more harmonious one, or the other person will disappear from your life, as you end your part of the unconscious agreement you’ve made with them. I can report from my own experience it worked just as he said it would! Incidentally, this same principle applies to positive affirmations. Rather than trying to drown out your feelings around some issue by repeating affirmations, I suggest using your resistance to them to flush up what needs to be healed.
There are other kinds of traumatic material I feel are too complex for the scope of this paper, but I’ll end with some odd ones I’ve come across. For example, I’d unconsciously pretend I was an image I’d stored in my brain. Once in meditation I experienced myself become a roughly carved rock figure. It was a self identity I picked up as a boy reading a book on archeology. The weirdest one I’ve seen so far was the experience of a large a glass palace in my head. This turned out to be an elaboration of my baby milk bottle - since it tasted good and didn’t hurt, I envied it! I’ve also come across trauma’s that blocked my memory ability, and others that blocked by ability to feel my emotions. Finally, in really severe trauma, I’ve relived experiences that felt like my brain (body, or heart) was being electrocuted. Well, good hunting!
Starting From The Past - Trolling, and Multiple (or Staccato) Trauma’s
For you high achiever types, trolling is what I call going into the past to heal a painful memory without starting from some problem in the present. Sort of like trolling for any fish that might be under there. This works fine, but has one major hidden problem - you have to take the time to see how this trauma is effecting you in the present, else you’ll find the pesky thing just won’t completely go away. With the normal procedure we don’t have this problem, because you started from your misery in the present, and the connection is obvious. Also, don’t forget to heal any other earlier memories that might arise. One other problem - if you try to heal it and quit before you finish, you might find that you suddenly have a new difficulty you didn’t have before, as the pain you worked on erupts into the present. This really shows up when trolling for birth trauma! Occasionally I’ve had to heal other traumas connected with the trauma I trolled up, either before or after that moment, before I could bring myself to fully heal the one I started with. Again, this really shows up with birth trauma.
As you work with healing, you might be surprised to find yourself back at a trauma that you were sure you healed. This might be the phenomena of what I call staccato or multiple trauma. This occurs when a trauma lasts long enough and changes enough so that you actually have several traumatic memories packed together. You will store multiple traumatic images, although somewhat similar in appearance, as you go out of your body several times during the incident. Birth is a drastic example of just such a phenomena. Fortunately, you heal the new (albeit perhaps similar) image in just the same way. If you suspect that this is happening, I’d take the time to try the ‘viewing’ technique to see if anything else gets flushed up.
I don’t pretend to know everything about this, but I’ll pass on what one of my teachers taught me that has checked out 100% in my own life. He said that depression occurs when we have a thought stuck in our minds about something we just don’t want to acknowledge. A while after I was taught this I went into a deep depression. I spent three days not only depressed but also beating myself up because I couldn’t find the thought I was hiding. As I walked along on the third day, I suddenly realized the thought was "I hate my Dad!" With that realization, the deep depression just vanished. This impressed me a lot, so I wanted to pass it on.
Healing Can Work Too Well!
One of the biggest complaints I get is that after somebody heals something, the next day they (usually) don’t feel that much different. Most healing work just makes you feel less miserable, for which you are usually very grateful, but at least you can remember how it was, because it still hurts some. However, in this work, the problem is gone, and something else will eventually jump forward as your ‘real issue’. The person then becomes obsessed with the new pain, somehow often completely forgetting the old pain was a problem. This makes sense, because that’s what true healing is - it’s as if the trauma never happened when we finish with it. For example, the first guy I ever worked with had a problem with only being attracted to unavailable women. It had been this way for who knows how long, but he’d finally realized he had this problem four years earlier. This awareness still wasn’t enough to solve the problem (sound familiar?), and his friends, myself included, were sick of hearing about it. It turned out to be from something that happened to him when he was six years old, and after about a 25 minutes healing session it was gone from his life forever. (He got married a year and a half later.)
The next day, I expected him to thank me profusely. However, what happened was that he started talking about how broke he was! When I suggested that he heal that too, he gave me a blank look and said that this healing stuff wasn’t any good. In surprise, I reminded him about the unavailable women problem, his number one complaint for years. His reply floored me - He said, "Oh, that. That was no big deal. Being broke is my real problem." It turns out that he literally could not remember having a significant problem with unavailable women! So I couldn’t get him to do it again! (He got involved with an available women shortly after this.)
As unlikely as this sounds, about half of the people I work with have this same reaction. Their friends can see (or hear) the difference, but they can’t. That’s why I’m starting to make it a rule that anyone doing healing with me write down the issue, and the trauma’s, so that the next day when they believe nothing happened, I can point to the evidence that yes, they did heal something. So that they’ll do it again!
Big Changes - The Beauty Way, Wholeness, and the False Personality
However, there is a state of being where you do feel dramatically better. I call it ‘Aliveness’, ‘The Beauty Way’, or an ‘Awareness of the Immanent Divine’. (Harville Hendrix describes it with the word ‘aliveness’ in the book, Keeping the Love You Find.) I don’t want to go into what it is here, but you can sometimes experience this briefly when you’ve healed something, and you just feel that peace, calm, and lightness. You feel an aliveness in yourself, that’s mirrored in a sense that everything around you is vividly present and sort of alive. I call it the beauty way because in a certain way, everything is beautiful, even ugly stuff. (It’s also a phrase used by Native Americans, and I suspect we’re talking about the same thing.) Spiritual sayings become so obvious that you wonder why anyone talks about it. This is on the way to the true goal of healing, and believe me, normal consciousness is like going to hell in comparison. In this state, all the past emotions from trauma’s are no longer felt, and you are just in the present. I have run across a therapist, Selene Vega of Santa Cruz, who teaches how to experience it at least temporarily. However, I haven’t worked with her yet, so I can’t yet say how successful she is.
An even deeper experience can best be described by the word ‘wholeness’. While you experience it, the word just pops out automatically as being the right one. I’ve had people come to this state of being when they encounter a womb memory. This is a critical important state of consciousness, and one of the two most important elements to physical healing. If you encounter either of these states, I highly suggest you drop what you’re doing and just focus on them. If possible, look for a memory or image or song, or something that you can use to bring yourself back there.
At birth, we acquire a layer at skin level that gives us the sensation that we have an edge at our skin. I call this layer the ego shell, or false personality. This false personality acts as a defense against feeling the emptiness of the holes, and causes our parents and ourselves to feel like we are biologically related. This shell layer can be removed temporarily or permanently.
Even beyond this is the experience of dropping your false identities (another way to put it might be to call it our core false identity). You experience yourself as you really are, in the same way as you did in the womb. Up to this point, all the stuff I’ve spoken about causes you to feel better, but you still recognize yourself as you. When you drop your false identities, you no longer recognize yourself - you become something completely different. I first encountered this when I was healing deeper and deeper levels of my self image. I then encountered the experience of myself as sacred, and the personality dropped. This experience can be brought forward by using a trigger, once you’ve had it. Wholeness and dropping your false personality are two of the ultimate goals to healing.
I’d like to point out that you don’t have to heal a darn thing to experience these three states of being (or a variety of other ones, too). They occur because you (unconsciously) make an internal decision that changes you inside. However, they come up in this work because we’re eliminating the reasons why you choose not to make this internal decision in the first place. That’s why other techniques or life experiences that don’t involve deep healing can bring you to these places, at least temporarily. For example, a friend of mine was so glad to be alive after surviving the Viet Nam war that he went into the beauty way spontaneously, and has kept it ever since.
Tom Brown, Jr, in his book Awakening Spirits, describes a technique for skipping healing and going straight to what we’re trying to accomplish. I think healing oneself is critical, but it certainly can’t hurt to taste or even work from the goal of all this hard work!
It turns out that physical problems often (or maybe always?) have an emotional component, which can be critical to physical healing. In an example from my own life, after a very painful divorce, I unconsciously decided I could never get what I wanted in this life. In the course of the next 8 years, I got sicker and sicker, without a clue as to why. I was willing myself to die (or more accurately, giving up wanting to live), even though I didn’t know it. Once I felt the grief I was blocking, I started healing physically. So, I would suggest doing this emotional work in addition to other healing techniques - it sure can’t hurt! Knowing what to heal can be a problem, though. So, I’ll at least for the moment suggest trying another type of emotional healing work that focuses directly on the emotional origins to illness. It’s taught by Kandice Blaklee of Mt. Shasta, California, called New Decision Therapy, and you can get her book in the bookstores describing how to do it, or visit one of her trained practitioners.
Another type of physical problem might be related to holding onto an old injury. One morning, I couldn’t get out of bed because my neck was in so much pain. It hurt so bad that I did the only thing I could do, which was hope it was from something in the past. Sure enough, it was from a birth memory where I was pushing at my mother’s pelvis, and feeling my anger at that moment was enough to instantly eliminate my neck pain. If you know when the injury was, I suggest using the method to heal old injuries found in the book Beyond Psychology, by Dr. Gerbode, which is a variation on their ‘TIR’ technique. Finally, for pain in general I suggest using the procedure found in Tom Brown Jr.’s book Awakening Spirits. A friend of mine was in agony from dental work, and this completely eliminated it in just a few minutes, much to her surprise!
Just in case, I’d like to mention one other unusual option for physical healing. A few people actually have the ability to heal other’s bodies, as hard as this is to believe. However, finding the real McCoy is pretty unusual, so be an aware consumer. The only person I ever met who could do it consistently, Reverend Dolores Lucas, was able to cure somewhere between 50% and 70% of the people she saw, I’d estimate. It wasn’t a function of the health problem, it was more her resistance to helping. It turns out that you can improve your odds when you’re with this type of healer by trying to recall how it felt to be a fetus, by specifically seeing your body as very large and bright inside, and try and feel a sense of internal wholeness. The key to their method is that they help you feel safe enough so that you heal yourself. They drop their personality, experience themselves as whole, merge with you, and you feel safe enough to do the same and become as you were as a fetus. Healing yourself is much simpler that growing yourself, which is why it can happen so quickly - if there isn’t a ‘hole’ in the way,
This brings up one of the few times I would recommend NOT healing yourself. Bringing on emotional or physical pain while doing healing causes us to unconsciously reinforce our primary defense to it, the false personality, and the false identities. Unfortunately, this also reinforces the block to our body’s ability to heal itself. (Pain probably tends to push us away from internal wholeness too.) In the case of one man who was healing from cancer, doing inner work was causing him to take longer to heal, and we were afraid it might reverse the healing process altogether. In another example, I went to a healer with a broken arm. Later, healing ‘holes’ in that area completely reversed the healing I’d already gotten. I’m not suggesting you make any hard and fast rules, but look to your intuition, and maybe try dowsing the question too.
You may have read about people who dowse with rods or pendulums. It turns out that the people are actually having a part of themselves answer the question. Applied kinesiology is an application of the same principle, although it’s specifically geared for bodily injury. However, you can use the same principles to ask your own body for information on your emotional and physical problems.
Finger dowsing as it’s called works as follows. You are going to measure the strength of your muscles in order to find out what your body wants to say. It turns out that your body has the ability to strengthen or weaken muscles selectively, and you can use this to communicate with it. Make a circle by touching your thumb and ring (or little) finger. On your other hand, put your large middle finger and thumb together so that they touch, making a sort of arrow or needle shape. Put the needle shaped fingers into the circle shaped fingers. Then say out loud "Body, show my a yes", and pry your circled fingers apart with the stronger fingers that you were holding in the needle shape. Then, do it again while trying to hold your fingers at the same level of tightness, but say "Body, show me a no". You will generally find that a yes and no require quite different amounts of force to pry the fingers apart. If you don’t get the expected result, switch hands. I’ve generally found that the hand you use the least is the best to measure muscular strength with.
This is a very powerful technique. By watching the strength of you fingers, you can use it to find out if the answer to your question is yes, no, maybe, or you’ve asked the wrong question. You can also ask for numerical data, by trying the choices one at a time, ie "Is it 1 day, 2 days", etc. It’s also very handy if you’ve lost stuff, because you can, by a sort of ‘hot and cold’ procedure, find the item. But it’s use for us is in finding the traumatic origins to our current problems. You may have to use more than "20 questions", but it can really work, for example by asking "how old was I", "was Mom there", and so on. It’s especially useful in physical problems, for choosing between different treatments, food allergy questions, supplements, and so on.
A variation on this is to try and feel resistance as you bring your hands together. If you can do this, the width of your hands indicate the yes or no answer. A woman I knew could use a left or right motion of her eyes, and there is of course the classical method of pendulums or dowsing rods. You can also do it with help by holding out your arm, and having someone else gently test the spring of your arm muscle by briefly pushing down on you arm. Incidentally, with all these techniques I recommend speaking out loud, or at least sub vocalizing. I suspect that typically it’s hard for the body to figure out what question the brain is asking without doing this.
However, this is not magic (although it may seem like it at times). You’re body is you, and if your body has a counter commitment to telling the truth, you’re going to get lies. Or you might get made up answers, a sort of "I’ll be helpful even if I have to make it up". It turns out that this suffers from problems that other psychic techniques do, but on the other hand it can really work well too. Suspicion, and discrimination are the key’s here. This technique can also be used to help others, but this is fraught with pitfalls, and if you're interested in this I recommend training from Psychogenic Solutions of Novato, California, not trial and error.
Finally, certain questions will get different answers depending on your state of consciousness. For example, if you ask "Will I heal faster if I practice loving myself, and how much faster?", I’ve found that you actually have to go into the state of consciousness you’re asking about to get valid results.
So You Want to be a Healer?
If you aren’t a licensed therapist, there are a host of legal and insurance problems with charging clients for this type of work. Because the nature of the traumatic material that clients can uncover can be unexpected and extreme (sexual and physical abuse, PTSD), and in some cases life threatening (feelings of suicide, etc.), proper training in these areas is a must for both legal and ethical reasons.
Assuming you are a licensed therapist experienced with severe trauma, if you have successfully used Whole-Hearted Healing on yourself, would it be OK to go and use it with your clients? First of all, it’s important for you to realize that the ‘Whole-Hearted Healing’ approach underlies many successful healing techniques. If you attempt to teach, and haven’t done enough work on yourself to have mastered it at least well enough to explain it accurately, you are doing a grave disservice to others. If you turn them off to this approach, you are personally responsible for causing their suffering to continue for longer than it needs to, potentially forever. With this said, I do encourage you to teach this technique, especially if you are honest with the people you are working with about your level of experience and expertise. But please, work on yourself a while first!
So, can a person get "re-traumatized" by this using this technique on old trauma? The answer is no. This is a valid question, as I have seen other techniques where the client walked out worse off than when they walked in, after trying to deal with a traumatic memory. In our work, you may not get to resolution, but the problem was already up for them, so you’re not going to do any harm by trying to help. And in fact, the analogy of emotion as a certain amount of liquid applies here. Even if they don’t finish the issue, you can congratulate them on draining away a certain amount of the problem, leaving less for them to finish healing the next time. (Although I don’t like to let a person quit before it’s completely gone! It can be tough to get people to work through all their reasons why they don’t want to face the pain, and it might be even harder next time, especially if they are desperately running from the hurt.)
I used to say this technique was problem free, but after working with hundreds of people, I’ve occasionally encountered the following problems. First, the problem of not completely healing what you started. Often, the emotional and/or physical pain that comes up from remembering some of these things is usually worse than the emotional pain a client comes in with. The next layer down in the trauma stack may be much more severe than the one you started with. Suddenly, the client might be feeling a whole host of injuries that they didn’t feel before you started. This is to be expected, and means that you have to persevere. Occasionally when working alone, you might find that you are not able to face the material by yourself, and end up feeling pretty awful for a while. So if someone gets to an old trauma but is unsuccessful taking of any of the charge, they may leave in misery. Of course, it eventually fades just as it did originally, but it can be a problem for someone not used to healing. Fortunately, the person recognizes it as coming from their own lives, and I haven’t had any problems with people blaming me for stirring up old stuff.
An even more significant problem can happen in a few cases when you do heal some trauma with someone, and the next thing they know, some physical (and/or emotional) pain arise from earlier memories that needs to be healed. If you don’t get to the memory that’s driving it, from the client’s perspective they walk away with a "new’" physical pain that they never had before. Of course, it will fade with time just as it did originally, but if you don’t finish your work, they can leave you in more distress than they walked in with. A variation on this happens when you heal something and the client starts experiencing a deep feeling of emptiness. What has happened is that the trauma you healed was a ‘cover’ to a hole, and you need to lead them through healing it. Or at least explain the situation! Since often the major holes are from birth, to help somebody else with this while they are in your presence usually requires you to have healed any similar stuff. This is a major commitment on your part! If you haven’t, the client might still work through it anyway by themselves or even with you there. I’ve seen this type of thing come up with other therapies, but usually the therapist has no idea what they’ve done, what it is, or how to deal with it. Fortunately, you do. Again, of course, this stuff eventually fades with time, but I ran into a guy (who was using a different therapy than whole hearted healing) who had felt the hole for months before he got sufficiently defended again to stop feeling it.
The other warning has to do with ‘trolling’, especially with birth trauma. As I’ve mentioned, this is where you go looking for trauma’s to heal, even though there isn’t anything in the present activating them. I DON’T recommend it. If you don’t heal it all the way, the client will suddenly have new problems in their life when they walk out the door. So, work from current issues, don’t go looking for trouble!
Another common question is if this work will be OK with other therapies? The answer is yes, and in fact I recommend it. The only problem you might find is impatience with other work that doesn’t give as fast a result! Several other talk therapies in fact are trying to do what you now know how to do directly. You may be able to speed up the process by combining the different approaches simultaneously. I particularly recommend Holotropic or Radiance Breathwork, deep bodywork, and body centered therapy, and more unusual work like soul retrieval, vision questing, and meditation.
I’d like to offer an observation I’ve made that has great bearing on this topic. About 5 to 10% of the people I’ve worked with didn’t heal the issue we were working on. In every case where the person had the determination to continue working with me anyway, I’ve found that I either had an unconscious counter commitment to them healing, or I had a similar issue I was blocking from my awareness. And every time, when I cleaned up my stuff, they would promptly heal. At this point, I’ve concluded that people who don’t heal with me are pointing out my problem, not theirs. In a way, this is very exciting - it implies that as healers, we’re limited by our willingness to heal ourselves, and not by some sort of mysterious, unknowable karma. So, if you start teaching ‘whole hearted healing’, and the person you’re working with isn’t able to heal whatever it is, I believe it means either you haven’t had enough practice to teach it understandably, whatever they’re working on you’ve got a problem with too, or you unconsciously don’t want them to change. I know it can be hard to believe sometimes that we have an issue with them or whatever it is, but this has proven to have been the case 100% of the time with me.
Interestingly enough, my success rate got even better at retreats where people where feeling especially loved and supported by the group dynamics.
If you are a therapist, please consider offering some sort of money back guarantee on your work. (Make sure they write down their issue and how bad it is first though, since half of them are liable to forget they had the problem.) Current practice in therapy and medicine is to charge for time, not results. This was a natural response to the fact that the methods in current practice don’t work well. However, with whole hearted healing, you should be getting fast and permanent results. And offering a money back guarantee will certainly motivate you to a high level of success, as well as give you great ethical satisfaction. One might argue that once a client learns the technique, they won’t return, and the therapist will starve. But with whole hearted healing, you’re not only offering a method to empower people, you’re offering your healed self which makes their healing easier since they unconsciously feel safe enough to feel their pain. And your expertise can greatly help people through some of the twists of resistance that comes up. I’ve made a point of this here because in my experience with therapists, when I suggest they offer a guarantee, they get very upset. If you’re a therapist reading this, I strongly recommend you heal any resistance you might have to this idea.
OK, now I’ll move into more esoteric realms. It turns out that another person can actually do something else to help someone heal. When a helper puts unjudgemental attention on the healee, the helper unconsciously puts up a barrier around themselves and the other person. In general, the healee drops their own barrier, because it feels like they’re back safe in the womb. If the helper can also send heart chakra energy out, perhaps by feeling unconditional love or caring, (it feels like warm water is leaving your chest), these two things really make the person feel safe, and healing is accelerated. However, if you and the healee have a similar issue, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pull it off. Regardless of whether you believe this stuff about barriers and chakras, the value of unjudgemental, caring attention is pretty clear.
Beyond this level lies the realm of the real ‘psychic’ stuff. I’m just going to mention it briefly, but like any skill, competent guidance is a must. This stuff is fraught with self delusion, and thus can be damaging to oneself and to others. If you feel you have a natural talent in this area, it may be so - but the best man I’ve ever seen doing this used to say that psychics in general are psychic because they’re trying to get away from their own pain. And so they distort and manipulate the work they do, usually totally unconsciously. Even people who are aware of the problem have a hard time avoiding this. However, this sort of thing is a natural human ability, and as you heal eventually, if not sooner, you’ll get glimpses or complete awareness of these long blocked talents. For training in this area, I suggest contacting Psychogenic Solutions in Novato, California.
What do I mean by psychic? Amazingly enough, one can look into another person’s past and see visual image(s) of the trauma’s that are the source of a clients current emotional difficulty. I mention it since knowing it is possible might allow you to develop this skill. And it’s easily verified, when the healer describes an incident that you recall yourself - I ran into somebody who could do this, and it was mind boggling. Later, I developed the same ability myself, which was even more of a surprise! However, the problem of not cleaning up you own past also shows up here - if you have a similar issue, you distort or block your own ability to look into another person’s past. This might cause problems for the other person, but with an informed consumer it shouldn’t become a major issue. (I still recommend turning to the GSR metering system, it’s much more reliable.
At an even deeper level, it turns out that you can merge with a person, and heal their emotional pain in your own body. (We call this technique Advanced Whole-Hearted Healing, and teach it in our advanced training for therapists.) Fortunately, somebody else’s pain doesn’t hurt near as bad as your own, probably because you’re not invested in it. But be sure that you always have the healee’s clear permission, though, no mater what you’re doing. I destroyed a long friendship by merging and healing stuff without my friend’s conscious agreement. She felt invaded, and rightly so.
And at the deepest level, if you are whole and have dropped your false personality, at least for the short time you work with somebody, then merge with them, it allows them to feel such ultimate safety that they can heal most physical or emotional stuff in minutes. They return, at least partially, to the state of consciousness that they had in the womb, and in comparison to growing ourselves, healing ourselves is very simple and easy. We call this 'regenerative healing'.
And as I’ve already mentioned, be sure you don’t ‘copy’ from your clients in a misplaced wish to help them. And be sure you don’t do any ‘soul stealing’ from the people you’re working with either, whether theirs or the ones they’ve been hanging on to. Incidentally, although you can pull foreign soul pieces out of people, they can pull them back in later. I’m not exactly sure what to recommend about this yet, but if you’re interested, I’d investigate the shamanic soul retrieval training that Michael Harner’s people do.
Healing in the Past
Do we really have to remember our past to heal? Well, I found that I could heal a lot of stuff in my mind in the present, by just digging around in there. But I haven’t had any luck so far in healing emotional material in the present, I’ve always had to go to the past. I do believe it is possible to heal emotional stuff in the present, I just haven’t figured out how. However, I believe that the currently available therapy techniques that offer such a thing give only temporary relief, or help you resist and control yourself, but don’t eliminate the problem. (I know that this borders on sacrilege to many therapists, since so many healing techniques offer this, but I’ve never seen an example I trusted to really work permanently.)
From a practical viewpoint, going to the past to heal offers us the chance to find every bit of hurt we experienced in our mind, emotions, body and spirit all at once. Otherwise, we heal piecemeal, with parts of ourselves out of step with other parts. Philosophically, spiritual teachers talk about enlightened beings going to the far reaches of the cosmos, to the distant past or the distant future. But does it make sense that we can’t go into our own bodies in our own past?
I’d like to share one last story from my own life. When I was really sick, I could look inside myself and know the date at which it would be too late to save my life. This date would move around a bit as I tried different things, but it was basically a precognition of the doom I was to suffer. After I came to peace with what was driving me to die, my precognition just vanished. What I’m trying to share here is the belief and the encouragement that we do have the ability to change the course of our lives, no matter what.
I’ve outlined a way to heal that’s rather methodical and slow. But I have met two people who healed much of their stuff in one big blast. One was a woman who was dying in a hospital (she recovered), and the other was Gay Hendricks while he was walking in the woods. (He wrote about it in Learning to Love Yourself.) I hope that’s encouraging!
There is a lot more to talk about, but I’ve covered most of the tools I’ve used to heal. I’ve skipped stuff about our internal relationship with ourselves, what’s really going on in our psyche, and some other esoteric stuff, but I hope I’ve given you what you need to start to figure it out for yourself. If you feel inclined to share this material, please do so - but please, spend time healing yourself first, so you know this stuff from your own experience, before you work and share with others.
References (as of 1997)
- Traumatic Incident Reduction by Gerald French and Chrys Harris.
- The Adventure of Self Discovery by Stanislav Grof MD.
- At the Speed of Life by Drs. Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks.
- Learning to Love Yourself by Dr. Gay Hendricks.
- The New Primal Scream by Dr. Arthur Janov.
© Dr. Grant McFetridge 1996, 1997
All rights reserved.
August 28, 1996
Nevada City, California
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Aug 28, 1996: First version of this document.