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Friday, November 29, 2013

Can "Past Lives" Actually Help Us Heal?

This is a question that invites us to reflect upon our respective belief systems.  Some people devoutly reject the notion of reincarnation, others accept it as an absolute fact, and a given number fall into the "undecided" camp.  If anything should be obvious, it is that no one is likely to alter his/her beliefs on the basis of the two paragraphs that follow, below.

I find it easier by far to suggest that when people experience a past incarnation (most often through hypnosis, although there are other, more esoteric techniques), they encounter what is either a very real and literal past-life or something that may instead suggest a metaphorical representation of where they stand at present. Obviously, unless I can see compelling evidence of an actual past-life, I shall find it infinitely more palatable to translate the metaphor.

Dreams have been used in therapy for many years, and clearly they may be of profound significance.  So, too, hypnotically-guided experiences of this sort may prove therapeutic.  That said, however, I believe "alternate universes" -- accessed through techniques developed by my colleague, Dr. Don Gibbons, a clinical psychologist in New Jersey -- offer therapists something of even greater value.  More on that topic in near future! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Zen, the Sedona Method, and Health

Years ago, I was privileged to study with a Zen master, who shared with us important lessons about "letting go."  He explained that we tend to cling to what he termed, "the imprisoning chains and suffocating ashes of the past."  Before we can learn how to transcend the ego, we must first learn to let go of the attachments (whether pleasant or unpleasant) it has formed to events from that past.

Much later, I encountered the Sedona Method.  Yet another mentor helped me understand the concept in terms of three simple questions, best prefaced with their answers:  "yes, yes, and now."  (1) Would you let it go if you could (i.e., if you were actually able to do so)?  (2) Can you live without it (in the sense that you certainly cannot live without air, water, food, etc.)?  (3) Since you would let it go if you could, and it is quite apparent that you can live successfully without it, when do you plan to do so?  As simple as these questions appear, their therapeutic value is profound, and many clients have learned how easily they can indeed "let it go."

All too often, our psycho-emotional growth is impeded by of our refusal to acknowledge things as they are.  All too often, the anger, bitterness, frustration, resentment, and related negativity to which we cling will also affect our bodies adversely.  And (eliding into more esoteric realms) all too often our chakras become blocked, and the toxins we won't "let go" may even dampen us on the spiritual level. 

Of course, Zen is not psychotherapy, and the Sedona Method is not a panacea.  Both, however, have influenced my work, and their unifying thread is freedom from the past.  The emotions connected to one event or another, the related ego-attachments associated with those events, and the time and energy we squander while mired the past will invariably prevent us from living fully in the present. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

What Is Meant By "Four-Level Healing"?

I believe that healing occurs on more than one plane, or level.  The first and most obvious of these is, of course, the physical; if we have pain or other symptoms of disease (think:  dis-ease!), these will capture our immediate attention.  That said, however, we often find that "healing" must occur across several strata.

The notion of psychosomatic components to illness is certainly not new.  Indeed, they were apparently noted centuries ago.  Hypnotists, in particular, draw attention to the power of words.  If we say that something gives us "a pain in the neck," we may find ourselves suffering from neck and shoulder pains; if we "can't stomach" a situation (job, person, etc.), we may encounter constipation, diarrhea, or ulcers.  Of course, many of the connections -- e.g., those involving general stress -- are far more complex.  However, in addressing physical symptoms, we must seek a better understanding of the entire problem. 

By the 8th century (and probably much earlier), Buddhists and Hindus had become aware of the existence of chakras -- vital energy points within the body.  When energy does not flow smoothly through these chakras, physical and emotional symptoms arise.  Thus, on a more subtle level, healing may involve the chakras as well. 

Finally -- and I always use this word cautiously -- we must reflect on spiritual healing.  This has nothing whatsoever to do with Bible-thumping or organized religion.  Instead, it deals with the part of us that transcends the body and the intellect; that which is in some ways greater than ourselves and may in fact address the reason we are alive.  While a forum of this sort is not suitable for lengthy discussion of this topic, we should at least be open to the possibility that the spiritual plane may also be involved in the healing process.

I shall recapitulate through example:  If a client has pains in the upper back, shoulders, and neck, these may arise solely from the physical load he/she is carrying, and thus be treated most successfully on the physical plane (e.g., through trigger-point massage).  If family, relationship, and/or work pressures leave the client with the sensation of holding the world on his/her shoulders (like the mythological Atlas), we shall find it beneficial to discuss these feelings and develop coping strategies, as the psychological pressures undoubtedly exacerbate the pains.  We may also find related chakric problems -- e.g., a recent breakup (heart chakra); inability to speak about or articulate one's problems (throat chakra) -- and these might also affect certain parts of the body adversely.  Then we might see that some of the problem involves an inability to let go (e.g., of anger, disappointment, frustration, or even the pain itself) or forgive (another or oneself), and this may require learning to transcend (as in "transcend the ego"), which is where spiritual growth enters the picture.  Some clients may respond wonderfully to treatment on a single plane, but others may require two-, three-, or even four-level healing.