Cathartic Journaling

June 11, 2013

I am feeling waves of emotion. In fact I am experiencing them and observing them at the same time. I can also sense an energetic response as though my body is flushed. I sort through the feelings: despair, powerlessness, betrayal, helplessness, sadness, rejection to name a few. There is also a sense of needing to hide, escape or run away. I slam my iPad shut so the offending e-mail is hidden. It is Sunday morning; the e-mail is timed at 7:03; it is all in lower case suggesting a need to maintain its emotional thread. It is telling me my friend has decided to no longer act as the property manager/caretaker for a recreational residence that I own. I am familiar enough with what James Hollis refers to as complexes to know that one has engaged. It is clearly connected to abandonment and feeling overwhelmed. I notice the momentary desire to respond and wound the offender who has wounded me. Instead I pick up my pen and begin to write.

As I describe in detail my response, I allow myself to feel into the wounds and the angst that has unwittingly risen to the surface. I am fascinated by the power of these old wounds to hijack my body and mind. It is interesting to reflect that Descartes said, “I think therefore I am”. It seems incomplete. Surely “I feel therefore I am” should apply equally well. Feelings have such power; they can be both positive and negative but are an integral part of being human.

However, as a typical male I spent the first half of my life negating feelings yet still reacting out of them. My coping mechanism was to either repress (unconscious) or suppress (conscious). This prevented pain in the moment but they remained buried like the magma of a volcano just waiting to explode to the surface when triggered. Now I explore them, bring them into the light and truly feel them. In this way I can hope to avoid the old reactions.

The adult in me is now ready to once again review the e-mail my friend has written me. I know that his decision has nothing to do with deliberately trying to injure me. As I read his words I tap into what a dreadful day he had! While doing his best to look after my property, everything seemed to go wrong; the lawnmower broke down; he became exhausted trying to weed-whack a huge lawn because something drove him to finish the task. Then he woke up this morning and his body was in pain; it was all too much. He needed to restore balance in his life and let go of some of the responsibilities that threatened to overwhelm him.

By now I was feeling my friend’s pain. What a terrible day! While I had been brunching then taking a leisurely walk around the seawall, he had been breaking his back on my behalf. It was amazing that as I moved into compassion, I noticed my own childlike anxieties completely dissipated. The adult could see that one way or another it would all work out and that what was important was to connect with my friend and affirm the importance of our friendship and my concern for him.

I decided to check my desire to call him by drawing a Rune. I drew Sowelu or Wholeness. The first two lines are as follows: “This Rune stands for wholeness, that which our nature requires. It embodies the impulse toward self-realization and indicates the path you must follow, not from ulterior motives but from the core of your individuality.” It seems perfect and I pick up the phone. It is a positive, affirming, loving conversation and our commitment is to our friendship.

It is only later that I recognize the amazing catharsis that came about once I began to journal. The dictionary defines catharsis as “the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions”. My writing and reflection from the viewpoint of both the inner child and the adult allowed the emotions to dissipate without being suppressed. It is an important gift towards wholeness and alignment with the journey of the soul

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Reflections on the Archetype of the Healer.

June 2, 2013

This workshop somehow was quite different to my expectations. I had expected it to focus on the relationship that spiritual coaches, counsellors and guides have with their clients with special reference to shared wounding. Frequently clients that are drawn to me possess similar wounds to those I have explored in my self and I anticipated we would explore this perspective in depth. This was not the case; the workshop was more on the process of healing of the self. As my work over the past ten years has focussed on self healing, I found myself in the position of evaluating the perspectives presented by Atum from a place of both experience and at times curiosity. (It was only some time after the workshop that ironically I realized that I had misunderstood the theme – I thought it was the wounded healer and in fact it was the healer.)

The Friday evening featured a wonderful story called Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs in which Goldilocks realizes she is in the wrong story and gets out via the back door. Our reflection was to be on three questions:

1) Are we in the wrong story?

2) How does the back door stop us from leaving?

3) What is the new story in our lives?

The next morning as I looked at these questions I wondered as this eight series program comes to an end that perhaps it represents a path that is completing. My new story may be connected with my interest in exploring a series of stories about my advertising life from the view of a spiritual coach.

Certain components of the weekend really did not resonate. Questions like where do I resist healing, how to be more open, qualities of healing seem less relevant for me due to the way I live my life. I believe that life’s experiences are about healing of body, mind and soul and that my responsibility is to pay attention and I felt the weekend lacked some of the psychological component that is so fundamental to my own exploration.

There was one story that really connected with me about a boy who took on his fathers’ vision and learned to fly. The story contained the absent father with an obsession, and a boy who lived out his father’s dream in his own way. I had some concern about how this played out but then saw the uncanny resemblance to my own story – the father obsessed by religion and being absent to his family and I have developed my own passion for a very different spirituality. In this way perhaps the father’s wound is healed through the son. It would be nice to think so.

We spent some time with the myth of Chiron which although interesting did not teach me much or seem that relevant. We did a drawing visualizing Raphael the angel of healing  presumably drawn from Atum’s Jewish and Catholic background. Visualizing angelic energy is a stretch for me; angels are not a big part of my tradition and do not represent meaningful archetypes however by just asking my soul to come up with an image connected with healing I had a useful metaphor emerge of a cross that streamed colours representing the four elements – earth, air, fire and water. This suggested that healing comes on four levels: emotion, mental, physical and intuitive. I also wrote the words – “as above so below” which seemed an insightful directive to explore the conscious and the unconscious.

Atum introduced the importance of forgiveness as part of healing. Although I believe forgiveness of self and others is an essential aspect of the healing of the Soul I felt it was not given the psychological significance it merits. In fact that is my complaint about the whole weekend; it verges on the spiritual fix at the expense of the work that is often required. For example a long meditation where Atum intoned over and over “you are forgiven” seemed to pale into insignificance compared to the weeks of course I have done on the same subject as well as sounding just a little evangelical.

We did do a lovely body sculpture of the soul greeting the personality at life’s end. My group of three developed our own vision adapted from a Zoroastrian tradition. The soul greets the personality and says:

–       Thank you for bringing me into the world.

–       I was beautiful but you made me more beautiful

–       I was light but you made me radiant.

–       I was wounded but you helped me heal.

The Atum version suggested  the dialogue- all has been forgiven, you did the best you could. This did not have the same impact for any of us. He read a lovely piece by Maya Angelou which again perhaps seemed an over simplification. We concluded with the ten spiritually transmitted diseases: fast food spirituality, spiritual imitation, confused motivation, inflation, spiritualized ego, mass production of spiritual teachers, spiritual pride, group mind, chosen ones context, survival of the ego. This was interesting but contributed to a somewhat disjointed weekend.

In summary I enjoyed the community, had some uplifting experiences and insights but did not learn much. I sense that my path has become much more psychological and that perhaps Atum and I are moving in different directions. The most influential teachings in my current life come from Jungian analyst James Hollis. His audio book Through The Dark Wood is for me the foundational work on healing. If I was structuring a workshop on the healer, it would address five levels of healing: body, emotional, mental, soul and spirit. These relate to the five elements: earth, water, air, fire and ether. Questions like where do I resist healing, how to be more open, qualities of healing would be explored within this structure.