My book and ebook, Evolving Soulfully – Cultivating Natural Vitality, Deep Presence, Intimacy, Meaning and Purpose is available in the US at www.amazon.com.
In Canada the book and ebook is available at Amazon.ca and print book at Banyen Books in Vancouver.
Are you stuck in a challenging transition? Do you feel like you can’t go back to the old life and the new life hasn’t emerged yet! Are you feeling stuck in the in-between time. Are you longing for something more? Are you feeling anxious, depressed, exhausted, grieving a loss, lonely, lost, overwhelmed or traumatized? Are your addictive tendencies and habits that you use to cope with the increasing stress getting unmanageable? Do you want support in uncovering your inner resources so you can clear your barriers to healing, transforming and evolving in your health, relationship or work life? Would you like the support of compassionate companionship and guidance?
Through transformation you can learn to evolve toward manifesting greater balance, vitality, deeper passion, presence, and a sense of meaning and purpose.
Transformation and evolution are supported by an evolving capacity to be aware and compassionate. This builds a therapeutic container of trust that leads to healing, deeper understanding and wisdom. By learning to be compassionate with ourself, we learn to be compassionate with others and our relationships deepen in intimacy. Through soulful guidance inner resources are identified and encouraged to unfold into your unique vocational calling for work filled with deeper meaning and purpose.
There are essentially three domains of healing trauma that I work with, Body, Heart & Soul.
In the Body level there may be old wounds from the past that are repeating themselves in the present. This causes us to have filters that block the experience of the present and the effect is to program us for a less than fulfilling future. We may experience old trauma in the form of excess anxiety or excess rigidity in our body.
Our nervous system is likely reacting to present stressful situations through the conditioning of the past trauma. When shock and trauma occur in early childhood our memories aren’t very clear but show up as persistent symptoms, unpleasant body sensations or numbness. Neuroscience calls these implicit memories. Our reaction to current events may be too sensitive and be based on instinctual fight, flight, freeze, fake or fold responses. These protective responses were appropriate at the time of the negative or traumatic event to help us survive but now may be operating automatically and preventing us from deeper intimacy and from thriving.
When we were hurt we felt insecure and developed anxious or avoidant defence mechanisms to protect ourselves. Whenever we feel threatened in the present, these old defence patterns are quickly deployed in an attempt to protect ourselves from being hurt again. When we are overly defended, it is difficult to really enjoy life. If we are stuck in the past we may be burdened by too much guilt. If we fear the future we may be blocked from living fully in the present. Often these defences are built on limiting or false beliefs that can be transformed so we can evolve past the stuck places.
In working with body trauma we need to provide a safe place to feel the wound fully and to allow it to finally heal. It is like locating a painful thorn and removing it. There may be some momentary pain followed by some relief. With time, the wound can become a kind of womb that births new life. Because we haven’t generally been taught self healing, many of us have been taught to self-medicate this pain through addictive tendencies like constant busyness, substance misuse, self-sabotage, rescuing, pleasing, being overly analytical, always needing to be in control, being too chaotic, hopping from one relationship or job to another as soon as challenges set in, and so on.
Healing on the Heart level has a lot to do with healing our relationship with ourselves and with others. To heal and grow in relationship to ourselves we need to learn to work consciously with the different parts of our personality. Much of the pain of relationships is about repeating unconscious patterns from the past. We often unwittingly project dualistic parent/child dynamics onto each other and get entangled in enmeshed patterns of fear, guilt, shame and blame. To compensate for the lack of deep intimacy, partners will often get caught in terrifying fight or flight patterns causing addictive adrenaline surges while fighting for contact or distancing for safety. To heal, partners need to take responsibility for their projections while learning and practicing an entirely new way of relating. This is likely quite different from what they were taught growing up in their family system.
With awareness we can see and take back our projections onto each other instead of getting endlessly caught in the drama of the past. With practice, we learn to be the metaphoric conductor of our own inner symphony. On this inner journey we discover inner resources that have long been buried. If we imagine each of us being like a leader of our inner band of musicians, it takes time, patience, practice and study to learn to offer our music proficiently. (See the book “Partnering” by Drs Hal & Sidra Stone.)
For external relationships to heal & grow we need to learn that there are different developmental phases of maturation in primary relationships. The ‘honeymoon’ stage is just the first stage. When the relationship is changing we might think it is over but it is just a stage that is ending. We may need some assistance to navigate skillfully into the next stage of relating. Imagine the complexity of two conductors with their own symphonies coming together to collaborate! To mature we are invited to evolve beyond playing solo to playing collaboratively in relationship.
When we first connect deeply with another, it is like playing harmonious or passionate music together. The tunes may not be highly original but they feel so very familiar, like coming home. In the honeymoon phase this seems effortless as our brains are producing endorphins through the “cuddle” or “trust” hormone Oxytocin, fuelled by connection and the excitement of the novelty of new exploration.
For a relationship to deepen into a healing phase though, it requires enough security for both partners to feel safe enough to relax. With security and safety we get to relax into predictability. Once the Oxytocin wears off we begin to see aspects of our partners we never noticed before. We see that some of our habits are healthy. Some habits are old patterns from childhood or from past relationships that are unhealthy. These patterns begin to surface to be healed, welcomed and embraced. If we haven’t been taught to expect this to happen as part of the healing phase of relationship we may be quite shocked! We wonder if we made the “right” choice in a partner?
If our habitual patterns are rejected we usually feel insecure and traumatized again, like we did in the past. Then new trauma is incurred. Our relationships start to suffer from a lack of trust and intimacy as our insecure attachment styles dominate the relationship, blocking the flow of love and growth. We are tempted to flee this relationship and start fresh with someone else. But wherever we go, we bring our habits and conditioning with us. Soon after the novelty and Oxytocin wear off in this new relationship our past conditioning begins to rise again to be healed. If you are fortunate enough to attract a mature securely attached partner they may help you to heal, but if they are also insecurely attached, it is common to traumatize each other again. It’s easy to feel disillusioned and give up on intimate partnership altogether. Hopefully we get the help we need and eventually realize that we need to take responsibility for our projections and focus on self healing while doing the intimate dance of partnership. The relationship modelling we received from our early childhood often needs to be updated in order to help us heal, transform & evolve.
As life partners or business partners it is infinitely more complex to play music with another. As partners learn to meet their needs of deep connection for security and healing, blended with the novelty that provides freedom and autonomy, over many years of practice, their music can become deeper and richer. (See the book “Mating In Captivity” by Esther Perel). When partners dedicate themselves to practicing a conscious relationship, their combined music becomes a healing gift to the community. The “Third” represented by their relationship becomes their Teacher, Healer & Guide, a force for love and awareness to help them heal, transform and evolve soulfully.
Four Worlds of Soul; The Inner World of Psyche, The Home of the Soul, The Unfolding Soul & The Soul of the World.
Healing trauma on a soul level is about tapping into your deep inner resources. As one learns to navigate through their Inner World of the Psyche they experience the Home of the Soul, called by many Names; Great Spirit, Great Mystery, God, Universal Love, Ground of Being, Source, your True Nature etc. Healing on this level is about healing the existential pain of separation and finally coming Home to who you really are.
Essential Qualities and Natural Gifts emerge from the Home of the Soul as your unique Unfolding Soul. As you discover your unique inner gifts and give them to a meaningful need you see in the world, you feel deep contentment, fulfillment and the joy of living with greater meaning and purpose. On this level you are healing from the existential pain of not being seen for who you really are and discovering what you took birth to accomplish. This frees you from being lost in an unhappy fate and gives you a unique sense of destiny, meaning and purpose.
Being guided from an orientation of being on a path of living with meaning and purpose can show up in many ways; through your work it becomes your calling or vocation. Through volunteering it becomes your avocation, you do it for the love of it. As you give your gifts you become part of the collective ‘We’ that can transform society by making the world a more soulful, sustainable place to live. This contributes to enhancing the Soul of the World.
Each of these levels needs to be addressed differently. Some people attempt to try to live in the Unitive dimension all the time but are disappointed to see trauma show up in their body/ego or relationships. This may result in a kind of “spiritual bypassing” that uses transcendent spirituality to escape the pain of the trauma. It is like a tree trying to only reach upward in the air without any corresponding roots. For a healthy tree we need healthy roots, trunk and branches to produce healthy fruit. In my experience the body or relationship trauma rarely goes away through conventional transcendent spiritual practice alone but is driven deeper into the shadows/roots. Each level of healing has its own needs and each level effects the other levels.
The soulful path of healing, transforming & evolving is about embracing all parts of us for wholeness. Although the goal is evolution, the path is rarely linear! In nature we see the caterpillar turning inward into the cocoon and eventually emerging as the transformed being of the butterfly. When the caterpillar slows down it may not feel like progress. For a caterpillar it might feel like a natural unfolding but for us humans it might not seem normal. It is likely to feel scary and confusing. We might not have been taught to see our symptoms as an opportunity, but it might be time for us to be initiated into the next stage of our becoming a more mature human being. It turns out we have many life stages to evolve through over a life time.
Some cultures acknowledge natural stages of human development; childhood, young adulthood, midlife and the elder years, and they have rituals to help one mature to the next level. We could imagine these stages as the spring, summer, fall and winter of our life. Many of us have not had help maturing from one stage to another so carry some of the developmental tasks from a previous stage into the next stage. I often see this manifesting in the popular terms “midlife crisis” and lately in, “quarter life crisis.” I also see it manifesting in seniors as they become confused as to what is meaningful and purposeful activity to engage in their elder years. Our young people desperately need mature mentors and elders to guide them through these initiatory stages.
I like to think of four great developmental stages of maturation as four great maps, each with it’s own territory and tasks.
* Magic and Play of Childhood
* Mastery and Proactivity of Young Adulthood
* Meaning and Purpose of Midlife
* Mystery and Presence of Elderhood
The soulful path is an opportunity to evolve from innocence to wisdom. Of course any of these qualities such as magic, mastery, mystery or meaning can be experienced in any stage of life but what we are looking for with these maps is where your centre of gravity presently resides. Sometimes we have to take a few steps backwards (and inwards) in order to go forward!
The soulful path is more like a great dance of mystery, art and science. Somehow we are called to hold the paradox of the human condition that each of us is ordinary in the human sense of having basic needs, conditioning and habits, yet there is something wonderfully unique and unitive within each of us. This does not make us special. We are a human being on a soulful path and a spiritual being on a human journey.
My book “Evolving Soulfully” dives more deeply in these body, heart and soul themes.
Thanks for visiting my website. I hope you find something here that interests and inspires you. Feel free to call or email me for clarification or to offer suggestions for improvement.
I offer a complementary 30 minute session by phone, Skype or in person to explore challenges in your health, relationships or career so you can begin uncovering your inner resources to help you evolve soulfully.
604-488-9203 Vancouver and 250-792-4184 Courtenay & Vancouver Island
Much warmth, Dave