An emerging consensus says that you are not going to get everything that you need in the pursuit of your healing from one modality or from one practitioner. We are far too complex organisms for it to be otherwise and most of us have been hurt in too many ways for there to be one single way to heal all our wounds. Over time, dedicated seekers will find their ways to a series of practitioners.
But which kinds, and when? While the range and creativity of healing modalities available now in our metropolitan areas is truly exciting, the opportunities can also be quite confusing.
Making good choices from what is offered is critical. My personal and professional experience equips me to help with those decisions, and with integrating the interventions you are engaged in with your process with me.
I find it quite gratifying when people profit from what I share with them from my long exploration of healing practices. What follows is a condensed guide to what is most useful, based on that experience.
The Paths to Healing
For some, a movement process is a vitally important step, and one which may develop into a long lasting involvement. There are numerous approaches to movement and dance that have been developed with a healing intention, such as Dance Therapy, Authentic Movement, Five Rhythms and Life/Art Process, and Shaking Medicine.
Continuum is an inquiry of movement and sound that provides deep resource through a slow exploration of our bodies as fluid entities. Alexander Technique, Feldenkreis and Rosenfeld Synergy are processes that help one to manifest Nature within, by offering correction for suboptimal habits in the use of the body. Qi Gong aims to restore freedom and balance in the flow of the Life Energy, as do the other oriental forms that have developed from it, such as T’ai Chi.
The various types of Yoga practice aim at spiritual development through body position, while some forms embrace physical healing as well. There are, of course, countless systems of exercise that can enhance the body’s strength, flexibility, and endurance which, if they are used in an enlightened way, can support one’s healing process.
Many productive ways of addressing the bodily manifestations of one’s imbalance involve hands-on intervention. Each of these processes emphasizes a particular focus, such as the bones and joints (in well known processes, like Chiropractic, and little known ones, like Yamuna Bodywork), the connective tissues (like Rolfing and Structural Integration), the mobility of the viscera, the flow of lymph, the deep layers of muscle tissue, and more.
These are different ways of working that affect the most fundamental and subtle level of the functioning of the organism, its primal energy field. This involves engaging the field of the practitioner in some way. These methods include Acupuncture, Reiki, Polarity, Zero Balancing, Chakra Balancing, and Healing Touch.
Other approaches that work with the primal energy involve the practitioner seeking to have some non-physical entities or forces operate on behalf of the person, with interventions aimed at such things as cutting energetic bonds, discharging toxic influences, and bringing in fresh energy. Sound, aroma, physical vibration, crystals and flower essences figure in some of these processes.
The arrested bodily responses to threat that are the source of the symptoms of traumatization are directed by a portion of the brain that is hardly, if at all, reached through. Experiential methods, therefore, must be engaged on the path to healing trauma. This might involve a short intervention, if the problem comes from a single event, or an extended one, if the course of the person’s life has repeatedly taken him through overwhelming circumstances.
Somatic Experiencing, a potent method developed by Peter Levine, works directly with those patterns in the nervous system that perpetuate the symptoms. The method whose acronym is EMDR also can be useful with trauma. In addition, some practitioners of other healing modalities, including Craniosacral Biodynamics and Continuum, have adapted their work so that they, too, can address the biological processes inherent in traumatization.
Revisiting the Primal Period
During the critical time from conception to one year of age, the personal difficulties and inadequate preparation of the baby’s caregivers, and the contactless protocols of modern obstetrics, produce lifelong deviations from the child’s natural course of development. Because the disruptions in this earliest period cannot be addressed with words alone, specialized means are called for to bring release from them.
Craniosacral Biodynamics is one of the body modalities that can productively enter the field of this period. The Womb Surround workshop process offered by Ray Castellino and those he has trained, has extraordinary potential with problems that are rooted there.
Journeying to Retrieve Soul Fragments
Efforts at healing from trauma directed to Body, Emotion, and Mind are likely to leave another level of injury untreated: the one to Spirit. With traumatization not only is there a split in perception, known as dissociation, there is also a split within the soul. For protection, a portion of one’s Spirit sequesters itself. With each successive traumatizing experience, more and more of the person’s divine essence may become unavailable. This wounding is important to address. One of the ways this can be done derives from the practice of shamans who, for thousands of years, have journeyed to the realms of Spirit to invite back isolated fragments of the soul of the person they are tending to.
Journeying to Past Lives
There may be a spiritual relationship with a lifetime in the past that is contributing to a person’s difficulties. In the process dealing with such a connection, the person presents a pressing current issue. The practitioner leads him on a journey in which a life unfolds, and its connection with the matter at hand is illuminated. She then suggests reparative measures at the level of spirit. These can have profound transformative effect in one’s life. Roger Woolger and Brian Weiss are prominent teachers of this process.
There may be entanglement with the lives of departed family members contributing to a person’s troubles. Through his work as a family therapist, Bert Hellinger found that love determines certain patterns of relationship within a family, and that events that cause deviations from the natural order of family relationships imprint the family’s energy field in ways that affect later generations.
The form he developed invites into the assembled participants the consciousness of departed family members of one of them, so that the other participants act like channels for the family members they are representing. They stand in a spatial arrangement, called a Constellation, of family members. Once the family story is revealed through the thoughts and feelings they receive and express, the facilitator structures healing interactions, using a basic language of the soul. This works to liberate the field from the entrapping distortions it had been carrying.
Connection Through Tradition
There are resources that can contribute to healing that can be found by attending to the energies of the natural world in the manner of the First Nations of this continent. Soul retrieval and native forms of energy medicine have been mentioned above. Traditional Plant Spirit Medicine uses local plants, not as herbs but as conveyers of the healing intention of Nature. There is the purification ritual known as the Sweat Lodge. There are drumming circles. One of the most demanding practices is that of the Vision Quest, which involves 3 or 4 days of fasting while living isolated in the wilderness. Access to native spirituality can be found through learning how to live with only what nature directly provides, in a training program such as the one developed by Tom Brown, Jr.
For healing to be maximized, meditation, which is the devoted exploration of one’s inner life, is often essential. There is an enormous range to the practices that can provide that sort of experience. Some are highly structured, some are formless. Some involve physical stillness, some involve movement. Ordinary activities, like writing in a journal and walking, can be developed into potent meditations. People often explore several methods to find the one that works best.
Those systems that are consulted to make sense of one’s life course and to illuminate the choices that one faces, which have come to mankind as gifts of The Divine, are not healing modalities, per se. Yet by enhancing the understanding of the meaning of one’s life, these methods can powerfully support one’s efforts in healing. These include Astrology, the I Ching, the Enneagram, Tarot, and the relatively new Human Design.
Conventional thinking would have psychotherapy listed first, and would consider all the healing modalities listed above as “complementary.” Placing psychotherapy last is not meant to downplay its importance. On the contrary, this placement comes from an understanding that no one is in a better position than a psychotherapist to help a person draw into a coherent, stable, integrated new life, all the changes and all the learning that he has gathered from the several modalities he has explored.