My current outlook to healing and processing is that, along with the individual's willingness to process their past, the other important element to releasing our patterns is to be assisted by someone who has achieved a certain level of presence. And that the processing (healing) technique alone is always secondary to the presence of the person assisting. This for me comes back to the saying ''we can't give what we haven't got''. So, if the person who is offering assistance has not achieved that which we are working towards; only a certain stage of processing will be achieved or the processing won't work at all.
The ability to hold the space is essential to this work. What I mean by this, is, that the individual who is assisting the healing has achieved a state of being; where they are able to be present and not become identified with the thoughts, emotions, feelings and sensations of the body and mind. And through this they are able to see the individual more for who they are, as opposed to the story that the individual has come to identify with. As a result of this process; the past that has remained stuck and frozen in the present, will begin to release and flow.
A Profound Example
An example that illustrates this perfectly is in the writing's of Grant Mcfetridge. In his groundbreaking book Peak States of Consciousness Volume 1, he mentions that during his empirical research, if someone had not healed a certain trauma in themselves, then when it came to assisting another, the process would always be sabotaged. As unconsciously they didn't feel safe to go there; due to the person that was assisting the process hadn't resolved it in themselves. So this is why they say it's always important to work on ourselves first, before assisting others or to at least have a certain level of mastery in what one is assisting another with.
A recent awareness I have come to, through many years of processing work, is that it all comes down to awareness. Away from the story of who we are and what we are capable of is our true nature. This might be called; pure awareness, the higher self or the universe for example.
Our story is something that we have lived with for our whole life, it is how we define ourselves and this is what makes it hard change. Even when it no longer makes one happy, it is still hard to let go. And this is because of how the ego mind works. The ego only knows itself based on what is familiar and this is what it then comes to identify with; because familiar means safe to the ego mind.
In the early stages we will find it hard not to identify with our story. So through this process of acknowledging and processing our pain, even though we are still identifying with it, it will enable us to begin to observe ourselves. As if we haven't processed any of our pain and are still completely identified with our own mind, it will be just about impossible to observe ourselves.
How Is Processing Different To Healing?
I now prefer to use the word processing as opposed to the word healing. This is not only because the word 'healing' has all kinds of connotations, and is not a word that people can usually relate to. It also does not articulate what is occurring. To heal something implies that what was broken has now been fixed or is being fixed.
However, as the saying goes - 'No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it' - Einstein. When our past is being processed it is not being fixed or changed; it is simply being accepted for what it is. As was said by Carl Jung - "Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering."
To try to change the past shows that the mind is trying to fix a problem with the same level of understanding that created the problem and that its main objective in doing so is to avoid suffering. This is what is often called decorating or painting the rotten door. Whereas by processing the past we become or should I say remember that we are the observers of the mind and not the mind itself.
As we go through life our past becomes trapped on frozen in our bodies and minds. This is often due to trauma and also because the original traumas in ones childhood are rarely looked at. And by observing these memories, and acknowledging them; the natural flow can reappear.
How And Why Does Processing Work?
A few months ago I read a book called 'why love matters' by Susan Gerhadt. Sue Gerhardt is a British psychoanalytic psychotherapist. In this book she talks about many different things to do with child development. And of the things she talks about is processing. For me this grounded the whole idea and explained why it works.
Healing on the other hand, can sound a bit airy fairy and as something those people do who are into spirituality or religion. And because of these labels, the whole reason of doing such work is minimized and dismissed. Processing on the other hand is neutral, and just as important as eating and drinking are to our own wellbeing. There is nothing air fairy, spiritual or religious about processing, it is a normal part of a healthy existence.
In this book she talks about how it happens and what happens when it doesn't happen. So I will do my best to paraphrase what was said and I will also add my own slant.
The left part of the brain deals with processing and sorting; it's a bit like a filling cabinet. Where our day to day experiences are sorted and put in the correct order. With the right part of the brain relating to the limbic drives; this is more emotional and doesn't operate with the same restrictions and structures as the left brain.
When our emotions are dealt with in a functional way, they are passed into the left brain and here they are arranged and put it to the right order or sequence of when they happened. However when trauma occurs they don't make it to the left brain and they stay unprocessed in the right brain. And because they are still there it causes them to erupt at any moment and at inappropriate times. This then makes it hard to be 'Present' and causes reactive behaviour.
So if the caregivers are in tune with their own emotions they will allow the child to express their emotions also and this will cause them to go through the left brains processing system. If the caregivers are not able to go there because of their own emotional repression for example, the child's emotions will stick around until they are processed through the left brain.
Imagine a filling cabinet with everything in order. Once the draw is shut nothing can be seen. If one wants to see a certain file they can open the draw, but this is a choice. This is what happens when processing has occurred. Now imagine a filling cabinet that has the files outside the cabinet and on top. Here they are constantly on one's mind; one can never escape the files. This is what happens when ones emotions are not processed.
This is why Sigmund Freud's 'talking therapy' was so effective and why talking to a friend or a therapist is effective. And this is because through talking and being aware of our emotions they are then processed. As I have stated above, what makes the difference is that a therapist is likely to be a lot clearer and centred than a friend and this leads to a higher level of processing.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.