Five Stages of Healing and Personal Development

five-stagesStage One: Recognizing our woundedness and the need for intervention

The first stage of healing occurs when we find ourselves in the midst of a challenging life circumstance or crisis. That could be the result of a breakup, divorce, patterns of abandonment and unrequited love or the death of a loved one. It could be a financial crisis resulting from the loss of employment, difficulties in one’s business or bad investments. Or we may be suffering as a result of illness or have been seriously injured. It’s during the first stage of the healing process that we realize that we have a problem. We know they’re not happy with the way our lives are going and that we do not possess the resources needed to effect healing on our own. It’s at this point that we start reaching out for help.

Stage Two: Making our way through the abyss

The second stage of the healing process will vary greatly from one individual to the next. That has a lot to do with how deeply wounded a person is. People who are highly resilient and that have learned to face their issues head on and work constructively with their own emotions are in many instances better able to handle adversity and can move through this stage faster and with greater ease. There have been numerous instances of people I’ve worked with who were going through a breakup, divorce or other major life setbacks that were able to bounce back after a few sessions. They experience a huge sense of relief, feel lighter and are able to move on in their lives. The healing process can take considerably longer for those of us who have been deeply wounded as a result of having gone through some form of traumatic experience.

The second stage of the healing process is one of the most critical. It is also by far the most difficult stage to go through because that’s when our deep emotional wounds start making their way to the surface. We’ve learned from the time we came into this world to disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies. That’s one of the primary reasons our bodies and minds and our lives get into such a horrible state. In many instances we’re talking about a whole lifetime of emotional baggage and deeply ingrained conditioning. And that accounts for much of our resistance to facing the issues and experiencing our true feelings. Matters are further compounded by the fact that all the emotions and other stresses held within the body have a profound numbing effect. And that’s why many of us are so lacking in self-awareness.

People sometimes become fearful and resistant and then bail out during the second stage of the healing process as their feelings and issues make their way to the surface. Some disappear because of their unwillingness to be fully present and do the hard work necessary to facilitate the healing of the parts of themselves that are so deeply wounded. People that abandon the healing process during this stage tend to be very resistant to any uncomfortable feelings that surface and many go back into denial. Their refusal to experience their true feelings and face the issues only reinforces the suffering that has become so much a part of their lives. Those who fail to do the work required to heal usually end up carrying the deep emotional wounds for the remainder of their lives. The suffering held within the body – mind has a way of spilling over into other areas of a person’s life and has a negative impact upon family, friends, coworkers and others in their immediate proximity.

It can be scary at times when we find ourselves engulfed by all these painful and chaotic emotion and feel as though our lives are not working. I know firsthand because the intensity of emotions that I experienced when the traumas of my childhood and adolescence made their way to the surface were so overwhelming. There were times when I feared that I might go over the edge. I sometimes wondered if I was making any progress at all. It’s important to understand that this is all a normal and necessary part of the healing process.

The feelings and issues that make their way to the surface during this stage of the healing process can be very unpleasant, but we have to open up to fully experience them in order for healing to ever occur. Those of us who are carrying deep emotional wounds will experience times during this stage of the healing process where we feel heavy, depressed, anxious, fearful, obsessed and overwhelmed. We need to keep putting one foot in front of the other until we come out the other side of the darkness. It’s important for us to understand that each of us holds a certain volume of painful emotions and other stresses within our bodies. The backlog of emotion loses its intensity and decreases in volume as we continue to take the steps necessary to facilitate healing.

The reason many of us experience so much pain and feel so overwhelmed in this stage of the healing process is because we have avoided or resisted the issues that needed to be dealt and the emotions pertaining to them for so much of our lives. Whatever we resist will persist. And not only that …it will continue to grow stronger until it eventually consumes us. And in the process of doing so it will make an even bigger mess of our lives, create considerably more pain, shut down our consciousness and cause our bodies to break down at a more rapid pace.

Our life experiences and any subsequent feelings that arise in response to them need to go through a process in which they are digested. There are five basic steps to this process.

• Start by acknowledge what’s happening.
• Ask yourself “What am I feeling in response to it?”
• Notice where the feelings are situated within your body.
• Breathe softly and deeply while centering your awareness within the feelings. Continue to follow the feelings as they go through their progression.

We need to take time on a daily basis to work with this meditative practice. We also need to be taking constructive action to address the issues that are of concern to us to the best of our ability.

All of us need intervention at some point to facilitate the aspects of our healing that we cannot fully do on our own. The presence working through me during the individual sessions facilitates healing by transmuting the backlog of fear, anger, hurt and other painful emotions held within the body so that they can be digested. This same presence simultaneously builds the subtle bodies consisting of the chakras and layers of the aura while repairing damage within the physical body. In doing so it facilitates the development of a much stronger foundation.

Stage Three: Deriving a sense of meaning

There are still plenty of challenges as we enter the third stage of healing, but we actually begin to derive some sense of purpose and meaning as we go through the process. The painful emotions that were once so debilitating become much more manageable. Once transformed, they become fuel for growth. We find that we have more available resources and that means we are better equipped to do the deep level processing of our emotions, to resolve our issues and to handle the challenges of our everyday lives. We begin to enjoy the process of working with our emotions because of the healing and growth that takes place as we do. The life force within our body grows stronger as we move further along in this journey.

Addictions to substances and unhealthy partners, patterns of self-sabotage and other forms of dysfunction start falling away. We find ourselves making healthier food choices and doing more to care for ourselves. We start being attracted to and attracting healthier people into our lives.

Many of us operate with this “When am I done?” mentality. We mistakenly assume “Okay, I’m done now” once we are no longer in crisis. We have yet to understand that our bodies and minds are in many ways like the hard drive of a computer. We hold so many layers of feeling, memory and other sensory impressions within our bodies from an entire lifetime of experiences. We may no longer be in the midst of a crisis …at least not at the present moment, but the parts of our body-mind consciousness that are still deeply wounded remain in a state of paralysis. These parts of us do not fully register within our conscious awareness because they exist in a numbed or deadened state.

We can never realize our true potential when parts of our consciousness are holding onto all of that suffering. We’re not fully embodied and that means many of the resources we need to be fully functional are completely out of range. Feelings that we fail to process will surface somewhere down the road. The issues that we fail to resolve will eventually play out in our lives or manifest as some form of physical health crisis.

Most of us just barely scratch the surface of what is truly possible. And that’s why many never really get very far in terms of healing and personal growth. We are only willing to do the absolute minimum required to get ourselves out of crisis so we can go back to our comfort zone. The problem with this approach is that we cannot sit still for very long. We are either sliding backwards into stagnation or we are moving forward along a path of evolution. It’s important for us to understand that every hour of intensive practice, individual healing session or vision quest we do takes us another step further in our process of healing and personal evolution.

Stage Four: Fulfilling our life’s purpose

The fourth stage of healing is where we begin to truly realize our potential and fulfill our life’s purpose. We continue to let go of dysfunctional patterns that no longer serve us. We become more mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically resilient. We experience an even greater sense of aliveness as we continue to progress through the fourth stage of our healing. Our range of motion expands and we find ourselves capable of doing more as new resources begin to emerge. We develop more of the altruistic qualities that enable us to become more caring and compassionate and to make a more positive impact upon the lives of others.

We feel much lighter as we are no longer burdened by the backlog of painful emotions and other stresses. Deeper layers of our emotional wounding will continue to surface at times, but we are much better equipped to deal with them than we were in the earlier stages. By addressing these issues we will continue to become even more powerful and effective in all areas of our lives.

Stage Five: Self-realization

Many people in our modern day western culture excel in the arts, athletics, academics, sciences and business. And some attain great financial wealth. But we have very few models when it comes to developing one’s body, mind and spirit. Rarely, do we see anyone that possesses the kinds of spiritual power found among those who follow the ancient spiritual traditions. Most of us have few, if any, references for what has come to be known as self-realization because we have no one to model these levels of development.

The fifth stage of the process of healing and personal development is about self-realization. Ancient spiritual traditions found in various parts of Asia and among the indigenous peoples of the Americas and other parts of the world provide systems through which one can develop one’s body and mind while embodying the presence of the higher power. Very few people in our modern day culture ever reach this stage of the healing process.

I was drawn to Native Americas from early childhood and knew from the time I was fourteen that I wanted to train with a traditional native doctor. I’m very fortunate that I had the opportunity to train with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors (medicine men) among the Kiowa Tribe.

Horace passed on portions of his own healing gifts to me. Since that time I have gone on many vision quests, a traditional native healing practice that involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. The traumas of my past healed and I have received many of the gifts during the vision quests that have enabled me to facilitate healing within others.

I have also been fortunate to have the opportunity to train for many years with Chinese Master Li Tai Liang in the Internal Martial Arts of Xin Yi Quan and Baguazhang. The Internal Martial Arts have their roots in Taoism. Those who attain mastery in these disciplines spend their entire lifetimes doing various internal practices to develop their body, mind and spirit. Many of these individuals possess powers, gifts and capabilities far beyond the range of what most people consider humanly possible.

My mentor Horace, like so many of the other traditional Native American doctors before him, possessed paranormal abilities and I have watched on many occasions as he allowed a greater power to work through him to facilitate healing within the bodies and minds of his patients that would not have otherwise been possible. Horace possessed an ability that enabled him to look into the body of his patients and see exactly what was going on. He was able to close open wounds, use suction to remove fluid from the lungs of those suffering from pneumonia and do many other amazing things.

I have an allergic reaction to bee stings. On one occasion after being stung, Horace placed his hand on my wrist. I watched as he took the swelling into his own wrist while mine returned to normal. Horace’s wrist returned to its normal size after fifteen to twenty minutes.

Intensive spiritual practice can facilitate the development of various gifts and powers. But many of those who have attained these powers have a tendency to lose sight of their own human vulnerabilities. That often happens because many of the ancient spiritual traditions have attempted to bypass the emotions and other aspects of our basic human nature. Some of those who have attained mastery have become grandiose and have abused their power. Our body – serves as a filter through which these gifts and powers are expressed in the world. Those of us who serve as conduits for this power need to build a strong and healthy foundation. This is why it is so critically important for us to do the groundwork facilitated by the deep emotional processing and by facing our issues to the best of our ability on a daily basis.

Staying on track

One of the things I enjoy most about my work is helping people to progress through the various stages of healing. People have long distracted themselves, self-medicated with alcohol and other drugs or found other ways to resist their pain and avoid the issues that needed to be dealt with. Advances in technology are helping us in many ways and they are also working to our detriment. Sadly, I’m seeing how so many people are becoming more and more distracted and disconnected from their feelings, physical bodies and the realities of daily life as a result of the time they are spending on their cell phones, computers and tablets. Our use of the internet is changing the neurostructure of the brain in ways that are making it difficult for people to focus for any significant length of time. Matters are further compounded by the fact that their bodies and minds have become so saturated with all the input flooding through their sensory channels. As a result, many people are no longer capable of doing the deep level processing needed to facilitate healing.

True healing requires internal space, stillness and sustained focus. It’s important to understand that our brains have a limited processing capacity. We cannot exceed our body and mind’s processing capacity and still have the resources needed to facilitate healing. We need to be very mindful and even limit the use of our devices and the internet if we are to maintain the level of focus needed to keep moving further along through the five stages of healing.