I can remember when I quit smoking as if it was yesterday. I had moved away from my very dysfunctional family in Ohio at 20 to come to Palo Alto, California and pursue my vision of an emotional and spiritual freedom I had never known growing up.
After finding everything and more that I could have hoped for in the dynamic and diverse culture of Palo Alto and the Stanford community in 1974, I settled into creating my new life and saw immediately that smoking – which I had inherited from my parents and older siblings – was a huge block in loving myself and being successful. After a while I quit cold turkey, and very quickly began to feel things inside of me that had been sitting underneath my conscious awareness since I was a very young boy. Primal emotions and the complex wounded relationship dynamics within my family that I had only felt and seen as if through thick opaque glass started to come alive in my body into a focused and vivid clarity, animating into a kind of convulsive purging of the suppressed negative impact that my family had had on me. Continue reading
It has been a little over six months since Holly passed away peacefully, bathed in the golden glow of the midday sun that filled her room and held all of us there in the quiet awe that one can only feel in the presence of the sacred.
I have experienced sacred consciousness and manifestation quite a few times, in a variety of forms: healing miracles in my own body as a boy, sacred sexual orgasm with lovers, sacred light in sessions with clients, the Red Tara Initiation I undertook in 1986 with Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche and the death transition of beloved animals into the spirit realm are a few examples. Each was amazing, each was humbling and each came and went in its own time, leaving me back in the more mundane levels of life.
There is no deeper place in our drive to self-actualize than the need to find the love within us and share it with each other. Along with all the other ways in which we can grow into successful individuals – such as education, career, adventure or creativity – the ability to love ourselves and each other successfully brings the deepest fulfillment and liberates us in our souls.
The ability to actualize ourselves through knowing how to love well is something we have to cultivate and grow. Whether building a relationship or raising a family, there are emotional and cognitive skills that we have to know before we can fully open our hearts and find deep intimacy and successful communication.
My approach to the healing journey begins with perhaps the single most important part of being a well-actualized individual, because it is the root of all of our personal power: our emotional voice, and the choice to use it.
The first thing to understand is that choosing to use your emotional voice means that you are choosing to tell the truth. As you learn to identify, own and then speak the truth about the many aspects of your emotional experiences in your life, your emotional voice forms, awakens and comes to life.
In my upcoming book “Healing Your Heart – A Journey Into Wholeness”, I am offering a new psychology of love. To create a psychology of love that lays a solid foundation for understanding how we work emotionally and cognitively, as well as providing a clear pathway to healing our hearts and becoming whole people, we must start with the most important question: what is love?
Let’s start with the dictionary. According to Webster’s, love is:
1. strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
2. attraction based on sexual desire
3. affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests; an assurance of affection; warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
4. unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another
It has been a year since I wrote anything on this blog, and I’d like to share with you where I have been.
My partner Holly went into the hospital last December and was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast and bone cancer. When she was admitted, she was within several days of dying from kidney and heart failure. She went to the ER in the morning, and that afternoon when I went to visit her, I had one of the most painful and profound experiences of my life.
Looking at her lying in the bed so close to death, grief and tears filling my heart, I simply said, “I’m not ready to lose you yet.” We looked at each other for a long time, and there was a moment when I knew that she was not going to die right away. My heart knew that Holly would stay for a while, at least, because there was more for us to do together.
If you have found this book then you’ve probably been living with emotional pain that has brought you to a place where you need to take action, and you’re ready to find answers and healing.
To be honest, emotional healing is not something one walks into as simply as getting a massage or an acupuncture treatment. Though there are simple truths that guide the healing process – such as, emotional pain means that parts of our inner self aren’t receiving love – the process of emotional healing is a multi-stage learning experience that we must actively commit to and engage in if we are to succeed.
The stages of emotional healing are a mystery to most people. As a culture we have become pretty familiar with the five stages of grieving (shock, rage, denial, manipulation and acceptance), thanks in large part to popular tv shows, and that is wonderful. But there is an entirely different process of emotional healing that I am going to introduce you to based on how we feel, own, communicate and resolve our emotions within ourselves and our relationships. These four stages are poorly developed in most of us, and the goal of Doing Your Work is to achieve emotional healing by learning the skills within these four stages. Continue reading
As a Life Coach and Breathwork Therapist, my role is to teach people the emotional skills that empower them to heal, find balance, and love well. And of all those skills, none may be as essential as the skill of uprooting from within ourselves one of the most destructive forms of emotional imprinting we receive growing up – Get Over It – and replacing it with empathy.
To me, those three words have singlehandedly done more to destroy our ability to be emotionally healthy than anything else I can think of. If there is one generic dysfunction that you would find in virtually every home in America, in one form or another, it would be the one-size-fits-all, lowest common denominator solution to the challenges of emotional development: Life Isn’t Fair – Get Over It.
There comes a point in working with clients when their healing process brings them to a place within themselves that they don’t easily recognize, and that place is the need to truly rest emotionally. Or to say it another way, their healing won’t really progress any further until they can learn how to rest, which means how to digest and assimilate the work that they have done up to that point while accepting what is incomplete.
In my healing program, doing our healing work begins by seeing our unconscious patterns and taking responsibility for our reactive emotions. These initial stages require us to open our hearts and identify the impact that our families and relationships have had on us – and that we have had on ourselves. That means becoming vulnerable to the truth that the painful impact of all of this has created grief in our hearts. The journey into embracing all of the emotional layers that hold our unprocessed grief is an act of courage, commitment and power. We must learn to breathe, feel new emotions, take the risk of learning the skills of healthy confrontation and setting boundaries, and then discover what it means to move forward in our lives with new self-love.
I deleted a thread in which I wrote about sexual abuse victims becoming survivors because I did not do full justice to this complex subject, and want to do that now.
In 21 years of successfully guiding sexual, emotional and physical abuse victims into healthy recovery, the word victim has always been a point of challenge. There is a strong movement to do away with the word, as many feel that the word itself is degrading and encourages a person to see themselves as weak. Others feel that the word can instill a sense of shame, deformity or stigma upon someone who needs more than anything to feel good about themselves.
I am deeply sensitive to this perspective. Indeed, I have engaged with many, many abuse clients who come in very unwilling to see themselves as victims even though they are in a lot of emotional pain and their lives and relationships are not working as well as they need to. Many have worked with therapists and counsellors who have discouraged them from seeing themselves this way in a well-intended effort to strengthen that person’s self-esteem, self-image and overall ability to function in their lives.
Yet they come to me because something is missing in their healing. They have heard from friends that I do a deeper level of work and that my clients achieve real healing. And what I am going to share with you is what I share with my clients.