G - Presence, Healing and Reintegration
Intimate Presence and Pure Awareness
Carl Jung wrote in The Undiscovered Self, "You cannot solve a problem with the same level of consciousness that created it". The ego is a mind-created "problem", so it cannot be "solved" by the mind. We have to use a higher level of consciousness – the pure awareness of our soul (the Self's primary field of consciousness). It was the absence of presence and pure awareness that resulted in parts of our consciousness being exiled and their associated ego structures being created. Our young and innocent personal consciousness simply did not have the capacity to be with these distressed parts, so we exiled them out of conscious awareness. Being with these parts fully (i.e. giving them our full presence and awareness) is all that is required to heal the separation and return them to wholeness. We are simply doing now what we couldn't do at the time of the original distressing event. This type of healing only works if the awareness is pure (i.e. no agenda, judgement or fixing) and the presence is intimate (i.e. no resistance, avoidance or suppression).
Alice Bailey wrote in Esoteric Healing "cures are brought about [when] the soul pours through to the point of concentrated awareness". This means that the healing process is activated simply by moving our awareness to the appropriate area of our body and allowing our soul to take care of the healing and reintegration. The soul has to merge with the part (exile, hole or structure); merely putting our awareness on it is not enough. Observing the part, even up close, is not enough because there is still separation. Healing and reintegration can only occur when there is intimate contact (presence) – when the soul and the part become one.
Exiles, holes and protective ego structures are generally negative thought-forms bound up in negative emotions and negative energy (coping ego structures are primarily just thought-forms). The thought-form is the core of each "structure" but that is not what holds them together for all these years. The thing that holds them together is a piece of soul – a piece of soul that has become identified with the part – a piece of soul that believes it is that part – a piece of soul that has forgotten it is soul.
The presence of the rest of our soul is absolutely vital for the healing and reintegration process because its intimate union with the part allows the misidentified piece of soul to reunite with the rest of our soul (causal body). Without the piece of soul to hold it together, the part dissolves and its constituent elements reunite with the mental body, emotional body and energy body.
Discovering and Practicing Presence
Presence is fundamental to personal development and transpersonal (spiritual) development, and it is a pre-requisite for most of the practices and techniques described in this book. Presence has a palpable feeling – it feels like a subtle energetic swelling or presence within the body (or part of the body). It has a sense of fullness; like something within us is expanding and trying to get out. This pretty much describes what our soul is doing – manifesting more fully within us and coming to the fore.
Presence requires our awareness to be present spatially (right here) and temporally (right now). Presence requires us to "be" – right here, right now. It should be easy to just "be"; it is our natural state after all, but it is far from easy. We have spent decades practising "doing" and have forgotten how to "be". We need to put less emphasis on "doing" and re-learn how to "be"; both of which require practise and commitment. Thankfully, they can both be achieved through one simple practice – practicing presence:
The first few times you practise the exercise, you may not be able to actually "feel" the presence in your body. But it will happen, when you relax and stop trying to feel it. You will probably notice that there are areas of your body where it is more difficult to feel presence than others, and areas that feel blocked or out of balance – these are the areas where your psychological material is stored (exiles, holes and ego structures). Presence is the central element of most of the practices and techniques described in the coming chapters, so practice it as much as you can. I do it while driving my car, reading, watching TV and lying in bed. With practise it can be done whilst walking in nature or performing slow simple tasks. I really cannot stress how important and beneficial this simple practice is. It gets us out of our heads and into our bodies, which allows us to experience life more objectively and live life more fully. It takes us deeper into ourselves – deeper into our body, feelings, emotions, desires, behaviours and beliefs. It helps us to become less reactive, so our relationships with other people improve, and it helps us to develop an authentic relationship with our Self.
Body Awareness (Feeling and Healing with Presence)
During our childhood, the authentic aspects of our consciousness that should have been activated by positive life experiences got shutdown (and exiled) by negative life experiences. It is the ego's job to get us through life without feeling the pain and distress of these negative experiences. Personal development goes directly against this objective because it requires us to feel into our old hurts and inquire into our false core-beliefs. It is about reconnecting with the parts of ourselves that we have exiled from conscious awareness by burying them deep in our sub-conscious. It is sometimes called "shadow work" because it deals with the parts of us that live in the shadows of our consciousness (our subconscious).
Feeling and healing with presence is a relatively new approach to psychological healing and spiritual growth. Instead of focussing on the symptoms (as a regular doctor or psychologist might) we focus on the root cause. It involves tuning into our body and fully feeling the sensations, blockages and structures that make their presence felt. Because we can feel them we can infer that they are ready to be healed and reintegrated. Simply staying with the sensations and the emotions and feeling them fully (with loving presence) gently reintegrates the parts back into the wholeness of our being.
We can identify which areas of the body hold exiles, holes and ego structures by the sensations we feel in our body (e.g. pressure, tightness, pain, blockages, magnetic repulsion, hollowness, membranes, stickiness, rigidity, energetic sensations, etc.). The more "handles" (sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, etc.) we can get on a part the more fully we can feel it and the easier we can heal it. Our role is simply to keep our awareness on these handles and feel them as fully as possible, and keep our awareness pure – i.e. not have any agenda or desire to fix or change anything. The healing and reintegration will occur naturally in their own time.
Feel It to Heal It Technique
This body-centred approach is a very simple yet effective way of working with emotional parts, e.g. exiles and distracting ego structures.
The fear, trauma, confusion and distress that are carried by an exiled part can become reactivated when doing inner work. If we focus our awareness solely on the area of emotional distress, it can sometimes feel as if the localised distress is overwhelming our entire being. This can be very frightening, but it can be easily overcome by spreading our awareness throughout our entire body. Widening our focus in this way puts the scale of the emotion into perspective, i.e. it helps us to realise that only a small part of us is affected. Slow deep breathing is also helpful because it dissipates the emotional energy.
Healing and Reintegration
Effective healing and reintegration requires the soul's presence to intimately connect with the exile, hole or ego structure. Put simply, it requires taking the "healer" (the soul) to the "patient" (exile, hole or ego structure). But we generally avoid going near our psychological issues because they feel painful and uncomfortable, and we generally avoid our soul because it is not our usual sense of self. We need to practise connecting with them both if our self-healing is to be effective:
It is the presence of the soul that brings about the healing and reintegration, but the soul doesn't have to "do" anything – its intimate presence is all that is required. Psychological healing isn't like healing a physical wound; it is more like healing a wounded relationship – the relationship between the soul and the part (exile, hole or ego structure):
In all three cases nothing actually required healing. Psychological healing is simply about helping these misidentified pieces of soul to remember who they truly are. When they remember that they are soul, they naturally reintegrate with the rest of the soul. The more parts we reintegrate, the more we awaken to wholeness.
The Basic Healing and Reintegration Process
Important Note: It would be unwise to begin any kind of personal development work with the intention of "fixing" the things that are "wrong" with us. Our intention should be focused on developing our true-Self's clear perception and clear expression, rather than fixing our ego-self. Always focus on the positive; not the negative, because focussing on the negative brings more of the negative, and focussing on the positive brings more of the positive. It is the ego that wants things to be fixed, and starting any kind of inner work from the position of the ego is destined for failure and disappointment. Inner work must be initiated by the Self, because the Self has the essential qualities that this work requires: patience, acceptance, compassion, love, curiosity, intuition, etc.
There are two starting points for inner work:
The "Feel It to Heal It" process described earlier forms the basis of many of the healing and reintegration techniques in this book. I won't repeat the steps again because they can be found a few pages back, but I will briefly describe some additional elements that can be incorporated into the process to widen its scope and increase its effectiveness. The processes described in this chapter are really just to introduce you to the basic processes of inquiry, healing and reintegration – the full range of therapeutic techniques are described in the next chapter.
Overcoming Obstacles and Resistance
It can be difficult to get close enough to an exiled part to feel it fully and heal the relationship because protective and distracting ego structures can prevent us from doing so, because that is their job. These ego structures won't give up their roles until the exiled part is no longer a threat (or no longer needs protecting). At times like these, our internal system seems to be in deadlock but a useful insight I learned from Dr Richard Schwartz, the creator of Internal Family Systems (IFS), can help us to negotiate our way out of this stalemate.
Most of our protective and distracting ego structures were originally created when we were very young (at the same time that their associated exile was created). So these ego structures were created from very young consciousness, and they are still composed of very young consciousness because they have been isolated from life and have not grown up. This has two important ramifications:
The first point is the key to undoing the second – Protective and distracting ego structures can often be circumvented by simply informing them that we are no longer a helpless little child and have grown up into a mature and capable adult. This revelation usually allows us access to the protected exile, which we can often heal with the pure awareness and presence of our soul. If the protector part comes onto the scene again, kindly ask it to step aside so that you can continue helping the exiled part.
Protective and distracting ego structures were originally created to protect our young ego-self from feeling the exiled part's trauma and confusion. But ego structures can be augmented later in life with older more-developed consciousness. These older ego structures sometimes develop compassion for the exiled part and can even become quite protective of it. So the ego structure's role has changed from protecting our young ego-self (from being overwhelmed) to protecting a young exiled part (from the general unpleasantness and hostility of the ego super-structure). If you encounter a caring ego structure, use the same basic approach (education and negotiation) but allow the protective part to keep an eye on the exile while you are with it.
Stages of Reintegration
To reintegrate an exiled part (which we would initially refer to as "it"), we first have to form a relationship with it (at which point we would refer to it as "you"), then we can welcome it back into our being (at which point we would refer to our integrated being as "I"):
When the exiled part has been healed and reintegrated, the protective ego structure usually dissolves or disappears. If it doesn't, the exile may not be completely healed, or the protector may be protecting another exile. These are both avenues for further exploration.
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