Why energy healing works (just maybe not in the way that you expect)

IMG_0591I recently had a healing session with a friend at Quantum of Solace Healing.  She is trained in several modalities, one of which is called Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT.  In EFT, healer and client work to identify a key problem and rate the emotional intensity of it.  Then, via several rounds of repeating phrases aloud while tapping on various parts of the body (the client can do this themselves with guidance and/or the practitioner will do it for them), the emotional intensity that the patient feels gradually decreases, so that they should feel lighter and calmer about the problem in the end.

As our session progressed, I struggled to pinpoint the real issue(s), the reasons why I was still anxious and sad about having broken up with my partner a few months before.

We tried one round of tapping, then went back to revise, refine and dig deeper.

As we progressed, a sense of discomfort arose in my heart, and I began to choke up.  Like a massage therapist might work on a knotty muscle, we had found that emotional tender point, and she was – gently – loosening it.

As we went through the repetition and the tapping, she sensed the exact moment when something shifted for me.  She actually noticed when when I welled up, even though I struggled like crazy to hide it.

In her ability to sense this place of fear, she was compassionately pressing me to acknowledge things that I didn’t want to admit about myself.  

In these moments, I felt raw, vulnerable, exposed.  I recognized just how much I was still grieving my last relationship, and it scared me.  After all (I’d assumed), wasn’t I the strong, independent woman who was ‘moving on’ with her life?  Especially after several months of being apart?  Especially after a relationship that wasn’t truly serving either one of us that well?

How could I still be so scared about love, so lonely, still grieving this thing that was supposed to be long over, when I knew that splitting up was the best thing for me (us)?

That kind of shift can sometimes ease into a sense of peace fairly quickly.  But, the stuff that the session brought to the surface sat with me for the next couple of weeks.

What I realized from this is that one healing session doesn’t necessarily lead to immediate lightness.  The ‘feeling better’ part of the healing doesn’t always happen right away: sometimes you have to hang out with the discomfort for a while, get to know it a little, before your load is lightened.

In this case, I needed to acknowledge these things that I was feeling and process them so that I could really break free of that weight and move forward.

A good healer should be able to recognize this kind of a shift, to loosen the knot and understand that discomfort can be a part of the process.  The shift might manifest as a lightening, or a breaking, an opening, or some sense of uneasiness, but it’s the practitioner’s job to acknowledge it.

It might not be that comfortable, but it (often) needs to happen.

You know the Leonard Cohen quote: “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

For me, this time, deep fears had been unearthed, and I had to stare them in the face.  And this was a key lesson of the session: it didn’t fix me.  It opened me up, it exposed me, it shook me, cracked me, but it didn’t fix me.

By offering a safe space to acknowledge some of this pain and help me be OK with it, my healer friend helped me understand how I could help myself.

When I told her later how I’d felt, my friend (bless her giant gentle heart) asked me if she had been being too pushy.  I told her that if I had felt a little bit pushed, it meant that she was doing her job well.

In order to help another change, grow, heal, there has to (sometimes) be a compassionate nudge beyond their comfort zone.

An effective healer (or trainer, friend, partner) will be there to nudge you forward, will know when you are feeling uncomfortable in the right way.  They will sense your pain, and will be there to help you through it – if and when you are ready.

It can be scary – really scary.  But if you aren’t scared, you aren’t growing.

Sometimes in the EFT sessions my friend says something in a really cute way, and we giggle, or I giggle at myself out of nervousness.  And there is something about that little moment that reminds me of Pema Chodron’s concept of smiling at the fear.  So in that way, just being there with someone with the mutual intention of facing a fear can lighten the load.

The people in my life that I love the most are those that challenge me, stretch me, open me up.  They are people that are willing to have radically honest dialogue, who are self-aware, compassionate, conscious.  Something unspoken connects me with them, and them with me.  And we each thrive on this to grow.

So, if, energetically speaking, this is the kind of relationship that can be healing, then why wouldn’t an energy healing mode like EFT be successful?  Why do scientists sit around arguing the ‘validity’ of alternative healing modes, when maybe just this connection and mutual intention is exactly what makes it effective?

So, let us establish the kinds of connections where both parties are moved to examine and question themselves so that they may grow in whatever aspect is needed.  Let us create safe spaces where we can practice radical honesty in facing our deepest dreams and fears.

The right person at the right time will sit with you through the pain of cracking open, guiding you into your own light, which will in turn help another.

12 Tips for getting through a breakup

Well it’s time for me to write the post, the one that almost everyone seems to write at some point or another: steps for getting through a breakup.

I am just in the first stages of separating with my live-in partner. We have lived together for about a year, dated for over 1.5. Although I truly believe that it is the best thing for us, my mind and heart are swirling: rejection, sadness, love, anger, yearning for some way to ‘fix’ everything and carry on. In writing this out I hope to bring some clarity – and hope – to other broken hearts out there.

1. Accept the change. Transition IS a part of life, and often we get stuck in patterns that seem comfortable but may actually be unhealthy. If you and your partner aren’t both equally putting the energy into sorting out your problems, or are not being totally honest (with yourselves), if you feel isolated, or the relationship isn’t evolving in a way that is meaningful to you, it is not a healthy relationship. Period. Doesn’t matter whose fault it is or what happened, it’s OK to take some space.

2. Create new ways of thinking. We all know that meditation, journalling, councelling, etc. are healthy ways of getting through the pain. But overall what is needed is a push to retrain our brain into just being OK in this new situation. Whatever therapy works for you to practice reworking your brain a bit, find it and force yourself to do it regularly, instead of curling up into a little ball.

3. Find your flow. Flow states can help us to step away from anxiety and depression. Usually they are not passive activities, but activities where you feel fully engaged. Depression in itself is the opposite of this, and may make us think we want to stay curled up in a ball. Do everything you can possibly do to convince yourself otherwise, then go and do your flow thing.

4. Believe that you are better off this way. Even if you have to fake it, write it in your journal a hundred times, ask others to tell you – it’s the only way you will have faith in your healing and your life.

5. Get through it, not ‘over’ it/the partner! Don’t be afraid to go through the grieving process (in an appropriate way). Let yourself cry, kick a punching bag, eat a bit of ice cream. Don’t begrudge yourself for grieving and being emotional. It is a confusing and disheartening time for everyone, but you will get through it.

6. Choose who to lean on, respect their boundaries, and respect the fact that you might be super sensitive right now. Sometimes we can encounter (perceived) negative judgements from even our closest friends and family. Or sometimes others may not be able to give us their full attention. Ask for a good time and make sure you have their full attention, and make sure that you can give them yours too.

7. Listen. It can be so easy to become engrossed in your own grief that you are self-absorbed, but, remember that other people need you too. Your own compassion can go a long way towards everyone’s healing. In fact you probably know someone who is going through or has gone through something similar, if not much worse. Be there for them.

8. Let love free you. I know that it’s the cheesiest line ever, but if you love them, set them free.

9. When you notice yourself missing a particular thing, do it for yourself!  For instance, if your partner cooked for you regularly, do this for yourself (or friends or family) and make it a special occasion. If you miss your partner kissing you goodbye in the morning before work, pretend to kiss yourself goodbye with that same love! It may sound ridiculous, but anything you can do to redirect those old patterns of ‘directing’ love is super important.

10. Don’t engage in unhealthy behaviours to distract yourself. Of course we will want to have a beer with a close friend and decompress, or maybe go dancing with a girlfriend. That is totally normal. But do not let yourself go overboard with this kind of thing. Especially not drugs or sex!!

11. Learn how to enjoy your time alone (again). I was alone for a long time, and when I entered the relationship, there were so many things about the daily companionship that I was grateful for. I expressed this to my partner many times. But I also learned from within the relationship that practicing being alone, no matter what, is always a good thing.

12. Do not rest in the ‘fantasy’. I still have visions and memories of times when it was good, of how I really wanted it to be. And the reason we split up is because it just wasn’t like that. My partner couldn’t offer it, maybe I wasn’t offering it either. Set a realistic vision for your next attempt at a relationship, and work towards that. But give it to yourself FIRST.

Every time I have been in a relationship, I have ended up unsatisfied. I can’t exactly say why, except that I do offer and expect the best. I expect us to cherish each other’s souls, bodies, lives- even the crazy parts. I expect there to be a relatively equal amount of give and take, of space and togetherness, of mutual support and self-sustenance. I expect for us to be able to grow together, have adventures, and generally just be OK when things aren’t that exciting!

I (we) tried for the best, and the experience was great, but it just didn’t last. And I think that I deserve the best. Don’t you?

Yesterday I was uncomfortable..and it was awesome!

I had a couple of really interesting experiences yesterday.

First I had a dentist appointment. I had not been in a long time. I was freaked out and it was super uncomfortable when he injected me with that huge needle and the numbing started to spread through my mouth. I really hate the feeling of not feeling!

When he started to do stuff with my teeth, I could feel it a little bit. It was just a moment of discomfort/pain and I flinched. He asked if I could feel it and offered me more freezing. I said ‘no way!’ I didn’t want to feel more numb than I already was, because it just feels so unnatural. I was OK with feeling a bit of pain because I knew that he was doing something to help my long term health. I am also so grateful to live in a society (have the kind of job) that offers me health prevention options like this free.

It was, in the grand scheme of things, a very quick and painless process, and afterwords I enjoyed the relief that came with a) doing something good for my health and b) it being over! It felt good.

After a not-so-successful attempt at eating (sitting at the Naam dribbling gold dragon bowl items down the side of my frozen mouth), I rushed to the other side of town to meet my personal trainer for my first-ever personal training (bootcamp style) session.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a slight breeze, and we met in one of my favourite parks. The experience painful and wonderful! Again, I feel so privileged that I have this resource accessible to me, and that the trainer seems genuinely interested in helping me be better. It is the kind of challenge I have NEVER put on myself before and I’m freaked out. But it’s a really good kind of pain because I know I am doing something really amazing for myself. I see huge life changes coming from just this one thing.

Today I’m going to the doctor to discuss whether or not to start depression meds. My heart says NO WAY! I’m determined to find alternatives that do not involve numbing myself*, even if it will be super painful and uncomfortable at times. With lots of work – and the different kinds of support that absolutely are available to me – I will take charge of my health and do everything I can possibly do to make my life even better than it is.

I would rather live my pain and joy than numb myself from feeling it. I can and I will.

*note: I say this with a complete understanding that for some people medication absolutely is necessary and helpful.