"It is a seed's nature to grow. When it is denied proper soil, sunshine, and water it suffers. When a child's heart is faced with no love or even conditional love, it warps. The child begins to weave unconscious indirect life strategies in order to get her needs met, and a lifestyle of struggle for acceptance and approval takes root. Survival choices and conclusions made in childhood often no longer serve us as adults, but often remain unquestioned and unchallenged deep within our own circuitry, secretly driving our adult behavior. As long we remain in the slumbering domain of a repressed heart, our present continues on as no more than an extension of a limited painful past."
"They come to therapy to undo the past, only to find themselves reliving it. But this time with full feeling."
"An accomplished therapist, like a double agent, brings an olive branch of loving acceptance and support in one hand, and a knife of decisive challenge in the other. He has to be willing to engage in, figuratively speaking, ruthless hand-to-hand combat with the dysfunctional aspects of the client, while at the same time helping to lay the foundation for self-acceptance and serenity. Deep feeling is the key."
"Complete integration directly requires frustrating the patient's current coping methods, forging through layers of inevitable confusion and defenses, until finally reaching a deep feeling level and draining it of stored pain.
"The mind/body system, like a privately cultivated garden, displays the fruition of all the seeds ever planted in it, both wanted and unwanted. Like seeds unwittingly spilled onto the soil, our childhood experiences implant themselves deep within our neural pathways and later dictate the type of people we attract into our lives, how intimately we relate to them, our upper limits of joy and self-expression, and about what we do and don't deserve in life."
". . . (T)he therapist has the daunting task of helping the client snap-out of trance living. As a therapist, I find myself in the business of awakening. Because unconsciousness keeps us comfortable and away from pain, waking up is hard to do."
"The Wombal and Primal world grids established by the brain lay the foundation of personality, because all subsequent development in the human is influenced by, and forged out of, the meanings and associations from those earlier days."
"We need to have feelings in order to be alert enough to survive danger, and yet we need to be able to repress them so we won't suffer. It is this evolutionary hard-wired dilemma that makes change so hard."
"The ever-efficient, lazy brain leans towards the familiar, thus resisting change. Because of that, the circuitry responsible for creating a new inner-world map is reserved exclusively for emergencies. . . . Nothing screams louder for change than pain. When pain is repressed, the scream doesn't go away; it just gets muffled. In extreme cases, this cry will manifest as a suicidal tendency."
"Our subjective interpretation of our birth experience comes from the old circuitry. (This applies to all understanding: it's based on old information.) Because each new experience is the end of the old, birth easily gets construed as a death. Birth dramatically terminates an essentially tranquil world, and its accompanying body and emotional response of terror becomes imprinted and generalized to include any sense of impending change as a threat."
"Pain hurts. Suffering is being in a continual state of pain without the hurt. When pain is repressed, it doesn't just go away. It goes in. You can leave your feelings, but they don't leave you. A person carrying unfelt pain inevitably suffers."
"Whenever a need goes unmet, and we repress the pain of it, we stop growing. . . . Every reminder that occurs in the present that is vaguely reminiscent of the original precipating painful event will elicit suffering. Pain cries out to be integrated."
"We perpetually recreate unfinished inner situations from the past where pain sits at the core precisely because we're not finished with that pain. Each day we either successfully repress the pain all over again, or we succeed in feeling it and moving forward. Pain that is not allowed to be felt follows us like a shadow of suffering."
"How paradoxical that our method of protecting ourselves from pain (repression) actually perpetuates it. How paradoxical that the path of feeling one's pain leads to the healing of the suffering heart."
"From the client's point of view, the process inevitably feels like a psychological earthquake, shaking the very ground he has been walking on. It is a call to reject not only the dysfunctional aspects of the past, but also old habits of unity, which we strangely hold sacred, no matter how much trouble they get us into."
"Once on the feeling track, the process of therapy and inner healing proceeds organically according to the natural "unwinding" of the mind/body system. With deeply rooted trauma, it can be a matter of years. A general principle applies; the younger the trauma, the longer the therapy."
"Too much filling in the blanks by the therapist, the method used in popular, generic Inner Child work, is like eating processed food: The more food is tampered with before it gets to you, the less benefit it provides. Core work requires the highest level of noninterference, and the most skillful artistry, yet it calls for much more than passivity on the part of the therapist. Just as grief-work is called work because it often must be facilitated and also involves challenging inner territory, so is core work "work."
One client reflects on his pain revealed through a regressive experience:
". . . I just breathed into it, and before long I entered what's like a 3-D movie. I felt the presence of big people, and feelings of excitement, somehow shrounded with religiousness. It remind me of the vibe in the Temple where I was Bar-Mitzvahed. . . . I felt very little, cradled in large hands. . . I felt the total-body sense of trust as my arms and thighs were strapped to the table top. . . . And then the horrible pain! The bearded man had grabbed my penis, swabbed it with something very cold, and then cut into me! . . . Agonizing hurt. How could I ever relax in the presence of others again?
"I've reflected on my circumcision experience many times since that session. How tragic that we humans can inflict pain subconsciously that we even celebrate it with feelings like pride or patriotism. How can we be so oblivious to the pain of others? I think about how we wage war, and rationalize all the misery that comes with it. I have a whole different view about senseless pain now that I've felt what it's like to be the innocent object of it."
"I'm getting a horrible feeling. I've felt it before, and it scares me. It's taking me way down."
"Go with it, honey. We'll keep you safe. What's the feeling?" we ask, concerned and curious.
"It's in my stomach, and it's making me nauseous.
"Stay with it."
"It's horrible. It sounds weird to say it, but it's like somehow God doesn't want me to be to be born," Kaia cried. "How can I be here if God doesn't want me here?" She moaned gently and started gagging.
I'm stunned. My brain races and I start sweating. "What's going on here? What's she talking about? This is no conscious belief she's ever expressed to me before. What can she possibly mean by this?"
Kaia too broke into a sweat, with wrinkles of dismay quilting her brow.
Then it hit me! "It's me she's talking about!" Unbeknownst to Kaia, before her birth, upon learning of her mother's pregnancy, (we weren't married), I was not pleased. I loved my bachelor's ways, and did not want a child. On my insistence, her mother made an appointment at the local abortion clinic, and only there, in the waiting room, did she burst into tears with, "I can't do this! I'm having this baby!" I reluctantly agreed. But for months before, I actively hadn't wanted the child, and little fetus - Kaia, somehow had picked up on it, and was currently experiencing that memory. For her own healing, and for mine.
"I'm so sorry," I blubbered out loud. "Kaia, that's not God. That's me before you were born. I wanted your mother to have an abortion. I'm so sorry, sweetie."
Little vulnerable tears spilled out of Kaia's eyes.
"I've been carrying this awful feeling my whole life!"
"I was young and stupid. I'm so sorry. I do want you here, and God has always wanted you here. It was just me who didn't want you for a short while -- and that was before I met you. I've wanted you ever since."
The deepest nagging doubt about her existence had today come undone, uprooted from the recesses of her fetal imprinted mind. Kaia cried and cried.
"I'm so sorry," I kept stammering.
"People ask me, 'How can you listen to people's problems all day? 'My standard reply is, Seen a good movie lately?' Quality cinema captivates, entertains, and even uplifts. We weep for characters on the big screen, and laugh with them. They endear themselves to us through their humanity. But psychotherapy is even better, for participants embody the human drama in 3-D.
While people living a 'normal' life hawk their wares out in the big world, I, as a therapist, trek into private mansions, tiptoe down dark staircases, discover doors locked up light years ago, seek out hidden keys, fling open velvet curtains, and unearth treasures that have no price.
In these interior basements, I find abandoned children, pale and light- starved. I get to witness the joy of the rescue and the relief of adult-child reunion. Interactive therapy lifts me into adventure, and reminds me that my heart lives to love and loves to live. In fact, I cherish the first moment when a client and I sit face to face in my little office. Our session begins modestly, like a first date.
'So what brings you here today?' or 'What can I help you with?' I say. Inside, I am already wondering how this session will unfold. Will my client truly engage the angels and demons hovering around and within? How will she embrace them, or get them to embrace each other? How will she reveal her depth to me?"
"The hero's journey involves leaving the comfortable realms of the known, crossing over the frontiers of fear and aloneness, descending into the Valley of Death itself if necessary; and ultimately returning to the surface world renewed. The psychotherapy I practice happens under the banner of such transformation, and nothing less."
"I've learned that I myself am a double-agent, sincerely striving for truth and heart, and yet constantly coping with a strong tendency to get lost. I've learned that even my own mind distorts the brand-newness of the present moment, and thereby betrays me. I've learned to face the degree to which I inhibit self-expression for the sake of 'safety' and the status quo."
I hate to admit it, but I am a liar, weaving all sorts of stories, rationalizations, and excuses to restrain my innate freedom to love deeply. In my fear, I even believe that those tales I think of as my 'history', somehow preordain what can and cannot happen in the present. Unchecked and unchallenged, I perpetuate the lie of history. So I need help. I need a love that reaches past my stories, through my history, to touch my core. I need the courage and wisdom to challenge and destroy my unreal system. This is where therapy comes in. This is why I do therapy. They say: 'Put the wettest logs closest to the fire', and that's me. I do therapy because it's my way of participating in liberation. It helps me stay conscious and focused on what is real. Besides, when I give help, I get help. It's a good system. I recommend it. I'm grateful for it."