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Transforming Anger, Fear and Pain
in a Turbulent World
by Marilyn C. Barrick, Ph.D.
Experience Your Inner Joy
Awake my soul! stretch every nerve,
And press with vigor on;
A heavenly race demands thy zeal,
And an immortal crown.
Philip Doddridge, Hymns
We live in troubled times, times that propel us to seek resolution deep within ourselves. We seek respite from anxiety about world crises and personal dilemmas. And we also desire to resolve residue of the past that burdens our soul and spirit.
We have lived many times on this earth, and every challenge has been an initiation to propel us upward. Our soul is absolutely intent on mastering her earthly lessons so that she can return to the higher octaves of light.
Thus, we instinctively seek out encounters that afford us opportunity to grow. And we are inwardly stirred to reflect on those experiences until we grasp the lessons. As we review difficult situations, we gradually discover that painful memories, thoughts and feelings can be replaced with insight, understanding and a reverence for the initiatic process.
Once we understand and pass the initiation, our soul is ready to let go of the experience and move on. And we feel a burst of joy!
Intertwining of Past and Present Lives
When we don't feel a sense of joy, it may or may not be a current situation that is at issue. Obstacles often arise from unresolved circumstances or traumas of the past.
Such traumas can be resolved spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. In the course of trauma-release therapy, the traumatic memory dissipates, negative emotions are neutralized, painful thoughts shift to a positive point of view and physical symptoms are relieved. Through what becomes a truly transformational process, the individual reclaims a sense of inner joy and peace.
Many of my clients seek this kind of therapy because a dilemma in their life is clouding their joy. For example, Sandy came to see me because her relationship with her children was growing more and more stormy. Rarely a day went by that they didn't have some kind of major argument. And getting the children to do their share of the chores was becoming, as she put it, a nightmare.
Sandy was a divorced mom, and she was feeling the weight of that. And although she and her ex-husband were on reasonably good terms, she had the children on a daily basis and he only on the weekends. Thus, she was the one enforcing daily discipline.
As we explored the family dynamics, Sandy told me that this was particularly upsetting because she had recently had a nightmare about a similar situation in a previous life. In that life she and her husband had a farm in Ireland, and he was always busy with the outside work. He left the raising of the children to her, and she was expected to discipline them. They were difficult to handle, and she was often at her wit's end trying to get them to do their chores.
In her dream, which she realized was actually the surfacing of a past-life memory, she remembered in excruciating detail the day the children got completely out of hand. She sent them out to the fields to work with their father. And only at the end of the day, when he came home, did she find out they never got there.
They and their neighbors searched the countryside and finally came upon the bodies of the children. A renegade band of robbers had violated and killed them. The couple never got over it. And Sandy carried her deep pain and guilt into this lifetime.
She told me she knew her children in this life were the same children and that they had been born to her because she owed them life. She also thought her husband was the same husband in both lifetimes and that this unresolved trauma was the unconscious root of their marital problems and eventual divorce.
As Sandy talked about her dream, she broke down completely, sobbing, "I can't go through it again. I have to take care of them. And I don't know how to do it."
We did trauma-release work on the dream, which was very difficult for Sandy. However, she stuck with it, and the pain of the past-life trauma came full-blown to the surface. As she moved through and released her anguish, the dream images began to fade.
When we made spiritual calls to the angels, she saw light around the children's bodies. Then, amazingly, she saw the children leave their bodies and go with the angels. The entire scene was bathed in light, and Sandy gave a deep sigh of relief.
As we talked about this tragedy, Sandy said she believed she agreed to give birth to these children again in order to balance her karma with them. And because she and her husband both had a close soul connection with the children, they were married. As she said, "I always felt that we were married to bring in children. But what I'm having trouble with is that he's checked out again, and here I am with the major responsibility of raising the children."
"What do you mean, 'checked out'?" I asked.
She replied, "He doesn't have the day-to-day responsibility for them anymore. When he sees them, it's fun time for them all. I'm still the one who has to do all the discipline. I'd like to send them to him and see what happens when he has to deal with their daily shenanigans over chores and homework!"
And then she stopped, shocked at what she had just said in light of the past-life trauma she had just gone through.
"Oh, my God," she said, "I'm doing it all over again. I'm trying to push the responsibility onto him instead of figuring out how to handle it myself."
This was clearly a major wake-up call. She realized she was called to put on the mantle of disciplinarian that she had evaded in the past life, to her deep sorrow and the detriment to her soul and the souls of her children. And she also realized how much she loves her children.
Sandy and I had several more sessions where she talked through the relation of the past life to this one and went through a forgiveness ritual, asking God and the souls of her husband and children to forgive her. It took some time for her to accept the return current of forgiveness, even though she felt it spiritually.
The hardest step of all was forgiving herself. Yet she gradually accepted the fact that she had not sent those children to their death in any conscious way. It was a dreadful happening but not her fault.
She realized that her lesson, in the past life and the present, has been to shoulder the responsibility of disciplining her children with loveand "to keep on keeping on," even when she feels like quitting the job of mother.
The corollary was to realize with an increasing sense of joy that she really loves her children. As she told me, "I guess every mother gets exasperated with her children at times, and I really love them so much. I just need to show it more. I am working on my exasperation. What I'm doing is giving it to God every time it comes up."
It was a different Sandy who came in several months later for a follow-up session. She said, "I feel like a different person. If you would believe it, I'm getting along great with the kids. If I didn't know better, I'd think some magician had done some work on all of us. But what I do know is that I have had a complete change of heart.
"I'm asking instead of telling, helping instead of ordering, making it fun instead of drudgeryand the kids are lapping it up. I certainly haven't told them about my dream, but it's as if their souls realize I've had a change of heart. I mean they aren't perfect, of course, but they really are making an effort to cooperate. And I love them so much that I want to make it easy for them. Can you believe they even agreed to come into another life with me as their mother?"
"Sandy," I responded, "obviously they love you too. And their souls have likely been longing for the resolution that is happening right now. Whether or not they ever remember what happened in that past life, their souls are at peace because they know you love them and you're doing the best you can."
Sandy was thoughtful. "I wonder if Ben has any memory of this whole drama that's so clear to me now. That's the last piece of this. Forgiving myself was first, caring for the children next and now it's making it right with Ben."
Life isn't a fairy tale. They didn't get back together and live happily ever afterhuman nature doesn't change that instantly. But they did begin to communicate in positive ways about the children. And the children have blossomed from having good times with both of them.
Sandy has realized a great truth: Unconditional love opens the door to peace in heart and soul. She now views her former tribulations as a blessing in disguise. And she and Ben are more at ease with one another. They may never remarry, but they are recapturing friendship and mutual respect....
Which Horse Are You?
In one of the Buddha's teachings, he talked about human nature as four types of horses: the excellent horse, the good horse, the poor horse and the really bad horse. In her book Awakening Loving-Kindness, Pema Chödrön describes this teaching:
The excellent horse, according to the sutra, moves before the whip even touches its back; just the shadow of the whip or the slightest sound from the driver is enough to make the horse move. The good horse runs at the lightest touch of the whip on its back. The poor horse doesn't go until it feels pain, and the very bad horse doesn't budge until the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones.
We would all like to think of ourselves as the excellent horse, which means to me that we move through life with instant attunement and a perfect response to whatever is going on around us. We all may have moments like that, but few of us could honestly say we are that attuned all the time.
Some of the time we may be the good horse, meaning we immediately take enlightened action once we get a physical prompting. But my guess is that the majority of us spend much more time as the poor horse, being obedient to our higher calling only at moments when pain is our wake-up call. And we can all think of plenty of times that we have been the bad horse, immobilized out of fear or stubbornness, refusing to take a step forward until pain forced the issue.
Now, it really doesn't matter which of these horses we think we are because all of us at times are the excellent, good, poor or bad horse in our lives. When we are intuitively and instantly obedient to the gentle guidance of our Higher Self on a daily basis, we have become Buddha's "excellent horse."...
Meditation and Loving-Kindness Practice
Here is a meditative practice for healing emotional discomfort or tensions you may be harboring in your heart and soul and body.
When you find yourself burdened by distressing emotions and go through these twelve steps, you are chipping away at old emotional habit patterns. They are gradually transformed into positive emotions and insights....
- Position yourself in meditation to be the divine observer of your discomfort. Choose a quiet place and put on some beautiful, uplifting music. Close your eyes and simply notice that discomfort as you sit quietly under your Bodhi tree (Higher Self).
- Center in your heart and focus on your breathing as if the breath were moving through your heart. Meditate upon the divine energy of God that emanates through the breath and as the flow of spiritual light in your chakras.
- Gently ready yourself to become fully aware of whatever is upsetting you. Observe the drama. Feel those ripples of emotion moving through you. Stay with them. Give those feelings space in your consciousness. Simply allow them to be. Stay in touch with your heart as you sit with your discomfort, with your emotional reaction, feeling it, observing it.
- Capture the moment of that reaction earlier in life. You might even become aware of a related experience in a past life.
- Focus your attention on your loving, wise, strong adult self in the likeness of your Higher Self. As the loving adult, love and comfort your soul, that younger part of yourself who is carrying the pain of that disturbing drama of the past. Your younger self who needs healing at this moment may be in utero, just born, three years old, twelve years old, twenty-one, forty, fifty, sixty-fiveany age up to a minute ago.
- As you meditate and send love to this younger part of yourself, remember that this younger self is also your ancient soul, wise in many ways yet dealing with necessary lessons and patterns of unresolved karma from past lives. Relate the uncomfortable feelings of today to the possible yesterdays of your soul. Love yourself through the pain. Give your soul a voice, a hug, a blessing.
- Mobilize the divine antidote to your discomfort. Decide that you will be calm and confident as you revisit the trauma that comes to mind and that you will be able to take positive action. If you don't feel calm and confident, visualize and meditate on yourself feeling that way. Gradually your meditative reverie will bring it about. As you experience qualities in meditation, you prepare yourself to express them in your life encounters.
- See yourself taking wise action in the situation that aroused your discomfort in the first place. Give it your best effort. Do the best you can. Call it good. And surrender the outcome to God.
- Invoke the beautiful violet flame to transmute everything in your being that is the antithesis of the real you. Focus on transforming that not-self into who you really are.
- Ask God to forgive you for your part in the upsetting drama. And consciously accept God's loving forgiveness. Now extend forgiveness to yourself and to the person you perceive as the adversary. This is one of the most powerful techniques I know for soul healing--asking for and extending forgiveness to oneself and to the adversary.
- As an ongoing practice, you may wish to send metta, loving-kindness, to yourself and others. This is the inner nature of the Buddha Maitreya. In fact, metta (maitri in Sanskrit) is also the inner meaning of his name. He is known as the Buddha of loving-kindness, who offers his loving-kindness to all.
- In the practice of metta, you visualize sending loving-kindness to yourself, to your benefactors, to your friends, to your family, to a neutral person, and ultimately to the adversary. Sending metta to the adversary may take some practice, but what a victory for love when you achieve it!
- Return frequently to your meditative posture as an objective observer under your Bodhi tree. Whenever an uncomfortable situation comes up and you want to claim a victory (or learn from a defeat so next time you'll have a victory), know that the victory comes about from your oneness with your Real Self.
Also available from Summit University Press/The Summit Lighthouse.
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Copyright © 2002-2006 Marilyn C. Barrick, Summit University Press. All Rights Reserved.