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Stage Two - Polarities And Rhythms

The 12 Stages of Healing

Whether you’re suffering from physical, mental or emotional pain and are seeking to get on the healing path, we invite you to read our latest blog series, ‘The 12 Stages of Healing.” The series starts with Stage 1, which is Suffering and ends with Stage 12, Community. Our doctors share their wisdom and encouragement to help you move through each stage toward achieving the healing you seek. Each blog concludes with a special breathing exercise and affirmation for that stage of healing.

raised hands togetherIn Stage One, suffering was associated with having isolated certain aspects of ourselves — such as personality traits, diseased parts, painful memories, or unresolved childhood issues — from the rest of our bodymind. In the early part of Stage Two, the tendency to judge events and situations as good and bad intensifies. Rather than being a person who is overwhelmed by the endless suffering of Stage One, we now have a greater “I” who makes judgments and evaluations. For instance, we speak in terms of a “bad back,” a “lousy husband,” or a “horrific situation.”

We are also likely to refer to the limbs and organs of our bodies as if they were not a part of us, or our health problems as if they dropped on us from outer space, such as: “I caught the ‘flu,” “my angina is acting up,” or “my arthritis is killing me.” We experience the separateness of our body parts rather than experiencing the body as a fluid, interacting whole. We may have an internal dialogue that tells us that I am good and what is out there is bad. We do not yet realize that projection is occurring and this alienated way of thinking is the source of our suffering.

The Magical Genie

In the early part of Stage Two we are often tempted to seek out a magical genie — a person, procedure or thing — that will save us from feeling “bad” and will help us feel “good”. This idea is similar to fairy tales like “Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp” when a magical genie suddenly appears offering three wishes to solve the sufferer’s problems and fulfill his deepest needs. In this case, the suffering patient feels powerless and can only experience a sense of power by being “rescued” by someone or something.

The magical genie may be a physician who will cure our disability or disease, a religious leader who will offer us salvation, or a new job with greater prospects and fulfillment. We may look for our Prince (or Princess) Charming who will make us feel loved and secure, or we may move to another part of the country to the “promised land.”

Western culture makes it easy for us to seek power from outside sources. Drug companies offer a multitude of over-the-counter pills to end our suffering, be it headaches, itching, constipation or colds; the medical establishment offers a dazzling variety of procedures, from CAT scans to organ replacement; the self-help market offers courses to magically improve our lives, manage our money or become a better lover; spiritual teachers offer meditation techniques that will free us from suffering; while promoters of diets and exercise programs guarantee we will become thin and happy..

A Feeling of Being Saved

We often feel very grateful to our rescuer. Whether it was a physician who performed surgery, a chiropractor who made an adjustment, or a psychotherapist who offered understanding, we usually regard them as a hero who has saved us from our problems. We often tell the world about how this doctor, procedure, guru or medicine, has saved us. Our sense of self has not become strong enough to realize that we are doing the healing.

What usually happens next? The surgery or drugs fail to produce the results we expected; we discover that the guru’s meditation technique does not bring inner peace; the new man or woman in our lives reminds us of our previous partner; the new job may be worse than the old one; or the new house is making us homesick for the one we left. Dr. Yeshi Dondon, personal physician to H.H. The Dalai Lama, says in his book, Health Through Balance:

Basically every being on this planet… wants happiness and does not want any form of disease or suffering. Yet, we do not know how to achieve the causes of happiness and do not know how to get rid of the causes of suffering… We make great efforts at techniques for achieving happiness and avoiding pain, but instead, mostly generate just the opposite of what we seek, bringing on ourselves more pain and suffering and diminishing whatever happiness we have.”

We then discover that the people or the methods that “saved” us were not so perfect after all, and that what we thought were the causes of our problems were not responsible after all. It is common for us to feel angry: we may really be angry at ourselves, but because we are not whole enough to recognize this, we tend to blame the therapist, physician, guru or product, for failing to meet our expectations.

Many people fluctuate between Stages One and Two for much of their lives. Rather than participate in a larger and more fluid rhythm that encompasses all the healing stages, they remain stuck in a cycle of suffering and magical solutions.

Cycles and Rhythms of Life

The other direction we can take involves looking more closely and seeing whether a pattern may be involved in our suffering: that we went through this kind of suffering the last time we were fired, or that our new wife is doing the same thing our ex-wife did. We begin to see a connection between our life circumstances and our ailments.

The pulse of life is one of cycles and rhythms. There is a rhythm to the seasons, the tides, the moon, the cycles of plants and the course of night and day. There are cycles of birth, youth, maturity, old age and death. Many ancient religions are based on these underlying cycles and rhythms: in Hinduism, the fundamental cycle of birth, life and death is symbolized by three primary gods who have equal power over the cosmos: Brahma, the Creator; Vishnu, the Preserver; and Shiva, the Destroyer.

Suffering occurs when the rhythm of our thoughts and actions is incompatible with the natural rhythms of our bodies and of life. When these rhythms cannot work in harmony for the growth and betterment of self, then suffering develops and we experience the isolated, repressed, denied or ignored parts of ourselves. Suffering makes us aware — even if it is not consciously — that our thoughts and actions are not in harmony with the rhythms that guide our lives.

By the time we arrive at Stage Two, the vast endlessness of suffering has been replaced by an awareness that the experiences we have been going through contain intervals that are free from suffering. Like other natural cycles and rhythms, suffering has a pattern of its own. In Stage Two we have a glimpse of regaining our power; we see there is a pattern to what is or is not working; and we become aware that we are involved in the process. At the same time, our sense of self is strong enough to realize that we are now a “person suffering.” There is a greater awareness that I am the person who is experiencing the suffering. At this point, we need not figure out what our role in the process is, we need only become aware that there is a rhythm or pattern and that we participate in it.

Stage Two Exercises

Stage Two exercises enable us to experience the separate rhythms in our bodies. The breathing pattern is the same as in Stage One: breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. But here, rather than laying both hands on the same spot at each of the three regions, place both hands on different regions at the same time. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other hand on your navel. Breathe, connecting your breath to the movement under your top hand; then breathe and connect your breath to the movement under your lower hand.

Move your hands down so your top hand is lying on the bottom of your breastbone and your other hand is on your abdomen. Repeat the alternate breathing. Direct your breath into the region of your body you are touching. In each case, feel the difference in the rhythms, rate, or style of the body rising and falling under your hands.

Finally, place one hand on top of your chest and the other hand over your navel. Repeat the breathing pattern. If you experience a difficulty in feeling the rhythm between two areas, then move your hands closer together until you can feel the rhythm. As you breathe, slowly increase the distance between your hands until you can sense the rhythm under one hand communicating with or meeting the rhythm of the other hand,

If this is difficult, then revert to the Stage One exercises, repeat them, and then return to the Stage Two exercises. When you feel a difference between the body’s movement under each hand, remark, “I have different rhythms, different parts.”

Stage Two Declarations

When the breathing exercise is almost complete, make the following declarations to affirm your movement with Stage Two:

“I have polarities, rhythms and differences within me.”

“I have parts that have not talked with each other for some time.”

There’s Magic In A Healthy Spine!

The 12 Stages of Healing

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12


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