I have been blessed to work with individuals and groups of people for well over two decades. During that time, I have witnessed how profoundly the stories people have woven about themselves and the world around them can limit their ability to be in relationship, to be successful, to be healthy and to feel genuine joy.
Our stories begin before we are born. In utero, we are aware of the emotional state of our mother and the people around her. From the input our developing psyche receives, we begin to develop perceptions about ourselves, and our world. Prenatal (before birth) and perinatal (after birth) psychology is an interdisciplinary study of the foundations of health in body, mind, spirit and emotions and how adult response patterns have their beginnings in our earliest moments. This discipline explores how the sensory and energetic experiences we have very early in our development have profound impacts on the health and learning ability of the individual and on their relationships. These perceptions from our family and our culture become “implanted,” like computer viruses into our little mental and emotional “hard drives.”
Since we have no way to screen the input we receive, we internalize everything. In addition, until a child is about six or seven years old, the child believes that they create or cause everything that occurs in their world. This “magical thinking” causes us to feel responsible for all actions in our environment. So, if the people around us are angry, we can believe that it is our fault. If a parent dies, it means that we did something to make that happen. If no healthy adults help our child selves to more fully understand the situation and repair our misperceptions, we can left with damaging psychological trauma or at the very least, harmful psychological and emotional patterns.
As we grow, we internalize the way people relate to us. The looks, words and actions directed toward us weave our story even further. For instance, if we learn that by being sick our busy parent will finally pay us some attention, we may develop an emotional pattern of being ill, weak or dependent as a way to emotionally survive.
If our mother was anxious during her pregnancy and during our early life, we received hormonal, psychological and energetic messages that our world was fundamentally unsafe. With that information, we may become an anxious adult or we may create adaptive behaviors in an effort to feel safer. We may withdraw from opportunities for intimate relationships, we may seek chemical comforters such as alcohol or narcotics to soothe our nervous systems, we may depress all emotions to quiet anxiety or adapt in some other ineffective and harmful way.
While we may have created these adaptations in an effort to better survive in our childhoods, I know that these same adaptations are the very things that ultimately interfere with our being able to thrive as adults.
While the idea that we begin shaping our views of the world began even before we were born may seem daunting or even feel impossible to fix, I remind you that all of our perceptions—both positive and negative–are a result of learned information about the world. While our perceptions have shaped us, they are NOT actually who we are. When we take the step of separating us for the story we have learned, we can begin to think about our unbeneficial perceptions as simply erroneous or outdated information. Taking that step is a way to begin setting aside the old definitions of who we are. Once we do that, we then have an opportunity to heal. In the same way that we need to keep relearning political boundaries on the map—such as the former Yugoslavia having been transformed into many different countries–we can look for ways to replace the incorrect data we once internalized with new, healthy and much more accurate information.
The healing process begins with the choice to separate ourselves from our old story and from that point, we can bring in supportive people to assist in our “reprograming” process.
As a shamanic practitioner, I am fortunate to be able to step across the illusionary boundaries of time and space to gain wisdom, to get insights and to heal things that happened long ago. In my work as a shamanic healer, I can assist my clients in their processes by going back to the origins of unbeneficial patterns and healing them at the root.
One method is to teach others to perform shamanic journeys. In this way, the individual can go back and redo the scenes that created an unbeneficial pattern. This is never done alone, but rather in the company of helpful, loving and protective spirits, as well as in the presence of trained human guides to support the process. In addition, a traditional shamanic healing, called a soul retrieval, can be beneficial for creating a “new story” for us, as well.
The process my partner and I created called, Spirit Passages’ Shamanic Inner Body Healing TM, is another rich way to discover the root of old patterns and to heal the situations that created them.
During a Shamanic Inner Body HealingTM session, a client’s being acts as a doorway to wisdom that is unlimited by the restrictions built by the conscious mind or the personality. It is an open-ended inquiry process that takes place in the sacred inner landscape. This works because shamanic realms exist both inside and around our physical bodies. As a result, a person can be supported on a journey into her or his inner shamanic realm to heal traumas and the resulting misperceptions that may be unreachable using other methods.
This process has been successful in healing people from traumas, limiting beliefs or wounds sustained in utero or during preverbal infancy, to identify and eliminate unconscious, familial and generational patterns, and to even heal unresolved issues that have their roots in a past life.
During the course of a session, traditional shamanic healing methods may also be used to release a possession, retrieve a soul fragment or bring back a power animal for a child aspect of the client, to heal a past life experience, to release the person from familial “curses,” addictions or a dysfunctional pattern. The entire process is witnessed and “midwifed” by the shamanic practitioner who asks open-ended questions to help the client to find their own interpretation for sensations, images and feelings. Since the information arises from within you, each healing unfolds with a rhythm and pace that is safe and uniquely suited to you.
Most assuredly, other therapeutic methods can also be useful in healing old perceptions. Traditional psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and other clinical methods can be very useful in reworking the inner landscape of belief and healing old misperceptions, as well.
The important things are to make the choice to let go of your old story, to recognize that it is a result of the misinformation you internalized in your early life and then to seek out supportive professionals to assist in your healing. I believe this is as essential component as we were not emotionally injured in a vacuum. We gained our misperceptions through the relationships we had with others when we were infants, children and young adults. For that reason, it is my belief that we are best able to heal when we work with those who can best support us to learn new ways of being. In therapeutic association with healthy, supportive professionals we are able to repair the misconceptions and erroneous beliefs of our inner children so that our adult self can be more happy and whole.
It is never too late to change our story, to let go of our emotional baggage and to start living a life that is truly free from the burdens of the past. Since all time is occurring right in this moment, we can in essence, rewrite our history and change the trajectory we have for our future. We do this by taking the courageous step of choosing to NOT be defined by our out-moded ways of understanding.
Profound transformations have always been within our power. From the beginning, we were designed for transcendence. In his book The Biology of Transcendence, Joseph Chilton Pearce shared information about our five neural centers—or brains—four of which are located in the head, while the fifth is located in the heart. He suggests that the dynamic interaction of the head brain (intellect) and heart brain (intelligence) allows us to advance from one evolutionary place to the next. Our heart’s ability to connect us to the world of spirit means that our biology has actually prepared the way for us to be transcendent beings. We have the ability to live in both the physical and spiritual worlds in a fully conscious way.
Like “six-million dollar” women and men, we can be “better than we were before.” Indeed, we can continually rebuild ourselves in each moment by changing how we view ourselves and our surroundings. As we change our beliefs, our reality shifts, too. As we change our individual beliefs we also contribute to transforming the collective experience. In shedding our old baggage, we embark on a new journey for ourselves and for humanity.
© 2013 Evelyn C. Rysdyk
Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power, Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, the soon-to-be published A Spirit Walker’s Guide to Shamanic Tools and contributor to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare; Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word–Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. In joint practice with Allie Knowlton as Spirit Passages, her web site is http://www.spiritpassages.com.