JOURNEY INTO WHOLENESS
By Barbara Janelle M.A.
Summary of Presentations to the Southwestern Ontario Therapeutic Touch Gathering 2002, St. Jerome’s University, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, April 2002 and to TTNO Vision & Reality 2002, Markham, ON, November 2002
This is a story of a journey that is continuing. My purpose in writing it is to share what I am learning about wholeness.
My husband and I moved to Santa Barbara, CA in August 2002. I had been receiving signals for over a year that something major was coming – long-term commitments ended, roles shifted, all of the business cards for all of the disciplines I work in ran out simultaneously just as the prestigious job offer for Don appeared, etc. While I had not expected a major move from our home of over 30 years, I knew that we were to go to California.
With the considerable support of the Ontario TT community and of many friends, the sale of our house, purchase of a home in Santa Barbara, packing and moving went very easily. I had hoped to be teaching at a college in SB, but the job that had seemed a certainty did not materialise. Suddenly I went from a life of working 6 days a week from 9am to 10pm, and away every weekend from mid-March to mid June and early September to early December teaching, to doing very little.
By late January 2001, five months after moving to California, I suddenly found myself unable to walk more than ten feet without great pain. One of the immediate lessons offered was that pain is extremely debilitating. I had really not understood that before, but discovered how much it took out of me to move from the bedroom to the kitchen (and attempts to go grocery shopping were both excruciating and exhausting).
In spite of a range of treatments including TT (self-administered), Shiatsu, Feldenkrais and two months of Deep Muscle Trigger Point sessions, I still could not walk by mid-April. I e-mailed Donna Logan Van Vliet about this on April 15th, and asked her for advice. She did her checks, replied that the physical condition was emotionally based (no surprise here), and recommended two Living Light Essences. They were the only two essences of that set that I owned. I took them that evening and was walking the next day, April 17th. I flew to Toronto on the 19th and was able to hike the mile in the airport lugging my suitcases to the car rental.
I attended the TTNO Teachers Day and during a practicum, Mary Simpson described my field as severely one-sided “like Quasimoto.” That was a pretty accurate description of what I had experienced and continued to be aware of even though I could now walk. I functioned reasonably well during my two weeks in Ontario and only on the last day was I having difficulty waking again. All along, this difficulty had to do with pain in my low spine, hip and knee and inability to move my right leg forward. Metaphors abound!
CEREMONY OF GRATITUDE AND RELEASE
While in London, ON, a friend asked me if I missed our old house. It was a wonderful house, our home for 29 years. I realised that I did not miss the old house. However, everywhere I went in London, I remembered events and people and I agonised to the point of tears many times. I missed this wonderful city. Why did I miss the city so much and not the house?
I remembered that before I left the house for the last time, I walked through it, thanking it for all that it had given. I consciously released it, so that it could welcome the new owners with the same generosity of spirit it had welcomed my husband and me so many years before. This also enabled me to open to our wonderful new home in California.
I had not released the City of London. Indeed, a large part of me was still in London. No wonder I couldn’t function in California – I was not whole! When I returned to California, I did a ceremony of gratitude to London and consciously released my ties to this wonderful place. The memories remain but I was no longer in emotional agony.
I began to see that I was doing a form of soul retrieval. When we participate in a place, a job, or a role in life, we give a part of ourselves to it. In moving away from London and from my work, I had fragmented. The ceremony of release was actually a ceremony of calling the missing parts of myself back to me. I went on to do a ceremony of gratitude and release for my work and for the many roles I played during our years in London.
ANOTHER UNDERSTANDING OF WHOLENESS
Back in Santa Barbara, I continued with Feldenkrais and Living Light Essences and was able to walk. I went to a chiropractor who assessed me and said that there were misalignments in my jaw, neck, upper back, lower back, right hip, right knee and right ankle. Over the course of two months, he addressed these but by the end of it, I still was not moving fluidly.
Problems arose, when I felt other people’s anger. In one case, I had entered a bookstore and found the saleswoman being rude angry to an elderly customer. When I left the store, I could barely walk to my car. In another case at Camp Gone to the Dogs in June, two women were angry that my consultations were running late. Although this was not my fault (late luncheon announcements put everyone off schedule), when they cancelled their appointment and stalked out of the room, I suddenly couldn’t walk. It was only with the help of the two camp massage therapists that I was able to get to my room that evening. A trip to the grocery store (where there seems to be some underlying anger in the staff) would result in my limping severely within minutes. Something was obviously going on that I could not see clearly, and so I called Merlin Homer.
Merlin is a remarkable artist, psychotherapist, and mentor for many Therapeutic Touch teachers and practitioners. She has great wisdom and insight and helped me to understand that:
- I had gone through a difficult upheaval and was in a fragile state. (This goes to the essence of my learned habit of not valuing and listening to myself.)
- Because of my fragile state, I was extremely sensitive to anger, others and my own, and I had an immediate physical response to it.
- She reminded me of a talk I had given several years before on protecting oneself against outside influences by covering the solar plexus.
On March 17, 2001, I had attended a workshop given by Judith Orloff, doctor, psychologist and medical intuitive. After talking with Merlin, I recalled that Orloff had demonstrated that filling oneself with a colour of choice prevented one from being overwhelmed in difficult social situations. Here was another piece of the puzzle.
I had also heard a2-hour presentation on “Healing the Whole Person,” by Anthony Alina MD, Aaron Kipnis PhD (Psychologist), and Ann Brode CST at St. Francis Medical Center in Santa Barbara on March 16, 2001, the day before Orloff’s workshop. In that presentation, Kipnis made the statement that health is about embodiment of spirit: that where the spirit is not fully engaged, those parts of the body are more prone to illness. Indeed I was so interested in this idea that I related it to the act of grounding in TT, i.e. grounding can be seen as an invitation to spirit to come fully into the physical body. This was the subject of my talk to the 2001 SW Ontario TT Gathering!
PROTECTION OR THE CHOICE OF WHOLENESS
Now here is the interesting piece: I have never been thrilled by the idea of needing to “protect” oneself. It seems to speak of separation and mistrust, both of which go against the functioning of the heart and the sacral chakras.
So I finally got it. When I filled myself with my favourite aqua colour, it was actually an act of supporting my own wholeness. In this state of presence (embodiment of spirit) and strength, I could stay steady and function even in the challenging grocery store setting. For months as I continued to heal and build my strength (I can now walk a few miles without difficulty), I carefully filled myself with lovely colour before going out into the public world.
WHOLENESS IN RELATIONSHIP
I continued to explore the aspect of wholeness as embodiment of spirit and asked how do we fragment and in what things do we leave parts of ourselves? In addition to physical and mental trauma, and emotional upheavals, I began to recognise that we can fragment when we give parts of ourselves to others.
There are a number of people I have tried to please in my life, and most of them I knew I would never please no matter what I did. I essentially gave them a piece of myself (whether they wanted it or not!). I started to do formal ceremonies of gratitude in release. The gratitude is expressed to the high self of the person: “We have played this game very well, and I thank you for what I have experienced and learned. I choose to call myself back now and release my hold on you.” I find that there is a perceptible shift in myself when I call a part of me home.
The first time I did this with a woman I have known for twenty years, I wondered if it would end our relationship. Within two days we were speaking on the phone (our first contact in over a year), and discovered that we were engaged in a conversation between equals! Communication was clear and I had no emotional angst about it. As I’ve continued to use this ceremony, I find that relationships do not end, but rather move toward equality and clarity! I should add that I do this ceremony even with the spirits of people who have died.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
Travel. With all the air travel that I do, I began to recognise that there is another aspect to fragmentation – temporal. How can I stay whole while travelling and avoid the “spacey” feeling for several days after a trip? I do it by feeling my connection with the Earth and the integration of my spirit with my body, and frequently while travelling I will remind myself to stay whole and integrated.
Animal Behaviour. For some time now I have recognised that animals too can fragment and leave a part of themselves in physical, mental or emotional trauma. An example of this was a wonderful dog, who after a long aeroplane ride, became terrified of riding in cars and fearful of tall men. As the owner and myself invited the being who is the dog to review the trip, we both recognised the moment of fragmentation. The dog had been in a kennel crate on a moving conveyance at the airport. A tall man was standing nearby. Suddenly something fell creating a loud booming sound. The dog was frightened and fragmented. We talked the dog through the event, reminding him to stay grounded and integrated. The next day the owner put the dog in the car without any problem; the issue with tall men seems to have disappeared as well.
Surgery. I am recognising that surgery is a physical trauma that can cause fragmenting too. In working with a friend who had undergone a recent surgery with anaesthetic, I found the field in two parts. Energy coming in through the crown was going only to the mid-torso (where the surgery was done). Grounding visualisations only got roots connected up to the navel. It was as if the upper half of the body was displaced slightly to the side of the lower half. With unruffling and grounding I worked my way up through the field, connecting each part to the one below it, until at last energy moving in through the crown flowed down through the field and out the Feet and Root Chakra.
This exploration into wholeness came about because I moved away from my home of many years. It is one of a number of gifts presenting themselves (another is my wonderful garden and the exploration into deeper co-operative work with Nature). I learned about pain and how debilitating it is. I continue to be curious about what constitutes wholeness.
As children we were taught through nursery rhymes, books and Walt Disney movies that after a point, Life becomes static – “And they lived happily ever after.” We seem to be traumatised by change: children growing up and leaving home, job changes, relationship changes, even learning something new challenges us. The truth is that life is about change. Perhaps we are here to explore that and to figure out how to remain whole in a changing existence.