Recently I heard of an imagery process for relieving stress and trauma. I have something that has pained me for over a year. I said something stupid to someone I admire greatly, something that apparently sounded invasive though I didn’t intend it that way. He quite reasonably reacted by putting up walls, but I’ve been in pain about it ever since, angry at my clumsiness. It may be tapping into lifelong pains over rejection. Knowing origins hasn’t alleviated the pain. I decided to use the process on this.
In a nutshell, the original steps were:(1) Describe the emotions about the trauma.
(2) Imagine yourself sitting on a bench with a cloud or fog in front of you.
(3) Imagine the fog lifting to reveal a landscape that symbolizes your emotions.
(4) Call in a bird (symbol of spirit) and ask its name.
(5) Climb on the bird and let it take you high into the blue sky.
(6) Look down and notice what perspective does to your landscape. You should feel less emotion, see that there is landscape outside of the symbols of pain.
(7) Land and describe how your emotions feel now. They should be less.
Simple, eh? However, as usual for me, the steps are only a start, an inspiration. Then Spirit takes over and does something wonderful and unpredictable.
I started, tuning into my feelings around this. When I think of this person, I feel awful – like a hole in my solar plexus. I feel not only sad, but hopeless. I have grief that there is no chance of recovery. Sad, hopeless, grief – yep, those are my emotions about this.
I imagined myself sitting on a sturdy stone bench with a cloud in front of me, like a fog covering the land. As the fog lifts, it reveals a whirlpool. Huge. Black. Bottomless. It’s like a black hole, swallowing everything. Yuck. Scary.
I call to my bird. A huge black crow lands beside me. It’s bigger than I am. I ask, “What is your name?” It responds, “Steve”. Huh? A crow named Steve. Well, Steve is short for Stephen, of Greek origin, related to “crown”. OK. Steve invites me to get on his back. Gulp! What if I slide off? When I hesitate, he fashions for me a harness, one that will keep me securely on his back through any aerial acrobatics. Once I’m secure, we take off, flying higher and higher. When we are very high up in the beautiful blue sky, I look down. The whirlpool is still there. Still huge. Still consuming everything. Perspective isn’t helping to lessen it. I can even feel its tug from way up here. Gulp. So much for the basic process!
Steve flies even higher, up into the clouds. Unexpectedly, he lands on a cloud. It feels surprisingly firm beneath us. He says that I have a darkness in my soul – that sounds serious! He continues that beings on this cloud can help me. He will wait for me here. I dismount and walk across the cloud. Funny how spongy it feels beneath my feet.
I’ve only gone a little way when I see a golden structure ahead. It shines appealingly like bright sunlight. Soon I’m at the door. The structure is not only golden in color, it also feels warm, like the warmth of a sun. The door opens and I walk inside, into intense light. I realize that it is the Center of All that is Light. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it feel very good and very welcoming. The warm light is permeating my cells.
I have to admit that in much of my life, I imagine another person watching me and commenting on what I’m doing. Affirming me. Even in this journey. Somewhere in the back of my head, I’m imaging the person I offended watching and changing his opinion of me. Not exactly a “Be Here Now” characteristic! A voice within the structure notices that I have this split focus and says “You do not need a witness here.” Oops, I’m caught! Strangely though I don’t feel shamed as much as seen and accepted. I dismiss the thought of an observer and focus completely on the heat that is growing.
It is hot. Blasts of heat, but they feel good. Like the heat of a really good sweat lodge. Sweat and toxins pour out of me. The sun embraces me, smiling to me, “Let yourself burn up in me.” I welcome the embrace and melt into the experience. Tension and pain and old habits gradually feel burned away – a weird feeling but not actually painful. I stay until something says, “Done!”
Next I’m led to a pool, filled with liquid light. It feels wonderful as I walk into it. Refreshing. Soothing. Cleansing. My skin drinks it in, filling me with light. The top of my head is opened and my brain, filled with doubts and commentary, is washed with liquid light. It dissolves my thoughts that my experiences have no value unless useful to others. “It is enough if something helps you. You know it. You do not need the validation of others.” The old thoughts are hard to release. They have been with me all my life. But the liquid light lifts them up and away. I notice that without all these usual mental natterings, I feel a hole in my solar plexus. Not a hole like the whirlpool below, but a hole nonetheless. As soon as I notice this hole, I am given a small bird, a fledgling. It is placed into the hole in my solar plexus. “It is young. You need to nurture it.” I become aware that any time my solar plexus feels hollow – such as when I fear I’ve done wrong or I feel rejected – I am to focus inward on the little bird and take care of it. What a sweet little bird! I like having it safely tucked in.
The Being of the structure opens a hole in the cloud and tells me to look at my landscape. I look down. The whirlpool is still there but far below. I can see that it is not all that is. There is landscape that is untouched by the whirlpool and impervious to its pull. I no longer feel it pulling on me.
I leave the golden structure and walk back to Steve, climbing into the harness. Steve doesn’t take me right back, but flies over some gorgeous plateaus, over canyons, and then through a high waterfall. He does some barrel-rolls and flips, making me squeal! But I feel secure and much happier. Life is good.
When I land and come back to “reality”, I think about the man I offended. I no longer feel the sadness, the hopelessness nor the grief. I made a mistake. He reacted as he reacted. My emotional security no longer feels dependent on his changing his impression of me. Wow! A pain that I have carried for over a year is no longer here! I start to pick at it, like an old scab, but I remember the little bird in my solar plexus. Very sweet. It needs some attention. I pet it softly – and no longer pick at the old pain.
Update: I haven’t felt the old hopelessness and grief for over a week now! Thanks, Steve!
The inspiration for this journey stared with a process from Colette Baron-Reid, in the web series, “Healing with the Masters”. See http://www.healingwiththemasters.com/v11/colette-baro for more information about her and the series.