Yesterday I was in a session with one of my clients. Let’s call her Mary. She was telling me about her days and experiences after the last session we had. She told me about her routine, how it is changing for the better, how she is now meditating 20 mins every day, how she also started remembering traumatic events in her childhood that she had before no consciousness of and, like passing by, Mary mentioned she felt embarrassed about it, but that she -an intelligent, independent woman in her 30’s- is very afraid of the dark. To the point of using a flashlight to go to the bathroom at night.
In the scholar’s department that is called “Achluophobia”. She mentioned her other emotions and fears might be important, but about the last one she was ashamed.
Where does a phobia (an irrational fear) come from? Should we take the fear at face value? Are fears more important and deserving of attention than others?
“Oh….I’m afraid of small places…I’m sorry, I know it doesn’t make sense…I should control myself…I shouldn’t feel this”. That is a dismissive, neglectful and aggressive behaviour towards yourself. Your body reacts with an adrenaline rush when you are in small room. Your BODY reacts, even when your conscious mind knows the likelihood of something dangerous happening there is less than if you were crossing a street. Still, when you cross the street, your body does not express itself with a faster heart beat, cold or sweaty hands, a dry mouth, shallow breathing and a sense of dread. Only when you are alone in a small place.
Instead of trying to reason with your fear, instead of trying to deny it, to control it, to ignore it, to fight with it. What about taking it seriously? What about “LISTENING” to what it has to say?
The session with Mary started guiding her into a deep relaxation. Similar to a progressive muscle relaxation. It is the type of relaxation one uses before hypnotic suggestions. When the mind feels calmer and the body is relaxed, the subconscious is more accessible, the intellectual resistances and fears weaken.
After reminding Mary that she was safe, that I was there for her for as long as she needed me, and guided her to dive deep into her body (which leads to anchoring in the observer and an additional sense of safety) I asked her to imagine she was alone, in a room without windows, completely in the dark.
I asked her to surrender to the emotion, anchor in her body and simply feel what that situation produced in her.
She started shrinking into herself, crying, saying she was extremely afraid. “That is OK” I said, “I’m here with you, allow the fear to be there, anchor in your body and tell the sensation: I’m here with you”. She kept on crying and saying she was afraid. I could see part of her wanting to escape. I asked her to put her attention in her heart, think the Love Facet* a couple of times to connect deeper with herself, anchor with the observer at the same time, and be able to feel without flying away.
“The room is dark, you cannot see anything and you cannot get out”.
“Still, I’m here for you and it is completely natural that you feel this way. Allow yourself to go deeper into this sensation. Tell your fear, I’m here for you. Imagine you allow your body to relax and surrender to this.”
Mary follows my guidance with ease. She really wants to get better and she trusts me, which helps a lot.
After some minutes, maybe 15 or 20, her face relaxes. “How are you feeling?” “I’m feeling better. It’s not so bad now”. Then is when I tell her: “imagine your body relaxes even more, your muscles let go, and with your eyes still closed ask yourself: when was the first time I felt this way?”
An image appears in her mind, of her being in a place surrounded by liquid, unfocused red and yellow lights/shadows, an umbilical chord attached to her navel. A sensation of being trapped, not having enough space (this can for example happen to a foetus in a pathological situation called Oligohydramnios: too little amniotic fluid), not being listened to, not wanting to be there.
I ask her to be inside that baby and feel what she is feeling. She cries again and shrinks even more than before. Again I guide her to anchor in her body and feel deeply, validating her emotions and sensations. She cries to no end and starts physically shaking for another maybe 30 minutes. Until the fear and the intense sensation of suffering subsides.
After that, the work involves appearing in the memory as an adult, giving this baby love, providing for all her needs, listening to her, imagining she has more space to grow, a safe, all powerful and loving figure that comes to help too if needed, to tell the mother about this situation so she can support the baby better, and a complex, personalised and also specific set of steps designed to validate, relax, heal, call back fractured aspects of the baby-self and finally reach a state of complete well-being. Only THEN the session ends.
I’m curious to hear how does she feel now when it is dark.
Do you still think there are emotions that are not important?
* Here’s a simplified explanation on how to practice the third facet:
The Third Facet: Love
In this facet, we are going to create a profound truth that will bring us back to love of self. This thought will lead us to embrace ourselves in our perfection, to recognize that we can re-create ourselves afresh in every moment.
This is not an affirmation but a declarative statement, it works 1. stimulating both brain hemispheres at the same time, 2. bringing your attention inwards and 3. triggering whatever wound related to the belief “there is something wrong with me”:
“Love creates me in my perfection”.
1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Any thoughts that come are perfect — don’t avoid them.
2. Think, “Love creates me in my perfection”. Think it just as you would any other thought, without forcing or straining.
3. At the same time that you think this thought, put your attention deep in the heart.
4. After thinking the facet, leave a space. After a few moments, repeat the thought and again leave a space.
5. Continue in this way for about twenty minutes. You can glance at your watch or a clock to check the time.
You can use it with your eyes closed to meditate, and with your eyes open to anchor in the present moment and interrupt -the usually automatic- flow of thoughts, increasing self -awareness.
Excerpt From: Isha Judd. “Why Walk When You Can Fly?.” iBooks.
PS: The method of thinking the Facet, putting our attention in the heart, leaving a space, observing thoughts/physical sensations/emotions, simply being present, evolves from the ancient form of Vedic Meditation, now part of the Isha System.
PS2: I received “Mary”‘s express consent before publishing this 🙂