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Imagine if you had a reliable way to diagnose any statement as “true” or “false?” What if you could accurately test “It’s aligned for me to quit my job.” versus “It’s not aligned for me to quit my job?” and get the answer direct from God, your Inner Pilot Light, the Divine, the Universe, your wise body, your intuition, or whatever you want to call it? Consider all the decisions you face every day—which foods to eat, which medical treatment to choose, which way to swipe on Tinder, which vacation destination to select, which career opportunity to pursue, whether to say yes or no to a family gathering, or when it’s time to finally take that leap of faith that’s been nipping at your heels.

If such a test was possible, imagine how much ruminating, perseverating, worrying, confusion, and mental gymnastics with pros and cons you could skip!

Many of the hundreds of healers I’ve interviewed during seven years of researching my Sacred Medicine book claim it is possible, with just the right method of applying such a test, to be capable of receiving such answers from a higher Source than the limited human mind localized inside your cute skull. They claim that it’s possible to bypass your own brain and “ask up,” directing your question to some sort of Higher Mind, or non-local consciousness, or Divine Will, if you will.

When healers first insinuated such a thing, I summarily wrote it off as a wishful thinking fantasy, something too good to be true, completely unscientific, and full of the potential for abuse. I mean, really! Who has the direct line to God and can claim, “Yes, God is waving pom poms and wants you to do this” or “Heck no, God definitely does not want you to do this.” Doesn’t that sound like something any religion trying to control you or any energy healer trying to take advantage of you might use to manipulate you? (“Let’s muscle test you to see if God wants you to become my client. Oh my, look at that! God wants you to pay me $300/hour.)

They certainly didn’t teach us about muscle testing in medical school, and at first, I figured, “Certainly, if it was real, we’d use it to guide treatment decisions, right? So if doctors aren’t using it as a valid diagnostic test to guide medical treatment, then it couldn’t be accurate, right?” Then I realized how many other things I should have been taught in medical school but wasn’t. (I now teach many of these Medical School 2.0 things I should have learned but didn’t to female doctors in the Whole Health Medicine Institute, which will be accepting applications soon. Get on the waiting list here.) So instead of writing off such claims, I decided to keep an open, curious, but discerning mind. I realized it was time to do my homework.

What Is Muscle Testing?

This way to ask a higher Source whether a statement is true or false goes by many names—“muscle testing,” “energy testing” or “applied kinesiology.” The gist of muscle testing is that if something is true or aligned with the body/unconscious mind/Divine Will, and if it strengthens rather than weakens the subject, then the muscle will be strong. If it’s false, not aligned, or weakens the subject, the muscle will weaken.

The muscle test is seen by many healers as a bridge to the unconscious, kind of like bypassing the conscious mind and going direct to the wisdom or your Inner Pilot Light. The muscle test is also seen as a sort of lie detector test. So if someone muscle tests me when I say “My name is Lissa,” my arm muscle will be strong. But if I say “My name is Fred,” my arm will weaken because of the falsehood. Some healers use this as a way to demonstrate that what we think we want, we often unconsciously do not want. For example, I just taught a Mind Over Medicine workshop, where I told my students that as crazy as it sounds, some sick people who say they want to be cured do not really want to be cured. Part of them wants to be cured. Of course, the conscious mind wants to be cured, to be free from suffering and symptom free, to have their health span equal their life span. But something in the unconscious may want to stay sick as a way to try to protect them. For example, if someone thinks the only way they’ll get love and attention is to be sick, they will be unwilling to give up love and attention.

Healers may use the muscle test to validate this kind of unconscious block, asking someone to say, “I want to be cured” and testing whether the muscle is strong. If it is discovered that the patient unconsciously wants to be sick, then the work of the healer is to make the unconscious conscious and treat whatever block may be sabotaging the conscious desire to get well.

I’ve seen healers use muscle tests for a variety of reasons. Some alternative medicine practitioners use it to test whether a supplement is good for someone’s body. Some use it to prescribe dietary changes, testing which foods are good for the body and which are not. I’ve seen them test to see what traumas might be at the root cause of an illness. I’ve also seen some healers misuse the muscle test, exploiting it to try to prove how accurate their intuition is to patients as a way to show off or prove how psychic they are. I’ve even seen some unethically use muscle testing to try to control a patient or client into doing something the practitioner wants the patient to do. When used properly, however, and with impeccable ethics, I’ve witnessed this tool used in ways that seems very helpful to both the client and the practitioner.

Is Muscle Testing Valid?

As an admittedly skeptical, scientifically-minded conventionally trained medical doctor, I like to go direct to the research around controversial things in medicine and healing. People can make all kinds of claims, but can we prove them? Because muscle testing seemed like something easy to prove or disprove as a valid test, I studied the research and was disappointed by how inconclusive it seemed. Although some studies show that a muscle test is accurate to a statistically significant degree, statistical significance does not equal clinical significance. In other words, unless the test was reliable more than 95 percent of the time, its clinical relevance is insignificant. The problem is that, by the very nature of how the test works or doesn’t work, even the best scientists have been unable to use current science to prove or disprove its validity. However, this has not stopped scientists from dismissing the test as entirely useless. One double blind randomized trial published in Explore demonstrated that muscle testing could not reliably distinguish between a vial of salt water and a vial of poison. Researchers involved in the study concluded, “Applied Kinesiology has not demonstrated that it is a useful or reliable diagnostic tool upon which health decisions can be based.”

I even reached out to the Oxford PhD candidate Anne Jensen, who is writing her doctoral thesis on the science of muscle testing. (I’ll be publishing all the data and my conclusions about it in my Sacred Medicine book.) Suffice it to say that after years of study, research and practice, I now realize that most scientific studies on muscle testing are inconclusive because researchers do not control for all the variables that make a muscle test inaccurate. I don’t think they perform the muscle test inaccurately on purpose; I think very few people know all the factors that can influence a muscle test in a way that makes it inaccurate. As far as I know, there is no scientific way to even control for some of these variables, which makes it nearly impossible to test conclusively.

The healer/psychotherapist who has influenced me the most regarding muscle testing is Asha Clinton, PhD, the founder of Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT). After studying AIT and completing the introductory basic training course to learn how to practice AIT on my own clients, I learned all the factors that are necessary in order to perform a muscle test correctly, which helped me understand why so many people perform inaccurate and unreliable muscle tests. To explain the conundrum, let me explain all the influences that can confound a muscle test, based on what I learned from AIT. (If you’d like to learn how to perform a muscle test correctly—as well as other AIT foundational teachings—we still have a few spots open for the AIT Basics Training Asha Clinton and I are doing together in Mill Valley, CA in August. Register here.

What Can Make A Muscle Test Inaccurate?

1. The tester needs to put his or her ego to the side.

Bias or an agenda on the part of the tester can influence the muscle test and cause it to be inaccurate. This complicates the science of muscle testing, because how can you control for whether the tester has an agenda? In a perfect world, both the tester and testee would be able to put aside their biases, remain neutral, and detach from the outcome of the muscle test. However, with all the unconscious traumas and core beliefs that sit in the testee’s unconscious, if we had to wait for the testee to be completely neutral, we’d be waiting for a very long time. With that disclaimer, it helps if the tester and testee can approach the muscle test as just another piece of information that can be helpful when you’re making treatment decisions or other life decisions. If a skeptical researcher is driven by an egoic attachment to disproving muscle testing, the bias of the researcher can make the muscle test inaccurate. If an egoically driven dogmatic energy healer is trying to prove that muscle testing works or that their intuition is accurate, this agenda can also make the test inaccurate. If the testee is afraid of the answer, attached to an answer, or resistant to an answer, the muscle test may not be valid. The only way a muscle test will be accurate is if at least the tester can approach the statement from a neutral position. I know some people resist things like prayer, but for me, the muscle test is a kind of prayer, a direct request to whatever invisible force of love you believe in. It’s my way of saying “God/Goddess, I want to serve your will, not my small pea brain’s will. Please help me know what’s true.” Then I surrender, knowing that, even if I’m emotional about a statement, the only thing I really want is the truth.

2. The tester needs to be grounded, embodied, and present.

If you’re muscle testing someone while you’re thinking about your shopping list, out of touch with your body, and distracted, you may influence the muscle test. It’s always a good idea for the tester to take a moment before testing and just ground, breathe deeply, feel your body, and show up in the present moment, undistracted. Just as it’s hard to screen for whether the tester is ego-driven, scientifically controlling for whether the tester is grounded, embodied, and present may be impossible. This further contributes to why muscle testing is hard to verify scientifically.

3. Reversal of electrical polarity.

Electrical polarity is supposed to run in a consistent direction in the human energy field. If the polarity of the testee is reversed, the muscle test may be inaccurate. There’s a way to check whether the polarity is running in the right direction, and there’s a way to fix it if it’s off, which we teach in the AIT seminar.

4. Psychological Reversals.

If you are in some unconscious way resistant to knowing the answer to the muscle test, the test can be inaccurate. For example, if Asha is testing someone about a trauma and there is resistance to knowing the truth, there may interference that invalidates the muscle test. If psychological reversals are present, AIT teaches a way to treat this so you can get the right answer.

5. Accuracy requires the right statement.

If you’re trying to muscle test two things at once, for example, you may get an equivocal muscle test. You wouldn’t want to muscle test “It’s aligned for me to move to New York or LA.” You’d want to test “It’s aligned for me to move.” If the muscle test says yes, then you could separately test for “It’s aligned for me to move to New York” and “It’s aligned for me to move to LA.”

6. You can’t muscle test the future.

This is not a crystal ball! All you’re testing is what is true in this present moment. Because humans have free will and energy is changing all the time, the future is untestable. So don’t go trying to test “I’m going to marry Billy” or “I’ll have four children one day.” Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

7. Injured muscles.

Obviously, if the muscles you’re going to test are injured in some way, the muscle test may not be valid. In the AIT Basics seminar, Asha and I teach lots of different muscles you can test, in case there’s an injury in one muscle group. We also teach how to muscle test yourself (though I always second guess myself and still prefer to have someone else test me!).

8. Dehydration.

If either the testee or tester is dehydrated, it’s possible that it can alter the muscle test. There’s a way to test for dehydration and if the testee is dehydrated and both the tester and testee drink a glass of water, this can be easily corrected. Most practitioners who use muscle testing do not test for hydration, because they don’t think it’s necessary, so it may not be essential, but I still use it and it’s in the AIT muscle testing protocol, just in case.

Do I Believe In Muscle Testing?

In spite of the scientific method’s difficulty verifying muscle testing as an evidence-based test, I now use muscle testing all the time personally and professionally, and I teach it to doctors in the Whole Health Medicine Institute, as well as co-teaching with Asha in the AIT Basics seminar. Do I believe in it? Well, it’s not so much about belief. I just trust it and use it routinely now, as irrational as that sounds even to myself. Perhaps some things, such as the mechanism by which muscle testing works, simply prefer to remain a mystery.

If you’re interested in learning how to perform an accurate muscle test or how to practice AIT with patients or clients, you can learn more about the AIT seminar and register here. If you’ve never heard of AIT and are interested in learning this revolutionary healing modality, read the blogs I’ve written here:

How I’m Using AIT (Advanced Integrative Therapy) To End The Suffering Unhealed Trauma Creates

The Unmistakable Link Between Unhealed Trauma & Illness

I hope this has helped you find some long-awaited clarity! If you have any direct experience with muscle testing, I’d love to hear your stories or comments in the comments below.

With love and wishes for reliable answers,

     

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After seven years of research, I’m finally writing my long-awaited book Sacred Medicine, the third book in the trilogy, following up Mind Over Medicine and The Fear Cure. I know a lot of you are kind of waiting on pins and needles for this book, and I feel a little daunted by the responsibility of all the wisdom, experiences, blessings, insight, and knowledge I’ve been gifted as part of my research. I feel like I need to bring the same kind of rigor to this book that I’ve brought to the others, yet this subject is hard to be scientifically rigorous with, given the nature of consciousness and its relationship to healing.

Anyway, since the book is still at least a year or two away, I want to keep updating those of you who follow my blog as I synthesize what I’m learning, so let me share with you 21 things I’ve learned during this journey, which I’m unpacking slowly.

1.  Illness, injury, and trauma are an opportunity for awakening for those who are willing to approach their suffering as a gateway to transformation. Healing, transformation, trauma clearing, and spiritual awakening are entangled phenomena that cannot be separated, even though medicine, psychology, spirituality, and science would all like you to believe they can be. This integrated way of approaching a healing journey as a spiritual path is not for everyone, and that’s okay. Some people will continue to compartmentalize these disciplines, opening to science and medicine, for example, but choosing to keep psychology and spirituality out of their process. This is every individual’s right, to choose how you approach your own treatment. You cannot impose this way of healing on anyone else, but if you’re in need of healing, or if you’re in the healing arts, and if you’re willing to go down this rabbit hole, consider it an invitation to a deeper, richer, more meaningful, Whole Health life.

2.  The body is naturally equipped to heal itself, but chronic stress responses in the nervous system impair these self-healing mechanisms, causing our bodies to break down. These powerful stress responses, which bolster survival in a real emergency but which destroy the body if firing chronically, override the body’s ability to repair what breaks, allowing diseases like cancer, which would otherwise get cleared naturally, to take hold and flourish.

3.  Every aspect of your life (your relationships, your work, your creativity, your sexuality, your spirituality, your finances, your environment, your food, how you move your body, etc.) has the opportunity to be either poison or medicine. As I explain in great detail in Mind Over Medicine, Whole Health requires lifestyle modifications that transform what might be poison into what can be medicine.For example, your work can be poisonous to your health, or your work can be medicine as you fulfill your calling in a way that helps you heal. When we live authentically from the “juice” of our Inner Pilot Lights, our relationships, our work, our spirituality, our creativity, our sexuality, our relationship to money, our mental and physical health behaviors all convert what is potentially toxic into what is healing.

4.  Trauma is at the root of many illnesses. Some people have experienced the Big T traumas, the ones researchers call the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). But 100% of us have experienced what might seem like smaller traumas, such as the developmental traumas that interfere with our healthy individuation, capacity for intimacy, and natural full expression of our authentic selves. Such trauma, which Buddhist psychiatrist Mark Epstein, MD calls “the trauma of everyday life,” affects every one of us and impacts our health. Talk therapy is not enough to heal these wounds. Healing requires not just talking about traumatic events in our lives; it requires clearing those traumas from our energy systems (researchers like Shamini Jain, PhD call it “the biofield”), so life force can flow freely. This natural flow of life force can sometimes cure disease and prevent future disease or disability.

5.  Nutrition as medicine, exercise, getting enough sleep, and functional medicine approaches to health are essential building blocks of Whole Health, but they’re insufficient for optimal health outcomes. You can eat the world’s most pristine diet, work out every day, sleep nine hours per night, take 100 supplements, and get the best conventional medical treatment or functional/integrative medicine treatment in the world, but if there’s untreated trauma in your system, you’re unlikely to be permanently cured from a chronic or life-threatening illness.

6.  Many people who say they want to be cured unconsciously sabotage their healing. While their conscious minds genuinely want to stop suffering, parts of the unconscious mind does not want the illness to go away, and those unconscious parts interfere with healing. It’s like putting one foot on the gas and one foot on the brakes. Parts of you want to be cured and other parts of you, parts that think they’re protecting you, don’t want you to get well. For example, if you’re sick and getting a big fat disability check from a job you used to hate, some parts will want to keep the disability check and avoid going back to the soul-sucking job. Clearing these unconscious blocks is a necessary part of the healing process.

7.  You know what’s best for your body far better than any expert does. Expertise is awesome. We need our experts to offer what they offer in their respective medicine bags. But someone else’s expertise does not make them the expert of how your healing journey should go. If you tune into your Inner Pilot Light, you’ll be guided to what will help you heal. (Learn how to Connect To Your Inner Pilot Light so you can receive this guidance here.)

8.  Love heals. It’s a paradox. You can heal yourself; and you can’t do it alone. While the body is equipped to heal itself, most of us can’t do what healing asks of us in isolation. Even introverts like myself need safe, nurturing, non-judgmental, loving healers and a community of healing to hold us while we heal ourselves and each other.

9.  Circles are powerful. As Michael Lerner of Commonweal said, “If it touches the heart, if it helps guide us on our path, it’s a Healing Circle.” Circles eliminate pedestals. Circles have been used by indigenous people as a vehicle of healing for millennia. The very same people gathered together with the intention of healing have less impact when they’re sitting in rows or when one person is up on stage.

10.  Life force can be transfused when yours is weakened. Call it life force, call it chi, call it prana, call it energy, call it love or God or Shakti or the Holy Spirit. What you call it doesn’t matter. All of us have times in life when our life force wanes, and we need that life force to flow freely in order to be optimally healthy. While all living beings have life force flowing through them, when yours gets weak, you may need someone else whose life force is flowing with less impediment to boost yours until your own life force can move through you unimpeded.

11.  When you let life force flow through you so you can help heal others, you receive a healing yourself. When you become a channel for life force flowing through you, that which flows through you heals you as it moves in you. If you’re dialed into the Source of all life force, then this life force is infinite and unlimited and restorative. If you’re depleted after offering healing, you’re giving up your own life force rather than opening to the unlimited flow of life force that’s available to us all, and this can make you sick. But if you’re channeling the Source of all life force, you receive a healing through the act of healing.

12.  Optimal health requires the generation of your own life force. Although we can receive transfusions of life force from others and this may help us feel better temporarily, most of these kinds of transfusions aren’t permanent unless you heal and clear traumatic imprints or blocks in your own system so you can open to the flow of life force on your own, through your own connection to Source.

13.  Music, art, dancing, safe touch, emotional vulnerability, setting the intention for healing, prayer, and meditation all bond groups into powerful forces of healing. When these elements of group bonding come together, they seem to amplify the impact of each one, making each exponentially more powerful.

14.  The more bonded the group, the more powerful it can be as a force for healing.  Group bonding can arise as the result of singing and dancing together, undergoing initiatory rituals together, surviving a trauma together, healing trauma together, creating art together, experiencing strong emotions like love or ecstasy or grief or rage together, feeling safe to be emotionally and expressively authentic in a shared space, and engaging in spiritual practices together.

15.  If groups are strongly bonded, one person’s cure may increase the likelihood that another bonded group member is also cured. This concept of “resonant bonding” is currently being studied by researcher William Bengston, PhD, who theorizes that this may offer part of the explanation for the mystery of the placebo effect. In other words, if participants in a research study are in some way bonded, those who are cured by the treatment may lead to cures experienced by the control (placebo) group who do not get the treatment. The mechanism of action of how this works is still unknown, but Bill Bengston is hell bent on unraveling this mystery, so stay tuned.

16.  If groups are equally bonded, size seems to matters. The larger the group, the more powerful the healing effect seems to be. If a larger group means less bonding, however, this does not seem to be the case. The strength of the bonding appears to matter more than the size of the group, but if both groups are equally bonded, a larger group seems to result in more healing impact. This may explain why healing happen at sacred sites like Lourdes.

17.  What many people call “energy healing” may actually be the transmission of healing “information” riding on a wave of energy. This would explain why healing seems to work remotely and does not diminish across distance in the way we would expect energy to dissipate at a distance and be stronger when it’s close. Again, the mechanism for how this healing information seems to be transmitted is not understood by the scientists who are researching it. Some theorize that healing information is a kind of code, almost like computer code, that can be inserted into a buggy program in the body. Some healers suggest that the energy body (of which the physical body is a part) is designed with an ideal matrix based on sacred geometries and therefore insertion of healing information is like repairing a glitch in the blueprint of a healthy body.

18.  Healing requires a sanctuary. Because some aspects of healing can feel like getting cut open with a scalpel, we need to counterbalance the challenging parts of the deep work healing requires with the nurture, safety, comfort, and unconditional acceptance we all crave. This bolsters us and gives us courage so we can do what we must to heal what is ready to be healed. Some find this kind of sanctuary in nature. Others find it in sacred spaces where groups gather, as in traditional churches, temples, and holy sites. Still others find their sanctuary inside, where they can connect to their Inner Pilot Light in silent meditation and experience a deep peace and sense of wholeness, which is always within us, even when we feel broken.

19.  Pleasure, play, and laughter are good medicine. Healing work can be painful, as we face everything we have compartmentalized into trauma bubbles we typically don’t touch. As we gently and patiently penetrate these bubbles so healing can happen, we need to counterbalance the discomfort with play, pleasure, laughter, and deep nurturing experiences. As your tolerance for pain increases, your tolerance for pleasure needs to increase just as much. Many people have unconscious blocks against feeling good and receiving deliciously pleasurable experiences. Feeling the pain of being human needs to be counterbalanced with feeling all the pleasures of all the senses that only creatures with human bodies can experience. Otherwise, healing can quickly devolve into masochism- which, of course, is not healing.

20.  Healing is an interdisciplinary process. You can’t heal psychologically without having it impact the health of your body. You can’t heal medically without having it impact your psychological and spiritual well-being. You can’t heal spiritually without having it affect you psychologically and medically. Medicine, psychology, spirituality, and science are all linked and cannot be peeled apart, even by those who try to separate them. As much as we’d like to believe we can divide these categories into different academic disciplines that belong in different departments of universities, healing fails to play by such rules. All psychological healing leads to spiritual awakening and better physical health. All spiritual awakenings impact the psyche and the body. All “spontaneous remissions” impact you psychologically and spiritually (just ask people like Anita Moorjani or Eben Alexander). All biofield science that researches healing leads you down a rabbit hole that leads to quantum physics that leads to the science of consciousness, which leads to psychological, spiritual, and medical breakthroughs. Healing does not behave according to the principles of the Cartesian mind/body/spirit split. The etymology of the word “healing” comes from the Proto-Germanic word “khailaz,” which translates as “to make whole.” Healing is, almost by definition, a unifying phenomena that restores the academic splits into a reunion of integration.

21.  Healing should be a right, not a privilege, but we’re not there yet. Healing should not be a luxury good, only available for people who can afford to hire energy healers, trauma therapists, or shamans who don’t accept insurance. You shouldn’t have to pay thousands of dollars to attend healing retreats or fly across the world to see a healer in some far away country. But our culture has not yet caught up with the reality that anyone who is ready, willing, and courageous enough to embark upon a journey of healing should be able to access it. Right now, healing is a luxury that the people who need it the most cannot afford. We need a public health/ community health model that makes healing affordable for anyone willing to do the hard work of journeying through illness, injury, or trauma as a transformational spiritual path. Along with some of the healers I’ve researched for my Sacred Medicine book, I am actively engaged in a pilot program to try to address this need for a public health solution, but we’re not ready to scale it yet. If you have extra financial resources and you would like to contribute to our Inner Pilot Light scholarship fund in the interim in order to help fund healing work for those who cannot afford to pay for themselves, we would welcome your donations here.

If you’re in need of healing—here’s help:

I’ve developed many different resources to guide those who are in need of healing and those who tend to those in need of healing, depending on how deep you want to go and what you can afford.

  1. Join the Healing Soul Tribe—a community of people on a quest to heal from illness, injury, or trauma, we support one another as we work through the Whole Health Cairn from Mind Over Medicine together. Some in the group are training to be group leaders for in person Healing Soul Tribes, as described in m my vision here. Start your healing journey in loving community here.
  2. Attend the Mind Over Medicine workshop in Mill Valley June 20–23. Register here.
  3. Learn a Sacred Medicine trauma healing modality at a training I’m co-teaching with AIT founder Asha Clinton, PhD. Register here. This is best suited for therapists and doctors but you don’t have to be a doctor or therapist to attend.
  4. Enroll in one of my many online homestudy programs here.
  5. Apply for my Visionary Mentoring program here. Applications for 2019 are due July 15.

Now I’m back to writing my book, so stay tuned for more as I continue trying to hack healing.

Much love,

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When I was talking to Richard Schwartz about how the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model came to be, he said, “It required me to be willing to be wrong dozens of times in the thirty years I’ve spent creating it.” Since I finished writing my book Mind Over Medicine in 2011, I’ve learned so much and proven myself wrong time and again. Any good scientist needs to be willing to assert a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, and then collect evidence that either proves or disproves the hypothesis without attachment to whether the hypothesis is right or wrong.

When I started researching spontaneous remissions and the placebo effect in an attempt to hack healing, I hypothesized what might make the body ripe for miracles. Since I finished writing that book, and as I’ve been collecting evidence for my book Sacred Medicine, my research into the mysteries of healing continues. As a result of this ongoing investigation and the acquisition of new knowledge and understanding, I now teach the 6 Steps To Healing Yourself from Mind Over Medicine differently. In this blog, I’d like to share with you a few new things I’ve learned in the past eight years.

[I’ll be teaching this content experientially and in more detail in my Mind Over Medicine workshop in Mill Valley, CA in June. Register by May 1 and get $200 off tuition here.]

The 6 Steps To Healing Yourself

First, let me review the way I taught the 6 steps in Mind Over Medicine, and then I’ll briefly review what I’ve learned since then.

Step 1: Believe you can heal yourself.
Step 2: Find the right support.
Step 3: Listen to your body and intuition.
Step 4: Diagnose the root causes of your illness.
Step 5: Write The Prescription for yourself. Step 6: Surrender attachment to outcomes

Step 1: Believe you can heal yourself.

Steps 1 arose from my understanding of the placebo effect. My definition of the placebo effect in Mind Over Medicine was “a combination of positive belief and the nurturing care of someone you trust.” I still believe that positive belief helps, but I now think it’s less important than other factors. While I’m on board with what Bruce Lipton, PhD teaches in The Biology of Belief about how the hormones induced by positive belief prepare the body-wide cell culture that affects epigenetic changes when you think positive thoughts about your health, I’ve now been exposed to new data that makes me think the placebo effect might not be so simple. I’ve also been exposed to data that suggests that you don’t have to believe in a treatment in order for it to work. A skeptic, for example, appears to be able to receive an energy healing treatment and still experience maximal benefit. While belief probably plays a role, I now think that if you clear your unhealed trauma, for example, you might be cured, even if you don’t believe you will!

Step 2: Find the right support.

Step 2 is full of paradoxes, like “You can heal yourself, but you can’t do it alone.” Step 2 also arose from my understanding of the placebo effect, and I now believe that Step 2 is far more important than I once understood. I conclude that love heals. Period. Scientists and researchers keep trying to separate love and medicine. We want to prove that the chemotherapy works, not the person administering the chemo. We want to prove that the energy healing method works independent of who gives it. I don’t know why we’re so resistant to admitting that the love of the person offering the healing may be far more important than the treatment itself, but science seems uncomfortable with such things. I, for one, am not at all uncomfortable with concluding that finding the right support and feeling loved is essential to the healing process. I mean, duh. It’s quite obvious, isn’t it? It’s also quite scientific. When you feel loved, you feel safe. When you feel safe, your nervous system relaxes into the parasympathetic nervous system, and only then can the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms flip on and do their glorious thing.

For many years, cardiologist Dean Ornish, MD has been leading the Ornish Reversal Program for people with coronary artery disease for many years. The program, which is now considered mainstream, is evidence-based, is covered by Medicare, and has been proven to open blocked coronary arteries without stenting or surgery, consists of diet changes, exercise, stress reduction, and the loving support of a circle of other people going through the program. When I asked Dr. Ornish what he thought really worked about his program, he told me that the diet and exercise protocols were there in order to get Congress to approve Medicare coverage from the program. “But what really works?” I asked. He said, “It’s a conspiracy of love. They have broken hearts. We put them in a circle and they give and receive love from each other. Then they have healing hearts.”

So yes, I still think Step 2 is essential, and if you don’t feel loved by your health care providers, find new ones. Expertise is great, but it’s insufficient for permanent healing. The people who experience radical remissions feel loved by their support team.

Step 3: Listen to your body and intuition.

Step 3 is all about connection to what I call your “Inner Pilot Light.” I just wrote a whole book—The Daily Flame—about how your connection to your inner doctor, mentor, therapist, parent, Beloved, and guidance system is foundational as a fundamental of self-healing. I now have more tools than I had when I wrote Mind Over Medicine about what actually secures this Divine connection to our true center. Without this, all the effort in the world will not optimize the healing process. Nobody outside of you knows what will best serve your healing journey. Just as I described in my story of my own healing journey after I was injured in a dog attack two years ago, your Inner Pilot Light knows your way. And your way is unique to just you.

Step 4: Diagnose the root causes of your illness.

This is still the most uncomfortable and potentially triggering step in healing yourself, and it’s the one you’re likely to need the most support to uncover. Because most people are in denial about what their bodies may be trying to communicate with them through illness or injury, we have lots of defenses built up to protect us from actually facing the truth. For example, if you’re sick because your childhood wounding has resulted in your inability to say no, your illness may be the way you’ve adapted, so your body forces you to say no. That way, you have a good excuse to say no, and it’s easier to say “I have a migraine” than “No, I’m not resourced to help you or meet your need right now.” People may judge themselves for having an illness that says no for them, but once you learn to love, accept, and appreciate your body and even your illness, once you validate and respect how it might think it’s helping you, you can face the truth about the real issue, which is that you still have unhealed trauma from childhood that made you incapable of saying no. Once that trauma is healed, your body may not need to say no for you anymore, because your mouth can say no instead. In the Mind Over Medicine workshop in Mill Valley, CA in June, we’ll be focusing a lot on Step 4 and doing some trauma healing work to clear and treat the root causes.

Step 5: Write your own Prescription.

This is the action step, the one where you answer the question, “What does your body need in order to heal?” or “How can you live a life your body will love?” It’s an intuitively-guided treatment plan that only you can write. It may include conventional medical treatments. It may include complementary and alternative treatments. It may include trauma therapy to clear the wounds you identified in Step 4. It may include lifestyle modifications, like setting boundaries in your relationships or making a career change or moving to a more health-inducing location. It may include changing your diet or starting a meditation practice or joining a running group. It might include signing up for a workshop like the Mind Over Medicine workshop I’ll be teaching (register here). The key is that nobody else can write this kind of capital “P” Prescription for you. Your doctors and other healers can make suggestions, but they are merely expert consultants. Your Inner Pilot Light is the Source of what belongs on your Prescription or not. (If you’re not sure how to get a yes/no answer from your Inner Pilot Light, the Connect To Your Inner Pilot Light program might be just what your inner doctor ordered.)

Step 6: Let go of attachment to outcomes.

Imagine if every illness, new pregnancy, or surgery began with a simply prayer—”Let us pray for that which is most right.” What if we simply don’t know what is most aligned for our soul’s journey? It’s hard not to be attached to the desire to get out of suffering or avoid dying. But as Tosha Silver says, “The very act of grasping for the feather creates the wind current that pushes it away.” It totally makes sense that we grasp for cure. But this step of spiritual surrender is a gesture towards letting go. It acknowledges that there are things you can do to be proactive about your health—and there are mysteries that will alone cannot control. If you ask for help and surrender your desire for cure to whatever Force of Love you resonate with (your Inner Pilot Light, the Universe, the Divine, God, Goddess, angels, guides, your spirit animal, other deities, or maybe something in nature, like a tree or the ocean), mysterious forces beyond your control, you’re likely to feel an inner peace that frees you and relaxes your nervous system. There are some things we simply can’t make happen. We simply have to let them happen—or not.

What’s New? How Have The 6 Steps Changed Since 2011?

While this is the format and order in which I taught the 6 Steps in Mind Over Medicine, I’ve been reframing and teaching the process differently in my Mind Over Medicine workshops and in the Whole Health Medicine Institute. After taking a workshop with Outrageous Openness author Tosha Silver back in 2013, I realized that (duh), Step 6 should be Step 1. Of course we don’t need to wait until the end of the process to humble ourselves, ask for help, surrender to the Divine, and then . . . wait for guidance! While some people are unwilling to raise the white flag of spiritual surrender until they feel they have maxed out everything they can make happen proactively with the force of their will, this can lead to a lot of unnecessary effort and frustration. Surrender first, then carry on.

What use to be Step 1—about believing you can get well—still has benefit, but I now think it’s less important than I once did. Yes, positive belief can relax the nervous system and optimize outcomes, but positive belief alone will not cure cancer. Clearing your trauma, however, may cure cancer, even if you don’t believe it will. So belief, while important, is less important than other factors, I now believe.

What was once Step 2 about finding the right support I now believe is more crucial than I ever realized. It’s not just about finding the right healing team. It’s about finding a healing community. Group healing seems to affect outcomes exponentially. This may explain, at least in part, phenomena like Lourdes, where pilgrims gather by the tens of thousands and some experience radical remissions from “incurable” illnesses. Maybe it’s Divine intervention, or maybe it’s a kind of group energy healing, where members of the group are linked by resonant bonding, and if one person gets cured, others, through a kind of quantum entanglement—or dare I call it “love”—can also get cured. It’s a paradox: Your body can heal itself, and you can’t do it alone.

I just wrote a whole book about what was Step 3—connecting to your Inner Pilot Light. (Sign up for the free Daily Flame or get the book here). I still think this is tantamount. Nobody knows your body better than you. Others can offer you their expertise, but never give away your power to tune into your own intuition and receive the guidance that can optimize your outcome. But I now realize that this step is actually part of Step 1. When you surrender to Divine Will and activate other practices of connecting to your Inner Pilot Light and trusting the mysterious guidance that can come through, this trust sets the stage for the whole journey, so you don’t need to consider it a separate step.

What were steps 4 and steps 5 are the same, only now I realize that Step 4 is largely about bringing into conscious awareness the unconscious traumas that predispose us to health. (Read about the unmistakable link between trauma and disease here.)

After teaching a lot of Mind Over Medicine workshops to large groups, I also added a step after step 5. When I’m working with groups, I’ll often ask people to review their Prescriptions and share them with a partner out loud. I’ll then ask them to imagine that we live in a magical universe where we could guarantee that if they actually followed through on everything on their Prescription, they would be cured. How many would do it? To my shock, only about half raised their hands.

Why, I’d ask? Of course, there are no guarantees, so I understand that some people might not follow through because they don’t trust that it would help. But if you had a guarantee, why would you not do it? I asked the half that didn’t raise their hands to stand up, and from their disclosures, I learned something startling.

How We Unconsciously Sabotage Healing

Many people who are sick are getting secondary gain from their illness, or their illness thinks it’s protecting them. So while they say they want to get well, and while it’s true that part of them wants to get well, an even stronger part of them does not want to get well. Why would this be? For example, people realized they didn’t want to give up their disability check and go back to a soul sucking job, but they didn’t know how else to pay the bills. They realized that cancer was serving a purpose to make them prioritize their own needs instead of caregiving everyone else all the time. They suddenly saw how illness was a good excuse to avoid toxic family gatherings, get out of housework and child care duties, and have a good reason for not pursuing a dream that might require them to risk failure. People often feel ashamed when they realize this. But this is nothing to be ashamed about. It’s just something to bring into consciousness, so that you realize that you may be putting one foot on the gas and one foot on the brakes. If you really want to optimize outcomes, you’ll need to address the blocks and clear them so that if cure is in the cards for your soul’s journey, it will have a chance to come through without your unconscious sabotage. To address this, I added a step about dealing with the inevitable fear and resistance that arises, and clearing those blocks.

So . . . to review:

The new 6 Steps To Healing Yourself

Step 1: Surrender your desire for cure to your Inner Pilot Light. Cast the burden of this intense desire over to Divine Will and ask for help navigating the healing journey. Trust that if right action is required, you will be guided through this gateway to the Infinite.

Step 2: Believe that cure is possible. Acknowledge the uncertainty that accompanies any healing journey and allow yourself to feel the feelings that come with uncertainty. But also restore hope and open the portal of potential. Toss out any statistics you hear from doctors or read on the internet. This is YOUR journey. You are not a statistic. You are a unique individual who has an unknown and unknowable future. This is not about entering a state of false hope or denial. It’s about being willing to not know. When you don’t know what the future holds, anything can happen, even a miracle.

Step 3: Surround yourself with healing support. As much as self-help books like to suggest that healing can be a solitary journey, I no longer believe that optimal healing arises from the rugged individualist. Perhaps part of the healing process is intended to restore our place of belonging in tribe. If you believe you have to do everything yourself and you can’t dare to rely on anyone else’s love and support, that’s a recipe for illness. No wonder your body would feel the need to force you to receive care! Even if you’re an introvert or a monk, you’ll need the right kind of community support. You might need experts, whether they are doctors or therapists or energy healers or shamans. Or you might just need a circle of peers who are also on a healing journey. (Read my vision about Healing Soul Tribes here.)

Step 4: Diagnose the root cause of your illness. The Whole Health Cairn wellness model that I introduced in two TEDx talks and in Mind Over Medicine expands on the Whole Health Cairn, which is still the foundation of Step 4. What many people find when they work through this step is that trauma lies at the root of this diagnostic process. You can often find the root cause quite easily by asking your body or your illness or your symptom, “Why are you here? How do you think you’re protecting me?” Then listen deeply and receive what your body communicates. After seven years of research, I’m now convinced that many illnesses are the result of trauma, especially those mysterious illnesses that are either hard to diagnose, have no known treatment, or do not respond to conventional medical treatment. Some people have experienced the Big T traumas, the ones researchers call the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s). But 100% of us have experienced what might seem like smaller traumas, such as the developmental traumas that interfere with our healthy individuation, capacity for intimacy, and natural full expression of our authentic selves. Such trauma, which Buddhist psychiatrist Mark Epstein, MD calls “the trauma of everyday life,” affects every one of us and impacts our health. Talk therapy is not enough to heal these wounds. Healing requires not just talking about traumatic events in our lives; it requires clearing those traumas from our energy systems (researchers like Shamini Jain, PhD call it “the biofield”), so life force can flow freely. This natural flow of life force can sometimes cure disease and prevent future disease or disability. I’m not saying all disease is the result of psycho-spiritual trauma. Perhaps it’s the trauma of eating crap or poisoning your body with cigarettes or living next door to a toxic waste dump. But I am suggesting that trauma plays a far more significant role in the development of illness than most doctors and scientists are acknowledging. And if we want to optimize the chance for full cure, we need to get to the root of these traumas and treat them with effective trauma clearing modalities like Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT) or Internal Family Systems (IFS).

Step 5: Write The Prescription for yourself. Tuning into your Inner Pilot Light, allow yourself to be guided to the action steps that you intuit will help you heal. This inner doctor will help you choose between conventional treatment options, if you sense that will help. It may also guide you to start working with a trauma therapist or energy healer. It may guide you to end your marriage, change careers, write the book you’ve dreamed of writing, and start a yoga class. Write it all down so you can see it in one place. You may only know the first step, and that’s fine. One intuitively guided action step may lead to the next, and if you trust the process, all you need to know is your next right step.

Step 6: Treat your resistance. 100% of the people I’ve worked with, myself included, have at least some bit of resistance to the Whole Health healing process. You might be afraid to follow through on what your Inner Pilot Light is guiding you to do. You might have one foot on the gas and one foot on the brakes because of the secondary gain you’re getting from your illness. You may also see a whole series of steps that overwhelm you. This is fine. Most of us have resistance to change, even positive change. Treating your resistance takes some guidance, which we’ll be facilitating in the Mind Over Medicine workshop I’ll be teaching in Mill Valley in June. (Register here by May 1 and save $200.) If you can’t make the workshop and you don’t know how to address your resistance on your own, you may need expert help treating your resistance. But don’t resist your resistance! It’s natural and nothing to feel ashamed about.

I hope to see many of you at the Mind Over Medicine workshop so we can work these 6 steps in a healing community of people who can help each other heal. Register here. If you can’t make it, I’m considering writing a revised edition of Mind Over Medicine so I can make these changes to the process and flesh them out some more, but until then, I wanted to update you on how these steps have changed over the years. I’d welcome your feedback. What do you think? Share your wisdom or ask your questions!

With love and wishes for healing,

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Lissa Rankin by Lissa - 2M ago

Dear ones, today is a big, momentous day for me, not just because I’m celebrating half a century but also because I started my writing/healing career on my 40th birthday, which means it’s been ten years since I emerged from the “space between stories” after leaving the hospital and put my whole heart into diving smack dab into the center of my true purpose. When I look back, I feel struck with awe. Had someone told me when I posted that first blog that I would be here ten years later, writing The Daily Flame love letters every day, doing this healing work with female doctors in the Whole Health Medicine Institute, doing my part to bridge conventional medicine and Sacred Medicine, and traveling around the world to study spiritual healing with shamans, healers, indigenous medicine men and women, trauma therapists, biofield scientists, spiritual teachers, gurus, and energy healers, I would have laughed at the absurdity of it all. Yet, here I am, and it’s all because of YOU.

Without you, I would never have had the community support one needs to move the needle in a healing revolution. Without you, no publisher would have ever given me the chance to share my ideas about this revolution of love and healing in six books, including my latest, The Daily Flame. Without you, I wouldn’t be blessed with people all over the world who reach out all the time and say, “I’m on your team. How can I be part of the movement?”

I’m turning fifty today, and as I ease into the next half or quarter of my life, depending on what fate has in store for me, I’m visioning what I yearn to create next, based on what my guidance has been showing me. In addition to finally publishing my Sacred Medicine book, which will hopefully happen within the next two years, I keep receiving clear guidance about a vision that has been marinating in me for years. Later this week, I’ll share with you 16 things they didn’t teach me in medical school about what optimizes the healing process. But for today, let me just share with you the vision based on these 16 fundamental properties of healing.

My Grand Vision For Healing Soul Tribes

Picture this. In the same way that addicts and those who love them can find 12 step circles almost anywhere in the world to aid in their recovery, imagine that people on a healing journey come together, alongside people who yearn to help others heal, and together, they make magic happen. Picture those who are struggling with physical or mental illness, injury, or trauma having access to an affordable, widely accessible healing circle of fellow journeyers who gather with the intention of healing in community. While support groups are great, what I envision goes far deeper and impacts outcomes far more successfully than your typical hospital support group. Healing Soul Tribes could function as therapeutic medical treatment.

Sure, it would be a place to talk about your feelings, but it would also be group energy healing, a place where trauma is cleared and nervous systems are repatterned in a way that optimizes the body’s natural self-healing capacities and helps restore whole health. Imagine art, music, cuddle puddles, dancing, safe touch, and beauty. Imagine doing the hard work of healing trauma, not on your own, but hand in hand with others who are doing the same. Imagine restoring your nervous system with group energy healings that uplift you and leave you feeling nurtured, nourished, and ready to do what you must to make the changes in your life you know you need to make. Imagine feeling supported by others who are doing the same, knowing you’re not alone and you’re in good company.

Imagine if you could go to any Healing Soul Tribe, anywhere in the world, and know that you would be received with love, acceptance, healing intention, and a sense of belonging. Imagine that this Healing Soul Tribe could be a kind of transfusion. When you’re so depleted that you can barely muster the spark of life force needed to engage in deep healing work, this group could fill you up with all the life force they generate together. Anyone with life force to give could contribute their healing gifts, pouring out any extra into the field so it may be taken in by those in need. Anyone in need of a transfusion can receive what is offered. Those who give also receive a healing in the act of giving, and those who receive are blessing the givers by letting them offer their love and gifts. It’s like breathing in and breathing out, an act of sacred reciprocity that benefits everyone involved.

Imagine if you could get help healing the traumas that underlie many illnesses, which would open the channels for more life force to flow in your own energy system, in a way that would make more life force available to you, not just outside of yourself, but from within yourself. Imagine if this transformation fills you with so much life force that you have extra to give, and now you feel inspired to lead a Healing Soul Tribe of your own, as a way to bolster your ongoing healing journey, just as recovered addicts lead 12 step meetings as part of their ongoing recovery. Now the model is self-sustaining. Those who feel healed enough to expand the vision give back and inspire those who are early on in their healing journeys, sharing their stories of radical remission, offering access to the life force they’ve learned to channel, and paying it forward. In this way, those in need of healing and those who have healing gifts to offer come together, create community, play together, heal together, and celebrate the gift of life as they create the lives their bodies will love.

Imagine the Universe is so benevolent and so generous that it hears our plea for help and opens the doors to co-create this vision into reality, assuming it’s aligned with Divine Will and it wants to come into being, not as something we push, but as something we allow.

How Do We Start?

There is a lot of movement happening in the unfolding of my vision, and some very exciting things are lining up. I promise I’ll share more with you as pieces come together. Part of what is happening is that I’m asking for help from all the people I’ve interviewed for my Sacred Medicine research, seeking their feedback about how we could scale healing work in an affordable way that makes this work more accessible to those who need it most.

In the interim, because such things take time and patience, we started as a pilot program an online Healing Soul Tribe in 2017 for those who were interested in joining the experiment. Those who are involved right now are paying to fund the vision, co-creating the vision as it evolves, and training to be group leaders who are seeding in person Healing Soul Tribes around the world. They are also participating as part of their healing journey and as people who want to be pioneers on the cutting edge of this work. Many have already started Healing Soul Tribes of their own, and we’re working out the kinks of how to best structure these circles of love and healing.

You Can Help!

Since it’s my birthday and since I’m practicing receiving in equal measure to what I give, I wanted to ask for a birthday present. If you are in need of healing or if you have healing gifts you wish to offer, and if you can afford to pay the subscription fees, please join our Healing Soul Tribe experiment and offer your love, your energy, your care, and if you’re interested in doing so, your leadership skills.

JOIN THE HEALING SOUL TRIBE HERE

If you have extra financial resources and you wish to donate your financial gifts to create a scholarship fund for those who would benefit from a program like this but can’t afford to pay for it, this would be the best birthday gift ever! We’ve set up a donation site for those who can afford to donate. Anything you offer will help.

DONATE TO THE HEALING SOUL TRIBE SCHOLARSHIP FUND HERE

In the future, we might have the resources to scale this into a full non-profit, but for now, we’re a small Mom and Pop (well, Mom, Mom, and Mom, since it’s really just me, Pearl, and April). But stay tuned. If there’s enough energy around this vision, and if the Universe wants it to unfold into humanitarian work that serves those in greatest need, a non-profit Healing Soul Tribe might come next.

But one thing at a time . . . one small breadcrumb of guidance after the other.Right now, this is the next step in my guidance . . . a birthday announcement about my Healing Soul Tribe vision, an invitation to join the Healing Soul Tribe, and a request for donations to support those who are in need of love and healing. For those of you who are resourced to do so, thank you for indulging my birthday requests! For those who are not, stay tuned! We’re trying to build something that will benefit anyone who needs love and healing, even if you can’t afford to be part of creating it. If this comes into being by my 60th birthday, I will know I can leave the planet when it’s my time with the fulfillment of watching a dream come true.

And it’s all because ten years ago, when I put out a call to the community that would become US, you heard the call and we built this together!

Thank you thank you thank you, a thousand times thank you. I am bursting with gratitude as I write this on my birthday, feeling overwhelmed with blessings and so immensely moved by the love of each one of you.

With so much love and appreciation,

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Dear ones, today is a big, momentous day for me, not just because I’m celebrating half a century but also because I started my writing/healing career on my 40th birthday, which means it’s been ten years since I emerged from the “space between stories” after leaving the hospital and put my whole heart into diving smack dab into the center of my true purpose. When I look back, I feel struck with awe. Had someone told me when I posted that first blog that I would be here ten years later, writing The Daily Flame love letters every day, doing this healing work with female doctors in the Whole Health Medicine Institute, doing my part to bridge conventional medicine and Sacred Medicine, and traveling around the world to study spiritual healing with shamans, healers, indigenous medicine men and women, trauma therapists, biofield scientists, spiritual teachers, gurus, and energy healers, I would have laughed at the absurdity of it all. Yet, here I am, and it’s all because of YOU.

Without you, I would never have had the community support one needs to move the needle in a healing revolution. Without you, no publisher would have ever given me the chance to share my ideas about this revolution of love and healing in six books, including my latest, The Daily Flame. Without you, I wouldn’t be blessed with people all over the world who reach out all the time and say, “I’m on your team. How can I be part of the movement?”

I’m turning fifty today, and as I ease into the next half or quarter of my life, depending on what fate has in store for me, I’m visioning what I yearn to create next, based on what my guidance has been showing me. In addition to finally publishing my Sacred Medicine book, which will hopefully happen within the next two years, I keep receiving clear guidance about a vision that has been marinating in me for years. Later this week, I’ll share with you 16 things they didn’t teach me in medical school about what optimizes the healing process. But for today, let me just share with you the vision based on these 16 fundamental properties of healing.

My Grand Vision For Healing Soul Tribes

Picture this. In the same way that addicts and those who love them can find 12 step circles almost anywhere in the world to aid in their recovery, imagine that people on a healing journey come together, alongside people who yearn to help others heal, and together, they make magic happen. Picture those who are struggling with physical or mental illness, injury, or trauma having access to an affordable, widely accessible healing circle of fellow journeyers who gather with the intention of healing in community. While support groups are great, what I envision goes far deeper and impacts outcomes far more successfully than your typical hospital support group. Healing Soul Tribes could function as therapeutic medical treatment.

Sure, it would be a place to talk about your feelings, but it would also be group energy healing, a place where trauma is cleared and nervous systems are repatterned in a way that optimizes the body’s natural self-healing capacities and helps restore whole health. Imagine art, music, cuddle puddles, dancing, safe touch, and beauty. Imagine doing the hard work of healing trauma, not on your own, but hand in hand with others who are doing the same. Imagine restoring your nervous system with group energy healings that uplift you and leave you feeling nurtured, nourished, and ready to do what you must to make the changes in your life you know you need to make. Imagine feeling supported by others who are doing the same, knowing you’re not alone and you’re in good company.

Imagine if you could go to any Healing Soul Tribe, anywhere in the world, and know that you would be received with love, acceptance, healing intention, and a sense of belonging. Imagine that this Healing Soul Tribe could be a kind of transfusion. When you’re so depleted that you can barely muster the spark of life force needed to engage in deep healing work, this group could fill you up with all the life force they generate together. Anyone with life force to give could contribute their healing gifts, pouring out any extra into the field so it may be taken in by those in need. Anyone in need of a transfusion can receive what is offered. Those who give also receive a healing in the act of giving, and those who receive are blessing the givers by letting them offer their love and gifts. It’s like breathing in and breathing out, an act of sacred reciprocity that benefits everyone involved.

Imagine if you could get help healing the traumas that underlie many illnesses, which would open the channels for more life force to flow in your own energy system, in a way that would make more life force available to you, not just outside of yourself, but from within yourself. Imagine if this transformation fills you with so much life force that you have extra to give, and now you feel inspired to lead a Healing Soul Tribe of your own, as a way to bolster your ongoing healing journey, just as recovered addicts lead 12 step meetings as part of their ongoing recovery. Now the model is self-sustaining. Those who feel healed enough to expand the vision give back and inspire those who are early on in their healing journeys, sharing their stories of radical remission, offering access to the life force they’ve learned to channel, and paying it forward. In this way, those in need of healing and those who have healing gifts to offer come together, create community, play together, heal together, and celebrate the gift of life as they create the lives their bodies will love.

Imagine the Universe is so benevolent and so generous that it hears our plea for help and opens the doors to co-create this vision into reality, assuming it’s aligned with Divine Will and it wants to come into being, not as something we push, but as something we allow.

How Do We Start?

There is a lot of movement happening in the unfolding of my vision, and some very exciting things are lining up. I promise I’ll share more with you as pieces come together. Part of what is happening is that I’m asking for help from all the people I’ve interviewed for my Sacred Medicine research, seeking their feedback about how we could scale healing work in an affordable way that makes this work more accessible to those who need it most.

In the interim, because such things take time and patience, we started as a pilot program an online Healing Soul Tribe in 2017 for those who were interested in joining the experiment. Those who are involved right now are paying to fund the vision, co-creating the vision as it evolves, and training to be group leaders who are seeding in person Healing Soul Tribes around the world. They are also participating as part of their healing journey and as people who want to be pioneers on the cutting edge of this work. Many have already started Healing Soul Tribes of their own, and we’re working out the kinks of how to best structure these circles of love and healing.

You Can Help!

Since it’s my birthday and since I’m practicing receiving in equal measure to what I give, I wanted to ask for a birthday present. If you are in need of healing or if you have healing gifts you wish to offer, and if you can afford to pay the subscription fees, please join our Healing Soul Tribe experiment and offer your love, your energy, your care, and if you’re interested in doing so, your leadership skills.

JOIN THE HEALING SOUL TRIBE HERE

If you have extra financial resources and you wish to donate your financial gifts to create a scholarship fund for those who would benefit from a program like this but can’t afford to pay for it, this would be the best birthday gift ever! We’ve set up a donation site for those who can afford to donate. Anything you offer will help.

DONATE TO THE HEALING SOUL TRIBE SCHOLARSHIP FUND HERE

In the future, we might have the resources to scale this into a full non-profit, but for now, we’re a small Mom and Pop (well, Mom, Mom, and Mom, since it’s really just me, Pearl, and April). But stay tuned. If there’s enough energy around this vision, and if the Universe wants it to unfold into humanitarian work that serves those in greatest need, a non-profit Healing Soul Tribe might come next.

But one thing at a time . . . one small breadcrumb of guidance after the other.Right now, this is the next step in my guidance . . . a birthday announcement about my Healing Soul Tribe vision, an invitation to join the Healing Soul Tribe, and a request for donations to support those who are in need of love and healing. For those of you who are resourced to do so, thank you for indulging my birthday requests! For those who are not, stay tuned! We’re trying to build something that will benefit anyone who needs love and healing, even if you can’t afford to be part of creating it. If this comes into being by my 60th birthday, I will know I can leave the planet when it’s my time with the fulfillment of watching a dream come true.

And it’s all because ten years ago, when I put out a call to the community that would become US, you heard the call and we built this together!

Thank you thank you thank you, a thousand times thank you. I am bursting with gratitude as I write this on my birthday, feeling overwhelmed with blessings and so immensely moved by the love of each one of you.

With so much love and appreciation,

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In my blog “Why It Doesn’t Help To Demonize Your Ego, Your Mind or Your Protector Parts,” I alluded to how much I resonate with Internal Family Systems (IFS), the trauma healing method developed by family therapist Richard Schwartz, PhD. When I was first introduced to the therapeutic model, I had goose bumps all over my body, because IFS is the “how” of how to lead an Inner Pilot Light-led life.

What I’ve been calling your Inner Pilot Light Dick Schwartz calls “Self” (with a capital S). But after hashing out whether we’re talking about the same thing over breakfast at Esalen, Dick and I concluded that the Self and the Inner Pilot Light are the same thing. While he uses language that is more psychologically oriented and my language is more spiritual, when you boil it down, we’re talking about what Mark Nepo describes so eloquently— “Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry; an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God. It is this spot of grace that issues peace. Psychologists call this spot the Psyche, Theologians call it the Soul, Jung calls it the Seat of the Unconscious, Hindu masters call it Atman, Buddhists call it Dharma, Rilke calls it Inwardness, Sufis call it Qalb, and Jesus calls it the Center of our Love.”


Well, Dick calls it Self and I call it your Inner Pilot Light. For ten years I’ve been writing daily love letters from your Inner Pilot Light (you can subscribe to them at InnerPilotLight.com) and if you want to binge on love letters, you can order my new book The Daily Flame here. But this is not just about some warm fuzzy way to snuggle in with your inner Beloved and get the reparenting you really need. It’s a total game changer, not just as a transformational spiritual path, but as treatment for every psychiatric diagnosis in the DSM-5 and perhaps every medical diagnosis as well. No biggie . . .

(Dick Schwartz and I will be presenting a workshop as a pre-conference event before the IFS conference in Denver in September on the implications of IFS in medicine.)

The HOW Of How To Connect With Your Inner Pilot Light

One of the most common questions people ask me is “How can I get more connected to my Inner Pilot Light?” When I first got introduced to IFS, I realized that although IFS is positioned as a trauma healing psychotherapeutic tool, it is really a deep spiritual practice and a lifelong path of spiritual attunement. Although I’ve studied and practiced many spiritual traditions, including the mystical branches of many religions (Christian mystics, Kabbalah, Sufism, and many flavors of Tantra yoga), as well as indigenous spirituality/animism, no tradition boils down the way I actually practice my spirituality like IFS does. IFS gives us the tools traditional meditative paths often don’t. It’s the “how” of how to deal with the “monkey mind.” It’ a non-demonizing, non-pathologizing, non-bypassing path to radical Self love, healing, transformation, and compassion for all your many “parts.”

What Is IFS?

If you saw the brilliant children’s movie Inside Out (watch the trailer here), you already have a taste of what IFS is all about. Inside this little girl’s head, you see all the warring “parts” fighting to take over the control panel of the little girl’s behavior. But in the case of the movie, this little girl lacks what Dick calls “Self-leadership” or what I call “Inner Pilot Light leadership.” When there’s no leader, there’s only the chatter of polarized parts, duking it out for who will control what you call YOU.

According to the IFS model, we all have multiple personalities, or what Dick calls “parts.” You are not just one being; you (and me and all of us) are a multiplicity of “parts,” but this is not usually a problem because you also have what IFS calls the Self (or Inner Pilot Light). In other words, your “internal family” is populated with a whole busload of inner children, and if you’re reasonably healthy, your Inner Pilot Light is driving the bus, keeping the lovely, sometimes naughty, often unruly, scared, overprotective, and sometimes reckless, addicted, dissociative, sociopathic, or even suicidal parts from grabbing the wheel and hijacking the bus.

The only difference between us “mentally healthy” folks and the ones the psychiatric community labels as “Dissociative Identify Disorder” (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, which was popularized by the 1976 movie Sybil) is that most of us have at least some “Self-leadership” guiding and reining in the parts, whereas those who are completely dissociated may have no leadership and it’s a parts free-for-all. Even if that’s the case, Dick Schwartz doesn’t demonize or pathologize even frightening dissociative parts. He also doesn’t pathologize addict parts, eating disorder parts, cutting parts, rage parts, psychopath parts, or even suicide parts. In all of these cases, he argues that these parts need love, compassion, and a strong healthy “Self” to love them, understand them, become intimate with them, and help them get that you know they’re just trying to protect you. Then, if you approach these parts with curiosity, compassion, and care, the way you might approach a scared or traumatized child, these extreme parts can start to relax so your Inner Pilot Light (Self) can heal the vulnerable, wounded parts they protect, which he calls the “exiles.”

Protector Parts & Exiled Parts

Managers

In the IFS model, parts are either “protectors” or “exiles.” Some protector parts are “managers” who try to preemptively protect you by warding off danger. (Think Inner Critic part, Perfectionist part, Anxious part, Time Keeper part, Financial Manager part, Worst Case Scenario Catastrophizing part, yada yada yada.) Their main job is to be the first line of defense, protecting the vulnerable, wounded, hurting “exile” parts from getting triggered and evoking intensely painful emotions that might take you out of commission. (Their biggest fear is that these exiled parts will flood you with painful emotions and you’ll get overwhelmed and fail to function the way you need to.)

Firefighters

The next line of defense are the “firefighter” protector parts. These firefighters come online as emergency back up if the managers fail to keep the exiles effectively locked up in exile. They grab their firefighting tools if anyone (including you) get too close to the pain the exiles are feeling when they’re locked away, usually buried in your subconscious, beyond your conscious awareness but nevertheless always influencing your behavior and experiences. The firefighters are saddled with intense roles which often don’t look like protection and are more likely to be pathologized by the medical and psychological world. When you think about firefighters, think “Addict part, Rage part, Eating Disorder part, Abuser part, Binge part, Dissociative part, Psychopath part, Narcissist part, Suicidal part, Narcoleptic part, Psychotic part.” In other words . . . think pretty much everything in the psychiatric DSM-5 (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, created by the American Psychiatric Association as a way to label, diagnose, and standardize treatment for psychiatric disorders).

But firefighters do not only show up as psychiatric illnesses. They can also show up as physical illnesses—or other parts can use some physical vulnerability in your system to take you out. Think Migraine part, Back Pain part, Chronic Fatigue part, Asthma part, or even Cancer part. I’m not suggesting that these are purely psychosomatic illnesses (and neither is Dick). But according to the IFS model, your protector parts may pull out all the stops and use your physical body to try to protect you from getting too close to your traumatized exiles if they think they need to. So . . . as a physician interested in interdisciplinary cross-pollinations of healing, this is where Dick got my attention.

Protecting The Exiles

Why would parts that think they’re protecting you pull such potentially harmful stunts? Why would they use anorexia or an addiction or cutting or dissociation or even cancer to try to protect you? Because they know not what they do. (This is where it gets a bit complicated, so stay with me here and let’s play with getting curious and keeping an open mind.)

No matter how idyllic you think your childhood was, we all have vulnerable wounded parts (exiles). No one is exempt from the “burdens” these exiles carry. Our exiles might have different stories and different wounding, but they tend to have the same painful feelings—worthlessness, unlovability, “not enough-ness,” shame, feeling damaged or broken or thinking they are fundamentally flawed. Because your protector parts don’t like the feelings these exiled parts evoke, they unwittingly exacerbate the problems, locking these exiles in a kind of inner prison, so they’re crying and screaming and begging for your attention all the time. The more traumatic the wounding, the more the exiles will pull out all the stops to get your attention, so the more powerful the protectors must become. The managers might be able to keep things under control for a while, but over time, as the exiles get more unruly and the managers fail to keep the exiles under wraps, the firefighters might be needed to further shut down these intensely wounded parts.

All the exiles want is your love, your care, your nurturing, your understanding. They want you to listen to how much pain they experience. They want you to remember what happened to them and acknowledge it, rather than pushing it away. They want an ally, not a jailkeeper. But they can’t seem to get through to you, because the two lines of protection (managers and firefighters) do their best to keep you from even remembering, feeling, or being present with these sweet, young, tender, hurt exiles.

These exiles are crying for the love of your Inner Pilot Light, which is the part that’s not a part, the inner healer, therapist, mentor, parent, and Beloved that has what it takes to heal these wounded parts, if only your protector parts learn to trust that your Inner Pilot Light can care for them better than these jailkeeper protectors can.

The Solution: Unburdening The Exiles

While protecting the exiles might help to keep your internal family system safe for a while, it requires a great deal of energy to keep those exiles in prison. All the energy your protectors expend trying to keep the exiles under wraps could be used for creativity, self-healing, service, spiritual connection, playfulness, intimacy with others, and general vitality. But because that energy is getting used up by protectors, you might feel chronically tired, depleted, depressed, anxious, lacking inspiration, lonely, spiritually disconnected, or sick. It makes sense that freeing up these exiles through the IFS “unburdening process” liberates all this trapped energy and functions as a kind of energy healing, freeing up all that extra life force so the life force can work its magic in other aspects of your life.

The unburdening process is best facilitated by a skilled IFS therapist, but over time, it’s something some people can learn to do themselves. Unburdening your exiles requires getting permission from all the protectors that will keep you (or the therapist) from getting direct access to the exile. Once the protectors trust your Inner Pilot Light and allow this inner healer to make contact with the exiled part, demonstrating some curiosity, compassion, care, and other qualities of the Self that reassure the exiled part that the real YOU are here, the exile is ready to be unburdened. This is the real trauma CLEARING part. (Many other trauma therapies do not really cure the trauma or release it from the energy system, psyche, or body.)

Steps of Unburdening

WITNESS: Once protectors have relaxed and made space, the Inner Pilot Light approaches the exiled part and makes itself know. Once connection is made, the exile is invited to enter a space in the inner world where she can show your Inner Pilot Light everything she wants you to know—memories, images, sensations, sounds, intense emotions. Your Inner Pilot Light simply holds space and witnesses the exiled part’s pain.

REDO: When the exile has shown you everything it wants to, your Inner Pilot Light goes back in time and enters the scene to do a “redo” of what should have happened (the exile will instruct how it should have gone). With a kind of active imagination in your inner vision, you redo the scene, following orders from the exile and giving this little one what she really needed, which didn’t happen back then but can happen now.

RETRIEVE: When the redo is complete, you rescue the exile from that stuck place back in time and take the exile someplace peaceful and relaxing (the exile will tell your Inner Pilot Light where it wants to go to feel safe and peaceful).

UNBURDEN: Your Inner Pilot Light invites the exile to let go of all toxic beliefs, feeling states, and sensations which have been stuck since the original traumatic event. (Your exile will usually be happy to give it up to the elements—wind, water, fire, earth, light, or some other way of letting go.)

INVITE: You invite the exile to invite in new supportive, positive qualities to fill the space created by the unburdening.

PROTECTOR CHECK-IN: Once the exile is safely in its new place with its newly installed programs, the protectors who stepped aside to let the Inner Pilot Light do the healing are invited to come see how the exile is doing. (Usually the exile is pretty relaxed or even blissed out and the protectors feel happy and relieved.) The protectors learn over time that the Inner Pilot Light does a better job protecting and healing than the (usually young) protectors do. The exile will tell you how often it wants to be visited by the Inner Pilot Light in the inner world in order for the unburdening to be permanent (usually a daily check in for a minimum of thirty days makes the healing permanent).

Why Demonizing Your Parts Makes Things Worse

You might think you need to discipline, bully, harass, or even attack these potentially pathologized parts into submission in order to avoid the damage they can do. But as any person who has wrestled with an out of control firefighter can tell you, willpower is not enough here. Demonizing these firefighters only ramps up the firefighting behavior. Why? Because they genuinely think they’re helping you­—and in some way you may not understand yet—they are. Your Inner Pilot Light’s job is to become intimate with them and discover why they think they’re helping you, what they’re afraid would happen if they quit doing their job, and who they think they’re trying to protect.

As long as your parts are at war with each other, your firefighters are going to keep taking you out. Let me give you an example of a classic triad of parts. Let’s say you have an inner critic manager who is trying to get you to stop overeating. So the inner critic shames you and yells at you until you’re in so much pain from the shaming that your ashamed exile, who believes he’s worthless and unlovable, starts to have all kinds of painful emotions that break through into your consciousness until your binge part firefighter screams, “ENOUGH!” and downs a whole gallon of ice cream to try to numb the painful feelings the exile is feeling. Now the exile is silenced, but the inner critic starts shaming you again for being such a worthless, lame, pathetic pig, and now the exile starts crying again—and the cycle continues. No wonder New Years Resolutions rarely work with discipline and willpower alone!

These polarized parts continue their inner war your whole life unless you choose to get help and end the war. As long as your parts are at war with each other, you’ll always be at war with other people and you’ll never feel a true sense of sustained belonging, which will only trigger your parts even more and make your firefighter act out. I’ll go as far as saying that IFS—and letting your Inner Pilot Light take the lead—is peacemaking work. After all, how can we possibly expect to stop wars in the world when there’s an inner war going on? If your inner critic is at war with your addict part, or if your perfectionist part is at war with your procrastinator part, or if your spiritual bullying part is trying to meditate away your monkey mind, you’re not loving your parts. You’re at war with them, and that energy of war will come out sideways. We can’t love the extreme or vulnerable parts of others until we can love the extreme and vulnerable parts of ourselves. Only then is real love possible. Only then is peace on earth within the realm of possibility.

Unlearning Your Way Back To God

This is what it might take if you really want to heal your mental illness, your physical illness, your spiritual disconnection, and your relationships with others. It all starts with becoming intimate with your Inner Pilot Light and letting it become intimate with all of your parts.

To quote Mark Nepo again, “To know this spot of Inwardness is to know who we are, not by surface markers of identity, not by where we work or what we wear or how we like to be addressed, but by feeling our place in relation to the Infinite and by inhabiting it. This is a hard lifelong task, for the nature of becoming is a constant filming over of where we begin, while the nature of being is a constant erosion of what is not essential. Each of us lives in the midst of this ongoing tension, growing tarnished or covered over, only to be worn back to that incorruptible spot of grace at our core. When the film is worn through, we have moments of enlightenment, moments of wholeness, moments of Satori as the Zen sages term it, moments of clear living when inner meets outer, moments of full integrity of being, moments of complete Oneness. And whether the film is a veil of culture, of memory, of mental or religious training, of trauma or sophistication, the removal of that film and the restoration of that timeless spot of grace is the goal of all therapy and education. Regardless of subject matter, this is the only thing worth teaching: how to uncover that original center and how to live there once it is restored. We call the filming over a deadening of heart, and the process of return, whether brought about through suffering or love, is how we unlearn our way back to God.”

Additional Resources

If this resonates with you and you want to deepen your journey, here are a few resources that might help.

1. Start working with a trained IFS therapist. You can find IFS-trained therapists here.

2. Read Richard Schwartz’s book You Are The One You’ve Been Waiting For. Those who are interested in practicing IFS will appreciate the Internal Family Systems Skills Training Manual. Both of these highly recommended self-published books are cheaper at SelfLeadership.org than they are on Amazon.

3. Sign up for my free Daily Flame emails at InnerPilotLight.com. You can also find links to order The Daily Flame book, the Connect To Your Inner Pilot Light online program, or the Sounds True Inner Pilot Light audio program I did with Tami Simon at Inner Pilot Light.com.

4. Join the Healing Soul Tribe where others on a healing journey, whether healing from illness or trauma, support each other in leading an IFS-informed Inner Pilot Light-led life as a practice of healing and spiritual awakening. (If you sign up for just one month of the Healing Soul Tribe, you’ll also get a teleclass with me teaching about IFS, so all members of the Healing Soul Tribe can communicate with the same IFS-informed language.)

5. Take an IFS-informed workshop with me (learn more about my live events here) or with IFS founder Richard Schwartz (learn more about Dick’s events here).

5. Attend the IFS conference in Denver in September. I’ll be co-leading a preconference workshop with Dick Schwartz about IFS & Medicine, but we haven’t worked out all the details yet. Conference details are here.

With love for you and all your multiplicity of parts,

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I’m teaching three Fear Cure workshops this year, first, a one-day workshop at the New York Open Center in March, then a five-day workshop at Kripalu in May, then at 1440 Multiversity in Santa Cruz in September. These workshops combine content and transformational processes that touch upon my book The Fear Cure, as well as my new book The Daily Flame. The ultimate Fear Cure is really about making contact with the part of you I call your “Inner Pilot Light—” the divine spark inside of you that is wise enough, mature enough, and loving enough to love and heal all of your scared parts so they can relax and let your Inner Pilot Light take the lead.

Kripalu just interviewed me about coming into right relationship with fear as a way to invite in the workshop participants that resonate and feel ready for this kind of paradigm-shifting transformational journey. With their generous permission, I’ll share the full interview here.

Fear, it seems, can be helpful or a hindrance in our lives. How can we distinguish between legitimate fear and unfounded fear?

From my point of view, all fear is helpful, but in different ways. In my book The Fear Cure, I distinguish between true fear and false fear. In other words, true fear would be the legitimate survival-based fear of falling off a cliff or fear of getting chased by a tiger. These fears are meant to activate the “fight-or-flight” sympathetic nervous system to fill your body with stress hormones so you can survive the real threat. False fears are the ruminations of the mind, the imagined potential fears in the future, like fear of running out of money or your partner cheating on you or your friends turning on you or getting passed over for the promotion.

The true fears are a blessing. People born without the ability to feel fear don’t survive very long. But false fears tend to plague people with anxiety, obsessive ruminations, and the “monkey mind” that torments meditators. The problem is that people are either in denial of their false fear or they write it off as the more socially acceptable “stress,” which can be worn like a badge of honor. “I’m busy and stressed, therefore I’m productive and valuable and deserve to exist.” It’s almost like people view fear or anxiety as a weakness and feel ashamed to admit how scared they are. But fear is not the enemy, and it’s certainly nothing shame-worthy.

Learning to get curious about your fear in the way I teach in The Fear Cure book and workshops is a portal to great peace, fulfillment, and connection with the part of you I call your “Inner Pilot Light,” which is the ever-present spark of divinity within us all, which is the master healer of all fear. Once this connection to your Inner Pilot Light is strengthened, you’ll feel safe to get curious and become intimate with your fear so your Inner Pilot Light can heal what lies at its root, rather than trying to push it away or obsess about its content.

Can you give some examples of how fear, when we give into the unfounded kind, can compromise us—physically, mentally/emotionally, socially, financially, spiritually, etc.?

The problem with turning away from our fear instead of leaning into it is that the body can’t tell the difference between true fear and false fear, so any untended fearful or anxious thought triggers a threat response in the nervous system, which lights up the amygdala and activates a whole cascade of hormones preparing you to fight or flee the danger. These stress hormones, like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, weaken the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms and predispose you to almost every kind of disease, including cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, and chronic pain, but especially the #1 killer—heart disease.

We’re supposed to only have stress responses when a real threat to our survival is present, but the average American experiences over 50 stress responses per day, and every time you’re in a stress response, your body can’t heal itself. Then there’s the impact of these stress hormones on the emotional, mental, spiritual, and energetic body. When we’re locked into the vibration of fear, we’re skidded out of the natural flow states that can activate creativity, life purpose, intimacy with our loved ones, financial ease, seamless connection with those in our soul tribes, and states of spiritual awakening, insight, Divine connection, and healing.

Of course, the parts of you that are raising the alarm bells all the time don’t know how much inadvertent harm they’re causing. They think they’re helping you! False fears are usually just traumatized inner children that are trying to keep us out of danger, so they can feel safe. They’re stuck in the past when such obsessing was necessary for survival. Of course, they’re little inner children, so they don’t realize that their chronic stressing causes serious problems in present time. They are innocent, and they know not what they do. But the wise Inner Pilot Light can see what’s really happening—the impact that chronic repetitive stress responses has not only on the physical body, but on mental and emotional health, the health of your relationships, your capacity to find and fulfill your true calling, and your spiritual development.

How can we know if fear is running our lives?

If you trust your mind to make your decisions and you think you’re able to control life by strategizing, analyzing, striving, making it happen, efforting more, and micromanaging every little detail so you can avert danger, then fear is probably running your life. If you’re living a trust-based life, you tend to feel very trusting, peaceful, and relaxed, even when you feel intense emotions because things aren’t going your way. There’s a fundamental paradigm shift that happens when you cede control to your Inner Pilot Light and let go of the handle so the river of life can guide you into alignment with the highest good for all.

What are the four fearful assumptions?

I posit that most false fear stems from the four fearful assumptions.

1) Uncertainty is unsafe.

2) I can’t handle losing what I cherish.

3) It’s a hostile universe.

4) I’m all alone.

Gosh, if you really believe you’re all alone in an uncertain, hostile universe where you can’t handle losing what you cherish, fear would be the only natural response!

You believe fear can ultimately heal us and heal our lives. How so?

Yes. I’m a big fan of Internal Family Systems (IFS), the trauma healing modality developed by Richard Schwartz, PhD. In the IFS model, fear (or any painful emotion, physical symptom, or memory) is simply a trailhead we can choose to walk down in order to become more intimate with the wounded parts inside of us that need the love, compassion, tenderness, unconditional love, and acceptance of what I call your Inner Pilot Light and what Dr. Schwartz calls “Self.” When we choose to lead an Inner Pilot Light-led life rather than a mind-led life, we take control of the bus of all our inner children and guide them with our mature, spiritually attuned, adult selves. The inner children don’t have to get demonized or exiled. They’re allowed to stay in the bus, but now they’re relaxed and trusting that a grown up is at the wheel and can make good choices to keep them safe, so they don’t have to incessantly chatter to get your attention. Most fear is simply a sign that your wounded parts don’t trust you. It’s possible to earn their trust and then they sit back and can reclaim their naturally valuable roles as the magical children who can help you get back in touch with your playfulness and glee.

What is The Fear Cure? Can you define it simply? What does it entail?

The title “The Fear Cure” is a sort of a misnomer. It’s not that we need to cure fear. It’s more about letting fear cure YOU. The real Fear Cure is about becoming intimate with your false fears and using your fear as a trailhead to get to know yourself better so you can heal whatever trauma might lie at the root of these fears. The Fear Cure is ultimately about coming into right relationship with uncertainty.

What are the four courage-cultivating truths (and how can we shift from holding fearful assumptions to cultivating these truths)?

These are the antidote to the four fearful assumptions, the turnarounds to these limiting beliefs.

1) Uncertainty is the gateway to possibility.

2) Loss is natural and can lead to growth.

3) It’s a purposeful universe.

4) We are all One.

Wouldn’t we be naturally less afraid if we believed the second set of beliefs? Imagine if you really had a direct, felt experience of a purposeful, benevolent universe where we are all interconnected, where uncertainty means anything could happen, even miracles, and where loss is something we can handle, and it might even be the portal that deepens our spiritual connection, strengthens our resilience, and guides our life purpose. My favorite word was coined by Rob Breszny—“pronoia,” the opposite of “paranoia,” the belief that everything in the universe is conspiring to support you. What if you had a raging case of pronoia? What might be possible then? This doesn’t mean you suddenly throw all caution to the wind and become reckless. It simply means you trust your Inner Pilot Light and the wondrous, awe-inspiring organizing intelligence to which it is connected more than you trust your wounded inner children.

Can you offer up some practices to help people cultivate courage?

Practice #1 IFS Meditation: Let one of your fears become a trailhead to deeper intimacy and healing.


Identify something you’re worrying about. Just close your eyes and open your heart and let your fear know you’re here to help. Ask which scared part wants to show itself. See who arises and notice whether the fear takes any shape, form, or image. Reassure it that you’re glad it’s here and you’re here to help it relax. See how it responds. It may not trust you, but that’s OK. Stay present with it. Ask it what it’s afraid would happen to you if it quit doing its job. Listen generously to what it wants you to hear. Tell it you appreciate its care and how hard it’s working to try to keep you safe. Then ask it how old you were when it got its job. See if it answers your question or even shows you a memory. Tell it you get how important it was for it to do its job back when you were young and appreciate it for how long and hard it’s been working to protect you. Let it tell you or show you anything else it wants you to know. Let this part know that you get how tired it must be from trying so hard to keep you safe. Ask it what it might rather do if it didn’t have to do its job anymore. It may resist—so stay with the resistance. Let it know you’re not going to make it quit its job and it doesn’t ever have to go away. You’re just offering to let your Inner Pilot Light take over its job so it can do something more fun. See if it will tell you what it would rather do. Ask this part how old it thinks you are. (Chances are that it thinks you’re less than 18). Tell it how old you really are. If you have any sense of your Inner Pilot Light or your “Self,” introduce this part to your wise divine spark inside. Let it know that this inner parent is going to do a great job keeping you safe and it doesn’t need protection like it did when you were young. Your job is to be a “hope merchant” to your protective parts. Let them know healing is possible, if only they’re relax enough to let you get intimate with them. If you’ve made some contact and gotten to know this part better, express your gratitude. Tell it you’re grateful it trusted you enough to reveal itself. Let it know you’ll come back and check on it again and that deeper healing is possible, if it’s willing to let your Inner Pilot Light take over the job of keeping you safe.

Practice #2 Let your fear write you a letter.

Clear your mind and sit down with a journal or piece of paper. Without thinking about it, grab a writing tool and let your fear write you a letter. Dear You, blah blah blah, Love, Fear. Don’t think! Just let this be an automatic writing process. If you feel inspired to do so, respond to what Fear wrote, only write back from the loving presence of your Inner Pilot Light. Dear Fear, yada yada yada, Love, Your Inner Pilot Light. Go back and forth as many times as necessary. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Practice #3 Draw your fear.

Pull out all your favorite art tools and go to town. Ask your perfectionist part to relax and give you some space, since this is not about making pretty art. Make it playful and stay open. See what arises from this space of emergence. When you’re done, use it as an oracle. What can you interpret from what fear has shown you?

For extra credit, try drawing your Inner Pilot Light too!

What do our fears teach us about who we really are?

Our false fears are protector parts that just want to be loved and known and nurtured. They’re usually exhausted from trying to get your attention and keep you safe. They’ve been doing this most of your life and they’re weary and lonely and trying too hard to make sure nothing bad happens. But they’re not the enemy! They don’t like it when you call them the “monkey mind” or try to shut them up. Once they trust you, they just want to crawl on your lap and let you take over the wheel of the bus.

So really, fear can cure you by allowing you to really know yourself, including all of your wounded parts. People talk about self love and self care, but this is the HOW of self love. Your fears give you a gateway to knowing and loving all of parts of you that went through hard stuff. And all of us have been through hard stuff. Even if you never experienced any of the big “T” traumas, like childhood abuse, sexual violence, abandonment of a parent, living with substance abuse in the home, or growing up in a war zone, every one of us has been shaped by the traumas of everyday life into something that is not our true shape. If we become intimate with our fears and let our Inner Pilot Lights heal them, we can become who we truly are at our divine essence, informed by all the experiences that made us who we are but not defined by them. Then our unique parts—our preferences, quirks, idiosyncrasies, values, and talents becomes gifts with which we can play, rather than prisons in which we are stuck. This is a journey—and on the other side of this journey lies true freedom, the freedom to make life a playful, mysterious, magical, miraculous dance.

When we heal our fears, how do our lives begin to change for the better? What can we look forward to?

When our scared parts get healed and integrated in the “internal family system,” all the valuable, sweet, childlike aspects of our being are reclaimed, but in a healthy way. You can expect more laughter, more creativity, more capacity to connect with others, Inner Pilot Light to Inner Pilot Light. You can expect to feel guided to your true purpose, to have an inner compass you can trust, and to feel the sweetness of realizing that you are the one you’ve been waiting for, that there’s no need to earn the right to exist, that at the deepest level, you are always safe, even when you die. This doesn’t mean you won’t make wise, mature, responsible decisions to anticipate the future. It doesn’t mean you won’t take the guidance of your protector parts into consideration when making choices about your finances or your children or your spouse or your career. It just means that your sense of protection comes not from a whole band of wounded children but from a deep trust in a benevolent guiding force that is connected to a symphony of life that includes you and yearns to help keep you safe in the most ultimate way. Then your sense of safety is not conditional upon x, y, and z outcomes. You’ll know you are safe at the most fundamental level, even if things don’t go the way you wish they would. You’ll long to surrender any attempt to control you life so you can live in alignment with Divine Will, which means bowing before this great mystery and surrendering your personal will to a power greater than yourself. This doesn’t mean you won’t still have preferences and yearnings and desires. You’ll still cast your vote for how you want things to go, but you won’t be a slave to your inner children’s often irrational anxiety and panic. Those inner children will relax and take a nap in the back of the bus, because now they’ll trust you as the bus driver, and over time, they’ll see that you’re driving them to a glorious, magnificent, limitless destination far grander than any they could have anticipated given their limited capacity.

Anything else you’d like to share?

For those who feel a yearning to deepen your connection to your Inner Pilot Light, I have a new book that just came out, a daily devotional designed to guide you to deepen connection, The Daily Flame: 365 Love Letters From Your Inner Pilot Light. I’ve also developed an online program Connect To Your Inner Pilot Light, which includes some of the nuts-and-bolts, super practical ways you can deepen your intimacy with the divine spark that animates you and helps you heal your fear. We’ve also developed a Healing Soul Tribe of people on a healing journey who are committed to living an Inner Pilot Light-led life, instead of a fear-based or mind-led life. Attending the Kripalu workshop The Fear Cure will take this material even deeper and give you a direct experience of what it feels like to be in a soul tribe of people healing, thriving, and connecting in this way.

Also, if you get one thing out of this, I hope you anchor this: Don’t demonize your fear! It’s just trying to help you, and there’s a way to restore it to its naturally valuable state. Don’t try to meditate it away; instead, love it into relaxing and giving you space during your meditations so you can bask in the glorious peace of your Inner Pilot Light. Your fear will relax and give you space once it knows you care, you’re listening, and you’re ready to do what it takes to love, heal, and let your scared parts be guided to an even safer, more majestic future than your parts could possibly orchestrate. Sign up for Lissa’s Kripalu Fear Cure workshop in May 2019 here. Space is limited so plan ahead!

Love,

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According to many sources in the mainstream medical literature, anywhere from 60-90% of  illnesses have stress-related emotional underpinnings, which can be translated into one word—trauma. Indigenous healers, shamans, energy healers, and gurus have known this for millennia, but in spite of statistics thrown around in medical journals, the medical community’s approach to disease treatment has been slow to catch up. The good news is that things are changing, and this idea that psycho-spiritual trauma needs to be part of most disease treatment is going full blown mainstream. California surgeon general and pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris, MD even did a TED talk five million people have seen about how childhood trauma affects health across your lifetime and often results in adult-onset disease.

Shout outs by mainstream medical leaders like Dr. Harris show that the needle is moving and the mainstream is catching up. The unmistakable link between unhealed trauma and disease is an inconvenient truth that people have hoped to steer clear of, indulging in the inaccurate but understandable wishful thinking that a pill, an injection, or a surgery can cure the problem without requiring people to delve into the pains of the past. Unfortunately, the science is starting to catch up to what the medicine men and women have known for millennia—that trauma predisposes you to disease, and if you wish to optimize health outcomes, you have to be willing to address the untreated traumas every single one of us has experienced.

You Are More Than Just A Machine of Biomechanical Parts

The medical community is now waking up to the errors of reductionism. More and more clinical data points to what we intuitively know, that our assumptions about what predisposes people to illness and what really cures disease are far more mysterious and the roots lie far deeper than what a reductionist’s view of a biomechanical breakdown of the body might imply. In other words, although conventional medical treatments or even energy healing treatments might appear to cure disease in the short run, blocks in the energy system caused by unhealed trauma make you vulnerable to recurrences of the original illness or the appearance of new, seemingly unrelated illnesses. Even the energy healers I have interviewed for my Sacred Medicine research admit that if you blast an illness with the “energy” that comes through a healer, for example, it often works temporarily, but diseases often recur or the patient gets a new, seemingly unrelated illness. Rarely do conventional or alternative medical treatments seem to work permanently if unhealed trauma creates blocks in what researchers call the “biofield.”

In other words, we don’t seem to be able to get away with permanently treating and curing disease without also treating the psycho-spiritual, environmental, generational, or even (dare I say it?) past life traumas that predispose us to getting sick in the first place.

Good news! Trauma Is Curable!

The good news is that we now have ways to treat, clear, and even cure trauma, and the great news is that people who dive into this deep healing psycho-spiritual work often have surprising side effects. It’s not a guaranteed outcome and it hasn’t been well studied by scientists so it’s hard to quote statistics, but at least anecdotally, a large percentage of those with chronic or life-threatening illnesses who undergo therapeutic trauma treatment report that their diseases often disappear or have significant clinical improvement. (Check out this scientific study on the impact of Internal Family Systems (IFS) trauma healing therapy on the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis).

This link between clearing trauma and disease improvement or even radical remission may seem miraculous, but it makes sense and can be explained by conventional physiological mechanisms, which I describe in great detail in my book Mind Over Medicine. The impact of trauma on the nervous system is well documented and well understood. Psycho-spiritual trauma leads to chronic repetitive stress responses in the nervous system as the nervous system is hijacked into sympathetic overdrive (“fight-or-flight”), which disables the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms, which only function when the nervous system is in the “rest-and-repair” parasympathetic state, or what Herbert Benson at Harvard called the “relaxation response.”

Love Heals

For example, we all make cancer cells every day, but only when the self-healing mechanisms that ward off cancer break down can cancer take hold and develop a tumor. We’re all exposed to infectious diseases every day, but only when the immune system fails (often as the result of unhealed trauma) do we can contract a cold, get infected with Lyme disease, or develop a urinary tract infection. We all have plaques that can block our coronary arteries, but Dean Ornish, MD has proven that even blocked coronary arteries can unbloack without stents or surgery when you put people with broken hearts in a healing circle and let them love one another through their traumas. (When I asked Dean Ornish why he thought his protocol for treating heart disease really worked, he said he included diet, exercise and meditation as part of the protocol to get it covered by Medicare. “But really,” he said, “It’s a conspiracy of love. Love heals.” Of course, because trauma healing requires love, and love can mend not just a broken heart, but all kinds of other illnesses as well.

Cross-Pollinating Medicine, Psychology, Spirituality, Energy Healing & Science

While it may be sensible to approach disease treatment from a multidisciplinary approach, with doctors, therapists, scientists, spiritual leaders, and energy healers all collaborating to optimize the chance for cure, it’s also helpful for all members of a treatment team to be cross-trained in other disciplines. In other words, what if doctors were also trained to energetically treat and clear trauma in patients? What if therapists understood more about how psycho-spiritual trauma could lead to physical disease and how trauma treatment might cure illness? What if spiritual leaders were trained with a trauma-informed approach to spirituality, meditation, and healing? What if doctors were trained to practice energy healing? What if medical scientists and biologists were talking to the spiritual leaders, energy healers, trauma therapists, and doctors? Imagine what might be possible then . . .

I’ve been saying things like this for years, but this year, I’m proactively spearheading a lot of these cross-pollinations. Let me update those of you who are tracking these cross-pollinations and want to be part of this exciting and revolutionary paradigm shift to healing and whole health. This year, I’ll be engaging in many interdisciplinary approaches to health, healing, trauma, and spirituality, teaming up with people like:

Psychotherapist, energy healer & Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT) founder Asha Clinton, PhD

Psychiatrist and When The Body Says No author Gabor Mate, MD

Family therapist, Internal Family Systems (IFS) founder and You Are The One You’ve Been Waiting For author Richard Schwartz, PhD

Cancer researcher, The Energy Cure author & Bengston Energy Method founder William Bengston, PhD

Spiritual teacher and author Adyashanti

Scientific researcher of biofield medicine Shamani Jain, PhD

Biologist and author of The Biology Of Belief Bruce Lipton, PhD

YOU’RE INVITED TO THE AIT BASICS SEMINAR WITH LISSA & ASHA CLINTON, PHD

First, Asha Clinton, PhD and I are co-teaching an AIT Basics seminar in April in Mill Valley, CA for all helping professionals who are interested in a trauma-informed energy healing approach to disease treatment. This seminar is ideal for doctors, therapists, health coaches, alternative medicine practitioners, energy healers, and anyone interested in optimizing health through energy healing and trauma treatment. Being at the cutting edge of this paradigm shift requires helping professionals to cross-pollinate and learn new skills. We have too much data to avoid facing what we now know—that trauma and disease go hand in hand, and that we can’t fully optimize the chance for cure without clearing trauma (which requires methods that are far more effective, efficient, and permanently healing than just talking about trauma in psychotherapy).

We now know enough to conclude that it’s no longer appropriate to keep the realms of medicine, psychology, and spirituality separated into their own domains. If we really want to help patients heal, we need to source our treatment plans from all the tools in our medicine bags. Asha and I are joining forces to teach all helping professionals with a desire to learn how to clear trauma with their clients. (You do not need to have a professional license to attend—just a desire to help others clear trauma.) Learn more & register here.

Sacred Medicine Updates, Cross-Pollinations & Collaborations On The Cutting Edge

Gabor Mate, MD, Adyashanti, and I will be teaching together at a 1440 Multiversity workshop hosted by the Science & Non-Duality crew next week on trauma-informed spirituality. The workshop is full, but I hope some of you have already signed up!

I just met up with scientist, energy healer William Bengston, PhD last week. I’ve spent five years studying his research and interviewing him as part of the research for my upcoming book Sacred Medicine, which I may get around to publishing one of these days. I’ve been hounding Bill to start studying his hands-on healing technique in humans, instead of focusing only on mice, and he’s finally coming around to considering doing so. Bengston method is curing breast cancer in mice over 90% of the time when treated by skeptical grad students who don’t even believe in energy healing. And anecdotally, this technique is curing pancreatic cancer in humans (!!!!), which if it proves to be scientifically validated, will revolutionize the treatment of at least aggressive, hard to treat with conventional medicine cancers like pancreatic cancer. I’m annoying the crap out of Bill by insisting to him that hands on healing may not be enough, that if people don’t also treat and clear the traumas that predisposed them to the cancer in the first place, diseases are likely to recur. If the root causes are not addressed, is it not just another allopathic approach? Is it possible to blast the traumatic blocks with hands on healing without getting into the trauma clearing therapies? The answer is “We don’t know,” but I’m talking about it with all these people I’m cross-pollinating with. I’m going out to the East Coast to do more mind-melding with Bill right after I teach The Fear Cure workshop at Kripalu in May. (Register here.) So stay tuned on the energy healing science front.

Speaking of energy healing and science, I’ll be participating in the Consciousness & Healing Initiative’s preconference workshop before the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) conference. The daylong event “I Don’t End Here: Biofield Science & Healing” is hosted by scientist Shamani Jain, PhD and includes me, biologist and author of The Biology of Belief Bruce Lipton, PhD, and energy healer Rosalyn Bruyere. Register here.

Richard Schwartz, PhD, the founder of Internal Family Systems (IFS) and I will be co-teaching a preconference workshop about the implications of IFS and trauma healing in medicine before the IFS conference in Denver in September. We’re still working out the details, but save the dates of the conference if you’re interested.

I’ll also be cross-pollinating with the ministers and spiritual healers at Mile Hi Church, talking about my new book The Daily Flame: 365 Love Letters From Your Inner Pilot Light, as well as healing, trauma, and your Inner Pilot Light on September 29. Stay tuned for details on this too.

After ten years studying what really predisposes you to illness and what really optimizes the chance for cure, this is the year it’s all coming together. If you’re interested in this topic and you haven’t read Mind Over Medicine, you’ll want to start there. Then stay tuned as I start preparing to actually write the book that will compile what I’ve learned in my Sacred Medicine research. The pieces are coming together, and it’s wildly exciting for those of us who are passionate about hacking healing so we can help those who are really committed to optimizing their health.

With love and hope,

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We humans are adorable. We crave love, jonesing for it desperately like a junkie seeking out the next fix, yet most of us have no idea how to love and be loved. Why? Because our original teachers, our parents, usually didn’t know how to really love us either. Instead of growing up with childhood lessons that guide our Love School curriculum as thoroughly as we learn our K-12 education, most of us were fed a laundry list of lies about what love is and is not, based on a romanticized Disney princess notion of love. As you get older, the media reinforces it with romantic comedy movies, love stories in books, and pornography’s graphic images of how sex is supposed to be. No matter how big your heart is, if you believe love is what you are shown in the media, you are going to wind up disillusioned. If you add to the media’s distorted view the screwed up messages about love and sex that arise from the church, the patriarchy, and the conditioning of a confused culture, it’s no wonder we grow up feeling disoriented and disappointed, suffering from what Christine Hassler calls an “expectation hangover.” Love disappoints us over and over again. But is that thing that disappoints us really love? I don’t believe so.

Woundmating

Most people mistake love for comfort or lust or boundaryless fusion or simple compatibility. Unless we begin to wake up, we tend to seek out those who first coddle and comfort, and later trigger and retraumatize our deepest wounds, and we mistake this “woundmating” for love. (Hat tip to Jeff Brown for the spot on awesome coining of the term “woundmates.”) Woundmates fit like lock and key into each other’s coditioned patterns and that lock to our key makes us feel comforted and complete but also, often, rejected and lonely and despairing when our traumas inevitably get triggered and we pull away from our boundaryless merging. But that is not love. That is what my Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT) therapist Asha Clinton, PhD calls “symbiosis.”

Many define love by the relationships that feel easy. You know the ones—where someone finishes your sentences for you, anticipates and meets your needs before you have them, sits with you peacefully and wordlessly because there is nothing to process, and offers you comfort. These people rarely initiate conflict with you. They validate and value you. They’ve got your back. They would do anything to avoid hurting you. They uphold your image of yourself or even uplift it. They remember your birthday and bring you soup when you’re sick. You feel like you’re resting in a nest of feathers when they walk in the room. It’s just so easy to be with them.

What many don’t realize is that these relationships are often fueled by unspoken agreements like “I’ll baby your ouchies if you baby mine.” Coddling each other’s wounds so we don’t retrigger our traumas isn’t love. Cultivating the courage and willingness and strength to heal our wounds together is closer to what real love actually demands.

Others seem to crave those relationships that appear to thrive on conflict. Instead of coddling each other’s wounds, you stick swords in them and then process the sword wounds for hours or one of you walks out, until you miss each other and fall into bed to repair with hot make up sex. When one or both of you mistake abuse for love, you have fallen prey to a “love reversal,” which usually happens because someone in childhood would emotionally or physically abuse you and then confuse you with the words, “But I love you.” As I wrote about in “This Is Not Love,” such love reversals are not love. They are woundmating. Some people might think they have a decent partnership, but if you look closely, often these seemingly peaceful unions are kept in place by two people who are walking on eggshells, trying with all their might to keep a very fragile bubble of codependence from popping and causing them to bump into each others trauma bubbles. While there might be a level of symbiotic harmony, these relationships usually lack real intimacy and depth, since all kinds of exiled hurting parts live in the depths, and they are both hell bent on not healing those hurt parts. So they sacrifice really knowing themselves and one another intimately, not realizing that the “harmony” they think they have won is the booby prize.

So If Woundmating Isn’t Love, What Is?

Why do we all crave true love, yet we seem so unable to recognize or cultivate it? First, we have to give ourselves and our loved ones the unconditional love we crave. WE have to be inordinately gentle with ourselves because—and I really want you to hear this—IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. It’s not the fault of your loved ones either. It’s your RESPONSIBILITY (and it’s their responsibility too), but no one is at fault—not your parents, not your narcissistic ex, not the family member you are estranged from, not you.

You are not broken. You are not unlovable. You are not a failure. You (and all of us) are simply at the mercy of the big “T” and little “t” traumas of everyday life, which have interrupted our connection to the Source of all real love, which I call your Inner Pilot Light. When this Source is veiled by unhealed trauma, love will always elude you and you will keep attracting woundmates who can’t love you back. (Again, it’s not your fault.) Because most of our parents (usually unwittingly) try to control us rather than love us, we grow up with fierce protector parts of our psyches—inner critics and judges and generals and managers that berate us all the time, coming down on us like drill sergeants in charge of whipping us into shape. They torture us so much that we lose it, allowing any number of other protectors who are also just trying to keep us safe to take over, the parts we’re really ashamed of—our rage parts, our abusive parts, our abandoning parts, our addict parts, our cheating parts, our dissociative parts, maybe even our suicide parts. Then all those drill sergeants start judging, criticizing, and attacking the people we care about, and the extreme protectors, which we pathologize and label and try to either medicate, hospitalize or imprison, act out and do things that harm us and the ones we love, effectively destroying any seeds of real love that might have had the chance to thrive.

Without This One Thing, Love Will Always Elude You

When Valentine’s Day comes around, it can be a glorious celebratory holiday for the charmed few who grew up healthy or one of the brave ones that dared to do what it takes to fully heal from past wounding.  But it’s often a triggerfest for everyone else. Those who are unhappily partnered wish they could repair their relationship, while those who are unpartnered often feel like they must be fundamentally flawed in some way. Only the rare people who grew up with awakened parents who didn’t traumatize them with poor boundaries and the brave, badass ones who have willingly gone into the crucible to heal these traumas get to eat the fruit of love’s promise.

If you’re one of the blessed ones, please know that I’m aware that having a blessed life doesn’t mean you live a pain-free life. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day and bow deeply to the love in your life and in your own heart. If you’re one of those people, I hope you will send this blog to someone who is still struggling—along with a love letter on Valentine’s Day to remind them how worthy they are of real true love. If not, keep reading, because what comes next is my love offering on Valentine’s Day, because you deserve to get the love that is your birthright.

So . . . how do we get the love we crave? Here is the one thing you need to truly let love in. As Dick Schwartz, the founder of Internal Family Systems (IFS) says, “YOU ARE THE ONE YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR.” The love you crave is right inside of you, just waiting to pour into you what you seek elsewhere. Without a solid, steadfast connection to your Inner Pilot Light, real love will always elude you. But once you tap into it fully, you will discover (with some hilarity, usually) that LOVE IS WHAT YOU ARE.

If you can’t feel this love flooding into you yet, how can you heal what interferes with the Source of all love? Full healing is beyond the scope of a blog, but here’s the work that beckons for you. Keep in mind that none of us are fully codependent or fully narcissistic. This is why my therapist uses the term “symbiosis,” because if you’ve had boundary injuries that have left you boundaryless, you’re likely to toggle between both patterns. That said, most of us swing more towards one extreme than the other, depending on the nature of our boundary injuries and the stage of childhood development when we got wounded.

Healing The Codependent Types

Some of us respond to these boundary injuries by becoming overly responsible codependent types who irresponsibly take responsibility for cleaning up the messes other people make.

If this sounds like you, your job is to set and enforce boundaries. Your work is to stop putting yourself and your loved ones at risk by taking on what is not yours. Your job is to heal the boundary injuries from childhood that made you take on responsibilities you should not need to take on so you ONLY take responsibility for your own messes. Your job is to heal your addiction to compulsive fixing, helping, and rescuing, to stop trying to control the other person by taking on the role of cleaning up the messes your irresponsible loved ones make for themselves as a way to earn their loyalty or soothe your fear that they will abandon you or harm themselves. Your job is to sit in your own discomfort when you have to watch your loved one reap what he/she sows as the result of irresponsible choices. Your job is to see with clear seeing that you are not a victim of these irresponsible people who hurt you. You bring it on yourself. Remember, while it is your responsibility, it is not your fault. Your boundaries were injured and you’re confusing love and control, but it’s not your fault. Your job is to let your Inner Pilot Light love bomb you with all the love you’ve been craving and not receiving. Your job is to let this infinite Source of love fill you completely. Your job is to seek out support from others who are like you, who have interrupted this pattern and are now capable of loving you from the other side of the healing. Your job is to get expert help so you cannot just see those traumas that made you vulnerable to taking on responsibilities that are not yours. Your job is to get help actually CLEARING those traumas, so your inner children can be tended by the loving reparenting only your Inner Pilot Light can offer.

THIS is love.

Healing The Narcissistic Types

Others respond to childhood boundary injuries by narcissistically acting out irresponsible behaviors and depending on overly responsible codependent types to clean up their messes. They blend with a whole army of scary, acting out parts in their psyche who think they are doing a necessary job to protect you from seeing the really painfully vulnerable hurt parts underneath. Those parts make up all kinds of rationalizations and defenses and justifications. They numb you to your natural empathy so you can’t feel the pain you inflict on other people as a result of your irresponsible choices. You expect your overly responsible loved ones to clean up your messes, but you’re not realizing how unfair it is to expect your loved ones to reap what YOU sow. They can’t help themselves because they’re so afraid to lose you. But the harm you cause to yourself and others is eating away at you, only feeding the story inside of you that you can’t bear to hear, the story that tells you “See how unlovable you are?” But it’s a lie, my love. You ARE love. You are deserving of love and you are capable of giving love, if only you bow before the mercy of Love Itself and beg for help from your Inner Pilot Light, from God/Goddess, from experts who can help you heal, and from others who were wounded like you are but are now healed and want to help you.

If this sounds like you, it’s your job to see the truth, even if it hurts to stop numbing your empathy and fully feel the impact of your irresponsible choices—on yourself and on others. It’s your job to get expert help healing those vulnerable hurting parts so you don’t need those irresponsible parts to keep acting out. It’s your job to learn to respect boundaries, and to love and heal the parts of you that cause you to lose impulse control. It’s your work to start taking on adult responsibilities and own up to the reality that you reap what you sow. Irresponsible choices lead to painful consequences, and it’s not fair to depend on your overly responsible loved ones to clean up your messes for you. It’s not loving (for themselves or for you) when they do that. Your job is to humble yourself, to admit that it’s not your fault but that you’re powerless to handle this on your own. Your job is to take responsibility for making apologies and making amends to those who have irresponsibly cleaned up your messes for you, enabling you in a way that doesn’t let you face the full consequences of your reckless behavior. . Don’t shame yourself. Remember, it’s not your fault. It’s your responsibility, but it’s not your fault. Your job is to love bomb yourself, even the parts that get you in trouble, to allow your Inner Pilot Light to love even the parts inside you that you might be inclined to demonize or hate. Your job is to be willing to get treatment and let skilled experts help you mend your hurt parts so you can finally learn how to love. Your job is to learn that you are not damaged goods. You are a spark of the Divine and this makes you inherently lovable and worthy.

THIS is love.

Unless we all take responsibility for the parts we play in woundmating in the name of “love,” love loses. Because we have had our Inner Pilot Lights veiled by these boundary injurying traumas, the love we crave always feels impossibly out of reach. UNTIL NOW!

You can’t do better until you know better. Now you know at least the first steps of what you need to own and heal.

Getting The Help You Need

On this Valentine’s Day, I invite you to choose to prioritize loving YOU and all your parts. If you can afford one-on-one therapy, please get thee to an Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT), Internal Family Systems (IFS,) or Somatic Experiencing (SE) trauma healing therapist STAT. You can find trained therapists on all of their websites.

*AIT founder Asha Clinton, PhD and I will be co-leading an AIT Basics training seminar for helping professionals in Mill Valley in April 2019. You can register here. Learn more about What Is AIT here.

If you can’t afford therapy, you can 12 step something (which is by and open to anyone who needs it). If your wounding has led you to act out the more codependent patterns, you can get help in AlAnon, ACOA, or CODA. If your wounding has played out in the more narcissistic pattern, chances are good that you’re blended with an addict part that might be ready to finally 12 Step something—substance abuse, sex addiction, workaholism, gambling, etc. You can 12 step almost anything that you use to numb your painful feelings these days! Get a sponsor. Work the steps. And don’t skip finding a way to clear the traumas that got you into these patterns in the first place—otherwise your recovery will be much slower and less permanent.

Many people really need to 12 step both patterns, since the boundary injuries can play out both ways, depending on who has the most power in the relationship and how much you play out your boundarylessness on yourself (by being irresponsible with yourself in a way that harms you). You can learn more about 12 Step programs in general here or Google search 12 step meetings in your neck of the woods.

If therapy or 12 step doesn’t resonate with you, tune into your Inner Pilot Light and ask what you need. See what drops in intuitively. Let synchronicity help you get the help you need.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Beloved!

This Valentine’s Day, give yourself the gift you truly need—a lifelong, abiding love affair with the inner Beloved who can truly help you love and be loved, which I call your “Inner Pilot Light.” If you feel drawn to deepen your connection to your Inner Pilot Light, sign up for the free Daily Flame emails here. Or read my new book The Daily Flame: 365 Love Letters From Your Inner Pilot Light. Or join the Healing Soul Tribe of people committed to loving one another and living an Inner Pilot Light-led life as we all walk each other home. You can find other resources to help you deepen your love affair with the Divine Spark inside of you here.

With prayers for healing and hope for true love for us all,

PS. I have lots of events coming up as part of my book launch. Learn more and get tickets here:

NYC–The New York Open Center (here and here)

Santa Cruz, CA–1440 with Gabor Mate, MD & Adyashanti

Mill Valley, CA–AIT Basics Seminar with Asha Clinton, PhD

Stockbridge, MA–Kripalu

Santa Cruz, CA–1440 (just me)

More Details Coming Soon:

Denver: Mile High Church & the Internal Family Systems (IFS) conference in Denver

Santa Clara, CA: IONS pre-conference event with Consciousness & Healing Initiative (CHI)

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As I prepare for the February 12 due date of my new book baby The Daily Flame: 365 Love Letters From Your Inner Pilot Light, I’m releasing a series of blogs intended to help you connect to this source of divinity within each of us. In “What Is Your Inner Pilot Light,” I shared with you just a bit of what is possible when you shift your center of gravity toward a life led by your Inner Pilot Light. In “The Most Common Reason You Can’t Sense Your Inner Pilot Light’s Guidance,” we talked about what interferes with most people’s connections to this reliable, trustworthy inner healer, mentor, companion, beloved, and guidance system, which I call your Inner Pilot Light. In “The Crucial First Step To Letting Your Inner Pilot Light Make Your Decisions,” I talked about one essential practice that will get you started on leading an Inner Pilot Light-led life.

Today we need to talk about something critically important. Examining how the mind learns to protect you (and how it gets in the way of your connection to your Inner Pilot Light) might give you insight into why you may feel disconnected. But if you demonize, bully, or try to exile the mind and all of its natural protection, you only add another layer of resistance to your capacity to connect to this soulful, loving, wise, inner Source.

Let me say this again because it’s absolutely essential—and it flies in the face of what many spiritual traditions teach.

The Paradox: Your mind/ego/parts interferes with your connection to the divine spark inside of you. But demonizing it only strengthens the resistance and further disconnects you.

The Solution: The most effective way to loosen the mind’s hold is to open your heart and love the parts that resist letting go and trusting that it’s safe to let your Inner Pilot Light take the lead.

Why Demonizing Your Mind/Ego/Parts Only Strengthens Your Resistance

Many spiritual traditions demonize the “monkey mind,” the ego, or your grasping desires and intense aversions, without realizing that the content your mind is communicating with you is an effort on behalf of protective parts in your psyche, trying to get your attention for a totally valid reason. If you become intimate with these parts and create ways to conference with them, they’ll relax, heal, learn to trust your Inner Pilot Light, and give you space for moments of rest, such as meditation.

Common spiritual teachings that demonize the mind/ego and are likely to make your parts even more resistant to relaxing include:

  • Ignore your thoughts and let them float by when they distract you during meditation. (Your protector parts don’t like to be ignored!)
  • Let go of all attachments and desires because they are the root of all suffering. (It’s inevitably human to attach to what you love and dislike what you don’t. It’s part of your discernment compass so to lose it would impair you greatly and put you at risk of potential abuse.)
  • Your ego is what gets in the way of “enlightenment” and you need to get rid of it. (Your parts really don’t like it if you say you’re going to make them leave!)
  • Your thoughts, emotions, and desires are all “maya,” or illusion, and only the Absolute is real. (Your parts think they are VERY real, and in your inner world, they are, so don’t insult them by calling them illusion.)
  • Forgive and forget. (Your protectors do NOT want you to forget. Forgive when it’s time, yes. Forget, no.)
  • Love others unconditionally, even if they hurt you. (Good God you can love them but don’t let self-centered people who use you and hurt you get too close! Your protectors will have an absolute fit! It’s their job to keep you from getting hurt!)
  • If you don’t like how someone else is treating you, do the work on your thoughts to find out how you’re projecting onto the other. (Yes, projection is real. Take responsibility for your part. AND don’t take responsibility for what belongs to the irresponsible other.)

If you think of your ego, your mind, or your thoughts as young parts of you that think they’re trying to help, imagine how bewildering it is to those child parts when they’re crying for your attention and you’re trying to meditate them away, bully them into shutting up, denying that they exist, or overriding the impulses that keep you from getting repetitively hurt.

Sure, discipline is a valuable character trait. Learning to practice self-discipline can improve your life in a variety of ways, but not if you’re sugarcoating and glorifying self-bullying or self-demonizing in the name of “discipline.”

What most people call discipline is really a rejection of the traumatized, young parts of our psyches, which really need your care, compassion, and intimate understanding of how they got their often extreme roles when you were young. While demonizing or trying to silence these parts only strengthens them, what really works to get these parts to relax is to heal those inner child parts, rather than trying to whip them into shape like an abusive drill sergeant.

Demonizing the mind/ego or trying to harshly discipline your inner children can be counterproductive, creating even more resistance, slowing down your progress on the spiritual path and interrupting your psychological (and physical) healing journey. Instead, it can be more effective to soften into this new operating system, loving rather than demonizing the protective parts of our psyche which usually got their jobs worrying, planning, micromanaging, and trying to control life because of childhood trauma. Think of it like trying to earn the trust of a traumatized foster child. You wouldn’t just expect to harshly discipline the child and get good results. You’d have to slowly, gently, compassionately open yourself to getting to know that child, and over time, if you were faithful in your capacity to show up with a generous heart, that child might relax into trusting you.

Earning the trust of your ego/mind/protector parts so your Inner Pilot Light can take the lead is similar. You have to earn the trust of those parts that talk to you all the time. They’re not just trying to distract you from the spiritual path. They’re calling for your attention, trying to keep you from getting hurt, protecting you from potential danger, craving intimacy with you, hoping you’ll finally help them heal so they can stop their incessant chatter, allowing their natural gifts to shine through (their playfulness, their glee, their delight, and other childlike qualities that may have been exiled during the initial wounding).

You Are Made Of Many Parts

This might sound all well and good, but HOW, you ask? If simple mindfulness meditation or vipassana meditation isn’t the most effective answer to silencing the “monkey mind,” what can help you get some space from the polarized parts who are always arguing with each other inside your head?

We all have Inner Pilot Lights (or what Richard Schwartz, PhD, the founder of Internal Family Systems—IFS—calls “Self” with a capital S). Every single one of us has access to this inner compass, inner beloved, inner healer, inner mentor, inner therapist, inner muse . . . But most people can’t be obedient to the guidance of their Inner Pilot Lights because this divine spark is veiled by trauma. As much as we’d like to meditate our way past the trauma or bully the trauma into going away, you won’t be able to fully sense, trust, and obey the guidance of your Inner Pilot Light until you’ve cleared enough of the trauma to begin to sense it reliably.

Internal Family Systems (IFS)

In my next blog, I’m going to unpack a non-demonizing, Inner Pilot Light—enhancing trauma healing model I really resonate with, which can help you negotiate the needs of your inner children and protector parts, heal the parts that are really suffering, and potentially even get relief from chronic physical symptoms. (As a physician, I like to nerd out on data, so it fascinates me that this trauma healing model has been scientifically studied and proven to offer effective symptom relief in rheumatoid arthritis patients.) Stay tuned and make sure you’re on my mailing list (register here) if you want to make sure not to miss the next blog.

Loving you, your mind, your ego, and all your parts,

PS. Only 3 more days to qualify for the preorder bonuses if you order The Daily Flame book, which comes out February 12. If your Inner Pilot Light is saying YES! to this book, now is the time to order it. Check out the preorder goodies here.

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