Healing Our Families, Healing Ourselves; A Seven Step Healing Framework

To heal is to become whole, to be in balance in life. This seven step healing framework is grounded in the theories of transpersonal psychology. You can apply this to personal healing for yourself or in your own family and it can be used as a framework for holistic healing of the family in a counseling or clinical setting. I originally created this framework in 2008, I have used it for the past 8 years in my practice and have fine-tuned the process to what I describe here 🙂

Step I: Examine Stressors: Past & Present

Once you name it you can start working to change it. Every mental, emotional and physical symptom that manifests in the body is evidence of an energetic imbalance.

Patterns of nature and and of people are deeply intertwined, so much so that one is a constant reminder of the other, in a beautiful dance of creation. 

Ask, ‘What brings me stress in life?’

You don’t need to dwell too much on this step. Simply identify and move on.

Step II: Witness Habits with Mindfulness

Pay attention to the habits & rituals that shape your day. Through examining the everyday patterns of one’s life insight is gained into the unconscious drives that move people through their days.

Ask, ‘What habits serve my highest self?’, ‘What habits are serving my family?’, ‘What habits are not serving my highest self?’, ‘What habits are not serving my family?’

Step III: Realize Generational, Gender and Cultural Beliefs & Attitudes

Through discussing the beliefs and attitudes one has towards his or her ancestors, deep psychological understanding has the potential to emerge.  Often what one cannot see in ourselves, we are able to see through the larger mirror that culture provides.

The personal shadow is known to be a subjective development, one that can only truly be known by one person, and therefore, can never be seen completely objectively.  However, the collective shadow can be experienced by any member of the collective and therefore can be described as an objective reality; one that can be viewed from a variety of viewpoints and perspectives.

Ask, ‘What are the struggles of my generation that I identify with?’, ‘What cultural beliefs do I most strongly identify with?’, ‘Am I sensitive to the generational and cultural struggles of my family?’

Step IV: Discuss and Synthesize What is Working

Through an examination of the strengths that one has held both in the past, in the present and through an examination of the potential strengths one can discern in their own character, in treatment the foundation is built for success.

Qualities of Primal Nature

 The enlightened primal nature The shadow of our primal nature
Closeness and trust in nature Disconnection from and fear of nature
Participation in community Isolation and disconnection from people and community
Connection to music and rhythm Disconnection from music and from the rhythm of our bodies and of the nature
Ease of movement & deep connection with one’s body Illness, Disease, Immobility, disconnection from the body
Awareness and communication about primal physiological needs of air, food, water and constant body temperature Ignorance, refusal to acknowledge connection to, deprivation or over-indulgence of primal physiological needs of air, food, water and constant body temperature.

Step V: Discuss and Synthesize Wounds, Complexes and Shadows

Once one is able to see clearly their strengths, they are then capable of also seeing their darkness.  One must be rooted deeply in their strengths in order to hold the darkness in their bodies without becoming ill.

“The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together; our virtues would be proud; if our faults whipped them not; and our crimes would despair, if they were not cherished by our virtues.” William Shakespeare

The collective shadow may act out, or hide beneath the surface.

Ask, ‘In what area do I need to connect more to my primal life force?’, ‘In what way can I support my family in connecting to their primal life force?’

Step VI: Enable All to Express Life Force!

Every human being is an expression of life energy.  This life energy manifests as thought or action.  Life energy is expressed through interactions.  These interactions are creative in nature and can be with oneself through writing or the arts, with other human beings in communion with one another through activities such as ritual, ceremony and sexual union.  When life energy is not expressed, it can create a blockage in our bodies that can cause hardened emotions that if not expressed over time, can lead to illness and disease.  This life energy also runs through our earth, known in optimal field theory in which all humans belong to one life energy as, ‘the individual and unique expression of a systematic, self-perpetuating and self-correcting life energy’.

“When people become alienated from the unity of consciousness and begin to perceive themselves solely as an individuated self separate from the creative life energy, the estrangement spreads to other aspects of being. As a result, a sense of connection to others is lost and a proclivity for the oppression of others grows. Fragmented, alienated consciousness also creates disharmony and imbalance in the environment and exacerbates insecurity, isolation and fear. Individuals base their sense of themselves on material and other external criteria, believing themselves to be how they appear, the clothes they wear, their incomes, their position, the model of car they drive, and so on. Anxiety, insecurity and fear emerge as they recognize the finite and limited nature of the material possessions.”  

As James Hillman has articulately observed, ‘a self is what people, ideas and things you bring in from ‘out there’ in the soul of the world’, ‘self is the interiorization of community’.

Ask, ‘How am I expressing my life force with other human beings?’, ‘How can I support my family in expressing life force?’

Step VII: Co-Create a Vision for Higher Levels of Functioning

As a final stage of healing, the you become an active participant in the creation of your vision for your healed reality.  This process is facilitated through creative visualization.

Make a plan and involve others!

In Eastern thought movements human interaction can be understood through the concepts of Karma and Dharma.  Dharma can be defined as virtuous action achieved through following the universal laws of nature and understanding the characteristics of the elements that make up the world.  It is through this virtuous action that we move into enlightened living and create Karma for ourselves. Karma is a memory from previous thought or action – an impulse which can either be acted upon and reinforced or negated by the exercise of free choice.

Therefore with every action that we make in our lives, a karmic seed is created that takes root and will show itself in our future.  As human beings, our movement through life is a series of cycles that include dharma and karma.  We are continuously acting and living through the seeds of those actions, this creates samsara, or the illusion that we call physical life on earth.

Carl Jung asserts that we not only hold personal karma, but that the collective can also live through this cycle.

“We can cautiously accept the idea of Karma only if we understand it as psychic heredity in the very widest sense of the word.  Psychic heredity does exist – that is to say, there is inheritance of psychic characteristics, such as predisposition to disease, traits of character, special gifts, and so forth.”

The only way to live truly free of Karma is by embracing the karma that presents itself anew to you in each moment. You must first own the karma to transcend it.

“For the Eskimos, when one falls ill, one takes on a new name, a new diseased personality.  To get over the disease, one must quite literally ‘get over’ it, that is, by dying.  The only hope for cure lies in the death of the ill personality.  Health requires death”. James Hillman

Socrates reflected that light must be sacrificed each day in order to give way for darkness, one cannot exist without the other. ‘Death then is the cure and the salvation and not just a last, worst stage of disease.  The cock crow at dawn also heralds resurrection of the light.  But the victory over disease and the new day begins only when the ambition for it has been abandoned upon the alter.  The experience which the disease of death cures is the rage to live…” James Hillman

To bring conscious awareness to the unconscious drives of our shadows requires a long process of confronting one’s unconscious and seeing the truth. Every time you own an unconscious way of being, you must allow that way of being to die in order to make room for a new way of being to emerge.

Ask, ‘What do I need to allow to die in my life?’, ‘What is my deepest desire right now?’, ‘What actions do I need to take to support this deepest desire?’, ‘How can I support my family in identifying what needs to die in their lives?’, ‘How am I supporting my families deepest desires?’

It is through the clash of the energies of the old and the new; fear and love that we can birth a new age of understanding, understanding our past and understanding our present as a means of creating our future.  The key to this transformation is through holding the tension of these two opposing forces; not denying either; but embracing both the good and evil inherent in the human condition.

Then decide on a new way of being and choose to see clearly which old way of being must die in order for your new life to be born. This healing process then is merely a first step into a new future.  The implications for the work to be done are great.  The lessons to learn are many, and the potential for transformation is at its height.

References

Coward, H. (1985). Jung and eastern thought. New York: State University of New York Press, Albany. (pp. 95-107)

Hillman, J.& Moore T. (1990). The Essential James Hillman: A Blue Fire. Great Britain; Routledge.

Jung, C. G. (1964). Man and his symbols. New York, NY: A Windfall Book. (pp. 218-229)

Jung, C. (1959). The archetypes and the collective unconscious. Bollingen Series XX. New York, NY: Bollingen Foundation, Inc. (pp. 275-290)

Kim, U., Yang, K-S., & Hwang, K.K. (2006). Indigenous and cultural psychology: Understanding people in context. New York, NY: Springer Science + Business Media LLC. (pp. 3-13; 33-38; 49-60; 73-109)

Lever, R. (2007). James Hillman on archetypal psychology and soul. www.newcommons.com. (pp. 1-10)

Lund, J.M. (2002). The Ordeal of Zeal-of-the-Land Busy: The Conflict over Profane Swearing and the Puritan Cultures of Discipline.  In: Journal of American & Comparative Cultures; Fall, Volume 25, issue ¾.

Perseus Digital Library 

Tricket, J. E., Watts, J., R., & Birman, D. (1994). Human diversity: Perspectives on people in context. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass Inc. (pp. 145-243)

Watkins, M. (2009). Psyches and cities of hospitality in an era of forced migration: The shadows of slavery and conquest on the immigration debate. In: Politics and the American soul. Spring, Volume 78. (pp. 177-201)

Watkins, M., and Shulman, H. (2008). Toward psychologies of liberation. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan (pp. 23-31).

Zweig, C., & Abrams, J. (1991). Meeting the shadow: The hidden power of the dark side of human nature. New York, NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam. (pp. 165-189; 239-242)

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