Lori had a great comment on my reaction to staffing the Basic in June: “Lol about the healing. My own teacher suggested to me that people starting on such a path get a little honeymoon at the start. That way you're less likely to bail too soon.”
I was thinking about that quote as I dove into the 12 Stages of Healing, a book written by a Network Spinal Analysis chiropractor that chronicles his observations of people moving through the healing process. Dr. M suggested I read it, and it’s been pretty comforting for the analytical part of me to march through a linearly written book finding where all of this fits. Then again, I’ve struggled to write this post because while the book is written in a linear fashion, the way I’m going through the stages is anything but. And really, this post is focused on the last 2.5 years. I’m sure I’ve circled Stages 1-3 fairly regularly in my life, but I didn’t start making headway until working with SG and subsequently Dr. M.
Stage 1: Suffering. “Suffering is marked by a profound awareness that something is wrong. Parts of our being are disconnected.”
Stage 2: Polarities and Rhythms. “This stage begins with the search for the magical genie that can or has been identified as the savior from distress, pain, or crisis.”
When I started having chronic upper back and neck issues, all I did was look for something to fix it. I relied on massage therapy and Active Release Technique for years to try to loosen up. Then I kept having problems despite completely changing how I worked out, quitting Jazzercise and joining a functional fitness gym. Eventually, I shrugged, winced because the shrug hurt my neck, walked into some guy’s office to get this thing called Fascial Stretch Therapy and got a whole lot more than I bargained for. I just wanted SG to fix it, and I tried to keep him in his lane, “He’s just a stretch guy, what the hell does he know? There isn’t a huge amount of stress in my life, just the normal full-time working mom with two young kids.”
Stage 3: Stuck in a Perspective. “This stage of healing involves the recognition that our distress is associated with the fact that we have been stuck in a perspective.”
Stage 4: Reclaiming Our Power. “…we realize that the “script” determined by the above three stages is no longer desirable or no longer works.”
Stage 3 started when I listened to SG for once and started seeing Dr. M. Naturally, I only listened because my body practically screamed at me that something was wrong by snapping back to the worst tightness and pain I had experienced even after months of stretch therapy. About a month before this occurrence, I started seeing Therapist #3 too and basically built my team of healers (without knowing it yet). At work, I was recognizing I was burned out and needed a change, any kind of change. A few months later I made a decision to start working part time, and started to be a teensy bit more accepting of what was being presented to me. Stage 4, well, I know the exact moment I hit Stage 4. It was when I caved and attended an information meeting if only to shut-up SG. (who am I kidding, we both knew I was going to sign up). This could also be the point where I metaphorically “burned the boats”, a reference SG brought up recently. Many invading civilizations would sail to the location of their invasion (Vikings, Conquistadors, Alexander the Great), and literally burn the boats making winning the only way to get out alive. Cute, right? Well, change that to the only way through an awakening is to move forward because there is no safety net. By beginning to take responsibility for the situation I was in, I cut loose the safety net of “this was done to me and that’s why I’m the way I am”. Instead, I was going to face myself and my shit head on. (one thing SG pointed out recently is that my higher self got me to that meeting, the ensuing anxiety attack was my ego being very unhappy with the whole situation. I think he’s on to something)
Stage 5: Merging with Illusion: “This stage is associated with having a strong enough sense of self to turn back onto our own alienated shadow or light to heal the illusion and create more wholeness.”
Stage 6: Preparation for Resolution: “The alienated, traumatized, denied or redirected consciousness or energy is moving towards being prepared for discharge and resolution.”
Stage 7: Resolution: “Discharge of bio-electric energy is associated with a discharge of mechanical energy.”
Stage 8: Emptiness in Connectedness: “After the discharge we are emptied. Rather than a space of nothingness, we find ourselves in a place of possibilities.”
I’ve been circling these four stages, not quite completing one, jumping to the next, something else gets let go in the network adjustments or stretch or therapy, and I circle back again. I know that the first time I was in Stage 5 was sitting in Therapist #3’s office shaking with fear. Another time was at my Basic weekend. I saw who I had become whether I wanted to or not, didn’t like it, uncovered more of the crap surrounding my upbringing and basically blew the roof off of all that was holding me back. Stage 6 is more difficult to discern because it’s the stage where the concept of serendipity shows up. I can’t quite pinpoint where this one starts and ends most of the time. I think most recently it showed up with my back getting all jacked up and me agreeing to hang up my bike. That opened the door for me to staff the Basic again, and at the same time, I had a rough few weeks dealing with the emotions around the idea that I quit a planned event. I felt stuck and alone. I know I’m in Stage 7 when I cry/feel nauseous/feel lightheaded after energy work , or during a network adjustment. Or, the really fun time when I had network and stretch on the same day and could barely function that afternoon. The way Dr. M described it to me sounded like a seesaw, I keep sliding one way and the other while moving through whatever is being released. He mentioned during one of the times that I got nauseous that what he felt in my back is a fear of a gift. Literally, a fear of the gifts I have and I’m having trouble owning. (It kind of drives me a little crazy when I have one conversation with SG around this and few days later Dr. M is noticing the same thing and I haven’t said anything about previous conversations) Stage 8 is when I feel empty but know that something bigger is coming. I know that the emptiness is here because I’ve shed so much of what wasn’t serving me and it’s not filled yet with who I really am. And, the more I circle these stages, the more I can feel an overall shift occurring. As I write this, I seem to have shifted to another plateau after spending the last few weeks mucking around and freaking out. Stage 8 seems to be where the paradigm shift is really happening for me. It’s where I’m curious and being more open to the reason why I ended up on this path. It’s when I hear, in response to my frustration, “I don’t know who I am!”, “You’re an energetic being having a human experience” and my eyes don’t roll quite as big as they used to. It could have been any bodyworker, any therapist, any workshop, any class, nope, it was these people and this workshop. I think I’m in this stage when I notice signs and don’t dismiss them like I used to. Recently I came across feathers a couple days apart. A perfectly molted feather behind my car when parked in covered parking (aka, not near where you expect to find a feather) and a perfectly molted feather just laying on the grass on a path I was walking on the next day. These two occurrences happened after I had gotten so nauseous on the chiropractor table that I thought I might really puke this time. After spending the weekend staffing and once again hearing people describe me in a way that still feels foreign, I noticed a giant dragonfly outside the 9th floor window of my building. Huge. Like it took a while to identify it as a dragonfly because I’ve never seen one that big before. Coincidences? Sure, you can say these are coincidences, but…I’m not seeing it that way anymore.
Stage 9: Light Behind the Form: “From our place of emptiness and gratitude we can truly appreciate our energetic fullness.”
I tagged Stage 9 once. I had a week of feeling open curious, connected, surrendered, and I had a dream that put an exclamation point on it. In the dream I was meditating and in my meditation, it was like a rip tore through a veil, and all of the sudden I was in the sky surrounded by stars feeling like I was an observer. Sitting surrounded by the stars, I wanted to fly. I didn’t fly.
Stage 10: Ascent: “We experience our union with the creative force of the universe. We transcend all limits, boundaries, language, judgments, and our existing sense of self.”
Stage 11: Descent: “We are renewed beyond our limits and sense of self and enter into the world again.”
Stage 12: Community: “We experience our involvement with humanity and recognize that wholeness comes from bringing our individual gifts into community.”
Well, 10 is achieving Enlightenment, so…we’ll see. The idea behind these stages is that once you move into Stage 10, as awesome as it is, it’s important to come back down to earth and integrate that experience into your life, which are stages 11 and 12.
So, Now What?
The article SG sent to me where I related to being in the messy middle of my awakening sparked some thoughts. In that article, there was a concept that bugged me, that awakenings only come for the strong, for those ready to take a hit, and my first reaction was, “well, that sounds egotistical”. Then I let it sink in a little more, thought about, talked about, and came to this conclusion, awakenings can come for anyone, and in the book on the stages of healing, this seems to occur in Stage 4. Stage 4 is about the time the Universe either gives a nudge, or the 8,000,000’th nudge, or just winds up and takes a swing. At that point, we choose a path. One path is to reject what’s happening, maybe make a change in our life and to continue going through stages 1-3 until 4 either gets our attention, or not. The other is to embrace a different state, to finally admit something deeper needs to be addressed and to start taking responsibility. Taking responsibility and staring myself in the face, realizing that how I show up affects people, that how I’ve been treating people has resulted in lost friendships and a career I’m not sure I ever wanted, that is HARD. The messy middle of this is the transforming part, where I keep circling around stages 5-8, each time coming out a little more shifted, a little more comfortable, a little more centered. I’m not sure what a so-called arrival is going to look like, but I’m getting the idea that there is no momentous ARRIVAL. Arrival may simply be acceptance that riding the waves of these stages occurs again and again, and eventually, maybe arrival is just that part where we move fast, having developed and learned how to use tools to get through them. I know I’m in the messy middle right now because I have a ton of awareness, and not very many tools to help me deal with said awareness. Awareness is awesome, and it’s empowering, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
p.s. This is one of the most time-consuming posts I’ve written. I had to feel where I was in the stages over the past few chiropractic, stretch and therapy visits, revisit blog posts and journal entries then cross-reference with the book. I almost quit because I was afraid I’d get it wrong. I don’t know if I got it wrong or right or it’s right, right now and changes later. It was an interesting exercise, and I’m glad I’m done. For now.