9 – Relationships
9/1 – Individual Freedom Of Expression
I truly believe that each of us has all the resources - mental, spiritual and magical - to overcome absolutely everything the Universe wishes to test us against.
The main use of the sanctuary as I see it is to allow us to have somewhere safe where we can rest, heal, experiment and grow, in our own time, in our own way. I have already said this in various different ways before, but here it goes again, this time in the form of a quote from Krishnamurti:
"I believe that the truth is a pathless land, and that it cannot be discovered through any teacher, leader, sect, religion, or organisation. Individuals need to discover for themselves their own unconditioned truth so that they may be truly free."
So how, when and why you will choose to use your sanctuary to what end is nobodies business but your own. You do what you want to, and how you want to do it, in your own time, using as your resources and your guides those that you meet within.
It is important for you to know that you do not need to see a special counsellor, and that the process you have started will go forward under your own guidance for as long as you wish to make good use of it. The following chapters only contain suggestions and examples, they are not operating instructions. They may also very well be quite incomplete.
Although I have used these ideas for a good few years and with many very different people, each new person still brings with them new surprises and images that I couldn't have conceived of in a thousand years.
So, after this disclaimer, let's take a look at some of the uses we've found so far and how you can go about getting the kind of benefits we've been able to enjoy, starting with the area that according to some has the most profound effect on our lives.
9/2 – It’s All A Part Of Me ...
Now, if you ever want to truly boggle your mind, do as I have just done, and, on a big piece of blank paper, write the heading "Relationships".
Wow. Where do you start?
Perhaps with the interesting quote: "You are the people you have met."
People are so damn complicated. You think you know someone, and then they turn around and rip the tenuous carpet of reality on which we are perched right from under us and send us reeling into confusion, anger, love and hate. Then they die on us and we suffer bereavement for the rest of our lives. What fun!
There is a school of thought that holds that everyone we have ever interacted with becomes "a part" of us.
This belief is by no means confined to Gestalt Therapist and Neuro Linguistic Programmers.
It turns up in different guises also in various religions, in magic, and shamanism. In fact, the NLP technique of "parts integration" - where negotiations are held with conflicting sub-personalities in order for them to change their often wicked ways - has been called "voodoo without the dolls" by some. Another term for such sub-personalities that have somehow become detached and are now functioning independently is found in the idea of "Soul Loss" - the same idea, just a different phrase.
I think the word Parts is alright to use, and it has made sense for me in the past to use the following belief system. So, every person you have ever had a relationship with, exists within you as a memory, an internal representation, for short, as a part. The longer and/or the more intense the relationship, the larger the part, and the stronger this part's influence on the whole that is you.
As these parts are part of you, their function is generally held to be to serve you in some way, to aid you in your survival, growth and happiness.
However, many of these parts go about it in a way that is less than straightforward and often, they cause a lot of trouble by the means to their ends.
A heroin addict may have a part that wants him to be happy - and the happiest he ever is, is when he's on a fix. So this part might continue to drive the behaviour in all good faith that it is doing everything it can to make him happy. Of course, in the long run, it's going to make him extremely unhappy - only the part was formed inside when he was only age 14 months old, it only lives for the now, and has never grown up to make wiser or more long term choices.
A part that might appear in an "external" form could be a long forgotten parish priest who still spooks through someone's neurology and now makes having sex with the new girlfriend out of wedlock strangely impossible.
Now if you've never heard of these ideas before, you might be thinking "Oh my god! What a nightmare! All these people I thought I had finally left behind! And they're still there? Having a bearing on my life today? Aaargh!"
Certainly. But look on the bright side. It has it's advantages too. It means - and that's just for starters! - that you can settle any conflict with anyone, no matter where they are, no matter if they're dead or alive or even imaginary, no matter if in the real world they would have you shot, safely and neatly in your sanctuary and thus help to reduce conflict within yourself and give you more energy and freedom to go ahead and to manifest the things you really want out of life.
Let's look at a few strategies to first of all begin to make peace with your most important relationship.
9/3 - Relationships With The Self
I am simply not the same person I was 20 years ago.
If I could travel through time and meet myself aged 18, she would not have recognised me, and I would only recognise her because I've seen her on pictures.
I find it very hard to even remember what used to be important to her, and as far as her views on life, the Universe and everything goes, it hurts my head to even begin to get into rapport with her now.
No doubt you also have made major steps in your life at one point or the other that have led you to be the person who you are today, perhaps more seamlessly than I did, perhaps even less so.
The point is that even without major traumas interfering and creating sub-personalities within the self that are then frozen in time and cannot go on to grow up with you, our minds are littered with past selves.
The more different they are from the way we are now, the more potential for expanding the self to something more than the sum of your parts exists - if they can be integrated, healed, communicated and made peace with in some way.
9/3/1 - Children & Babies
I sometimes can't help myself but cry when I hear what happens when people begin to bring lost, unloved and abandoned past selves into their sanctuaries. Terrified children who were never consoled, hungry children who weren't fed, desperate children who no-one ever listened to, forsaken children wandering in wastelands, shrivelled babies starved of all nourishment, wild children who are so afraid of humans that they hide in the wilderness, angry, ferocious children more like beasts than humans, deformed and misshapen ones, beaten ones, abused ones - the metaphorical representations of the every day traumas of growing up in this so called civilised society of ours.
But finally, here is now someone who can make it alright. Who can be the loving support they never had. Someone who truly understands them and forgives them. Someone who will never let them down and who loves them with all their heart.
An impossible task?
No. You can bring them one at a time into your sanctuary as you become aware of their existence. In this safe and healing space they will become well even if left to themselves over time; but of course, there are ways and means to speed this process along. After the initial contact, older past selves can be employed to
help look after them until they're fully grown; angels can heal, soothe and love, you can enclose them in loving light or even have your higher self give them love directly from The Source (God, Goddess, All There Is, The Universe).
Some people baulk at this next option, but others have found it very helpful to have more enlightened versions of the original parents take over the care of the child, this time doing it properly and raising it with unconditional love and regard. Representations of grandparents or other relatives can also be of help.
Inner child therapies of all forms and kinds have been popular for many years now, and rightly so. If you already have favourite approaches in this area, go ahead and use these - the sanctuary space allows you to integrate everything you've learned, no matter where, and no matter when. Whatever processes you want to use to this end, I'm sure your internal systems will be the better for it.
What happens to these children after they have been healed? Well, some tell me the child simply dissolves into sparkles of light, others embrace the child and feel it become part of themselves once more, others still see the child remaining in the sanctuary, playing happily amongst the beauty and safety there. Either which way, once you have done something like this, you will know that it is a profoundly emotional, and profoundly freeing process which will in many small ways contribute to your well being from thereon in.
9/3/2 - Older Children & Teenagers
The transition from the childhood self to the adult self is marked by many inherent conflicts, even if the family in which you grew up was exceptionally supportive and your life exceptionally stress free and the others in your class and neighbourhood exceptionally nice.
Then there's the whole sorry area of sexuality - not that sexuality is sorry, but that the way it's been dealt with, expressed and experienced is more often than not a complete shambles of grand proportions.
Because of the intense emotions present at that time, residue is created that vibrates through the rest of an adult's lifetime.
I've heard people declare themselves sexually aberrant after just a single one unfortunate experience in their youth and then go forth and punish themselves with utter misery for the next 50 years or so.
We will look at how to deal with problem memories in the sanctuary at a later date - for now, let's just stick with calling these poor young people home.
The nice thing about this age range is that they can speak for themselves, and will express amazing revelations to you if encouraged to do so. See, I don't think teenagers are irrational at all. They're intense, yes, and sometimes they haven't learned to reign themselves in like an adult would. They have also mostly not yet got a perspective of time which allows them to view any problem in a greater context - every problem is right here and it is mountainous. But whenever I've talked to any teenager, in real life or within someone's sanctuary, I could always see that they were expressing real concerns that mattered to them, and most were damn right in their assertion that "nobody understands me" - the adults around them mostly didn't even try very hard.
The trick is when dealing with younger selves is to make sure you step out of your enlightened wise adult persona and allow yourself to really remember what it was like at that time. How wearing the right hair slide was so incredibly important; how one look or a comment from someone at school could truly mean the end of the world; how wonderfully exciting it was to do the forbidden things.
A few people reported that upon meeting with their persona now, the younger self expressed dismay at what they had become; in these cases the drive and enthusiasm of the younger self can be just the tonic that was needed to start the now persona on the road to brighter and better things.
Generally however, younger selves are pretty amazed at all the things you can do; driving a car, doing your work, coping with children, whatever - either way, "the injured teenager within" is a truly amazing experience, be it as simply a conversational partner, a mirror for you across time, or just as the means to overcome some problem that is bugging you now in your every day life.
9/3/3 - Adult Younger Selves
If you're 90, an adult younger self can be as old as 89 and still be classed as a "younger adult self". In this category, especially if you have been breeding, are many opportunities for soul loss, loss of self, conflict, and dispersal of energy - that's why such a lot of people have faded to grey by the time they're 55.
I found that it doesn't do to treat younger adult selves (or YADs, from now on) as too grown up. Any YADs that come to you for help or appear with a plea for resolution, or turn up as the result of you investigating a problem situation that has occurred in the real world, probably lack some of the basic nourishments - hope, trust, love, friendship, fun, creativity, sex, security.
Here's an example: Nick was an advertising man, good looking, very creative, highly paid, and globally hated by everyone at work. He'd had three tribunals already to do with such things as sexual harassment, bullying at work and the like, had "gone through" 15 secretaries in less than three years, and the only reason the boss hadn't fired him years ago was that a talent like that was extremely hard to come by, and the highest paying clients of the firm demanded his services. Nick's private life was not much better; he lived alone and paid for whatever services he required in the housekeeping and companionship department. Now, you might ask, this does not sound like the personality structure of someone who would seek help from a holistic counsellor, and you'd be dead right there. His boss made him come and see me under threat of finally losing his job.
I could well imagine how his secretaries must have felt; he was a powerful, aggressive and unpredictable entity that easily filled my spacious room. So I said to him, "Let's talk about the injured child within", and he hit the roof like a rocket! When he saw that I was laughing, he calmed down somewhat and allowed me, under the guise of "let's just get this over with and we'll tell the boss we've done all we could", to show him the paintings around my place, most of which have metaphorical themes.
Less than fifteen minutes later, he was freely hallucinating volcanoes, fire breathing dragons, magic chalices and all sorts, completely absorbed in his own inner world. Then, he sat up with a start and asked me if it was normal that there were two of him. Two of him? Yes, himself and another him - an evil twin. (I must confess to thinking at that point that if the Nick in my office was the good one of the two, I would certainly not have wanted to meet the other one!).
At any rate, conversation between the two wasn't getting anywhere, and in the end, they fought each other in a mediaeval setting, with lightning striking all around them. After slugging it out for the best part of half an hour - I must admit, the running commentary was fascinating and I had to remind myself to breathe every so often - Good Nick finally won out.
Real Nick stretched like a big cat and smiled happily.
"Wow." he said. "that was amazing. I haven't had so much fun in years! I feel great! No wonder so many people go to shrinks - can I come again next week? Please?"
The point being is that just because a part manifests as a younger adult self or even, as in this case, an alternate adult self, doesn't mean that they are grown up, or sensible, or even rational. The way Nick dealt with this part was about as far away from my own understanding of how to do these things correctly as you can get, and at the time I had sincere doubts whether it was a good way to go about it. In general, damaging or hurting any part of yourself damages and hurts you - because it's part of you, of course. That's like "if thy eye offends thee, cut it out"; personally, I lean towards the alternative "if thy eye offends thee, do a quick sub modality change and then have an aroma therapy bath by candle light" instead.
Also, slaying a part right out as Nick had done, can and usually does have long lasting repercussions in some form or the other, because the mind is an interactive system where everything is balanced and working together. Even when there's conflict, this conflict has been part of what was a functioning system of sorts for a very long time, and the outcomes of such invasive surgery are usually highly unpredictable.
Still, neither one of the three Nicks were adults yet in the true sense of the word, and something that will make changes and interventions easier for you personally is to really know that anything you do can be reversed at a later date if necessary. Even a part that had been killed off can be retrieved if this should turn out to have been damaging by "time machine" type strategies; and it was this knowledge that made me allow Nick to go ahead with his desire to slay the alternate self. It was what he really wanted, and it had provided an incentive for him to begin and explore more of his inner world.
As an aside, and when he'd left, I gave very humble and grateful thanks to the Universe at large and metaphor therapy in particular - with that particular client, what could have worked as well?
Adult younger selves are, in my opinion, the forgotten ones as far as personal development is concerned. So much time is spent going through people’s childhoods, it is simply not generally recognised how important lost or detached or denied adult selves are to a person as a whole.
Winny had cancer. She was very bitter about this because about four years ago she changer her life completely. She had been grossly overweight since she had been a teenager, had not had much of a social life and generally was a very unhappy person. But apparently all that changed four years ago when she went to have her stomach stapled, began exercising and following a vegetarian diet. She lost over 120 pounds and “became a new person.”
“This is so unfair,” she said bitterly. “That fat cow I used to be would have deserved that, but not me. I’m a changed person, I’m better now.”
It was interestingly for me very sad to notice how she was deriding her previous self. She didn’t have a good word for her at all, she was just some hopeless fat loser she hated, and not just wished she had never been; but declared strongly that she had no relationship whatsoever with this younger adult self.
Now obviously I’m not suggesting you are going to get cancer if you treat your previous selves in that way; however, I have a strong notion that it is a most unhealthy thing to do if you’re into the idea that the mind of a person is a landscape that connects across time and space.
If the above case story rings a bell with you, the time might come when you are ready to invite your past selves in for peace talks. It might be the best thing you ever do for your self.
9/3/4 - Future Selves
Future Selves can be a tremendous resource indeed. The very idea that there is a you in the future, who has successfully negotiated and survived every problem that you are so worried about today, and not only survived, but even prospered, can be a real life saver when the going gets rough. Further, future selves can be amongst the best advisors and helpers on just about any issue you need clarification on - from whether to invest in a specific company, to how to deal with a current relationship.
Now, this presumes rather that the future self represents as prosperous, happy, and well. And this is the case for most people. Some, however, experience their future selves as less than happy in some way, and this can be even more helpful in a strange way.
Shelley, for example, got such a shock when faced with a disease ridden, miserable and bitter future self that it gave her the incentive to make dramatic changes in her life style; she used the changes that manifested in the future self as a guide line as to whether she was on the right track with her real world activities. At one point, and, after having started a particularly grim regime of vegan food combining and starvation, she went to her sanctuary to find not her future self, but instead in their usual meeting place a grave, complete with granite head stone and R.I.P!
But that's doing it the hard way, in my opinion. After all, I wouldn't be so fascinated by this whole domain if I thought that you have to stop eating chocolate in order to loose weight.
Another lady, Theresa, also found her future self to be a sad and twisted creature. She, on the other hand, chose to make her future self happier, to change and heal the future self, as it were; and duly and as if by magic, changes manifested for her in real life.
Like Rupert Sheldrake's Morphogenic Fields, the future self can thus be used to create the present, when it is more normally held that only the present creates the future.
This is like writing a murder mystery - you start with the solution and then the rest of the story will have to appear and all the events before will have to organise themselves in such a way that the solution can be reached.
When dealing with time in the sanctuary, do remember that you are dealing with Quantum or Cyber Time - the past and the future have already been and gone, time is as one.
Lastly on the subject of Future Selves, (or Future's Elves, as one of my people remarked!), on the odd occasion someone feels very intimidated when meeting someone who they cannot begin to imagine will be them one day. It must be said that this was my personal experience when first we met. My future self seemed to be so - how can I put this? - together, so quietly powerful that at first I hardly dared talk to her and felt highly uncomfortable in her presence.
As I got to know her better, our communications and my self esteem improved, and she has been a great source of comfort and inspiration to me ever since.
Whether you just sit and talk, take walks around the sanctuary, or engage in some form of activity together, this is a learning experience you should make sure you don't miss out on. I highly recommend it!
There is one last aspect of the future self that some find very difficult, yet others profoundly rewarding. This is to visit the furthest of your current future selves, i.e. you just before you die.
Those who have dared do this have reported deep changes in their perceptions about what life is all about, and what is and isn't important, or rather, what was and what wasn't important with the wisdom of hindsight.
Taking such a perspective on one's entire life is not for everyone. But you never know, one day you might just like to do it. I must warn you however, life will never seem quite the same after that.
9/3/5 - Parties Of Selves
Now I don’t even remember how this came to be, but in the context of a MindMillion project there all of a sudden materialised the idea of groups of selves, learning something new in a whole new way and one that would work for all of them, as a group or entity – thus revealing some kind of global learning preference for the entirety of a self that stretched over a person’s entire lifetime.
MindMillion is a prosperity directed, mastermind network and one of the most fascinating experiences in human endeavour, thought and learning you could imagine. The focus is very much on physical, practical change – members photocopy their bank statements and sent them to each other so there is direct proof of change and not just talk, or feeling a bit better although you’re still sitting in the exact same hole in the ground you started out in.
The idea was to have all the past selves who have any bearing on the topic of earning money to come together and engage in a learning activity, with or without a teacher, doing exactly what they needed to do to make the requisite changes – whatever they might be, we did not know at that point.
We had expected that this would be a kind of school class setting with Einstein the teacher or something like that, but that was not at all what really took place.
Not for a single individual who ran this experiment was there a school room. One person really tried but all the selves just walked out immediately!
My own selves gathered in a fairly pleasant, warm country setting and then they declared the desire to sing together. I was completely astonished by this but even if I had wanted to, I could not have stopped them because as soon as the idea had been expressed, they stood or sat and started to sing, from a little 3 year old past self via a teenager with streaked hair and purposefully torn blue jeans.
Another member of the group reported that as soon as his selves had gathered, they conferred for a moment and then took off at high speed, to get on an airplane and do a lot of travelling to exotic places.
One gentlemen found his guys playing football with each other; a lady reported that her people all lay down together in a forest grove and began to sleep and dream together.
It was really extraordinary how this just happened to freely and spontaneously – and bear in mind the context had been to learn something new about prosperity of all things!
This really shows in my opinion of how in the realm of metaphorical interfaces and problem solving, we have no idea of what would be for the best and usually, our conscious mind cannot even conceptualise the necessary solutions. We thought school rooms and what was really needed was singing, dreaming, playing football and travelling amongst other and equally highly individual solutions.
What was also really amazing and fascinating about this particular example was the fact that the groups of selves completely agreed on the right way forward – there was no dissent at all, they all needed this activity, no matter how different all these other things about them had become. I have the notion that during the prosperity exercises we discovered a core need for those individuals who took part that had remained the same throughout all their life’s many changes, and that is a very, very valuable thing to find out about indeed, not to mention having an opportunity to do something about it and finally fill it to their heart’s content.
One night, before you drift off to sleep, or you are contemplating a problem, question or issue, make a space and call in such a “group of your selves” from across time. Check out what they do if left to their own devices to make them happy – and be prepared for a surprise.
9/3/6 - Selves From Past Lives
Whether past lives are really past lives, or just a metaphorical representation of a concern from this life, the fact is that hundreds of thousands of people all over the world have successfully used Reincarnation Therapy and Past Life Regression (PLR) to make deep, lasting and profound changes in their lives.
For those of you who have done PLR already, you might like to make use of resources, learning’s and experiences represented by the various people that you were at one point or the other.
I have a Jesuit priest amongst mine who comes to visit my sanctuary every so often, and who can provide very enlightening insights on some spiritual matters - in fact, when once faced with a client who manifested a whole bunch of medieval demons, you could say his experience in this field and in depth knowledge of exorcism ritual was absolutely invaluable to me!
Another tremendous resource is a woman who had a smallholding and worked as a midwife in the Middle Ages. Her knowledge of medicinal plants and all matters relating to birthing and rearing children is second to none, and she has been of great help when we were stuck with neglected younger selves, including pre-birth younger selves, and healing matters.
Particularly nasty or unresolved past lives are also tackled much more safely and easily in the tranquillity of the sanctuary, with the help and guidance of all those we've mentioned so far and others beside, because by taking the main characters out of their own past life scenario and transplanting them and the issues they represent into this familiar and other setting, it is much harder to become emotionally overwhelmed or freaked out (a technical term, by the way, denoting an instantaneous loss of belief in the ability to cope).
If you have never done any PLR, it could just be possible (especially after reading this!) that a past life concern might turn up in your sanctuary.
Heather found at one time, upon taking a walk in hers, a badly injured middle-aged man. He had what appeared to be appalling torture wounds all over his body, had been blinded, and was very close to death. She told me how shocked she had been at first, but then decided to make his last few hours as comfortable as possible, so created a shelter with a soft bed, put soothing lotion on his wounds, and just sat with him, talking to him gently until he died quite peacefully as the sun began to rise. He transformed into the ghost of a young and powerful warrior from some past age, and he thanked her most graciously and sincerely. Then he disappeared and hasn't been heard of since.
What did it mean? I don't know. I don't even care on some level. There was a man who needed help, she gave it, lots of good feelings all around were had - that's all we can know. Whether he was from a past life, a metaphorical representation of an injured part of Heather's self, or just someone floating out there who spotted Heather's sanctuary and thought it was a good place to get help, who knows? In the end, that's what global metaphor therapy is all about. To trust the process and not to ask too many intellectual questions, because that will get you nowhere in the enchanted realms of symbolism.
On the subject of "many lives", if you're so inclined, you could also try a spot of "Future Life Progression". I've done this in the past because I'm a bit of a Sci-Fi fan and just for fun, but it can be seriously useful if someone feels that there's something they should be doing in this lifetime, but can't figure out just what it's supposed to be. If the Future Self doesn't know either, looking at a future lifetime may provide the clues to what kind of Karma they're supposed to be working on in this life time. Major spiritual concerns can also be addressed in that way, especially if you choose a very far out into the Future Self and then turn around and look at the progression of the interim lives in total.
Future Life Selves also may have resources that are different, unique or simply not to be had anywhere else.
A middle aged lady called Kath who had been scared to death by the computerisation of her work place, gained a sympathetic rapport with the machines literally overnight when she called in a Future Life Self who had grown up with technology far ahead of what her boss had perched on her desk.
"It was completely bizarre," she reported. "It seemed that I instinctively knew what buttons to press and how everything worked, I just learned it so easily. I still can't believe it on some level. The other people in the office now come to me for help when something goes wrong, can you believe that!"
9/3/7 - The Higher Self
Many approaches and religions hold the idea that there is a part of us that is eternal and lives in the light. That this part remains unchanged through all incarnations, is our core, our soul, who we really are.
From a practical viewpoint, you can call upon your Higher Self at any point when you feel you should be doing something or other, but you're just simply not enlightened enough yet to do it - forgiving someone who abused you as a child, for example; or healing a particularly bitter and destructive relationship.
OK, so you just can't forgive just yet - but the part of you that is your Higher Self, which IS love, can and will most gladly do so on your behalf. As you have a Higher Self, so do all the other people in your life. If you have injured and hurt someone and they won't forgive you, turn to their Higher Self instead.
Their Higher Self IS love and will gladly forgive you - or rather, you will realise that you have already been forgiven when you tune into it. Any Higher Self can and will send unconditional love, healing, and light when called upon to do so - gladly and readily, but for the asking.
Another interesting aspect is to more fully integrate with the Higher Self. If there's any time in your life you feel you need extra resources in the way of forgiveness, patience, strength, love, what have you, step into your Higher Self in your sanctuary and feel it's power within you. Of course, we already have this power fully within us. By doing the "stepping in", you're just simply allowing yourself to access it more fully than before.
9/3/8 - Lower Selves & Demonic Selves
Remember our good friend Nick who found an evil twin in his sanctuary? Oh yes, there are demons and the like to be had as well. Evil twins are actually not as rare as I thought they were when Nick came to see me; I've met the theme in variations a number of times since.
Unpleasant characters that won't let themselves be talked to in a civilised manner, behave in a less than enlightened fashion, and devils, monsters of all kinds, goblins, gremlins, fauns, demons and witches, you name it - it seems, most people have 'em in some form or the other, and once the communication links between the conscious and unconscious get better and more open, previously repressed and incarcerated "unwanted" aspects will turn up and present themselves to you for resolution.
Firstly, remain calm if this should happen. I have found that when working in the sanctuary realm these guys do not turn up until such time as you are actually ready to deal with them. And, you see, with all the help, magic and resources you've already realised by getting this far, of course you've got more than enough resources to banish even the most grizzly of demons.
Here's a story to this end: Susan found, to her horror, that an ugly, demonic witch woman had appeared and had started to shrivel plants, make birds drop from the sky, just the usual kind of evil stuff you'd rightfully expect such a character to perpetrate. This, however, completely freaked Susan out, because she was really heavily into the what I call "dancing bunny rabbit" scene of personal development - where angels are fluffy pink things, everyone floats about in a enlightened fashion all day long, and the sky is a consistent and never changing powder puff blue. You can imagine that a giant evil black witch would sit rather awkwardly in such a representation! She was on the phone to me, nearly hysterical, but I calmed her and asked her to do something to stabilise the situation for the time being (because a state of advanced hysteria is not the best state from which to make good decisions, I thought). She brought out a host of angelic beings, incarcerating the witch in a cage of energy, and heaved a big sigh of relief.
"I can take it from here," she said, and I thought that would be the end of it. But not so. Apparently, she had instructed the angelic host to destroy the witch, using the energy beams like lasers, but what had happened instead was that the witch had fed on it and grown to ten times the size she had been before. Now, in spite of calling in reinforcements in the form of just about every self she could lay her hands on and every single guide, and all her friends and their guides, the witch was about to break free from the energy cage.
At the time, and thus put on the spot, I was a bit at a loss at what to advise, at which point I then go inside and seek guidance from my own metaphorical friends. After all, it's their domain, and they would know what to do.
The resolution proved to be very simple indeed. The witch was a creature of negativity. It fed on and thrived on negativity. The only way to overcome the problem was through unconditional love. Pretty obvious, really. Love is much stronger than negativity, it's just a bit of a human reflex to want to fight fire with fire instead.
And so, the assembled forces were instructed to find whatever love they had within them and to send it to the witch - which proved to be a lot easier for the angelic host and the guides than for the humans present, but still, they did what they could. And lo! and behold, the witch shrunk, and shrunk, until it was just a sad and pathetic old woman, and then changed from black to white and simply dissolved in a rainbow shower of light. Mission accomplished! Apparently, there was much celebrating amongst the assembled crew and a party was enjoyed by all - especially by Susan.
This particular crisis and it's resolution had a remarkable real life side effect on Susan - she used to suffer from migraines ever since she'd been a child, and in spite of having any known form of treatment under the sun, nothing had shifted it. But since the witch dissolved, she hasn't even had a mild headache - and as I write this, it's been over 2 years. Oh well. So much for those who think that this kind of thing is nothing more than a weird little mind game.
This brings us to a very core principle of dealing with any creatures and manifestations born out of darkness or negativity - you simply cannot overcome them by fighting back.
Well, let me re-phrase that.
You can overcome them temporarily by fighting back, but it doesn't allow for full and complete resolution of the problem in my opinion.
Let's go back to Nick the advertising man for a moment. After his fight and triumph over the evil twin, he experienced what can only be called an "unwanted side effect". Yes, he felt much happier all around. Yes, he had hardly any temper tantrums and the ones he had had were very mild in comparison. Yes, he got on with the people at work a lot better, so much so that there was a rumour going round that I had put on drugs. But, and here it comes, he found it virtually impossible to come up with bright ideas and flashes of brilliance which had been the very core and foundation of his work and his life. It was, he said, as though there was just a fog where his inspiration used to be. It had become so bad that he found himself turning to work he had done previously and to dressing it up as new in order to get by.
I nodded sagely - I must admit, I'd kind of expected something like that to happen. Often, the very creative parts of the self are the ones most at conflict with the world around us, and when Nick was growing up, being a boy as well, being creative was simply not something that was even tolerated to any great degree. So the kind of division between "Good Nick" - meek and mild, reliable and constant, does as he's told, works hard at boring tasks, is nice to everyone; and "Bad Nick" powerful, dangerous, creative, temperamental and immoral, is one that's fairly standard, if not always as dramatically played out as with this guy who was now very concerned that he'd have to choose just one, or the other, either of which didn't really make his life seem like worth living.
I told him that the only way out was that the two must be re-integrated and become one "Human Nick" - someone who can't be either good or bad all of the time, but someone who does their best to grow and enrich themselves and those around them.
He very nearly cried at that point, never really having considered himself as a member of the human race before; however, he certainly understood and was more than willing to co-operate - even if it meant communicating with "Evil Nick". As "Evil Nick" had been slain some weeks ago, time travel was in order. So we went to the point in time where the two come face to face, and before the fight begins.
Now, in the medieval landscape with the lightning flashing all around and the skies a deep blood red, there's three of him and one of me - talk about getting complicated! But, as an aside, this is really fascinating stuff - like co-authoring a block busting million dollar movie. God I love this work! Anyhow, eventually we managed to get the two to communicate (although it involved a wild spot of wrestling and having both of them tied up side by side to start with).
What followed was an intensely emotional experience that had all four of us in tears at some stage and culminated in the two opposing Nicks coming to a mutual agreement, hugging, and then melding into one, at which point the lightning stopped, and rain began to fall on the stony ground in the sanctuary.
We were both pretty knackered after this. By the way, I never, ever send a client away like that, as has happened to me on more than one unfortunate occasion. I prescribed some coffee and something to eat for both of us and then waited with baited breath - metaphorically speaking, of course! - for the outcome.
I must bow to him - he really did get behind himself. He called me a week later to say that it was nearly like being back to his old self, only that he found it a lot easier to "suffer fools gladly".
He had had one major temper tantrum with the production manager, but, as he put it, "It was different from before. To everyone else, it might have looked the same, but there were parts of me that were kind of watching myself with amusement as I was yelling at him. It felt as though I could have stopped if I'd really wanted to, I've never, ever had that experience or hope of any kind of control before." His work was now back on schedule, and most importantly, he wanted to do more inner work as he now believed he could "do a lot better all the way round".
Well, to come back to the point of the story: positivity, regard, and unconditional love will melt the gremlins and demons like warm water melts an ice cube. Light always triumphs over darkness.
This is the basic, underlying and unchanging rule.
You can break it for a time, but it'll come back threefold, as the old magic saying goes.
Smashing things, destroying them, cutting them up, ripping them out, blowing them up, or any suchlike representations have inherently "negative" or "non-growth" aspects about them, and if you can find a way to avoid ever using something like that, so much the better. Leave the battles to the fundamentalist. Resolution, flow, evolutionary change, healing and good ol' plain universal love are in the end, the only truly enlightened answers, and not only that, will work a treat for you and will help you to really get things right.
Whilst we're on that subject, banishment and incarceration are at the very best only temporary options. How many horror films have you seen where something or other broke free after centuries of incarceration via a powerful binding spell and was ten times worse for it's time spent in solitary? Yet, people do lock up their demons under stone slabs or in their darkest dungeons; quite a few people reported having send parts of them "into the wilderness" because they wanted no part of them, if you excuse that expression.
The incarceration thing is a really bad long-term option for many reasons, and it's just like the prison systems in the modern world. It takes enormous amounts of resources to keep the dark ones in there, by the way of life energy - I've known people who expended so much energy of keeping their demons from breaking free as it were that there was hardly any left over for leading any kind of life, never mind a happy one. Further, just like in the prison system, it isn't a solution - the dark ones don't get any better whilst they're in there, and there's a good possibility that they'll end up ten times worse. Also, and here is where it's the same story with banishment and exile, these dark parts are still parts of you, meaning that you are not whole until they've been re-integrated in some way, until they have been allowed to come home.
I'm not saying that you should never resort to banishment or incarceration; sometimes it is a useful short term containment exercise to help you gain a breather, more perspective, and give you time to call in help or gather further information on how to deal with this situation properly.
I would urge you, however, to make such a situation a top priority for resolution, should it occur; and I would also suggest that you might start a repatriation programme and a rehabilitation programme for your dark part offenders that were locked away in the past as soon as you feel ready to do so.
9/4 - Genealogical Relationships
9/4/1 – Blood Is Thicker ...
Blood relatives are god's gift to therapists. I swear if they didn't exist, we'd be out of a job, or wandering the streets, hoping someone might be traumatised by a log falling on them unexpectedly from above. Whether they were aunties, grandpas, evil brothers, dreadful sisters, or later on, horrendous children and their respective families, I reckon you could amuse yourself forever healing the scars left over from such loving family relationships.
But look on the bright side. In your sanctuary, you're in charge. You can turn them all into frogs, if you feel so inclined, or, as one woman did, into tiny little copies of themselves, and then sat and watched them all running around, squeaking high-pitched and waving tiny fists at each other. Of course, in the end you'll have to love them, forgive them, and make peace with them to avoid ending up all bitter and twisted, but that doesn't mean you can't have a bit of fun first.
Those amongst you who don't know who your blood relatives are, don't fret. Just allow representations to materialise regardless and go ahead and resolve and heal any conflicts with these representations instead. I've had quite a few clients who were adopted or abandoned and it works very well.
So let's take a deep breath and turn to those who had the major hand in creating the person we are today.
9/4/2 - Mother & Father
Can you bring your mother and or your father into your sanctuary? Don't worry if your toes curl at the thought - you are by no means alone. If the very idea of having them or any representation of them in there with you freaks you out, just relax. As you gain in strength, purpose and compassion, there will come a time when you'll be able to tackle this - and believe me, that's a part of you that really will need sorting out and healing, if the last 100 years or so of therapy experience with millions of people are anything to go by.
There is an interesting school of thought that holds that any changes you make to the past in such a realm as that of your sanctuary reverberates through time and creates changes in the now and future in turn. This might help as a starting point. If you can't deal with your parents as you remember them, perhaps you can start by getting in touch with younger versions of them first, even children selves of your parents. Many well known healers and speakers have variations on this exercise, because it's really hard to stay bitter when you see what a mess of a childhood they had to suffer - ten to one, it was probably even worse than your own and it shows up how much they struggled and how hard they tried to do better than that, even if they fell far short of anything approaching being good parents themselves.
By the way, you might have noticed that I don't seem to be very bothered about whether your parents are alive or dead. In many ways, it doesn't matter, because it isn't your parents that are the problem, but the representations you hold of them inside your own head.
After embarking on Sanctuary work in this area, many people whose parents are still alive experience a profound change in the nature of their relationships in practical terms, and that's very nice but really quite beside the point.
Like it or not, there are parts of you that are your parents, and, yes you know, the nicer you can find it in yourself to be to them, the nicer you'll be to yourself in fact, and the more of a peaceful, powerful and integrated personality you can become. As Milton Erickson said, "It's never too late to have had a good childhood.", and I would add to that, "and it's never to late to have had decent, loving and understanding parents".
Often, I prefer to work with the parent parts directly rather than with injured child selves, because if the parenting was dreadful, there's of course bound to be hundreds of these injured children as a direct result. Sort the parents, and the time line will have changed and the inner children will have grown up to be healthy and integrated.
You can give parents resources they were lacking in the form of metaphorical gifts; you can heal them, you can introduce them to their own guides and guardian angels and let those do the healing for you, or you can simply bypass your human parents altogether and communicate with their Higher Selves directly - any which way you choose to deal with it is just fine.
Joan, a retired headmistress, reported that she had thought about "making peace" with her long dead parents for many years. After having her sanctuary up and running, she eventually decided to invite her parents for a brief visit, making sure that a couple of dozen assorted friends, literary figures, selves and guides were right beside her "just in case". (I had to hide a little smile, because I certainly wouldn't want mess with Joan and couldn't begin to imagine what kind of monsters her parents must have been, but that kind of overkill in the spiritual protection department is perfectly OK to do if it'll give you the courage to proceed).
Well, as her parents arrived via the recently installed interdimensional gate, she was amazed to see that they were just people, quite small too, and that they were absolutely delighted to have received the invitation. They went on a guided tour around the sanctuary, greatly admired the wonderful landscaping and exotic flowers and features, had tea on the terrace and talked freely. The parents expressed regret, amongst other things, that they hadn't known how to be more loving, and apologised for being far to strict with her at times. When the tea was finished, they got up, thanked her warmly for a wonderful afternoon and then went back to wherever they had come from.
Joan said that after they'd gone she'd just cried and cried and cried and wished she'd done it so much sooner, as it had "lifted a great weight from my heart". Following this experience, she made a little pilgrimage to her parent's graves in the north country which she had never seen, laid some flowers and felt that she had really finally laid important ghosts to rest.
For both men and women it can be very important to address the parents individually, as well as in the couples context. People who have problems that are sexual in nature, or gender related, can often find much relief in dealing in some shape or form with the metaphorical aspects of maleness and femaleness regarding their mother and father.
Something I should also mention at this point is that it might also be time at some point or the other to give credit where credit is due. Because most therapy is about solving problems, we get used to sifting through our memories for all the bad stuff that was perpetrated upon us, and fail to ever sort for the good.
Here's an example of such a case.
Sharon was full of bitterness about her mother, who was still alive. Their relationship was cold, hard and strained, and as Sharon had all kinds of problems and had had much therapy of one kind or the other, she was now at a point where, if here mother was mentioned, she would nearly spit, and this in spite of much meditation and a firmly declared belief that she "could see the light within".
I kind of just fished around a bit, following my intuition, and the following was revealed:
- that Sharon’s mother had always tried to protect her from her volatile father, as best she could;
- that mother had, when Sharon was a sickly baby with deformed legs, ferried buckets of seawater from the coast 12 miles away by bicycle every day to bath and massage her legs, with the result that they were now completely normal;
- that mother had, when Sharon had experienced severe headaches all through her teenage years, done the only thing that would relieve them - put her on the back of her little motorbike and drive around in wind, rain or snowstorm until Sharon felt better.
Now, does that sound like a candidate for the "worst mother in the entire Universe" award?
Yes, let's be honest, Sharon’s mother certainly helped "fuck her up". No doubt she treated her cruelly at times, badly at others, insensitively at many others, hurt her, frightened her, squashed her, distorted her, took irreplaceable futures away from her. Yes, she did all those things, knowingly or unknowingly.
But, always remember, mum's a big part of you, and if you go and blanket-hate entire huge parts of yourself, you just end up damaging yourself even more.
Further, there's also huge parts who "love mummy unconditionally" and so the conflict just gets worse - and the only one to suffer, once again, is your current and future selves.
The other point is that when one buries or denies a part, one ends up denying oneself access to the good qualities, resources, experiences and learning’s tied up in that part.
Joshua's unconscious mind presented him with the following idea for dealing with the problem of parents; to my amazement, he imagined his father as a junkyard. There were toxic waste containers there, poisons of all kinds, destructive machinery that could shred and squash, and of course, old cars and airplanes too. Joshua drove in with a big pick up truck and found all manner of items that were of interest and of use, such as tool sets, certain spare parts that he felt were needed elsewhere, and things that could be repaired and would be very useful indeed.
Eventually, and quite some time later, he send in a clearing crew to turn the place into a park like landscape complete with playground areas for children, skating rings, and BMX track - for some reason or other, he was very insistent on the BMX track! The duck pond was optional, but he thumped his fist on the coffee table to make me understand how vital that BMX track was. Oh the wonderful world of people's internal representations! Even later still, a younger version of his father appeared and they began to open tentative lines of conversation.
What was especially interesting about this was not so much the changes that occurred in Joshua's own life as a result, but the intriguing co-incidence that his father was reported to have visited a detox unit to get his alcoholism under control - at age 62, for the very first time ever, and after a life time of drinking, violent relationships and petty crime.
What I also particularly like about what Joshua did was that it was easy, logical and circumvented because of it's quite extreme encryption all the various prejudices, walls and blockages that existed between him and his father.
He took the resources that he needed and then healed the rest. Gentle, profound, easy - in other words, excellent.
That's the way it can be if you let it.
9/4/3 - Other Relatives
When I was working as a hypnotherapist, I used the Pin Point approach by preference. This is the idea that whatever the problem - psychological, bad luck, health related etc. - today, if there was a time when it had not yet been, that must mean by definition that there was some kind of turning point experience that caused the problem to come into existence in the first place.
When the person remembers what the experience was, changes the experience and in doing so lays the ghost to rest, so to speak, the problem may then resolve or simply dissolve.
During the time I used to do this virtually every day, it struck me how many of these significant experiences involved some kind of relative - probably more incidents pro rata than with the parents directly.
A few that readily spring to mind was an aunt who thought it a good idea to take along her three year old niece to visit her husband in a good old fashioned lunatic asylum way back in the 1920's, and then told the shaking child on the way out that "this is where you end up if you don't do as you're told". Another was a grandfather who wanted to toughen up a two year old boy by throwing him into a freezing river, a grandmother who, every time she was supposed to be looking after the child, committed the most abysmal acts of sadistic sexual abuse under the guise of personal hygiene; an uncle who completely traumatised a small five year old boy by having lengthy "man to man" talks whilst under the influence; an older sister who would perpetrate the most sadistic acts imaginable upon her small brother when the parent's back was turned; an older brother who used a small boy as a handy prostitute for himself and his friends, every night for at least 10 years starting at age 18 month and so on and so on and so on.
Even when there are no such traumatic incidents that stand out as defining events of someone's childhood, such family relationships are intensely complicated and are often not taken into consideration when someone quests to find the truth about themselves and their current problems.
As a part of a general pro-active approach, it can be quite useful to go through the relatives one by one, invite them down to the old sanctuary, and just have a little chat.
You might find amazing - and possibly healing - revelations.
9/4/4 - Family Burdens
In many ways, the sins of the parents are indeed re-visited upon the children.
Whether you believe it's Karma, or a past life thing, or genetic, or simply that the children learned the underlying patterns from the adults around them, it is rare to find families that do not have some kind of repeating theme played out over and over again down through the generations.
The Kennedy Clan in America might like to have a go at a spot of global metaphor therapy to find out what they've done to deserve their repeating themes! This is, of course, a bit of a dramatic example, but even that is not as unusual as you might think.
You might also think that your family doesn't have such an issue (or two, or three), but it is my experience that the same theme can be played out in many different ways and still remain the same theme.
For example, in Charles' family, you struggle and struggle and just when you think you're getting somewhere, there arrives this awful disaster out of the blue and knocks you right back to square one. Now, Charles, from being a tiny child, decided that he wasn't going to be like that, and he's got millions to his name now and is only 38. But wait a minute - what is he seeing a counsellor for? Because in his personal life, he struggles and struggles and just when he thought it was going to be alright, some awful and unexpected disaster occurs right out of the blue and he's back to square one again.
He imagined himself walking out of his sanctuary and into the surrounding twilight wasteland. Eventually, after he had covered a considerable distance, he came across a village of people who looked vaguely familiar. As he arrived, there was much commotion - a baby was about to be born.
He joined the circle of villagers waiting for the outcome, and then noticed that each one had attached to their neck and shoulder a black entity, vaguely reminiscent of a slimy black spider but much larger.
The baby was born and brought out, and to his horror, an elder had a junior version of the spider entity in a dish and it was attached to the baby whilst everyone cheered.
"Now, you're really one of us. Welcome!", the elder said.
A neat and very obvious representation of "the family burden". Charles was horrified, I was excited. "Don't you see? This is nice and clear. What are you going to do about it?"
He considered this for a while, and then it occurred to him that, with these people apparently living in perpetual twilight, the spider things might be sensitive to light. So he got a torch from his pocket, turned it on, and shone clear white light onto the baby's spider. It screamed horribly, shrivelled up and fell off at once. But the villagers were outraged. They wept and shouted at him that the spiders were defining them as a group, were setting them off from the rest of the world, were, in fact, a gift from god.
An interesting dilemma. As I'm not into destroying or shrivelling anything as you know by now, I asked him to consider alternatives which might also be acceptable to the villagers.
He could not think of anything that the villagers would accept; they wanted no change at all to their spider controlled, twilight existence.
It had been like this forever, and this is the way it had to stay.
Time Travel looked to be a good option at this point, and so we set out to go back to the time when the very first spider had appeared.
When we arrived in the past, Charles couldn't believe the difference in the landscape. Pre-Spider, the climate had been bright and temperate, the vegetation had been lush, and the village had been a thriving agricultural community.
As we're standing on the hilltop watching, a trader is approaching the community, pushing a hand cart. Charles says, "Oh my god, that's where they came from. The first few were bought as a kind of trendy adornment. Look, he's showing them. Let's go and break this up." So he walked to the trader and the small crowd of villagers that had gathered and in effect told them that he'd had a spider, and that they were a complete waste of money. So the transaction did not take place, and when we returned to the "now", the change had rippled through the time line, taken effect and the previously ever-dark wasteland had turned into a mature farming community with not a spider infested person in sight.
What does it mean? I've no idea.
But I do know that Charles got married last year and a baby is on the way.
Further, his sister who had been struggling for years on low income had quite miraculously found someone who liked the tapestries she was making and had found "a new lease of life" expressing her creativity and earning extra money for the family.
Did any of this happen because the spiders were gone?
I've no idea!
I've told you before - in this realm it doesn't do to speculate and hypothesize.
It's just a waste of time. Instead, go back and see what else you can find and do to make your life even more elegant, attractive, fulfilled, delightful, magical and prosperous.
9/5 - Friendships
Friendships are something that are often taken for granted, sort of like an absence of pain, until such time as something goes wrong and you don't have them anymore. As they are usually not as intensely exciting or as intensely painful as romantic or family relationships, they take second seat - but I think people are coming round more and more to the idea of how important long term friendships are in someone's life and overall development as a person.
Friendships that have "gone bad" in the past are something that might well require healing; and friendships that were practically terminated because someone died, or moved away, or became so involved with something or someone that there was no room left for the other, all might want to find resolution as well.
Lastly, current working friendships can receive a quite magical boost by calling the friend as a representation over to your sanctuary for a meeting and telling them all the things you would like them to know - but without the embarrassment of having to do it face to face.
Friends are, of course, an amazing resource to call upon when you need help. Here are a few general pointers on the "Do's and Don'ts" of using friends in the sanctuary.
- If you call for general assistance, anyone who turns up is willing by definition.
Just remember to thank them sincerely before dismissing them.
- If you're calling specific people to help, you should ask them first if they are happy about doing it.
I personally had a really funny experience with a friend. I rang him up and asked him how he was doing. "Not so good, I've been having this funny recurrent nightmare. I'm digging in some kind of swamp and it's exhausting and I hate it and it goes on and on and I wake up the next morning completely knackered." Oops. Perhaps just a weird co-incidence, but at that time I had a marshland that needed clearing and he was amongst the people I had roped in for this very endeavour - without asking their permission first. I apologised profusely, relieved him of his astral obligations and he hasn't had that nightmare since!
- Whatever you do, please don't be tempted to sort other people's problems out for them if they haven't specifically asked for your help.
This is a serious "no-no", both in spiritual as well as in magical terms. Another person's problems are none of your business. You might be seriously endangering their karmic lessons as well as your own if you go and busybody in their affairs. This is different from the changes that happen to them as a side effect of a change you have done with their aid for your own benefit - so, for example, it's ok to change your parents so a younger self can grow up better, but it isn't ok to drag your old dad in to remove the cancer growing in his body if he hasn't asked you to do so, or at least given informed consent.
- Be careful of approaches that are designed to "cut" relationships in order to end them.
In real terms, relationships never end - unless you develop sweeping amnesia. It's also a bit like saying during the divorce proceedings, "Which half of the piano do you want? The black keys or the white ones?", whilst standing over it with an axe. It doesn't serve either of the combatants, nor the piano, and the chance of further music ever being created from that particular instrument is has been destroyed.
It is better to leave such relationships alone and ask for them to be "frozen" in some shape or form for a while until the time comes when a mutually acceptable arrangement between the two can be reached; this might involve returning certain aspects that were originally traded between the two parties, and other aspects that might have been held hostage in order for the relationship to be truly and permanently healed.
A very safe and ecological way to deal with such relationships may also be to ask for guidance as to what exactly to do in each specific case. (see also resources - Problem Solving).
9/6 - Romantic Relationships
(Imagine me heaving a heavy sigh).
Now, shall we begin to open this can of worms, or, shall we lift the lid on this tremendously exciting treasure chest to reveal it's breathtaking sparkling beauty? Which one is it for you?
I'm just joking, really.
To start with, there's two areas of topic which need to be addressed here - the real romantic relationships you have, have had or wish you will have in the real world, and your own beliefs, attitudes and general outlook on the topic in general.
These, of course, are interlinked and interlaced but it sometimes helps to view them separately.
9/6/1 – True Love
I don't know, of course, if you've ever really been in love. The Romeo & Juliet kind, Beauty & the Beast, immortal (well, at least at the time!), overwhelming, intelligence destroying, completely-swept-away kind of love you hear about in poetry and popular song, read about in novels and see about in movies.
It's one of the most overwhelming human emotions, it can overcome every limitation you ever thought possible, and if you've never experienced it, I do hope you'll do so before you die so you can fully join the human race.
It's hardly surprising therefore, that, as far as significant emotional experiences go, here's a top candidate to really transform someone's character for good - or to permanently scar them, if it goes wrong, as it so often does for a multiplicity of reasons.
Now unfortunately, many spiritually based personal development approaches hold that this kind of experience is "just a delusion", that it doesn't mean anything, that it isn't really love at all, that, in fact, if you feel it coming on, you should hurry into your monastic cell and put on the hair shirt for fear of losing any chance of enlightenment.
Many "scientific" approaches too, chime in and come up with even more reasons why this kind of emotional outburst is immature, stupid, hormone induced, non-rational, and how one should hurry into the ivory tower and put on the pure white lab jacket for fear of losing any chance of scientific respectability!
Frankly, I don't give a damn about either enlightenment or scientific respectability.
I've been there, know what it's like first hand, and when someone sits on my couch suffering from the side effects of this kind of major head-, heart-, mind-, and soul trip, I know that they're not deluding themselves - this is as real as it can get.
What often breaks my heart is that people will berate themselves for having felt like that about another human being, call themselves fools, idiots, stupid, and wish it had never happened at all because it was pain beyond imagination if it went wrong.
If you have any kind of heavy duty, unresolved romantic relationship clogging up your past and stopping you from allowing yourself to fully partake in this mind bogglingly amazing arena of human existence, here's a few suggestions that might be of help.
Remember, firstly and fore mostly, that the more you loved that person, the bigger a part of you they most likely became. Hating them now is hating a part of yourself, and it also involves turning your back on another part of yourself, namely that past self that really and truly felt that way.
Hating is obvious, but pretending it never happened, detaching yourself from it or disclaiming the whole experience in some other way, is in many ways just as bad.
Michelle was very dissatisfied with her current relationship. It was cold, unemotional and unsupportive - it was like living with a robot, she complained. Yet, she had chosen this guy, had chosen to be with him. Why? Well, her first marriage was to an instable man who had beaten her often, had drunk, adulterated and never provided for the family properly. She didn't want to talk about him, didn't even want to tell me the first name of the father of her three children.
"Was there ever a time when you loved this man?", I asked her.
Coldly, she replied, "No. I was just stupid."
Do you really think that Michelle had any hope whatsoever of a decent relationship in the future with a man she can deeply love? Now I suppose a miracle may happen - there's always the chance of that - but that's what it would take, in my opinion. Further, and as an aside, what kind of effect does it have on the children, half of each being an inheritance from some nameless monster placed right next to Satan in the popularity stakes?
I agree that this is an extreme example of denying the past.
I understand also how traumatic the whole thing must have been, how Michelle used the only strategy that she knew about at the time to keep herself from falling apart completely, and I don't blame her for it in the slightest. She did the best with what she had at the time.
This is so for all of us.
If you were born in my body, with my genetic heritage and my upbringing, and I was born in yours, you would have made my mistakes and I would have made yours. It's as simple as that.
No-one can do any better than what they can do, given all the ins and outs of who and what they are, and who, how and what of the external circumstances they find themselves in.
I put this thought to Michelle, and she agreed. Then, I said, "Well if that is true for us, is it not also true for your ex-husband?"
She said nothing for a very, very long time.
I did not, and would not ever, ask Michelle to even begin to forgive him for the pain she suffered.
I did not, and would not ever, ask Michelle to go ahead and make peace with that nameless man.
What I did suggest, however, was for her to honestly re-visit the girl she used to be when she first saw him, first decided that he was worth being with. In fact, I asked her to begin to unseal the tomb of a love that had been buried so many years ago, and to slowly and steadily, and no sooner than she was able and ready to cope, to look at all that had been left for dead down there.
And there was so much, and so much beside just pain and suffering. His name had been Martin, and he had a charm, silky black hair and sparkling blue eyes. When he touched her, she felt as though she was going to melt, and when they made love, it was like going to heaven.
He'd been quite good natured with the babies and in the beginning, he could always make her laugh. He had sincerely tried, all through the relationship, to keep his problems under control, but simply hadn't been able to cope.
In the end, not even the very real connection that existed between the two of them had been enough to offset the pain of the fights, the arguments, the never ending frictions and frustrations, nor the guilt Michelle felt at having somehow failed in her quest to make them be happy.
"God, I loved that guy", said Michelle, and then she started to cry and cry and couldn't stop. It was nearly 6 months later that she finally got herself to the point where she could meet with him in the sanctuary space and talk with him. Both of them agreed that they would be forever part of each other in a way, and that they both needed to begin to allow themselves to heal now and to get on with life.
A short while after that, the oldest of Michelle’s children had one of his particularly bad temper tantrums. Michelle talked to him and then found herself telling him that he had his father's beautiful blue eyes, which was what had attracted her to him the first time they met. The boy fell silent and thoughtful, and the two of them had their first ever conscious communication about Martin. "I have the feeling, for the first time since I can remember, that things are really going to be alright," said Michelle.
How and when you will choose to address your own "ghosts of valentines past" is entirely up to you. If you don't want to just yet, you don't have to. When you're ready, please be kind to yourself and remember the little slogan I'm planning to have engraved on my headstone:
"It seemed a good idea - at the time ..."
9/6/2 – A Dream Lover
Let's now turn to some of the internal issues impacting external romantic relationships.
A neat way to begin to explore such issues is by creating what I would call "a practise partner" - an imaginary lover who can help you understand yourself better, and with whom you may practise at any time, any thing, in complete safety and confidence.
You may wonder at this point whether you've not been doing this for the last few decades already anyway - but a sanctuary relationship is very unlike your average outrageous sexual fantasy, because your imaginary partner is very much more than just a obedient, pre-programmed hologram. Although you remain completely in charge of all that transpires - as you can stop it, change it, improve on it at any time - your sanctuary partner can interact with you fully in every way, and may take on a life all of his or her own.
They can speak with you, listen to you, try things out with you and advise you on all manner of very private things. Also, unlike in the sexual fantasies many have, you are supposed to be you - your current self - in your sanctuary - and not some 16 year old anorexic super model Barbie Girl or faultless plastic action man with a 20 inch penis.
Louise found out, when it came to the time to take her clothes off in her imaginary bedroom in the sanctuary and with her willing practise partner rubbing his hands in happy anticipation, that she could not reveal her body to him.
Now just let's back up here for a moment.
I mean, if you go ahead and create someone who is obviously both totally attractive and totally attracted to you, in your own imagination, and you can't get yourself to get your gear off in front of him – do you really think there's a snowflake's chance in hell that it's going to happen with a real man, in a real life situation?
Well, I suppose with the aid of a great deal of alcohol or other suchlike substance it could be achievable - but then again, you might as well just have a general anaesthetic and get it over with that way!
Louise discussed the matter with her partner, and he suggested they get into the swimming pool together, him first, and then, when his back was turned, she could quickly slide in as well. That way, they could be naked together in daylight hours, and she would become accustomed to him being around her. Apparently, this worked a treat - I didn't dig for further details, but Louise's body posture told a thing or two regardless ...
Dream lovers are a most amazing resource that really, most people never explore or use to their full potential at all.
One middle-aged gentleman had recently been married and had grave problems with making love to his wife. Eventually it turned out that for neigh on 25 years, he had always masturbated in the same position, lying on his back, and always using the exact same fantasy to achieve orgasm. This is some serious entrainment! Little wonder that when he was trying to do it with a real woman “who made noises which put him off” he could not really perform as he had “practised” all those years, many times a week.
It is true, I had never really considered personal sexual fantasies in this way before I met this gentleman but as a result I’ve always suggested trying something new, trying something different in order to not get stuck in a particular groove every since when the topic arose.
Change the body type, the age of the practise partner. Try some very different kinds of people – just try it out, you might never know, you might like it. If a strong change completely puts you off your stride, make small variations at first and in that way, extend your range to encompass more of the possibilities of humanity in your choices.
Also, inviting lovers in and not stipulating what they might look like, appear as, be like and leaving this to actually become a “blind date with your own unconscious mind” can be absolutely fascinating and teach you so much about yourself, your own preferences and even how they might have come to be.
This is an area where you can really, really play to your heart’s and body’s content and get experimenting in absolute safety. And, just as an aside, why confine yourself to humans? Have you considered what it might be like to be loved by an angel ...?
9/6/3 - Sex In The Sanctuary
More than one person, when faced with the possibility of sex in the sanctuary, began to feel very uncomfortable with the entire idea. They had no problem with eating there, or exercising there, or swimming, wrestling with demons or having long and meaningful conversations with the world and his wife, but sex? Oh my god! "I thought this sanctuary was supposed to be safe, and an enjoyable place to be in!"
One lady, who shall remain nameless, told me in worried whispers that she had made love with her spirit guide, who then exploded and hadn't been seen of or heard of since. This had led to her feeling very guilty; now, she had acquired a new one and - oh no! - was beginning to find him very attractive as well.
"This time, I'm going to keep that sex thing right out of it. It always screws up any relationship that's worth anything.", she said.
I suggested she discuss this properly with the guide in question, before taking such unilateral decisions. I also suggested she'd call back the previous guide, to find out what had really happened there.
As it turned out, the first guide was mortified that she had sent him away in a lightning storm and had never called on him again. He didn't know what he'd done wrong and was very upset indeed.
The second guide duly pointed out that the only thing that screwed up their relationship was her very own belief that "sex screws up relationships" - he felt it to be a perfectly normal expression of their gradually deepening understanding and rapport and esteem for each other in a more physical form, rather than total sacrilege. The lady in question admitted that this particular belief had led to a life of celibacy in spite of having many close male friends and was, as she put it, "Probably the corner stone of my dissatisfaction with life in general."
If you're not comfortable with the idea of making love to your spiritual advisors, then by all means don't do anything that would make you feel any less than entirely happy. If it's only a question of guilt, as in the case before, it might be an idea to discuss what's going on with all the parties concerned.
If the whole subject makes you recoil, but parts of you are wanting for some forward movement in the general direction of increased joy of life and happiness, you might like to consider translating the issues into something along the lines of, "My sex life is like ...." and then check out where that might lead.
Do forgive me if I spend a bit more time at this point on sexual hang-ups. If your sex life is fine and dandy, you probably will be romping about in the grounds of your sanctuary with anyone who you're really attracted to, to your heart's and body's content anyway and you won't need this section. If, on the other hand, you really feel that this is a major problem area, and you can't seem to get anywhere, it's probably time to turn to the past with a view to resolving the blocking issues.
With some people, there is so much in the way of issues, it might be considered to have a big clearing event of some kind, else they would be going through it a memory at a time, and by the time they were through, they'd probably be sitting in an old people's home, now finally ready to really get going!
You could consider to:
- have a parts party. This is an idea from Virginia Satir, and it's a good option when there's more than a just few parts involved in a major issue.
One gentleman, when he called in everyone who might be having a bearing on this issue, ended up with a whole clearing full of ex lovers, relatives of all shapes, sizes and ages, figures from past lives, fictitious characters from countless novels, movies and sex magazines, and an assortment of authority- and clerical figures to boot. I was, at the time, deeply intrigued how he would choose to go about persuading this motley crew that he should be allowed to have a decent sex life, and his resolution was really imaginative.
He served them all a dinner, and part of the dinner was a special cake, glowing pink. As each of them ate a piece, they softened visibly and began to admit that they too had desires and longings, and that they wished they had found a better way to deal with it all. He reached an agreement in the end with their spokesman, which involved taking notice of sensible precautions and safety measures, promised not to break up any marriages or have hoards of illegitimate children, and in return they agreed to ease up on him and let him start to find out more about himself and his sexuality.
"It's not been easy," he said some weeks later. "After all, there's 25 wasted years to make up for. But I'm learning and I'm gaining in confidence all the time. That pink cake thing was the major turning point, just when I'd about given up hope altogether."
You could also:
- make a full and entire representation of everything to do with your sexuality and then roll up your sleeves, call in the handymen and get ready for some major re-modelling. In some cases, this process involved not just a single landscape, but an entire world, complete with Babylonian style sin cities, swamps, roads leading to nowhere, ruined watch towers, roaming bands of marauders and fire eating dragons.
- if the two above sound far too radical, you could also ask for the main issues to be brought to your attention one at a time in metaphorical or symbolic form, in such an order that it would be gentle, safe and ecological for you to deal with, and with a time limit of your choosing on the entire process being completed to your satisfaction. Don't doubt and trust in your mind - it can handle these kind of complex instructions quite easily once you've had a little experience in the matter.
- if you still feel that's beyond you, pass on the job to an internal sex counsellor and have them sort it out for you - and then you can just sit back and feel the changes manifest in the form of new thoughts, new behaviours and new situations in real life.
Lastly on the subject of romantic relationships, let me just briefly remind you that you can call your current partner also into the safety of your sanctuary and discuss any kinds of issues that you might not be able to resolve in real time yet. I've been told over and over that after such a discussion, changes in the other's behaviour and attitude did occur "as if by magic".