When something is barely seen…
Barely seen though clearly there is an intense light at the center of it. How do we find our way to the center? Maybe the light was only seen briefly, then once again the darkness comes and we doubt. How to find confidence in the path of becoming who we know ourselves to be.
In a way these are very private discoveries – it’s up to me to find the path. Sometimes there are indications, help of various kinds, but I must be able to recognize an indication as an indication, I must have the humility to accept the help that is offered. Sometimes this is not easy. But once acceptance is there, what was heavy is suddenly light as a feather.
I am blessed now with being on a path of accompanying others on such journeys. And I am beginning to gather a body of experiences that I feel would be good to share. None of these tales have an ending. They are only segments extracted from individual lives – lives that go on with what might inevitably seem to be “good and bad luck”. And yet, these experiences seem to be critical junctures just the same.
Judith spoke lightly, almost cheerfully, about her difficulty – forty years of waking at 2 am, anxious and not able to get back to sleep. At best there would be one or two hours more of rest before having to get up to go to work. We began with my usual process of relaxation that lead to that in-between world of images, a world where the conscious mind has not been left behind, but has been given a back seat so that there is access to the much larger mind of all previous experience. And once that contact was firmly established I asked for precisely those scenes from an earlier time that were relevant to the issue at hand – her insomnia.
Very quickly Judith is back in her bed, age 8, with a fever, alone and no one is coming to check on her. On the floor she notices a dark shape. Terror enters as her mind decides it is a rat. Later she finds it was only a piece of clothing. But now, back there once again and reliving the scene, the terror is palpable. The body is white with fear. The breath is held.
Returning to a scene in this special way, the experience is not just remembered, it is relived. But more importantly it can be repaired. This childhood incident is packed with emotion. An emotion that has never been released. The deeper, subconscious mind does not know that time has passed because for that mind all time is one. No one came to check on Judith of 8, no one came to provide comfort and reassurance. So I ask Judith of today to return and comfort Judith of 8. Take her in her arms, love her and comfort her until the fear is assuaged and she can sleep. In her mind’s eye Judith sees the little one smiling now and looking up at her with love and gratitude. I suggest that she rock the child until once again she is able to sleep. And sleep easily returns.
We go further back. Judith is 3 and has left her bed to stand at the top of the stairs. She is afraid. From the room at the bottom of the stairs a harsh light pours out and she hears angry voices. More through the emotion than the words, the meaning becomes clear. “I’m not looking after her while you go out – she’s your problem.” Once again we engage in repair. Judith of today gathers up Judith of 3 and takes her back to her bed, and comforts her once again until she can fall asleep.
Following this repair, I take the adult and child on a walk near the sea, a favorite and calming spot from childhood, so that they have time together and can reinforce the bond. Now the child knows that there is someone who will always be there for her. And the adult knows too that there is a responsibility to the child in her heart.
Our work done – and I say “our” deliberately since it was Judith doing the work with only a little guidance from me – we return gradually back to the present moment.
Judith was amazed. She remembered both these incidents but had never connected them to her problem sleeping. Every individual’s case is unique so I could only say that we would have to see what the result of our work would be. In this case, we were heartened by immediate success: on the night following the session, Judith began sleeping straight through seven hours. We did a couple more sessions as reinforcement and then left it at that. Months later the result was still the same.