For the last 20 years, I’ve had an equal foot in all kinds of somatic, relational and trauma-based healing modalities and several different nondual spiritual lineages. And, I use both in my work with clients.
More accurately, my first 10 years were serious in Therevadan Buddhism, which on the surface was a more dual spiritual path but, with weeks on end of silent meditation practice being with all of the ever-changing flow of impermanent experience, it basically got to the same place 🙂
Though both paths have been extremely helpful, I’ve also felt at odds at times with how they fit together.
Both paths have their gold and both paths can become prisons when not respected in balance.
For me, healing has been associated with clearing a pattern, old wound or trauma whereas the nondual tantric path was about allowing everything in one’s experience to be exactly as it is. A doing versus a non-doing.
Clearly, certain tantric paths are very much advocates for dropping into the truth of the body and allowing whatever that experience is to be transformed through presence. And, other paths have felt too shiny and sheer for me, dismissing the body and this earthly experience altogether.
Healing has felt for me like trying to complete a pattern so it no longer comes up in my experience whereas nonduality has felt like being with what is arising without trying to change it, accepting that it may continue to arise forever.
I’ve always associated nonduality with less striving, less doing, more being and more relaxation, and therefore getting less of what I want and what I think will make me happy – because we only want things because of how we think they’ll make us feel.
The best healing modalities, in my opinion, are very present-moment based and involve slow, subtle tracking of the intricacies of the body, mind, defensive strategies and patterns, accepting them as they are while gently allowing them to shift and heal at the root. From this model, if there’s no doer and simply an exploration and inquiry into the experience of the NOW, healing and nonduality are not at odds.
Healing from a dualistic perspective is important, especially for those who are not in touch with their direct experience and do not have a strong or stable sense of self. Or those who are masters at bypassing their emotions and psychological experiences. We’ve all heard the saying, that “you have to develop a self to let go of one.”
And, I would argue that healing work is a must for those more engaged in a nondual tantric path because, for most, complex traumas and old attachments wounds, long-standing debilitating patterns don’t resolve from being with them alone, unless you are that rare person who is doing deep somatic and trauma work on herself.
For years, while engaging in both paths side by side, while I loved nondual teachings in and of themselves, I felt more I aligned to healing because it fed my ego that strived for healing, release and completion. If I healed enough I would get somewhere other than where I was and be freed.
I worried that if I trusted and surrendered fully into the nondual lineages I was a part of, that I’d have to let go of everything I wanted. My ego was terrified of this!
Somewhere on the path, when I discovered healing to be taking a very, very, very long time, healing became an addiction for me. Like any addiction, my promised salvation lay just around that next corner but somehow I could never get there.
Still to this day, because of the way I’m wired and conditioned, with a lot of will and a lot of energy, and specific patterning wired into my nervous system from a young age, healing can easily become a prison because my ego, the part of me that wants so desperately to run the show and believe it’s in control, can easily take over.
That part of me believes that if I work harder and ‘do’ the healing, then I’ll be healed and the pattern will change forever.
In my experience, healing, like growth, is endless and infinite, depending on which way you look at it.
I have rarely ever reached the destination my mind has created. I have had the experience of patterns letting go or dropping off on their own. Or, sometimes patterns or energies go away and then they come back with full force seemingly out of nowhere.
Yes, sometimes they do come back and yet what is also true is that all the healing and the acceptance and allowance I have cultivated in the process has led me to relate to them differently.
These days, the nondual path is providing a healing balm for the striving ego in me. I have perhaps healed enough to be willing to surrender and let go into the trust of the moment. There is so much genuine relief in doing nothing but dropping into the cross-section of this moment NOW.
Often the relaxation into what is felt deeply through the body eventually allows the thing to fade in its own time or allows my mind more relief and then I find myself not telling the same old negative self-defeating story.
It is also absolutely true that all the healing relationships and modalities I’ve engaged in over the years have shifted patterns, have healed traumas, significantly shifted core wounds and radically rewired my nervous system. Even in my impatient frustration that “nothing significant is happening, the patterns aren’t changing” Healing works and can resolve long-standing traumas and wounds. Not always in the ways or timeline the ego would like.
So, both paths, side-by-side, have created huge transformations over time for me – deep healing and release, deeper self-love and self-acceptance, better ways of relating to shadows, wounds and struggles, more relaxing into self and life, more shifts and changes in how I relate to others and the world and more positive shifts in my external life.
Both paths are rooted in holding amazing present space for self or other.
There are specific skill sets that healers or therapists learn to work with the body, trauma and healing. Sometimes people learn this through their own direct experience of being with and healing themselves.
This is also the same for the nondual tantric path – we study with teachers and lineages that point to the truth of experience, the nature of reality and we learn through this transmission and/or specific practices.
What I realize is that I am not only a healer and not only a guide in nondual practice. I am bridging both paths within myself and with my clients. I am constantly in relationship to what is serving in this particular moment or particular period of time. And, it is so much fun to play in this way!
November 19, 2019