Emotional and Spiritual Healing with AA, Yoga and Meditation
We tend to think that as humans, we are just one self, one person. Our programmed belief tells us that our one-self encompasses one whole system: our mind, body, and spirit. When we dig beneath the surface, we realize that humans actually have two selves: the ego self – the limited, very human version that gets cranky and still blames their mother for everything that goes wrong in their life, and the soul Self – the kind, loving, compassionate one who is ultimately working for our highest good. Most often, the ego self is overwhelmed by resentment and trauma, which clouds our access to our soul Self, and makes it harder to see and understand. Our emotional healing is critical for a deeper spiritual journey.
The Impact of Trauma and Repression
It is important to remember that our trauma is not our fault. So many things that are out of our control, from our upbringing to our culture, make us who we are, and patterns get stuck without us even knowing. No one gave us a manual on how to process our feelings. More often, we were told to stop crying and to suck it up. Even worse, we were shamed or made fun of so many times rather than being held or heard.
When the negative emotions we couldn’t process in childhood piled up, most of us were unable to hold them all and were left with no option but to repress them. Unfortunately, repression blocks the healthy processing needed for our feelings to leave our minds and bodies for good. As a result of repression, our emotions become thoughts that circulate over and over in our mind, like a hamster in its wheel. The thoughts and emotions circulate until they become ingrained in our subconscious and start to define us.
Coping Mechanisms and Dependencies
It’s common to try to cope with difficult unresolved patterns by numbing behaviors. These days, everything from social media to constant activity to any form of overconsumption can be the result of subtle forms of escape. Of course, we all need a little escape, but it’s important to be aware of when it takes over and becomes more of a dependency.
For me, it started early with candy and constant activity, which later turned into alcohol and drugs and nights out that became days out. In early recovery, my numbing tactics didn’t disappear, they simply shifted. Less physically harmful, I was in constant activity, dating, eating sweets, and doing yoga and other exercises incessantly. As a result, I was never truly fulfilled. I never found what felt like inner peace and contentment, though I tried and tried.
To begin healing; you must see what lies beneath
Of course, I had no idea what I was doing. For me, it was completely normal to always have something to do or always be on the move. If I stopped for even a second, I’d be faced with my feelings and my raw self, which of course, was completely awful. The emotional pain that I experienced was so intense, and I became suicidally depressed. After years of unexpressed and unrecognized negative emotions, the inner turmoil simply took over.
It took me years to understand that it was only when I stopped and found myself in the present moment that I could see the underlying patterns. It took me years to even be able to stop and actually see and understand what the present moment even was. But, as the years went by, I developed a sense of seeing the patterns as they rose to the surface, and once they were brought to my awareness, I could start the process of letting them dissolve.
It took time, but I did get there.
Self-Discovery comes before healing
The beginning of this self-discovery started as it does for so many with the 12-steps of AA. The steps compelled me to be honest with myself and look at the ways I’d perpetuated my own patterns. It took several years, but I learned through AA that spiritual and emotional healing could provide me with not only the tools to uncover those subconscious patterns but, more importantly, the courage to look at them.
In hindsight, yoga, therapy, and AA were, in my case, the perfect beginning triad to gradually start unlocking hidden patterns that I couldn’t see or even know were there. I slowly began to scratch the surface.
Through the 12 steps, we begin to look at our part in events and interactions and shine a light on ourselves and how our actions, reactions, or even non-reactions can have a huge impact on everything and everyone around us. The moment we understand this concept, our life will never look the same again. So many of us do things without even knowing why, and once we understand why we do what we do – we can change it.
The Role of Therapy and Yoga
Traditional talk therapy also helped with understanding many subconscious patterns. But most of the time, it didn’t resolve them. It helps bring awareness to the things we do, but it doesn’t necessarily remove them. So often, I’ve met people who have been in therapy for long periods of time but are still stuck. This is because the deep layers in the subconscious mind don’t shift through talking about them alone. Instead, verbally repeating the same issue over and over again can reinforce those underlying patterns. The shift needs to happen on such a deep level that they cannot be accessed by the intellectual mind.
Yoga was my doorway to meditation. It was my first inkling to understand that there is something more to it than just what is here above my neck between my ears. Yoga helped me find very brief moments of stillness, moments that I came to rely on for my emotional healing.
Meditation and Brain Entrainment
The 12 steps and therapy helped me understand my ego self, and tools like yoga, meditation, and brain entrainment helped me understand my soul Self. Meditation helped me find stillness and clarity around the patterns so that they were no longer muddled and just off-the-cuff instincts I wasn’t even aware of. It was kind of like looking for an object in a cluttered closet; if it’s cluttered, you can’t find it, but if you unclutter it, the object will be easy to find. Meditation helped me understand how to hold these patterns and let them become objects that can also be let go. It’s like shining a light into a dark place. “Ah there it is!” Meditation was the foundation upon which everything new could be built and everything old could be let go. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
My relationship with meditation began 20 years ago, but about 14 years ago, I also started using a tool called Holosync. Holosync is the king of all brain entrainment technologies, and I can’t underline enough how effective it has been for me. Brain entrainment creates sound intended to slow down the brain waves into theta and delta states. In these states, we access the parasympathetic nervous system, where deep relaxation and healing take place. Our brain hemispheres fall out of sync throughout life and various traumas that we as humans experience; the purpose of brain entrainment is to resynchronize them.
Don't get stuck with one tool or one practice
In my experience, yoga and meditation alone were not enough to heal trauma and destructive patterns, just as therapy alone is not enough. It’s important not to get stuck with one tool or practice, as they all have their purpose. They all provide different benefits, each equally valuable, and each will facilitate self-discovery and the healing process — each equally a doorway. The tools I use and the process I’ve gone through have helped me feel deeply connected to myself, nature, and all beings.
The Journey to Healing and Awareness
Nowadays, I can identify patterns as they come up. I see my patterns as objects that I regard without attachment. I’ll notice: “There’s that thing that I always do…trying to be right!” With awareness, but without attachment, I can consciously move away from the pattern, and slowly the issue loses its grip on me. By bringing awareness and curiosity to your patterns and working on surrendering them repeatedly, they dissolve.
The letting go was never a conscious process; it happened gradually with time, and it was only months after a subconscious pattern had been released that I would notice that it no longer had a hold over me. Healing our patterns and finding stillness is the gateway to being fully alive. Invite yourself to be fully present with all that your soul can offer you.