A map of the process of healing, seen through the lens of the 5Rhythms, that may be useful for those of you who have been grappling with a personal issue for a long time, done tons of healing work, and are wondering why you feel like you’re still spinning your wheels.
1. Underground: just in the wound, not doing anything with it; may be very unconscious
2. Emerging: beginning to tackle it – getting to know it, define it, feel it, struggle with it; usually involves some attempts at avoid/escape/deny
3. Gateway: the central healing and transformation – that experience where you know you’ve just been through something huge and the whole world, your whole self, feels profoundly altered.
4. Connections: what needs to happen in the constellation of relationships and people that is your life? Do you need to talk with someone? Give someone a gift or take them out for the day? Reveal something to someone? (By that I mean actually show them how something feels to you as you tell a story, not just talk ‘about’ it.) Even if that someone is dead, or you’re so estranged from them that communication is out of the question, there are things you can do: light a candle with deep intent and dance ‘with’ them, write to them and burn or bury the letter, do a huge drawing in the sand on a lonely beach and let the sea take it….. you think of something…. Do you need to tell someone you’ve forgiven them? Or that you can’t yet? Like life, this phase of your journey is not safe; the outcome will not be guaranteed. It’s possible to get hurt or hurt others, so go steady, with kindness if you can, and remember that when you tell someone something, you’re opening up a dialogue: things are going to come back to you in ways that are not predictable.
5. Creation: doing something creative with the experience – turning it into writing, painting, cooking etc. Maybe you get to use it in your work in some way and help other people, with the spirit of your inner work fuelling your worldly service.
I often see people thinking that the first three phases of this journey are all that’s required, but the last two are essential to ground and integrate the Gateway experience. All five are needed for joyous and empowered health. Be aware that just as Lyrical and Stillness contain the preceeding rhythms within them, the fourth and fifth stages of the journey outlined here can require you to rework and revisit the earlier stages. Deep wounds are big projects. Ask for help when you need it: we all do at times. Courage, curiosity, patience and persistence will serve you well.
Note: in my experience, wounds that are really central to your early life come around again and again for attention. This isn’t the same as being stuck, and doesn’t mean you’re not getting anywhere. Those core wounds are the crack where the light gets in, the source of renewable energy for your growing, the thorn in your side that keeps you in touch with your humanity. When that same stuff comes up yet again, take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and get to work. And remember that as you approach stage 3, you’ll be asked to let go of everything and go through the gateway as if you’ve never been through before, naked and clueless. At least for a moment, everything you’ve ever learnt will suddenly be no use to you. That’s when it happens. But once it has happened, remember to keep going so that you find the life after Chaos. That’s when it gets more interesting, and even enjoyable.