Letting Go of the Past

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Back-O-Beyond Road; Cathedral Mountain

Taking my time. Not getting ahead of myself, I went into two seminars in Sedona. Actually, I was just coming to see Peggy. After a session with her in Malvern during a week of intensive treatment – my first as a therapist – my myofascial treatments took off. It felt like an hour-long dose of another dimension of myofascial release – a subtle level I was not familiar with. The session evened out the intensity of thought, feeling and emotion and dissipated my subconscious anticipation of letting go. It worked so well I made a second appointment with her and again – best group unwinding I’ve ever had, complete with new unwindings. So, when I saw she was offering Subtle Energy II in Sedona with John, I immediately signed up. But I couldn’t just go for a day and a half course and leave, so I signed up to repeat Advanced Unwinding for the four days prior to Peggy’s course. It was just an add on . . .

Once signed up, my friend Sue, whom I had met at Myofascial Release III posted that she was looking for housemates. A few easy steps later and we had a third, John, whom I had never met, but was friends with Sue. My level of trust had increased. We rented a house off of Back-o-Beyond, steps from the Cathedral Rock trail head. On arrival, after dinner, the first order of business was some treatment and unwinding in the hot tub under the stars.

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View from the hottub

This time, I would go into a seminar warmed up and maybe a little less terrified. That night, my new roommate John was in my dream. This is how I get familiar with people I don’t know. Timid in the dream at first, I decide I can open up, knowing I have a place to retreat to in my awareness. The divide is a thin veil of opaque material. The feeling is sensual with a wisp of shame. Old ingrained dogma.

The first day of class, I slip into the room. I make myself invisible as I quietly weave through the room. It gives me space to soften and let the fast moving energy that’s circulating go through me. I notice it is easier this time around. I feel my way to a chair. My friend Ami, whom I was hoping to give a big hug to before I even left home, sits down beside me. Ahhh. When we start, Ami begins talking about her Mom who recently died. She breaks me open. Thank you Ami.

As the day progresses, I feel myself going within. I am shutting down some things, but I am still having fun with my friends. That night, I dream about a plane with no wings flying by my window, about to crash land. I look forward and all that is left of it are two rows of six seats with passengers strapped in. As the six seats slide to the ground, the passengers’ arms go up in celebration. They did it! They are ecstatic that they made it through a terrifying ordeal intact. Me too, I admit on waking.

That morning, I go for treatment at Therapy on the Rocks. Whenever I am in Sedona, I visit my second home. This is my original sanctuary. As I walk in the door, the bells on the door tinkling bring me into stillness. I breathe in the smell of oak, exhale and soften. As I walk downstairs, I feel my wall of protection soften. I don’t need it here. I walk past the indoor waterfall and look towards the reception area. Nancy is there. I am so happy to see her! I missed her. We hug. June walks out of the office, her twinkling eyes matching her smile. My heart opens even more and I spontaneously receive and reciprocate a warm hug. June has helped me through some big hurdles. I feel completely myself here and freely move around. I go out to the deck and look out to Oak Creek. It all feels exactly how I remember. I have been taking Sedona back home with me for nine years now. I am getting good at imagining it in fine detail. The smell, the sound of water moving and birds chirping, the brightness of the sun, the stillness amidst the flow.

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John’s treatment room

I go into John’s room and then a therapist I have not met before comes in. She connects with me; becomes me and I trust her completely. I make new connections between my hips and shoulders in rotation. Decades of repetitive spinning and jumping in figure skating had muted this and twisted me in one direction. Feeling the untwisting, I recognize the “other” direction can feel good too. Relief floods through me. She works extensively on my upper back where I hold a feeling of responsibility for others. I hold their pain. I know this is not helpful, but it is automatic. She persists firmly at these gateways and I concede and let go. I hear her sigh at the weight I am holding, acknowledging the depth of it. I go deeper to get at more. I want to be as light as I can. I don’t need to hold the weight of the world anymore. It’s not helpful to anyone. It is uselessly weighing me down.

She says that this trip needs to be about me and not about taking care of anyone. I need to make my top priority to take good care of the love of my life – me. I nod in agreement. She is right. I let the guilt of feeling I’ve “had enough treatment” trickle away. I realize that when I back away from someone’s help, I miss out on what I need at that moment. I forget that my friends really want to help. I forget that the good feeling I get from helping is also the good feeling they receive too. When the giving and receiving flows freely, it is balanced and everyone gets what they need. There is no obligation or guilt – only a free flow of love in all its forms.

After treatment, I go back to the house and process the treatment by sleeping.

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My room on Yonder Lane

On waking, I reach out for help and post to the Facebook Chat the truth of what I am feeling:

“Coming into Advanced Unwinding and Subtle Energy II, a dream I had a week ago is exaggerating itself in waking time. Despite being surrounded by amazing people and dear friends, I feel I’m not supposed to be here; I don’t belong here; I’ve forgotten how to unwind (and yes, I understand my body knows how to do this); I don’t want to touch people because I don’t know what I’m doing; I am relieved when people stop touching me – and there is just too much movement and unwinding in the room for me to stay “here”. I am not “exactly where I need to be” either. Something doesn’t feel right. It feels dangerous and mistrustful. I love that I can feel all that; recognize it is fragments of the past and know the blossoming will be into a much richer place.”

Before going to class, I read responses to my post. Waves of sobbing burst unexpectedly out of me. I let it happen. I go to class and let myself be vulnerable. At break I find Kathy. I reach out and hug her and burst into tears. I am so happy she is here. The day softens more. I go to the place where I left off, at the end of my one week intensive/therapy for the therapist in Malvern in December. There is a part of me I can see on the ceiling of the motel room.

I wake up the following morning, feeling uncertain. I check in and sense the need to go for a run. I run up Chapel Rd. and branch off onto Mystic Trail.

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I feel the need to climb upward. I walk until I feel snugged up at the base of the mountain. Perching on a rock, I survey the valley.

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I feel like a mountain lion. A sense of safety surrounds me and I soften and give myself permission to cry.

When this passes, I run back to the house feeling more grounded and reply to my post from yesterday:

“I love that in this group, being vulnerable and truthful about what I am actually feeling and thinking is seen as courageous – is encouraged.

Each response nudged me further and I still can’t believe I’m in such loving and supportive hands. Having support now, I still have to do the work 🙂

I am left with the question: how completely and deeply does one have to leave their body in order to endure something they didn’t know could be done to them? I am beginning to feel the deepness of my disconnection now. I am locating the emptiness in my body. On the other end, I can feel the swoosh up through my head when I left. I am starting to feel the intensity of the pain right before my awareness left. I know that I need to dial down my energy significantly today, if I am going to get to that still point. I don’t think I realized how still the energy has to be to access that “foot on the gas, foot on the brakes” pressure when you are at hour 8 of something that intense. I can’t believe I endured 8 hours before I left. Pretty stubborn I guess.”

I go to class and enter slowly and gently. I feel like an egg cracked open. I wrap my thin sweater around me, but it does little to block the feeling rippling through me.

I trade on the first technique with someone I know and this comforts me. Back in the chairs, as someone is speaking I look up and John makes eye contact. He gives me the “come up here” finger and I get up and make my way up to the stage. There is no anxiety about going up. I need this. Seven years of anxiety about getting on stage – where did it go?

As I get on the table he says “don’t try to over think this”. I chuckle and relax into my body before I have time to think. He starts demonstrating the yoke [yolk :)] technique. He compresses my shoulders together and up towards my ears until there is resistance. I hear what he is saying in the background as I feel him gently in my field, connecting, listening and responding to where I go. He mentions that we can hold a lot here. My arms gradually float up and cross in front of my face. I hit a still point. I feel a new connection between the lower and upper half of my body. I hear him say “here comes a wave”, then I feel a flood of energy and emotion pass quickly up my body. My arms float and move. Another still point. I hear John say “position of past trauma”. Another wave of emotion and I feel/hear myself quietly crying. There is a pause as I notice the feel of my arm position. John says “you don’t have to be in the trunk anymore”. I immediately see the lid. It was there all along. I take in a breath. I breathe out and another wave of emotion rushes through me lightly. “You don’t need that anymore,” he says. I feel the trunk and all it represents move off to my right. “Erase it from the chalkboard and throw away the eraser,” he continues. I do. My arms extend upward and I feel open sky. I feel the insides of my hands all the way to my finger tips and beyond. “That’s it,” he encourages. I breath deeply and quickly, pulling in what I need and breathing out the feel of a stagnant, stifling past. I breathe in spaciousness. Lots of it – as much as my body will take in. John continues to follow my softening in the back of my shoulders. He indicates to the group “why don’t you go try this now.” I hear the rustle of people as they go back to the tables to practice on each other.

Feeling less focus on me, I let my guard down even more. John sinks his hand into my chest gently. I feel his arm against the right side of my face and feel the new space where the trunk disappeared. In its place I feel love and gentleness and the sensual touch I had felt so ashamed of feeling just two days before. I rest my head against his arm. His hand moves, following my awareness down to my abdomen. The warmth makes it easier to soften. “Feel your belly filling with warmth,” he says. I let the warmth in. For a moment, I feel my abdomen. It is a fleeting glance inward, but I remind myself I felt it. It will come back. I put my hand on top of his so I can feel it and I come in and out of this space. I put my hands there as I write this and I feel the pressure in my throat and the tingle in my belly. Sadness.

John finishes up and I have time on the stage to myself to complete my process. I go down the stairs off the stage and Rob is there. He asks “did you ever wear contacts?” I say “yes”. “I didn’t recognize you.” I didn’t realize how different I looked since last time I was in Sedona, but I guess I do. I feel much different too.

I look up and see my friend Barb standing there. I know she is supposed to be here, even though she is not at the course. I get to practice the yoke technique on her. She is the sweetest person I know and I am honored to treat her. I cry as I’m treating her. We cry together. It is beautiful.

Back at the chairs, we do a visualization. I feel myself being pulled out of the back seat of the car, the car door closing and the car driving away. Wow! That’s new. “Keep going,” I say to myself. I’m getting as much out of this new feeling of the past leaving as I can. I see Kathy in her seat and we make eye contact. We agree to trade for this next technique, the mask technique.

I lay on the table and Kathy melts her hands into my face. Slowly I sink into my new spaces and wait for things to surface. I float around for what feels like a while. I am sort of there. I realize this and let myself become more vulnerable. A wave of emotion passes through me and I express it. It subsides. I breathe new breath in and out. Then I suddenly feel myself on the ceiling of the motel room. I gasp inside. I was not expecting this. Back in Malvern I could see that part of myself that had left up on the ceiling. I had tried to coax it to come down. All that trying had failed. Not focused on how it was going to happen, I find myself now face to face with myself. I have no visual. The blindfold is still on me. But I can feel myself there. A quiet voice says “let it in”. I soften my chest and feel the gentle, warm mist of me float into my chest. It is soft and innocent and loving. It feels really, really good. I get up feeling amazed and Kathy lays on the table. I feel more in flow with her. I feel more connected than I have ever felt. I listen and go where she goes and wait where she waits. I have no need to make anything happen. I completely love and trust her essence to guide her. I am simply a witness, happy to go along for the ride. What fun!

Back at the chairs, as John is talking, the realization of what has occurred erupts from me in waves. A thought enters my mind: “I’m not in the trunk anymore. I can feel free space.” Tears burst out of me. I feel the intensity of acceptance, then slowly settle. Another thought bubbles up: “I got back the part of me that had left me in the motel room. Let yourself feel it Patti.“Another eruption of tears. My body trembles and softens more and more. I feel completely vulnerable; soft yet glowing. It doesn’t feel scary. It feels right.

Weeks later, I am still letting go. The anxiety of not enough time to enjoy freedom is lifting. The car is not coming back. I can’t stop smiling inside.

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John, me and my roomies Sue and John