From Dark Night to Rebirth: Psychotherapy and Counseling for Spiritual Awakening and for the Spiritually Awakened

“When I get through this, I will help others do the same,” I vowed on a chilly December afternoon as the winter-white light barely shone between thick raindrops pouring against my bedroom window. Huddled beneath blankets and feeling lost in mental darkness, I focused on my breath and tried to create space for the emotions that were arising. The future reality I’d just created with my heart and mind—that one day I’d offer others the comfort I longed for in that moment—brought me peace.

For this was my Dark Night of the Soul (also known as a spiritual depression), on the heels of the most profound spiritual experience (or kundalini awakening) of my life.

About a half-year prior, I’d awakened from the dream in which I’d played the role (as we all have) of someone who was unlovable or not enough, that I was a victim, and that I was unsafe. It was more than life-altering; it was lifetimes-altering. For weeks after, I wandered around as though I was watching a movie in which I’d once been an actor who didn’t know I was acting and mistook each scene for reality.

Upon realizing the truth of who I was (perfect, holy, divine, powerful, and so much more), I experienced a shift in my sense of Self. I’d broken through Abraham Maslow‘s apex ceiling of self-actualization and reached self-transcendence.

dd822910.fig01(zh-cn).gif

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

 

Everything beautiful outside of me I perceived as a reflection to my own beauty and an expansion of my Self. Peering into the eyes of a cottontail rabbit, hearing a coyote call at dawn, watching the moon rise at dusk, or gazing at bright-white clouds against sunlit-blue skies, I could easily cry or laugh with the kind of bliss we feel when in love!

I was in love with myself. Madly. Passionately. For the next several months, I was on a honeymoon with the All-That-Is.

Because I had allowed in so much light, literally and figuratively, by summer’s end I sensed my inner shadow elongating. What had remained unacknowledged or lay dormant in my subconscious, cells, energy field, and ancestry was illuminated, calling out to be healed.

My experience was more intense than it needed to be; I learned later that this had much to do with some deep-down beliefs I held regarding personal transformation and growth having to be painful (more on that a few paragraphs later). If you can relate, though, to some of what I describe following, please know that it is temporary. Seek the support of a spiritual healer, shaman, or a transpersonal psychotherapist trained in kundalini syndrome if your symptoms are similar. (They can be easily misdiagnosed.) [i]

I began to doubt my recent peak experience, wondered if I’d made it up or was tricked. I grew increasingly uncomfortable. I was ultra-sensitive to sounds, tastes, light, color, smells, texture, and other people’s emotions. I seemed to have sprouted antennae that sensed the subtle differences in the vibrations of people, places, and things. The grit, grime, and angst I once found endearing in the city where I lived for 16 years aggravated my nervous system. It mirrored what within me was releasing as I shed layers of who I was not.

Spoken words and even thoughts projected colors and images in my mind; those that were negative affected me physically and emotionally. I lost interest in my friends and in the activities that once inspired me.

Fortunately I’d read books, letters, and personal accounts by Thomas Moore, Adyashanti, St. Theresa of Calcutta, Pamela Kribbe, Eckhart Tolle, St. John of the Cross, and others during years prior, which described experiences similar to mine—so I understood that I was not crazy.

Yet I had expected miracles, a diploma for acing Earth School, a portal to exit the matrix of human existence (not yet understanding that my role was to anchor “heaven” on earth).

“The miracles you seek are in the mundane,” said a shaman who became my guide. She too had once traversed the Underworld and, like Persephone, emerged intact. “You want to see heaven? Look in a blade of grass.”

Her laughter and her calm certainty that I was going to be OK were the soothing balm for my soul and medicine for my heart. As the months wore on, she not only reminded me of sacred mysteries I felt I’d once known, she sat shiva by phone as I grieved my former self.

On Good Friday, the day collective awareness was on death and resurrection, she told me gently, “The belief that this has to be hard is just a belief.” No one expected me to carry a cross and be crucified, she pointed out. Light pierced through the darkness. I laughed. She laughed with me. And when we hung up the phone, I laughed myself to tears.

The spell was broken.

I’ve kept my promise to extend a welcoming hand to you too as you cross the bridge between harsher duality-based living and the world that together we are birthing. I understand that it can feel disorienting at times, but I also know that our intentions are powerful enough to navigate this transformation with grace and ease.

I write this now for two reasons:

1. To encourage you to put up lights in your Dark Night, to rename it Bright Night or whatever name you choose, and celebrate. We’re not Jesus. We’re not Persephone. We’re the co-creators of a new reality filled with peace, joy, unity, and unconditional love. And we can make this fun.

2.  You don’t have to “wake up” alone. Yogi, spiritual director, Registered Nurse, and awakened supermom, wife, and friend Erin Miller Shrader of Sacred Grove Wellness has begun offering counseling and energy healing part time at Body Talks Therapy‘s Lancaster office.

I too will continue to offer somatic, psychospiritual depth work and energy healing to assist you (whether awakened or awakening) in bringing compassion into your own shadows and fully embodying your Higher Self. I’ve found that the more healing work we do in preparation for our awakening, the easier it is to navigate the purification process when it occurs.

Meanwhile, know this: What you feel now is an indication of what’s leaving you because it no longer resonates with how bright you’ve become; the discomfort is not who you are. Breathe. Try not to think of how long it will last, for the mind can create more suffering. Stay in the present moment; it is a portal to healing past and future.

Sing. Cry. Take salt baths. Cook gourmet meals. Dance.

You are not alone. And you are so loved.

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

[i] Spiritual transformation impacts us physically, emotionally, and mentally, so trust your instincts, heed your inner wisdom, be kind to yourself, and use caution. Take good, physical care of yourself, because being human is divine. Safe and slow can be the most powerful way to accessing the ultimate love within.

 

Advertisements

A New Way to Love: Put Yourself First and Allow Others Their Journey

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

Rewire Your Brain for Pleasure Workshop Available for Purchase

a22dfef6-7174-4fbd-a8ed-f0a196348ba8.png

Couldn’t make it live to our Body Talks workshop Series in April? It’s not too late! If you’d like access to an edited recording of Rewire Your Brain for Pleasure, shoot me an e-mail at info@bodytalkstherapy.com, and I’ll send you a private link to the video on YouTube. You can send payment via Venmo to @Allison Brunner or simply look for the PayPal button and pay $15 here in advance. You can also mail a personal check or money order to Body Talks Therapy, 237 N. Prince St., Suite 303, Lancaster, PA 17603. (By next month, I’ll have created a storefront where you can find additional workshops and guided meditations. Stay tuned for that.)

Those who attended live may request free access to the recording. In fact, I’ve added a couple of segments we didn’t have time to include last week due to our limited time together.

I’ve discounted the cost for purchase significantly for a few reasons: your experience will vary greatly from those of the in-person participants. The vibe is quite different when you’re working solo. You’ll also need to acquire some items to appeal to your five senses in order to engage in the exercises as they were intended. (These include flowers or other beautiful objects, a candle, something delicious to taste, some essential oils, fresh ground coffee or tea leaves, a soft blanket or something that feels pleasurable to touch, and some of your favorite music tracks.)

If you afford yourself the time (about 90 minutes) and space (either alone or with a fried) to engage in the experiments fully, I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself.

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

Invite Your Anxiety to Tea

Much of this article by Allison Brunner, LCSW, is reprinted from Natural Awakenings magazine’s (Lancaster/Berks edition) November 2016 issue.

Many of us know it well: a gnawing in the pit of the stomach, an ache in the chest, shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat or a lump in the throat. Roughly 40 million Americans (or 18 percent of the population above the age of 18), according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, experience anxiety as a full-blown disorder.

Most of us encounter the symptoms from time to time. Hardwired to avoid pain, we do everything we can to self-distract or problem-solve our way out. We try to convince ourselves we’re “worrying about nothing”. In cognitive approaches to psychotherapy, too, we examine the validity of the thoughts that create suffering and attempt to assuage our fears by labeling them irrational.

But how effective has that been for you?

Running and thinking (or arguing with our thoughts) exacerbate angst. The worse we feel, the more afraid we tend to become, wondering how long the discomfort will last or whether it may worsen and turn us crazy. Our minds are adept at tricking us into believing that what’s really a mouse in the closet is a six-foot monster with fangs.

What if we tuned into our bodies when the symptoms, like little lights on an automobile dashboard, indicated distress? What if we pulled up a chair and invited our anxiety to tea, so to speak? When we take the opportunity to face it, feel it and get to know it a little better, it calms. We can drop beneath it and find that where it was trying to turn our attention is an emotion that is far more tolerable than panic or fear. There may be sadness, grief, disappointment or anger—only a mouse when compared to the anxiety monster.

Try the following next time the body-mind gets noisy.

Find a safe, quiet space where you can turn your attention inward. It’s best to sit on the floor and allow yourself to feel the support of the earth beneath you. Squeeze all of the breath out of your belly, if you can; then fill it first, before your lungs, with fresh air. Notice whether your body is holding tension and relax if you’d like.

Let go of thinking. There is no future, not even a few minutes from now. There is only this moment. Breathe.

Enhance your feeling of safety by focusing on an object in the room that gives you pleasure. Notice the quality of light where you’re seated. Feel the texture of your clothing against your skin. Notice any sounds, smells, the taste in your mouth.

Where in your body are you feeling anxious? What are the physical sensations that accompany it? Place your awareness in that area. How much space does it take up? Does it have a shape; is it solid or diffuse; does it have a temperature?

Stay out of story. Remove the labels (good, bad, awful, terrified) from what you’re feeling. Simply allow yourself to feel what you feel.

What does your body want to do? Does it want to curl into a ball while wrapped in blankets? Do you need to cry into a pillow or scream? Do you need to shake, punch or kick? Allow the release.

Emotions move like waves; they don’t last forever. Give yourself 15 to 30 minutes to ride this one, rather than being pummeled by it, and know that the nervous system will calm again. When we resist, anxiety persists and either somaticizes or intensifies.

Once the waters still, ask your body what it needs. Reconnect to your five senses and where you’re situated in time and space. Soothe yourself with a warm bath, lit candles, low lights or relaxing music. Make yourself a warm cup of tea. After you’ve braved this storm, those in the future will feel more manageable.

Invite Your Anxiety to Tea.png

Body Talks Therapy owner, coach, healer, and facilitator of a community of Highly Sensitive People, Allison Brunner, LCSW, will facilitate a workshop on Thursday, May 11, 7:15pm to 8:45pm, at Mulberry Art Studios’ Mulberry on King, 253 W. King St., Lancaster (off-street parking is available against the side of the building, near the entrance. Join us for a combination of psychoeducation, hands-on learning, and experiential practice of tools for coping with and minimizing or even eliminating your symptoms of anxiety as a way of protecting yourself against the emotions that scare you.

Bring a pen and paper or journal. If you prefer to express yourself through art or music, bring the tools to do so. We’ll engage in body awareness and somatic work (grounding and resourcing), mindfulness practice and strategies, guided visualization, “parts work,” and journaling.

RSVP and pay here in advance. For questions, contact info@bodytalkstherapy.com.

Allison Brunner, LSCW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

Rewire Your Brain for Pleasure: Be Mindful of What You Love vs Resisting What You Don’t—and Impact the World in a More Positive Way

How often do you have a thought similar to “When this happens, then everything will be alright,” or “I’ll be happy when I have x, y, or z”? You may even worry about something real or imagined to come.

Meanwhile the sun shines over a bright-blue sky, a chorus of songbirds whistle, and the temperature is perfect. In addition, much of your life is going quite well, and there is much to celebrate. But you don’t notice. You’re busy thinking about how you wished your life could be better or how to avoid the thing you fear.

Thus you create your own suffering.

I’ve noticed that people who have struggled with depression and worked hard (and successfully) to heal hurt parts of themselves seem to have a default setting (an identify, even) for the blues. Joy has been out of their realm of experience for so long, they’re not sure how to access it when it’s right within their reach.

I empathize, because I’ve been there. The good news is that we just need to do a little rewiring of our brains. All it takes is a slowing down and a willingness to notice the marvelous in the mundane.

Come experiment with a group of us (and have some fun in the process) on Thursday, April 13, 7:15pm to 8:45pm in a workshop called “Rewire Your Brain for Pleasure: Be Mindful of What You Love vs Resisting What You Don’t.”  Join us online via Zoom or in-person at Mulberry Art Studios’s Mulberry on King location, 253 W. King St., Lancaster, PA.

Bring or have handy some paper and a pen (and as a list of a few other objects I’ll e-mail to you in advance), as well as a willingness to sing (or lip sync if you’re shy) a few tunes as a group. For this won’t be just an ordinary workshop. Nope, this will be mostly hands-on with a little teaching of Quantum physics and brain neuroplasticity that I guarantee will neither bore nor mystify you.

During our time together, we’ll also do the following:

  • Experience the effects of sharing pleasurable experiences vs misery with others.
  • Connect to all five senses in the present moment to experience increased pleasure.
  • Create “quantum moments” in the brain in order to rewire to default settings of well-being and joy.
  • Learn how to use positive visualization in a more powerful and effective way to bring about desired outcomes in life and to create shifts in your subconscious beliefs.
  • Realize the power you have (and how to) impact the world with your thoughts and emotions.
  • Become familiar with your home “frequency” and learn how to dial it up to impact the world positively.
  • Shift your focus to create more of what you want vs more of what you don’t.

Call (717) 340-2096 for more information, or RSVP and pay here in advance. Cost is $25.

I look forward to spending the evening with you!

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

Despite the forecast,live like it's.png

Return to Your Body in a Celtic-Inspired Movement Medicine Class

Join me on Thursday, March 16, St. Patrick’s Eve, for a special Movement Medicine class, 7:15pm to 8:30pm. To music recalling an era in which the Celtic Nature traditions lived embodied, we’ll dance beyond thought back into our own bodies. This authentic movement practice offers a fun and safe way to realign the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of ourselves and to reconnect our hearts with the perfection of our humanness.

For centuries, we in the Western world have hungered for an antidote to the collective wound created when Christian Romans in the 1st Century AD and the Saxons in the 5th Century AD nearly wiped out or drove into hiding a culture that understood that the higher intelligence and expression of Source energy (or God/Goddess) runs through all living things (our bodies included), that human beings and nature are interdependent, and that truth and divinity are within.

The Christians of that era labeled Celtic lifestyles primitive and their beliefs blasphemous toward the patriarchal version of God who reigned from on high. They taught us that human beings (women especially) and our bodies are inherently evil, emphasized reason over intuition, and urged us to beg for the deservingness of redemption.

The truth is, though, that we’ve never required redemption, were never less than deserving, and were perfectly imperfect all along. But such disempowering teachings (and others like them) have contributed to the suffering of most people on this planet from the distorted notion that we are bad or unlovable and that we must spend our lives proving our worthiness.

Together, we’ll heal these ancestral injuries with somatic practices that include breath awareness,  the exploration of old, familiar patterns of seeking refuge in our thoughts (and honoring the safety this provides), connection to our five senses, body scanning, emoting though movement, and allowing our bodies to express what within us longs to shift, let go, and forge a new way of being.

Please note: Because this dance community has outgrown the space on King Street, Movement Medicine classes will be held every first and third Thursday of the month at Mulberry Art Studios‘ main location, 21 N. Mulberry St., Lancaster, PA. Thus, classes are now $20; but when you bring a new class member, each of you pays half. RSVP in advance to pay by credit card or pay cash in person. Drop-ins are now welcome!

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

Movement Medicine copy.png

Movement Medicine: A Dance Class for Non-Dancers

Movement Medicine copy.png

This authentic movement class isn’t about looking good when we move. It’s not even about the dance. It’s about moving what has been stuck, stepping out of an old story, exploring our power, and walking a new path more in alignment with our true selves.

Last week’s class was exquisite in that all participants created a safe, judgment-free environment. One worked through sadness. Another experimented with staying in her own corner as she moved through her resistance and disdain for dancing. Yet another tended to a self-judging part of herself by staying seated on the floor through every song.

We each participate in our own way, and it’s all perfect.

Join us on Thursday, March 16, as we continue to cultivate and create this space for inner-transformation.

(Please also keep checking back here or join my mailing list at BodyTalksTherapy.com for updates. As our community grows, we are preparing to move this dance class into larger space at Mulberry Art Studios’ Mulberry Street location. This could happen as soon as mid-March!)

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy