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Transformation and Pain

Theory 4: Falling apart is often a prelude to falling together.

Breaking down as a prelude to a higher state of evolution is frequently observed in human beings faced with serious illness and even death. Sickness in the body, disease in the mind, the disintegration of a relationship, can be transforming experiences. At one level they bring us face-to-face with deep questions of personal value, of the meaning of life. They frequently cause a reordering of priorities - a change of job, a dramatic resolution of an alcohol or drug addiction, a lifestyle alteration. On another level, they may unlock doors that have been closed to us for years:

  • Stress reduction techniques that were used to deal with an ulcer become daily practice and result in a changed perception of the world in general.
  • Massage and deep tissue techniques (e.g., Rolfing, Esalen massage, Swedish massage, neuromuscular massage, polarity therapy, Trager work) and body realignment methods (e.g., Feldenkrais, Somatics, craniosacral therapy, Alexander Technique), which are often undertaken merely as forms of physical therapy, at the same time facilitate the release of long-held emotional trauma stored in the muscles of the body, which leads to profound shifts of consciousness.
  • Adverse reactions to drug treatment have led people to the investigation of hypnosis for pain control, mental visualization for treatment of cancer, and significant diet changes as an alternative to unsuccessful traditional therapy.
  • Chronic back pain has led many to the practice of yoga, and yoga has then become a way of life.

The examples abound. The options increase and so do the possibilities for wellness. The transcendent view of life as a process is the basis for recommendations that we allow the body the freedom to do what it does best. It allows us the healing attitude of compassion as we examine and reassess every aspect of our lives. Realizing that we are in process lets us relax with mistakes, enjoy the paradoxes that life proposes to us every day, and give ourselves permission to be just whom and what we are at the moment. And finally, it serves to excite us with the realization that we will never be finished - that there will always be new ways to grow, new doors to open, new cracks to explore in the cosmos.

I do think that waking up, enlightenment, can save our world, can save the planet. Because we're doing things that none of us want to see happen. And we're doing it because we're unaware. So if we can wake up and train all of our energies around this, then I have deep confidence that tremendously beautiful, healing things will happen. —Brian Swimme

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