By Maria Esposito
The Fulcrum, Issue 84 September 2021
When I first started working with a heart-centred connection, my practice was transformed. I found that working from the heart enabled me to connect with my higher self and strengthen my intuition. Clients commented on the treatment experience and the more I nurtured my heart connection, the more effective my work became.
Yet, developing heart connection was not easy or straightforward. There were times when the connection was open and grounded, spacious and flowing. Other times I resonated with painful emotions and experiences. Questioning why this could be so led me to recognise my own emotional pain and unconscious fears and accept my need to heal.
The self-healing journey takes many forms and different paths. Each one of us will need to find the best way to acknowledge, recognise and heal from our emotional pain and fear. Here, I will share my own journey, experiences and observations before recommending useful tools and techniques that may support self-healing.
A Healing Dynamic
From personal experience and from talking with others, I believe that quite often therapists attract clients who have experienced similar pain. It seems a case of ‘like attracts like’ and the resulting dynamic seeks resolution for both client and therapist.
Around ten years ago, clients began coming to me with symptoms and experiences rooted in childhood pain and trauma. I found that I often resonated with their emotional pain and, as I began to explore this, I realised that I carried similar experiences. My acknowledgement and awareness of this allowed space for my own early trauma and, as the memories returned, I accepted that I too needed healing.
Acknowledgement was the beginning of my own healing journey and as it unfolded I recognised and accepted the fear that had been part of my life since early childhood.
Freedom From Fear
During the past ten years of treating clients, including babies and parents, and myself, I have become aware that fear is one of the most prevalent emotions, often hiding behind others. Fear can stem from emotional or physical pain that we have suffered in the past. It can be unconscious, buried so deeply that it influences our thoughts, feelings and actions without us really being aware of it.
The more I healed the more my true self emerged
Feelings of anger, deep anxiety, depression and overwhelm, and behaviours like lashing out, withdrawing, addiction and self-harm, can all stem from fear. They can stem from childhood experiences, our early relationships, our upbringing, our education, our society, from the way we were taught to deal or not to deal with emotions, and be triggered by the things we watch, books that we read, from family, friends, colleagues or people we admire.
Expressions of fear are seen now more than ever. For the past year and half of the Covid-19 pandemic, global fear of the unknown and the stress of uncertainty has impacted many lives, including our own. Throughout, fear and worry about the mental and physical health of loved ones and friends, about jobs and finances, have been pervasive. In some, isolation from and/or loss of loved ones have left deep emotional trauma. In others, fear and worry converted into anger and frustration with devastating impact for partners and families. These experiences may impact not just the people directly affected but also future generations.
The Question is How Do We Move Forward, Individually and Collectively?
I grew up with parents who were born at the time of the second world war and fear was a constant factor in their lives; fear of not getting enough food, fear of getting hurt, fear of not having enough money to support the family.
In myself, I believe that this legacy of fear manifested primarily as self-reliance. I became a ‘doer’, generally resilient and solutions oriented when dealing with my worries, and proactive about controlling my life and pursuing my interests in health and healing without dependence on others. However, as I shared in my previous article “Transformation’ (Issue 82), it wasn’t until I started my CST training that I realised how ungrounded I was, and how easily fears and worries unbalanced me.
So, part of my healing journey has been to free myself of inherited and acquired fears, unconscious and conscious. The more I healed the more my true self emerged – a more grounded and positive individual, searching for ways to deal with life and emotions. I supported this new self-awareness with personal craniosacral sessions, energy healing, and meditation, ultimately leading to a different level of being that has enabled me to move forward with a greater sense of energy, direction and focus.
As I continued to develop my craniosacral and intuitive practice, and practised grounding and heart-connection, I appreciated how much better and happier I felt without anxiety. I noticed that the more I healed, the less drama, in the form of books, films or news, appealed to me and I decided to stop drawing fears from outside sources to myself.
Now, after fearful or worrying situations arise, it takes less time to get back to feeling balanced and centred.
Growth Through Healing
The experience of recognising and accepting my need of healing taught me that as therapists we are still vulnerable and need to deal with all that we carry and hold; without doing that, there is no growth or expansion as a person or as a therapist. When we think that others are in more need of healing than ourselves, and shut our hearts to our own pain, we deny our own healing.
This is not to say that we can’t help others until we have healed ourselves. Yet, with self-healing, I believe we become more effective therapists.
It is my belief that the very act of opening our hearts to serve and help another person creates a healing dynamic. When the therapist connects to their heart first, acknowledging their emotional pain and fear, self-doubt and insecurities, the treatment becomes a powerful healing tool for both them and their client.
Healing strategies and therapeutic self-healing tools
The self-healing journey is different for everyone, but it shares the same starting point – an intention to heal yourself of conscious and unconscious emotional pain and fear, and then finding the best support for that process.
My own journey to self-healing taught me that a mix of therapeutic and practical tools are useful. Some of the techniques that have helped me include:
Treat yourself: I found craniosacral sessions and energy healing helped me connect with the resources I needed to heal. And, I found that even during the worst times of the pandemic, when I myself had Covid-19, CST and meditation were the best tools that I had to resource myself and let go of personal fears and worries. My suggestion for therapists is to have regular CST treatments. And, if you become aware of or triggered by a reflected pain and/or fear during a treatment, it is worth exploring that in supervision or with another therapy.
Meditation: Learning to meditate is almost an essential part of a therapist’s growth and development, helping to ground, be centred and present. Through meditation, I learned to connect to my true heart; by breathing into it with intention, I can access and feel the infinite love and peace that is there for us all at any time. In this space, the solution for resolving your fear might come up easily. Also, meditative breathing techniques down regulate the nervous system, calming the mind from worries and fears. If you find it difficult to meditate at stressful times, there are many apps that provide guided meditations and breathing techniques.
Cultivate self-awareness: A type of self-healing is to recognise your own emotions and thought patterns and how they shape the way you think and behave towards yourself and others. A talking therapy can help you understand yourself and equip you to deal with any painful or traumatic emotions and memories that may come up.
Feel the fear: About 20 years ago, I read a book by author Susan Jeffers called “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. While I no longer remember the specifics, the title has stuck with me, reminding me about the importance of intention and readiness in letting go of fear; about how empowering it is to acknowledge fear and choose to overcome it.
This is relevant in our present situation where many feel strong anxiety about returning to work or social environments, and a question that you could ask yourself is, ‘what would I rather do, live my life with a job that I love, or freeze and stop living for the next few years?’.
It might sound obvious but just asking it of ourselves – of our system – can help us see, understand and choose to overcome what is blocking us. Once we can see, feel and name our fears, we can apply our therapeutic tools to let go of them, freeing us to move forward.
NLP: As a neuro-linguistic practitioner, I offer some NLP techniques for certain CST clients who I feel may benefit from it. I often use a technique called “time-line technique”, where the client makes a guided journey to the first time they encountered a specific emotion, e.g. fear. Usually, it is a formative emotion that has been present from birth to six years old, and I ask the client to suggest different resources for dealing with the event that triggered the specific emotion. This technique can be profoundly empowering and the resources can be accessed at any time the original emotion returns. It has had a major impact on many of my clients, and can be done online or face to face when treating, or as a self-care technique once it has been learned.
Once your healing journey has begun, patience and heart intuition are essential to help you know how and when to proceed, and before long you will begin to feel your personal and professional life gradually change in a more positive way.
As therapists, we are trained to offer and provide support, often ready to help others before ourselves. But as much as we are needed, to be truly effective it is important that we first seek to support and heal ourselves. By acknowledging and overcoming our own fears, worries, and pain, by healing ourselves, we are better able to connect to our heart and help others.
Based in London, Maria Espositio BSc (Hons) is a complementary therapist and teacher whose practice includes CST, NLP, NAET, nutritional therapy and more. www.nutritionhealth.net
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the CSTA.