Seeing with the Eyes of the Heart
I come to healing work with a profound respect for our capacity to heal ourselves, and a sense of the endless possibilities available to us when we open to the wisdom that lies within.
I started meditating when I was 24 years old at Spirit Rock in California. Describing an experience of hearing music in the woods (which was impossible as we were sequestered on private, silent retreat grounds!) to my teacher, Sylvia Boorstein, during a month-long meditation retreat, I remember being slightly worried that I was having auditory hallucinations.
Since I felt otherwise entirely sane, I let my Vipassana meditation practice continue to unfold over the years, and began working as a clinical psychotherapist specializing in anxiety and trauma treatment.
It was a good time to be practicing as a psychotherapist from a mindfulness frame in the U.S., as the nation experienced a secular mindfulness boom. I trained in and practiced Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and various other treatments, all of which were at the cutting edge of practice.
Clients seemed to find benefit from these approaches, and–even better!–insurance companies covered treatments. I remember a conversation I had with a beloved supervisor, when I asked how we were getting away with not talking about spirituality, despite the spiritually-based (Buddhist) roots.
What I started to realize was that people respond to interventions that actually make us feel better. Healing is healing, and the actual healing matters more than what you call it. Although (for the most part!) this stance worked for me, I also kept encountering the places where the interventions we were using felt limited.
Clients who came to me with chronic developmental trauma would improve. But, when I thought about whether the clients reported feeling not only less distressed, but actually whole —the true meaning of the word healing–I couldn’t honestly say that following protocols seemed to elicit this kind of holistic health. My desire for more transformative experiences with clients heightened when I hit a wall in my clinical work.
I’d just moved to Alaska and experienced about 6 months of grueling pain in a mental health clinic. The suffering was too great, and the gains were too few. That period of my life led to a dark season of the soul, where I knew in my bones that I couldn’t stand seeing people continue to suffer so much.
I left the clinic and started becoming interested in energy work. After learning about the chakras, I began to have spontaneous movements which I later realized signified a Kundalini awakening. I started having experiences that I had no rational explanation for—I communed with Archangels on a mountaintop five minutes from my house; I merged with an eagle in a parking lot near the town dump.
When I started seeing clients in my alternative practice, astonishing things started to happen, such as clients who’d never journeyed (or who even knew about shamanism) going into journeys, being able to perceive energy, feeling the presence of deceased relatives.
While these experiences felt, quite frankly, impossible to the conscious mind and ego, they also led to authentic experiences of healing beyond anything I’d known while coloring within the lines of evidence-based practice.
As a natural skeptic (and a person temperamentally aversive to any system that asked me to “believe”), I realized that I could allow my life to get pretty incredible as soon as I was able to let go of the need to label what I do and how I do it. I’ve been awed and humbled to see how energy flows through me and love to hear the feedback from my clients that they are able to come into contact with their own insights, bodies and energetic systems through the healing space we create together. Any practitioner can only take a person to places they themselves have explored. For me, my greatest and most profound healing experiences have come outside of traditional psychotherapy. Ultimately the one path I orient to is the path of the heart. I invite you to walk this path with me.