The Art of Doing What Matters

The Hindus call it dharma, and according to Depak Chopra, it means to know your purpose in life and to fulfill that purpose. We all share the common purpose of growing and moving toward fulfilling our potential for a creative, constructive, and satisfying presence in the world. However, in order to fulfill our dharma, to practice the art of doing what matters, we need to be doing something that provides a service of some kind to others, and that service must contain within it a space for us to grow. So the art of Doing What Matters contains two equally important concepts: service to others and growth potential for ourselves.

Virtually any work we might choose can meet the requirement for personal and spiritual growth if we are trying to live consciously and to pay attention to the lessons the universe is offering us. So that part is simple (ha!), and we can chose anything that suits us, anything that we feel a calling to, a vocation for. It just needs to provide a useful service for others. Our art might be practiced and fulfilled by being plumbers, painters, phytopathologists, paralegals, paramedics, pedagogues, papyrus makers, potters, priests, paladins, palaeoclimatologists, palmists, peddlers, pharmacists, philologists, porters, philosophers, or pianists — to name only a very few of our very many possibilities.

The idea of service is something we may need to think about. Sometimes alternative and complementary practitioners seem to expect that they ‘should’ be able to do what they want to do, without consideration of whether or not anyone wants to be on the receiving end. The thought seems to run something like: I am a good, spiritual person doing good, spiritual things, and people should support me in this. I have learned to be wary of people who say should (including myself), especially about other people’s actions.

If no one wants it, it isn’t a service. Let’s say you want to be a zibbletherapist. No one knows what a zibbletherapist is or does, so only the severely deranged are likely to phone for an appointment. You have two choices here. You can give up, or you can take steps to educate the public — write articles, give free lectures and demonstrations, hand out leaflets on the street corner — whatever seems appropriate and workable.

Let us further say that zibbletherapy is a form of healing in which the therapist nibbles the client’s fingernails and sings to his or her toes. This is a very specialized form of therapy, and there may not be a big market for it unless you can demonstrate to people that it is really effective.

If you are quite certain that it’s a good thing, it would be worth trying all of the educational public relations activities (especially free demonstrations) that you can. We can’t expect uninformed people to buy something just because we think it would be good for them, but it’s surprising how many alternative and complementary practitioners do seem to expect just that.

If zibbletherapy works, and if you are a good zibbletherapist, you probably can make a career of it. However, if zibbletherapy doesn’t work or if you are a substandard zibbletherapist or if zibbletherapy doesn’t promote your own personal and spiritual growth, you won’t be able to sell it or yourself.

These, then, are the fundamental criteria for the Art of Doing What Matters:

The work you offer has to be a service. It has to provide something worthwhile for people. They must both want and need it. It doesn’t matter whether the need is one of the body (food, housing, etc.) or one of the spirit (art, music, etc.) — but both the need and the desire (willingness to buy) must be there.

The work you do has to enhance your own personal and spiritual growth. If it doesn’t meet the needs of your present stage of growth, a kindly universe will try to encourage you into another line of work — often by refusing to provide clients.

We cannot do our work just for our bosses or our clients, nor can we do it just for ourselves. It has to balance.

The Art of Doing What Matters – A Personal View

When I was three, and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was, “A grandmother and a doctor.” The problem was one of vocabulary — I wanted to be a wise woman, who healed in a magical way through touch and presence — like my grandmother. My self-chosen purpose in life, my personal doing of what mattered, was to try to be a healing presence in the world, and I already had a sense of how I wanted to go about this. I suspect that many of us were clear about our path in those very early years, but we simply didn’t have the words to express it. And then we often got distracted by other people’s stories.

Like most of us, I got confused about this. I stuck with the notion of being a doctor until I was old enough to understand what doctors really did. What doctors do is necessary and important, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Then, I thought I might like to be a nurse until I understood what nurses really did. Same problem. Then I thought I might like to be a psychotherapist, but in those days psychotherapy was all behaviorism and rats in mazes and no-consciousness, and that certainly wasn’t what I wanted either.

So I got married, worked as a secretary, became a mother, got involved with designing, building, and crewing on yachts, got divorced, became a house and sign painter, sold antiques, got married again, worked on boats some more, ran an antiquarian book business, got divorced again (slow learner), acquired a BA in psychology (special interests: counseling psychology, studies in consciousness, altered states, biofeedback, and parapsychology) with minors in anthropology (special interest: comparative religions) and philosophy (special interest: what’s it all about anyway?), and finally officially became a minister (of a highly unorthodox [some would say heretical] religious order). And now I’m making yet another shift to put the emphasis on writing and art — but it is still a form of healing.

In the meantime, from about the age of three onward I was practicing healing by laying on of hands, initially learned by watching my grandmother heal. In my thirties, I started teaching healing while I learned more things — meditation, massage, shiatsu, astrology, imagery work and other related and unrelated theories, concepts, and skills. Then one evening in my early forties, I was standing on a hillside, under a full moon, performing a wedding ceremony.

We were using a large stone for an altar, where I had placed a special candle. The bride and the groom had each carried a lit candle up to the alter, and with those they lit the big candle at the beginning of the service. Near the end of the ceremony family and friends came to the altar one by one to wish them well, offer a piece of advice, or say whatever they felt moved to say. As they did this, each one was given a candle, which had been lit from the large one, by the couple. Finally, everyone was standing in silence, holding the burning candles under the moon and the stars, light over light over light, while I held and blessed the wedding rings. I suddenly realized with an electric sense of shock that I was actually, in that moment, doing what I had wanted to do when I was three. And that my work, every aspect of it — healing, teaching, ministering, fit neatly into what I had really intended all those years ago.

I had blundered into my chosen art without noticing where I was going. I was just doing what seemed appropriate for the moment. I suspect that each of us is walking on our path. I suspect that it isn’t possible to get off of it — that everything we do, everything we learn, every experience we have is grist for the mill. But it does help — or at least it is comforting — to know what that purpose is — and that requires conscious examination and awareness of what we are doing.

At this time, I’m noticing that my path is changing, moving into unfamiliar territory — or maybe it’s familiar but in a different guise. I’ve been trundling around, doing more or less the same sorts of things, for a number of years now. Of course, I’ve been learning and growing and expanding what I do, but it has been essentially the same. Now, things are shifting (not because I decided they ought, but simply because they are) and I really wonder: what’s happening? What’s next?

I’ve talked to a couple of good astrologers and to some psychics and the general message seems to be something like, “Wow, this is interesting! Things are really changing for you.” Indeed. Thanks a bunch. So the message from the universe seems to be ‘wait and see’. I’ve been in this position before where I’ve known change is coming, but not what change. I keep saying that, if I knew what the universe wants me to do, I’d get on with doing it. But this is dodging the issue. What the universe “wants me to do” is to consciously and prayerfully work through the process of change.

At this moment, the change seems to be becoming clear, and it is a simple one. My vocation is becoming my avocation, and my avocation is becoming my vocation. Just a change of emphasis.

Process As Art, Art As Process

There are some questions I’ve been asking myself to try to clarify this process, and if you are experiencing the same kind of inner searching, they may help you.

They are:

1. When you were two or three or four, what did you think you wanted to do when you grew up?

2. How does that relate to what you are doing now? That is, how is your present work (paid or unpaid) a manifestation of that original plan? Or does it seem to be another track altogether?

3. What are your dissatisfactions with your present work?

4. How do these dissatisfactions relate to the concept of dharma? That is, how do they fail to meet the criteria listed above of need, service, growth, and balance?

5. What is satisfying about your present work?

6. How do these satisfactions relate to the concept of dharma and the fulfil criteria?

7. Does your present work hold the potential for fulfilling the requirements of dharma and of being personally satisfying, growth enhancing, and profitable?

8. How does this work offer service?

9. What would you need to change in you or in your work in order for this work to offer a better service?

10. How are you using this work to promote your spiritual growth?

11. What would you need to change in you or in your work in order for this work to better facilitate your spiritual growth?

12. Can you change your present work or yourself to create service, spiritual growth, satisfaction, and prosperity within your present framework, or do you need to change directions altogether?

13-?. If the answer to 12 is that you need to change directions, pick a likely direction and hold it up in the light of questions 1-11. This won’t tell you everything, but it might help you to see something useful.

These and related questions may help us to assess our present (or intended) work for doing-what-matters appropriateness. You may need to invent some more questions for yourself here.

People get confused about this. They think that one has to be doing something ‘spiritual’ in order to be growing spiritually through one’s work. Not true. We simply have to be consciously providing a service and being conscious of our intentions, our actions, and their consequences.

We need to be learning from and examining our lives as we live them. Being a priest, conducting ceremony and ritual, preaching and healing is no more ‘spiritual’ than being a plumber or an accountant. Any work can be done sleepwalking or consciously. Consciousness, self-awareness, self-examination, prayer, dedication, devotion, surrender, and awareness of the process are all prerequisites for the spiritual life. As the cliche says, it isn’t so much what you do, but how you do it that matters.

All right, I accept (reluctantly) that I am in the process of change, that this process is in itself part of my work, and that consciousness is required. I quite understand that sometimes we just have to go through the process and not try to find shortcuts, but I am a person who likes to have a plan, and judging by the number of people who ask, ‘But what am I meant to be doing?’ many other people like to have plans, too.

Or perhaps it’s just that we think we should have one. I suspect that sometimes a plan is helpful, and some times it is a hindrance. The trick is in knowing which is which. And in getting on with our work in the meantime, consciously learning, consciously being of service.

I wish you well on your journey!

Copyright © 1995 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.
This essay originally appeared in Otherworld Arts, 1995

Krowing While You Work

Not My Desk; Marzipan is More Tidy

“Krowing” makes a change from whistling — and while whistling while you work is often a good thing, krowing may well be better, both for you and for the work.

(Krow, krowed, krowing — “krow” is “work” playfully spelled backward. Very early on in school, we learn that many teachers think you aren’t really trying to do the work unless you sit hunched over your paper, tightly clutching your pencil, with your feet all twisted painfully around the chair legs. Ungrounded. It’s best if you frown too. The thing you mustn’t do is look relaxed. None of this actually helps you think better, and it takes a lot of energy while the discomfort is distracting. The fae believe all of this is seriously weird and wonder how we ever get anything done.)

It’s fascinating the way we seem to keep learning the same lessons over and over — until we finally get it really truly deep down. Whoever is in charge of all this seems to be endlessly patient — much more patient with me than I am with myself.

Eileen Herzberg phoned me to say she was planning to run a meditation course and to discuss a few ideas she had about it. “First, I’ll do what you do,” she said blithely, “and start them off with an inner journey to meet their inner meditation teacher.”

I gently pointed out that I had never met my inner meditation teacher, but that it was a really brilliant idea, and I wished I had thought of it. After a brief muddle while we sorted out whose idea it really was (Eileen’s, of course), we went on to discuss how best to set the scene for the inner journey she planned. While we were doing that I took an inward brief peek at my own inner meditation teacher.

The image that flashed up was of a tiny, upright, ancient oriental lady with a face as brown and wrinkled as a walnut shell and bright, bright black eyes. I knew as soon as I saw her that I’d better come back later and listen to what she had to say, and so I did as soon as I got off the phone.

Old Mama Li, she said to me,
Look, kid, you’ve got
to get your act together.
What you’re doing is OK, but
there is so very much
more to be done. For starters, let’s
Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. Choose
one task each day, and do it
as a meditation. It’s all
very well, even necessary, to Sit
in meditation, to rest into the silence when
healing is happening, and it’s
not that hard to do
when you are building
a dam in the burn, or painting, or walking
in the hills — doing something
quiet and fun — but
there is much more to it than
that. Meditation has to happen
all the time. Don’t try
to do this all at once, don’t try
to go too fast. For a while,
take just one task a day. In time, this
will give you the place to stand
so you can move the earth —
if you are silly enough
to want to.

She suggested that I start with getting out my quarterly newsletter on my courses and things the next day. That, she said, would give me plenty to practice on. She obviously knows how very much I dislike doing those mailings — thousands of pages to collate, thousands of newsletters to fold and staple, thousands of newsletters to put in envelopes and seal, thousands of mailing labels to put on, thousands of stamps to stick down, thousands of return address labels to put on. Arrrgh! Boring!

The next day, I tried to focus on my breath while I worked on the mailing, but I kept getting muddled about what I was doing. Then I tried to work in time with my breath, but it was so slow — and I found my breath going faster and faster — or my hands racing while I didn’t breathe at all.

My usual way of trying to get through a distasteful task is to rush madly at it, so I kept finding myself sitting on the edge of the chair, panting.

I felt so frustrated! I’d thought this would be so easy, but I couldn’t seem to do it at all. I even caught myself thinking that I ought to be able to do it; that this should not be a problem for me. I was messing up on something I ought to be able to do easily. When I caught myself ‘oughting’ and ‘shoulding’ all over myself, I stopped. I ‘ought’ not to be doing that either!

I just sat there with a page in each hand, almost in tears of frustration. For a while I simply focused on my breathing with some vague idea of getting a running start at stability that way. Finally I asked for help. Why does it so often take so long to remember to ask?

The answer came at once — focus on the energy of the task. It has its own natural rhythm and focus. Find it.

A rhythm established itself as soon as I stopped trying to do something: collate while grounding myself and the newsletter with the earth, center while stapling and folding, put it in the envelope while connecting with the Source, seal it while filling it with healing energy. This was easy.

Gradually the understanding grew in my mind — each newsletter should have its own connection with the earth and the Source, its own healing energy, and this could be available to anyone who touched it, if they wanted and were open to it. Because each one had its own connections, it would constantly be brimming over with healing energy, more than enough for everyone who might need and want it along the way. Some of the envelopes might be reused and carry the energy even further. And what will happen if the paper is recycled? Hmmm. Like ripples from a stone thrown in a pond, out to the edges of the universe and back. What fun!

Then the mailing labels — each one went on with a friendly energy ‘hello’ to the addressee. The stamps each had a smile attached, and the return address labels each went on with a wash of ‘love you’ from me.

I couldn’t believe it when I suddenly ran out of mailing labels. I scurried around the house to see if I could find any more names and addresses on scattered scraps of paper so I could do some more — it was such fun! When I realized what I was doing, I had to laugh at myself. I went off to the post office with bags full of energized newsletters, smilingly stamped.

When I got to the post office, there were hordes of people waiting, and the clerks were all working frantically. By the time I reached the counter, the clerk in front of me had an obvious headache, a scowl on his face, and a fierce impatience with the world. Besides the newsletters, I had several fiddly things to do — letters to the States and other places, each to be weighed and postage calculated individually. You could see him getting more and more impatient as I handed him one thing after another. Finally, putting all of the bags containing the thousands of newsletters on the counter, I said, “And this is the last.” He touched them — and stopped.

For a moment he just stood there. Then he turned and slowly put them in the big mail sacks a few envelopes at a time. He could have dumped them in a bag at a time much more quickly, but he seemed to be savoring each handful. He came back to me with a cheerful smile spread across his face. “There,” he said, “that’s a job well done, isn’t it?”

I was quite taken aback — it was actually working! Up until then I suppose I had just thought it was a game for me to play by myself. Now I realized that it was something that really could spread out, like the glittering ripples on a pond.

So, what did I do the next day? I forgot. Didn’t remember at all to find a task to do mindfully. And the day after that as well. Then I chose things I really didn’t want to do at all for my special task and then just didn’t do them. There is obviously a big resistance here to enjoying the boring, tedious, mundane things of life. What would one have to complain about? Procrastination wouldn’t be any fun if one were procrastinating on having fun. And I can’t scold myself because that is getting trapped in my oughts and shoulds again, so I really can’t just indulge in feelings of guilt or remorse instead of actually doing something.

The only thing left is either to do a task with the clarity and mindfulness thing or not to do it at all and just leave it undone or do it resentfully — but it feels so silly and perverse not to do it.

I hate to feel perversely silly.

It may provide a bit of harmless amusement for the Otherworld folk, but I’d rather not do it that way. ‘Undignified’ I have no problem with, but “perverse” and ‘silly’ combined are just too much. The thing that had become a regular practice was to have a good laugh at myself when I review my day, just before I go to sleep.

Okay. I wrote the above in early 1994. I added this in the middle of the next year: I’m just recovering from a prolonged bout of pneumonia and am taking this opportunity to reformat and update my disorganized web pages, which have gradually become all helter-skelter. I can do this on my laptop while I technically stay in bed, as instructed. And now, I’m thinking about how I can apply these principles to healing myself. What can I do while confined here — besides my regular meditation and self-healing?

I have recovered to the point where I can go down and up the stairs once a day, and I’ve learned to pause on each step and take two healing breaths. And to take five minutes worth of healing breaths on the landing halfway. This way I don’t collapse before the top. (At first, I unconsciously held my breath as I tried to hurry up the stairs before I collapsed. Needless to say, that didn’t work well. But I can’t climb the stairs very often, so this doesn’t seem much of a task to apply this technique to. It seems that there isn’t much I can be doing with it…

But wait! I’m working on these pages. How can I incorporate meditation/self healing into this? Well, breath seems very important just now. Pneumonia messes that up. So perhaps I could incorporate breathing consciously and in a healing way into this somehow. I’m going to try something for a few minutes…

Ah, yes. I just need to stop at the end of every paragraph and breathe in healing energy for a few breaths. Three slow ones feels about right. It changes the whole energy of what I’m doing. Instead of getting a feeling of self-induced pressure building up, I feel tranquility. I smile while I work. That alone tells me it is right. So. I shall stop here and do another page.

Now here we are in 2018! Have I learned this thoroughly? Do I automatically do it on new things as well? Noooo. Do I need to start again? Yes, I do. These days I’m working on writing my first fantasy novel — it seems that it should (there’s that word again!) be easy to apply the paragraph above to that.

Also, I have to use a walker these days, and I do already get it that I have to monitor myself closely and not push myself too hard at that. The rhythm needs to be to walk, stop and sit and breathe, and walk again. And sit and breathe again. But much of the time I push myself to a hazardous edge before I stop. If I were to insert a little more mindfulness in the walking, I might not be so exhausted so soon.

There are also gentle exercises, I’m supposed to do — perhaps I could find some way to keep myself from rushing things there too.

O! I think I see the key here. It’s the rushing at things that is the problem, not the things themselves. I wonder where that comes from? Perhaps if I could find a way to be aware of that before I fall into a self-created hole — perhaps I could really finally get this? What do you think?

Copyright © 1994, 1995, & 2018 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved. This originally appeared in Crann Beathadh, 1994.

Kundalini Rising & Spiritual Healing, Part II

This is in two parts: first, how to recognize and take care of ourselves in a kundalini rising experience, and second, some tips on working with a client with kundalini rising. This, the second part, won’t make as much sense as I would hope unless you have read the first part, Kundalini Rising: The Experience, which preceeded this.

These are just some suggestions for those of you who may be inexperienced in doing healing work with kundalini energies on the rampage. Having been through it myself, on both sides of the chair, I think there are some things that you may find it helpful to remember.

First, be sure that you are very earthed, centered, and connected. This is powerful energy — you are working with a surplus of energy instead of the more usual energy deficit encountered in working with illness. If you are in any doubt about your own ability to stay absolutely stable and earthed, leave this work for others. There are plenty of us able to do it, so don’t do something that may put you in need of healing too.

Second, concentrate first on earthing the client’s energy. This is the major need. Many of the symptoms of runaway kundalini are a direct result of excessive and ungrounded energies. The healer’s first task should be to restore the system to a well-grounded balance.

Kundalini rising experiences can be quite violent in nature, very gentle or anything in between. They tend to occur when some kind of inner block, that has been restricting energy flow, is released. When these blocks are released in a sick person with deficient energy, they tend to allow the energy to rise to normal levels, healing body and emotions. When they occur in a person with normal or above average health, they may allow the energy to increase to unprecedented levels. The person will not, at first, be able to adequately earth the energy, and so that becomes the first consideration in healing — get it grounded! A lot of the emotional stuff involved in kundalini rising experiences disappears when adequate earthing is achieved — or becomes much more manageable for the person involved.

These experiences also sometimes happen to healers and meditators whose practices increase their capacity to allow energy flow through them, especially if they are also focusing on clearing their own blocks. A healer who is close to having a kundalini rising experience may find that it is triggered by working with someone else’s kundalini overspill. So take care of yourself, earth and clear your own energy after working with such cases very carefully, and be aware of what is happening to you and your energy as you work.

Third, DO NOT put energy in. There is too much already. Concentrate on earthing, centering, smoothing, calming, relaxing what is already there — but not on adding, which will only make the symptoms worse.

Fourth, if you feel over-energized, unstable, or ungrounded after working with someone in this state, you need to focus on your own grounding and centering until you get back in balance. Watch it!

Fifth, keep the actual hands-on sessions short. Again, 15 minutes is about right. Remember, you DO NOT need to put energy in; you do need to help the client develop sufficiently strong channels for earthing it, which they will not yet have.

Kundalini rising is sometimes a violent experience, radically changing one’s subtle energy field (making it much less subtle!) and consciousness and perception of energy. The experience can be (and often is in the West) mistaken for insanity (usually acute schizophrenia) or emotional or physical breakdown on a fairly large scale.

Therefore, when I spoke above about “grounding” being the primary need in working with a client experiencing kundalini rising, I meant something far more heavy duty than perhaps a visualization and a glass of water at the end of a session. I meant that the whole session, especially for the first several sessions, should focus on grounding, helping the client to “rewire” to handle far more powerful energy than they have hitherto been accustomed. This needs to combine hands-on earthing, possible physical exercises, and visualization — physical body, mind, and subtle body.

Sixth, teach the client whatever they need to know about meditating and earthing themselves. If the client doesn’t meditate, show them a simple meditation exercise, preferably focused on the breath, and encourage them to start. I usually recommend that people sit quietly, count each breath until they reach ten, and then begin counting again, focusing their awareness on the movement of the breath in the abdomen (an important point in grounding!). Five minutes a day the first week, ten the second, and fifteen thereafter. If they do meditate, make certain that the meditation they normally practice is centering and earthing and not merely a means of “spacing out”. Meditative exercises that concentrate on raising the energy are also inappropriate during the integration process.

The client will probably need to be shown some earthing exercises. They will need to learn some yoga or chi gung or t’ai chi techniques (some of the Reichian exercises may also be useful in this context) for physical earthing. They also need to develop skill in using visualization techniques that are especially powerful for them. The healer who works with kundalini-rising clients definitely needs to know and practice both the physical and imagery earthing exercises himself on a regular basis.

The meditation exercise above is a very grounding one, but clients also need some effective earthing exercise that they can do more frequently and quickly. They need to be encouraged to earth themselves often during the day, especially when they feel the symptoms of too much ungrounded energy. These symptoms may be physical (trembling, energy surges), emotional (unusual fragility, strong surges of emotion only partially based on circumstances, or unusual mood swings) or mental (obsessive or other abnormal thought patterns).

A major lesson for most healers is about taking care of ourselves. I am not altogether certain about the advisability of working with kundalini if you have not yourself been through the experience and are not therefore able to operate at the energy level involved. Obviously, it is of great importance to be careful to keep yourself clear and earthed. You can and must evaluate your own needs and situation!

A CASE HISTORY

I’ll briefly describe one case below, but people exhibit a variety of symptoms which confuse both themselves and doctors: symptoms may mimic some of the symptoms of a heart attack, of psychosis, and/or of neurological disease, as well as an almost random selection of other problems, depending on where they are blocking the flow of kundalini, as we all are. They may have sensations of intense heat, intense itching, intense discomfort. They may experience severe trembling or momentary loss of motor control. Other, less predictable things may also happen. It’s very understandable for people to be alarmed and for doctors, who in general know little about the subtle energy body, to be confused!

One of my first kundalini-rising clients had spent two years in a mental hospital prior to coming to me. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. (I have his permission to discuss his case as he hoped others might learn from his experience.) When I first saw him he had been out of hospital for about six months and was afraid that he needed to go back in because his symptoms were worsening again, in spite of the medication, which he hated for its side effects. (The medication suppressed the symptoms by suppressing him) Someone referred him to me, and we worked together fairly intensively for about six months — twice a week at first, then once a week. Later, after about six months, we dropped down to once a month, then only when he felt the need, which wasn’t often.

He had attended a public lecture where the speaker described a kundalini-rising exercise and told people that if they did it, interesting energy things would happen. Geez. Talk about irresponsibility from someone who presumably should know better! He practiced the exercise for an hour, sometimes two or three hours, a day, which tells you something about his then-obsessional traits. This precipitated a kundalini rising experience for which he was totally unprepared, both emotionally and energetically/physically.

When he first came in to see me, he said, “I’m crazy – I hear voices.” I replied, “Well, I hear voices too, and I get paid for it.” We both thought about this for a moment, and then I added, “What’s crazy is if you believe everything they tell you.” That was apparently the right note for him, and we proceeded from there.

His “voices” were very intense. They followed him around all day and woke him up at night. They cursed and screamed at him, they told him to do horrible things (which he fortunately didn’t). He thought they were demons. He feared that they could do the things they threatened to do to him and to the people he knew, although of course they cannot.

We worked at first almost exclusively on earthing him, helping him to develop stronger subtle energy channels, better grounding, and skills in closing down psychically when he wanted to do so. Since he spent a lot of time in bars when we first started working, the latter was very important. As we were able to move from first aid to longer term concerns, we began to work with the psychological issues which had been blown into awareness and energized by the kundalini energy. He worked very hard (the advantage of being obsessional, even moderately!) and within six months he was functioning normally most of the time and had begun meditating and pursuing spiritual studies. Good outcome!

One of the advantages I had over the therapists and doctors who had worked with him before was that I could take the “voices” seriously. Some of them were certainly disassociated parts of himself in need of healing and integration, and we could identify and work with those therapeutically. Others of the “voices” were other entities, not “demons” as he thought, but just really nasty people without bodies. Once he understood that they had no power in this world unless they could get him to act on their behalf, he began to accept responsibility for his own inner space and for who he allowed in there. He learned to listen, evaluate, and deal with the voices appropriately.

It took longer, but in a fit of exasperation one night, he finally learned that he could control that inner space as well. I had been telling him for some while that, if he told these entities to GET OUT! and meant it, they would have to go because it was his space. He didn’t think he could make them go, but finally one night they woke him up several times running. He’d had a hard day at work, he was expecting another hard day the next morning, and he was tired and irritable. He sat up in his bed and roared, “Get out of here, you fucking bastards!” And they did. He said it was the first time he experienced having an empty space around him in years. He was very pleased with himself. Exorcisims need not be fancy. 🙂

Catch 22 situation: A disassociated part of oneself masquerading as another entity cannot be “cast out”, but can only be dealt with by therapeutic reconciliation. Another, separate entity cannot be dealt with by therapy, and can only be offered healing. If they don’t accept the healing, as they may not (it’s their choice, after all), then they can and probably should be banished. This is simple, but the person saying GO AWAY! has to really mean it, and that is harder. So here we can see why therapists find some of the “voices” intractable, resistant to therapy, and why mediums and ministers bent on “casting out devils” find that it doesn’t work on some of them. One has to be prepared to work in both worlds in order to be effective in these situations.

In most cases, the arousal of kundalini does not produce such severe psychological/psychic problems. However, occasionally, especially in the case of a “spontaneous” arousal of the energy where the person had not been doing the spiritual/psychological and energetic/physical groundwork, they may occur. For someone who hasn’t done the groundwork, as this client hadn’t, the psychic and psychiatric problems are much larger. I’d say that he became wide open on a psychic level, and a pretty low one at that, able to hear and communicate with whatever was around. Like attracts like, and he was fearful, bullying, and obsessional when we began working together — not very nice energies/entities to attract and live with. By the time he had worked on himself for quite a while he was attracting an altogether different kind of being and getting some valuable teaching.

If a person has done the groundwork — the personal growth, the strengthening of subtle and physical bodies — the more psychotic episodes are very unusual and the emotional disturbances are much easier to deal with just by earthing oneself. Also a person who has that kind of background is not going to rush off to an allopathic doctor for either emotional or energy symptoms. They are much more likely to go to their teacher and/or spiritual peers, who will probably recognize what is going on.

Some people seem to think that doctors “should” understand and properly treat such psychic disturbances. I think this is asking a bit much of them. MDs usually do what they are trained to do reasonably well — sometimes extremely well. The big mistake in what we expect of them is ours — as a society we make them into little gods, and if they assume the mantle, believing the propaganda, and then we are stuck with only their limited knowledge when we really need something altogether outside of their field. However, it really is important to not expect more of them than they are actually trained to deliver. I would want an MD to treat my broken leg; I would want a healer to reduce the trauma and to help speed the healing of that leg; and I would want a suitable person (probably a spiritual consultant rather than a conventional therapist) to help me look at what may have led me to break my leg in the first place.

All of these people are specialists, and it would be very difficult for any one person to skillfully combine all of these aspects – there is just too much to learn. I’ve been studying and practicing healing for almost 60 years now, and I don’t begin to know the half of it. I know some things about psychotherapy and am reasonably competent in dealing with some things and at recognizing others that should be referred to other therapists. I certainly would never have had the time to learn medicine as well. People (including doctors) need to be educated to the alternatives so that they can refer appropriately — and that education, I feel, is best done by the people experienced in the alternatives, if only doctors would listen. Some do.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the kundalini rising experience is a good thing. Yogis work for years to achieve it. It is the energy that carries us through to the next natural phase of human evolution. It is there to clear and strengthen our systems – physical, subtle energy, and psychological. Handled well it makes us both both stronger and wiser.

This article originally appeared in Otherworld Arts, 1997, a small bimonthly magazine published by Jessica Macbeth.

Copyright © 1997 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.
Your comments will be read with interest.