Mary had been a good girl all of her life. She worked hard, made sure that everyone was taken care of and longed for the love that always eluded her, even through a 30-year marriage to a “great guy”.  Since her body was the source of so much pain, she took her awareness elsewhere, living in her mind while being propelled through life by the storm of her emotions.  She was competent, intelligent, and empty.

What does it take to transform such fundamental alienation form Life? How does one come home? 

Transformation requires a fundamental change in worldview and way of life. It is different for everyone because we each are born with a different slate of gifts, challenges and purpose. Yet we each know that the wounds, sabotaging habits or emptiness within that preoccupy us take energy from our creative process and lead to unhappiness. Transcending this is our life’s work. Conscious or unconscious, it is what we all came here to do.

Becoming conscious of this process makes the difference of being tossed haphazardly on the winds of life and actively navigating them. I am not so foolish as to propose that we can control our fate or prevent difficulties or mistakes, but having a process and support system with which to face our challenges makes all the difference in the world. The blessing of transformational work is that as we moves in the direction of greater integration and wholeness each step of the journey is met with greater presence.

In my experience, transformation occurs most consistently and effectively within a comprehensive program of personal development and healing to achieve real core change. It takes continuity and a community to heal; a surrogate family within which one can find acceptance and safety. This is the container for healing where one experiences being loved even if we make mistakes, fail and hurt. It builds faith and compassion.

There are many programs for personal transformation. The best that I have observed or participated in have grounded one’s presence into the physical body. This is really where “home” is, and most of us are truly uncomfortable in our bodies. They establish a sense of community to nurture a sense of belonging; and cultivate spiritual awakening to give meaning and purpose to our lives. There is also a system for engaging the inner world that gives context and space to understand the forces that create and compel you.  

One very valuable system for understanding the process of human development is the chakra system. This 4,000-year-old Hindu system masterfully aligns the physical, mental emotional and spiritual aspects of development in a very coherent and accessible way. This energy system includes a finely articulated understanding of the electromagnetic glue that holds the body mind spirit together, the aura or Human Energy Field (HEF).

HEF has seven levels and chakras that surround and interpenetrate our body, all of its tissues and organs. Each level represents a level of being including the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, will, intuition and our beliefs. All of our experience, feelings, memories and intentions, both good and bad, process through our energy fields. A healthy field creates what we need effortlessly, magnetizing the universe to bring into manifestation what we need. Trauma, injuries, toxins and unhealthy physical, mental and emotional habits interfere with the functioning of the energy field and sometimes remain in our energy fields. The result is disease and disharmony in our relationships. The energy work of clearing and restoring the HEF dramatically enhances the process of healing by removing the energetic blocks and restoring harmony and balance.

It is important to begin the work with the lower chakras. Here we begin the process of building trust and faith, the first chakra task, and that of the first year of life. WE must feel safe in the world in our relationships and in our bodies, Since so few of us had the blessing of a harmonious family of origin, this can be hard work, made mush easier by the presence of a trusted community and teacher. This is the foundation upon which real transformation is built.

Mary didn’t know the first chakra was her greatest challenge when she entered the Anam Cara Program of Spiritual Development and Healing. It would be 3 years before she understood that she had been able to ground only for the sake of someone else. When it came to her own needs and emotions she was gone. She did not know then that tangible, experiential, spiritual connection can only happen when we are grounded. Her first chakra work did let her see the potential of her life and as she learned to ground she began to awakened to the presence of her Spirit in her life.

Following safety, to be is freedom to feel our bodies, our emotions and our sexuality. Abuse and repressive environments strangle creativity and authentic expression. Imagine the bright eyed assertive 2-year-old declaring ”Mine!” “Yes!” and the all powerful “No!”. Mary’s ability to say no was squelched by a rigidly disciplining father. As she became a teenager he found her emerging sexuality threatening, so Mary learned to hide not only her sexuality, but her passion and pleasure. Her work of reclaiming herself taught her that her emotions would not destroy her. Giving them safe conscious expression freed her energy and power.

From the right to feel flows the right to act and the ideas that drive those actions. This is third chakra work that takes us into our self-esteem and power. Who decides what I do? During this phase of her work Mary encountered a serious health challenge. She was forced to make critical decisions for herself and find a support system to help through the most difficult time. She found that she had to understand her needs to heal and that only she could know them. She learned how to listen deeply to herself.

Such work will inevitably lead us to the heart, the fourth chakra. Knowing and communicating our needs is the stuff of intimacy. It may not always be easy or positive, but there is a realness about it that builds connection. By this point she has opened completely to the gift of the love of her classmates as they witnessed and supported her in all the aspects of her life and returned it in equal measure. This great lesson of love becomes the crucible of her life; for God is love and only by knowing to truly love can we become truly human and spiritually alive. Having awakened to the truth held in her body, her emotions and her ability to stand on her own two feet, Mary faced her need for a real love in her marriage.

By now the critical period of Mary’s illness was behind her and she was taking stock of her life. This flowed naturally into the fifth chakra work of speaking one’s truth and she was ready. She had reached a point of understanding that she could no longer accept a “ looks great on the outside, empty on the inside” life or marriage. She did not want to leave her marriage and fought for its life. However, if need be, she could and would make it on her own. From this position of strength she brought her need for intimacy in her relationship to her husband, breaking an uneasy silence of many years. Slowly, things began to change.  

Mary’s intuition, her sixth chakra, was quite developed by this point since work on any chakra effects the others in a cumulative way. Her own growth and healing, as well as the intuitive energy work that is intrinsic to the Anam Cara Program, had fully awakened in her to an active spiritual life. She recognized her calling to be a healer working with sound. As is so often the case, the area of greatest inhibition becomes the doorway to our sacred vocation.

Mary’s rite of passage was attending her dearest friend’s lengthy death. She found that she understood the dying process, using her spiritual awareness and healing skills to ease her friend’s fear of dying. She actively represented her friend’s needs in the family decision making processes, facilitating equity and healing among the discordant family members. She crafted elements of the memorial service that facilitated and eased grief, brought everyone into the process and honored the best of her friend. She knew that her presence was critical to the process, yet held the reins leadership lightly.

Mary’s transformation is the slow miracle. It is a transformation that is lived, step-by-step over a period of years. It endures. Growing through a coherent system of self-awakening, Mary has become a woman of wisdom, substance, presence, confidence and love. She has reclaimed the fullness of her humanity. She has genuine gifts to give the world and is ready to give them.

published in Alaska Wellness, September/October 2007