An Anzac Day reflection on the role of the Warrior, and on trauma, PTSD, healing & EFT

It’s Anzac Day in Australia, the day we down tools to remember those affected by WW1, in particular those who died.

As a child I found this national grieving and honoring of friendship, courage and loyalties immensely moving, as we would sit in our desks at school during Anzac week and listen once again to the story of Simpson and his Donkey.

As I grew older, with Australia’s involvement in the US-Vietnam war still fresh in our minds, my generation became critical of what seemed a day devoted to glorifying a State process that was horrific and destructive on so many levels.

These days, Anzac Day has been revived as a day of ritual and mourning, with pilgrimages by increasing numbers of younger Australians to Gallipoli and Kokoda, and special tv features exploring the history of Australia’s involvement in the World Wars.

[Sidney Nolan - Gallipoli series]

Of all sins and mistakes and crimes, the taking of another life is the one that our culture — through laws and funding — regards as the most serious; and the saving of a life that is considered the most heroic.

When someone is either conscripted or volunteers to go to war, he or she is not only risking his or her own life, but is also being called on to take lives.

In her thoughtful article, ‘Wholistic Healing Through Energy Psychology (EP) for Veterans’ from The International Journal of Healing and Caring, Ingrid Dinter, an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner who has worked extensively with Veterans, talks about her research into what it means to be a Warrior.

I learned that in many native tribes the boys at a certain age are separated from the tribe by the elders and prepared to become warriors. The ordeal of the battle serves as a rite of passage, where the warrior seeks transformation into adulthood, to take a new place in society. In battle, the warrior faces his own limitations and can find himself in an almost godlike situation, where he has the power to grant or take life, as well as sacrifice his own life for a higher purpose such as protecting his tribe. The tribe witnesses the ordeal, and offers respect by telling the stories of the warriors and the battle. Then the tribe takes responsibility for the war and releases the warrior from having to carry the burden of what happened. The warrior goes through a cleansing ritual and takes his new place in society, often including his receiving a new name that acknowledges his new status in the tribe.

When a warrior does not have the support of his community and society, and where there are no rituals for processing battlefield experiences, and where he has to struggle with] betrayal of that which is right during his ordeal, his path can be interrupted. He can literally get emotionally and cognitively stuck during his rite of passage. One common situation that can cause this is when the elders – in our society the chain of command – lets him down instead of supporting and protecting him as it was the traditional role of the elders. In Vietnam, for example, the chain of command could be disconnected frequently, while the soldiers remained in the jungle, facing endangerment through an inexperienced commander they couldn’t trust. For a veteran, this is a huge betrayal on his sacred contract as a warrior and causes great anger.

Another painful example is when the tribe lets the warrior down. Many returning Vietnam veterans were spit at and called baby killers. This is often one of the first traumas I work on with a Vietnam Veteran. Today’s warriors repeatedly share how unbearable they find the rage and the sense of betrayal by the tribe – those whom he was sent out to protect and lay down his life for.

Dinter also quotes from  a beautiful poem by Thich Nhat Hanh, which can be found at the EFT for Vets website:

Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle, illuminating the way for the whole nation.

If Veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war.

And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again.

When you touch fire and your hand gets burned, it is not the responsibility of the hand alone.

It is the responsibility of the whole person.

The hand did not touch fire by itself.

It was commanded to do so by the brain, and the whole body got hurt at the same time.

If the body blames the hand, that is not just.

The hand acted because the body ordered it to do so.

When there is good communication between the hand and the rest of the body, both the hand and the body feel better.

If the body says, “You must bear the burden of your actions by yourself; I cannot forgive what you have done,”

That is lack of understanding.

(from ‘True Love’ by Thich Nhat Hanh)

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[Sidney Nolan - Gallipoli series]

The images used in this post are from Sidney Nolan’s extraordinarly moving Gallipoli series, which he donated to the Australian War Museum. Selections from the collection are currently touring regional galleries and are well worth a visit. See www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/nolan/

For more on Gallipoli see the 3D internet doc at the ABC website

For excellent resources for using Energy Psychology for healing trauma, and specifically trauma or PTSD associated with war, see EFT for Vets

Also see the article ‘New Help For Troubled Vets’ at www.pressdemocrat.com

For more general information and resources about EFT, see www.thetappingsolution.com and www.EFTUniverse.com

For EFT training in Australia, see www.emofree.com.au

For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) see also the work of neurologist Robert Scaerinterview (mp3 & pdf transcript) with Rick Wilkes & Cathy Vartuli ; his website at www.traumasoma.com ; and articles such as The Neurophysiology of Dissociation and Chronic Disease, Published in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 2001, 26(1), 73-91. Note this work is also relevant and extremely interesting for other chronic neuro-physiological conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

[added October 2011:] Check out the new film ‘Operation Freedom’ at http://www.operation-emotionalfreedom.com/ — video snippets, info, and how to order or view the film.

Finally, here’s a terrific video from Valerie English at www.eftprovidence.com

If you know anyone who may find these resources useful, please share using the Facebook and twitter links below. And as always, we welcome your comments.

Namaste.

The Art of Peace, and the secret of balance: how to recover more easily when life throws you

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Just a snippet today from one of my favourite philosophers, Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei), the founder of Aikido:

[O Sensei in action ]

“After observing O Sensei sparring with an accomplished fighter, a young student said to the master, ‘You never lose your balance. What is your secret?’

‘You are wrong,’ O Sensei replied. ‘I am constantly losing my balance. My skill lies in my ability to regain it.’”*

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And for a taste of what this amazing man could do:

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[*Nb the quote above comes from the excellent book Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen from the Harvard Negotiation Project, p 122. ]

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EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or ‘tapping’)  is a great tool to help you recover your balance after something throws you and to empower you to turn and face it.

For more info check out What is EFT?

And if you think I might be able to help with some one-on-one coaching, give me a call on 0419 580 382, or check out ‘how I work’.

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What happens in a Matrix Reimprinting healing session?

I recently had an email from someone who was interested in doing some emotional healing work with me over Skype, but who was unable to get time alone in the house to coincide with my availability. She was worried that if she sobbed, or shouted in anger, that her children and partner would hear.

It’s so important to feel safe during a session, so I thought I’d share my response here.

Matrix Reimprinting is a very gentle process, and one of the things that is unusual about it is that it is the Echo (your younger self, who we visit in the Matrix or in imagination) who is the real client.

During a session you will acting (with my guidance) more as a therapist or friend for healing your Echo.

So one of my jobs is to keep you ‘disassociated’ – ie calm – so you can be effective in your role. If you ever start to get really caught up in the emotion experienced by your Echo (ie get angry or start to cry), then we freeze the picture and I pull you out (so to speak) and get you to tap until you feel calm again. (I also have a few other techniques I use to help this process.)

So if there is a need to feel or experience strong emotions in a session, it is done by the Echo and, as the Echo is pure energy at this stage, we can usually help her (or him) to move through her feelings fairly rapidly, so she can get to a place where she can start to look at the event or issue differently and start identifying her own solutions and lessons and where she’d like to go with it.

I have had clients who cried whenever they tried to approach a particular memory. Usually we can find ways to help them to remain calm and still go into the memory fully.  But it depends on the client and their situation. One client took several months before she could approach a specific deeply traumatic memory, so we used ways to work on it and defuse the intensity of it without actually going there, until she finally felt strong enough to work on it directly. Every situation is different, and the client is always the one in control of the pace and focus.

But while I have a box of tissues on the table when I work in person with clients, you’d be surprised how rarely they are used, even when we are doing very deep and effective work.

I’ve also had clients who had Echoes who really needed to express their anger – especially if this expression was denied to them or repressed at the time of the event, or habitually repressed in relation to a person or issue.  In one case the Echo decided she wanted to go to a favourite ocean lookout spot at night and yell and scream and shout there. So we did all that in the Matrix/imagination, and made sure the Echo felt completely safe to really let it out (drawing on all the senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, touch – to make it feel as real as possible). Another time she chose to create a special secret room in her house where she could go to punch cushions and throw bottles against a wall.

The imagination is a powerful tool. And our job is to do whatever the Echo needs and asks for, to make it completely safe to express him or herself fully and completely. Sometimes this can happen very fast. And sometimes we need to go a bit slower.

Privacy to do this is important, but so far I’ve not had a problem working with clients over Skype if they are able to have their door closed.  Actually the biggest problem is having people come into the room and interrupting because they don’t realise what intense work is going on as there isn’t any loud crying or shouting.

So if you are not able to come to work with me in person at Terrigal (on the NSW Central Coast), we can still work over Skype.

If working over Skype, it is important to convey to your family members that you will be unavailable to them for this time (allow a bit over an hour  so there’s no pressure, and to give yourself time to sit and reflect after if you want). Ask them to respect this and not knock or come in.

If you’d like to try the first time with them out of the house and are able to set that up, then by all means do so.

If you are considering working with me or any coach and have these kinds of concerns, another thing you might like to do is to tap on them. (Go here if you need some instructions or a reminder on how to tap using EFT). eg ‘Even though I don’t feel private enough to have sessions with Beth while my family is in the house…. Even tho I’m afraid I’ll need to shout or cry…. Even tho I’m afraid they’ll hear me and think…’ (Be as specific as you can.)

Just tap and see what happens. Generally people find that they have the answers inside them. Once you clear the cloudy feelings, it’s amazing how solutions and ideas just pop up.

While you’re at it, you may also want to tap on any concerns about spending money on therapy or coaching, or about not having enough money for it right now. Just tap on your feelings about it in as much detail as you can. Include anything that comes up or has ever come up for you in relation to this. Be honest with yourself as you tap. Say aloud the reasons you want to do it, and the reasons you don’t think you can or should, as you tap around the meridian points. See what happens. See if something shifts around this, or a new way of looking at it, or a new idea, comes up.

I know money can be a huge issue for many of us, especially if you have a family depending on you. But it’s also important to honour yourself and your own heart’s needs.

I personally feel that working on your own issues is the best gift you can ever give to your children and your partner (and your friends). But if you tap on this for a bit, you may be able to get a clearer message from your deep self about whether or not this is an important investment for you and your family at this time. Or if there’s another better way to go about this.

There is always a part of you that knows.

If you have any questions about working over Skype or in person at Terrigal, or about Matrix Reimprinting and EFT in general, please do feel free to ask.

Or phone me in Australia on 0419 580 382 or 02 4384 4942 to have a chat.

Namaste,
Beth

Feeling delicious with EFT: Coaching using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Matrix Reimprinting & Access Consciousness Bars on the Central Coast NSW or by Skype