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  May 13, 2002

Simple - But Not Easy

The essence of Primal Integration is to heal. The root of the word "heal" is the Old English hal, and the Greek, holos - "to make whole or complete."

Being whole or complete also means being unified - or one, single, functioning unit. The word "single" comes from the Latin singulus, which means "one only," and the word "simple" comes from the Latin simplus, simplex, which literally means "single."

Therefore healing is the simple act of becoming whole.

But when we have become disjointed and complex, such a simple task is not easy. If a tree has become twisted as a result of restrictions to its early growth, removing the restrictions will not immediately allow it to untwist. That twist is the result of life energy oppressed and cemented into what is now material fibres of wood. If the restrictions are removed, the tree's genetic intent may allow it to straighten somewhat, but it will take time and supportive conditions.

So it is with humans, who also take organic form. The restrictions we are subjected to during our key developmental period of childhood have a profound and lasting effect on how our entire system comes to function. But when restrictions, neglect, and abuse are replaced with love, acceptance, and support, the organism will stretch and flex in an attempt to resume the integrity of its natural form - both emotional and physical.

This type of natural re-forming is driven by the organism and is not a function of the thinking brain. So, even if you don't intend to heal, the process will start up on its own if the environment is supportive and allows for it.

One of the main impediments to healing is the lack of a truly supportive environment. With co-workers, friends, and family, most of us cannot be ourselves. We can't be spontaneous with our body rhythms, our real preferences, our real thoughts, feelings, and actions. If we did, people would think we were strange, unbalanced, or crazy. At least we would expect them to think that.

Which brings us to one of the greatest impediments - our own self-imposed restrictions. A chronically caged animal will often be afraid to leave its cage even if the door is left open. When I offer complete acceptance and appreciation to my clients, they can't always perceive that. If they have lived in a world of betrayal, what I present may not appear any different. To an animal who has lived its life in a cage, the whole world is a cage.

So even if we find a supportive environment in this restrictive world, the natural desire to heal will come up against the blockages in the system that have been created to hide the repressed pain. If the hidden feeling is dread, the system doesn't easily discern that it's an old trauma - it just feels dread and acts to suppress it. So the system comes into conflict with itself. It wants to expel the toxic material, but is habitually programmed to hold it - and frightened that something truly awful will happen if it lets it up.

This is the hard part. Our systems are terrified of the degree of grief, hurt, shame, emptiness, and rage that lie "down there." And rightly so. If the repressed pain was forced up too fast, it can virtually rupture the integrity of the emotional system and leave us in terrible states of distress. So the fear is to be respected.

The system, however, still strives for wholeness. The functioning adult part of the client - the part that knows it wants to get well - needs to partner with the therapist and direct the process gradually through the obstacles. Within the protective environment offered by the therapist, the push and pull between the part that wants to heal and the part that wants to hide creates a cautious dynamic that can inch its way forward. With these elements, the move to wholeness will slowly and surely happen.

Not easy. But simple.

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