By Georgi Y. Johnson
“As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.”
Therapy is about healing, which is the compassionate movement needed to return to naturalness and wholeness.
Willow is not a mystical person, she’s rational, smart and practical. We’re sitting together at the university campus, discussing the science of pain. We’re reminding ourselves of the often mysterious and unreliable lack of correlation between the sensation of pain and physical disorder. Like all experience, pain is sublimely subjective. One person can have an injury in the knee and experience a life of ease. Another, with an identical injury, can be incapacitated by agony.
Willow’s face changes and she seeks direct eye contact over her spectacles. She’s insecure but earnest: “At my father’s funeral, it hurt so much… It was physical pain. Literally, here in the body,” she said, banging her sternum and clawing at her cotton blouse. “The pain was real, physically real. I felt it in my chest.”
I smiled at her. We are from such different mindsets. Where else could you feel it? In the trees? In the sky? Willow’s eyes almost popped out of her head. Yes, it was blindingly obvious. All pain is felt in the body. This includes emotional pain: the ache of loss; the burn of shame; the nagging sense of wrongness; the stab of rejection; the sick sense of evil. Sometimes we can feel like we are being physically beaten up, yet no-one actually has laid a finger on us.
Where do we draw the line between the knee, I bumped a second ago and the first primordial scream of an ancestor whose loved one suddenly died? All experience is sensed through the physical body and is processed by the brain without immediate differentiation between physical, emotional, or spiritual. Discomfort is discomfort: something is wrong with the system. The sense of well-being is literally connected with being well.
The dual role of pain is to protect us from further injury and to alert us that something is wrong. In this, it is both an aggravator and a catalyst for healing. Yet often, we get confused in our attempts to divide and fixate our physical experience and our emotional experience as two separate dimensions. To do this, we often need to invalidate one or the other, and often, this is our emotional life. We’re conditioned into believing that emotions are irrational, weak and possibly dangerous. There’s an agenda to get rid of them, or at least the so-called negative ones. According to John E. Sarno: “It is perfectly acceptable to have a physical problem in our culture, but people tend to shy away from anything that has to do with the emotions.”
If you take some time to contemplate pain, to truly experience it, wherever it is in the body and whether it is of a gross or subtle nature, the experience can take on a kind of awe. Ponder a physical pain and imagine it was an emotional hurt. Or ponder an emotional hurt and locate it in the physical body. In the act of contemplation, new connections are forming, and where there is connectivity, healing – which is a return to wholeness – is happening.
Division Bells & Reunion
This detrimental agenda to get rid of negative feelings, which are normally painful feelings, is at the crux of Nondual Therapy, indeed of all therapy and healing. Because, although we might believe we are able to vanquish an experience and to uncreate, deny, repress or reject phenomena in our awareness, it is not actually possible. From the atomic particle through to any moment of psychological experience, negation is an illusion. Rather, we can allow phenomena to transform through liberating our perception.
When we continue to deny discomfort, our forbidden rage could show up as a sinister pain in the knee. Inversely, a background disease could show up as an associated emotion – such as a of loss. Our thinking mind will race to identify, justify and explain stories of pain, but this will only give the semblance of permanence. The mind, emotional life, and physical body are inseparable in such a way that all participate in processes of healing.
The irony is that so many painful feelings relate to the shock of separation. This means that when we decide to ‘get rid’ of our feelings, we are inflicting more of the emotional energy of rejection and separation on the pile. In this way, we dump stress on stress and pain on pain. We reject living parts of ourselves which are rejected, and we attack pain, to try and make the pain go away. It’s about as nonsensical as killing people to prevent murder.
Wherever there is a split from an area of experience – whether it be physical, emotional or mental – then there are two conflicting parts – and this conflict creates stress. Life is at war with life and the organism is attacking itself. In Nondual Therapy, these vortexes of subconscious conflict are called contractions. They are called contractions because both vitality and consciousness come under contract – a contract to ‘get rid’ of an unwanted aspect of an experience. They are also contractions because the unwanted experience is denied time and space (which means it energetically contracts). Vitality and experience are literally squeezed to an energetic density with less consciousness and sensitivity. When we don’t want to feel something – for example, our shame, jealousy, anger or unworthiness – we numb it by squeezing it senseless. In the hope of making it disappear forever, we keep it in contraction. Wanting to get rid of our emotions, we often keep them for years longer than we need, out of sync with the here and now.
Melting Frozen Energy
Despite the force of denial, the contracted energy is still there, and while we might refuse to feel it, the body and brain still want to heal it. So it radiates through different avenues. Sometimes, it shows up as physical pain; sometimes as mental unrest. Often, it simply grinds the whole system to a steady slow-down through the weight of depression. And what is not felt on the inside will be projected to the outside. The world can begin to appear as a dangerous place of predators, perpetrators, and jealous, angry, god-forsaken souls.
All therapy recruits the power of consciousness to release the cycle of suffering. Yet in the materialistic mainstream, consciousness has not been appreciated as the fundamental miracle behind the compassionate relief of suffering. In Nondual Therapy, consciousness is not seen as a by-product of the brain, but as the instrumental power source of all brain functioning. Consciousness is like the electricity that lights up the computer. It’s not the hardware, the software or the content. Yet without it, there would be no life.
When we begin to experience unconditional consciousness, then a backdoor of healing opens in which all transformation is possible. There is literally a neuroplastic dimension in which the software of our reality can rewrite itself in a manner that supports the experience of the here and now. Rather than the contraction of experience into the separate physical body and psyche, we begin to enjoy an opening into a wider dimension of life, in such a way that contracted dissonance is invited toward harmony and well-being.
Qualities of Consciousness
How does consciousness do this? Not through the effort of activity, but through the pulling power of the law of attraction. The resonance of the quality contracted in the suffering (such as the purity that has contracted as shame) moves toward the purer resonance of the same quality as found in consciousness. Such qualities – often called qualities of our true nature – include subtle vibrations such as unconditional love, peace, freedom, happiness, innocence, beauty, gratitude, and awe.
These qualities of consciousness actively support well-being, leading to the liberation of vitality in the here and now. They boost both our psychological and physical immunity. For example, how stressed are we about the horrible thing the neighbor said, when we are experiencing the joy of being alive? How concerned are we about bankruptcy, when we are imbued with gratitude for our health, the scent of a flower and for the sight of the blue sky above? Nondual qualities literally dispel stress (the number 1 killer) with healing elixirs – elixirs released from the contractions themselves.
These same Nondual Qualities are now also getting scientific validation as being critical to physical health. For example, Happiness is known to protect the physical heart, boost the immune system, reduce the experience of pain, and to decrease stress. The sense of Gratitude has been found to reduce anxiety and depression and to strengthen immunity. It literally rewires the brain to greater wellbeing. The quality of Awe or wonder was also recently shown to be associated with better physical and mental health. Another medical study recently showed that the neurochemistry of the brain’s reward system can literally shrink the size of malignant tumors.
A Nondual (R)evolution
When we work with Nondual Therapy, we invite the client, (the interdependent whole of the client: the environment of body, heart, mind, and soul), into a journey of unfolding quality. In this, there is a sacred formula in which the breadcrumb trail of pain is honored and followed, leading of itself to a reflowering of repressed quality.
For example, someone who has a sense of depression will look for the focal point somewhere in his physical body. By softly staying there with awareness, he will begin to sense some movement, perhaps some frustration or annoyance. Without splitting between the annoyed one and the depressed feeling, this annoyance is recognized as the first perfume of the contraction opening. The annoyance can clear, without the need for explanation or story. Beneath this, could appear a sense of failure, and beneath that, a horrific sense of being bad or condemned. All of this is located through areas inside and around the body. All suffering experience can expand into an unlimited field of awareness. And this awareness is recognized as the source of quality. For example. it could be a loving, curious, peaceful, natural, or truthful awareness. The client is encouraged to also become aware of these subtle attitudes that are carried through the touch of consciousness. This awareness of attitude creates inner space – already loosening the grip of a potentially detrimental state of being.
In all this, areas of experience that were caught in perpetual conflict, and that were denied the oxygen of awareness, are now given permission to take form so as to transform as needed. Deep inside that sense of being condemned, we could find an even deeper, unconditional certainty of existent salvation. All around that sense of shame, we could find an existential purity, a quality that never gets lost, injured or stained.
Nonduality is about the interdependency of all form and the illusion of absolute separation. On a mental level, it is about the neural evolution out of binary, dualistic thought (such as mind V body, or good V evil) into the nondual mind, which is a much clearer mirror of experience. The nondual mind can relax into paradox and is open to the playing field of unlimited possibility. That means it’s possible to experience divine innocence at the same time as a sense of guilt. Or we can savor the peace inside the war and the peace inside the surrender, as well as the peace which is here unconditionally. As we endeavor to finally arrive at a science of healing which truly acknowledges the interdependence of all phenomena, Nondual therapy is pioneering a healing modality that can unlock the mind-body duality with a modality that deeply honors the healing power of conscious awareness.
In the future, Willow’s grandchildren will hopefully not be bewildered by the physical pain of grief, but rather will live in a culture of compassion that can truly honor it, together with all other manifestations of suffering and wellbeing.
“Psychosomatic processes begin in the unconscious and, though it has yet to be widely appreciated by either physical or psychiatric medicine, unconscious emotions are a potent factor in virtually all physical ills.”
– John E. Sarno, The Divided Mind
Born in Sheffield, England, Georgi was educated at Oxford University where she explored a Jungian approach to English literature. She has lived in Belgium, Nepal and presently is most of the time in Israel with her partner Bart ten Berge and seven of their children.
Georgi is an early pioneer of Nondual Therapy and is author of the book Nondual Therapy: The Psychology of Awakening, which presents a new modality resourcing the qualities of consciousness for healing and transformation.
Georgi offers sessions for consultation and mentorship in person and online. She also teaches spiritual psychology and nondual therapy at different centers across the world.
Her other books in the field of Nonduality include I AM HERE – Opening the Windows of Life & Beauty. This is a study for advanced meditators on the three vibrations of perception: consciousness, awareness, and emptiness (mind, heart, body).