Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stones & Rocks Representing Images for Healing

Ordinary, conventional thought asserts that stones and rocks are non-living material because they do not breathe or live and die. From an ancient, indigenous viewpoint, however, stones are not merely inert objects, rather, they were recognized as Stone People and are viewed as allies with ancient wisdom to share with us in a variety of helpful ways. Indigenous people respectfully engaged the healing power of rocks and stones, inviting partnership with this mineral realm.

Recently, I am rediscovering the remarkableness of rocks and stones. As a child I was drawn to rocks, fascinated by what lie hidden in their interior. Having not been taught about the respect of 'asking permission' of all things, I satisfied my curiosity by cracking the rocks open with a sledge hammer. Having gained more understanding, today, I respectfully invite the rocks and stones to work with me as an ally for healing. The rocks and stones 'stand' as representatives for a seeker's family members and ancestors or as a concept or question of which seeker is pondering or having difficult with.

Here is how the stones and rocks serve as allies for us humans. First, we welcome the mineral healing ally with an open heart, not simply seeing the stones as something to 'use'. The seeker will be setting up the structure of her or his family system – exploring the structure and characteristics of four generations of family members. In my good fortune, I have 'found' a good number of rocks and stones—mostly out in nature, and about six to eight “fancy” stones that I bought. The seeker will, in a state of presence and intention, select from four containers, rocks and stones of a myriad of shapes, textures, colors and sizes--from large and 'ordinary' to small, smooth, beautiful, and delicate--to represent specific family members as well as themselves. The generations include one's own sibling generation, the parents are the next generation, then, the parents' parents and lastly, the parents' grandparents. Some members are known while other family members are not known—either they died prior to the seeker's birth or there may have been a disruption in relationship within that family.

Much is revealed when the seeker, with intention, chooses specific rocks or stones to represent family members. Does she or he choose a rock that is large and craggy, or a stone that is smooth with translucent color? How do the characteristics of this rock or stone speak to the seeker in a way that is reminiscent of characteristics of the family member represented?

Once the rocks and stones have been appropriately placed and identified based in the mind's eye of the seeker as to who they are representing, the seeker describes, starting with the rock or stone representing themselves, the characteristics of this mineral that resonate with them as a human and those of their family members. I notice, repeatedly, that the seeker will pick up and hold in their hand each stone or rock as they describe the characteristics that match the family member... looking at it as if they are speaking to it, handling it, turning it over in their palm. A relationship is developing between the seeker and each rock or stone. It appears that each stone has it's own energy and is experienced by the seeker when the stone is picked up. Furthermore, the image of the family member or ancestor appears to come alive in the stone or rock through the seeker's inner image of the mineral.

The seeker may explain, for example: “I chose this craggy rock to represent my father who was alcoholic and angry. I chose this shiny, silver stone to represent me because I am the black sheep in my family. I chose this small, soft pink smooth stone to represent my mother because she is just like this stone—she is soft and quiet, gets along with everyone, very sweet and kind. This big stick-like rock I chose for my grandfather because he was bigger than life; he was solid and he really stood out. These tiny little gray stones—I picked them to represent my great grandparents because I don't know anything about them.” The stones and rocks begin to come alive in the seeker's mind and heart. As the seeker describes an issue with one of the family members it is as though that member is actually in the room; the stone or rock appears amazingly capable of holding the energy of that non-present individual. It is common for a seeker to tear up as she or he holds the stone and speaks of that family member.

After stone representatives are described, the next step is that of identifying the specific issues in the family; questions are explored, for example: who struggles with alcohol, anger, mental health issues, who died prematurely, who suffered from grief/loss, who experienced abandonment, who experienced betrayal, who was excluded or shunned, who was a victim of tragedy, who went unacknowledged (abortions/ miscarriages—little white marbles serve as these representatives). Thin 'sticky-note' strips are then place with each stone identifying the issue(s) of that individual.A theme for a family begins to emerge when all the sticky-notes are placed; a seeker may be struck by one side of a family, multi- generationally suffering from grief & loss (when a father's mother dies when he is 7 years old--and his father loses his wife in the prime of their lives); or when a secret has been suppressed (a great-grandmother gives birth to a child without benefit of marriage...and she is not allowed to marry the father of the child whom she loved...and this secret is suppressed out of shame by her parents...the shame passed on to her...and passed on to the son to whom she birthed...even though he never knew that the man he'd called 'dad' all these years is not his birth father... not until his late 20's did the secret tumble out... leaving him with a host of confusing emotions and sense of betrayal.)

Viewing the stones and their 'tags' from this vantage point, the seeker feels to be standing high on a hillside looking down at the town; more perspective is provided... a larger picture is offered... the ability to witness the interconnection of the inner wounds of family members and ancestors. Taking in this new awareness, along with the conversation with the counselor, one's inner vision of their own familial 'wounds' is offered an opportunity to expand. This is a first step, at least. The seeker may also find a workshop where a group of participants stand, instead of rocks & stones, as representatives for family members... feeling within their own bodies (in the 'knowing field') and articulating the emotions and truths of the seeker's ancestors. The field comes alive evidencing the pain and struggles passed down the generations. With this larger picture, deeper understanding and the budding of compassion may begin to surface.

We may believe we already 'know' the issues of our family generations, and/or that we have already 'gotten over it'; however, I notice a significant difference between 'mind knowing' and heart knowing. The heart-knowing seems to generate inner shifts that seem to allow individuals increased emotional freedom from their 'stories' of what happened. The recounting of the story tend to be more informational; the emotional charge appears absent. On the contrary, I notice a particular emotional 'caught-ness" when a person telling their story is less free, emotionally--the upsetting emotion feels fresh, again.This is usually a good test examining where we may be still caught in the story. Heart-knowing is a process of and supports acknowledging 'What Is' - moving toward deeper understanding and compassion--antidotes for heart-blocking emotions of resentment and blame.

An important aspect of this sort of healing work is acknowledging that which has either been forgotten, not spoken of, or suppressed out of shame or guilt. Allowing the Truth to be seen is the beginning of acknowledging 'What Is' – this is the beginning of healing.

Stones may also be our allies in service to representing a particular 'issue' one wishes to work on. A person I know, who graciously gave me permission to share this story, invited the stones to represent an issue with which she wanted help. We began with her describing and clarifying her issue:

She shared how she has been struggling with using food as a 'comfort' – she acknowledged that addictions ran in her family of origin. She stated she ate when she was stressed, worried, anxious, bored or wanting to reward herself. She also explained that she was facing divorce even though the actual process hadn't started yet. She knew she would have to find another place to live because the house she lives in has too many unpleasant memories for her to remain there. She told me she is also on a job search to find a new job as her present situation is no longer fulfilling for her. She expressed that she is facing so many unknowns at this time—so many aspects of her life are or will be in flux, changing and seemingly beyond her control. She said she frequently feels anxious and afraid; then, she would compulsively eat and over-eat. She told me that she has gone to a number of Overeaters Anonymous meetings and has attended Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings in the past but she was only peripherally involved currently. She stated that a few women had reached out to her regarding sponsorship but that she had not taken that step yet for herself.

Being with the information she was sharing, I received a felt sense of what issues might prove most fruitful in a visual representation. I asked her to, with intention and centering, select a rock or stone to represent herself, a rock or stone to represent the Fear, a rock or stone to represent the Unknown, and one to represent her Recovery. I invited her to place these rocks or stones as feels right to her inner eye in relation to each other. She placed the allies in a row on the same plane – I will illustrate:

             Recovery        Unknown        Fear             Client
                   X                    X                X                  X

We dialogued together about the woman's choice of placement of the stones. I mentioned to the woman that it appears that she is looking ahead to the Unknown through the lens of Fear. We explored together what that was like for her. I shared my observation that her Recovery was furthest away from her – even beyond the Unknown, and invited her to discuss this felt experience. After further exploring I asked her to consider how it might be if she moved the stone representing Recovery and where would she place it. The woman paused for a moment, then she moved the stone representing herself further away from fear and then she placed Recovery in between the representative for herself and the Fear.

            Unknown          Fear           Recovery           Client
                  X                  X                   X                     X

I pointed out to client that she had created an intentional space for her Recovery by stepping back—by moving her stone representative further away from the Fear and placing the stone for Recovery in between the Fear and herself. I, then, noted that the woman would now be able to view Fear and the Unknown through the lens of Recovery program rather than through Fear. This proved a powerful statement for her to realize. Although she did not, yet, have a sponsor I asked her if she might find a stone representative for a potential sponsor. She selected her representative and place it to the side of Recovery. With this visual in front of her she was able to viscerally experience the support and strength of the possibility of this new 'inner vision', support that she recognized was currently lacking in her life. She told me: “You know, we've talked about this for some time now, how important it is to be involved in a recovery program and how important it is to have a relationship with a sponsor for emotional support. All this time it's just been knowledge in my head – I knew about it, but, seeing it here in the flesh, so-to-speak, just makes those concepts Real! What we've been talking about all this time has more meaning to me, now. I feel as though I have a new image of this reality inside me, now.”

In closure, the seeker silently thanks each stone for their representation and releases them from the representation and returns them, each, to their container.

Entanglements show up in our lives as: chronic health or energy issues, relationship issues that chronically repeat without resolution, lack of sense of belonging, sense of isolation, feelings of failure or dissatisfaction with one's life, difficulty maintaining relationship, weight issues, eating disorder, issues with money, chronic pain, psychiatric problems, anxiety, depression, chronic irritability, substance abuse, alcoholism, schizophrenia.... experiences that may suggest 'entanglements' with ancestors...

The experience of taking over the fate of an earlier member is called an "entanglement". Other entanglements, can be living out unconscious loyalties for our parents or grandparents without our realization.

Resolution of entanglements is possible when the Love through the generations becomes "knowing" rather than entangled... bringing visibility to that which has been forgotten or unacknowledged. This resolution creates a new image in the client's mind's-eye and a process of healing and fulfillment for the client and the ancestors within that family system begins to percolate.

Also explore Systemic (Family) Constellation work.

Your comments, questions, sharing are Most Welcome  :)