by Arjuna Ardagh: I was talking to a friend recently who shared with me that after many years of working on herself, she still felt cramped by the effect of childhood trauma…
This is a woman who has practiced meditation for decades, who sat with some prominent spiritual teachers, who has done every kind of yoga and Chi Kung, and esoteric styles of massage.
I was curious to understand more. “What exactly have your tried?” I asked her.
“Well, I’ve meditated for years. I’ve done Rolfing, and I’ve consulted with many mediums and channels.”
“Have you tried talking to a psychotherapist?” I asked her.
She looked at me and frowned. “Oh no,” she said. “I don’t trust psychotherapists. I need to work with someone who has a spiritual perspective.”
Sitting there talking to my friend, a memory came into my mind. My wife is not a super practical person around machines and tools. I’m the Mr. Fix-It of the house. I remember once we had an appliance where the battery compartment was closed by a cover. I walked into the kitchen and found her trying to pry the cover off with a knife. She had managed to do quite a bit of damage to the plastic casing already. “Let me have a look,” I asked her. Reluctantly, she handed it over.
Sure enough, right at the bottom of the plastic cover was a tiny phillips screw. I pointed it out to her. “Oh,” she said. “I saw that, but I don’t think we have a screwdriver that size.”
In fact, in my vast array of tools in our tool shed we did have a tiny phillips screwdriver that size. I put the head of the screwdriver in the tiny screw, and quickly we had the batteries changed. Changing the batteries on that little gizmo proved very challenging, frustrating, and unsuccessful without the right tool. It was a snap once I had the tool in my hand.
I see that happen so often with people I work with one-on-one, and also people who come to seminars. Many people, like my friend I described above, have a bias towards anything they think of as “spiritual,” and a bias against anything they think of as “mainstream:” whether physical, psychotherapeutic, or psychiatric. I can understand why that prejudice might arise. Western medicine can sometimes appear dogmatic and arrogant. But it is just the same story: if you use the wrong tool, you will experience frustration and have to sit with your problem endlessly. Use the appropriate tool and you can move on to more interesting things.
Many people, like my friend, have experienced childhood trauma. Most people I know had a less-than-ideal childhood, including me. I have been meditating every day since I was 14 (that’s 46 years). I have lived with and studied some great spiritual teachers, and in fact great teachers of all kinds. After all that, it seems like I should be over my childhood, right? A few years ago, in 2011, I started to have some charged memories again, of the mean things that Mummy and Daddy did to me when I was little. I was getting moody, irritable. Luckily for me, I quickly found the right tool. I went off and did The Hoffman Process, an eight day residential immersion that takes place in the wine country of California, and it totally took care of it. If you feel any unwanted residual from childhood, I highly, 1000% recommend you do this process. It is the Rolls Royce of getting over childhood wounds once and for all. I don’t believe that any amount of meditating, affirmations, or channeling dolphin sounds would have come anywhere close.
Some people have trouble with money. It doesn’t flow properly. They find themselves constantly faced with debts that they can’t get on top of. Now, that’s a different situation that requires a different kind of tool. I don’t think that any amount of psychotherapy is going to address that directly, nor is meditation, or massage, or anything else. Go find yourself a good coach or financial planner who can help you set some goals and stay accountable, and you will put the matter straight in no time.
As I watch myself writing this, it seems obvious, doesn’t it? If you need to pound in a nail, you use a hammer, not a drill. If you want to cut some wood, you use a saw, not a screwdriver. Obvious as it may seem, it astounds me again and again how our prejudices for one particular orientation make things so much more complicated than they need to be.
In summary, here’s a little go-to guide you could print out and keep in your wallet to remind you about using the best tool.
If you feel unwell in your body, first resort is go to a doctor, either allopathic or alternative.
If you notice yourself repeatedly with a bad attitude, go see a practitioner who specializes in shifting belief systems like the work of Byron Katie or The Sedona Method.
If you notice that there are wounds left over from childhood, go see a psychotherapist, or at least someone with a proven track record of helping people get free of the past.
If you want to make more money, improve your business, and be more productive, go work with a coach who has expertise in helping people do that,
And finally if (and only if) you want to experience inner silence, peace, or oneness with the divine, go talk to someone with experience and credibility as a spiritual teacher.
As always, dear friends, I’m eagerly waiting to hear your thoughts about this.