I recently worked on someone who had a soul retrieval done, and she said she had had many lifetimes of horrific deaths and suicides brought back in, which she then had to integrate. This led to months of anger and depression, as her body tried to process it. My question is, do we need to process all of our spiritual experiences through our bodies? It was affecting her spleen and liver systems. She was “digesting” it. It seems like many people have superficial spiritual experiences. They are too happy, like they haven’t been dragged through the muck! Do we usually digest the information or whatever in order to really integrate and experience it? Are there other routes or pathways? Can we just let some things go, or keep them on a less physical level and still have them be real? I know this question is getting weird…
So the short answer is yes, we need to process things through our physical bodies, our physical container for us to consider it to be real and for it to have an effect on our physical, external lives. We hold all of our experiences in our body– our current lifetime, past lives, ancestry, karma… and even larger patterns like societal patterns, family patterns, and even the whole Universe (I will not go there this blog) that are not technically “of us”.
For the “lower” patterns (stuff that actually has to do with us like our current lifetime, past lives, and our ancestry) anything that has a charge stays in our bodies. This typically is thought of as negative stuff– emotions and experiences that were too overwhelming at the time to process (like a death in a past life) or various traumas in our own life that were too emotional or too much for us to deal with at the time. This energy then gets consolidated and walled off in our bodies.
As a side note, we also carry the wisdom of our ancestors, the joy of our past lives, and the beauty of our current life with us.. it just is a vibration around us rather than being walled off.
Dr. John Upledger (innovator of CranioSacral therapy) referred to this phenomena as an energy cyst– a localized area of walled-off, entropic energy. The body walls this energy and experience off in a localized area and then disassociates from it in order to keep the whole organism (our physical-mental-emotional-spiritual) continuum and our external day-to-day lives intact and reasonably functional.
In Shamanic work there is a thought that this energy actually leaves, or goes somewhere. This really isn’t true. We are always whole, all of the time. We just believe or create stories that we are not. What happens is that we actually are holding a trauma in our intestines from that time we got made fun of as a teenager, in our uterus from a previous life dying in childbirth, or in our heart from an ancestor losing a child and having an emotion of grief be too overwhelming. This energy then, as I said, walls off, still believing that the incident is still occurring because it simply doesn’t know any better.
So we will have parts of ourselves that believe we are still a five year old whose father just left, or parts of ourselves that are still in a cycle of grief from our ancestors. Our minds, and then our physical bodies, wall this energy off so we can go about our lives without having to deal with the energy. In reality, we are whole, but our minds have fractured. And then our body-mind fractures, leading often to physical issues in the localized area of the “energy cyst”.
So in a soul retrieval the story of that energy cyst comes up to the surface to be released and integrated. The difficulty with this is that it then has to process. Meaning that if we have an energy cyst in our liver that is pretty large that contains a lot of anger and depression we are going to have to deal with that, to integrate that.
All that being said, the practitioner should know how to help the client/patient cycle that energy, have a basis in working with trauma so they can recognize when an experience from the past shouldn’t be uncovered (or fully uncovered), and provide appropriate aftercare to deal with the ramifications of such an energy.
It is somewhat rare that spiritual practitioners, who often operate outside of the licensing process, have an understanding and appreciation of emotional health and trauma response (the physiology of trauma, basically) to understand if an experience is too much to uncover, and to help their patient through when they do uncover something deeply traumatic. Trauma is real, and it has real, physiological consequences. If the practitioner is not trained in trauma response, I suggest that they pair up or learn to refer to someone experienced in trauma response. My personal favorite is Somatic Experiencing practitioners, who are typically open-minded as well as have gone through a three year training (or more) just in trauma work and know everything about how trauma shows up and how to process it. Nobody should have to process their trauma alone. It is much harder to do so, and to have the perspective when you are overwhelmed and emotional to do so, especially if it is something as removed from our current lifetime as past lives (but really, in any case).
It is also rare that spiritual practitioners do appropriate aftercare. Although a different subject, I have worked with people who have gone to the jungle and through Ayahuasca ceremonies and come back deeply traumatized because of sheer overwhelm at the amount of material coming up to process at one time. Our body-mind fractures for a reason, and it takes a sound mind to be able to process this stuff. Ideally for something like a soul retrieval, especially if they are working with an energy cyst that contains multiple lifetimes there would be a minimum of three appointments (ideally five). This means that the “shaman” would do the soul retrieval (sometimes this may take more than one session) and would schedule appointments weekly, or bi-weekly, to deal with the processing of energy and residual energy that comes up. This unfortunately does not happen too often, and the client is left with an energy cyst burst open and to deal with the residue and trauma on their own. If the spiritual practitioner does not want to deal with the residue, again I suggest a referral to a Somatic Experiencing practitioner, or an Acupuncturist, another Spiritual practitioner or Energy Worker who can help this energy clear out.
So if I were to summarize this the answer is yes we need to process things. But the answer is also no, we do not need to have months of processing or deal with the process alone. Although integration and re-orientation can take longer than this period of time, the longest that someone should have to deal with really intense energy and emotion after a Soul Retrieval or any sort of energy cyst/emotional clearing process is three days. What happens after that period of time, or if the practitioner brings something up into consciousness that the patient wasn’t ready for the client/person just becomes re-traumatized and forms another energy cyst out of the current as well as past experiences that were brought up.
This means that they should have a follow-up appointment (or at the very least a check-in) with their spiritual worker or another professional if any emotion or experience is still lingering. And the spiritual practitioner should ethically be aware of when a big process is starting to do follow-up appointments and referrals so their patient does not end up non-functional or even hospitalized (yes, unfortunately, it does happen on occasion if the spiritual practitioner is not versed in working with trauma).
Just for clarity, I will say how I do spiritual work with emotions/trauma and Soul Retrieval work. I will have someone come in or send me an email for distance work (not for Soul Retrieval, although that may be their interest… I do not do “pick and choose” appointments, I ask the energies I work with and do divination to see what type of spiritual work should be done). Based on the first appointment and how intense the experience is (or not, if the person has a sound body-mind or a milder experience or meditates a lot), I will do anything from just checking in a few days later and suggesting aftercare like salt baths and connecting to nature or having sex (yes, I suggest that sometimes) or watching a funny movie (yes, I suggest this a lot actually) to telling the client that there needs to be 1-3 more appointments in short succession (1-2 appointments a week).
If the person reports back (especially for distance work) that they are non-functional, or are really struggling after the work (which occasionally does happen, but not that often since I make it a policy to ask during the appointment the persons subconscious if they want to deal with a specific trauma and/or are ready to) I suggest a Somatic Experiencing practitioner in their local area (or a thoughtful therapist if they cannot find an SE practitioner) to ensure that they are safe. When they get out of the intense amount of struggle phase they can come back and I will help them process the rest of the energy. But it is our responsibility as spiritual workers to ensure that the people we see are safe as well as functional (especially after a few days) after we work with them. There is no reason for someone to be dealing with that much trauma and emotion over such an extended period of time. They are just being re-traumatized at that point.
I hope that helps, Katie. We can all help others as well as ourselves work with trauma, but if we are not qualified, there are a lot of people out there that specialize in it, and there is no reason to deal with it by ourselves. It is a beautiful thing to become more whole, to release emotions and experiences that likely have a huge impact on our lives, and if it is done with clarity, with understanding (of trauma and emotions on a deep level), and with appropriate care, it can have a huge positive effect on anyone willing to plumb those depths to become more realized and whole.