Picture whatever emotions or stressors you carry as an energetic ball.

The quiet resentments, regrets, and unfulfilled longings locked within your tissues. The grief, anger, despair and self-hatred swallowed down, simmering in the body. Unresolved trauma and the situations that have not found completion in our lives remain frozen within us, repeating their circumstances in our lives. The unexpressed joy, play, curiosity and enthusiasm wither our soul and cause for parts of our body to be energetically and physically offline.

There are many tools to help to express, release, and find closure for what lies unresolved within our bodies.

But it is helpful to consider the magnitude of what we carry and our capacity to deal with it.

Put simply, if we have a small ball of grief in our chest, we may be able to resolve that for ourselves over time. Having a good cry (or a few), watching a sad movie, and giving ourselves permission to grieve can lessen the energetic weight of that grief, and release that ball over time.

The same goes for anger, fear, or any other emotion. If it is a small ball, we are likely, with the correct resources, to be able to accomplish self-healing through allowing ourselves to feel and acknowledge our emotions (see the blog How to Feel).

But now let’s say that ball grows. We have not only had one trauma, we have had several. Or the magnitude of the trauma we have experienced creates a large ball. One resentment leads to several others, creating a densely packed ball of bitterness. We suffer under the weight of our depression, anger, panic, and childhood pain, and after a certain point, what we carry is impossible to resolve alone.

It requires interpersonal or even communal healing to resolve.

Talking with a friend, creatively expressing our stress and pain, therapy, bodywork, spiritual healing/energy work, and hobbies can all allow for us to connect interpersonally in a healing way.

In connecting with another person, the energetics of that ball shift. The pain and emotionality we carry individually lessens. 

In having a witness to whatever we carry, what we carry changes. We can be validated, heard, seen, and have another know and respond to our pain.

On an energetic level, there is a synchronization process that happens when we connect to another to ease our suffering. The “healer” (or “witness”) creates a field of relating between you and them, and in this expanded energetic field the possibility for resolving what we carry increases.

Alone we have a small field of energy around us, and this field will tighten even more (or even collapse) if we have been carrying substantial weight from unresolved suffering.

When we connect with another, our own field expands, and the field of the other person we are connecting to expands as well. 

This can have some variance. For example, there are some individuals who have done significant work on themselves and already have a rather large field of energy. If you go to them for healing (therapy, listening, etc) there is an immediate capacity for a rather large field, and the potential for a lot of healing work to be done.

Even with the capacity to sit with the depths of human suffering and to relate in a synchronized way that allows for a client (friend, etc) to work with the ocean floor of their being, it still is up to the client and what they are ready for as to how much gets resolved.

Put more simply, in healing work one client may be ready to take a step forward and another a giant leap, and both will be perfect in the eyes of an experienced practitioner. With deeper awareness comes the capacity to let go of the ego and to meet a client where they are, rather than to insert any agenda (even if it is a seemingly kind one, such as the client healing).

In communal healing, that field expands even more. The capacity to shift and release what we carry increases.

In our suffering we believe that we alone are the only person to experience something. Moving out of this isolation is a significant part of the healing process. To know that whatever we carry we do not carry alone– thousands if not millions if not every human on earth has experienced it– is incredibly healing.

We are not the first person to experience rage, grief, fear, panic, or whatever issues we believe we suffer individually with.

This is why healing in groups is incredibly effective. Group therapy, support groups, and groups of like-minded souls coming together is good medicine. 

Empathy is the ability to see ourselves in another person. When we meet many others– be they addicts, veterans, depressives, spiritual seekers, or even a hobby group– we will see a part of ourselves mirrored in the stories and presences of the other group members.

This assures us that we are not alone and allows for us to connect with others.

In that connection we can experience significant shifts. This is because the group field is not only composed of its parts (all of the participants and their stories), but also the energetic presence of the leader as well as a group soul that develops.

A group soul can be created many different ways. In many groups it is naturally formed, created from the energies and history of the different participants coming together, as well as the temperament and basic wisdom (lived experience, education, and consciousness) of the leader or creator of the group.

This is true even if the founders are no longer physically present– their energy lives on and is part of the group.

If the leader/creator of the group has energetic and spiritual knowledge, they will create a container for the group. 

This will often be a specific focus or intention for the group, an understanding of what type of people the group is open to, and an energetic opening of the teacher’s field to welcome others, to be of service, and to keep basic boundaries and energetic-spiritual safeguards in place for the group.

In specific esoteric/occultist circles, there can be an inviting of other energies (spirits, past teachers, etc.) to be a part of the group soul. Ideally this would be done with the permission and understanding of the group members (consent!) but often times people who can lead a group well and can create a container like this for their group purposefully have a significant spiritual practice which means that their spiritual journey and relationships will naturally be a part of the group, as they are a part of the person facilitating.

In group work like this significant healing work can be done when facilitated well by both the genuine interest and willingness of the participants, a solid intention or focus for the group, and the teacher or healer’s ability to be present and create an energetic container that creates safety and possibility for the group to find what they are looking for.

In larger groups, the larger balls, the significant weight that we carry, can resolve. For the larger things that we carry, it is impossible to resolve them alone. We must have another to walk alongside of us, to help us. For the largest things within us they often require many others to do so. 

And even if we could resolve what we carry within ourselves by ourselves, we shouldn’t have to.

It should also be pointed out that we can never heal much of our deepest human suffering– rooted in isolation and disconnection– by ourselves. It requires connecting to heal disconnection.

When we are able to see that we are unable to heal significant suffering ourselves, it offers us the insight and opportunity to offer ourselves some grace. Whatever we suffer with needs another person or group to heal. We cannot do it alone.

While we can take large steps in our own self-healing journey, it is always helpful to understand this concept of the “ball” and to recognize when support of some type is helpful… or even necessary.

The next Communal Healing course I will be offering will be in 2024.. While I will be creating a container for the group, and bringing my experience as a facilitator and practitioner, I will not be invoking any specific spirit or presence to join us.

During the hour-long course (offered via distance/Zoom; if you cannot join us live you will still find healing in the recording and being a part of the field) I will offer a brief introduction and then guide all who participate in acknowledging, connecting, and resolving grief in a communal setting.

Even the largest balls that we heal within us can be done with grace and gentleness. We so often think we need to heal utilizing catharsis (or something loud, obvious, or destructive) when healing and connecting can truly uplift us, free us from feeling weighed down, and simply make us feel lighter and better.

I ask each participant, prior to the course, to set an intention that whatever healing is healthy and helpful for them to happen to do so. This sets wonderful self-boundaries and helps to maintain the energetics of the group.

The course will be mostly silent, but I will guide all participants in and out of trance states, healing states, and will offer guidance when appropriate regarding breath, focus, and how to heal grief in an embodied (through the body) way.

mary mueller shutan is a spiritual teacher, practitioner, and author of several books, including The Body Deva, The Complete Cord Course, and Shadow Work for the Soul (out March 2024). 

You can find her on Instagram and Facebook (where notifications of new blogs are posted)