Recently, I was asked to prepare a topic of conversation for my networking group, AWE. I mulled on the potential topic for weeks, riffing on ideas in the shower, discussing it with friends, and bouncing ideas around until the morning before.
I couldn’t settle on a topic that felt “right”. In a fit of desperation, I pulled out my tarot deck and asked, “What is the best topic for me to discuss which will serve the highest good of everyone involved?”
I got Judgement (pictured above).
The message was clear: talk about that moment of deep healing and connection with one’s higher self, and how you, as a practitioner, guide and contain that process for your client.
When people first come to see me, it’s because they are in a lot of pain. Usually it’s physical, since much of my work relates to the body, but not always. Sometimes it’s emotional or mental anguish, sometimes it’s a mixture. But they come to me because they’re seeking resolution for the pain they’re experiencing.
Right then, I honor the sacredness of their choice: both to trust me with their pain, and also to approach it from a different perspective, and an empowered desire to resolve it. It takes guts to ask for help when we’re in pain.
When I ask people why they’re in pain, there is always a story. I listen to their story uninterrupted. I reflect back to them what I heard in their story, in my own words. We do a call-and-response of this pain story until they give me a resounding “Yes!” that I have the story right. Sometimes there are tears, and I welcome them. It feels good to be witnessed, to bring things into the light. And every time we tell our pain story aloud, there is new information, new nuances.
From there, we discuss possibilities. Where are we going in our work together? What will life be like without this pain? How will things change? We take time to paint a detailed picture to get very clear on all aspects of their lives, and how they want and need things to be. I encourage them to remove self-imposed limitations of what they believe is possible. I am looking for them to express their deepest desires and longings. I want to hear them talk about their fullest potential, and what that feels like emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self. I know that my client has a deeply intuitive understanding of how to heal themselves. And my faith in them is paramount for the healing journey to commence. I never assume what my clients are capable of. I suggest and ask. And sometimes we are both surprised, when we step outside of what we think is possible, and approach things differently.
Sometimes what we both originally thought of as the obstacle ends up being the vehicle to healing. Often, just in shifting the way we think about ourselves, we can feel renewed and inspired to face an old hurt with a fresh perspective. Sometimes that’s the best gift of all.
Even though my client is wise and is their own best healer, I know that they are seeking an objective, informed witness to their healing. That’s where I come in. We can work together to contextualize their healing journey, and create a new story, if that’s what’s needed. Sometimes just normalizing their experience and offering my hand as we walk through the dark unknown toward the right direction is the best thing I can offer.
When it comes sharing Yogic tools or concepts, I stick with three, per session. I assign homework, every time. We talk about accountability, and how much they’d like or need in order to stick with it.
We talk about consistency and commitment to the journey. We negotiate a treatment plan that can be executed gently, consistently, and achievably. Usually it changes, because healing is not linear. But whatever consistency we can create, we can measure our progress, and see that transformation is occurring.
Each client is unique and needs different things in order to achieve healing. No two treatment plans are alike, and I appreciate that aspect of my work. Things are never the same twice. Some tools and concepts work well for one person, but not as much for another. Some timelines are more straightforward, others (many others) take some twists and turns.
Regardless of the path my clients take, I always bring it back to boundaries and self-care. I put them back in the driver’s seat and remind them that they are in charge of their healing, not me. And at the end of the day, I have total faith in them that they can and will end up where they want to go. It's just that the path is in the practice.
“What inner stirrings have we kept sealed for too long, having thought ourselves too lowly or flawed to give them wings?” – Paul Quinn, Tarot for Life