Love remains a mystery, and so too, healing is a mystery. What we do know is how to create the conditions in which healing can occur. Psychotherapy has tried its hand at healing the wounds of love with reasonable success, but the theories and methodology have produced inconsistent results, often yielding palliative measures of understanding and emotional release, but not always getting to the simple restorative element of healing. To heal your love wounds requires a tenderness and forgiveness, but most of all, a desire to feel better. Psychological or psycho-spiritual healing implies integration, and the word origins of healing mean just that: “to be made whole again.” If we are wounded in love we are disconnected from the part of our story where it is safe to risk being open and vulnerable. To restore our longing, our story needs revision. The invisible wounds can become self-imposed impediments, storylines that impede love. According to the Sufi master Rumi, “Our task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
The ancient Greeks observed a proverb widely in regard to healing: “The god that wounds heals.” To heal, we must return to the source of our wounds. If we have been wounded in the province of Love, then the healing must come through love. This makes intuitive sense. Over the years I have come to respect that healing, like love, is a mystery. Though we can create the conditions for healing to occur, we cannot understand what actually happens. This is true of a broken bone and a broken heart. What happens when they heal is a mystery. I have learned how to create conditions of deep empathy and safety in which one can retrieve the memories, emotions and associations of a wounding. In a safe set and setting, we can give reality to the wounds through witnessing and validating. This seems to be the transformative requirement with love wounds: they must be seen, felt and accepted. Some wounds are deep traumas and require skillful hands to midwife the healing. When Freud called his psychoanalysis a “cure through love,” he understood the principle that acceptance facilitates healing.
If you are ready to let love come more fully into your life, there are some things you can do immediately. The psyche is very suggestible and cooperative in such circumstances and it will yield its secrets if you are sincere. You can start by paying attention to your dreams: you can engage your dreams for self-knowledge and inner guidance. Dreams educate us about the inner workings of the psyche, how the soul speaks with a greater intelligence every night through our dreaming in the symbolic language of images and stories. Your dreams tell you what is important to pay attention to now and your core concerns will certainly appear in your dreams. If you are making relationship and love important in your life, then the psyche will definitely chime in with useful information.
For dream recall, keep a journal or tape recorder by your bed, it will serve as a strong suggestion that you want to remember your dreams. Record your dreams immediately upon waking. Try not to move your body when you first wake up, lie still and notice where you have been. Ask, “What was I just dreaming?” Reach for your journal instead of reaching for your cell phone or thinking about the day’s concerns. Once you have brought your dreams across the threshold of wakefulness and recorded them in the present tense, then re-enter the dream by re-reading it and allow yourself to have feeling responses to the dream narrative. This is the first line of interpretation, connecting to the feelings in the dream and to the feelings the dream arouses in you. Carry the images and the storyline of the dream around with you for a few days, something will come of it. You might also try drawing or painting the central image in the dream, the one most charged for you. In the act of depicting the dream you will find an opportunity to develop your feeling responses and your understanding of the dreaming. Remember, what you are dreaming is what you need to pay attention to right now. Listen to your dreams for inner guidance to finding your way back to love.
In the work we do in our “It’s About Love” retreats, we employ a shamanic journey in a setting of tenderness, attention and safety, where you can drop into a hynagogic reverie, an active dreaming state, to retrieve the experiences of wounding and love. In such a set-and-setting, memories and associations can emerge and be accepted. One is then able to re-purpose their story in expansive ways that restore their capacity to experience vulnerability and longing. After the journey, we take time to capture the events that have come to us by drawing and journaling so they can be shared, witnessed, and validated. We have found the stories to be touching and awesome, and the sharing in our circles has the effect of charging the atmosphere with compassionate love and understanding. The god that wounds heals. In such tender circumstances, we find a way back to love.
We have also discovered in the circles of our group retreats that it is helpful to go out from such an experience with an acquired ability to be an active witness to how it goes between you and others. So we teach people some basic skills of self-observation, a bystander awareness, what they call in Taoism the ‘witness consciousness.’ We teach an easy to use framework, the language of C.G. Jung’s psychological types, for use as a tool with which to observe one’s loving nature in the relational field with others, to strengthen confidence for the vexing complexity of new situations and people. Adding new language to your story-telling gives you the power to understand and feel your way through the intricacies of loving, to avoid bad bets and repetitive tragic stories, and to tell yourself into the right story, without the barriers.