12 Stages of Healing Summary
As outlined by developer Dr. Donald Epstein in his Twelve Stages of Healing book, with comments by 1st Network Care chiropractor, Cliff Inkles
Healing VS. Curing
The 12 Stages of Healing are not the 12 Stages of Curing. What is the difference? With curing, there is an “IT” to get rid of. There is a war. The war on cancer, or crime, or drugs, or on our own pain. We want to drug the pain, cut out the problem, force a change. Anything to avoid the out of control feeling of the suffering that may be there. While this may be the necessary path for any one at any given time, it is not the only one. This is the theme of the first 2 stages of the 12.
Healing can be an alternative to curing. With healing the symptom or the “it” may or may not change, but you do; and thus your relation to the previous “it”. With curing, the symptom may or may not change but you don’t, (the idea being to get back to the way things were before the ‘It” arose). Often if the symptom goes away, it eventually comes back in another form to once again try to get us to pay attention where we have not. With healing, we find the resources to pay attention where we could not before. Thus, our spirit gets satisfied and a deeper peace ensues with life — just as it is. Paradoxically, this peace is not complacent and leads to lasting changes that improve life in a sustainable way.
The following stages are not necessarily a linear process of growth. Each person may be living in several stages at an entry into greater discovery, transformation, awakening and integration. Also, one need not understand any of the following to gain the benefits of Network Care (NSA), and Somato Respiratory Integration, (SRI). The process is so organic that it happens naturally. But for those of us who like to have a map or check list, the following is for you.
Seasons of the Journey
The 12 Stages of Healing described below tend to be predominantly within larger themes of our human journey. These themes we call “Seasons.” The seasons are: Discover / Transform / Awaken / and Integration. Like the seasons of the weather, they are cyclical. In other words, we may notice that we come back to visit parts of our self and themes of our life; but hopefully from a growing wisdom perspective that results in greater depth of who we are and our ability to love, grow and serve.
A key aspect of the care we offer is to support each person to re-organize their structures, (and thus the perceptions and behaviors that result from disorganized structures), while supporting them in the season of life they are in; the one they need to be in; and the one they must be in. Thus, each person is supported to continue to Discover / Transform / Awaken / and Integrate their immense self-healing ability and gifts for the world.
1. SUFFERING – Different from pain, suffering is marked by a profound awareness that “something is wrong.” Parts of our being have been separated from our innate self. This especially occurs when confronted by a traumatic or chaotic event or loss. The lesson of this stage is the acceptance that nothing works at this time, and that you are presently helpless. This stage is especially avoided at all costs in our culture, yet without meeting this stage, we can never fully grow beyond the hurts. The awareness of this disconnection is usually made as we draw upon more of our energetic and consciousness resources.
2. POLARITIES AND RHYTHMS – This stage begins with the search for the MAGIC GENIE who can, or has been identified as the savior from our distress, pain, or crisis. We project from our alienated, isolated, traumatized, hurt, shamed or ignored aspects of our being. These parts try to gain power over our helplessness through external authorities, procedures, treatments, etc. Eventually, as we heal, we discover that what we blamed or projected as being so wrong, ( the cause, as we see it), is not so bad. Or we see that our Genie is not so magical. We begin to become aware of our rhythms and polarities, and discover we are somehow involved in process; and we are partially responsible for our distress.
3. STUCK IN A PERSPECTIVE – This stage of healing involves the recognition that our distress is associated with the fact that we have been stuck in a perspective. Our concepts or our physiology have been fixated. We do not yet know why we’ve been stuck, or what to do about it. We just need to be with the simple revelation that we’ve been stuck.
While Discovery Season of SRI and NSA care includes stages 1,2 & 3 of healing, it is also used to integrate higher levels of mental and spiritual intelligence into your bodily and emotional intelligence and function. These stages often address the most human parts of our journey. For example, one may have developed great resource and connection to the Awakened Season. This would include access to the intelligence of spirit. But there may still be a block in ones ability to anchor that into their physical world of paying bills or having basic vitality. Or perhaps balancing relations with responsibilities. One may even feel the body or its pain to be an obstacle to spiritual development in this part of the journey.
There are many possible scenarios, but as a result of the support of NSA and SRI, we may discover great abundance of life support energy to fulfill their journey along with the exquisite joy of the meeting of spirit in matter in one’s own embodiment! We may discover, in our body, the richness of having deeper intimacy in relations. We may even discover, on an organic, body level, how all aspects of life can work together in harmony. To achieve that, there would need to be a weaving and integration of all the Stages and Seasons.
4. RECLAIMING OUR POWER – This stage of healing is one in which we realize that the “script” determined by the above three stages no longer works. Initially, we are angry that we had lost our power, and are determined not to let it happen again. As we progress through this stage, we choose to no longer dishonor ourselves, because we truly get that we deserve more.
5. MERGING WITH THE SUFFERING – to gain access behind the illusions and isolated consciousness and rhythms. – This stage is associated with having a strong enough sense of self to turn back onto our own “shadow” to heal the illusion and create more wholeness. At this major stage of healing we can appear on the other side of our illusory self.
6. PREPARATION FOR DISCHARGE – building momentum and flexiblity. The alienated, traumatized, denied or redirected consciousness or energy is being prepared for discharge and resolution. We feel the tension building within ourselves as this process advances. We find ways to create change and improve flexibility to continue the process.
7. RESOLUTION through discharge – Discharge of electrical energy is associated with a discharge of mechanical energy. This may be discharge of the muscular system, such as movement of the trunk or extremities. Processes such as fever, coughing, sneezing, or vomiting are common forms of discharge. Crying, screaming, and laughing are also discharge phenomena. When the discharge occurs after the previous 6 stages, resolution can occur with the discharge. If a sense of accomplishment, peace, and inner strength does not accompany the process, then the resolution stage has not been achieved.
Transformation Season of NSA and SRI care includes Stages 4-7 of Healing, and is focused on supporting function in your mental intelligence. It is also the integration of higher levels of mental and spiritual intelligence into your emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is one that moves us. It may move us to act in ways that are ultimately life-supporting and that we may have suppressed or ignored out of learned or survival behavior.
Without familiarity and eventual complete integration of this season into our lives, we are always destined to suffer and to be lost to an underlying sense of anxiety. We all know on some level that there is no stopping the aging process, the eventual loss of loved ones, possessions, health, and the body. There is no getting around the impermanence of things. With Awakening comes the deep knowing in our Being that we are much more than the temporary aspects of life. We thus deeply enjoy them so much more and without the need to hold onto any aspect of them.
Awakening is not a luxury. It is a biological imperative for humankind!
8. EMPTINESS – After the discharge we are emptied. This is not a space of nothingness, but instead a place of possibilities. We enter into a state of gratitude, vulnerability, connection with our external rhythms, and alignment with the events around us. We not only trust, but expect serendipity to be available for us as a natural way of life.
9. LIGHT BEHIND THE FORM – From our place of emptiness and gratitude, we can be aware of our fullness of light and energy. We experience that we are more than our physical body, and actually become aware of the flow of life force energy through us. We may even experience our energetic connection to others. This occurs with awe and joy for the process.
10. ASCENT – There is an awareness of being not just an intelligent form, but as intelligence itself! Not just as a house for spirit, but as spirit itself. We experience our union with the creative force of the universe. We transcend all limits, boundaries, language, judgements, and our existing sense of self. We receive the gift of knowing the oneness of all of creation, and gain immense wisdom during this stage.
11. DESCENT – We are renewed beyond our limits and sense of self and enter into the world again. We know that we are part of all we perceive and responsible for what we know. We live without being attached to our situations. We love and serve life and others. We communicate with ourselves and others “through” our wounds instead of “from” them.
12. COMMUNITY – We experience our involvement with humanity and recognize that wholeness comes from bringing our gifts of individuality into community. We receive the gifts of individuality, from within ourselves and from others. We recognize that all of our choices are spiritual ones, and affect the entire globe of beings. This occurs in our internal and external communities. Eventually, we recognize that the limits of what we can bring to community stems from our own lack of wholeness. Therefore, we seek to re-experience the rhythm of Stage One.
We cannot think out or figure our way through any stage. Each stage represents one of 12 rhythms of consciousness of humanity. Be with the stage you are in. Don’t resist the stage. Honor it. The stage will come to completion as you’ve merged with the rhythm it has to offer you.
Each stage has a rhythm of its own. No one stage is better than another. Many people remain in a couple of these stages for several years, and other stages for at least months, never fully claiming all twelve stages. Those receiving Network Care and SRI tend to move through the stages much more rapidly, and sometimes all twelve stages in a few minutes. The ability to move back and forth through the stages as needed for your healing is ideal. This is more likely to happen with a flexible nervous system freed of interference.
Each of us may choose symptom or disease care at any time and at any stage. However, this has little to do with healing. We suggest that after the condition is “under control” that you continue on your Twelve Stages journey.
A much fuller description, and enjoyable read, in the book Twelve Stages of Healing.