There was something missing in the self help section of bookstores. A handbook for all of us trying to sort out our inner selves. When Eva was navigating through therapy sessions and personal growth workshops, she wished she’d had this book. What happens when you start to unlock your painful memories? How do you deal with them? How does the life energy connect with our emotions? What can you do between sessions and workshops to more efficiently deal with all that is stirred? A book full of insights, exercises and meditations. Lightened up with personal anecdotes.
© 2003 Eva Dillner
Publisher 1st Books/Author House
6″x9″ Perfect Bound
E-book on Amazon Kindle & Authour House
A guide for everyone on the path of personal development, whether a beginner, a trained therapist or workshop leader.
Therapy isn’t just about letting go of our emotional pain, but also about discovering our true spiritual purpose here on earth.
In this handbook you will discover many useful tools to use on your journey. Topics include awareness, activating the biofield using breath and movement – sound – dance – laying on of hands, unfinished business, breaking up tension, experiencing emotions, where to work, evoking emotions, release and integration, God put a Dream in my Heart, common sense, Grail, creating change, discover a different way of life, money matters, marketing, training program, choosing a therapist and further meditations.
Author Eva Dillner has plucked the gems from her training with the pioneers in the therapy and personal growth movement in the USA and Europe. A pathfinder, she has been featured in major articles in the local and national press. Life Therapy may well be the psychotherapy of the future.
“Spiritual pioneer” said the astrologer when she looked at Eva Dillner’s horoscope, with a focus on emotional release. Originally an engineer, Eva spent fifteen years in the corporate world working with project management and organizational change in the United States and France. Burned out by yet another downsizing, she left in 1991 and started training with the pioneers in the personal growth and therapy movement in the United States and Europe. She discovered the path back to life and calls her synthesis of emotional release therapy and spiritual growth “Life Therapy”. In 1998 she started the company Divine Design in Sweden and has been featured in major articles in the local as well as national press.
“Handbook for Life Therapy is very simple and yet is very useful. I am reading The Naked Truth and I admire your honesty and courage. Both books worth reading for anyone on their journey of emotional release.
Ellen Smith, Kairos Therapist/Teacher in Ireland”
I have enjoyed reading your book. It’s a breath of fresh air – down to earth, clear and informative – with a gentle touch!”
Helen Thompson (Supervised SHEN Therapy Intern) Glasgow
I wrote this book as part of my own process to get clear on my own philosophy of life. To summarize what I really can own from all the teachers I’ve had, to share what I found useful and most importantly, what has worked for me. In other words a synthesis of my understanding of what it’s all about.I’ve included many concepts and exercises, my hope is that when my book is published it will become a handbook for personal development. It is in no way intended as a substitute for professional therapy or medical treatment. My recommendation is that you read through the entire book once, before you start working with the material.Perhaps you are just starting your journey – do the exercises that feel right for you. Some you can do on your own, others you need a partner or a group to get maximum benefit from. If you feel uncomfortable doing the exercises on your own, seek out a therapist or group facilitator you feel comfortable with. It may take some searching, but that is part of the process to learn to trust your inner self.Perhaps you are a therapist looking for some fresh approaches. Feel free to use what appeals to you and leave the rest. Perhaps your clients want to read the book as an adjunct to therapy. Or you may want to run a weekly group using the exercises to help your clients get more out of their therapy, or as preparation for therapy.Perhaps you are a workshop leader who will find the book useful as a course textbook.Meditation is a cornerstone in most of my work. You will notice there isn’t a separate chapter on meditation, but that meditative exercises are interspersed throughout the text.Emotions are energy in motion. To stay healthy we need to move, breathe and experience our emotions. Stress causes shallow breathing. Inactivity slows down the chi or life energy. When we repress emotions they stay in our bodies. When we are unable to fully experience emotions we store them in our bodies and experience them as tension, muscle aches, upset stomachs, migraines, nightmares, tiredness, depression etc. Our bodies natural response to trauma is to shut down as we are unable to cope with the myriad of emotions – but they stay in our bodies until the shock can be released.I believe God put a Dream in every human being’s Heart, and that we are here on earth to remember and manifest that dream. The trick is to let go of logical thinking and allow magical thinking in, long enough to inspire us to action. As we step onto our true path, all the baggage that stands in our way to achieve the Dream pops out like a Jack in the Box. That’s why it’s so important to do therapy because then we eliminate the obstacles that keep us from getting what we want.So this book is about becoming more ourselves. As we clear out the baggage, we connect with our true dreams and can start to realize them. But no amount of therapy can take the step for you. Therapy removes the obstacles and opens the cage door, but it is your responsibility to take the step and walk out of the cage. Only then will you know what the outcome is. Let go of your attachment to the outcome, it seldom turns out the way you pictured it. I have a plan, but it usually turns out that God had a better plan.And stepping out of the cage often brings up another layer to be worked through. It’s as if we can only progress so far while in a certain situation. Leaving the situation is the only way to free up the next layer. Or if we let ourselves really feel our situation, we would have to leave it.I’ve chosen to call this process Life Therapy.Whereas traditional medicine is excellent for broken bones, acute illnesses and surgeries, Life Therapy may help you when the symptoms are diffuse or where no clear medical or psychiatric cause can be established. Life Therapy can help you release tension, heal emotional wounds from minor incidents as well as deeper trauma, improve your emotional and physical well being and deepen your spiritual connection.You can take the Life Therapy training
- for your own personal growth
- to become a therapist
- to train as a teacher
A little bit about me. I started out as an engineer and worked in the corporate world for fifteen years with project management and organizational change in the USA and France. By the end of 1990, after umpteen cutbacks and efficiency improvements I was burned out. Too chicken to quit, I took a leave of absence, which ended with me getting laid off. So, too exhausted to cope with much of anything, I slowly started my quest to get my life back. I’ve trained with many of the pioneers in the personal growth and therapy movement in the United States and Europe. My training has included Kairos®/Shen Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Life Energy Fundamentals, Meditation, Personal Growth, Secret of Creating Your Future®, Hawaiian Huna, Gemstone Therapy, Life Mission, Sound Meditation, Personal Presence®, Yoga, Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi Massage, Release Dancing and Vedic Art®. Since 1998 I live in Sweden, where I was born and raised. My company is named Divine Design, inspired by the writings of Florence Scovel Shinn. I have been featured in articles in the local as well as national press. More information is available on my website www.divinedesign.nu.
1) ® denotes a registered trademark of a name granted for a specific time period by a country.
2) The Shen organization split into two in 2002, the new branch is called Kairos Therapy.
The two main factors in determining the outcome of therapy is the client’s ability and willingness to stay present with whatever their bodies bring up and surrendering to the process, and the therapist’s ability and willingness to take the client where they need to go. I think we need to train clients in presence, awareness and surrender. As therapists we need to work through our own material. We can only take our clients as far as we ourselves are willing to go. So let’s start with awareness.
One of my favorite exercises for awareness is the weather report. Just like the weather can be sunny or cloudy, calm or stormy; you too can experience many different states of “weather”. Let yourself sit comfortably in a chair. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, let yourself relax into the chair, and start to notice, become aware of your present state – not what happened today or what you think might happen tomorrow, but right now, in this very moment, what are you aware of? First focus on your physical body – is there any particular area drawing your attention? Do you notice any pain, tingles or other sensations? Become aware of your breathing – is it full or constricted? If it’s tight, just notice where. Continue focusing on the body until it feels complete. Next focus on your mind. What is going on right now. Is there a lot of chatter, is there a theme, or is it congested or just parked? The possibilities are endless, just notice what is going on in your mind right now. Continue being aware of your mind until it feels complete. Next focus your awareness on your current emotional state. Do you feel upset, anxious, sad or calm and harmonious. There is no right way to feel, just notice what is going on with your emotions right now, perhaps you experience being unsure of how to do this exercise.
You can’t do it right. You can’t do it wrong. You can only be yourself.
Continue being aware of your emotions until it feels complete. Next shift your awareness to your spiritual connection. Do you feel connected to Spirit? or do you feel like God is on vacation and left you hanging? Just notice what you are aware of right now. Continue focusing your awareness on your spiritual connection until it feels complete. Take a few deep breaths, wiggle your fingers and toes, stretch and open your eyes.
Do this exercise as frequently as you like. You’ll discover that it’s different every time, just like the weather.
A bit more on You can’t do it right. You can’t do it wrong. You can only be yourself. Each person’s experience in doing an exercise is different. Some people are by nature more descriptive or experience a multitude of senses, others have an experience that is soft and gentle, perhaps with just a hint of sensation. God made you unique and you are perfect just the way you are. Your experience is your experience and the exercise is not about achieving a particular result like seeing colors, but just to be aware of your inner weather.
Your senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste – are doorways to your life purpose as well as your memories.
I stumbled onto the life purpose connection to our senses when I was doing life mission work. A course participant had an idea for a business, but hadn’t been able to get going for some reason. In listening to her describe the idea, there was something missing – there was no life energy in it. She sounded very logical and practical, but where was the enthusiasm? When probing her other interests I stumbled onto her enthusiasm for welding. She started describing the perfect weld with an enthusiasm and aliveness that hadn’t been there before. She said “when you look at a perfect weld it’s like a rainbow, shimmering with all the colors”. She continued “I love the smell of machine shops, when I can’t go to sleep at night I imagine the sound from arc welding, it’s the most soothing sound I know”.
Amazing, the welder had been there all along, but had gotten buried under other expectations. What sense clues do you have hidden within you? Before we do another exercise to access your sense clues, we need to talk about attention and intention. Intention sets the course, attention helps you pick up the clues you need to navigate. For example, if your stated intention is to understand your life mission, you will start to get answers and indicators that match that intention. If your stated intention is to understand why you are stuck, you will most likely get indicators leading to a memory or memories that need to be therapeutically resolved before you can move on. If the answers you get feel empty or show stillness in nature pictures, then most likely that is what you need to focus on for the time being. When the time is ready, you will know what to do. There is a time for being too. I think we have lost the fine art of staring into space. A very useful skill in personal growth work, just being. For really advanced “being” get a hammock! It’s my personal favorite.
Getting in touch with your senses exercise. Turn off the phone and tell your family to not disturb you. Before you start, get clear on your intention, state your question – I want to understand my life mission, or I want to know why I have trouble standing up for myself, or I want to know what would be good for me right now, are just some of the examples of intentions to use. Get comfortable, sit with spine straight in a chair, or lie down on the floor. Close your eyes. Take a few slow deep breaths. Feel your feet, let them relax. Feel your ankles, let them relax. Move your attention up your legs and body, become aware of the sensations in your body at each stop, and relax. Do this all the way to the top of the head. Continue breathing softly and deeply, letting yourself go deeper into relaxation with each breath.
Imagine yourself going down a spiral staircase, count the steps as you go down, continue spiralling downward until you feel deeply relaxed and ready to move on to exploring your sense clues. State your intention, repeat it to yourself, out loud if you wish. Then imagine yourself in a space where your visual clues reside. Focus on seeing, become aware of what you see, what pictures or images appear, stay in visual space until you feel ready to move on. Imagine yourself moving to another space, where your hearing or auditory clues reside. If you want you can restate your intention as you move into each new space. Listen, what do you hear, what sounds are there, or absence of certain sounds, just be present and curious, and notice what auditory impulses you get. Stay as long as needed, until you feel it’s time to move on. Now transport yourself to the next space, where your feeling clues reside. What do you notice in your body, what do you feel, what kinaesthetic clues appear here, what physical sensation are you aware of? Continue paying attention to feeling clues until it feels done. Now move to the space where smell resides. Sniff the air, what smells come your way, what olfactory senses are awakened, what odours or perfumes fill the air? When smell feels complete, move on to the last space, taste. Let yourself taste, what is your saliva and tongue picking up, is it spicy or mild, bitter, sweet etc, just let yourself take in the taste sensations until it feels done. Now start to come back to here and now, take a few deep breaths, wiggle your fingers and toes, stretch and open your eyes. Write down your answers if you wish. Keeping a journal can be very helpful as you play detective with yourself.
Our senses are also doorways to memory. It’s an excellent tool for accessing material to work with in therapy. When I was studying hypnotherapy, much of the focus was on what do you see – but my strongest connector was smell, I could smell where I was and that was my doorway into forgotten memories. In therapy, working with what’s on the surface will get you to the next layer. If the client reports physical pain when you ask about how they are feeling emotionally, work with the physical pain, it will eventually dissolve into emotion or some other sensation.
Using all the senses in guided imagery will get you deeper and work faster than just focusing on the visual. Let yourself see the colors of the tree, feel the breeze, hear the rustling of the leaves, experience the smell of nature and imagine tasting the sap of the tree.
Why do some events continue to haunt us lifetime after lifetime? Why do other events not affect us at all? Why does a group of people experiencing the same event have such different reactions? How can we change our habitual responses? Why is it that under stress, we respond from the part of us that is least functioning, acting like two year olds with a temper tantrum? These questions, and more, is what I’ll attempt to answer in this chapter. We’ll also talk about how to clear up this unfinished business.
To illustrate that the event need not be a huge trauma, although it can be, I’ll use an example from my own life. I was in third or fourth grade, and our school was to participate in a sports competition. In the tryouts I was chosen to represent our class in the 60 yard dash. We arrive at the competition and I prepare for my race. We are off and running, I’m out front and my whole class is cheering me on, I look up and see this string tied across the goal line – I didn’t know what to do, so I slowed down, and someone else won the race. My classmates asked me, why did you slow down, you were winning. I was too embarrassed to admit I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know it was just a string of yarn that would break when you ran through it. Nobody had thought to explain it ahead of time. To help you understand the situation, this was in 1960 or ‘61, and we didn’t yet have television, so I had never seen a real race. If I had, I would have known about the string they tie across the goal line, and how to break through it. This seemingly minor event affected my whole life, until it cleared in therapy. When I encountered an obstacle in my path, I would back off and not know how to “cross the finish line”. If I wasn’t given the information I needed to do a job, I would become livid (in other words angry). I was obsessed with making sure others got all the information they needed. Until it came up in therapy, I had not thought about the event since it happened, nor did I have any idea that I wasn’t functioning as well as I could. The memory came during a therapy course and I totally relived the event on the table. It wasn’t just a movie in my head, I felt everything I had felt back then, but had repressed deep into my body. Just remembering an event won’t clear it. It’s only when you allow yourself to totally feel and know yourself in the event and own the choices you made, that it can clear.
To clear an event, you need to remember it, feel all the emotions associated with it, and recognize and own the choices you made at the time.
Some events will come up a number of times in therapy, until it clears. I look at it like it’s several layers of emotions and realizations that have to be worked through. If an event keeps coming up again and again, there is some component of it that isn’t finished.
It wasn’t until I recognized I had a choice to move with my parents to the United States or stay in Sweden at age fourteen, and realized the impact of the choice I made, that in choosing to stay with my family, I gave up myself. That’s when the event cleared. It was a very painful realization, but it cleared out a lot of confusion, anger and blame.
When an event has cleared, it no longer has an emotional charge, and forgiveness comes automatically. You no longer have a need to talk about it.
It’s amazing how something that has been a big trauma in your life suddenly completes. It’s still a memory, but the emotions are basically neutral and it isn’t important to talk about it anymore. You may even forget how you were before, not noticing the cage is gone.
When we repress our emotions during an event, it stays in our bodies until we go back and fully feel all the emotions and own our choices. If the event is traumatic, the body goes into shock, the root shuts down and with it all our emotions are repressed. This is natures way of keeping us sane. If we were to feel all the emotions at the time of the trauma, we wouldn’t be able to cope with them. It’s too overwhelming, so nature makes you go numb. But the emotions are still there, in your body, waiting for an opportunity to surface. It’s like you had a sending beacon inside of you that attracts situations with similar emotional content, causing you to react in the same way as the original event. It does this for the purpose of tearing open the wound so you can heal it. And when you are triggered, your response goes on autopilot, and all of a sudden you behave like a two year old with a temper tantrum. If your reaction is out of proportion to the present circumstances, you can be sure an old emotional wound has been triggered. And it doesn’t even need to be from this lifetime, it can be from before you were born or from a lifetime several thousand years ago.
Similar events form a string of emotional memories. Clear the first event, and the rest will follow.
I had a very vivid illustration of this principle during a therapy session. I was experiencing a pain in my left thumb, where I had been kicked by a horse (a stallion to be exact) in my youth. During the session I experienced a whole string of memories of former boyfriends who had “kicked me” in an emotional sense. The physical injury of being kicked by a stallion connected to emotional memories of being “kicked” by human stallions.
Breaking up Tension
To start to access our emotional memories, we need to break up the tension in our bodies. The tension holds the emotion prisoner and the buried emotion retains the physical tension. So starting with the physical is a way to access the buried emotions. This is also why we have such resistance to starting to exercise – some part of us knows unpleasant stuff can come up, that we’ve so carefully tucked away deep inside our bodies.
In the biofield chapter we covered breath and movement, sound, dance and laying on of hands as techniques to break up physical tension. Getting massage is another wonderful technique for breaking up physical tension. I personally prefer the Hawaiian lomi-lomi massage because it is so gentle and effective in loosening physical and emotional armoring as well as stimulating the natural life energy.
Some people are under chronic physical tension due to structural causes. One leg may be shorter than the other one, a hip may be dislocated, or there is some other structural misalignment. Finding ways to ease the effects of the chronic tension will help greatly in getting to the deeper layers. People under chronic physical tension generally need more work just to keep the tension stress at bay.
I believe each body has it’s own optimal set of exercises – and it is up to each one of us to find that combination. Whether it’s walks in nature, swimming, running, yoga, tai chi, chi kung, bicycling, aerobics, strength training or horseback riding. The possibilities are many, and the combinations vary. Keep trying and you will eventually find what works for you. It’s normal to be more tired in the beginning. Don’t worry, this will pass. Before you start any new exercise regimen it’s smart to check with your physician.
We need three different types of exercise – stretching to keep us supple, aerobic activity to keep our hearts healthy, and strength training to keep our bones strong and muscles in trim. If it’s difficult for you to get going, starting with strength training will actually help boost your energy, so you’ll feel like doing aerobic type of activity. I’ve also found the movement and breath exercises great for overcoming resistance.
Natural light and fresh air are important for our well being, so try to make some of your activities outdoor ones.
If you aren’t doing any exercise now, give yourself permission to start slow. It’s better to take a walk once a week than not at all, and it’s ok if they are short. Give yourself a pat on the back for having started, in time you can expand your program. It’s so easy for us humans to get over ambitious, and when we can’t live up to our unrealistic expectations, we give up. Less is more, in some cases.
Personally, I like videos better than going to a gym. For strength training made simple check out Strong Women Stay Young, it’s available both as a book and video, put together by Miriam E. Nelson, PhD. For strengthening other muscles to take the load off your back, I recommend Callanetics by Callan Pinckney. I’ve already mentioned Movement and Breath Exercises for Personal Presence by Jane Hundley and The Art of Breathing – Chi Yi by Nancy Zi. For aerobics I like Linda Evans A New You.
In the last chapter we talked about starting to break up physical and emotional tension. So what should you do when an emotion comes up? Just be with it. If tears come, let them. Don’t run to the refrigerator to find some “comfort” food to stop the feeling. Don’t get on the phone to talk to your friends. Don’t do anything. Just relax, and let yourself feel. There is no special breathing technique, just let your body bring up what you’ve been trying not to feel for a long time. Will it be unpleasant? Probably, but when you’ve felt the emotion fully, on the other side is peace, so it’s worth going through. Don’t you want to be rid of all this unfinished business you’ve been carrying around for eons? Of course you do. To fully feel an emotion, relax and soften, surrender to the feeling, let it swallow you up. Perhaps you are only aware of a physical sensation, just focus your awareness on that physical sensation, it will shift when it’s ready.
What is the difference between experiencing and expressing an emotion? Expressing an emotion can be screaming, pounding pillows, stamping feet or talking about them. Unfortunately, this does not release the emotion, it only expresses it. To scream you have to tense your muscles, and even though you will get temporary relief, you haven’t released the emotion. To release the emotion, you need to relax into the emotion and fully feel it. If you focus on softening and imagining yourself falling into the emotion, it’s easier to let go.
How do we avoid our emotions? We avoid our emotions by talking excessively, by expressing instead of experiencing the emotion, by trying to analyze the emotion, by thinking about everything but what is going on with the body right now and by going to sleep. Or not wanting to go where our body leads us, trying to stay in control. Not being in our bodies – at one time it was too painful, so you fled your body, it’s now become an unconscious response. To get back into the body takes practice but in time you’ll be fully here and now.
It’s time to introduce some more exercises. Both are good preparation for therapy and for use between sessions. The first one is to practice following the body sensations and staying with them until they dissolve, just like you would on the therapy table. The second one is more directed in that you fall through emotions layer by layer until you get to your source.
Turn off the phone and put up your do not disturb sign. Lay down in a comfortable place. Start by closing your eyes and taking a few slow deep breaths. Each time you breathe in, become aware of what you notice. It may be a sound outside, it may be an itch in your left thumb, it could be a thought “did I remember to turn off the phone?” or it could be a feeling like happiness. Stay present, just notice with each breath what you are aware of. If a sensation gets stronger, let it. If a thought persists, just let it, just keep noticing with each breath what you are aware of. If you space out, don’t worry, it’s normal, just return to being present with your body, thoughts and sensations. If images come up, don’t try to analyze them, just be with them. Do this exercise as often and as long as you like. As you progress with this exercise you can let go of focusing with each breath, just stay present with whatever is going on, if your attention wanders, bring yourself back gently.
Emotions to Source
Make sure you are comfortable, either recline in a chair or lay down. Close your eyes. Take a few slow deep breaths and relax, let go. Ask yourself, what am I aware of right now – where in my physical body do I feel a sensation – describe it out loud – and put a name on the emotion you are feeling – now breathe into the emotion, feel it fully in your body, stay with it for 30 seconds up to 3 minutes – then fall through to the next layer of emotion, just let yourself fall and let go – then repeat the step – Ask yourself, what am I aware of right now – where in my physical body do I feel a sensation – describe it out loud – and put a name on the emotion you are feeling – now breathe into the emotion, feel it fully in your body, stay with it for 30 seconds up to 3 minutes – then fall through to the next layer of emotion – continue until you get to your Source, you’ll know it when you get there, it’s the place beyond time and space, that which some people call God. This is the center of your Self. Stay with your Source as long as you want. Then come back softly to here and now, open your eyes and stretch. With practice, you can add asking if there is a memory associated with each layer.
If you aren’t used to feeling, these exercises may be difficult at first. Just being still and being with yourself may be a challenge, do what you can each time, and pat yourself on the back for having taken time out for yourself.
Emotions come disguised as physical sensations or mental chatter. The hungry feeling in the pit of your stomach may hide a deep longing for security. Underneath the painful knees may be a deep grief, or it could be something else, such as anger. Emotions reside not only in the chakras, but also in other parts of our bodies. More about this in the next chapter on where to work?.
- Weather Report
- Sense Clues
Activating the Biofield
- Breath and Movement
- Chakra Names, Colors, Sounds and Physical Landmarks
- Chakra Sounds
- HU Sing
- Name Song
- Warm Up
- Skeleton Exercise
- More Warm Up
- The Elements
- Laying on of hands
- Arm Flows
- Spine Flows
- Peripheral Flows
- Rotary Flows
- Chakra Flows
- Energy Bodies and Aura Work
- Energy Bodies Exercise
- Equipment Needed
Breaking up Tension
- Become Aware
- Emotions to Source
Where to Work?
- Client History
- Chakra Qualities and Emotions
- Ask Questions
Release and Integration
- Positive Experiences
- Non-verbal Coaching
- Tears and Pain
- Spitting Up
- Body Work
- Self Flows
- Session Length
- Cutting Aka Chords
God put a Dream in my Heart
- Circle Method
- Clue Threads
- Writing Down the Fear
- Wedging Principle
- Hara Line
- Affirmation with Subconscious Response
Discover a Different Way of Life
- Gratitude Journal
- It Feels Right
- Play Detective
- Professional Workshops
- Supervised Practice
- Own Development
- Expanding Experience
- Assisting at Workshops
- Business Training
- Continuing Education and Development
Choosing a Therapist
- Higher Self
- Valley of Peace
- Garden of Quan Yin