Six more Vietnam and Iraq veterans, all with PTSD, faced their fears and not only opened their hearts but found another choice of behavior and began to heal themselves in only eight weeks: Allen L Roland
The first meeting of the Healing The Wounded Heart Veterans Workshop #6 was held on May 25, 2011 at 11 AM in Yountville, California
They had never met me but they had been told about me, by their adjustment counselor Sal, and were prepared for an eight week commitment to face their fears and open their hearts in the process. They knew I was a former active duty Naval aviator and that made a big difference.
All of them had some symptoms of PTSD and even TBI but all had the common symptom of a closed heart and the inability to love and receive love ~ mainly because of deep unworthiness issues that originally started in childhood and were reinforced through their military experience.
I told them that this was an action based workshop and if they did their homework they would reach a place of not only another choice but would open their closed hearts in the process. They would also begin to see through different eyes ~ eyes unclouded by fear, resentment and unworthiness. I also explained through my Cycle Of Life chart how psychic pain will override Joy to the extent that most people have no idea that beneath their deepest pain and aloneness is love, joy and connectedness ~ the Unified Field.
After each session ~ part of their homework was to read each session in my book RADICAL THERAPY / SURRENDER TO LOVE AND HEAL YOURSELF IN SEVEN SESSIONS ( NOT SEVEN YEARS ) which reinforced the previous group session.
Of course, that first session I shared my own heart's journey to find a lost and alone little boy within myself who not only wanted to fly, and became a Navy Fighter pilot, but also to love as deeply as I loved my beloved grandfather before I was torn away from him at six years old. We briefly talked about the war and all of them briefly shared their heart's journey and by the end of two hours ~ they began to feel a sense of commonality. Their homework was to produce a life chart of the path of their individual heart's journey ~ which they would share with the group over the next two sessions. The objective of the life chart is for the participant to see their life as a quest, versus a struggle, to find their authentic self and how every relationship and experience has played a role in that quest.
As one participant later wrote in his journal ~ “ Allen took the first of us sitting closest to him and immediately begin questioning and working to discover what are the specific issues that most need to be addressed to jump start this individuals heart, and in doing so opening them up to seeing inside of themselves, maybe for the very first time!
Allen seems to have the uncanny ability to reach down into the very core of our most sacred and intimate sense of our very existence, and expose and reveal our God center, or our innate connection to a “Unified Field of Love”, as he refers to it.
Allen gave each of us a copy of his second book titled “Radical Therapy” which describes verbatim the self healing process we were embarking on. He literally took us by the hand, and began to lead and coach us essentially to the warm and wonderful world of self discovery.
The first thing he had us write down was… It’s my turn !
Also we’ve each been assigned a good amount of homework, all designed to reveal ourselves in a Life chart.
Most of us were at one time or another moved to tears. For me it was tears of spiritual joy. For others it was perhaps tears of glimpsing past the pain, and under the sadness, a sense of the innocent little boy we all once were.
Yesterdays two hour session has left me so moved, I find myself having to share it, for it is to date, the most significant experience I’ve had since my living here in the Veterans Home for the last wonderful eight years.”
The next three sessions they all shared a childhood picture of themselves as well as their life charts with the group describing their individual journeys to find love and acceptance as well as themselves ~ as I helped each one of them see it as a quest. We briefly discussed their war experience but they quickly realized their deeper commonality ~ in that their lives had all been a journey to find meaning and that all of their love relationships had significance regardless of how they turned out. They were already a band of brothers on a common inner journey of the heart ~ the ultimate fire fight with fear.
After sharing their individual life charts, they did the Victim /Accountability exercise and had the chance to feel the lightness of being accountable versus the heaviness of being a victim. Their homework was to take the people they had resentment towards off the hook and realize that many of these people they had deeply loved had really been gifts in their lives ~ regardless of the outcome.
The fifth session they met the innocent child within by means of a powerful guided visualization. Every one of them saw that long lost innocent child who told them what they needed to do to fully embrace him in their lives now. Their faces literally changed and became younger as they made that inner connection. Sunny wrote about it in his journal ~ “ This week, Allen put us through an intense visualization which made it possible for all of us to meet our respective ”Inner Child”… the fresh experience of seeing and feeling my inner child within me leaves me accepting and loving myself more completely than ever before ! I repeat ~ Loving myself more completely than ever before… I now see everybody with new loving eyes! Wow! ”
All of them not only met their inner child but received answers to questions like What’s my next Step and What’s the most important advice you can give me?
Here’s what they heard ~ Accept yourself and open your heart ~ you are loved, be yourself, surrender ~ love yourself, be honest and find your voice ~ accept yourself and open your heart, you are loved ~ Surrender, I’ve always been here for you ~ Stay with me and surrender ~ Go beyond your fears, accept your past.
The next session, one week later, was all about gratefulness and thanking the people who have been there for them their whole life ~ with the help of a guided visualization. Some of them had virtually not thanked anyone and certainly not themselves and their homework was to thank the people they have not thanked and tell them why they were a gift in their life. Gratefulness is the lifeblood of soul consciousness and it must begin with ourselves ~ and all of them forgave themselves.
By now the Band of Brothers were inspiring each other on their common journey through fear ~ they were beyond the point of no return. Their homework was to thank at least 15 people who had touched them before the next session. We still hadn't dwelled on the war for there was no need to. They were already healing themselves by taking responsibility for love and sharing gratitude with others.
The next session, one week later, was the Death Exercise where they, through a visualization, were guided in a profound death exercise which helped them to experience the degree to which the people closest to them really knew them. The exercise actually simulates your death and quite often the shock of knowing that you did not truly share yourself with the people closest to you or that very few people really knew you. Obviously, it is a strong inner stimulus to open your heart with the people closest to you ~ and that was their homework to accomplish with the five people closest to them before the next session.
It was in that same spirit of action and celebration that we had our Eighth and final session where everyone acknowledged each others common journey through fear to the joy, love and light beneath. The resultant change in their demeanors was breathtaking and their evaluations reflected this change; Robert: The workshop helped open my eyes to me and let others in ~ it’s my turn. Gerard: I don’t easily anger anymore, I’m a little more patient and able to forgive myself for not trying to live up to someone else’s expectations of me. Jim: This workshop more than met my expectations; I’m much more open with my feelings. Ed: This workshop helped me become less fearful and I loved expressing my feelings without being judged. Kent: I have a far deeper awareness now of how my fears are constricting me from fully living. Sunny: The Healing the Wounded Heart workshop is the most valuable self discovery venture I have ever experienced!
Once these wounded warriors complete this workshop they are now much more inclined to participate in the other venues of the Concord Vet Centers heart centered approach which includes Healing Touch, Meditation and Tai Chi.
All of them were once stuck in the grey zone of anger, pain and unworthiness but now a heart centered light has gone on within them ~ they can now begin to clearly see the path to their recovery. In essence, they have all met themselves and to celebrate that occasion ~ I gave each of them Derek Wolcott’s very appropriate poem Love After Love ~
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here, Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life ~ whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes ~ peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit, Feast on your life.
I continue to be honored and humbled in helping this growing Band of Brothers find not only themselves but experience another choice of behavior ~ a heart centered choice.
Allen L Rolandhttp://allenlrolandsweblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/band-of-brothers-6-finding-another.html
Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist and psychotherapist Allen L Roland is available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private consultations ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his weblog and website allenroland.com He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on www.conscioustalk.net