Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Power of Symbols

In my last blog I made the rather startling assertion that you can heal yourself of any issue in your life without knowing the source of that issue. It is almost universally acknowledged in psychology that most if not all of our issues can be traced back to our childhood. Freud took this childhood impact to a very young age.

In the spiritual realm, many will suggest that our issues are due to our past lives. Our childhood experiences are really just playing out those past life influences. We choose our parents and siblings and all of the surrounding circumstances of our birth based on past life lessons we have chosen to take on.

Still others claim that astrology is the answer to our challenges and their successful resolution. There are many psychological and spiritual systems of thought that are used to uncover the causes of our current issues and tools for resolving those issues.

In my classes, workshops, and private counseling sessions, I have worked with many different methodologies. I have worked with childhood issues, past life issues, and with dreams. I have also worked with visualization. Any and all of these have proven valuable in helping people to understand and heal their problems. Any methodology could have positive results because the results have nothing to do with the methodology.

We tend to feel superior to those primitive peoples who used dancing, chanting, drumming, drugs, and the conjuring of spirits to help the sick or solve other kinds of problems. The thing is, those techniques were often effective. In fact, throughout our known history, individuals have used a variety of methodologies, including prayer and sacrifice to bring about change.

We have a variety of methods for trying to understand the present and predict the future. There is the I Ching, the tarot, rune stones, and many other divinatory techniques. In the past individuals read tealeaves (and still do) and studied chicken guts or the flight of birds.

Regardless of how far out some of these methodologies seem to us today, all of them were effective at least part of the time. I maintain that none of them actually worked. All of them operated as what I call focusing agents. They simply served to focus the attention of the individual on the outcome being sought. In other words they were symbols that opened the doors of the mind so that a solution might be found. They could all be called placebos.

I have seen symbols change a person’s life many times. Some of us are changed by the symbols in our dreams even when we don’t understand the meaning of our dreams or don’t even remember the dream. The thoughts, feelings, and actions in the dream state are as real and meaningful as those in the waking state.

When we exhibit fear in our dreams, the fear is real. When we exhibit courage in our dreams, the courage is real. In fact the dream state is a great place to face our fears because even if we fail, we’re not going to be harmed. I counsel people to ask for a dream that will help them face some fear or block in their life.

Symbols have power. See my exercise #3 for a couple of examples of using symbols to make changes. Here’s another example. My friend in exercise #3, the one who got the black jaguar as a symbol, used a symbol exercise with a young man who was in the hospital because of a motorcycle accident.

My friend was doing a hospital chaplain internship in a San Francisco south bay hospital. The young man was in a lot of pain because of the injury to his back. He couldn’t be given enough medication to stop the pain because of the location of the injury. My friend knew that he was a religious man.

She asked him what the pain felt like. He said it was like someone had driven a nail into his spine. She asked him if there was anyone who could remove the nail. He said, “Jesus.” So she told him to have Jesus remove the nail. In his imagination he saw Jesus come to him and pull the nail from his back. The pain immediately went away.

I will talk a lot more about symbols in the future because I see everything in life as having a symbolic meaning. Just realize that we are impacted by symbols every day, waking and sleeping, and that we can consciously use symbols to help us resolve any issue.

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