Tag Archives: dr john sarno

Chuck’s Place: The Quickening Is Now

The opening is coming…
-Illustration © 2023 Jan Ketchel

Quickening is active labor—rapid, thundering contractions with fetus squeezed in a sealed womb, cervix undilated. This is the current birthing stage of our world, reflected in the climatic, environmental, political and social dimensions of life in Gaia’s womb. This is planet Earth now. No exit, no escape.

The survival instinct defense of the human psyche normalizes these traumatic conditions to maintain stability, the way the body regulates its temperature to the ideal of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of external temperature. This defense automatically distracts us from the truth of our emotional reactions to the tensions of now, enabling us to carry on with a false sense of normalcy.

However, the law of compensation insists that the emotional energy we are spared must be converted and experienced somewhere else. One possibility is in an intense obsession, like a cause that consumes our attention with the energy equivalent to our unfelt feelings.

A variation would be a projection, where we might hate someone; again, with the same quantity of energy we avoid in our projected emotions. Perhaps the most common defense is repression, where the disavowed feeling takes up residence in the body and manifests as a somatic issue, like severe back pain. This is the root of psychosomatic illness.

For a time, Jan’s childhood doctor was Dr. John Sarno. Her grandmother revered him. He was a neighbor and Jan has memories of him making house calls. She still has warm feelings about this humble man to this day.

If you google the question: Who is America’s most famous back doctor, the answer you will receive is, Dr. John Sarno. This gentle, soft spoken, 5’3″ man healed Senator John Harkin, John Stossel, Anne Bancroft and Howard Stern of severe back issues by simply educating them about how the psyche distracts us from repressed feelings by creating physical symptoms.

Dr. Sarno’s main treatment was to have his patients read his book Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body ConnectionFor 95% of Dr. Sarno’s patients the knowledge alone of this automatic defensive operation led to a cure.  The remaining 5% he referred to a psychotherapist to address repressed trauma. I would strongly recommend the documentary, All the Rage: Saved by Sarno for an in-depth exposition of his method.*

I emphasize Dr. Sarno’s work here to suggest that we, the people of the world, are most likely being spared the full impact of our emotional reactions to the hair-trigger, eve-of-destruction, state of the world we live in, through converted somatic distractions. This knowledge alone, as Dr. Sarno discovered, may be enough to relieve psychosomatic symptoms in many cases.

To enhance the effectiveness of this knowledge we can make the suggestion to the subconscious to not displace our emotions, but, to the contrary, to deliver us directly our feelings. To acknowledge the truth, and allow ourselves to feel, relieves the body of the tensions that generate the tightness and constriction in our muscles, tendons and nerves, giving rise to many medical diagnoses.

The deeper truth that we might consider is the condition I opened this post with, what Stan Grof has labeled Basic Perinatal Matrix II. BPM II is the no-exit stage of active labor, prior to cervix dilation. Gaia is birthing a new world and we are all part of it, cells of that fetus, currently feeling the terror of extreme contraction, constriction and annihilation. These contractions are real, but they are just that, contractions promising new life.

The impact of our extreme containment is actually facilitating the gradual opening that will birth forth a new world in harmony with the truth.

Best advice for this time is to be aligned inwardly with the truth of the heart and, as they teach in birthing classes: Just Breathe!

Breathing in truth,

Please Note: As Dr. Sarno always advised, anyone dealing with physical symptoms should avail themselves of conventional medical consultation.

Psyche & Soma

Psyche, in Greek, means soul or spirit, especially that part of the soul which manifests in the mind, in the conscious and unconscious parts of our wholeness. Soma refers to the body, especially to the nerve cells of the body. Psychosomatic is a combination of these two root words, meaning that which the spirit manifests in the body.

In my books, comprising the series called The Recapitulation Diaries, I write often about the incessant pain in my body. As real as the pain was, excruciating and debilitating at times, I discovered that it was really messages from my spirit, my psyche, directing me to what needed attention as I progressed on my journey. I discovered that during recapitulation what is manifesting in the body must be explored.

At first, I had almost every pain checked out by one doctor or another. I was doing this long before I even knew about recapitulation or began my journey of change and transformation. I’d go to a doctor and describe my pain, but there was never any diagnosis that those doctors could come up with to pinpoint what was causing the pain.

When I was in my early forties, I developed a skin cancer, a small red spot that turned out to be two types of cancer, basal cell and squamous cell. It’s unusual to have two types of cancer manifesting in the same area, the doctor who did the biopsy told me, but as soon as I had developed the red spot, and as soon as I was informed that it was cancer, I knew immediately that it had nothing to do with my exposure to the sun as a child, as was repeatedly questioned. I knew it had to do with what was festering inside me, that there was something much worse, that that little red dot was just the beginning of something far greater.

I knew, instinctively, that I had some dark thing inside me that I had been trying to forget my entire life. By the time I was forty, I had been pretty successful at forgetting, though I suffered in numerous physical, mental, and spiritual ways. That small red spot was just another indication that I might have to remember.

It was then that I acknowledged that my psyche was hiding something from me. It had protected me up until that point, but if I was to not get more skin cancer, or any other disease, I knew the time had come to face what it really meant. It took another five or six years before I finally took the leap, the leap into my own darkness and what lay there waiting for me to discover.

Pain is an indicator that the body has something to tell us. It might indeed be that we have a serious illness, or it might be that it is trying to protect us from that which we do not want to know. Pain can be a defense against that which is too painful to know.

As I recapitulated, I began to look at the pain in my body as a message from my spirit. I would ask it to show me what it knew, to guide me where to go next. I developed nerves of steel so I could face what my body had to tell me, what it knew and what it meant.

As I faced the pain and asked my body to be my guide, I also discovered that I always had the strength to face what it had to show me. I knew that it would not be asking me to face it if I was not ready. Whenever the pain showed up, and it showed up incessantly, relentlessly right to the very end of my recapitulation, I used it to heal.

That’s a strange idea, to imagine that our pain is actually our healing balm, but it’s true. Without my pain showing me what I needed to face I might not have freed my spirit and my body from the torment of years of abuse that had been so well-hidden inside me.

I often thanked my body and my unconscious for showing me what it knew, for revealing to me the truths not only of my own past but the truths of what the spirit and body are truly capable, how they inform and guide, how they really only want us to heal and discover the magical beings that we all are.

Even today, I still use my psyche and soma to guide me. I constantly question any pain I might have. Often, I realize, it is what I call “stuck energy,” a thought, idea, or attachment, a conjuring of the mind that I’ve latched onto that does not belong to me, stuck energy that needs to be moved along and out of my body, tension that when allowed to naturally release brings instantaneous relief.

Or it might be something that my psyche, my spirit wants me to be alert to, something that needs recapitulation. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons of recapitulation is that we are always being asked to grow and evolve, to confront our deepest issues and resolve them so we can move on into even greater freedom.

Our minds and our bodies, our psyche and soma, are amazing partners as we take our journeys through life, as we seek to know ourselves at the deepest of levels and as we seek to find the meaning in our lives.

I highly recommend any of the books by Dr. John Sarno, especially The Mind Body Prescription, as guides to understanding how psyche and soma work together to bring us to consciousness, to help us heal.

Our defenses are incredibly strong but our spirit is stronger. That is what we discover as we recapitulate.

I wish you all well on your journeys, and I send you love,

J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries