Category Archives: Recapitulation

Chuck’s Place: Child Care

From whence does our ancient innocence come? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
From whence does our ancient innocence come?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The truth is, the child self is older than the adult self. We were all children first. Actually, to advance, the child self had to stay behind so that the adult self could mature.

The child self, who sought the safety and fulfillment of its fundamental survival, who sought unconditional love and acceptance, who sought the pure play of innocence and discovery, had to shut down, hold in, and separate from the seeds of its budding adult self that it launched, while it sank into dormancy, waiting for the day the adult might turn around and rediscover its roots in the purity and innocence of childhood again.

Often, that child self was neglected and traumatized and it secretly bears the weight and torment of its early experiences. Voluntarily, it broke away from consciousness, hiding in the dark so as not to disturb the forward movement of the adult self. Its only hope of redemption, its hidden contract, was that in the triggered moments of adulthood the adult self would come in search of the traumatized child self and lead it to the light of day and help it to become unburdened of its horror stories, terrors, and confusions.

Only the adult self can become the true parent self to its lost child self. Only the adult self can find its forgotten self. Only the adult self can stand with its younger self and bear witness to the full truth of its younger experiences and, in so doing, put them to rest. Only the adult self can free its imprisoned child self and merge its innocence into the play of adult life.

Too often, adults forget their childhoods and only know they don’t want to revisit that horrid period of life. As the child stays cloistered, however, life in adulthood is experienced as barren and lacking, and the adult self seeks to compensate for the lack of joy and freedom by indulging in the myriad of addictions available in adult life.

At other times, adults become parents and inadvertently project their forsaken child selves onto their own children, who they serve as if they were princes and princesses, unable to limit, so deep is the pain of their own forsaken inner children. Sometimes the inner children are projected onto pets or other helpless creatures of the world, whom the adult feels compulsively bound to nurture and save.

Oh, that sweet innocence! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Oh, that sweet innocence!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

If we come to the place of discovery of our own inner child, perhaps at first in dreams where our child tells us its secrets, we may be so appalled by the lack of care given and the hardships endured that we feel bound to serve and protect this wounded child at all costs. Young children do need parents to cater to their needs; its the core of survival. But they do also need parents that will listen to the truth, the whole truth of their experiences, and help them sort out the confusion of who is to blame and why things actually happened. Children may need to be helped to release their anger and sadness, and receive appropriate love and support.

But the truth is, our younger child self is much older than we are and may, in some way, be much wiser and more mature as well. After all, that warrior self already endured pain, suffering, neglect, perhaps even abuse and torture, things the adult self finds difficult to endure much less believe.

The child self does not need to be catered to or compensated for all that it had endured or lost. What it does need, however, is to be relieved of its burdens and its innocence to be welcomed into life.

Too often the adult self struggles with facing the pain, suffering and frustrated needs of the child self and tries to make a life for it where there is no pain or woundings. That’s impossible. As Buddha said, life is suffering. What the child self needs to know is that the adult self will not abandon it again, and that if there are woundings it will heal.

The solution is not to remain overprotective of the child self for the life it has lived, whereby cutting off the opportunity for joy in life, nor in overcompensating or catering to a child who suffered by making unrealistic promises or acting out its entitlement demands. The key to child care is a full recapitulation where the adult self stays present and hears the full truth of the childhood it once lived, ending the child’s isolation, validating its truths, releasing it from its frozen emotions and clarifying its beliefs.

During the recapitulation process the child self and the adult self learn to trust and feel safe with each other. They learn, no matter what is encountered or presented, that they can and will handle anything together in a nurturing and loving manner, without judgment or fear, unconditionally committed to a new and open relationship with each other. With that deep work done, the innocence of the child self merges with the maturity of the adult self and together they are not only ready to lead a new and fulfilling life, but fully open to experiencing all the joys and love that adulthood offers.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for the adult self is to encounter the pure innocence of the child self and to not succumb to a deep sadness and protectiveness that freezes the ability to bring that innocence into life. All innocence must experience the wounding of life outside the protectorate of the fairytale. For innocence to continue life in this world, it must grow to know about pain and suffering.

Resolution, acceptance, fulfillment... - Art by Jan Ketchel
Resolution, acceptance, fulfillment…
– Art by Jan Ketchel

Buddha’s father attempted to encase him in a painless magical kingdom, a fairytale world that he would never leave. Eventually, however, Buddha did go out into the real world and fully experience the woundings of the real world, as did Christ in his own ending on the cross. Nonetheless, it was through such woundings, and the ability to not get swallowed up by them, that each of these teachers eventually ascended to their spiritual enlightenment.

The path laid out for the adult self is to let our innocence out into this world and, through the trials and experiences in its human and spirit suffering, to find fulfillment in the enlightenment of the full human spiritual journey. This is true child care.

Deeply caring,

A Day in a Life: Second Step Of Recapitulation

It might take a while to realize that what blocks our path are our own beautiful truths... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
It might take a while to realize that what blocks our path are our own beautiful truths…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Once we accept that there is something wrong at our core, we are ready for the next crucial step on the healing journey that the process of recapitulation offers. That step is to be open. Being open means allowing life itself—the universe, our bodies, our psyches, and our spirits—to show us what we must face about ourselves, the fears, truths and potential that lie hidden inside us.

If we constantly turn away from what comes to guide us, we may not really be ready. Our steps into our inner world may be so frightening and uncomfortable that we cannot hold ourselves together. We must question whether or not we have the energy or the time to commit to the deeply investigative and healing process that is recapitulation.

Are we truly ready to find out all that troubles us? Or are we better off waiting until we are more ready and available to take the changing journey of recapitulation? I was forty-eight years old before I was finally ready to face what constantly nipped at my soul. Before then I lived with the discomfort of knowing that something was not right, yet I just could not face what it was or what it might mean. I made the choice to live with my defenses and my demons, to struggle along as best I could in the stranglehold of depression, dissociated from life and Self, until I no longer could.

If we are not ready, if it is truly not the proper time to open the door to input from all that we are, our choice then is to get busy with life, to forge ahead into career, family, or creative endeavors. The truth is that we must be able to give ourselves the care and attention that a deep inner journey will require. We must have forged a mature adult self, capable of guiding us through the process. If we have not yet forged a strong adult self then that is the first step to work on as we contemplate our future inner work. A strong adult self capable of guiding our inner child self through the process is a necessary prerequisite of any inner journey.

In addition, if we are at the beginning of forging our identity in the world, still building our ego and finding our feet as independent beings it might not be the right time either. Perhaps its better to put our energy into being fully in the world. However, if our attempts to be in the world repeatedly fail, it might actually be better to tackle what lies within while simultaneously making our way in the outside world. It really depends on who we are, what energetically presents itself to us, and what we are capable of handling.

Whether it is the time for us to begin a deeply life-changing journey or not can be a matter of personal preference and choice, but as with so many choices we are often pushed into them because we have no other recourse but to acquiesce. Some people have life changing events occur that force a change, a serious accident, a near-death experience, devastating illness or circumstances that require starting over, often with a decidedly changed persona and intent. In my own case, I felt death breathing down my neck. I literally felt like I was dying. Though I had no physical disease, I had deeply gnawing spiritual dis-ease. It was time to stop running from it. I knew that if I did not do something for myself, find someone to talk to, I would die.

We might be ready when we least expect it to take the inner journey to facing our fears... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We might be ready when we least expect it to take the inner journey to facing our fears…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Death was so close I could smell its stench. I was soon to discover that the stench of 16 years of childhood sexual abuse, rotting at the center of my being, was a far more preferable traveling companion, because it meant letting the breath of life in. Soon life was breathing down my neck, urging me on, and the scent of death wafted away with each word I spoke and each breath I took. As B. K. S. Iyengar says in his book, Light on Life: “We carry so many toxins in memory, feelings that we have stored away and allowed to stagnate and fester. We get so used to carrying this sack of rubbish around that we even conclude it is just part and parcel of our character.”

Basically, when our discomfort shows us that we need healing at our very core, we have two choices: to tackle it head on, accepting what comes, or asking it to wait until we are more ready in our personal lives to handle the full impact of it. It’s okay to not be ready, but the question of readiness itself needs careful attention and consideration.

Once we make the decision to begin our recapitulation, or once our recapitulation begins without our total approval as is sometimes the case, we must shift into being open in a way that we have probably never been open before. Openness evolves as we let the process begin, as we become keenly aware of the world around us and the world inside us, as we begin to examine everything that happens to us in a new way, everything that we dream about, everything that we smell, taste, feel, hear, touch and remember.

Our dreams might be the first place our recapitulation shows up. At the beginning of my recapitulation I had a dream that basically laid out the entire first year of my recapitulation. After that I had subsequent dreams showing me where I would go and how things would unfold. It was only in retrospect, as I worked on my Recapitulation Diaries books, that I clearly saw this process. We all dream. As we open to recapitulation, our dream recall improves and we learn to trust that our dreams will guide us.

Another place that recapitulation may show up is in our body. What do our aches and pains really mean? Are we sick or are we being shown where we store our memories? Are our chronic symptoms symptoms of our spiritual dis-ease? If we allow our body to show us what it knows we learn about where we have been and what we have been through. During my recapitulation my throat ached for months as I was unable to speak or cry. I felt a huge ball growing. I painted pictures of it, but it was not fully released until I faced what it really meant about my child self. All that she held in had to be felt and resolved, all hers fears and pain, all her shame.

Being open means learning what it means to suspend judgments and blame, to lose our inflations and self-deprecating criticalness, to drop our protective defenses and humbly revision ourselves as part of a grander universe where all are equal, equally vulnerable and equally unique. Being open means we learn that its okay to have feelings and emotions, to care about ourselves, especially if we have spent our lives caring only about others.

And then there is the light! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
And then there is the light!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Being open means letting go, gradually at first and them more readily, of our need to control our world. Granted this is a necessary defense, keeping us from falling apart, but eventually it has to go too, because recapitulation means that sooner or later we are going to totally fall apart, not because we are not able to withstand the impact of our deepest truths, but because we are fully ready to handle them. Letting go is trusting that we are enough, that we have everything we need inside us, as we dare to put it to the test a step at a time.

Being open means saying, “Okay, I’m ready. Show me what I need to know about myself. I am ready to take the changing journey of recapitulation.” And then we wait for what comes to show us the steps that we will take along our personal path of recapitulation. Once the journey begins we don’t really have to do anything, as it will take us! We just have to keep being open, unfolding like a flower as it turns its head toward the light.

Still walking the recapitulation path, in the light of every day,

NOTE: See my previous blog First Step Of Recapitulation: HERE

A Day in a Life: First Step Of Recapitulation

The first step in taking the recapitulation journey is to acknowledge that something is wrong. Statements and questions like the following might indicate the need for deeper self-exploraton:

We have to fully explore the dark if we are to fully access the light... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We have to fully explore the dark if we are to fully access the light…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I don’t fit in.
I’m not really here; my body walks around but I’m not in it.
I don’t feel safe.
I’m always afraid.
I just want to be normal.
Why can’t I just be like everyone else?
Why do I feel so different, isolated, lonely, angry?
Why can’t I trust anyone?
Why do I feel so ashamed, so guilty, so invisible and unimportant?
What am I always apologizing for?
What is wrong with me?

Recapitulation is not just for the recapitulation of trauma or physical or sexual abuse; it is a process that can be utilized to clear up and clean up any negative energies or beliefs that may hamper fuller living. From the point of view of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico it is a prerequisite to higher learning and exploration.

How can we move on into new positive life experiences if we have not completely shed the negative aspects of our old life experiences? Our experiences of happiness, contentment, and calm balance will be fleeting or short-lived until we acknowledge that something is seriously wrong, that in spite of how far we have come in life we are slowly dying a little bit each day at our deepest core.

Once we acknowledge that something is seriously wrong with us the next step is to accept that it’s okay to have something wrong; in fact it might be quite helpful. No one is perfect or is expected to be perfect, in spite of what you may have been taught. The things that we’ve been taught and the voices that have ruled us our entire lives might be the first things to look at closely as we contemplate beginning a recapitulation.

A simple nonthreatening process might entail noticing how often we refer to or repeat things that we were taught as we were growing up. Are those things true today? Do we really believe them? Are they relevant to now? What are the messages I constantly repeat to myself? Who told me I couldn’t do this or that? Who made up the rules that rule me? Who’s voice do I hear in my head telling we what to do, how to think and how to feel? Who’s voice controls me?

Recapitulation asks us to face our issues and, yes, that is a painful process but we will never be free if we don’t fully encounter and go through all that keeps us bound to lives of stagnancy, negative self-talk, repetitive behaviors, pain and depression.

The recapitulation goal is to one day walk calmly among the shadows and be at peace... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The recapitulation goal is to one day walk calmly among the shadows and be at peace…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In acknowledging that there is something wrong with us, we must also accept that everything can be fixed, that where there is a wrong there is a right. And the personal commitment to fixing the wrongs and finding the rights is the healing journey of recapitulation.

Remember, you’re already a survivor. You can get through anything; you’ve already proven that just by growing up with all of your defenses and protections in place. Now it’s time to go on to a new level of living, growing beyond the old stuff that is no longer really working for you. Your strengths and abilities do not need to be tested; that’s already been done. You just need to reframe them into positive attributes as you now concentrate on healing you!

We live our whole lives in our physical body, housing our mental, emotional and spiritual selves. It’s important to make our body home of self into someone we really love and respect, someone we want to spend the rest of our lives with. Recapitulation can get us there.

It’s a fascinating journey,

A Day in a Life: The Four-Fold Process Of Recapitulation

The four-fold path is ever-unfolding... - Art by Jan Ketchel
The four-fold path is ever-unfolding…
– Art by Jan Ketchel

Show up.
Pay attention.
Tell the truth.
Don’t get attached to the outcome

These four basic principles of many shamanic traditions have been put to modern usage in a variety of well-established models of healing and recovery. Indeed, Carl Jung suggested squaring the circle, grounding in four points of consciousness to fully access and achieve the wholeness that we truly are. Claudia Black in her seminal work on co-dependency, Double Duty, sets out four basic agreements that adult children of chemically dependent parents follow to achieve recovery: to show up and explore their past; to pay attention to and identify what was learned as a child; to without judgment tell the truth about old behaviors, reframing them into survival skills; and to not get attached to the outcome but to break through all ideas of the past to take full ownership of true feelings, beliefs, and responsibility for new life. Angeles Arrien brought the process of indigenous shamanism alive in her own seminal work, The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary. I see these same four strategies clearly spelled out in the shamanic process of recapitulation that turned my own life on its ear as I embarked on a journey of deep self-exploration and healing, marking the square within the circle of my own wholeness.

During the shamanic process of recapitulation, showing up might mean being present for what shows up in your life and points out what must be recapitulated and what must be received. Often a recapitulation process seems to begin out of nowhere, but deeper reflection might reveal that it has been in the works for a long time. If you are ready, if you choose to commit, if you align with the intent of your spirit, you will be on the healing journey of a lifetime, into your own body and psyche, where all that you are and all that you have the potential to become waits for reconciliation. Though many people do recapitulation on their own—indeed the bulk of the process is often done alone—a seasoned guide may become a necessary part of the process. Such a guide would offer tools for grounding and empowerment that would enable you to realign and return to your journey, fully present again rather than constricted by worry or fear.

Paying attention might mean not turning away from the truth, no matter how painfully crushing or ugly. It can be difficult at first to hold your ground as memories overwhelm or as traumatic events, or even sad events, are reckoned with, but over time paying attention becomes easier; staying present becomes easier. After a while, the way your specific process unfolds becomes more predictable. You learn the signals that a recapitulation is about to begin. You learn that you can gain a little control by asking it to wait, but you also learn that you must let it know that you will attend to it at an appropriate time. You learn that you are not a victim but a strong independent being and that although you are willing to take the journey into the deeper self you are not willing to be destroyed by the journey. You gain invaluable experience in the unfolding of the process, especially as you begin to realize that even as you once survived your trauma so too do you survive the reliving of your trauma during recapitulation.

To blossom is natural... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
To blossom is natural…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Eventually, you begin to decipher between what is you and what is not you, what has heart and meaning for you and what does not. You notice that blocks and obstacles begin to melt and you become softer, gentler with yourself. Eventually you are more open, able to be compassionate and giving toward others in a new and different way too. You find that life holds possibilities previously unimagined. This is paying attention.

Telling the truth during recapitulation might mean looking at your past without judgment or blame, focusing instead on discovering all that was, so that you are not left with any mysteries or burdens to bear, so that your maturity may blossom and all that once kept you locked in old beliefs and behaviors may fade away. During recapitulation you focus on expressing yourself truthfully and with integrity as you search for your authentic self, waiting to hear the voice of your own true inner being. You are recapitulating so that your authentic self may fully live and speak your truths without fear or restraint, as you are no longer willing to be held back from enjoying the fullness of the life you are in and who you truly are.

Eventually, the process becomes a fascinating journey, as the events of your life are studied and valued for what they have to teach you and for what they bring you. But the longterm intent of recapitulation is to retrieve the parts of yourself that were split off during the traumatic events of your life and bring them home. It is a holistic healing process, a soul retrieval that you do for yourself. How could anyone else ever do it for you? I discovered this during my own recapitulation; I was the only one who could possibly take my own inner journey. I was the only one who could possibly know and recognize the real me.

Not getting attached to the outcome might mean letting your process guide you forward rather than deciding where you think the journey should take you. It means learning to trust that everything is part of the journey, finding a way to be comfortable with the ever-changing self. Yes, it’s good to begin recapitulation with the intent of reconciliation and healing, but reconciliation might take on a whole new meaning, and healing, by the end of the journey, might be something quite different from what you had imagined when the journey began. Overall, a recapitulation must be undertaken with openness, with readiness to finally make sense of life on a deeper level, specifically your own life.

Recapitulation is really a spiritual practice, and with all spiritual practices it requires acquiescence of a sort, to allowing the practice itself to show the way. It also requires acquiescence to the inevitability of change and to really allowing the self to change on the deepest level. Change means letting go of a lot of things, even people who no longer are part of your journey, but it also means inviting in a lot of new things and people and moving on without regret, fully accepting of all that once was, fully open to all that is still possible.

Eventually it all makes sense... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Eventually it all makes sense…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Not being attached to outcome is part of acquiescing, not in a giving up way or even a giving in way, but in an acknowledgement of your spirit and the truths it speaks to you of. As life, the universe, and your spirit take you forward on your journey—both during your recapitulation and in your new life beyond recapitulation—you realize you really have no control over what happens, and this too is acquiescence, yet you still exercise the ability to choose to live life according to what is right and good for you and your spirit.

Spiritual and shamanic traditions look to nature to offer guidance during times of change, to show the way, rather than denying that change is happening. Recapitulation offers a path of healing that looks to the nature of the Self to show the way, where all that we naturally are is waiting for us to free it.

On the recapitulation path,

A Day in a Life: Evolving Recapitulation

I really am in the final throes of editing my next book in The Recapitulation Diaries series: The Edge of the Abyss. For this week’s blog I post another excerpt, as I am conserving my time for editing. As the recapitulation proceeded I constantly discovered just how my inner process was leading me to learn what I needed to learn about myself. Guided by the intent of the process of recapitulation itself—its intent set long ago by the Shamans of Ancient Mexico—I was swept up in that intent, for better or worse, married to it. Though I often felt that I had married a monster, at other times I knew I had married a prince. In the end I discovered that I had been married to myself all along—if that makes any sense! I don’t believe this excerpt needs the same kind of warning as some of the others that I’ve posted. It’s really just about gaining valuable insight about the journey of life and moving forward with renewed intent.

"Look what I bring!" my child self says... Bottle art by Haldis. Photo by Jan Ketchel
“Look what I bring!” my child self says… Bottle art by Haldis. Photo by Jan Ketchel

From February 6, 2003: My son, sick with the flu and a 103° temperature, sleeps in today. I get my daughter off to school and contemplate what I woke up thinking about earlier this morning: shame, and the child inside me who continues to carry it around like a heavy boulder. I’m pretty sure the adult self let it go a long time ago, but the child self sneaks into the adult world at times still bearing this heavy burden. She plunks it down in front of me and says: “See! It’s still here.”

As I peer at this big boulder of shame that she drags around, I suddenly experience complete separateness from this child self, and with utter clarity I understand that she is the one who so tightly rolls into that fetal position every night. Clutching all the pain and shame, she’s still very much alive, residing somewhere deep inside me, while I—the adult—have gone on into life. I’ve grown up and done a lot of adult things, distancing myself from her as much as possible in order to do so. Now, I clearly understand that I went on so I could one day return to this moment, so that I could one day be in the position I’m in right now, intent upon rescuing the child self still inside me and, in so doing, rescue myself.

Until today, I’ve had such a difficult time seeing and believing myself to actually be more than one being, fearful of what it might mean about me, perhaps that I’m crazier than I thought. But only in acknowledging that I am many beings simultaneously will I be able to embrace the crystal clear insight that right now, in this moment, hits me: fragmentation is a valuable skill!

In one aspect of fragmentation, my fully present adult self is able to step outside the memories and from her perspective carefully and sensitively guide my child self. I see this as an evolving aspect of the recapitulation. I realize that in so doing I’m finally able to reciprocate what my child self once so protectively did, as she fragmented, repressing the memories in the process, so I could grow up. I’ve simply not been in a position to fully embrace this insight until now, but it’s very clear that fragmentation is an important tool that has a valid place in the healing process.

"I can do this now," my adult self says... Photo and painted bottle art by Jan Ketchel
“I can do this now,” my adult self says… Photo and painted bottle art by Jan Ketchel

As I continue to hone the use of this skill, I imagine that all of my parts will eventually merge. As my adult self joins forces with my fragmented child selves—my sixteen little girl selves—and grants them each an opportunity to express themselves, they will no longer be alienated parts, separate from the whole. Once each part has told her tale and been fully acknowledged for both her pain and her bravery, another part will link into this healing process, another part offered the way home. Clarity and wholeness will eventually come, as new ideas and new perceptions about life in general and the past in particular are accepted and assimilated too.

It’s really the job of the adult self now to make all this happen, to introduce the guidelines, for only she has the wherewithal and the stamina to take on this monumental task. It’s what I’ve been preparing for. She must nurture and prepare each of the fragmented selves now too, make them welcome, and fully assimilate them into the inner circle of the new self. It can’t happen without a strong adult presence, a loving, respectful, and compassionate self. That kind of maturity is key to this whole process.

Thanks for reading!