The ultimate purpose of inner healing is to make more space in your being for an expanded (or expanding) consciousness. When inner healing is done well, it releases or transforms the contracted consciousness of right/wrong, good/bad, us/them, separateness, and creates more space for an expanded consciousness of empathy, understanding, interdependence, and togetherness. Whether you believe that consciousness emanates from the brain* or from beyond the brain,* an expanded consciousness is one in which there is more room for differences and for bridging differences, for forgiveness and compassion, and for integrity and restorative accountability.
A contracted consciousness of separateness leaves you stuck in and limited to the beliefs and perceptions of your wounded ego. A contracted consciousness will even judge the ego as wrong or bad, as something to eradicate. The more you create inner space for expanded consciousness, the more you can access the wisdom and intuition in your body and, perhaps, from beyond your body. Further, instead of making the ego wrong, an expanded consciousness builds a bridge of compassion and understanding to the ego and allows it to contribute to your expanding consciousness and to the expansion of consciousness that the world needs now.
The more room you have in yourself for expanding consciousness, the more you will respond to the challenges in your life with wisdom, humility, and courage, and the more easily life will align with your values. A contracted consciousness leaves you acting or reacting out of fear and attempting to force life and the people around you to fit around your beliefs and your wounds.
The 13th-century Persian poet Rumi said that your wound is the place where the light enters you. In my experience, this is true if you are willing to do the inner healing work necessary for allowing the light to enter (the light being synonymous with expanded consciousness). Without doing the necessary inner healing work, the light remains blocked and the pain of the wound continues to project out to the world.
Some people present themselves as masters and teachers of expanded or higher consciousness before they have done enough of their inner work. This often leads to harmful consequences for their students. Having a clear understanding of expanded consciousness and being able to teach concepts and practices to others does not mean that expanded consciousness has been fully embodied. You can tell how deeply someone has integrated expanded consciousness by how well they navigate their relationships, particularly their intimate relationships.
Transforming a contracted consciousness into an expanded consciousness can begin by looking at your thoughts and beliefs and finding the needs and values within them. For example, within the thought “You are such a liar,” there are needs for honesty, trust, and integrity. Thinking in terms of honesty, trust and integrity rather than in terms of the judgment “liar” is a step toward expansion. However, only working at the level of the mind is like creating more space in your garden by removing the top of a weed while leaving the root in the ground.
To fully allow an expanded consciousness into our being we need to go deep into the body and feel the sensations and emotions therein. This is often the hard part. The sensations and emotions that are related to our challenges and conflicts can be quite uncomfortable and difficult to feel. Moreover, these sensations and emotions are often linked to pain from the past that was never resolved. In fact, the more difficult the sensations and emotions, the more likely they are linked to past pain that was never resolved.
As difficult as it can be to feel what is going on in the body, doing so is essential for opening up more inner space for expanded consciousness. Mindfully and skillfully feeling sensations and emotions in the body allows us to get right to the root of the contracted beliefs and energy stuck in our being. Inner healing is an ongoing process that, for most of us, deepens and evolves for as long as we’re willing to keep at it.
* If you prefer to think of consciousness as an emanation of the brain, then you can think of expanded consciousness as the greater awareness that is available when all the parts of the brain and the nervous system are integrated and functioning effectively together. The more integrated your brain and nervous system are, the more you can access and be aware of the information from the neural networks in the belly and heart and from all parts of the cranial brain. Greater integration also allows the linear, logical, literal, doing, and solving functions of your brain’s left hemisphere to work with rather than against your body and your right hemisphere’s functions of empathy, compassion, insight, morality, feeling and relating.
Because many of us grew up in a left-hemisphere-dominant world, we were not supported to develop full consciousness of the information held by our right hemispheres and our bodies. Through inner healing work, we build our capacity to tune into more and more of the information from the whole brain and body and thus expand what we are conscious of. The information and perceptions we receive from an integrated brain and body lead us to think and act much more interdependently and compassionately than the information and perceptions that come mainly from the left hemisphere. As the psychiatrist and author Daniel Siegel says, “Integration, when it is made visible, is kindness and compassion.”
*If you prefer to believe that consciousness emanates from beyond the brain, then expanded consciousness can be thought of as a universal awareness that comes through all humans and all life. The ego can be seen as a type of software that allows universal consciousness to work through the human body. And the consciousness of separateness is analogous to a virus or an algorithm that distorts the ego’s understanding of it’s essence and of the world. As we do our inner healing work, we clear the distortions of separateness and create more space for universal consciousness to enter into our being and inspire us to help heal the world.
The consciousness of separateness is at the bottom of the root of all our wounds and trauma. And so, it is the inner work of healing our wounds and trauma that takes further and further down that root and creates more and more space to plant the expanded consciousness of our integrated selves and of our true nature so that it can grow into it’s full beauty and life-giving magnificence.