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The Power of the Wound

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Breaking Away from the Seductive Power of the Wound

by Debra Hiers

Listening to Caroline Myss's audio tapes and reading through her books is like picking up a combination lock in the palm of your hand without knowing the combination and listening intently until you feel the tumblers falling into place and they do fall into place, many times over. Each time I experienced myself living the paradigm shift that Caroline was describing. In encountering Myss's work you may feel a subtle, yet powerful influence entering your consciousness; at other times it is like being hit over the head with a sledgehammer and a voice shouting 'Are you awake yet? You'd better wake up and hear this.'

From journalist to publisher to medical intuitive, Caroline Myss's career track has been one that has propelled her forward into a particular awareness of the connecting links between one's life purpose, spiritual journey, and well-being. In the preface to Anatomy of the Spirit she writes, 'I believe we are meant to understand our body-minds as individual spiritual powers expressive of a greater Divine energy. We are meant to discover both our personal power and our shared purpose for being alive within a spiritual context.'

I recently had the opportunity to interview her from afar; she was in Cape Town, South Africa at the time. She enthusiastically reported, 'I had a workshop this weekend that was 500 people and (over) 300 were turned away. I'm meeting with physicians and health specialists in private workshops so I'm really quite flattered at the way my work has taken off here.' From South Africa, Myss was on her way to Australia and then New Zealand before returning home to Chicago in late August. We spoke of the challenges Myss had faced in accepting her life's path as a medical intuitive. When I remarked that I sensed that everything she had written about in Anatomy of the Spirit was something she herself had lived through, she exclaimed, 'You got that right!' She went on to say,' I think everyone can say about their work (that) it wasn't easy. It's not an original statement and I'm hardly the first to make it. But I'm certainly one who can say that, because nothing about this has been easy.'

For now Myss has arrived at a comfortable plateau with her work, a place where she no longer has to prove its validity. 'Maintaining its validity,' she says, 'is a whole different feeling. I can tell by the way health professionals are interested in what I'm doing and by the number of people who want to become students-that says a great deal about the respectability you've earned. I feel very privileged to be part of the movement to validate the role that the spiritual part of ourselves actually plays in every minute of our lives instead of looking at the spirit as that part of us which reaps the benefits of our life or suffers the consequences. I feel very privileged to be part of the creation of a new language and the new consciousness. You know, I'd rather do this than anything else.'

Her life story illustrates for each of us the nature of the spiritual journey. The most important part of finding the way may simply be in the showing up. It has everything to do with living in present time. One brave step gets you to the next, even though it may not be the path you 'think' you should be on.

Myss began her career as a journalist with great ambition: to win a Pulitzer prize before turning thirty. As it turned out, she discovered while working at her first newspaper job that she was not particularly 'gifted' in this area. Quitting the newspaper job led to months of gloomy depression. During this time she recalled an encounter with an Athabascan Indian woman in Alaska who told her of spirit medicine and medicine men, and how one knows when it is time to die. Her next step was graduate school in theology, earning a Master's degree in the study of mysticism and schizophrenia. While at a workshop in Virginia, she met Jim and Meredith Young. 'We were all talking about what we'd like to do and we got very enthused about doing something in the human consciousness field, ' she recalls. As a result they founded Stillpoint publishing company in New Hampshire.

While she was at Stillpoint a funny thing happened. Although she was in the business of publishing books on alternative healing methods, she 'wasn't the least bit interested in becoming personally involved in them.' She smoked cigarettes and drank coffee by the gallon. A mystical experience was not high on her agenda. And yet a mystical experience was exactly what she got. She became medically clairvoyant.

In Anatomy of the Spirit she describes these impressions as impersonal daydreams that came to her. 'No dramatic Åefirst event' ushered my intuitive abilities into my life. They simply woke up inside me, easily, naturally, as if they had always been there,' she writes. As word traveled about her abilities she found that she was soon sandwiching diagnostic health readings in between the reading of manuscripts.

This was a confusing and difficult time for her. To begin to make sense of what was happening, Myss introduced herself to Dr. Norman Shealy, founder of the American Holistic Medical Association, at a conference in 1984. A month later he called to test her intuitive abilities with a patient in his office. Convinced of her gifts, Shealy worked with Myss, teaching her the physical anatomy of the body and coaching her intuitive practice towards medical accuracy. As a result of their work together they co-authored The Creation of Health (Stillpoint, 1988).

Shortly after the publication of The Creation of Health Caroline was in an automobile accident which gave her the opportunity to 'see' in an unconscious state what clearly was her work to do. She left the publishing company to pursue medical intuition on a full-time basis. And has not skipped a beat since.

Anatomy of the Spirit presents a thorough study of the human energy field integrating the Hindu system of the seven chakras, the Kabbalah's Tree of Life, and the seven Christian sacraments. By uniting these three fields of spiritual study, Myss illustrates the ways in which healing is a spiritual undertaking, one that is ongoing. The human energy system described by Myss is an embodiment of these seven sacred truths.

Her newest book, Why People Don't Heal and How They Can, due in late October from Harmony Books, picks up where Anatomy of the Spirit left off. In 1988 Myss noticed a shift in what was going on with her workshop participants. There was a general feeling of despair at having tried everything and still not being able to heal. Somehow in spite of all they were doing, change was not occurring on the cellular level where it was needed in order to bring about a complete healing.

What she discovered in observing this phenomenon was that sometimes a person's identification with the wounds of their past is so strong that it defines their identity in the present. Furthermore, she observed that it is through the language of wounds that we intimately connect with one another and gain power in our relationships. 'This type of social authority can become very powerful, even addicting-health never demands such clout,' she writes.

Myss calls this language 'woundology' and speaks candidly of the seductive power of wounds. She firmly believes that we are not meant to stay wounded, and clearly hopes that people will find her work helpful in letting go of the past and reaching a place of forgiveness. 'I hope people find it very useful, because my intention is to always find more and more ways for people to live better and healthier and I hope I've succeeded with this book.'

Healing is a personal journey; it requires both internal and external change and sometimes the changes required in the healing process are more than a person desires to make. Moreover, the fear of change and postponing the changes one needs to make can create a climate of decline in the body's energy field that may make us more susceptible to a particular illness taking root. In this sense Myss's work has meaning for not only those who are physically ill, but for everyone. This is preventive medicine in the truest sense of the word.

Myss articulates it this way: 'You know there's a lot more than physical illness...There are very few people you can say are really totally healthy. You're suffering with something; either you're suffering from coping with stress in a relationship or stress at a job. You're going to have some area of your life that isn't the way you want it. So whether that area of your life is your physical body or some form of your environment or your spiritual life is quiet frankly irrelevant ... I wanted to articulate a universal model that could be applied to any area of human Life.' This personal journey finds metaphorical value in the study of the astrological ages. Myss identifies three forms of power-Tribal, Individual, and Symbolic-that have evolved during the Arien, Piscean, and now the Aquarian Age and applies them to the patterns of human growth that every individual experiences.

'I think that by nature we are tribal creatures,' she explains. 'We need each other. The earth is a tribal place. What I teach people in my workshops is that the first place we learn tribal law and tribal interaction is within our biological tribe. It is inevitable that each of us make the journey to recognizing that we are universally tied together as a tribe...We are in a stage of our evolution where I believe the forces of evolution are now saying to us the time has come for you to unite as a planetary tribe. And that's all there is to it.

'So, in that state of evolution one automatically moves from being tribal to having to discover oneself because when you are in a tribe what you believe has been given to you, so you maintain a tribal belief. You have yet to undergo the process of self-discovery but it is inevitable that you have to go through that. So, at some point when you are ready to leave that safety net of a group system, you break off and you begin the journey of discovering who you are and what you believe.

'You see that journey in people all over. And if you sit them down and say who are you and what started this, they will-each one of them-tell you that they didn't get along with their family in some way, shape or form...and its always because our tribe did not allow us the room we wanted.'

Myss sees this friction as a natural transition. You turn away from your family or tribe in order to form an individual identity. 'That's the way its supposed to be,' she says. 'That's not a tribal crime. They're doing you a favor if you really understand the system. And you have to go through that state of self-knowing...and that stage can be incredibly lonely because you're not supposed to have interference. You've got to get to know yourself...and then with great consciousness you can choose what you need. Once you get past the fear of being a strong individual...then it seems like you are in a position to begin to look at life more impersonally.'

Looking at one's life from an impersonal point of view is akin to practicing the fine art of detachment. Those familiar with the practice of mindfulness meditation will easily see this correlation. In this state of detached observation, past events do not hold power over you. 'As you move through evolution into getting to know oneself,' Myss explains, 'you begin to know what it means to detach from things that have your spirit.' This allows us to 'look at the whole of our lives from a detached impersonal point of view so that we can with consciousness invest our spirit in what we want to or not invest it (in what we don't want to) or discover where it's invested that we have to call it back from. Now you've got great power running through your system.

'What I wanted to do was present a model that helps people do that, (one) that is far more practical than just telling them (to) get detached. Everybody needs help learning how to do that.'

Myss - Sacred Contracts

Please visit Caroline Myss' website at:

Caroline's Books at
The Creation of Health - Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing

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