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The Contemplative Way
James Finley, Ph.D
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Transforming Trauma:
Taking the 7 Steps of Spiritual Healing

A retreat exploring the healing power of spirituality. The retreat singles out seven traumas or sources of suffering to which we are subject as human beings, then goes on to provide seven steps that heals these seven sources of suffering. Methods of meditation and other exercises are provided to help us stabilize and grow stronger in each step of the healing journey. The retreat focuses specifically with the ways in which spirituality can be a resource in healing from the long term, internalized effects of childhood trauma and emotional deprivation. But equal attention is given to how each of the seven steps heals all forms of suffering. The seven steps are presented as a path that gravitates toward becoming a healing presence in the midst of the world. The goal is seen to be becoming someone in whose presence others are more freed up to experience healing in their own lives.

The Seven Steps explored in the retreat are:
  1. Be grounded in your experience of who you are as a human being in relationship with others. Take responsibility for the healing that needs to occur there.
  2. Have faith in the subtle flashes of spiritual awakening that occur each day. Trust these moments reveal that although you are ego, you are not just ego. You are a spiritual being created in the image and likeness of God who is spirit.
  3. Realize that the root of suffering is estrangement from spiritual experience. The root of happiness is spiritual experience.
  4. Follow the mystics on the path of prayer and meditation that heals the root of suffering in its origin.
  5. Follow the path of compassionate love that heals the roots of suffering that have found their its way into our minds and hearts (facing and working through bodily and psychological suffering in spiritually grounded way).
  6. Learn to live in the axial moment that transcends suffering in the midst of suffering.
  7. Devote yourself in prayer, meditation and compassionate love to the lifelong process of learning to be a healing presence in the midst of the world. Be resolved to continue living in this way until the last traces of suffering dissolve in love and only love is left.
Suggested Reading

Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery
William Johnston, (trans.) The Cloud of Unknowing
Peter A. Levine, Waking the Tiger
Daniel Siegel, M.D., The Mindful Brain
Thich Nhat Hanh, Transformation and Healing
Ken Wilbur, A Brief History of Everything

(Note: This retreat integrates the spiritual wisdom of the mystical traditions with sound clinical practice to help us heal ourselves and others from the roots of psychological and bodily suffering. The examples used in the conferences are drawn from my own personal journey of healing as well as my experience as a clinical psychologist working with adult survivors of child abuse and emotional deprivation and people in 12 step programs and all who want spirituality to be a resource in their healing process. Some of the material tends to be more immediately helpful to those trauma survivors and those in pastoral ministry and the healing professions. But the emphasis remains essentially practical and experiential and intended for all who are sincerely interested in learning to find in spirituality a rich resource in learning to be a healing presence in the midst of the world.)

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