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Micro-Journeys on the Long Arc of Transformation

Updated: Apr 20

This post is excerpted from Sylas' email newsletter to the community. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter to hear from us in your inbox twice a month. We share current reflections, fun and intriguing things we've come across recently, announce events and courses, and talk integration, harm reduction, healing, growth, and spiritual development.

There continue to be many new psychedelic research papers released each month. I recently reviewed this one related to psychedelic integration. It validates the positive effects of mindfulness as a post-journey integrative tool. Good thing we have science to validate thousands of years of cross-cultural practices!

Here is a video of Orland Bishop talking about “sawubona.” Orland Bishop is the founder and director of Shade Tree Multicultural Foundation in Los Angeles, where he has pioneered approaches to urban truces and mentoring at risk youth that combine new ideas with traditional ways of knowledge. This video touched me in the remembrance of how important it is to be seen and witnessed on our paths of transformation. For me, it invites a deeper consideration about being and freedom.

When I was going through my breathwork facilitator training, part of the program was to maintain a weekly breathwork practice. As you can imagine, nine months of traveling over and over to those expanded states of consciousness through breath and music made for a longer journey, stretched out over many micro-journeys. Breathwork is a catalyst not unlike psychedelics and can even be more powerful for people. In my own journey through healing, I have learned that even when something is healed in the mind, it can still be held in the physical body and subtle bodies. For healing to be integrative, the contractive pattern must be felt, expressed and witnessed on all the layers of the mind, body and spirit.

Like psychedelic journeys, no two breathwork sessions are the same, and the practice can help us access held contraction within our systems on all layers. Also like psychedelic journeys, we don’t get to choose what comes up, as the wisdom of the system chooses what to express and experience within the journey. Many of my journeys have happened in complete physical stillness, aside from the breathing, but with strong visual experiences. In others, my physical body is the dominant avenue of release through a wide range of motions and tension patterns.

What has been really interesting to me is tracking these sessions and the integration periods between them for larger themes and threads that seem to flow throughout the long arc of the journey. Bringing these themes into awareness to work with them intentionally has also changed the nature of the experiences in the breathwork sessions. As I proceeded, deeper dimensions of the same theme would present.

If you'd like to learn more about breathwork, see this post. If you're curious to try, or ready to continue, breathwork practice, please join me for the next online breathwork session.

In my conversations with clients I find myself repeating, “Transformation is a long arc,” and discussing how lasting change comes through the way we practice our lives. I am grateful for the refrain, as the repetition is good for my own remembrance. Engaging consciously in transformational work means we are intentionally moving from one way of experiencing our lives to a different paradigm of experience. It’s a fundamental shift in being. With these processes usually unfolding over months and years, tracking the changes and staying oriented throughout the process can be challenging. Feelings of defeat, despair, and confusion can arise when we are experiencing what feels like a backslide into old patterns of being.

One thing I have witnessed and experienced as helpful, in the midst of what feels like a backslide, is tracking changes, and highlighting with awareness the ways that I am actually experiencing life differently than before. When an old pattern of behaving and experiencing shows up, despite having “done so much work,” it’s easy to focus on the negative. Brain research tells us that the human mind has what is called a negativity bias. This means we have more reactivity to negatively perceived events and tend to internalize them more deeply, making it challenging to have a balanced perception of the situation. This, of course, is only one dimension of our complex systems at play during internal transformational processes, but one that is important to be aware of. By reviewing the event after the fact, with a regulated nervous system, we can begin to highlight ways this experience was different than before. Validating the transformational process helps to strengthen the new neural pathways we are building, and encourages us to keep going while we traverse the long arc of transformational healing and growth.

In the Inside Transformation community, we’re sharing resources and companionship through the long arc of transformation. You’re welcome to join us at any of our upcoming events​ that would be supportive for you.

Nothing on this site should be considered medical or legal advice. We don't encourage or condone any illegal activities. Consult medical and legal professionals if you have medical or legal questions.



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