Watching the sunrise off the back porch of the main building.
Part One described how HeartSync works and the theories behind it, so I won’t get into that much in this post, which is more about my personal experience.
This post describes the intense cathartic experience I had on the second full day, so there’s no need to describe that again. However, that experience–which was both excruciating and awesome–opened me up to some odd and wonderful new discoveries about myself to come in the following few days.
First of all, the place where the HeartSync seminar was being held, at the Aqueduct Conference Center in Chapel Hill, NC, reminded me of a classy sleep-away camp. It was basically a compound tucked deep in the woods consisting of a large rustic main house (with all the modern conveniences) where all meals were served and where the bookstore and offices and general recreation areas were located; and two smaller “cottages” each with a large living room with a fireplace and a kitchenette. Each cottage (which were quite large) could house up to 16 people. Gravel walkways connected the buildings to each other and also to the parking lot down at the bottom for easy access.
There were four full days of training, starting on Monday morning at 9 AM after breakfast and ending at about 5 PM. Lunch was served at 12:30 and was for an hour. The food was excellent, much better than camp food (in spite of the camp-like feel of the place).
I was nervous about meeting Kate, the woman I had never heard of until two weeks previously, who first told me about HeartSync and so kindly offered to pay for me to attend.
Knowing she was more well off than I was made me afraid my feelings of envy or inferiority might be triggered or get the best of me again, but what happened was only some slight envy that nearly disappeared by the last day. Kate and I got along great and she seemed to like me as much as I liked her, and even told me so. (That gave me a little more confidence about associating with people who “I perceive” to have more than/be more “successful” socially or financially than I am.)
Each day was divided into two parts: Learning, in which we read over the materials, watched audiovisual presentations, and listened to Father Andrew Miller (who developed HeartSync) lecture. He’s a riveting and lively speaker, who is very good at engaging everyone’s attention.
The material is emotionally intense and can be very triggering (as well as extremely spiritual and often you feel touched or moved by the presence of the Holy Spirit) that it’s easy to get emotional even during the “classroom lecturing.” Even though I didn’t actually get “HeartSynch’d” (there are separate seminars for those and there are people trained in this who can work with you individually), it’s still extremely powerful stuff and you walk away a changed person with a whole new insight into yourself.
There are exercises you are taught (such as the Immanuel Approach) and other prayer methods that you can do on yourself that help you release trauma and re-synchronize some of your “core parts.” I was shocked by how well these techniques work, but I think the spiritual aspect and connection with God has a lot to do with that. You have to be careful though. A complicated resynchronization or a full self-resynchronization should never be attempted without a trained practitioner present.
Each afternoon after lunch, we’d gather back in the meeting room to watch a live demonstration (for a total of four)– a “guinea pig” was picked out of the group to be given a 2 hour live Heart Sync session by Father Andrew. They’d both sit up in front in comfortable armchairs, and Father Andrew would start asking them questions. It was fascinating to watch these; they were just like watching therapy sessions, which of course they were–only Jesus was invited in to intercept between the “client” and the therapist.
View of the back porch of the main building at sunrise, looking back toward the building.
Two men and two women got to be guinea pigs (I didn’t because I didn’t sign the list to volunteer — I’m nowhere near ready to be given therapy and possibly cry in front of 50 people!). All four had emotional/cathartic breakdowns (intense crying), followed by a feeling of cleansing/healing/lightness, and even laughter. Their faces changed from the beginning to the end, seeming to attain a sort of inner glow . In two cases they appeared years younger. Certain of their issues were resolved, and their faith in God was strengthened too.
Watching these was both fascinating and emotional. I found myself becoming extremely empathetic, feeling the emotions of these four people as if they were my own, laughing and crying with them. That’s never happened to me before. But that all happened to me after my own emotional meltdown, which is described in the linked post in the second paragraph of this post.
Sunrise on the last morning, just before leaving to return home. It was like leaving summer camp.
The last night, which was Thursday, was not followed by dinner as usual, since so many people were going home that night (Kate and I stayed through until Friday morning since I cannot drive at night) but was followed by an outdoor liturgical service held on the large back porch of the main building, in which Communion was given. Hymns and camp-like worship songs, and a few Christmas carols were sung, and a lot of people hugged and tears were shed. By then, I was pretty much out of tears and my eyes remained dry. But the whole feel of the event reminded me of those poignant last nights of summer camp, when everyone is singing camp songs around a crackling fire, there’s a crisp undertone of fall in the evening air, and there’s an unspoken knowledge that you may never see any of these people again once they load onto the buses or cars that will come for them first thing in the morning.
These kind of moments–where our paths cross briefly but intimately, like passengers at train stations or airports who confess their most cherished secrets to each other precisely because they are basically strangers who will soon be on opposite sides of the country or even the world and will never meet again — are always so lovely and bittersweet.
Afterwards, Kate, me, and three older attendees (who are all HeartSync practitioners in the Chapel Hill area) went out to a nearby Mexican restaurant in Carrboro. I didn’t contribute much to the lively conversation; I was too exhausted, and when we returned, I conked out very soon after getting back to our room.
I woke up from a dream this morning which did not fade away upon awakening the way my dreams normally do.
It started with me finding myself at my own wedding. I wasn’t sure who the groom was, and I remember feeling slightly apprehensive about this second marriage (having been married to an abuser in my first one). I don’t remember if the groom had a face–I couldn’t even identify who he could be — but I was going through with this and was nervous and only slightly excited.
I looked down at my shoes under my white skirts and noticed they were black. I took them off and put on a pair of white shoes.
Then I met my guests, including a sour-faced school-marmish looking woman who looked me up and down disapprovingly. She looked like she’d been sucking on Atomic Fire Balls or lemon wedges without sugar. I didn’t know who she was, but somehow I knew I knew her intimately and she was a very important guest. Her cooperation meant everything.
I asked her why she looked so disapproving. She just said she never liked me much or thought I liked her much, and was afraid that this time, we still wouldn’t get along because we hadn’t gotten along the first time. (I’m not sure what “this time” or “that other time” referred to but I think it means “now” and “before I changed.”)
But she reluctantly agreed to try, and I remember shaking her hand and feeling its papery, cool, callousy skin. She wasn’t the type you’d hug, but her agreement “to try” meant the world to me and meant I could get on with this wedding.
I think the emotional release I experienced on Tuesday prepared me for this dream, which I think involved one of my main Guardians (the disapproving school-marm) agreeing to change their role in my life from one of negative judgment to a more positive one, but who was not able to do this until after a lot of the corresponding childhood trauma behind that Guardian’s creation (abandonment, feeling inferior, unworthy, and incompetent) was released. I think this Guardian is the same one I previously called The Judge.
This Guardian’s role in my life had been to defend me against having to take risks that might lead to me feeling the pain of failure or rejection. She did this by criticizing my competence or just throwing out all the negative reasons why such a thing shouldn’t or couldn’t be done. She was basically an internalization of my mother’s nagging, disapproving voice. This Guardian was negative, judgmental, punishing, disapproving — an old lady with a pinched, mean face — generally not someone anyone would like much.
When I released all that emotion on Tuesday, it had been triggered by old feelings of worthlessness, incompetence, and the certainty that I would be eventually rejected by everyone, all coming to the surface at once. The emotional release lessened the charge of the underlying trauma just enough to allow the presentation of this Guardian (in the dream), who had already kindly stepped aside long enough for the underlying trauma to be released. Now she was finally showing herself to me, and agreed (although reluctantly) to try to cooperate with me in this “new marriage”, which I think represents a merging of one part of myself with another. (I’m not sure which parts though).
The changing of the black shoes to white ones seems obvious enough – changing from a dark and negative way of thinking to one with more lightness and joy. Also “being in the shoes of” a person about to merge with someone else for life. But that other “person”–the one I was marrying– seemed mysterious and unknowable. But the disapproving Guardian provided a clue: by deciding to cooperate with me “this time,” this seemed to mean she would try to stop being so critical of me (remember, she had told me we never got along). This seemed to indicate to me that this Guardian was about to “flip her role” from one of negative judgment to one of wise discernment; that in my new marriage (to myself) she would stop being so critical and making me afraid to take any risks, and instead allow me to proceed forward and take a few smart risks, heeding her wisdom instead of her fear (the wisdom of better choices being made possible by faith in God). So the “other me” that I was marrying is the more competent, functional, confident Me who isn’t afraid to take some calculated risks, which includes reaching out more to others without fearing judgment, derision, or rejection.