Helical Nature of Healing: Guest Blogger Cara Dinley

For the last twenty years, Cara Dinley has been exploring the miraculous bodymind. Her background is in dance and performance, and she is now a trauma informed practitioner who specializes in embodiment, regulation, and trauma release. She is currently a Lead Trauma and Regulation Practitioner at Heal Your Nervous System.

After I shared my question about “The Life Cycle of Healing” in the Heal Your Nervous System community (of which I am a member), Cara responded with insights I am deeply grateful for her and am still deliciously processing. I wanted to share them here with you at The Writing Shed as they are unique and revolutionary to what you may have learned about healing.

She wrote:

I refer very often to the cycle of life when I am relating to members and clients and it always seems to bring about a softening.

Clients often ask–Why is it we need to be reminded so often of this? It’s so obvious!–and yet we often believe the darkness will never end and that we have been dealt it because we did something wrong.

When in fact the cycle that follows is the only truly repetitive thing in life–that there is a seed that wants to grow, which requires that it changes form and moves into unknown places before blossoming; then once it has given fruit it–at its most magnificent–already begins to die. Very slowly perhaps, yet surely. This is the cycle of life.

Inhalation and exhalation follow exactly.

While this cycle seems obvious to many what often seems less obvious is how this cycle exists in each moment.

While the butterfly analogy is one we are all fed and want, it seems to miss the all important “death” aspect.

I love the word you use: recursive. For me this is very much the experience I have, and I notice it in others too. I feel like the expectation to continually move forwards and get better is actually reductive.

In the arts we call this “endgaming” –our mind creates the vision and we steadily take all the steps towards it; anything that diverts is named a distraction. If I am disciplined, I will achieve my vision. If I don’t, I have done something wrong.

This kind of endgaming removes the opportunity to be awakened by other incoming stimuli/associations which may change your vision. Becoming open to what is incoming, including others words and offerings, in my experience has generated a making that is far richer and indeed a conscious collaboration, which removes the I, the I, set up for perceived “failure”–as we rarely make anything alone.

If we can remove time and measurement, we can experience a kind of flexibility which welcomes an ever unfolding richness in every direction to a different degree.

If we apply this concept to arts making (or healing or learning), we value the inevitable expansion and condensing and non-linear leaps of experimentation, knowing that the act of jumping into the unknown can be extremely generative.

Whether we are making arts, learning, or healing, the way we navigate our own journey can only be in accordance with who we are and with what our personal capacity is. So only the individual can make the choice–

  • When is it too deep to jump?
  • When do I need stimulation? When do I need rest?
  • When do I notice myself pushing and forcing? Is this truly generative?

And while I love the word recursive (yet I haven’t been using it — so thank you for that!) the image I have is helical but not just one helix as in this pic below–I see learning as following a helical path which never repeats and instead takes a slightly different path–quite close to the previous one perhaps–the path eventually takes and ever wider and deeper trajectory. As if filling the inside of a cone ever, ever so gradually. To me that is learning.

And it is also unlearning in reverse–but not a perfect reverse . . . I feel like we can jump levels and create gaps as you say . . .


Image Credit: Dirk van der Made 

We see the spiral unfurling also in this pic of the fern which resembles the Koru (the Maori word for loop and symbolizes the unfolding of new life and renewal).

cy9el91usw6duk5dtvge.jpegJon Radoff, CC BY-SA 3.0 creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa…, via Wikimedia Commons

What’s cool about the Koru pic above is all of the little, what will be leaves curled up, as if these are alternative paths which required energy in order for the whole to find flexible strength . . .

And while I love these natural images what I see **in them is something linear–because I can’t see or know the complexity of **what is happening inside them.

However in order for them to grow from a shoot the size of a fine thread into something with luscious, strong girth . . . unbreakable in a torrential rainforest downpour, something has grown and fills within which supports the structure we can see . . .

There is so much that we can’t see . . .