A couple of years ago, while I was visiting New York, I plunked myself down at a Starbucks and began journaling about some changes I needed to make in my life. The café was crowded, so a young woman approached me and asked if she could share my table.
I don’t remember how Nina and I started talking, but I found her to be not only a kindred spirit but also my angel for the day — saying exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time. We became instant friends, and the next time I was visiting New York, we broke some bread at a hip fusion restaurant.
Over dinner, Nina told me that the next night, an amazing healer named Levent Bolukbasi — who usually was not in town — happened to be giving a session. She highly recommended that I attend. For a number of reasons, it didn’t feel like the right timing for me, but I made a mental note of this individual.
I have since had the privilege of interviewing the director of his school, the IM School of Healing Arts. Here Anna Kilmer discusses energy healing, consciousness, and ego.
Loolwa Khazzoom: Why do you think dancing has helped me heal?
Anna Kilmer: One of the first things that we work on with our students is where their attention is, because that’s where their energy is. So that’s what came up for me when you were talking about the dancing: When you started to put your attention into the parts of you that worked well, and you expanded those parts, you really occupied yourself in a place that was working very well.
LK: Why do you think my ability to successfully do energy healing on myself has been so erratic?
AK: In the school, what we start working with is the fact that, for the most part, without a whole lot of consciousness, people are basically identified with the scared part of themselves — we call it the Ego — the part that’s shrunk away, the part that kind of is afraid of being in a relationship with life. What happens is that we get scared; we freeze ourselves; we slow ourselves down; and we do not vibrate at the best level that we can.
That in turn distorts the lens through which we are seeing the world. So we start to kind of believe that reality, the Ego reality. What happens is, we’re not really aware of where we’re coming from a lot of times — when we demand to heal, like, “I want it to work now!” You can’t demand to heal from a place that’s frozen.
If you’re coming from the Ego and saying that, it’s basically self-defeating. You’re not going to be able to do it from that place. It needs to be from a much more open, freer, really feeling place.
I often use the metaphor of an amoeba. An amoeba is constantly expanding, contracting. It is constantly changing shapes, constantly tasting and touching the world. And we’re like that naturally, but the fear makes us stop being like that.
We need to start accepting our feelings, to start saying, “Okay, this is where I feel bad,” and instead of moving away from it, moving into it. This practice is something we work with like crazy in this school.
LK: That’s like yoga also. For years, I worked with a yoga teacher who’d experienced all kinds of crazy traumas in her life. She specifically used yoga to go into the places of spiritual and emotional wounding, so her classes were extremely intense. They were also very precise. We would work a pose up to our edge, then breathe at that edge — which would go farther and farther out. As I’m talking, I’m realizing that’s the same thing as what I experienced with dance.
AK: Yes, so what it does is first bring you into your body. Spiritually, we can be far away from our physical selves. From that distance, there’s really no feeling. We need to first get into our bodies, to start saying, “Okay, this is my body, and I want to know all of it: What are all the feelings, emotions, sensations?” Then we start to really get to know ourselves.
LK: You said that through dance, I put my attention on the parts of my body that were working well, that were healthy, and that I then expanded from that place. On a very practical level, how was I expanding? How is it possible that I had all these different injuries and pain areas just filling up the space that was working?
I’m reminded that when I was first introduced to acupuncture, it didn’t make any sense to me. I thought, “I have physical stuff going on. It’s really nice that you can get my energy flowing, but that’s not going to change anything.” So please share exactly how this all works.
AK: We imagine ourselves as lumps of clay that get banged, and then that’s it: We’re chipped. But we really aren’t. We are alive. When we get an injury, however, we get so afraid that we move our energy away from the injured place. In effect, we maintain the stamp of that energy, the stamp of that injury.
So when you bring your attention, your consciousness, the light of your spirit to that place, that’s where your energy is. As you bring more of yourself back to those hurt places, you grow the possibility for those places to really change, for them not to be so contracted, not so frozen in pain.
LK: I’d like to get back this thing of what you called “demanding to heal.” I think it’s a positive thing to say, “I know how to turn pain energy into healing energy and recycle the pain to heal itself. So now I’m going to sit down on this couch, and I’m going to practice doing that.”
Why not? What’s Ego about that? To me, that’s embracing the mystery, the magic, the beauty, and celebrating it all. Ultimately, once people learn energy healing tools, they’re going to be putting the tools to use, right?
AK: Right. The key to all of this is to know ourselves. The problem is, we start to identify ourselves with the Ego, with the frozen part of ourselves. A sincere expression, “I want to get to know how to use this power, so that I can ease my pain,” can very easily still be married to an Ego concept of ourselves.
So it’s necessary to really start to get to know ourselves — to really start to be able to unmask or unbury the forces that drag us. These forces are usually found really early on. In the school, we mostly work with early childhood traumas.
Most people say, “I want to be successful in my life.” That statement, however, can come from a place that’s very scared about not being successful in life. Such a foundation is not a fertile place to plant a tree that will grow.
LK: Because with the fear comes a sense of clutching or closure.
AK: Yes, it comes from a smallness. “I want to be successful, because I’m terrified of what will happen to me if I’m not successful.” The energy is from a place of terror.
LK: I’ve heard a million people talking about Ego, and I still don’t quite understand the concept. I don’t if I have a philosophical difference or if people just have different ways of expressing Ego or what, but I’d love to hear you say more about your relationship to that word.
One thing that I’m getting from you is that you’re making a distinction between, “Okay, now I’m going to sit down and use this tool and heal my knee, and that’s going to be the end of it,” vs. a more perhaps humble place of, “Wow, I discovered this amazing magical way to connect to the universe. I’m going to sit and ask the universe humbly if I can access that place, and just kind of see what happens and be okay with whatever does happen.”
In other words, are you saying that we need to come to a place of quiet around the tools we have?
AK: Quiet and humility is absolutely fabulous. The thing is, we have an ability to remember. You can have a fabulous, expanded experience really finding your body. The Ego will then convince you that the experience was in the past, not today, and that you’re back to where you started.
That’s an illusion. The truth is you are a powerful being and your body can absolutely remember the healing you have done before. The Ego will say, “It’s gone. I went to sleep, and I woke up, and now I’m in a different place.” The Ego is so tricky. It creates illusions that limit us.
The thing about the Ego is that it really is afraid of expansion. It doesn’t want healing. It wants to maintain its own identity, so to speak — the part of us that’s identified with the hurt. We won’t know who we are when we expand. It’s a very different experience from the self that is familiar to us.
There are plenty of wounds that are afraid to come into life, because doing so aggravates the original sadness around the wound, the pain around the wound. So there are plenty of reasons why the Ego will dig in its heels and not want us to experience “largeness.”
LK: Please say more about your idea of Ego, because I’m still a little confused about that.
AK: If you look at a newborn baby, every part of them moves. So the body and that experience of oneness, it’s all the same package. The body is the spirit, and it’s all there. Then what happens is that the baby goes through the stages of childhood and adulthood, experiencing some trauma.
There are very specific traumas that we work with in the school, and they’re very easily identified: They are whatever an individual went through that caused them to go, “Uhhh” – to catch their breath, to stop breathing, to just kind of freeze. Both animals and people freeze when something is threatening.
So that kind of expression gets trapped. It becomes a habit in the body, and it changes that being. It changes the way that being is interacting with the world. It changes the way that being sees the world.
If you don’t have those same senses out, to see what the world is like, you’re going to have a much different experience of the world. It’s going to be a more bolted-down world, one with more threats. So that’s Ego.
LK: Please discuss the idea of remembering. What about when one is too exhausted from pain to be able to remember — especially when there are multiple issues or multiple injuries?
AK: If you need medication to get to the point where you can actually work with yourself, then start where you need to start. If you’re at a point where the pain is so intense that you can’t even begin to work with it, then you really do need to do something so that you can at least get yourself to a point where you can relax. Relaxation is so important.
Strengthen the memory skills, those muscles, little by little. This is why the school is three or four years long: We can’t teach everybody in one month. We do it little by little. It has to do with life, the way we handle all the stuff that comes up in life.
Anna Kilmer is the director of the IM School of Healing Arts, founded by Levent Bolukbasi.