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Where IFS meets Spirituality

For those of us who study the spiritual path, we often hear of living in delusion or illusion, and this being the root of duality vs oneness or wholeness. It gets described in a number of ways, as you simply can’t put a stamp of certainty on spirituality (run when someone does this!) so interpretation is necessary. The interpretation that is true for you will be subjective, just as our logic, preferences, or emotions can be subjective. What I most often see clients calling duality is the human experience of all the paradoxes we have within.

What I have been witnessing in this year of 2023 is watching delusions simply disintegrate into thin air for clients. In some ways that are so uniquely random and bizarre, that even describing them might create a confidentiality issue on my end. It makes sense that a false belief can disintegrate spontaneously, as anything not rooted in your own truth is really just a puff of smoke you constructed, or someone else helped you construct, in your imagination (i.e., subjective perception) to block that truth. Where this meets IFS therapy is watching clients begin to heal their parts that have been tirelessly running the same script of that altered perception, blowing that same smoke, to keep them away from seeing their own wounds. All for protective reasons, of course, to steer you clear of any paradoxes. (Which is impossible, btw.) What I have noticed these past months is random interventions (sometimes what seems miraculous, or daresay, inexplicable) that is like the curtain being swung open in the Wizard of Oz —- ‘Ta-da! You will see now!’

And the smoke is cleared.

As a therapist, these random interventions have been spectacular to observe. It makes me a little tingly ….and definitely brings an acceleration to our healing work in sessions. If we have parts of us running our show (which are running away from the human experience of paradox), we are technically in a delusion. You may get some things right, because parts are only trying their best to serve you without any real leadership or direction. However, what that part is helping you avoid begins to cover so much terrain in smoke that it keeps you from many things that are right for you, as well as in the things that are not right for you. The terrain your parts keep you in seems ‘safe’ from paradox, at least every now and then, but that safety is also an illusion….because you can’t see beyond the smoke surrounding you to even make a clear assessment of safety….and this is where I’m witnessing a spontaneous clearing that brings such far-reaching clarity it is undeniable.

I know as I watch my clients begin to heal more and more of their parts, and lead from Self, they can no longer create delusions and remain content or fulfilled, nor be drawn into delusions and feel content or fulfilled. They just Know. That strong intuition of Self-led Knowing. To me (completely subjective, as I am not a guru), the Self-led Knowing is the oneness and wholeness. Nonduality is not a lack of parts and the multitude of paradoxes they bring, but the wholeness of unity and collaboration among the paradoxes. Unity with Self becomes the goal, not the individual agenda of parts working on their own. That means we will have emotions, often uncomfortable ones, as part of Unity, in order for paradoxes to be challenged. Eventually, those uncomfortable emotions are no longer feared, and paradoxes are no longer covered in smoke. They are the cue that you have free will to choose in your life. "Oh, I have a choice to make. Either choice will bring emotions I want and don't want. What plotline do I choose for the script of my life? In what emotions am I ready to build resiilience?"

All said, this year of 2023 seems to be closing out with a strong wind to clear out puffs of smoke that have been clouding vision and causing delusion. If it’s happening to you, consider yourself lucky. I’m not sure what 2024 holds, but it sure seems like a call for Self-led healed people as not only necessary, but non-negotiable.

For that reason, I’m going to call it and throw a yellow flag here ….if you haven’t been healing your emotional wounds, start now. If you have been feeling chronically discontent and unfulfilled, you are likely caught in an illusion constructed by a part that needs to heal. We aren’t meant to stay dissatisfied. That feeling exists as a cue that there is some discord in your inner world that needs to be addressed.

Don’t distract from it.

Don’t make it punitive.

Don’t ignore it.

Don’t overpower it.

Lean into it. Wave a little smoke away and let it show itself to you. It will most certainly be holding a gift while also standing in brand new terrain to explore. A little piece of you standing on a plot of land that you left behind. It only wants to be included in your Unity.


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