Introduction by Connirae Andreas.
Do you or someone you care about suffer from anxiety? What about sleep issues? Stacey had tried many things, and while she’d made some improvement, nothing really worked. That is until she found the Wholeness Work.
Stacey shares her story here, about how she finally found a way to feel a baseline of wellbeing and joy, instead of anxiety, apprehension and worry. Plus it helped her consistently sleep well at night!
Everyone tells us how important it is to “get a good night’s sleep,” but Stacey found a way to actually do this. You can find out how she did it below. You might be surprised because it doesn’t involve either drugs, or traditional mindfulness or meditation.
How the Wholeness Work Transformed My Experience
by Stacey Cook, MSW, LCSW
My mother was a powerful woman — a 5’3 Italian fire-cracker! She could light up a room with her smile, and she could shut one down cold with just a slight narrowing of her eyes. She also suffered from severe depression and anxiety her entire life. It was something she managed, fought with, and was sometimes taken down by. Her life was complicated — often saturated with chaos.
As her child, I was a passenger on this journey with her. When she was doing well I lived the happiness and joyful ports of call along with her. And when she fell into a well of depression, I experienced some of the heaviness and dark shadows along with her also. I became my mother’s confidant, mitigator, fixer, and in many ways the parent.
I learned to control things as much as possible — both what happened in the outer world, and on the inside. When she shared feelings of spiraling I would work diligently in an attempt to talk her out of the darkness — I truly believed that I had the ability and the responsibility to walk her back into the light. And I became good at my job. I was motivated by the ever-present visceral fear of her falling into that deep dark well she often fell into.
Statistics make it clear that children with just one mentally ill parent have a 61% chance of developing a mental illness in childhood or adolescence. Whether we look at that as “genetic loading,” or use the Vulnerability-Stress model, my background had more than needed for the likelihood that I would also experience some issues.
True to statistics, in my early 20’s I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. As usually happens, I got the diagnosis about 10 years after I first began experiencing the symptoms. Anxiety had become my constant companion. Whether happy or sad, busy or idle — worry, fear, and dread peppered my thoughts.
I lived with it. Both in spite of and because of this, I learned to over-prepare, over-think and over-analyze everything. A bushel of worry, infused with a dash of fear, and dollop of rumination — that was the recipe.
And it worked for me: I developed a reputation for managing a multitude of projects, taking on impossible tasks, developing programs, arranging presentations. I was impressive and fast. My dread of doing anything less than perfect resulted in exceedingly positive results. I got everything done and with precision. Fueled by worry and dread, I was beyond exhausted. But I was propelled to keep on going — it was better than just being anxious.
I obtained a graduate degree with honors, I married, I divorced. I worked, and became a leader and eventually CEO of a leading non-profit organization in the health care industry, after holding a number of leadership positions within the organization.
I did try traditional therapies and they did help in managing overall symptoms. But I’ve always been on the search for a deeper healing. That’s when Dr. Connirae Andreas’ Wholeness Work found me.
Finding the Wholeness Work
I was surfing the web one day, when Dr. Andreas’ free video on Wholeness Work came up.
I was curious but had no expectations. In that first video, what Connirae said immediately resonated. But more importantly, when she guided us through the beginning steps of the process, I started feeling something. It felt different than any of the other therapies I’d tried. This was visceral — just like my anxiety had always been visceral. I could feel a shift that was just happening that was automatic and seemed to be happening on an almost physical or cellular level. It wasn’t about changing my beliefs or thoughts — something deeper and more fundamental was changing, and I wanted to know more.
My next step was to get the 3-day training. This gave me the “more” I was seeking. It guided me through how to apply the Wholeness Work to my daily life, and I immediately began using it.
What Happened for Me
I noticed a shift right away after trying the Wholeness Work the first time — that’s what hooked me! To actually find a model that worked right away — right out of the gate — was nothing short of incredible and like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I could feel that my body was healing and changing at a deep/core level. And the more I used the process, the stronger this feeling became.
I immediately began using the Wholeness Work with everything most important to me. I used it with anxiety, and to help me with sleep.
When I used the Wholeness Work with anxiety, I started feeling a sense of lightness and calm. My thoughts began to slow down, and worry faded away. My shoulders relaxed and the rest of my body followed, as if my muscles and body were given permission to ‘let go’ as I relaxed into the fullness of Awareness. (See the video or book to understand how this happens.)
Historically, when I’d experienced anxiety, those feelings lasted for hours and even days. For years that had been the pattern. Now, with the Wholeness Work, I could resolve any anxious feelings/thoughts in minutes and return to a steady and calm state. This is a gift and nothing short of a miracle — to finally find a way to escape the trappings of anxiety, something that had had a tight grip on me for most of my life.
At this point, I’ve been using Wholeness Work as a daily practice, with whatever comes up during the day. So I’ve had the opportunity to use it with many versions of anxious thoughts or feelings. Each time it’s been satisfying to experience a shift out of anxiety to something more relaxed and calm in the moment.
In addition to being able to transform feelings of anxiety if/when they occur, I’ve noticed they just don’t happen as often. That’s been a drastic change. When things happen that used to trigger strong anxiety, now I either experience minimal anxiety or none at all. And when a situation is ‘frenetic,’ I’m not. Certainly I experience some stress and discomfort at times, but it’s so much different than joining or matching that ‘frenetic’ moment, the way I used to. This has made a huge difference in my work as well as personal life.
Before I started doing the Wholeness Work, sleep had been a challenge. I had trouble going to sleep, staying asleep, and getting back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night. I found that thoughts, ruminations and worry persevered during this time making sleep difficult, to put it mildly.
For some time now I’ve been doing the Wholeness Work as soon as I turn out the light and lay down in bed. I use the meditation format that’s in the book (Coming to Wholeness: How to Awaken and Live with Ease). It relaxes not just my body but also my thoughts, so I typically fall asleep in the middle of the process.
The Wholeness Work has made a huge difference. What I’ve noticed is that I’m just naturally falling asleep much faster and staying asleep more consistently without those waking episodes. It does happen from time to time — but now when it happens I know what to do to get back to sleep.
Making presentations is a significant part of the work I do, and the Wholeness Work has been quite helpful. It helps me focus my message, identify and keep the outcome(s) in the front of my mind, and organize my thoughts. This is invaluable, considering many of the presentations I give are time limited and require me to get to the point quickly, thoroughly and convincingly! The Wholeness Work also helps me deal with any nervousness pre-presentation so that I’m able to focus on the task at hand — educating and informing the audience.
Ophthalmic Migraine headaches
Most recently I’ve used this method to help with Ophthalmic Migraine headaches — specifically the ophthalmic distortions that arise pre-headache which results in loss of peripheral vision and a distortion of vision (typically in one eye). Before, the visual distortion typically lasted anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. The Wholeness Work has helped me reduce this ‘visual distortion’ time to about 15 minutes! The intense headache that usually followed has already become little more than a slight discomfort that resolved within the hour — this is pretty amazing! Before, The headache(s) typically lasted several hours at an intensity that required me to rest. Following the intense period I was left with a slight headache for several additional hours. So I’m curious what will happen as I continue using Wholeness Work with this.
As I enjoy life with less anxiety and more wellbeing, I’m able to focus, enjoy my work, be more present in relationships (both personal and professional) and to calmly approach problems and challenging situations. Solutions come much more easily and even at times effortlessly.
My Daily Practice and Relationship to Mindfulness & Meditation
I’ve been using the Wholeness Work each day, sometimes at the beginning of the day, but most times at the end of the day. When I’m near my garden, in nature is also a great time for me to just allow whatever sensation comes up to come up and begin the inner work. I typically spend 15-30 minutes each day — sometimes less — depending on how much time I have available.
I’ve tried meditation and mindfulness and it has its benefits — but I’ve found with the Wholeness Work I’m able to more easily focus and attend to my body/mind and to achieve a sense of peace and calm much more easily without effort. Before I felt like I was ‘trying’ to meditate — with the Wholeness Work I’m not trying to do anything but am simply allowing whatever happens to happen. The idea of ‘trying’ isn’t part of the process.
This method is a wonderful tool for my tool box as I continue on my journey of healing myself and others. I’m excited to continue discovering the benefits it brings into my life as I continue using it.