Shakura replies to a few questions about Primal, a therapy she has practised around the world for the last 25 years.
What is Primal work?
Primal is a therapeutic method, a way to work on oneself. In Primal, we go back to the past, particularly the first seven years of life, bringing clarity to the conditioning we received and shining light on old wounds carried from that time.
If I had to put it in a sentence I would say: Primal is a process that takes us towards our real self, towards an authentic way of living. It is peeling off the layers of conditioning and pain, so that our true nature can shine through. Primal is healing the past, coming to terms with the past, so that we can live life, present in the moment, Here & Now.
Why go back to the past when life happens now, and we have a future ahead of us?
The fact is that most of us still carry the past. The strategies we developed in childhood to cope with the family situation still run our lives, often with damaging consequences. We are unable to live fully in the present because the mind keeps pulling us back, as we have not completed our past. It still hangs around us as a big burden.
As a result:
We don’t feel good with ourselves
We cannot enjoy healthy intimate relationships
We may have problems with authority
We cannot be fully alive or creative
Some people may become chronically ill
These are just a few of the difficulties we may face.
When the child is born, he is pure Essence. He has no personality, he is in a state of grace. If you look at a small child you can perceive a tremendous fresh aliveness, a divine beauty.
However, the human child is fragile and helpless, and from birth onwards he can experience a lot of traumatic events. I am not only talking about children who come from abusive families; a lot of situations that seem ‘normal’ to an adult are extremely painful for a child.
For example: when the mother leaves the room, a very small baby often feels terror; he experiences a kind of death. He is one with the mother, he needs her, and he does not yet have the capacity to know that she will come back. For the infant, in that moment, Mother has gone forever; it is a major abandonment.
What to say when there is death or divorce in the family, or when the child gets sick and has to be hospitalized, or when the parents fight, or when the mother gives birth to another child and withdraws her attention from the first?
All this is terribly painful for the child, but because nature wants the child to survive, it finds ways to block part of the pain, so that it is not felt in its totality; a kind of anaesthesia takes place.
In addition, every child experiences a decisive moment when its essence, its being, goes into hiding and is replaced by a superficial personality that is needed in order to fit with the family.
When the child loses contact with her true self, it is a kind of psychological death. In this way the survival of the child is guaranteed – at least in most cases – but deep wounds are created that stay within the body-mind system. By the time we are adults we are loaded with pain.
Many of us notice how we keep on reacting to situations in abnormal ways. For example: someone who carries an abandonment wound, either closes himself off and does not allow any intimate relationship, or keeps on getting attracted to unreliable people who will indeed abandon them.
These are not conscious decisions. We don’t do this deliberately. We are being driven by the wounds buried in our minds and bodies. Pain attracts more pain.
What is special about Primal Therapy?
The difference between Primal and other kinds of therapy is that our whole attention is single-pointedly focused on childhood, parental influence and conditioning. This creates an intensity that allows deep surgery. Primal is like an earthquake; an eye-opener about what really happened in childhood and how the past is still carried inside.
In order to survive, every child protects the parents and their behaviour, and even as adults we keep on carrying this. In a way, we keep on being children in a big body, until we see through the dream and look at the reality without tainted glasses – only then can we start growing up.
Since I was a child, I promised myself I would never make the mistakes my parents did. I would be a good mother to my children, and yet, in spite of myself, I often get angry and shout at them. Why is it so?
I think everybody can ask themselves that, because it is everybody’s predicament: we want to be good partners, good parents, good friends; and this does not happen. On the contrary… The problem is that these decisions don’t go very deep. They don’t affect the unconscious part of the mind, or, as we call it in our work, the ‘wounded child’ inside us.
Primal work is for that Inner Child, the one who carries pain and anger from the past and cannot just change because she wants to. We need to be able to open up that pain, validate it, feel it and express it in the right context, so that it can be transformed.
Our ‘wounded inner child’ still lives in the past, cannot see reality and people for what they are now. It keeps on projecting Mommy and Daddy on everybody – especially on people close to us, such as our lovers, partners, and even our own children.
This child tries to get from them the love it did not get when we were young, using the same strategies, or gives to them the anger that it wasn’t able to express towards its own parents. Unless we become aware of this hurt child and embrace its feelings, it takes over our life, with very damaging consequences.
At first it is shocking to realize that we don’t see anybody as they really are, and that we project Mommy and Daddy on everybody. Some people have called it the Holy Trinity: Me, Mommy and Daddy.
This is our reality: we are not one, we are three. Or more… But this shock transforms us, it starts changing something, and even if we still get caught in the same behaviour, some light has entered and sooner or later we can recognize what is happening. Then we start having more freedom, we can stop it, we are not driven to repeat the past forever.
Why do this work now?
As adults, we can see that the actual situation that provoked the pain is not happening now. Also, our body and nervous system are fully developed and can handle intense feelings. We have resources available – awareness, strength, courage, compassion, a desire to know oneself – that we did not have as children. We are no longer helpless, nor dependent on parents.
Has your own personal Primal work come to an end?
I don’t feel there is an end to Primal, as there is no end to transformation and growth. I continue to have understandings and insights about myself and my childhood, while I facilitate courses for others.
Life gives me plenty of opportunities to feel the pain I still carry, by putting me in challenging situations. And yet, if I think of myself as I was, years ago, everything is much lighter now.
And when I am able to accept myself as I am, things move fast and change. The journey goes on and it is fascinating, sometimes it is even joyful. It might seem a paradox, but since I am willing to feel the pain, I have less suffering, more peace, more joy.
I feel deeply honoured and grateful to facilitate this process around the world, to be the witness of a deep transformation in so many people, to keep on growing through this work.
The Primal Transformation Process Shakura has created is divided into four modules:
I & II Childhood, III Adolescence, IV the Positive Adult.