This article is an excerpt from the book Hope is in the Garden that tells the Story of Sunan Therapy. The book was written by Candace Talmadge and Jana Simons, cofounders of the Sattva Institute.
"It was as though he was raping God."
Still moved by what she had witnessed and shared with her client in a recent therapy session, Jana Simons was trying to describe to Candace Talmadge what possibly could motivate a man to sexually assault his daughter, a mere 6-month-old baby in a crib.
That infant was now "Louise," who at age 34 came to Jana for her first Sunan therapy sessions late in 1990. Employed in the human resources department of an insurance company, Louise had been in traditional therapy, on and off, as well as numerous 12-Step self-help groups since age 18. She had wanted to see a therapist at age 14, but her mother would not allow her to do so.
And had Jana known that Louise's traditional therapist had diagnosed her in 1989 as suffering from multiple personality disorder (MPD), Jana might not have had enough confidence to accept Louise as a client for two reasons. First, back in 1990 we knew less about what types of problems the Sunan method is capable of addressing than we do now, and we still do not know the full potential of Sunan. Second, we were well aware that for some time, MPD has been one of the most controversial issues in the field of mental health.
Jana initially agreed to work with the woman because Jana could feel the depth and intensity of Louise's desire to heal herself and her willingness to face self. That is the extent of what we look for in candidates for Sunan therapies. Unlike traditional therapists, we don't need to ask clients for detailed personal histories because we don't diagnose. In this method, it is clients' guides (angels) who choose what issues are to be examined.
Louise's story became more fully known to us as she continued over the years with intermittent Sunan sessions and attended classes at the Sattva Institute, which Jana and Candace cofounded. Louise remained a client because she was courageous and tenacious enough not to allow anyone's fears -- hers or ours -- to stop her.
Louise had lived with pain, chaos and misery all of her life. Louise was never able to adjust to growing up. She felt alienated at many different levels of her being. She felt hollow inside and broken, without any ability to understand why she felt that way. Her life as an older teenager and young adult was chaotic at best. Unlike many persons with MPD, there was no core Louise, no dominant personality. Instead, she tried to be a new person every time she moved. If she liked or admired someone, she unknowingly began to imitate this person.
Until she was fully integrated, Louise had never experienced what it was like to know what she wanted. She could never make a decision for herself because, although she didn't realize it until much later, there were simply too many people inside her to please. She was always switching clothes because she couldn't make decisions. Often she let other people make choices for her.
People would tell Louise that she had said something yet she would have no memory of saying it. At times she would hear herself say things and not know why she was doing so. One minute she would feel very emotionally close to a person. The next minute she would have no feelings at all for that person. She was constantly losing thingsžnot just little stuff, but important things like the keys to her car or apartment.
Louise was scared of men and hated them, not without cause. At age 19 she was raped. Six years later she married a very abusive man whom she divorced after two years. She vividly recalls one episode in which she lost all sense of self or personal identity. She felt like she was dying and going crazy all at once. She sat in their apartment, screaming at her husband to help her. Of course he had no idea what to do.
There was no continuity to Louise's life, no consistency or predictability whatsoever. One time she went grocery shopping with a roommate she was staying with after her divorce. While they were at the store, Louise suddenly forgot why she was there or with whom. She simply drove off, leaving her friend without transportation and wondering where on earth she was. Only two hours later did she recall where she had been and drive back to the store, where her none-too-happy roommate was waiting with a remarkable amount of patience.
Louise's work life suffered as well. She job-hopped, unable to develop any kind of career. She couldn't seem to set and attain any goals. She couldn't even pay her bills on time. She couldn't make anything work in her life and became increasingly frustrated and depressed. Many times she just wanted to die and seriously considered killing herself more than once.
Despite the turmoil, uncertainty and struggle, Louise never entirely stopped looking for answers. She would try traditional therapy every so often. She would attend various recovery groups. She collected a lot of labels for what was wrong with her, such as codependency, sexual addiction and alcoholism.
Despite the labels, despite the years of traditional therapy and despite the self-help groups, however, she couldn't fit her life together. Louise still lived with the feeling of being hollow and broken insideža feeling that had been with her all of her life. Even after Louise stopped drinking in 1989 and went into residential treatment for substance abuse, she kept reenacting the same self-destructive behaviors.
A real crisis erupted one night in early 1989, not long after she was released from treatment for alcohol addiction. Angry at the person she was dating at the time, Louise was standing in the bathroom of her apartment. An entirely different personality seemed to jump out of her and stand before her. Louise could feel that personality's presence and even knew her name, which was Lulu. Lulu was the part of her that was angry at men. Lulu seemed to know all about sex and how to manipulate men; she was a "brazen huzzie," in Louise's own words.
This incident occurred before Louise was diagnosed as MPD. Not surprisingly, it scared her deeply although she had no label for it at the time. Only after working with yet another traditional therapist for about six months on codependency issues could Louise be more candid about what was really troubling her. Her remarks about Lulu and about losing things prompted her therapist to conduct dissociative tests with Louise. The results led to the MPD diagnosis.
That label shattered Louise, filling her with fear that she would be locked up in a mental institution. Still she did not give up. Instead, she began working on ways to address the problem. Louise and her therapist managed to identify 18 separate subpersonalities, also known as alters. Only three of them were grown up. Louise came to realize that when she needed to appear competent, a male alter would take charge. He was the one who went to the office every day. Another adult female alter would be responsible for cleaning house. The rest of her alters were wounded children, however, and whenever they felt ignored, they would pop out and mess up her apartment or lose important stuff. Just like children, they were acting out, clamoring for attention and acceptance.
Louise also worked on her own. At age 14, she had read some of the works of Sigmund Freud, trying to find out what was wrong with her. Now she began reading books by women who were multiple. Louise noticed that those who managed to integrate their alters did so through a spiritual method, a spiritual awakening beyond what a traditional therapist could offer them. Louise had heard positive comments about the Sunan method from a friend who had undertaken it. She also attended an institute workshop in the fall of 1990 and got to know Jana a little bit during the class. Finally, Louise came back to Jana undertake Sunan therapy herself.
Louise suspected that something terrible had happened to her very young, but she had no conscious memory of anything. Along with being raped at 19, she also recalled being accosted at age seven. A 13-year-old boy came up behind her, took off her sun suit and asked her to go into the bushes with him. She was not raped, but the event took an emotional toll on her.
Louise did not tell Jana about her suspicions, nor did she mention her MPD diagnosis until later. Without an axe to grind either way, Jana simply followed the flow of unconditional love-energy to where it took both her and her client. It led them straight to a scene from hell.
"This can't be happening! I'm too small!" Deep within the now conscious memory of adult Louise, baby Louise screamed wordlessly as her father raped her.
More important to Louise was the why. Louise's conscious mind had never been able to provide her with the spiritual and emotional information she needed to know in order to heal. But with the active help of her spiritual and emotional bodies and her soul senses, Louise now was able to perceive at least the part of her father's motivation that pertained to her and to step into his emotional shoes.
Rage was her father's reality. He was livid at God. And here was this little baby girl, in whose trusting eyes the man could see again the light and love of our Creator. In raping her, he was taking his own vengeance on God. Louise could not entirely understand why her father had been so angry at God, but the emotional and spiritual experience of the extent of his rage and the underlying self-loathing was enough for her. She began the method of forgiving him and, even more important, of forgiving herself, in part for having made a distinctly unwise choice of parent.
Louise initially undertook three sessions of what we call Sunan therapy as well as one skim, or follow-up session. Along with her father, Louise addressed other issues during these four sessions, and also began the method of letting go of the judge. The judge is an unloving character we create when we first judge against self, and with every subsequent self-judgment we make, we give more power to it. Louise was astonished to find that she had a judge, which appeared to her as a skeleton. Releasing the judge lifted a great weight off of her.
After those four sessions, something profound but subtle changed for Louise. She had friends in recovery groups whom she witnessed screaming, crying and grieving for weeks as traumatic memories of abuse surfaced while they were fully conscious. In the healing and protective flow of unconditional love-energy, however, Louise had experienced none of that intense pain during Sunan therapy while facing the trauma of her own rape by her father. And in the aftermath of those four therapy sessions, Louise found herself no longer needing to grieve over any of her memories of rape or abuse. This wasn't an instance of attempting to control, deny or repress lingering feelings. She simply no longer had them; finally, that painful chapter was fully closed.
If Louise had not experienced that depth of healing in this area of her life, she might not have returned for more Sunan therapy. Between her fourth and fifth sessions was a gap of an entire year, from May of 1991 to the same month in 1992. During that time she and her traditional therapist continued to address the splits within her, but it was tough and slow going. Louise's friends in recovery now seemed to make much faster progress while she was still struggling with many of the same emotional issues she had been addressing six years ago. Her life was still chaotic. She reached a point where she could not handle too much more of what felt like failure.
So Louise returned to Jana for intuitive counseling. This time, she was a lot more open about what was going on in her life and her MPD diagnosis. After recovering from the shock of finding out the extent of Louise's problems, Jana began to consult with Louise's guides and with Dr. Sunan and the Sunan Society.
It soon became very obvious to Jana that part of what was wrong was that not all of Louise's alters were willing or able to forgive her father or herself over that rape. Louise faced spending a lot of time and money in Sunan therapy taking each of the alters back to that incident and trying to help that part of self release all the judgments involved. She already had spent a great deal on traditional therapy. "I could have put myself through college several times on what I paid out for therapy," Louise told us.
There had to be a better, quicker, faster way to achieve the same result. There was. It was time to end the isolation of Louise's alters. As long as they remained separate and apart, unwilling and/or unable to communicate or cooperate with each other, Louise would be unable to benefit at all levels of her being from any healing or learning that took place in only one isolated part of self.
In other words, it was time to head for the garden.
Full of pain, anger, suspicion and mistrust, Louise's alters were not at all comfortable at first in the garden. That's not surprising. The garden is a very powerful place of love: it is the seat of the soul, the focal point within our consciousness of our inherent spirituality and divinity. The parts of our awareness darkened by self-judgment invariably find such love painful to experience.
So Jana and Louise's guides helped construct a very special place within Louise's garden that they told her and her alters was the throne room. It was a place of safety where all of the alters would be secure and free to emerge and express their feelings, complaints and needs.
Although Louise and Jana were in the flow of unconditional love-energy, this method of emerging was still not easy. Jana had to help Louise face the part of her awareness that she had consigned to endure rape and violation. That alter raged at having been abandoned and, even worse, at never having been thanked or appreciated for what it went through on behalf of the rest of self. Louise felt tremendous guilt at having vacated during the experience of being raped and having left that part of her awareness to suffer.
Louise also needed to forgive herself for not being able to heal her father's pain, an insight that was critical to her healing. At the moment her father first raped her, Louise's spiritual body (unconscious mind) split into three parts. Other parts of her being shattered later as a result of the initial split. Louise's spiritual body split because that part of her mistakenly assumed responsibility for her father's pain and rage. Louise believed that by splitting her own awareness, she might be able to help him heal. She could not help him, of course, anymore than her ex-husband could help her during her dissociative episodes.
Louise also split her spiritual body in order to keep her love and her spirituality intact during such a violation of self, even though the very act of splitting prevented her from laying claim to this part of her being until she integrated all of her alters. As the sessions progressed and Jana began to understand more about Louise's unconscious self-protective actions, Jana came to regard it as "higher order thinking." Splitting was the smartest thing Louise could have done for herself in that awful situation, and it prevented her from going completely insane. It also prevented her from being completely whole.
By gathering in her garden, Louise and her alters finally were able to talk with each other; it was important for her to find out why each alter had behaved the way it did. Once each had had its say, expressed its pain, forgave Louise and was forgiven in return, Jana helped her integrate that alter by literally having that portion of her consciousness blend with the part that was whole.
And with her very first session in her garden, Louise began to feel physically larger, stronger, more hopeful and even happy. These beneficial changes were what encouraged her to return for yet more sessions in her garden and further integration of her alters.
Although traditional therapists do not know it because they do not believe in or address the human electromagnetic energy field, what they call integration consists of blending the energy of human consciousness, also known as the aura. Integration is a reunion of portions of the aura that belong together but have been split due to judgment against self and then held apart through denial. Healing resolution through Sunan therapy is the only method we know of that brings us back together at the energy level, which is the very core and essence of our being. This is literally the method of empowerment.
The last session required to integrate Louise fully was very powerful for her and for Jana. More alters than either of them could count emerged into the throne room. Jana suggested they form a circle, and each simply stepped into the one in front of it. As each step together took place, Louise experienced what she described as amazing sensations. She felt huge, solid and substantial.
After the session she could not keep from touching herself. She was awed to realize that a big part of her, which had been missing without her even being aware that it was gone, was now returned to her. For the first time in her life that she could recall, Louise no longer felt broken or hollow; she was whole at last.
As Louise's roommate told her more than once, the immediate difference in her was night and day. Louise knew it also. Immediately after that last session, Louise found the ability to make choices and to know that this was what she, Louise, wanted for herself. For the first time in her life, she could reason and evaluate all of her options instead of acting on impulse. She began to surprise herself with her new abilities to handle stress and make decisions for herself. The chaos in her life stopped immediately.
Thanks to her own courage and tenacity, Louise moved into wholeness and has begun to live life on her own terms. Best of all, she is now able to speak her truths and be clear about what she wants for herself. "I know this is what adults do, but I was never able to do it before," she explained.
Louise's story does not have a fairy-tale ending, however. From being what she calls "this half-broken crazy person," Louise finally had the ability to face the realities of her life. At age 37 she had no career and no money in the bank, and she went through another period of depression. She found herself experiencing the emotional and mental stages of late adolescence and early adulthood nearly 20 years after the fact, trying to discover who Louise really is. She eventually needed additional Sunan therapy, but not for further integration or to address the violation she experienced as an infant. All of that was over for her after her tenth session of the Sunan method.
Between May of 1992 and November of 1993, Louise undertook six sessions of the Sunan method we call Aspect therapy while still continuing with her traditional therapy. Her therapist was open-minded enough to encourage Louise to try anything she believed would help her. And Jana encouraged Louise to remain in traditional therapy for as long as Louise felt it was of benefit to her. We often work with clients who are in traditional therapy because we do not regard the two as conflicting in any way. We also do not presume to run our clients' lives and tell them what they can and cannot do. We are happy to help them evaluate all of their options, but they are in charge of their lives and of what method they choose to help them heal themselves.
Jana and Candace were almost as awed over Louise's transformation as she was. It reaffirmed to us the healing power of unconditional love combined with a person who is truly dedicated to self.
Louise's case also demonstrated yet again the flexibility of the Sunan healing resolution method, which has been evolving constantly since Jana began to use it back in 1985. Since 1987 we have been aware of the existence of the garden within human consciousness. Dr. Sunan had always encouraged us to take clients into their gardens whenever possible, and with Louise's integration we began to realize the garden's enormous healing power and potential.