From Wishing Death to Loving Life

From Wishing Death to Loving Life


As long as a person gets in his own way, it will seem that everything gets in his way.



Suicide and the attempt to commit suicide are themes that should not be omitted in this book. It is a subject that needs some clarification. First and foremost, I would like to state that I do not have an opinion about the fact whether suicide is permissible or not. This planet is a place of free will, and that is a precious and important part of the “experiment Earth.” This means that we are allowed to do what we want with our lives. I believe that there is no judgment and certainly no condemnation in the cosmos. Suicide and the attempt to commit suicide are an indication of much human suffering which needs help and clarification.

If people try to kill themselves, it is usually a sign of obstructed emotionality and life energy. The reason for having a death wish is often sought in existing life issues. However, the present problem is the result of the path through life whereby denial and repression of emotions are central (again). By focusing on present life issues, we do not go to the heart of the matter, namely the death wish. Taking your own life is usually self-denial rooted in self-hatred. Self-hatred is hate that is wrongly directed and which should be transformed into anger and grief. Suicide, certainly when it is committed in an aggressive way such as throwing yourself in front of a train, is usually retroflection, a boomerang of extreme aggression directed at oneself. Even if depressive behavior and despair are demonstrable on the surface, we will have to search for the original anger and the beginning of sorrow. It is also possible that a flood of emotions from the subconscious play a role. The self is not strong and integrated enough to steer the emotions in the right direction.

If we cannot find the cause in the present, where should we look? In the past, of course! Despair and self-hatred do not just come into existence; they have their roots in the past. To find a cure, you must go back to where it went wrong in your life because that is where you take the sting out. That sting is called undigested experiences. It is never the trauma itself! This is a misconception that often leads to a sense of victimization and to victim behavior. As soon as you realize that these undigested experiences are the reason for your misery, you can start with the Work of digestion. During sessions I found that many people have a hidden death wish. In actual fact, many discovered a suicidal child in themselves. Sometimes it was even a suicidal baby, who was, of course, not able to articulate that feeling. Arthur Janov, the founder of the primal scream therapy, claims that a hundred per cent of his clients have been confronted by suicidal feelings during sessions. Most of us have forgotten those feelings because they were once too painful. Remembering these feelings is very difficult because our perception of reality was vague when we were a baby. We had difficulty focusing, and that is the reason why we have more difficulty remembering the time we were a baby than we do later years. But it is possible to let this suicidal inner child come to the light in deep emotional work as an adult. Suicidal tendencies are a generalized “No” to life and also generalized anger against life and the whole world. The light switch in this work is directing and localizing the “No” in time and seeing which life you are really saying “No” to. This “No” has usually got to do with an old history that you have repressed. You have forgotten the story, repressed the feelings, but the subconscious “No” as expression of pain and anger has stayed and been generalized to the whole of life and directed at the here and now. It is, therefore, very important to always place your feelings and emotions correctly in time and place.

I remember a young woman who, during emotional work, started to feel how she once lay in a cradle in a room with many doors where she felt very unsafe. She experienced her parents as being emotionally distant. In her perception, she did not have a warm emotional bond with her parents. After she had felt emotional coldness during breathwork, whereby she started to shiver, her suicidal inner child started to speak: ‘I want to go back’ and ‘I don’t want to be here.’ By completely experiencing this ‘No’ in an eruption of anger after which an intense and helpless grief came out, her “Yes” to life could grow.

If you want to be able to say “Yes” to life, you will have to find all your “No’s”, experience them again, and specify them; by digesting the “No’s” in your past, your “Yes” will become bigger in the present!

Besides this experience of emotional coldness and disappointment in the childhood years, you may perhaps carry a so-called incarnation refusal on the basis of past lives. This often happens when you died in a traumatic way in a past life, during a war, for example. The same Work applies here as with the “No” from this life. By experiencing the old trauma anew and by working through it in an emotional way and by remembering it, energy will be released that will help you to live fully in the present and to say “Yes” to the possibilities life on earth offers you. I know the incarnation refusal from my past life. I died a traumatic death in Auschwitz in my past life, which meant I had now a lot of trouble coming to earth. As a child, I always used to walk on my toes, and I remember my mother encouraging me and saying “Heels, toes!” I did eventually learn to put my feet on the ground, but my soul had more trouble with earth. Only when I relived that past life in therapy did life start to become really nice. Your “Yes” will always be unsatisfactory if your “No” is repressed. Your “Yes” will become more complete to the extent that you bring your “No,” which has many layers, to the light. The following is the story of a forty-year-old woman and her liberation from depression:

During a number of months, I felt myself becoming more and more depressed and tired, and I had a flat feeling as if dark clouds were hanging above me, and all lights were going out inside me. I desperately wondered where all my cheerfulness had gone. I was sure that it had nothing to with my current life and situation. I had a great relationship, beautiful children, and nice, interesting work. The depression felt like an ancient part of my soul, but I could not place it. When I started Spark of Light Work, memories started to surface: when I was a child, I wore a button with the text: ‘I wish I was dead’. Everybody laughed about it, I did, too. But I did not wear it for nothing. I remembered lonely, sleepless nights. My teenage years followed. I withdrew; I thought I was stupid and uninteresting. Alcohol helped me to feel a bit better.

Through intensive breathwork I reached emotions that I once could not express, but now could, thank goodness. I experienced this seemingly endless loneliness and cried for weeks. When I had worked through this painful period, images surfaced from a past life in which I had committed suicide as a young woman. Here, too, intense breathwork aided by music helped me to remember and to digest. From my emotions came the image of losing my mother as a young child and being lodged with family by my father. As a grown-up, I could not find my niche in life and felt very lonely. During the reliving, I felt how alone and desperate I was. It defies description. I felt less and less life energy and was pulled towards death as if it was the only solution. I cut my wrists then. In the reliving I could feel how the blood and life slowly drained out of me. I was happy that there was someone there to supervise this process. In talks I started to see the connection between that life and the depressions in my current one. After all this deep Work, I started to recover from this ‘dark night of the soul’. I started to gain energy and what I had wanted so much, happened: I regained my pleasure in life.

If you have remembered and digested the pain of your past, in this life or in the past one, you can feel compassionate about your inner child or the other person you once were. You straighten your back and meet the challenges of life with courage and pleasure.

The Work in Steps

Here are the steps to move from moving from wishing death to wishing and loving life:

  • Going from the realization of a general “No” to a specific “No.” Starting to remember where the “No” belongs in time, place, and relationship.
  • Expressing the “No,” the anger, and the sorrow in a therapeutic manner.

Embracing the inner child and granting it life

Riet Okken.

from my book: the liberating power of emotions



























Experiencing the Depth of Emotions



In order to find pearls, one has to dive deep.

People often say, “I am very emotional” or “I know everything about emotions” when they burst into tears over the slightest thing or if they frequently have tantrums. They shed a tear watching something on television, grumble when the cake turns out to be a disaster, or get sentimental when they have a few drinks too many. Usually these are projected and subconscious forms of emotionality. Others may be more aware of their true feelings but feel that expressing them is not very beneficial. A good cry now and then might make them feel better, but they do not feel that it actually improves things. What is missing here?

Experience of the Depths of Emotion

What does this mean? Using the metaphor of our overview of transformation and the pool of emotions; we can only reach the treasure which lies at the bottom of the pool if we dive down into its depths. Exploring the depths of our emotions means four things:

  • Intensity—feeling your emotions entirely, in all their intensity;
  • Feeling the depths of your emotions in your body;
  • Depth of content;
  • Depth of time and space—this means that we look at the deeper background of emotions and experience traveling back in time and place.

Intensity and Expression

First of all, this means learning to express the emotions of fear, sadness, anger, and joy through tears, intense breathing, your voice, and beating a pillow with a carpet-beater. This means allowing yourself to feel the intensity of your emotions. If you are not used to this, it might be a little scary at first. I advise you to find a good therapist, who can teach you to do this in a safe environment. Take your time to find out if the therapist is comfortable with this kind of intense Work. When I met fellow mainstream psychologists with whom I had not been in touch for a long time, I was requested to do so in view of assurances of the Exceptional Medical Expenses Act—I was shocked to see that even they were scared of intense emotionality. When I was quite open with them and told them I did breathing work and emotional therapy with people, I started getting phone calls from colleagues asking me if I was not worried about psychosis. Later on, I was called before the needs assessment committee. It took a lot of diplomacy to safeguard my contract for myself and my clients.

Expressing your emotions under your own responsibility, in your own home, or within your own therapy is essential on this path. In the New Age Movement, many people distinguish between positive and negative emotions. This is a pitfall really. Anger is often seen as negative and love and joy as positive. Love and joy are not anymore positive than anger and sadness. It is our mind—and with that our fear—which labels reality. A negative emotion is an emotion which is not expressed, and a positive emotion is one which is expressed in an effective, aware, and non-projected way. Not expressing your feelings recurrently makes you ill and could literally kill you. Many accidents probably happen because people are angry within. The intensity is there, but pent-up inside. We need to transform it in a non-damaging, healing way. I remember, a long time ago, not giving way at a junction and was hit by another car. I was on my way back from the dentist who had just made an irreparable mistake with one of my molars. My own unvoiced anger came back to me subconsciously, just like a boomerang.

Releasing the Emotions in Your Body: The Physical Depth

Our suppressed emotions are embedded in our bodies. In order to release them from the depths of our system, bodywork is needed. Different kinds of massage, Postural Integration and Rolfing, Shiatsu, Bioenergetics, Reichian bodywork, and breathing work are good for bringing lodged emotions to light. When doing bodywork, it is important to get to know the message and emotions of your body.

It is of no real help to you when somebody else does the work for you. There are many rescuers in the land of therapy, but they are really after power. They want you to believe they can heal and rescue you. If you surrender to them, you are the helpless, powerless one and will not be able to regain your own power. Breathing work is a good technique which you can do yourself, and it makes you less dependent on therapists.

Good therapists are people for whom the work with others is also an initiation and learning path for themselves during which they continue to work on themselves in a client situation. Therapy does not serve to cover up personal pools of emotions in that case. Good therapy knows a functional inequality—it is client orientated—but essential equality. Essentially there is brother and sisterhood in the joint Work. Fundamentally, what you need is someone who can offer safety and experience. In this New Age there are fortunately various possibilities for growth by means of courses, therapies, training, and books.

The Correct Message: Depth of Content

It is important to find the correct message from your emotions. Crying and being angry without knowing why is simply not enough. When you fully recognize your feelings, the message automatically becomes clear, and you will find words to describe it. This clarity is a necessary ingredient for liberation. It is important to know why you are crying or why you are angry. Very often people do not know the reason. My experience is that when you surrender to emotions and let them be there fully, the message becomes clear. First the emotion, then the nuance. However, we usually ask ourselves too soon why we feel the way we do. That is often a repetition of what our educators did in the past. When we are asked the question why, we are made to think and emotion disappears. The head should know its place, and that is a secondary place!

It helps to enlarge vague feelings and to exaggerate when you feel vaguely miserable, nothing seems to be going your way, or you are wandering around, grab a pillow and tell all your worries to it. Take out all the unhappy feelings on the pillow. Say anything that comes to mind and use the carpet-beater if you feel like it. Your life will become more fun if you clarify your vague feelings and moods as quickly as possible by setting your emotions in motion. I remember that I was often “bored” as a child and that I used to say, “Mum, I am so bored.” I always got the same reply, “Go and stand on your head and shoot tuppenny [two penny] pieces.” So what did I do? I stood on my head on a chair and called out again, “Mum, I am so bored.” I spent a great deal of time standing on my head instead of playing. It was not really boredom, but vague feelings of dissatisfaction. Now when I am “bored”—luckily this doesn’t happen very often—I enlarge this feeling to see what message it has for me.

A lot of our behavior is subconscious. Sometimes we do not know why we do certain things. Often it is just out of habit. But beyond this habit, there is a deeper meaning; otherwise we would not do it! The behavior is transference from something else. Sexual behavior, for example, without connection with one’s heart and emotions, does not bring satisfaction, let alone transformation. It tends to become a repetition or a search for technical variation. Sexuality can become an addiction unless it is connected to a deeper need for love. When love and affection are not received emotionally, sexuality becomes routine and is empty.

The Correct Address: Depth in Time and Space

Subsequently, it is important to find the correct address of your emotions. Many emotions originate in your past. Many irritations between husband and wife come from past situations. A lot of authority conflicts on the work floor can be traced back to authority problems with your mother or father in early childhood or to problems with older brothers or sisters or with teachers or priests. As long as we continue to vent our emotions in a projected way, there will be no liberation and no healing. Only by accessing the deeper layers of our emotions can there be a fundamental change within us.

I do not advocate literally dropping all of our old pent-up emotions at the correct addresses. Our parents and educators gave us the best they had and did the best they could. Emotional Work with a pillow is a good way of getting rid of your emotional garbage!