No matter how perfect and loving our parents might have been, no matter how well they provided for our well-being and supported us in our dreams, each one of us will experience woundedness from our parents. This woundedness may be no direct fault of their own, but simply comes forth because of what they were shown by their parents, the culture in which they were conditioned, what remains unhealed within them, and/or simply because they are human.
As we are human, so too are our parents. There is no shame in that. And yet, for many, the parental wounds become a significant obstacle to both their inner and outer freedom, as well as their ability to enter into healthy relationships and enact their own parenting. Unhealed parental wounds become stumbling blocks to our ability to become happy, healthy, and content in our lives and to find that which will provide meaning and purpose in our lives.
While reflecting specifically on the Father wound, I was provided with the following image of what the Father wound looks like (to me anyway):
As you gaze upon this image, what comes forward as your image of the Father wound?
For each individual, the Father wound will have its own color, size, shape, etc. It will also have its own unique make up. Of what is your Father wound made?
- Co-Dependency (the need to seek his approval)?
- Threats of violence?
- Inappropriate or lack of boundaries?
- Feeling unsafe?
Every individual carries their own unique experience of the Father wound which might be related to one, several, or all of the above. The first step in healing the Father wound is identifying of what that wound is made.
The second step is to enter into a transformational practice for healing and releasing that wound. Two practices I have found to be especially helpful in transforming parental wounds are Tonglen and the Ho’oponopono prayer.
is a Tibetan Buddhist mindfulness practice founded on the understanding that in order to heal our wounds, we need to move toward them. Instead of resisting, ignoring, or running away from our wounds, we allow ourselves to feel them. In allowing the feeling, we can transform the wound and release it from our bodies and our consciousness.
To heal the Father wound using Tonglen:
- Identify the wound along with its feeling (what does rejection feel like?).
- Allow yourself to feel the wound.
- Identify where in your body you are feeling it.
- While feeling the wound, breathe into the place in your body where you are feeling it.
- Breathe out love. Give a visual image to that love if you find that helpful (bubbles, flowers, hearts).
- Breathe into the wound while feeling it.
- Breathe out love.
- Continue with the breathing into the wound and breathing out love until you feel a shift. Perhaps you are feeling more peaceful, or the practice brings forth tears.
- After the shift, you have completed the practice.
- Return to the practice when you feel that wound triggered again, or set aside a daily practice to continue healing that experience of the Father wound.
Ho’oponopono is a traditional Hawaiian prayer/ritual which is used to heal wounds within us that we may have experienced at another’s hand. The practice is simple and yet profoundly powerful. I have witnessed true miracles in the use of this practice.
- Identify the wound.
- Give it an image,
- Become aware of where this wound is held in your body (where do you feel abandonment?)
- Repeat the Ho’oponopono formula over and over and over to the place in your body where you feel that wound.
- This is the formula:
Please forgive me.
I love you.
The key to Ho’oponopono is that you are saying the formula TO YOURSELF not to the one who caused the wound. You say it to yourself, and to the part of you that experienced the wound.
Both Tonglen and Ho’oponopono are powerful tools for healing our parental wounds. Admittedly, these practices may not be enough for many to fully heal from these wounds. It is for this reason that I also encourage additional support through a trained spiritual director (which I am) and/or a professional therapist, or better yet, a combination of the two. If you are finding yourself hindered by a parental wound, and are seeking for additional support, please see my information below.
Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, OSF, MATS
is a trained Spiritual Director with a master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology. She integrates sound psychological knowledge with proven spiritual and transformational practices to support you in being free of that which might otherwise hinder your longing for peace, contentment, meaning and fulfillment in your life.