Interview with Teal Swan - London Wellbeing Festival
Interview with Teal Swan, the Spiritual Catalyst and new to the London Wellbeing Festival this year. Read how Teal went from trauma to transformation!
Tell me about your childhood and the intuitive abilities you had?
I was a really lonely child, who didn’t fit into the family I was born into. May parents were wilderness forest rangers and so I grew up in a tiny guard station cabin with no indoor plumbing and no electricity. My parents were environmental scientist types and as such, they didn’t understand my ‘spiritual’ nature or the intuitive abilities that I had. I was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder (both sensory over sensitivity and sensory modulation disorder). And it was not until I was 24 that I began talking to people to try to actually decipher what I perceive that is different from how/what other people perceive. Here is (to my current standing) what I perceive that is unlike how others perceive.
At the age of 6 you were taken away by a family acquaintance and inducted into a cult and were tortured over a 13 year period, this much of been a very horrible experience for a child and teenager to have to go through.
It was so horrible that most people will never be able to relate to it. True torture brings you to a place where you don’t fear being killed, you wish to be killed because it would be merciful. It would be better to be killed than to continue on being tortured like I was.
When I was in grade school, I had been targeted by a family acquaintance who, unbeknownst to my parents, was a psychopath. Outwardly he presented himself as a respected community leader and health professional, but he had a much darker side. Only a few people knew he participated in cult rituals. He became my childhood mentor and gained unfettered access to me. My parents trusted him and were unaware that my relationship with him was built on torture. They saw most of the red flags but misinterpreted them. My abuser threatened to kill my family if I ever told anyone what he did, and I knew he was fully capable of murder. The ritual abuse lasted for 13 years.
I spent a lot of time sitting in that hole in the ground. Nicknamed “the mind space,” it was just large enough for a person to sit in. Covering the hole was a nailed-together lattice of weathered wood. In the summers, the bottom of the hole was lined with stinging nettle. This was his idea of a way to “train my mind.” Before I was put into the space, I was usually stripped naked and my wrists and ankles were tied together. I had no idea how long he was going to leave me there. I had no idea whether he would decide to keep me indefinitely, kill me, or return me to my parents later that night.
What was it that kept you going in your darkest moments during this time?
I’d love to say that something “kept me going”. But it isn’t entirely accurate because I tried to commit suicide a few times in my teens. But when you can go out of body when you are being tortured, you have a kind of freedom. You experience the aspect of the universe that transcends physical form. It was this ability to leave my body that kept me alive if anything.
Did you ever during this time get to see the rest of the world outside of this environment and how in the end did you escape?
I was in a very unusual situation where I was not “kidnapped” completely because I still went to school and lived with my parents while all of this was going on. The man who pulled me into the cult set himself up as a mentor in my parent’s eyes and they sent me off with him, not getting what was really going on when I was with him. I progressively got more and more distant from my family. It was all going on right under their noses.
When I was 19, after a particularly extreme night of being tortured, I got in my car and drove away to the home of a man I had only met twice. A man I still live with today. I drove while drugged on ketamine that my abuser had injected me with. The first chapter of my book (shadows before dawn) goes into the details about how this whole thing occurred under my parent’s noses.
How did you integrate yourself into society and did you have any one to reach out to once you escaped?
After I escaped, it was really hard to integrate into society because I had no boundaries. I didn’t know that it wasn’t normal to have sex with anyone who was nice to me. Sex was still transactional. I had to learn that my neighbours didn’t have people in their basement, like so many of the people I had been around as a child. I had no real job skills. I was super athletic and an amazing skier, so I just threw myself into ski racing and because I could dissociate from pain, I excelled at that. When I went to the police and reported everything in my early twenties, I received unmarked letters from the cult group with “trigger words” on the paper. They were designed to trigger what we call a “recall” program. So you will return back to the cult.
Two members also showed up to my last workshop I held in Salt Lake City to try to get close enough to trigger my return. The group tries to set off “self destruct/suicide” programs or “recall” programs before resorting to kidnap. And at this point, in my position, it would be risky because they would be the first suspected in the case of my disappearance. I knew that I could either hide for the rest of my life, or buffer myself from them with fame by exposing them and being noticed enough that if I disappeared, it wouldn’t go unnoticed.
Talk me through your journey to recovery from being 19 to where you are on now and the processes you developed to help heal your trauma. How did you go from trauma to transformation?
The process is so detailed and long I could write a book on just that, so I’m not going to do it justice. But I entered therapy with a brilliant ritual trauma specialist and began putting myself back together again. She helped me de-program myself and admit that my abuser might not have actually been my father and that he wasn’t doing it all for my own good. This “reality” deconstruction was even worse than going though it the first time because it takes away the justifications you use to survive the abuse.
I entered group therapy and felt so, so great to be around other women who had all been tortured like I had. But then I noticed that they were doing just as poorly as I was at thriving and they had been in therapy 3 times longer than I had. The attitude in the mental health field was that with developmental trauma (complex ptsd) like we all had, there is irreparable damage. As a result, there is only so much that can be done and we will never be fully ok. I wasn’t ok with that so I turned back towards spirituality and the abilities that I had rejected completely at that point and began going out of body to find the answers to many of the questions I had been asking about how to heal.
I was actually in a hole in the ground that my abuser used to keep me in when I was with him as a teen when I discovered the heart of the technique I now teach people to use to overcome trauma.
Explain the 'taking fears out of shadow work', what are the tools and techniques used and how does it help people?
When you first come into this life, your ego (the fancy word for separate identity) is not fully formed yet. The ego is primarily formed in relationship to others and so the majority of your ego comes about during the process of socialization. This is the time that you learn about the concept of good and bad right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable. Most importantly you learn about the aspects of you that are acceptable and unacceptable. It becomes very clear that love and reward will come in response to what is acceptable and abandonment and punishment will come in response to what is unacceptable. As a result, we begin to ignore, deny and suppress what we think is unacceptable about us; we split our consciousness meaning, we divide ourselves. And this is how the subconscious mind is born. We could call the subconscious the shadow because we cannot see it clearly and thus are not aware of it and the conscious the light because we can see it clearly and are aware of it.
Separation and division is not a natural state, it is an unhealed state and so the shadow aspect strives to be integrated again regardless of how much we wish that it would “go away”. Our shadow rears its head whenever something in the subconscious is triggered into our awareness by circumstances in our life. For example, if our partner doesn’t show up on time, which triggers a deeply suppressed feeling of abandonment that we are not even aware of, we might spend the next 45 flipping out in what seems to be a massive overreaction to the situation at hand.
Shadow work is nothing more than the process of making the unconscious conscious and the unacceptable, acceptable. And the integration of unconsciousness leads to complete and total awareness. Even so, shadow work is popular with some spiritual teachers, psychologists and life coaches and very unpopular with others. Even channels and spiritual guides disagree on the subject of shadow work.
The top arguments against shadow work are “If you focus on your shadow all you will get is more shadow” and “If you focus on needing to clear yourself of your shadow, all there will be is more shadow to clear.” These arguments come from a very limited and elementary understanding of consciousness, resistance and The Law of Attraction.
If it were true that positive focus creates a pure positive person then a person who is petting a puppy or focusing positively consistently would have a pure energy field that is clear of “wounds”. But this is not the case. When I am observing someone’s energy fields and they are focused on something that is positive like a puppy, parts of their energy field become lighter as if they are allowing more energy in while parts such as aura tears and rips and imprints remain unhealed, especially in the emotional body field. No matter how positive someone’s focus is, if their subconscious aspect contains trauma imprints, those aspects do not just go away.
When we experience something traumatic on an emotional level, it works the same way as it does with physical trauma. To use an aggressive example, if you are involved in a head on collision and you end up with a compound fracture, for the average person (who does not bend the laws of this time space reality), no amount of pure positive focus is going to put the bone back together again. And if you begin to focus positively chances are that positive focus will simply lead you directly to a doctor who can put the bone back together again. It’s not a comfortable process. It’s a process that demands that we admit that the bone is broken and put it back in place and put a cast on it and focus deliberately on creating the healing state of that particular ailment.
If we get a compound fracture and we attempt to distract ourselves from the fracture by thinking positive thoughts, we are now in a mental and emotional tug of war between the aspect that has awareness that this is a serious issue that needs conscious attention and the aspect that doesn’t want to admit to the reality that this is a serious issue that needs conscious attention. Why would we be focusing positively in this scenario where we have a compound fracture? To avoid something. There is an enormous difference between focusing on something positive for the sake of focusing positive and focusing on something positive for the sake of trying to escape from, ignore or get away from something negative. What is the result if we try to escape from, ignore or get away from our compound fracture? It festers. We become incapacitated if we survive at all. In short, when we try to avoid something, the thing we are trying to avoid gets worse. And things we are trying to avoid are the premium content of the human shadow.
This is the exact scenario we face on an emotional level. If we suffered an emotional trauma and we ignore, suppress or deny it in favor of positive focus, we are using positivity to get away from negativity. The emotional wound does not get better; it festers. If you do focus positively, chances are that your positive focus will simply lead you straight to someone who can help you heal and ultimately integrate your emotional wounds.
When we are resistant to the idea of shadow work, we are trying to avoid something. When you realize that you are using positive focus to avoid something that feels negative to you, it is time to release resistance to whatever you are trying to avoid. To release resistance to something, you have to turn in the direction of it instead of away from it because turning away from it is done from a space of resistance to it.
When I say, “don’t think about lemons” you think about lemons. This is what we’re ultimately doing on a subconscious level by trying to use positive focus to avoid negative emotions. We’re saying, “Don’t focus on the way you actually feel”. It only serves to magnify the way that you actually feel until the reflection is so big, you can’t escape it. It manifests itself in more aggressive and more aggressive ways hoping that you will come to terms with it and release resistance to it. We are already in resistance to our shadow aspect. This resistance is why it is subconscious in the first place. So what do we do when we are in resistance to something?
We must release resistance to that specific thing. But by obsessively focusing positively and trying to ignore it and divert our attention from our shadow, we only resist it further. Because we are trying to avoid it, we are in essence focusing on it and sending it energy without even being aware that we are doing so.
The perfect example of this is Jerry Hicks. Jerry Hicks, who I happen to love, as many of you know ended up getting cancer. This turn of events created massive doubt in the Abraham community. Here is a person who promises in accordance with Abraham that if you focus positively, you can’t get ill. Well it just so happens that cancer is the unfinished business disease. It always comes about as the result of childhood trauma. For Jerry, growing up extremely poor and having been discouraged again and again from his far-reaching ideas made several imprints in his consciousness that despite his positive focus did not go away. Whenever he got close to those shadows, he did what he thought was best and simply diverted his attention away from those shadows. They festered because that “avoidance” was in fact resistance.
And that ultimately manifested in a condition that took his life. This is not an uncommon story. The most common turn of events when we repeatedly ignore or deny what is real for us but that is unwanted by us is that it manifests physically as an illness or another physical condition that we cannot ignore.
We don’t only suppress and deny and banish unacceptable bad things into our subconscious; we also suppress unacceptable good things. This is what idolization is about. Idolization is nothing more than the projection of the suppressed positive attributes within one person, onto another person, so that they may admire the reflection instead of the source. But for the sake of this video, I’m going to focus primarily on the unacceptable bad things we suppress.
When it comes to suppressed aspects of our being, the first step from a lower vibration to a higher vibration is not finding a thought that feels better; it is awareness. Awareness is always the first step towards vibrational increase when we are dealing with something we were not consciously aware of. It’s the first time you shine light in the dark closet to see what is there. Awareness in and of itself will feel like immense relief. It will cause you to feel authentic and grounded within yourself. We fear our shadow this is why we resist it. By becoming aware of it, we come to understand it and understanding is the #1 way to diminish fear.
Positive focus works; end of story. But there is one enormous caveat to that rule. There is one massive exception. Positive focus works on everything except for the things you’re trying to use positive focus to avoid. Another way of saying this is positive focus works on everything except for when positive focus is used as a tool to enable our resistance.
Many of us are excited to find the power of positive focus because it seems like a get out of jail free card. Positive focus seems like a magic pill that will make it so we can escape and avoid all of our unwanted things. And unfortunately because of improper understanding of law of attraction, many teachers back up the idea that all it takes to create a perfect life is perfect positive focus. Consider this, if we are enthusiastic about positive focus because it feels like a get out of jail free card, it means that we have big things we are trying to avoid. If we have big things we are trying to avoid, like it or not and conscious or not, a large part of our consciousness is dedicated to past traumas. We are like emotional cripples who on one level know we are really hurt and on another level don’t want to admit to it. We’d rather believe that if we focus positively enough, we will miraculously be put back together again.
The law of attraction is essentially the law of mirroring. Whatever vibrations are contained within you are being matched exactly by experiences in your external world. And like it or not, your shadow aspects are vibrations within you that are attracting experiences into your life that match them. These shadows must be integrated in order to cease being points of attraction.
I often use the analogy of the radio dial when I am talking about the Law of Attraction. Basically whatever station your dial is turned to, dictates what signal and therefore radio station you will receive. On an emotional level, this means if you are tuned to joy, you receive joy. But this analogy only works if you see yourself in your entirety as one dial.
In reality you are more like a switchboard of a multitude of dials. The various frequencies that are being received by these dials, add up to your overall vibration. You have a dial relative to every subject in your life. My dial relative to relationships could be set on despair and so I receive relationships that cause me to despair. While simultaneously my career dial could be set to elation so I receive career opportunities that makes me feel elated and I love my job. If you improve the frequency of the signal being received by just one of these dials, your overall vibration increases. But to say that any positive focus in any area of your life will cause positive improvement in all areas of your life is not accurate. Regardless of how much you positively focus on your career or on your friends or on your body, you can still have a terrible vibration about romantic relationships and so you still experience negative romantic relationships. Then you start to feel like positive focus doesn’t work.
What discourages people the most from doing shadow work is that they have the idea that because focus creates, if they focus on shadow work there will always be more shadow work to do. This is also inaccurate. If we acknowledge that a person is made of pure source energy and pure integrated consciousness when they come into this life, you could imagine that this pure consciousness is a light much like our sun. As the person develops through life and experiences traumas, they do not gain darkness. The light does not go away; rather their light is obscured. When you do shadow work, you will notice that it is as if you have wiped a dusty film off of a window. You do not need to work at creating light, more light simply streams into the room because you have removed what was obscuring the light.
You could alternatively see your subconscious aspects as anchors that are holding you underwater. If you turned in the direction of the anchor and unhooked yourself from it, you would not need to swim towards the surface. You would naturally begin to float upwards. This is what your vibration does when you do shadow work, like a buoy it naturally increases because the things that were decreasing it, are integrated, the no longer weigh your vibration down.
Saying that “if you focus on shadow work, there will always be more to do” is like saying that if you stand at the sink and begin to clean dishes, there will always be more dishes to clean, as if a new one will pop up in your sink the second you finish cleaning the last one. People who have dedicated some aspect of their practice to shadow work know from personal experience that over time less and less shadow work has to be done because you have become more and more integrated. But there is a reason why some people feel the opposite.
A great many of the people who are against shadow work have experienced what I call an emotional healing crisis or a catharsis. When they first give themselves permission to open the closet to their subconscious, the subconscious comes rushing out like Pandora’s box. It can be likened to an energetic or an emotional flu. Because so much of you was deemed unacceptable while you were growing up, a great portion of you was banished to the subconscious. Because of this, a great deal of shadow needs to be integrated. If you are one of these people, your closet is so full of denied and suppressed aspects that your closet is bursting at the seams.
As a result, it feels like your shadows are never ending. Every day there’s a new shadow and you feel the same way you do when you have the flu; like you’re leaning over a toilet and you can’t stop throwing up.
It’s easy and tempting to think that your life has gotten worse since you started shadow work. But this is a healing crisis. This is a purge. And ironically, this is the point that most people stop shadow work and turn back from where they came, when it is actually the time that they are passing through the eye of the needle and if they would keep going, instead of turn back, they would integrate if not attain an enlightenment experience. They would experience freedom and wholeness and peace for the very first time.
Why is it important to turn around and face your fears? Because if you turn around to face your fears they no longer hold power over you. You are no longer resisting the unwanted by running away from it. Instead you are shifting into a state of allowing by accepting it. And by doing that, it cannot hurt you or haunt you anymore.
Like a ghost, your shadow will follow you to the ends of the earth begging for the light of consciousness to turn towards it. No amount of positive focus will make it disappear. And long story short, focus upon the shadow does not create more shadow because the shadow that is exposed to the light of consciousness ceases to be shadow.
What do you mean by the authentic emotional self?
The authentic emotional self is ‘how you feel’. This is an aspect of your being. Most of us cannot admit to what is real because we are so busy trying to make ourselves right. We try to make ourselves how we think we should be or how we want to be that we can’t just look at each other and say, I’m grieving. We lie to ourselves by falling for the mask that we, ourselves put on in order to be accepted by those around us.
You say that unresolved emotions around past traumas can manifest in the physical body as illness and disease. How does that work?
Your body is made up of energy just like thoughts and emotions. They feed into one another. Let’s say that you were repeatedly shamed by your parents. Shaming is a traumatizing experience for a being. If we have no way to resolve that when we experience it, it will become a part of us that has not healed. Like a wound that has not received what it needs so as to restore the being back to a state of integrity. That “pattern” feeds into the physical body. Because the trauma of shame is related to self worth, it corresponds to the are of the body that is all about self concept, the solar plexus area.
So we see people who struggle with shame developing stomach disorders such as ulcers for example. Also, when we are really young, we do not have a “thinking mind” yet, only a perceiving mind because the brain is not fully formed, so traumatic memory is in fact stored somatically in your cells and in the tissues of your body.
You have been a life long vegan, how has food been used as part of your healing process?
It never felt right to eat meat. My mother would try to feed it to me ad I’d spit it across the room. So she gave up. It is not a vibrational match to you and what you’ll find as your awareness increases, you become a match to some foods and cease to be a vibrational match to other foods. You develop severe intolerances to certain things. I had developed an addiction to sugar though. It was an attempt to regulate my own moods. But it was destroying my body and causing a state of toxicity. The best thing I did was to get off sugar ten years ago as well as processed flours and preservatives. I began to eat as if I was ‘close to the earth’. This created a state of purity.
This is incredibly beneficial because it allows the body to heal itself, which it naturally wants to do anyway. Eating foods that purify and nourish the body, enable you to be a “clear channel” for spiritual energies to come through you, which in my line of work is critical both for myself and for those who receive the spiritual information coming through me.
Do you believe that we all have the power to heal ourselves if we knew how to?
I believe we do, otherwise, I would not be in the line of work I’m in today. But I also believe that the thought that we have to do it ourselves, all alone, prevents healing at a certain point. Healing is a natural process and even if we don’t know how, we are inevitably led to the people who do know and the things that will enable healing, in much the same way that you don’t have to “know” how to heal a cut on your arm for that cut to begin healing on its own.
What’s the one thing you’ve learned from people that’s really changed your life?
I’ve learned from people that it is not the events themselves that cause us to suffer, it is what we make those events mean. We can destroy our lives or save them based on the meaning we adopt relative to a circumstance in our lives. This caused me to think about the meaning I have assigned to the events of my life. If I decided my past experience meant that I am dark and damaged, I could easily sabotage my life and never put myself out into the world. It is because I chose different meaning for my experience that I am able to stand up on stage in front of thousands of people and say “I was abused, I was raped, I tried to commit suicide etc” but guess what? It made me better instead of worse.
Do you believe we all have a purpose in life and what do you believe yours is?
I do believe this. In fact, you cannot be born without a purpose for being. My purpose is reclamation. I have been disintegrated and forsaken in life. I have lost wholeness in every sense of the world. Each day of my life has been a step towards re-integration. I am showing people how to take those steps too. I am going to demonstrate the integration between the temporal and the divine aspects of being so that we can be whole. Authenticity is the most crucial step to take when we embark on a journey of integration and reclamation. So, I have come to create an authenticity movement in the world.
Tell us more about your upcoming workshop at the London Wellbeing Festival
I never know what I’m going to talk about before I stand up on stage. This is both nerve wracking and necessary. If I observe a crowd, I can see what needs to be talked about on that day to the collective in front of me. This way, I can ensure that what we collectively discuss will create lasting change in their lives. So, as per usual, I will be standing up on stage and seeing where it goes from there.
Teal's workshop on Saturday 30th of April has sold out and we have now released another date on Monday 2nd May from 1.30 - 3.30pm. Buy tickets for Teal's Removing The Mask workshop.
Download your festival programme, RSVP to our Facebook event. For the full workshop schedule visit our website.Book tickets for the festival and download the festival programme to find out who’s on, what’s on and when.