One of the things the workshop specialised in (which I subsequently learned is a classic brainwashing technique) is to have people relive some of their worse childhood traumas publicly, in front of 40 other complete strangers.
That was the first time I heard of the whole 'inner child' idea, where you go and meet that inner part of you that got stuck behind difficult circumstances and emotions when they were 3, or 6, or 11, and try to reintegrate them into your adult personality.
This work is probably some of the most difficult, sensitive stuff you can do. It can leave people feeling so vulnerable, exposed and fragile even when it's done with a G-d fearing practitioner who genuinely cares for the person they are working with, and who can provide them with the emotional support and tools they need to deal with it properly.
But to do this casually, in front of a group of strangers, is about the most dangerous, destructive thing you can do to a person. We found all this out the hard way. It literally took my husband three years to recover from his 'group inner child' experience, and he's someone who talks to G-d every single day, has an amazing Rav like Rav Arush behind him, and who works on himself a lot.
That's the down side. The 'up' side is that if done sensitively and in a respectful, G-d-fearing way, inner child stuff really can unlock so many things for a person.
In his book 'Connection', Rav Efim Svirsky has some brilliant exercises that enable you to do this work yourself, while firmly holding on to G-d's hand. I used his exercises myself, and in my work with other people, and they've been very powerful spiritual tools for growth and transformation.
For many years, I was conflicted about all the 'inner child' stuff. My husband's experience was so overwhelmingly bad and destructive that it scared me off the whole subject. But when I tried Rav Svirsky's exercises in the comfort and security of my own home and personal prayer sessions, they really helped me to get past some big stuff that had been blocking my potential and pulling me down for years, without me realizing.
Now, I've realized that as with most things, it's not what you do, it's the way that you do it. Inner child work is never easy. If the difficult experiences we had as children were 'easy', our psyches wouldn't have gone to all that trouble to block them off from us, and stuff them down in our spiritual basement.
Just getting in touch with it all again can feel completely overwhelming emotionally. But that's where the energy medicine stuff comes in. When all these powerful, repressed emotions start coming up, it can literally make people feel physically ill and very uncomfortable.
One 'hook up' later, one quick 'sedating Triple Warmer' move, and those extremely toxic, extremely strong, negative emotions can be moved out of the person's system so much faster than otherwise.
In this generation, so many of us have 'inner children' that are lost and in pain somewhere deep down inside of us, even if we had the best, most caring parents possible. That's just one of the many rectifications we have to make, this close to Moshiach.
In my own experience, I've seen that these 'inner children' often hold the key to infertility, anxiety, depression, lack of confidence, marital problems, anger, and many other things.
If we can find them and reattach them to G-d, hope and emuna, the dividends are tremendous, and it's worth all the pain involved in the process.
But if G-d's out the picture, the inner child can feel even more lost, bewildered and abandoned. It's truly a very narrow bridge - one of the narrowest. On the one side: spiritual emancipation, self-acceptance and true inner peace. On the other: toxic shame, fear and guilt. And only a hairsbreadth separates them.