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Case Study Issue 78: Howling Wolf, Crying Eagle

by Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar(more info)

listed in case studies, originally published in issue 78 - July 2002

Jasmine, a 48-year-old woman, came to see me with a bag full of difficulties. She had had severe lower-back problems for many years and a traumatic time at work. "I am depleted as a person," she said, "I have no energy, no space in my brain. I need to find out who I am, to deal with my past. I am very tired all the time; it feels like I have been here for hundreds of years. I am stressed and tired but cannot sleep." Jasmine had suffered from insomnia for many years. She was also terrified of the dark. She carried a lot of pain in her body – not only in her back but also in her stomach, her head, her throat.

Her relationship with her husband for nearly 30 years was anything but satisfactory. "I had no control over my life," said Jasmine, "it just seemed to happen, it just evolved. It took me some time to understand that it was because I did not value myself at all and thought that I could not exist without him."

Jasmine held everything tightly in – anger and pain, shame and guilt, joy and sexuality, creativity and spirituality. She was angry with her parents and husband, who neither prioritized her nor acknowledged her at all. Her needs were not important for him, and there was no communication or joyful sex with him.

One of the first things we did was to allow her feelings out. Jasmine was encouraged to be with whatever was present for her. She was sighing loudly for long minutes, crying and expressing her frustration with the people around her: "When I turned to my husband I was always turned down. I was never allowed to speak my truth, as a child or with my husband." We invited her body to discharge these feelings, and her entire body trembled. Although Jasmine had very little energy, after shouting her body came to life, becoming vibrant and energized, and she needed to take deeper breaths.

After sighing and howling, Jasmine wrote: "Only once before in my life have I sat and howled like a wolf with the sadness of life; this sound brought to my house the neighbours because it was so loud. I remember now how much better I felt afterwards."

We spent a lot of time bringing more life into Jasmine's body. When she felt more energized and stronger she became proactive with her husband. "I want to be able to recognize my own value so I can either leave my husband or insist we have a happy relationship", she said.

While Jasmine's therapeutic journey advanced, she experienced emotional turmoils, and as things surfaced we worked together in staying with the feelings. She had strong insights into her symptoms: "I seem to NEED to keep a stiff back and stiff upper lip at all times", she said. "How can I receive the support of others if I see myself as everyone's support?"

Through visualizations and using bodywork and trancework processes, Jasmine took vengeance on those who wronged her and resisted her tendencies to collapse into a depressive, exhausted state of hiding. She experienced being the centre of attention and took more and more space. In one exercise, while taking more space physically, we incorporated hypnotic visualization with body-psychotherapy exercises and she saw herself amidst all the people in her life, being worshipped and looked at – taking space and being the centre. "See me," she shouted at her husband, "see me". It was a powerful experience for her.

As Jasmine's confidence improved and her energy levels increased, she became intolerant of her husband's behaviour, and she expressed her needs and expectations from their relationship, willing – for the first time in many years – to risk leaving him if her needs were not met. At the same time, Jasmine's energy levels kept increasing. She started dancing and her back was beginning to feel better.

When Jasmine was almost about to give up her relationship with her husband, realizing that she could be happy and blossom without him, and that unless she was valued there was no place for her there, something changed. Jasmine's husband responded to her assertiveness and they started to resolve their difficulties and rehabilitate their relationship. Something in his priorities seemed to have shifted. They had sex, and Jasmine was happier, although still stricken by waves of lethargy and exhaustion.

An important session was a journey through the body, where we replayed old records of depletion and expectations, and threw them away. Her lower back and pelvis, storing so much pain and shame for years, started to mobilize and soften, to flex, to feel touch and joy.

"I am feeling and thinking with both body and mind", she said to me one day, and with the awakening of Jasmine's body and mind, she could also sleep better. Her sleep patterns changed and – with self-hypnosis and body exercises – Jasmine learned how to create and maintain a sound night's sleep.

Jasmine's outcomes were mostly met, and she could continue her spiritual journey on her own. And so we said goodbye and planned a session for four months later, to monitor Jasmine's improvement. When we met four months later Jasmine came with a different story. "I don't even remember some of the things that bothered me then", she admitted. Her marriage was better than ever and Jasmine also related better to her close and distant family and friends. She found her vocation in Reiki and healing, and embarked upon a dedicated study and practice of these arts. Her body felt much better, and she experienced very little pain in her body. Her involvement in the community increased and her levels of energy grew stronger. She was no longer afraid of the dark.

"Now, I do as I want, I speak my mind, I no longer live in fear of speaking of that which brings me joy, or I am interested in, to anyone", she told me.

Jasmine still has disturbing feelings or pains, as she is human. At times, she still feels the need for permission to do or not do things, but she is quicker to claim her right back: "I do not need anyone else's permission to live", she said.

To integrate our work, we have made a journey to meet her spiritual guide. Using safe touch and deep hypnosis, the journey slowly moved on. Escorted by a supportive howling wolf, Jasmine crossed the river between worlds, climbed a mountain and overcame various obstacles before she met her first spiritual guide, a meditating old Japanese. After sitting together, she jumped off the cliff, becoming an elegant eagle, and flew to a distant land to meet her second spiritual guide, a Native American Shaman. Jasmine asked him for advice and, taking it with her, came back. Unlike the howling of her childhood, her wolf was now howling strength and life.


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About Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar

Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar was always fascinated by people, by bodies and minds, and so it was natural that after his army service in Israel he began training in bodywork on one hand, and in psychology on the other. For the last seven years, he has worked with people through touch, movement and cognition. He had been studying and practising in Israel, and in 1999 came to the UK with his wife to continue his studies and work in England. His training consisted of psychotherapy and various hypnotherapy approaches, Reichian bodywork and massage approaches, stress management, meridian therapies and NLP. Very early in his journey he created IMT, an innovative process that combines bodywork, hypnotherapy and body-psychotherapy. Today, in addition to practising, he is studying further to perfect the dynamic form of IMT. Asaf works from The Bassett Clinic, St Albans, tel: 01727 856 687; and Bliss in Portobello Road, London, tel: 020 89693331. He can be contacted on tel: 01707 661501; e-mail:; website:

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