The Completion Process is a highly effective* method to integrate trauma (cPTSD, mental, emotional and/or physical abuse, traumatic events, family and cultural trauma etc.), address emotional elements of anxiety and depression, as well as resolve subtler life triggers within relationships, work, self-care, and any other aspects of everyday life.
It is a guided 1:1 process to help you explore your current internal state that includes emotional vipassana, integrating memories (perceptual, emotional and / or mental) that have been fragmented by dissociation, inner child work and other elements.
When practiced with care together with a trained practitioner, it is a safe way to process your internal experience that is free of judgment, suggestive commentary, imposed beliefs, or pressure to perform or experience things differently from how your actually feel. Any guidance comes with choices on when and how to proceed – as a recipient, you are always in control of your own process.
It is also among the practitioner’s responsibilities to ensure that you will never leave a session with unaddressed raw emotions. Even if you do not feel ready to meet all there is to work on within a single session, every session concludes with the level of integration that is available to you – whether that means accepting validation, feeling some level of self-acceptance, or even finding self-compassion with or integration between your inner parts.
*Clinical trials to assess the efficacy of the Completion Process as delineated by Teal Swan are underway, and are estimated to span the next few years [early 2022]. The remark on effectiveness is my personal assessment based on my own and other’s experience with facilitating the process. I can only highly recommend that you try it and decide for yourself what value it might bring you.
The concept behind the Completion Process
The Completion Process is my own go-to whenever life is teaching me about myself. It is the only self-contained process I’ve found that seems potent enough to cut through any bypassing and self-protection, so as to work directly with the root of inner turmoil or confusion.
This potency comes with a word of warning: you’ll be asked to move towards the things you’ve been avoiding or ignoring within yourself. The process ultimately teaches you to be unconditionally present with yourself.
The foundation of the process is ’emotional vipassana’: Learning to be unconditionally present with your emotional reality as it is in this moment. We work under the assumption that any trigger; any emotional or mental discomfort you experience right now appears for a valid reason.
If that reason is not known to you, which is true to some extent any time you experience an unresolved trigger, your emotions may serve as a gateway to the unconscious to help you gain more information on what might bring resolve and relief. The Completion Process guides you to do this.
For example, let’s say you experience a sudden burst of anger. The anger is not really there to piss you off, but may alert you that a personal boundary has been crossed or needs to be protected. If change is needed for your boundaries to be respected, the anger can also be your fuel to create the change you need.
The full understanding of where a feeling comes from and what it wants to show us, begins to unravel when we allow ourselves to feel it fully. When we go “all in”, letting go of our resistance to feel emotions and the need to control our mind, our unconscious grabs the rare chance to be acknowledged. It begins to serve up previously hidden information that helps paint a fuller picture of our internal state.
There may be visual memories, or sensory, or from any other of the five senses. There may also be deeper emotions hidden underneath the known ones, and previously unconscious beliefs could be illuminated. This part of the process is a self-exploratory journey: you are simply held in a safe space of acceptance while you share your internal experiences as they unfold. No suggestions are given other than to deeply feel what you are already feeling.
Unfortunately, for many of us, allowing ourselves to fully feel some of our emotions is difficult. We have learned to subdue our feelings to avoid the discomfort of feeling them – let alone the discomfort of acting on them.
Let’s say that anger asks you to express a new boundary towards someone, but you feel that doing so will risk the other person becoming upset with you. This may change the dynamics of your relationship, or even risk it being lost. Why, then, would you want to express a boundary that doesn’t keep the other person happy? It’s important to recognize that being human, unconsciously we tend to prioritize connection – even when it comes at the prize of bulldozing our own needs.
It is normal and understandable to avoid some of our emotions in the society we’ve been brought up in. We learned early on that some emotions were unhelpful in finding the acceptance and connection we’ve needed; even more so if we had emotionally illiterate or unavailable caregivers, or an otherwise unsafe upbringing.
It is also normal to find it difficult to pin-point, understand and express our own emotions in the moment when they arise. Too often when we’ve tried to express our feelings in heat of the moment in the past, it only seemed to lead to more suffering.
However, identifying and expressing emotions are important skills that can be trained!
The Completion Process helps us learn to follow the flow of feelings to let them guide us forward, rather than let our fear continue to control us. Since most of us are so accustomed to running from or avoiding feelings, emotional vipassana can be an intense experience requiring courage to break the spell of fear. The reward of the work is deepened self-intimacy and self-acceptance, deep inner relief, and a sense of ease in the world as triggers lose their hold over us.
Also, any depth of intimacy we reach within ourselves will over time translate into intimacy in all other relationships.
Inner work, then, is our golden key to deepen the love in our life. Whether we work from momentary triggers of anxiety or anger, long term grief, or any other expression of emotional healing; at any given point there’s a possibility of resolution, if we are ready and willing to meet ourselves.
The role of memory, subjective and objective truth
The Completion Process is designed to guide you to explore the entirety of your current inner state. This includes everything from sensory perception to emotions, to thoughts, memories and personal truths – especially those we’ve been avoiding, possibly for a long time.
While we treat every moment to moment feeling state, perception and personal belief as valid; as being there for a reason; we do NOT infer that the memories or thoughts coming up for us are necessarily the objective truth of past or current events.
This distinction is critical to understanding the method! All objects of mind, whether emotions, perception or thought form, that come up for work in the process are assumed to be valid as messengers of past hurts or unfulfilled needs. Our mind may have these messages take any form they need to bring the message to us. For example, we might experience a memory that, while valid from our 3 year old point of view, would not be considered the objective truth from an adult’s perspective. There may be elements of disproportion, inconsistency and pure imagination mingled with what we actually experienced – corresponding to our internal state and understanding as that 3 year old child.
In the Completion Process, we aim to allow all our internal experiences to be felt without judgment (and to practice patience and self-compassion with the part of us that judges anyway) – to let it all to be expressed, while at the same time not attaching our identity to the content of our mind as “the” truth.
In other words, even if you are working with vivid childhood memories, the goal is not really to create a story about why you are the way you are. To some extent that can be helpful; but in this process, your primary goal is to release your fear of feeling certain emotions. With that, much of the discomfort you associate with these emotions will evaporate; and you will find it natural and easy to release the old coping patterns that have kept you feeling stuck or unhappy.
The real goal is self-integration: becoming able to be present with the totality of your experience without freezing, fighting or fleeing it. To embrace all your feelings and other objects of mind as your dear friends. To befriend, become intimate with and learn to love yourself.